ISLAMABAD: When Senate elections for the seat of Islamabad were held, there was not even the slightest indication from the governing hierarchy that Dr Hafeez Sheikh would be called upon immediately.
In fact, Prime Minister Imran Khan has personally lobbied hard for his success. He even held rare interactions with members of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) National Assembly (MNA) and its coalition partners. There are almost no MNAs that Imran Khan has never met during the session. The prime minister worked hard to get Hafeez Sheikh elected as senator, showing that until recently, he wanted him to continue as finance minister.
When Hafeez Sheikh left the advisory position as a consequence of the Islamabad High Court ruling, he was sworn in as finance minister so he could continue for another six months without being elected senator.
What prompted Imran Khan in the 18 days between March 12 and March 30 to force him to just send Hafeez Sheikh packing? Would Hafeez Sheikh be retained as finance minister if he won the Senate seat? No compelling reasons have been put forward by government spokespersons or cabinet ministers for their sudden dismissal from office. Most spokesmen had projected queues that he would be sent home because he failed to control rising prices and inflation.
However, other factors – such as strict and controversial steps taken by the government that lead to heavy taxes requiring greater price increases, and the excessive independence granted to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) make it the ‘king’ it does not have. . a $ 500 million fund from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – has been cited as the main reason behind Hafeez Sheikh’s ouster. But clearly there is more to it than that which will become clearer with the passage of time.
If former PML-N minister Zubair Khan is to be believed, it is not really the finance minister but the SBP governor who is responsible for the price increases, and Hafeez Sheikh is just the scapegoat.
Hafeez Sheikh has always been persuaded by successive governments to return to Pakistan from abroad to improve the health of the national economy, which has been in constant crisis. But never before had he been simply eliminated. As finance minister in the past, he’s always looked through the government terms – whether military or civilian – he served. This is the first time he has been removed only midway through a government term. It is now impossible for him to stay in Pakistan after recovering from the Covid-19 infection he suffered a few days ago. In the past, he always left the country after completing his cabinet duties.
Hafeez Sheikh has never responded to deadly criticism of him by the opposition, particularly the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Muhammad Zubair during his campaign for the Senate seat. More than once, former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has demanded that the finance minister’s name be added to the Exit Control List so that he cannot leave the country and continue living in Pakistan. The Nadeem Babar case is no different. The prime minister has remained steadfast despite harsh criticism of Sheikh and Babar from the opposition and the media demanding their dismissal. Babar has always been accused of having a conflict of interest because his line of business is related to the petroleum industry under the ministry he leads. Babar is now officially declared to have been released so he cannot influence the investigation of the failure to import oil and LNG. No previous punitive action by Imran Khan and his aides has continued to defend Hafeez Sheikh and Nadeem Babar as the opposition and others condemn both of them for rising prices, economic damage and oil and LNG fraud that is harming the public and the public. heavy cat.
Even though he was directly elected, Asad Umar was basically a technocrat and a child of PTI posters. It was decided long before the PTI came to power that it would eventually head the finance ministry. But even though Hafeez Sheikh was overthrown all of a sudden, Asad Umar has not been brought back to finance. Hammad Azhar, who is a purebred politician, was chosen as his replacement. However, the task given to him was a tough task for an inexperienced young man.
Hammad Azhar is the son of Mian Muhammad Azhar, who was the first president of the king’s party – PML-Q – after being carved out of PML-N by Pervez Musharraf. The Chaudhrys of Gujrat immediately outsmarted him and took over PML-Q. Unlike her son, Mian Azhar has always been quiet.
In the 2002 general elections held during Musharraf’s term, Mian Azhar was a strong candidate for the post of prime minister, but he faced defeats from the two seats he won in Lahore and Sheikhpura. Without a parliamentary seat, he was replaced by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain as president of PML-Q. He also failed to win a seat in the 2008 election. He then joined PTI.
Previously, Mian Azhar remained in touch with the Sharif family for decades. During Sharif’s reign, he held various senior government positions before falling out with them. He was the Governor of Punjab from 1990-1992. He also served as mayor of Lahore between 1987 and 1991.
He was awarded a National Assembly ticket to the NA-95 Lahore when the seat was vacated by Nawaz Sharif after the 1988 vote. He won the election as candidate for Islamic Jamhoori Ittehad. In 1990, following the ouster of Benazir Bhutto’s first government, he replaced General (retired) Tikka Khan as governor of Punjab. He, however, left that position due to differences with Sharif. In the 1997 election, he was selected as an MNA with a PML-N ticket from NA-92 Lahore. His relationship with Sharif grew bitter and eventually after the removal of Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1999, he became head of PML-Q.