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Pakistan Premier Shuffles Cabinet After Finance Minister Quits Amid Financial Crisis

FILE: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan
FILE: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

Pakistan's prime minister has reshuffled his cabinet after Finance Minister Asad Umar resigned amid criticism of the government's handling of a mounting financial crisis.

Umar's resignation on April 18 has turned up the pressure on Prime Minister Imran Khan, who's facing growing outrage over spiraling consumer goods prices.

The rupee has lost 30 percent of its value since the start of 2018, fueling a spike in inflation.

According to a government statement, Khan appointed Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to oversee the Finance Ministry, but only as a special assistant to Khan. Ijaz Shah, a former top intelligence official, was also moved to be interior minister.

Shortly after Umar announced his resignation in a post to Twitter, Khan held a news conference in Islamabad, where he acknowledged Pakistan’s "difficult economy."

"We need to take some difficult decisions and we need to show some patience," he said, and he appealed to the public to "stand with" the new finance minister.

Among the other personnel changes, Khan changed the portfolio of information minister Fawad Chaudhry, who will now serve as minister for science and technology.

Umar was the point person for Khan's government in negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over an $8 billion bailout proposal to shore up Pakistan's finances. His resignation came days after he returned from talks in Washington with the fund.

The United States, which exerts major influence over the fund, has said it should not finance the billions of dollars in loans Pakistan has taken from China as part of Beijing's "Belt and Road" infrastructure initiative.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters