Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Secretary General Asad Umar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Finance Minister Taimoor Jhagra have defended the conversation between former finance minister Shaukat Tarin and the current finance ministers of Punjab and KP, without acknowledging the authenticity of the audio.
Asad Umar, during the press conference, said that Shaukat Tarin had called the provincial finance ministers for renegotiations on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement due to recent floods. Umar said that Tarin had stated that because of floods it would be difficult to achieve provincial surplus because of expenses that would be required for relief operations.
The PTI leader asked if anyone could say this was not good advice.
Asad Umar also said that the government was asking money from the foreign governments, therefore, why could the IMF not be asked for space this year to use money for flood-related expenses. He also criticized the strategy of Pakistan democratic Movement (PDM) in the past at the time of legislation related to Financial Action Task Force and IMF agreement.
Asad Umar further said that at the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, the then prime minister, Imran Khan, had negotiated with the IMF in the same way.
Two audios were released on Monday on different media platforms in which former finance minister Shaukat Tarin was allegedly advising the provincial ministers of Punjab and KP to tell the federal government and the IMF that commitment of provincial budget surplus would not be possible because of recent devastation caused by floods.
PTI’s senior leader Shireen Mazari has said that there was nothing illegal or wrong in the conversations. Responding to the leaked audios, she further said that PTI had already opposed the terms publicly on which the government was taking loan from the IMF.
In her tweet, Mazari has also said that the wiretapping without court’s order was illegal and a criminal offence.
Jhagra had written a letter to the Finance Minister Miftah Ismail three days ahead of the IMF’s executive board meeting informing that the administration of KP might find it difficult to maintain provincial surplus this year.