Shaukat Aziz is a Pakistani economist and financier who served as 17th Prime Minister of Pakistan from 20 August 2004 to 15 November 2007, as well as the Finance Minister of Pakistan from 6 November 1999 to 15 November 2007.
Shaukat Aziz was born in Karachi, Sindh Province of Pakistan on 6 March 1949. He studied at Saint Patrick’s School, Karachi and Abbottabad Public School, Abbottabad, Pakistan. His father, S.A. Aziz (sometimes Abdul Aziz) was a radio engineer employed in the state-owned Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) as chief engineer.
His father, S.A. Aziz was noted for making singular contributions in the development of Radio Pakistan and was the architect of its external services; for this, his father was conferred with state honors by the government of Pakistan in the 1950s. S.A. Aziz was one of the pioneers who nurtured Radio Pakistan in its days of infancy and chartered the future roadmap for expansion of its network and technological advancement and growth.
The PBC moved his family to Abbottabad, Northwest Frontier Province and attended the Abbottabad Public School, and later the family moving back to Karachi. Aziz matriculated and obtained a high-school diploma from Saint Patrick’s High School and proceeded Government College now GCU In Lahore where he passed his inter-level and ascended to attend the Gordon College of Rawalpindi, Punjab province in 1965.
Aziz obtained a BS degree in Economics in 1967 from Gordan College and moved back to Karachi the same year to enroll in a master’s program. Aziz attended the master’s program of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi and obtained an MBA in business administration in 1969. While at the IBA, Aziz secured the internship of U.S.-based Citibank, and after his master’s degree, Aziz was called to join the executive senior staff of the Citibank, based in the United States.
Initially, Aziz joined the corporate branch of Citibank Pakistan as its credit officer in 1969. During his career, Aziz subsequently served in various countries including Pakistan, Greece, United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Philippines, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore.
After arriving to assume the charge of corporate assignment in the United States, Aziz settled in New York City and took over the office operations of Citibank at the Empire State Building. Aziz acquired permanent residence status but did not acquire American citizenship, whilst continuing to upgrade his legal status.
In the U.S Aziz held numerous positions in Citibank across several divisions including Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Corporate Planning Officer (CPO), Chief Financial Officer of Citicorp and Managing Director of Citibank Singapore.
He has been a board member of Citibank subsidiaries, including the Saudi American Bank, Citicorp Islamic Bank, and several non-profit organizations. Aziz played a pivotal rôle in expanding Citibank branches and corporate directive operations throughout the country and was instrumental in bringing multinational banking industries into Pakistan in the 1990s.
At Citibank, Aziz served as the corporate director of Asia Pacific global finance operations and had been notable for financing and managing funds on behalf of Citibank and other financial corporations in global stock markets. He was also involved with Citi Private Bank, a subsidiary of Citigroup. Aziz regarded his career in Citigroup as “extremely helpful” in preparing him for the executive public office, in 2006.
Aziz continued to visit Pakistan, working to expand Citibank’s financial services and banking, overseeing the wide expansion of Citigroup’s branches and its influence in Pakistan. In the 1990s, he worked closely with the governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to help negotiate economic relief packages and aid to Pakistan, while maintaining diverse relations with Pakistan’s Armed Forces who would also visit the United States as part of Sharif’s and Benazir Bhutto’s state visits.
By the 1990s, Aziz had established many notable contacts within the United States administration. In a book, Global Financial Warrior, written by John B. Taylor, Aziz had substantial access to the US Treasury, World Bank, and many other world financial institutions. Aziz worked closely with the United States in order to finance U.S. war games and operations. Aziz knew the volumes of secretive methods of transferring funds in and out of South Asia, particularly clandestine financing of nuclear weapons programs of India and Pakistan at its most, Taylor maintained.
