Ishaq Dar loses his cool with reporter over question on IMF programmer
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar lost his cool with a reporter at the Parliament House on Thursday after being questioned about the completion of the stalled International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.
After addressing a National Assembly session, Dar, flanked by his security guards, was departing the Parliament building when a reporter — identified as Shahid Qureshi — asked him some questions.
A video of the incident, shared by the journalist in question, shows Dar going down the stairs as Qureshi asked him: “Dar sahib, will you talk today?”
The minister replied, “I just came out [of the NA] after speaking so much.
At that, the journalist enquired if the IMF deal was “happening” and referred to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s meeting with the IMF chief today, which took place on the sidelines of a summit in Paris. However, Dar remained silent.
Qureshi then asked the reason for the government’s failure to secure the deal, to which the finance minister said, “Because people like you are in the system.”
In his defence, the reporter said “we are not in the system” and “we just ask questions”. At that point, Dar, who had reached the parking lot by that time, turned around angrily towards the journalist.
“What do you want?” Dar asked the reporter and told him to “fear the God”.
“Why are you fighting, sir?” Qureshi responded, after which the minister’s security personnel intervened and escorted him towards the vehicle.
Later, the reporter released another video in which he detailed the entire incident.
“Today, immediately after the finance minister exited the NA, I was standing there. As a reporter and journalist who covers the economy beat, I asked him why the agreement with the IMF had not been finalised yet,” Qureshi said.
“Initially, he [Dar] said he had spoken in the Parliament but I said I wanted to talk about the IMF … as soon I proceeded to question him, Ishaq Dar’s security guards were told to stop me.
“They grabbed me from both sides after which Ishaq Dar slapped me,” the journalist claimed, adding that he had recorded the entire incident.
“While leaving, Dar told his security officers to follow me and teach me a lesson … those officers followed me till I reached the second floor of the Parliament after which I went to the PRA office and have now reached the Press Gallery,” Qureshi added.
Following the incident, the Parliamentary Reporters Association (PRA) issued a condemnation.
The statement said senior parliamentary reporter Qureshi faced “violence by Ishaq Dar’s guards” and “disrespectful behaviour”, which the association “strongly condemns”.
The association demanded that Dar apologises to the reporter, adding that there should not be a repeat of “aggressive behaviour” by Dar in the future.
“If Dar does not apologises, the PRA reserves the right to walk out of the budget session and protest,” the statement read.
The association also demanded that National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf also takes notice of the incident.