Tarin calls for general elections to ‘kill this uncertainty’ after Punjab by-elections

Former finance minister Shaukat Tarin said on Monday that by-elections in Punjab have enhanced economic instability in Pakistan, and the only way out of it is holding general elections.

In a tweet, he said that “Punjab by-elections have increased political uncertainty which breeds economic instability.”

“Despite Miftah’s assurances of forthcoming help from overseas friends, Rupee is sliding. We need to announce general elections to kill this uncertainty,” he said.

In the by-elections for the 20 constituencies of the Punjab Assembly held on Sunday, unofficial results confirmed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) victory on a majority of the seats.

Soon after getting the results, PML-N supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif also made telephonic contact with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif from London and advised him to call a party’s meeting on Monday to take stock of the situation. PM Shehbaz has summoned a party meeting today (Monday).

On Saturday, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail said that the incumbent coalition government had saved the country from bankruptcy, and is expecting $4 billion from friendly countries to bridge the external financing gap.

Few days ago, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached a staff-level agreement (SLA) with Pakistan authorities for the conclusion of the combined seventh and eighth reviews of the Extended Fund Facility (EFF), with the agreement now subject to approval of the Executive Board.

“Subject to Board approval, about $1,177 million (SDR 894 million) will become available, bringing total disbursements under the programme to about $4.2 billion,” said the IMF in its statement.

However, despite the IMF’s staff-level agreement, the rupee took a battering during intra-day trading on Monday, falling to 215 against the US dollar in the inter-bank market as the market weighed sentiment against political uncertainty stemming from the Punjab by-polls’ results.