Stories about Asad Umar

Maryam Nawaz can’t be vice president of her own party but Jahangir Tareen can be ‘deputy PM’?

It was a mammoth show of street power by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in Lahore on May 7th. Nawaz Sharif was returning to Kot Lakhpat jail, but the reception he received from his vote bank in Lahore along the way certainly created life in the otherwise lifeless political narrative of PML-N. The credit for this power show goes to Maryam Nawaz, who has recently been promoted to one of the vice presidents of the PML-N. Her aggressive style of politics and her ability to pull large crowds within no time at all has started giving the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ...

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22 loans in 61 years: Pakistan’s unwavering habit of going to the IMF

If we take a look at Pakistan’s history of borrowing from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), some interesting facts come to light. Pakistan’s history of knocking upon the IMF’s door started back in 1958, when General Ayub Khan first took the country to the IMF route and signed an agreement to secure special drawing rights (SDR) 25 million under a Standby Agreement. The money was never withdrawn.  Not too long after, Ayub’s finance team pursued two back-to-back IMF programs in 1965 and 1968 respectively. This time, however, they ended up withdrawing around SDR 112 million, the entire agreed upon amount. ...

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Imran Khan’s 8-month conundrum: Taking the right decision or the popular one?

Ever since Imran Khan has been sworn in as the prime minister of Pakistan, somehow his administration has never failed to supply flabbergasting news every now and then. His right-hand man on the economy and star finance minister, Asad Umar, has stepped down, followed by a major reshuffle in the cabinet in which various cabinet members saw their portfolios changed. For instance, Fawad Chaudhry is now the Minister for Science and Technology, despite brushing off such rumours just a few days ago. This may smell of chaos inside the administration, but I seriously doubt it. I actually welcome the move because ...

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With Asad Umar gone, who will Imran Khan blame for his government’s failure?

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has, after much criticism, finally shuffled its cabinet. Many federal ministers, such as Ghulam Sarwar, Fawad Chaudhry and Shehryar Afridi, have been given different portfolios, while Finance Minister Asad Umar refused to accept a cabinet position and has thus stepped down from office. Though Umar’s removal did not come as a surprise – his performance was heavily criticised and his departure was expected – it is the timing that is questionable. Pakistan’s economy is in shambles, relying heavily on the bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which Umar had been negotiating for the ...

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Spilling tea with Asad Umar: Being a finance minister is ‘tough’

Right after his meetings with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, I had the opportunity to sit down for tea with Finance Minister Asad Umar at the Pakistani consulate in New York City. We talked about his negotiations with the IMF, unpacked his outlook on the Pakistani economy as well as the personal toll this job is taking on him. The second thing I noticed about Umar when he entered the room was how tall he actually is in person. The first thing I noticed was how visibly exhausted he looks. By nature, he is an irrepressibly optimistic ...

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Why the time to invest in Pakistan is now

Being a capital market participant, I have seen quite a few ups and downs during the past decade. I have experience of evaluating a large number of companies listed at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). I believe, at this point in time, most of the listed companies are trading well below their fair price, thus, offering good return potential and strong dividend yield. Historically speaking, every time our stock market experienced a downturn, it bounced back with more power. Even though the downturns are often abrupt, recovery usually takes a while. Nonetheless, once our stock market comes out of crisis, ...

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Mother of all U-turns: Why is PTI protecting tax evaders instead of punishing them?

I suppose we should have expected it, given the number of U-turns the government has already taken. Finance Minister Asad Umar reversed a good tax-collecting measure introduced by the previous government, a measure that would have brought many tax criminals into the net. Instead, bowing to the pressure from the powerful auto industry, he has allowed non-filers to buy vehicles of all sizes. Non-filers, it should be noted, do not pay income tax nor do they file tax returns. By law, they should be punished. Instead, they are allowed to pay just 0.6% tax on the amount they spend to ...

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#BalakotAttack: Should Pakistan strike back?

Today, Indian fighter jets violated the Line of Control (LoC) and entered the Pakistani air space, albeit for a few minutes. This incident has further raised the tension between both the countries in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack. Both countries are showing their citizens different pictures of the air attack and overall the situation seems confusing. Indian Air Force violated Line of Control. Pakistan Air Force immediately scrambled. Indian aircrafts gone back. Details to follow. — Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) February 25, 2019 The Indian side maintains that it successfully destroyed the training camps of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) during the operation. ...

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Give PTI six months, they said – now we have Rs2.42 trillion added to our debt

A historic problem in Pakistan, one it has been facing for quite some time now, is the debt trap. Each successive government in Pakistan keeps borrowing for temporary fixes, which only helps in the short-term but has made us worse off in the long-run. However, even before it was elected to power, the incumbent government consistently maintained it would get Pakistan out of this trap once and for all (but only they knew how). Thus far, not only has the government been entirely unsuccessful in getting us out of this mess and bridging the gap between expenditures and revenue, it ...

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PTI’s third finance bill in six months and yet no relief for the common man in sight

The highly anticipated second mini-budget or the third finance bill for the current fiscal year (whatever you may like to call it) has, at last, been revealed. Finance Minister Asad Umar, feeling the heat from all ‘concerned’ quarters, made an attempt to appease by announcing tax concessions to the banking sector and the business community at large. On paper, the bill looks acceptable, as it is aimed at restoring the confidence of the business sector in the economy. Abolishing the withholding tax, abolishing the super tax on the non-banking sector, continuing the 1% reduction per annum in corporate income tax, allowing capital ...

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