Shaukat Aziz had been a president of Citi Private Bank in New York before returning to Pakistan in 1999. Shortly, General Pervez Musharraf arrived for a small personal trip to the United States after staging a coup d’état to deposed the people-elected Prime minister Navaz Sharif on 12 October 1999.
On 26 November 1999, while addressing a gathering of influential lobbyist of Pakistan American community, a political lobbying sub-body of the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America (APPNA), Musharraf stated that: “Shaukat Aziz has come to Pakistan with forty other financial experts who have offered free service to revive Pakistan’s national economy”. After a brief session, Musharraf asked Shaukat Aziz to stand up and introduce himself to the audience.
Aziz reportedly return with Musharraf in November 1999 and took the in charge of Finance ministry as its Finance Minister. Aziz took control of the economy with responsibility for Finance, Economic Affairs, Statistics Division, Planning and Development, and revenue divisions.
As Minister of Finance Aziz also headed the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet, the Cabinet Committee on Investment, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council, and the Cabinet Committee on Privatization. As Finance minister, all state-owned mega-corporations came under the government-ownership while restructuring each mega-corporation to set off to privatization.
During his first days, Aziz worked to control the economy in a difficult and hostile environment with then-President Muhammad Rafiq Tarar who called him “an Alien”, and many among those who were close to deposed Prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. Other politicians including Fazal-ur-Rehman and Ameen Faheem became hostile towards Aziz and his policies; and harbored grave doubts about him because Aziz was not like a traditional politician in the country, an accredited politician.
Initially, there was a decline in the economy, and Aziz attributes this as “state (Pakistan) unpleasant relations with international financial institutions. There was a ~70% declining in the national economy with the loss of $150 million (1999) to $600 million (2000), which constituted 0.21% of foreign direct investment (FDI) global flow. Aziz took initiatives for FDI offering incentives to foreign investors with his macroeconomic policies, taxation framework, and consistent investment policy.
After the 11 September attacks in the United States and Pakistan’s rôle in the War on Terror, Aziz traveled to the United States in order to negotiate a relief and U.S. aid to Pakistan. He closely worked with US Secretary of the Treasury on the detail of the devised plan on how to remove Taliban from Afghanistan, cancellation and debt relief, loans from the World Bank, and direct support from U.S. Aid for national public development.
Aziz recommended policies and a new plan of economic reforms, including the improved budgetary transparency and spending controls— a plan that was widely accepted by the United States. With help from the United States Department of the Treasury, Aziz thwarted individuals, difficulties, and obstacles to achieve success in his economic programs.
In 2002, Aziz worked with the U.S. administration to help advised the United States to finance the war in Afghanistan. In the words of John B. Taylor, Aziz suggested that U.S. should be called out for a meeting of finance minister of the G7 member countries, where the illicit funding of money would become a great problem for G7 countries later in future. In April 2002, Aziz chaired a historical meeting on behalf of Pakistan and the United States, helped the G7 members to understand the useful information about how the illicit money is transferred was shared with the finance ministers of G7 members and Pakistan on another side.
In 2001, Aziz implemented and activated the Privatization Programme (first founded by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1991) and opened all state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to the private sector. This program undertook the country into rapid economic growth and an extreme level of industrialization the country had for yet seen since 1972.
After the 2002 general elections, Aziz intensified his program and aggressively implemented economic liberalization policies in the country. Aziz’s financial policies came under surrounding controversies, creating new problems for Prime minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali to counter who was forced to resign the office in his favor.
His affordable real estate scheme encouraged common men to afford a house and a vehicle on low investment, but on the other hand, this scheme brought an increase in violation of zoning regulations in construction companies. Zafarullah Khan Jamali Although he controlled the inflation at its low level, his deregulation policies of price control were pressuring the oil and sugar price to skyrocket.
His public and liberalization of economy policy expanded the political rôle of the Supreme Court of Pakistan at a higher level of the government and to target high-level government corruption independently without government interference. Perhaps He is a good Minster of Finance in Pakistan History.
