The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has refuted claims that it put any conditions on the renewal of a loan programme that had been put on hold for months, despite weeks of negotiations between the two parties.
In order to negotiate the parameters of the agreement, including the adoption of steps to minimise Pakistan’s fiscal deficit before the annual budget is due in about June, Pakistan has been hosting an IMF mission since early February.
According to analysts, the money is a crucial component of a $6.5 billion bailout plan that the IMF approved in 2019 if Pakistan is to avoid defaulting on its responsibilities under external debt.
Experienced politicians Senator Raza Rabbani and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had expressed concerns about whether the country’s strategic assets, like as the nuclear and missile programmes, were to blame for the delay in the staff-level agreement with the Fund.
They have urged the government to be transparent about this matter. IMF resident official Esther Perez Ruiz in Islamabad denied placing conditions on the External Fund Facility in a statement made available to the media on Sunday (EFF).
“Regarding recent speculation that programme discussions with the authorities for the ninth review under the IMF-supported programme may have covered Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, I want to be categoric that there is absolutely no truth to this or any insinuated link between the past or current IMF supported programme and decision by any Pakistani government over its nuclear programme,” the official said.
According to the IMF’s mandate to promote macroeconomic and financial stability, the conversations have only been centred on economic solutions to address Pakistan’s challenges with its economy and balance of payments, the IMF head continued.
Ishaq Dar, the finance minister, promised on Thursday that there will be no giving in on the nation’s nuclear and missile development. In response to Senator Raza Rabbani’s inquiries over the delay in signing the deal with the IMF, the finance minister made the statement in the Senate.
Rabbani expressed regret that “neither before nor today was brought into confidence on what are the conditions of the IMF” for providing Pakistan with a borrowing facility. “The question arises […] if the delay is being made because of some form of pressure to be applied on Pakistan’s nuclear [programme],” he had said, describing the delay as “totally out of the ordinary, abnormal.”
Ishaq Dar responded by stating clearly that there will be no compromise on the nation’s nuclear and missile programmes. Let me reassure you that nobody will compromise anything regarding Pakistan’s nuclear or missile program—no way.
The minister guaranteed that the staff-level agreement and EFFP (Extended Fund Facility programme) will be posted on the finance ministry website as soon as they were completed.
He made it abundantly clear that no one has the right to restrict Pakistan’s access to nuclear weapons or the range of its missiles. We must have our own deterrence because we speak for the Pakistani people and must protect our own interests, he insisted.