Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar steps down

Srinagar: Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar on Thursday announced that he has obtained the prime minister’s consent “to not take any cabinet position” days after reports of a reshuffle in the cabinet were rubbished by the government’s spokesperson.

“As part of a cabinet reshuffle, [the] prime minister desired that I take the energy minister portfolio instead of finance,” he said. “However, I have obtained his consent to not take any cabinet position.”

It is unclear whether Umar has officially submitted a resignation, and whether it has been accepted.

In a video recorded soon after the news broke, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari told reporters that she had no idea about the development. “I was just in a meeting and Asad Umar was the finance minister [in the meeting], so I have no idea if anything else has happened,” she said.

PML-N leader and Umar’s brother Mohammad Zubair while speaking to DawnNewsTV said he hopes “whoever comes now will take a running start and implement the things that need to be done.”

Explore: Does the government possess the political skill to manage the adjustment process?

Journalist Meher Bokhari told DawnNewsTV that there is some disappointment over the news in Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf circles because Umar is admired and looked up to in the party.

Reports were circulating earlier this week about a possible reshuffle in the post for Minister for Finance and Minister of State for Interior held by Asad Umar and Shehryar Afridi respectively.

The government in general and the finance minister in particular have faced mounting criticism by opposition parties, members of the business community and citizens over the handling of the economic crisis.

The information minister, although he had not addressed the specific changes reported to the portfolios, had dismissed the reports, saying there was “no truth” to them.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority had also issued show-cause notices to ARY News and Bol News for airing news items regarding the reshuffle in the cabinet and change in the portfolios of some federal ministers.

Umar recently returned from a trip to Washington in which the details of Pakistan’s next International Monetary Fund bailout were finalised, documented and signed. An IMF mission is expected to visit Islamabad before the end of the month to work out technical tables since all major issues had been settled and documented, Umar had said. (Dawn)

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