Asad Umar has decided to resign as Pakistan’s finance minister.
As part of a cabinet reshuffle PM desired that I take the energy minister portfolio instead of finance. However, I have obtained his consent to not take any cabinet position. I strongly believe @ImranKhanPTI is the best hope for Pakistan and inshallah will make a naya pakistan
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) April 18, 2019
He announced his decision on Twitter and said that though he was offered the post of energy minister, he has decided not to take it. Umar has received a lot of criticism following his handling of the country’s financial position.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had on April 15 denied news of any cabinet reshuffle.
حکومتی وزراء کے قلمدان تبدیل کئے جانے کے حوالے سے خبروں میں کوئ صداقت نہیں، وزراء کی تبدیلی وزیر اعظم کا صوابدیدی اختیار ہے میڈیا اس ضمن میں ذمہ داری کا مظاہرہ کرے۔ اس وقت پاکستان اہم مرحلے سے گزر رہا ہے اور اس نوعیت کی قیاس آرائیوں سے ہیجان جنم لیتا ہے، جو ملک کے مفاد میں نہیں
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) April 15, 2019
The names of economist and former chairperson of the Planning Commission’s Panel of Economists Hafeez Pasha, former State Bank of Pakistan president and incumbent Adviser on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain and Federal Minister for Power Umar Ayub Khan are being circulated as possible replacements for Umar. Khan has reportedly been summoned to PM House.
PM Khan has summoned a meeting with Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar and Asad Umar.
Speaking at a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday, Umar said that Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted him to take over as energy minister but he didn’t believe that was the right move. But that doesn’t mean he has washed his hands of the PTI. I always did and still believe that Imran Khan will build a Naya Pakistan, he said. He said he knew nothing of the politics behind the decision to change his cabinet and said he wasn’t interested in them either.
You know me, he told journalists. I’m not interested in power politics, he said.
This doesn’t mean that I won’t be available to support Imran Khan and Naya Pakistan, said Umar. He thanked the PTI and most importantly its young supporters. I joined the PTI on April 18, 2012 and today I’m not leaving the PTI but I’m leaving the ministry, he said. He also thanked the people of NA-48 and NA-54 where he was elected from this term and the last one.
This seven year journey has been amazing, he said. There have been good and tough times and I tried to improve the situation as much as I could, said Umar.
He said further changes in the cabinet will be announced tonight or tomorrow morning. He also said that whatever decisions are being made are because the premier believes they are for the betterment of the country.
Whoever comes in now, will need to know the country’s economic position, he said. When we came in, Pakistan’s economy was going through its worst time in history, he said, adding that there were good and bad things but the bad were very bad.
We made some tough decisions to get ourselves out of that and we saw some improvement, said Umar. It’s not that we’re at such a great position now, he said, adding that the new finance minister will have to deal with a different economy than what he had to deal with. Local and foreign journalists have both said that being finance minister is the toughest job after being prime minister, said Umar.
The new minister will go through a lot and I hope they will get the support they need, he said. Umar said the economy is moving towards improvement but tough decisions and patience are needed.
If we aren’t ready to do that and instead want to act in haste, we will fall into that hole again, he warned. I have one request to the new minister, make tough decisions and stand with them, he said.
“Don’t expect that everything will all get fixed in three months,” he said. He also said that the decision to leave would not affect the IMF programme and instead should have been made earlier. It should have been made a month ago, Umar told the media. The next budget needs to reflect the IMF programme and the person going forward will take responsibility for its implementation so they should be a part of the IMF talks, he said.
It will be a difficult budget, he said.
When asked who is responsible for this development, whether there were some other politics at play, he said he isn’t interested. “I came to contribute to Pakistan and its economy. I don’t care about agendas,” said Umar. My kaptaan wanted to see me in a different role but I didn’t think it was appropriate, he said.
Being the finance minister, you have a responsibility to the people, he said. If I had to choose between two or three months of uncertainty or harming the interests of the people, I would chose the first, he said. I was not ready to hurt the people and I would rather and did face the abuse myself instead, said Umar.
He contended that the IMF programme finalised today has far better terms than the one initially offered. I still believe Naya Pakistan will be made and I still support it, said Umar, adding that his support was not contingent on a ministry.
The economy is going through some tough times and the opposition is using that as an excuse to stir up trouble, he said. A fresh team may be able to bring in change but it needs time, he said.
Umar also denied that his resignation is in protest. I joined because of Pakistan, he repeated. He also denied that it had anything to do with amnesty schemes
The basic policy design will stay the same, he told journalists, adding that with a new minister, a few small things could change but the main policy will be the same.
If the fundamentals aren’t fixed, we won’t be able to progress, he explained, adding that Pakistan has had the same three deficits for the past 40 years.