After back-to-back meetings between the senior leadership of PML-N, it has been decided that Ishaq Dar will once again assume the role of Finance Minister. On his way out, praise has been directed toward Miftah Ismail for taking charge at a time when the country’s economy was on a downward spiral. Many of the decisions taken in the last few months have proven to be unpopular, but that does not change the fact that they were necessary to bring about some stability. Even so, it seems as though the government is looking for a change in perspective and whether this works to our advantage, only time will tell.

Considering that Miftah Ismail inherited an economy that had been completely devastated by the former government’s populist policies, he managed to perform fairly well when it came to giving the country a financial direction and objectives to work towards. Harsh policies like reducing subsidies in the power sector, increasing taxes and reducing public spending for the short-term may have generated immense criticism but they were key decisions that drove the revival of the IMF deal with Pakistan. He was able to mobilise allies and secure loans—like the $4 billion from friendly neighbours, rollovers by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China and the UAE—that led to the disbursement of $1166 million as well. He bore the brunt of the blow which came from inflationary policies that were necessary to bring about relative structure in the economy and consistency in financial decisions.

Regardless, political parties have a right to change their team whenever they deem it necessary. Chopping and changing a key position midway through an already short term is always risky and can end up doing more harm than good as well. But with Ishaq Dar at the helm of the economy once again, the senior leadership seems to be more confident. Specific targets have been given; the reduction of inflation and improving the rupee against the dollar. Both of these are bound to provide some relief to the population and favour the government at a time when the masses may not be pleased with the hardships it has induced for them. However, it would be unwise to completely switch directions at this point.

Countless handouts were responsible for the deterioration of economic performance, and this is a mistake that we cannot make again. Our focus must be directed towards increasing productivity, enhancing exports and increasing public spending only if it will reinvigorate the economy. We must make informed and responsible decisions, instead of those that will please the people and attract votes.