Stories about Asad Umar

The importance of Imran Khan’s Malaysia visit

Imran Khan’s Malaysia trip has gained an added sense of importance since it comes after last year’s fiasco when Pakistan, at the very last moment, refused to participate in the Kuala Lumpur summit due to Saudi pressure. Although Malaysia, despite knowing the reason for Pakistan’s failure to attend the summit, never showed any discernible annoyance, this Malaysia trip presents Imran with an opportunity to engage in some damage control in light of that decision. This was evident since upon landing in Malaysia one of the first things Imran did was express his regret for missing the Kuala Lumpur summit because,  “Unfortunately, our friends, who are very close to Pakistan as well, felt that somehow ...

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MQM-P continues to play a dangerous game of political charades

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) has played a very indecisive role in the country’s political scenario during the recent years. Their endless charade of intermittently joining and leaving their coalition partners continues to this day. Recently, MQM-P Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi resigned from his cabinet position, stating that the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) had failed to fulfil its promises. While Siddiqi cited PTI’s lack of interest in the development of Karachi as the primary reason for his resignation, he did not ask his party colleague and incumbent law minister, Barrister Farogh Naseem to resign with him. In fact, Siddiqi, in a presser, said ...

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In conversation with Asad Umar: “Pakistan is one of the most difficult countries to run”

Interrupting the festivities of his son’s wedding, I caught up with the remarkably candid Minister Asad Umar for an interview at his residence in Karachi this weekend. We talked about everything from his substantive reform goals as the Federal Minister for Planning and Development to who’s more likely to become a prime minister first, Bilawal Bhutto or Maryam Nawaz.  “The last time you interviewed me, I was fired after four days,” Umar quipped, as we began the interview. “If it happens this time, it’ll fall on December 25th, which will be really sad.” Since wedding festivities were in full swing around ...

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Asad Umar – second time lucky?

Political promises are like ephemeral realities. Parties who win the hearts and minds of people do so on the back of the promises they make, and its no surprise that heartbreak generally swiftly follows every new regime. Imran Khan’s government is no different. The economic mess has meant that a lot of people who were vying for change are now running away from it. This is due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, Imran appointed Shabbar Zaidi, the man who showed people ways of saving taxation for a living, as the head of Federal Board of Revenue. Secondly, he made deals with ...

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Economic road map: Imran Khan should eat, sleep, breathe (and dream) exports

The government has plethora of tasks at hands, and naturally so since it paraded a picture-perfect dream in its election manifesto. The scorecard, however, had been deteriorating, even before the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was at the helm of affairs. Twenty months and counting, the Rupee has lost almost 50% of its value and interest rates (borrowing costs) have increased to 13.25%. Have hopes of a quick improvement in the livelihood of the middle-class that voted for this government faded away only to resurface for a better long-term hope? There are no quick fixes for Insafians and Pakistanis. That said, in the ...

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The return of Fayyaz Chohan: Is tolerance no longer the ‘first and foremost pillar’ of Pakistan?

When Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came to power, Fayyaz Chohan was given charge of the Punjab Information Ministry. During his stint as Punjab’s information minister, Chohan not only used derogatory language against his political opponents, but he also passed disrespectful, misogynistic remarks about a stage actress, accusing her of spreading vulgarity in society. His statements soon became an embarrassment for the PTI government and it seemed that every time Chohan spoke, PTI had to clean up the mess after him. However, when Chohan spoke against the Hindu community in an offensive and bigoted manner, it seemed that he had finally crossed the line. ...

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In conversation with President Arif Alvi: ‘Pakistan’s fourth industrial revolution is here’

Dr Arif Alvi is an acquired taste. He isn’t your typical flash in the pan Pakistani politician who rides his 1,000-watt charisma to answer difficult questions. Instead, Alvi is that rare Pakistani leader whose substance overwhelms his style. He quotes ideas from Plato, Maulana Maududi, Karl Marx and Thomas Piketty with equal ease. Even if you’re a resident of his former constituency in Karachi’s Defence area, you might not know that he was shot twice while protesting against Ayub Khan’s military rule. I got the opportunity to interview the president over Eid at the Governor’s House in Karachi. We had ...

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Is Fawad Chaudhry really the best person for the job?

It’s March 25, 1992. England is chasing a target of 250 to become the victor of the cricket World Cup in Australia. Experienced duo Allan Lamb and Neil Fairbrother have tilted the game in England’s favour, and Pakistan captain Imran Khan has to apply his cricket dexterity to take a wicket as blocking runs isn’t going to work. He needs to ensure the right person throws the ball, and brings in Wasim Akram. The rest, as they say, is history. References to the 1992 World Cup final are generally used a lot these days to offer sarcastic commentary on PM ...

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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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