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Hafeez Sheikh's loss could lead to change of guard at Finance Ministry, say Experts

  • The report was of the view that Sheikh can continue to be the FM for an additional 3 months before the expiration of the six months grace period.
Updated 05 Mar 2021

The loss of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh in Senate Elections at the hands of the joint candidate of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani could potentially result in an ‘eventual’ change of guard at the Finance Ministry, expressed financial analysts.

“Dr. Sheikh’s loss could potentially result in an ‘eventual’ change of guard at the Finance Ministry given the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling wherein unelected individuals could only be appointed for a period of six months under Article 91(9) of the Constitution,” stated AKD Research in its latest report.

The report was of the view that Sheikh can continue to be the FM for an additional 3 months before expiration of the six months grace period. “This can give the incumbent PTI government much time to potentially get him elected on a ‘safe-seat’.”

Yousaf Raza Gilani, on Wednesday, emerged victorious by defeating his rival Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, the federal finance minister, by five votes – 169/164 as seven votes were rejected under highly suspicious circumstances in Senate elections.

The political uncertainty was further accelerated after PTI announce that Prime Minister Imran Khan would seek a fresh vote of confidence from the National Assembly, following the upset defeat of Hafeez Shaikh.

“We believe with the motion not being a secret ballot and considering that PTI was announced successful on female seat in Federal Capital, the Government should be able to turn the vote in its favor. This should bring much needed clarity on the political front, restoring confidence that Govt. would complete its tenure,” stated the report.

The report was of the view that from a macro perspective, there will likely be noise on Pakistan’s program with the IMF with a general perception of Hafeez Sheikh being the architect of Pakistan’s negotiation with the IMF.

“We believe the said perception is misplaced where given Pakistan’s recent economic performance, the country will continue to remain in the program as long as performance targets are being met. However, with the upper house likely to be ‘hunged’, the reform process the Govt. aims including legislations that are to be passed in order to remain in compliance with the program could face delay, in our view.”

It further added that on the market side, a knee-jerk reaction to FM Hafeez Sheikh’s loss will likely weigh heavily, albeit in the near term. “In the long run, however, we believe any downward movement is likely an accumulation opportunity with Pakistan’s growth story remaining intact.”

Meanwhile, a report by Arif Habib Limited said Asad Umar and Hammad Azhar could be two potential candidates for the post of finance minister, if Shaikh did not make it.

"Following his loss in the election, the two potential candidates for this position could be either Hammad Azhar or Asad Umar, former being a strong contender as previously too we saw him being appointed the Federal Minister of Revenue by the PM in place of Hafeez Sheikh," stated the report.