Pakistan’s biggest crisis is its economy and for the long-term growth of any economy, stability at the helm is key. Miftah Ismail has done an excellent job as Finance Minister, considering the hand he was dealt with in trying to clean up the mess left by Imran Khan and his PTI-led government.
If Ishaq Dar takes over as Finance Minister Pakistan will have its third finance minister in 2022 and sixth since the current National Assembly took oath. According to an editorial in Dawn, Dar is a Nawaz Sharif confidant and the “decision to change horses midstream appears to have been driven by Miftah Ismail’s unyielding pragmatism given the state of the economy and his unwillingness to dish out populist ‘relief’ when the economy can ill afford it. Mr Dar will now be expected by his party to conjure up fiscal space for the government to start spending ahead of the next elections. What financial wizardry he employs to do so remains to be seen, but if the past is anything to go by, Mr Dar’s arrival could portend more trouble. His disastrous exchange rate policy during his last tenure is widely seen as a key reason why Pakistan had to return for yet another bailout program to the International Monetary Fund.”
Any change in Finance Minister at this stage may be important for the PML-N for its own internal domestic reasons, but it is not what the country’s economy needs. With a new finance minister instability will return as markets speculate on the direction he will take in the weeks and months ahead.