IMF Intervention in Pakistan’s Internal Affairs Sparks Controversy

Pakistan IMF

Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Minister of State for Finance, has criticized a statement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) outlining prerequisites for releasing a pending bailout package, as an “intrusion in internal affairs.” 

Earlier in the week, the IMF suggested that Pakistan adhere to its Constitution to resolve political conflicts. This came as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif communicated with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, in what appeared to be a final attempt to prevent default and resuscitate the stranded $6.5 billion bailout package. 

Following four months of unsuccessful negotiations by the finance ministry, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Georgieva conversed on Saturday, official sources revealed to The Express Tribune. 

Two days post this high-level dialogue, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan, Nathan Porter, issued a rare statement, extending the IMF’s scrutiny into the political sphere. He commented, “We observe the latest political events, and while we abstain from commenting on domestic politics, we express hope for a peaceful resolution in line with the Constitution and rule of law.” 

This unusual response from the IMF emerged amid a crackdown on PTI workers, allegations of abductions, violations of the 90-day constitutional limit for elections in two provinces, and trials of civilians in military courts under the Army Act. 

Porter, responding to queries from The Express Tribune, enumerated the conditions necessary for Pakistan to reach an accord with the foreign lender. These encompass arranging foreign loans, approving a budget aligned with the IMF framework, and restoring the effective functioning of the foreign exchange market. 

Sources indicated that the prime minister, viewing the IMF as the last bastion against default, decided to step in. After discussions with the IMF’s chief, he ordered the finance ministry to present details of the upcoming budget to the IMF.

Read More:  Controversy Surrounds Pakistan’s Economic Data Amid Decline and Alleged Manipulation

Despite this, the Minister of State for Finance reassured journalists that the country had alternate plans should negotiations with the IMF fail. Dr Pasha remarked, “The finance ministry is not unprepared if an agreement is not reached with the IMF. There’s always a Plan B, but our preference would be to proceed with the IMF program.” 

Dr Pasha further emphasized that Pakistan is functioning under the rule of law, terming the IMF Mission Chief’s statement as “extraordinary.” She clarified, “Interfering with Pakistan’s internal affairs is not the IMF’s mandate.” 

Stressing that a delay in resuming the program would not benefit either party, she affirmed that Prime Minister Shehbaz had assured Managing Director Georgieva of Pakistan’s commitment to fulfilling the terms necessary to conclude the program. 

Dr Pasha expressed optimism, stating, “We anticipate reaching an agreement prior to presenting the new budget. By June 30, the IMF program should be completed.” She also remarked that the forthcoming fiscal year’s budget, expected to be presented on June 9, will be the “election-year budget.” 

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