The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reminded the government on Thursday that the choice of whether to hold elections “rests completely with Pakistan’s institutions” and strongly warned Pakistan to keep the Fund out of its domestic politics.
IMF earlier this week denied claims that it required Pakistan to reassess its nuclear program in order for a loan package to be renewed. After numerous near calls, discussions between Pakistan and the IMF about an extended financial facility (EFF) have been stuck for months.
A day after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decided to postpone the Punjab Assembly elections by more than five months due to budgetary and security concerns, the IMF released a statement.
The most recent reiteration that the Fund does not interfere in a borrower’s domestic politics came after an official announcement that the IMF program also demanded the postponement of the national and provincial elections.
The statement claims that the finance secretary informed the Election Commission that it would be challenging for the government to provide funds for elections without failing to meet the lender’s “particular criteria for the maintenance of fiscal discipline and deficit”
In a brief statement released on Thursday, Esther Perez Ruiz, the resident representative of the IMF in Islamabad, reminded Pakistani leaders that “decisions regarding the constitutionality, viability, and scheduling of the province and general elections lie completely with Pakistan’s institutions.”
There is “no requirement under Pakistan’s EFF-supported program which might obstruct Pakistan’s ability to engage in constitutional activities,” she made clear.
According to her, the IMF “sets aggregate general targets (aggregating across federal and provincial government levels), and within these, there is fiscal space to redistribute or reprioritize spending/or produce additional revenues to ensure constitutional activities can take place as needed.”
Later, in answer to a reporter from VOA, Ms. Ruiz stated that the authorities had seen significant advancements in the policies that would support the ninth EFF review. “At this time, the first priority is to make sure there is enough funding to assist the authorities in implementing their policy agenda. Once the few outstanding issues, including the recently announced gasoline subsidy program by the authorities, are resolved, a staff-level agreement will be reached.
The brief but direct statement is regarded in Washington’s diplomatic circles as a deliberate attempt to emphasize the Fund’s objectivity on political problems.
Those who have worked closely with the IMF point out that the Fund’s mandate forbids it from discussing internal politics or defense matters with a borrower, such as Pakistan’s nuclear program.
According to reports, the IMF is now even more frightened by the seriousness of the situation in Pakistan since it doesn’t want to appear to be siding with either the ruling party or the opposition. But, according to diplomatic sources, other lenders are thought to have encouraged Pakistan to resolve significant political issues, such as elections, if they want financial support.