Pakistan’s volatile political situation amid government’s tussle with Opposition leader Imran Khan led Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to stop his cabinet’s finance minister to visit Washington, country’s finance minister Ishaq Dar said on Saturday. Dar, however, assured that the much-delayed ninth review of $7 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) was on track.
India’s neighbour at its west continues to be under the grip of severe economic crisis. Coupled with political crisis that began in the country shortly after former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government was scrapped with a no-trust-vote, Pakistan is continuing to struggle in its efforts to prevent a state of bankruptcy.
Dar said he would attend important attend bilateral and multilateral meetings virtually and a Pakistani delegation would be present in Washington.
Earlier, reports indicated that the Pakistani finance minister canceled his Washington trip on accounts of poor optics for Islamabad that may emerge if it once again fails to remove the deadlock related to the holdup of Pakistan’s IMF bailout programme.
Pakistani finance minister downplayed these reports.
Pakistan’s tryst of aid from ‘friendly’ countries
Pakistan’s finance minister, while not specifying any country by name, said that one of Islamabad’s friendly nations gave IMF “the confirmation (of its commitment to help Pakistan) with $2 billion”.
“We are now only awaiting the confirmation of a USD 1 billion commitment from one friendly country. After that, all their requirements to conclude the staff-level agreement will be complete. Following that, it takes two more weeks to take the matter into the board meeting,” Dar said.
Reports in Pakistani media said Saudi Arabia had given the commitment to the IMF on helping Pakistan.
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Dar was expected to attend the spring meetings of the World Bank and IMF that are scheduled from April 10 to 16 in Washington.
In February this year, IMF officials and the Pakistan government held discussions, which remained inconclusive.
Pakistan remains under the grip of a major economic crisis, consisting of high external debt, a weak local currency and dwindling foreign exchange reserves enough to shore up for barely one month’s imports.
The consumer price inflation in Pakistan jumped to a record 35.37 per cent in March this year, as food, beverage and transport prices surged to an astonishing 50 per cent year-on-year.
At least 22 people have been killed in stampedes at government-sponsored food distribution outlets across the country.
(With inputs from agencies)
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