Finance Minister Miftah Ismail continues to face unrelenting pressure and criticism for implementing difficult yet necessary decisions to get our economy off the ventilator. However, the political cost of these decisions is seemingly too much to bear for political leaders of the PML-N, which has meant that senior officials have sought to distance themselves from them. The populist impulse is understandable given what is at stake in terms of the political situation, but achieving fiscal stability should supersede all such concerns.

FM Ismail has been forced to go on the defensive after the government raised the price of petrol for the next fortnight. It was announced earlier this week that the price of petrol will go up by Rs6.72 per litre and of kerosene oil by Rs1.67 per litre. FM Ismail is right in saying that he has become an easy target in the eyes of the public and one can imagine how such constant criticism must make one of the toughest jobs even harder.

These remarks came after PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz tweeted about how party leader Nawaz Sharif strongly opposed the decision to raise prices, adding that he could not burden the people any further. As stated earlier, this stance is understandable in light of mounting public pressure and frustration, but it must be remembered that this was unavoidable given the terms of the IMF deal. We cannot afford to subsidise petroleum products any further. The increase in price is solely a reflection of the change in PSO costs.

FM Ismail has been more than gracious when it comes to engaging with criticism, but those who are serving the country to their best of ability must be given the backing and autonomy to take the requisite corrective measures. Far too often have we chosen to seek instant gratification in order to extend the illusion of stability, but this cycle cannot continue. The finance ministry has done well to evade the risk of a default, and while the current inflation levels are extremely burdensome for many, the hope is that these painful adjustments will put us on a more stable footing to pursue sustainable and equitable growth.