That Pakistan's economy has been in shambles has long been known. Its currency too is extremely weak in terms of the exchange rate with the US dollar. And while the Imran Khan government has been flayed for being rather inept at handling the situation, the country's finance minister has lashed out at critics for citing a weak exchange rate.
Asad Umar on Monday claimed that the health of an economy cannot be ascertained by the exchange rate of its currency, adding that critics who were highlighting it were ill-informed. "The exchange rate is not a measure of a strong economy. At one point, the Pakistani rupee was stronger than the Japanese yen, even though the latter's per capita income was much higher than ours," he was quoted as saying by Dawn.
As of Monday evening, 1 USD was equal to 145 PNR, as per XE.com. On August 18, when Imran Khan took oath as the PM, 1 USD was equal to 123 PNR which was still much worse than around 115 PNR just months earlier.
According to Umar, however, judging the economy by judging the performance of the Pakistani currency is not correct. "By artificially maintaining the exchange rate, we harm our farmers and exporters and give a free subsidy to foreign traders. In order to end the practice, economic fundamentals need to be strengthened," he said.
Umar, who has been facing the heat from not just political rivals but from the country's media as well, also chose to dish out advice to TV news netowrks in the country. He said that anchors ought to have debates with economists of repute rather than go with myopic views of the economy.
One of the biggest explanations - excuses, according to many, that the PTI government has given for the country's economy is that it was already faring poorly when the party came to power. In fact, Umar has said his government had inherited 'a very sick patient' which is ' now out of the Intensive Care Unit.'
While Imran Khan has visited a number of countries and managed to secure bailout packages, Pakistan is now looking at the International Monetary Fund for a much-needed helping hand. Strained relations with the US is unlikely to make that an easy prospect.