On Monday, the Pakistani media reported that a major reshuffle was on the cards in the Finance Ministry.

However, Information Minister denied the reports of the reshuffle. “There is no truth in reports regarding changes in posts of federal ministers. The prime minister has the power to change ministers and the media should play a responsible role on this subject,” he tweeted.

Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar, who recently returned from a trip to the US in which the details of Pakistan’s next International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout were finalised, said he was asked to take the energy portfolio following a reshuffle in the Cabinet.

Umar abruptly quit the Cabinet on Thursday in the middle of the negotiations to secure a crucial multi-billion dollar IMF bailout package for the cash-strapped country,  amid mounting criticism over the handling of the economic crisis.

Umar in a tweet said, “as part of a cabinet reshuffle, prime minister desired that I take the energy minister portfolio instead of finance,” said Umar, one of the close aides of the prime minister. “However, I have obtained his consent to not take any cabinet position.”

Addressing a press conference Umar said  that it was time to make some “difficult decisions” to stabilise the economy and that he hopes his replacement would be supported in their efforts.

When asked whether there had been a conspiracy in the government to remove him, he did not give a definite answer.

He said, “I don’t know if there has been a conspiracy or not (to remove me) but all I know is that my ‘captain’ (Imran Khan) wanted to see me in the role of the energy minister. I did not think that would be a great idea so I refused.

Cash-strapped Pakistan is seeking USD 8 billion from the IMF to bail itself out from a severe balance-of-payments crisis that threatens to cripple the country’s economy.

Pakistan has so far received a total of USD 9.1 billion in financial aid packages from friendly countries like China, Saudi Arabia and the UAE during the current fiscal year.

PM Khan-led government and Finance Minister Umar in particular have faced mounting criticism by opposition parties, members of the business community and citizens over economic crisis.

Responding to a question, the finance minister defended his performance and said “Who says that I have failed in achieving what I wanted to achieve?”

He further added, “We have finalised the IMF agreement on much better terms than before. It is the time to take difficult decisions; I have made these decisions, I refused to take the decisions that would have crushed the nation.”

It was immediately not clear who will replace Umar. The new finance minister’s first priority would be to finalise the much-needed bailout package with the IMF to overcome the financial crisis.