Will urge IMF to stop support to Pak over ‘rigged’ polls: Imran

| | islamabad
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Will urge IMF to stop support to Pak over ‘rigged’ polls: Imran

Friday, 23 February 2024 | PTI | islamabad

Jailed former prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday announced that he will write to the IMF, demanding the global lender to stop its support to cash-strapped Pakistan until it seeks an “audit” of the elections mired in controversies, including vote rigging.

Khan’s message from jail was conveyed through Barrister Ali Zafar, who met him in the Adiala Jail Rawalpindi where the former cricketer-turned-politician has been incarcerated since last year.

“A letter will be written to the International Monetary Fund that it should first seek an audit of elections and then decide about any loan to Pakistan,” Zafar said, adding that any loan to Pakistan without an audit of votes would be harmful to the country facing financial woes. Zafar, who has also been nominated by Khan to contest intra-party election for the chairman’s post, also said that the IMF has laws which bar aid to countries not having democratic governments. He said a democratic government was only possible after having fair and free elections. He rejected the impression that the letter would further jeopardise Pakistan’s fragile economy which, without assistance from the donors, may default on external

liabilities.

Pakistan is heavily dependent on the IMF and currently implementing a short-term USD 3 billion agreement. The global lender has already provided two tranches of loan and the last tranche of USD 1.2 is expected by the end of March or early April.

According to experts, the new government after taking office would have to enter into fresh talks with the IMF to get a new loan. The statement by Khan drew criticism from his opponents, who said that the former prime minister was bent on damaging the country.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Atta Tarar condemned the statement about writing a letter to the IMF and said that the PTI founder was trying to harm the country. “The party has always tried to damage the country to save its politics,” he said.

The development comes after the PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) agreed on a power-sharing deal to form a coalition government led by former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif. No political party managed to secure enough seats in the National Assembly following the February 8 general elections, leading to a hung Parliament.

Both the PML-N and the PPP won fewer seats in Parliament than candidates backed by Imran Khan in an election mired in controversies, including vote rigging. Khan, who could not contest the February 8 elections due to his convictions in some cases including that of corruption, has been barred from holding any public office for 10 years. The PTI has said that the PML-N and PPP are trying to form a government with a stolen mandate and the nation would not accept the “PDM 2.0”.

It alleged the “regime change conspiracy” was backed by the chief election commissioner by making a mockery of the Constitution and law in the country. The IMF’s review mission might visit Islamabad by the end of this month or early next month, provided the government formation at the federal and provincial levels is complete. The mission will finalise the salient features of the anticipated medium-term bailout package to avert a default on repayment of foreign debts.

Earlier, the IMF’s review mission was scheduled to visit the country in the first week of February, but the delegation refused to visit on the eve of the general elections. After the general elections threw a fractured mandate, doubts have been raised about the fairness of the whole process, with the US, the European Union, and other countries demanding an investigation into the irregularities and fraud allegations.

Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves hovered around USD 8.04 billion during the week ending February 2, after witnessing a decline in reserves by USD 173 million due to external debt repayments. A Finance Division official last week said the IMF would only come to begin the second review talks once a new government was sworn in at the national level.

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