By October 2007, at the end of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz’s tenure, Pakistan raised back its Foreign Reserves to $16.4 billion. Pakistan’s trade deficit was at $13 billion, exports were $18 billion, revenue generation was $13 billion and attracted foreign investment was $8.4 billion.
Pakistan’s fiscal performance was praised by the IMF and World Bank. The World Bank further reiterated that Pakistan’s Economic growth bolstered International confidence.
IMF’s new South-Asia director Mr. George Abed said he was “very pleased with the record of Pakistan in the past three years of continued macroeconomic and financial stabilization and we have begun to think of Pakistan as a country of promise and a country of a potentially high rate of growth”.
The Asian Development Bank also praised Pakistan’s Micro-Finance.
In 2001, Mr. Aziz was also named “Finance Minister of the Year” by Euromoney and Bankers magazines.
By 2004, Aziz had become the right hand of general Musharraf, as Musharraf described in his memoirs. The strong oligarch business class of Pakistan, notable Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, had been impressed by Shaukat Aziz’s performance as finance minister.
Following the resignation of Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali on 26 June 2004, Hussain nominated Aziz for the office of Prime Minister and was also a top choice for the candidacy of Prime ministerial post by Musharraf.
However, Aziz was not a member of the National Assembly, although a Senator. As required by the constitution, the prime minister was required to be a member of the National assembly. Aziz was highly regarded as “technocrat” and had gained the trust of establishment, international institution, and public support. His nomination came after another technocrat-economist, Dr. Manmohan Singh, became the Prime minister of India and widely seen as compatible with the Indian counterpart.
Having described and labeled as urban gentlemen and smartly dressed, Aziz was tasked with the day-to-day running of the federal government and see that policies are more effectively executed while Musharraf handles the military issues. In Pakistan, it was also said that Musharraf’s eye-blindly trusted Aziz and sometimes, Musharraf’s approvals did not need for the projects that required permission. Aziz quietly and more quickly undermined the elements seeking to undermine Musharraf which may have been a factor that Musharraf had eye-blindly trusted Aziz.
The post was held by Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain while Aziz fulfilled the constitutional requirement of securing a seat in the lower house of parliament. Aziz ran from two constituencies, Tharparkar-I in Sindh, and Attock District. While campaigning on 29 July 2004 Aziz survived an assassination attempt in the small town of Fateh Jang in Attock District.
A suicide bomber blew himself up next to a car in which Aziz was traveling, killing his chauffeur and eight others. However, Aziz continued campaigning and won from both constituencies. Since he could retain only one seat, he immediately vacated his Tharparkar seat, preferring to represent Attock, where he had won by 76,156 votes to 29,497.
Aziz was elected Prime Minister by parliament on 27 August 2004, by a vote of 191 to 151 in the National Assembly of Pakistan, and was sworn in on 28 August 2004. Pakistan Media labeled him as “Short Cut Aziz” because of a lack of political background and hardly affiliation to any political party and still managed to land on the Prime Ministerial Office.
Whilst, international media labeled him Urban gentlemen, as he was soft-spoken and greeted his guests with great gesture and manners. He retained his position as Minister of Finance. His government introduced and features extremely qualified and new faces in the political area of the country, including Hina Rabbani Khar (economic ministry), Hafeez Shaikh (investment ministry), Khurshid Kasuri (Foreign ministry), and Atta ur Rahman (as science adviser). Many of these technocrats ascended to join the successive governments and embark on a successful career in the politics thereafter.
Aziz left office on 16 November 2007, at the end of the parliamentary term and became the first Prime Minister of Pakistan who left seat after completion of a parliamentary term of five years.
While campaigning on 29 July 2004, Aziz survived an assassination attempt in the small town of Fateh Jang in the Attock District. The suicide bomb attack was staged in Fetah Jhang, a small town to the north of the capital, Islamabad, where he was contesting an election.
