Urgent reforms

There are many reasons for this. The first is that there is no transparency in government policies

By Mansoor Ahmad
March 02, 2024
PML-N leaders — Ishaq Dar (left) and Miftah Ismail (right) — who performed as finance ministers. — APP/File

LAHORE: The main parties in democracies around the world do their homework on all issues before the election and make it public as they are prepared to implement them if they win. In Pakistan, parties plan after assuming power.

There are many reasons for this. The first is that there is no transparency in government policies. So the politicians not in power do not know the exact position of the economy, education, health or social welfare. Moreover, the literacy level of those elected to our assemblies is far from ideal.


The Senate is one place where highly qualified individuals could be inducted but all political parties instead prefer their own faithful. We rarely find a renowned economist, an agricultural expert or a globally recognized IT expert in our senate. The presence of such experts would make a difference in these fields.

We appoint non-experts as ministers who make a mess of everything. Politicians refuse to recognize that Pakistan needs an economist of impeccable credentials to head the ministry of finance.

In the last 35 years, we have seen non-economists heading the finance ministry. During this time, we inducted three economists as finance ministers whose cumulative period is less than three years.

They were Dr Hafeez Pasha, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shiekh and Miftah Ismael. Although all three operated under political pressure, still if we analyze the performance, they out did all other finance ministers.

The rest that occupied this office were either bankers, chartered accountants or merely politicians with no experience in finance. This time around, we are probably again going to hand this portfolio to a person who we have experienced several times.

Ishaq Dar remained finance minister during the coalition government headed by Shahbaz Sharif, so he is the one who really knows how bad our economic situation is. The plea is that he has experience and that he has delivered in the past.

All non-economists finance ministers look for short term solutions to the economic problems. They leave long-term decisions for others. They borrow money for consumption, they make political compromises as Dar did during all his stints as finance minister.

Dar must benefit from his experience and also learn from his past mistakes. Pakistan is in a dire state. There is no time for whimsical behavior. He should act as Hafeez Shiekh and Miftah Ismail did while dealing with the IMF. Hafeez Shiekh accepted all IMF conditions upfront. The IMF is asking for privatization. Please do it at the earliest in a transparent way. He should go for fair taxation, that means taxing the rich.

There should be no consideration of protecting the electoral base of his party which is traders and the industrialists. Pakistan’s survival should get preference over the survival of the political party. Have mercy on Pakistan as merely balancing the accounts sheet for another year would not work this time.