LAHORE: PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday demanded the resignation of Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, maintaining that all noted economists and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had rejected his budget proposed on June 9.
Speaking to the media, Qureshi said the global lender had rejected Dar’s budget as it lacked confidence in his economic policies.
The former foreign minister maintained that the government had imposed new taxes worth Rs215 billion in the next financial year when industries were facing their worst-ever crisis.
“There is no electricity to keep the industrial wheels in motion. In rural areas, power outages have already surpassed 12 hours [each day] because of poor governance,” he added.
Qureshi criticised the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government’s “lack of response” to the joint statement issued after the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The PTI vice chairman said the coalition government should issue a response to the US and India.
He added that the US could not remain oblivious to how much Pakistan had contributed to ending terrorism.
Modi, who was on a state visit to the US earlier this week, received a warm reception as he arrived at the White House on Thursday.
During his visit, the two countries sealed major defence and technology deals reflecting Washington’s strategic reliance on India as a balancing force against China.
In an effort to advance India’s objectives against Pakistan, a joint statement issued by the two leaders on Thursday evening urged Pakistan to launch a crackdown on “extremist groups operating from its territory,” including proscribed organisations – Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Qureshi said it hurt him to see the joint communique issued after Biden and Modi’s meeting in Washington.
“They [Biden and Modi] met [and] they had a discussion. However, the joint communique issued after the meeting – reading it as a former foreign minister of Pakistan – caused me great pain,” he claimed.
The PTI vice chairman emphasised that the statement neglected to acknowledge Pakistan’s economic and human sacrifices in combating terrorism.
He expressed his concern about the deviation from diplomatic norms during the bilateral meeting, where Pakistan was singled out for criticism, considering it to be inappropriate.
Qureshi expressed his astonishment at the “lack of response” from individuals within Pakistan on the matter.
He noted that he had already expressed his perspective as well as his sense of disappointment on the subject a day earlier outside an anti-terrorism court, and he was reiterating the same stance now.
He criticised Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, stating that while he was “selling” mangoes in France, he should also have issued a response to the statement by the US and India.
Qureshi continued that the prime minister’s focus on “mango diplomacy” should not overshadow the need for addressing the concerns raised in the international statement.
“Our foreign minister [PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari] says nothing about this? What is a bigger forum than parliament and there is no discussion on this [matter] there?” he claimed.
He also noted that the Foreign Office spokesperson had issued a statement, but it was “not enough”.
“She [FO spokesperson] gave the right response. However, it doesn’t carry the same weight as the one by a political, elected leadership. So, I am sad to say that the government didn’t come up to the task when it needed to,” he added.
Qureshi said the US should not overlook Pakistan’s contributions to the global fight against terrorism.
He emphasised that terrorism was a widespread menace that extended beyond regional boundaries, and Pakistan had consistently demonstrated its willingness to combat it.
In what appeared to be an attempt to appease Washington, the PTI vice chairman reiterated Pakistan’s longstanding stance of being prepared to cooperate with the US on counter-terrorism efforts.
He said the joint statement, which had targeted Pakistan, did not mention the injustices inflicted upon the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) by New Delhi.
He highlighted the absence of any mention regarding the treatment of minorities in India, particularly Muslims, and expressed concern over the silence surrounding these issues.
Qureshi added that it was problematic to ignore such matters while they continued to impact the region.
To a question, the PTI leader said elections should be held 90 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly.
To another query, Qureshi maintained that he was engaged in the politics of an ideology, reiterating that “the flag of justice” was in his hands – meaning that he was part of the PTI – since 2011.
“I am above the politics of positions and tickets. The PTI does not believe in rumours about taking office,” he claimed.