ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s younger son, Suleman, has dubbed the three last finance ministers of the country including the PMLN’s own last FM Miftah Ismail “jokers”.
Suleman Shehbaz chose to publicly ridicule Miftah (without naming him), who was the first finance minister of his father’s cabinet and was praised by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for getting the IMF programme revived last year.
In a tweet, Suleman Shehbaz said, “The last 3 finance ministers were jokers. They ran a clown show! Dar sb averted a default after atomic detonations in 1998. The challenges are humongous, he is giving his best shot no match for his commitment and hard work. The 3 jokers have laid minefields!”
This tweet is considered as an expression of Sharifs’ anger against Miftah, who during the recent weeks have been vocal of the embarrassing manner adopted by the party leadership to remove him from the cabinet. Miftah has also been critical of incumbent Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s policies of handling the economy. It appears from Suleman’s tweet that Miftah’s journey with PMLN is now almost over.
Contrary to what Suleman now said about the PMLN government’s last finance minister, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had publicly praised Miftah Imsail over the revival of the IMF programme in July last year. In a tweet dated July 14, 2022, the prime minister had said, “Congratulations to our Finance & Foreign Office teams led ably by ministers Miftah Ismail & Bilawal Bhutto for their efforts in getting the IMF programme revived. It was a great team work. The agreement with the Fund has set the stage to bring country out of economic difficulties.”
The premier had issued the statement following IMF statement that Pakistan and the Fund finally had reached a staff-level agreement to complete the combined 7th and 8th reviews of Pakistan’s Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with an increased size of $7 billion.
Eversince the appointment of Miftah Ismail as finance minister, the London PMLN has been uncomfortable and so was Maryam Nawaz. The then establishment had not cleared Ishaq Dar’s immediate return at that time and had endorsed the name of Miftah as finance minister. The PMLN Pakistan led by Shehbaz Sharif was, however, really comfortable with Miftah.
When the reports about division on Miftah within the party became public, senior PMLN leaders here backed him and praised his work. Taking to twitter, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on July 2, 2022, “FM Miftah is among the hardest working members of PM’s team, accessible to all stakeholders. He is performing v. well under difficult circumstances, with immense criticism from vested interests - including, and unfortunately, from within PMLN. Time to show solidarity with Miftah.”
The same day, senior PMLN leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also tweeted, “Miftah Ismail’s knowledge of economics and the Pakistan economy is without parallel in Pakistan politics today. He is one of the most effective members of the PM’s cabinet. He has played a crucial role in saving Pakistan from default and in implementing PMLN’s economic reform agenda.”
When Nawaz Sharif decided to replace Miftah with Dar, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif again appreciated Miftah for saving the country from default during a severe economic crisis. The premier added that Miftah Ismail had taken the toughest task of dealing with the economic situation including with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme. “I have the highest respect for the professionalism and commitment with which he served the nation during these difficult times,” he said but today his son dubbed Miftah a “joker”.
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