The negligent national leadership
It is very ironic that despite being unable to do justice with his very important job of Finance Minister, Mr Dar is still reluctant to leave the reins of the most important ministry to some capable person. Just imagine, he has been facing serious charges in the accountability court and is also under treatment at London hospital, and yet he is unwilling to quit his job. The country is passing through serious juncture of period both politically and economically which has been caused by Mr Dar’s party-the PML-N which is not giving due importance to the national interest. However, time has come the country must have a finance minister who is unfettered by political and legal entanglements of the sort that Mr Dar is caught in. The callously negligent national leadership is definitely the epitome and worst example of a laid- back, cavalier style of governance. Pressing national matters are invariably allowed to drift aimlessly or swept under the carpet. A case in point was the four year absence of a Foreign Minister in a fast- changing regional and international scenario, until the Supreme Court disqualification forced the former PM’s hand off and led to super-loyalist Khawaja Asif being gifted with the long vacant position. Lacking previous diplomatic experience, hampered by his somewhat abrasive personality and sharp tongue, he still managed to put across Pakistan’s viewpoint firmly at world forums. But combating the harm already done during the vacuum period remains an uphill task, as many negative viewpoints and wrong perceptions regarding our policies have solidified in foreign capitals, courtesy the incessant intense propaganda conducted by geo-political rivals. Another similar rudderless and catastrophic approach is being followed in the crucial sphere of the national economy, whose present health status roughly approximates that of a patient in an intensive care unit kept alive on a ventilator machine. The incumbent minister appears a nervously broken man, being saddled with corruption charges and Accountability Court hearings, and currently lies in a London hospital taking treatment. There is no one minding the national mercantile store, no hand on the tiller, at a time when the dismal state and nightmare future of the economy sends shivers down the spines of independent-minded economists, who even talk of declaring an ‘economic emergency’. Not that Ishaq Dar’s presence made any defining difference or brought joy to the country’s finances, for his dubious legacy consists mainly of failed amnesty schemes, fudging budgetary figures and ruinous foreign borrowing at prohibitive rates to sustain dwindling forex reserves. The real issues plaguing the economy, absurdly low tax collection, declining exports, foreign direct investment and inward remittances, rising imports and luxury consumerism, profligate government habits, and introducing radical policies and practical reforms, were ignored. An experienced hand at the helm, ‘without an itching palm’, practicing and imposing a Spartan austerity, might still be able to save the day. But strange are the ways of our Finance Minister. One wonders what stops him from resignation despite the fact that he has been indicted in billions-rupee cases and the court hearings are on. What Mr Dar fails to understand is that the Ministry of Finance has lost credibility under Ishaq Dar who now spends most part of his day fighting corruption cases in the accountability court. As such, Dar should resign immediately and the right approach for the former is to resign and face the charges. Earlier, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance Thursday has rightly recommended that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar should step down to save the country’s name from being further defamed. Now, that everybody has called upon Ishaq Dar to relinquish his office Dar should go. By not resigning from the cabinet he would neither serve the country’s interest that requires a fully focused on the economy person at the helm nor would it serve his party’s or his own cause. Mr Dar should do the right thing and resign from his office. The management of a 208-million-strong economy is too serious an affair to be left to someone occupied with legal battles over financial mismanagement allegations. NAB has issued orders to all banks as well as relevant departments to freeze the accounts and property of Federal Finance Minister. It is as yet unclear what Dar’s or the government’s intentions are with respect to his keeping the finance portfolio; however, one thing is certain: Ishaq Dar has been almost unable to do justice with his job. It may be recalled here that in the post-Panama Papers verdict Ishaq Dar has not taken any major policy decision relating to his Ministry. This is extremely disturbing as the economy is currently in a tailspin with a steadily growing trade deficit, and foreign and domestic indebtedness fast reaching unsustainable levels. In other words, given the state of the economy a finance minister who is obviously disengaged from the task given the extent of the legal difficulties he is currently facing needs to resign or, failing that needs to be replaced by the govt.