Dar’s task

PML-N’s economic guru Ishaq Dar is back to work

September 28, 2022

Amidst a series of twists and turns, PML-N’s economic guru Ishaq Dar is back to work. His surprise nomination as the next finance minister and subsequent clearance from the court of law, where he is wanted in cases of assets beyond means and money-laundering, has rolled out a new power equation. It is bound to have far-reaching consequences not only on the political mosaic but also have an imprint on the economic framework, which is shattered to the core and in a dismal state. Dar’s return from self-exile after five years must have a tale to tell, and now all eyes are cast as to how he navigates the wrecked ship of economy.

Dar is taking over a roller-coaster of statistics, and his challenge will be to smoothen it as much as possible. The tasks, nonetheless, are to stem the deterioration by controlling inflation and devising a strategy to stop further depreciation of the rupee. Buoying the fiat against the dollar and raising exports, however, are gigantic propositions that will test his skills as a nurtured financial wizard. His claim that his dispensation will work out a phase-wise approach to pull out of the economic vortex, like he accomplished in 1999 and 2013-14, when he was at the helm of affairs, and lead it towards stability needs to walk the talk.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif apparently has shown his last card by entrusting Dar with the finance portfolio. Any further downslide of the economy, and rise in energy and oil prices, will have a political toil and might bring the curtain down for the coalition dispensation. The state of public backlash is in need of being studied, if the rot is not stemmed instantly. The opposition is furious and, of course, there is an unending debate too as to how the judiciary stitches out tailor-made exemptions to further an agenda that is political and highly contested. It remains to be seen how Dar manages to do something different that his predecessor, Miftah Ismail, hasn’t opted for in dire straits. Dar will have to get deep introspective and address the holistic picture of tangibles and assets, as he recrafts an indispensable way out.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2022.

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