Islamabad: Pakistan’s Finance Minister Miftah Ismail finds himself at the centre of an intra-party rift of the PML-N, Express Tribune reported on Sunday.
While Miftah has found unequivocal support from party stalwarts on the one hand, he has also been facing criticism from within the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) amid speculations of ex-financial czar Ishaq Dar’s return to Pakistan to replace him.
The support for the incumbent finance minister has come from Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, saying that his understanding of economic issues is unmatched, and it is time to stand with him, especially, when he is feeling the heat from within the party.
Miftah has been at the receiving end of severe criticism from various quarters for repeatedly raising prices of petroleum and other products and over delay in the revival of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, among other things. He himself admitted that he has ample support from party stalwarts but there are others who have been criticising and opposing him.
Expressing his gratitude to his supporters within the party, Miftah revealed that he is under immense pressure because of being the face of the ruling alliance’s “unpopular decisions”, adding that he did not even want to hold the last press conference where he had to announce the increase in petroleum prices once again.
Asked if he will be willing to leave the finance portfolio for Dar, Miftah said that it is not about his willingness or unwillingness as it is the prime minister’s discretion to keep him or anyone else as the country’s financial czar.
He, however, emphasised that he will stay with the party and do whatever task he is given even if he is replaced or moved somewhere. “This has to be PM’s decision; it is his discretion,” he reiterated.
The debate about Miftah’s replacement escalated soon after speculations became rife about Dar’s return and him confirming the same to BBC Urdu.
Dar’s return and lobbying within the party circle built pressure on Miftah to the extent that he has since been repeatedly saying that he is ready to hand over the reins of the finance ministry to the senator-elect, who is in London since 2018 and faces a corruption reference wherein he had been declared a proclaimed offender.
Party’s internal rifts over Miftah’s future have not only aggravated but created a situation where stalwarts had to openly come out in his support.