IMF to engage in discussions with Pakistan political parties, including Imran Khan’s PTI, about bailout deal

23 days ago
IMF to engage in discussions with Pakistan political parties, including Imran Khan’s PTI, about bailout deal

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Friday that it is reaching out to Pakistan’s political parties, including the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, to garner support for a $3 billion bailout programme. This move comes as the country gears up for national elections.

Exciting news on the horizon as a new nine-month stand-by arrangement bailout program is set to be reviewed by the IMF board on 12 July! This program replaces the previous four-year Extended Financing Facility initiative, which was initially approved by Khan’s administration back in 2019 and recently expired.

In a recent statement, Esther Perez Ruiz, the IMF’s resident representative, shared that the meetings held with political parties aimed to secure their commitment to endorsing the key objectives and policies outlined in a new IMF-supported program leading up to the upcoming national elections.

Pakistan’s national elections are scheduled to be held by early November amidst a charged political atmosphere that has seen Khan, the country’s main opposition leader, in a bruising standoff with the government and the powerful military.

Khan’s government deviated from agreements under an earlier IMF programme days before he was ousted in a parliamentary vote last year, leading to a delay in the implementation of the programme and increased economic uncertainty.

The new programme will span three governments – the incumbent set up under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, whose term ends in August, a caretaker administration that will conduct the polls, and then a new government following the elections.

The IMF will meet Khan at his house in the eastern city of Lahore on Friday, his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), confirmed.

The meeting is the highest profile engagement for Khan since he was ousted from power less than four years into his five-year term.

Hammad Azhar, a former finance minister under Khan, said in a post on Twitter that the party was being approached by the IMF to “solicit the party’s support” for the new programme and its broad objectives.

Despite being the country’s most popular leader according to polls, Khan faces the prospect of being disqualified from the elections if found guilty in any of the cases against him since his removal from power.

He says the cases are a bid to sideline him and dismantle his party before the polls. The government and military deny this, and say the cases are on merit.

The government launched a country-wide crackdown on the party in the aftermath of violent protests that followed Khan’s brief arrest in May. The protests saw military installations ransacked. Khan was later released on bail.

Many of Khan’s key aides remain under arrest and many others, like Azhar, are in hiding. Azhar said some of PTI’s economic team members would attend the meeting virtually.