The attempt was made when Aziz was departing after meeting with constituents. A suicide bomber, who was traveling with the Aziz motorcade, detonated the device next to the car in which Aziz was traveling, killing himself and Aziz’s chauffeur, as well as eight others.
Aziz called the incident “tragic,” and said it had claimed the lives of innocent people. He added that it had reinforced his resolve to serve Pakistan and the Islamic world. After safely reaching Islamabad, Aziz instigated a probe, while the foreign office contacted its mission in Egypt to try to determine the veracity of an Al Qaeda claim of responsibility. Ten suspected Al-Qaeda perpetrators were arrested in Egypt and later extradited to Pakistan for the crime.
In spite of supervising and presiding the successful economic growth at an unprecedented level, his privatization and energy policies remain extremely controversial in public circles. Critics argued that Aziz’s privatization policies and privatized energy sector did not fully tackle full force in the country’s economy. Aziz defended as he points out that his policies made these institutions viable while they were on the verge of collapse.
An unsuccessful attempt to privatize the Pakistan Steel Mills was also thwarted by trade unions and pro-nationalization elements who took the case to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in 2006. But Aziz said that his privatization program produced “the second-fastest growing economy in the world.”
On 30 October 2011, Aziz directed a letter sent from Dubai to the Provincial Police Office to Balochistan High Court stating “he had been mentioned in the FIR registered at the Dera Bugti Police Station on 13 October 2009, which alleged that then-president Pervez Musharraf used him as part of Akbar Bugti case in which the latter committed suicide during a military operation.”. Aziz maintained that he was informed of “unfortunate event” through the televised media. Aziz later stated on television that Akbar Bugti died in a military operation during the night of 25/26 August 2008.
On 5 November 2017, Aziz appeared on the Paradise Papers leaks. The leaks claimed that he was linked with the Antarctic Trust, which was set up by Aziz himself. This trust was neither declared by him as Prime Minister nor as Finance Minister. Aziz, a former Citibank executive, told the ICIJ he had set the trust up for estate planning purposes and that the funds had come from his employment at Citibank. An internal Appleby document raised concerns about warrants issued for him in connection with the killing of a local leader. Aziz dismissed both the murder charge and the allegations of financial impropriety.
Shaukat Aziz currently resides in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He serves on a number of boards and advisory boards including Millennium & Copthorne Hotels plc. and The Blackstone Group. According to Aziz, he has maintained good relations with several members of his government and the members of the Parliament including his former Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri and former railways minister Sheikh Rasheed and his party president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
In the midst of 2009, in polls performed by various news agencies, Aziz’s approval rating ranged from 30.7%, but ratings dramatically fell down to 17.3% at the end of 2009. In 2012, in polls managed by various news surveys, Aziz’s popularity approval ratings ranged at 20.5%. Aziz remains active in the political arena of the country and vigorously defended his financial policies.
Aziz criticized the care-taker government of Muhammad Mian Soomro for economical collapse, and predicted that “the next elections will sweep, paving the way for a two-party system to emerge with the Pakistan Muslim League in the government and the Peoples Party in the opposition”.
He remains active on economical issues and harshly criticized the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of failing to show leadership during what he described as a “historic” global financial crisis. While attending the international business conference at the Philippines, Aziz maintained that: “This global institution (IMF) which is supposed to look at everything going on was not even in the room where meetings are going on”. In 2008, Aziz gave vehement criticism to IMF and according to him, the “IMF has played a very negative role” in global crises.
Speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference in 2008, Aziz maintains his views that the Financial crisis occurred due to financial mismanagement, lack of understanding the macroeconomics principles and fragmented regulatory regimes in the world. In an interview with CNN, Aziz remains pessimist about Pakistan’s approach to Free Trade Agreement with the United States in 2012 by judging the current relations with the United States and economic challenges faced by the country. For more latest news Pakistan, visit 9newshd.tv