Pakistan's Finance Minister Quits in the Face of Imran Khan's Criticism Over Inflation

Islamabad: Due to dwindling foreign exchange reserves, Pakistan has faced the threat of default on its foreign debt. Since taking office in April, the coalition government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has raised fuel prices to an all-time high, drawing harsh criticism from the country's former leader, Imran Khan.

Miftah Ismail, Pakistan's Finance Minister, resigned late Sunday, as the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) tries to shore up its support base ahead of the general elections.
Ismail stated that he resigned as finance minister to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif in London and will formally resign when he returns to Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif chose exiled party politician Ishaq Dar to succeed Ismail.

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In its report released in the first week of this month, the IMF warned that high food and fuel prices could spark "social protest and instability" in the cash-strapped country.
Maryam Nawaz, Nawaz Sharif's daughter and the party's vice president, has publicly criticised Miftah's economic policies on several occasions.

However, economists are concerned about the reappointment of former Finance Minister Dar as Finance Minister.
Dar, according to Shahrukh Wani, an economist at Oxford University's International Growth Centre, was a bad finance minister the last time around, leaving the country at the mercy of the IMF by the end of his tenure.

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The economist blamed Pakistan's "stupid boom-bust cycle" on Dar's growth strategy of borrowing for a short-term economic boom and subsidising imports through an overvalued currency.
Bringing Dar to the helm in order to gain "political capital" suggests that the Sharif government will pursue an expansionary economic policy with an increase in populist measures.
The PML-N lost provincial elections in Punjab just weeks after seizing power from Imran Khan in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence.

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Since April, PTI leader Imran Khan has used every public rally to demand snap elections, citing "unbearable inflation."

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