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Pakistan has defaulted, says Khawaja Asif

Defence minister says all the solutions to country's problems lie within the country and not with the IMF

By Business Desk
February 18, 2023

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif addresses a convention in Sialkot on February 18, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Geo News
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif addresses a convention in Sialkot on February 18, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — Geo News

SIALKOT: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Saturday that Pakistan has already defaulted as the country goes through an economic crisis with no early respite in sight.

"The country has defaulted. We live in a state that has defaulted," Asif, a senior leader of the main party in the coalition government, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said while addressing a convention at a private college in Sialkot.

Pakistan's economy is in dire straits, stricken by a balance-of-payments crisis as it attempts to service high levels of external debt amid political chaos and deteriorating security.

Inflation has rocketed, the rupee has plummeted and the country can no longer afford imports, causing a severe decline in the industry.

The critical position of foreign exchange reserves — which stand at around $3.19 billion as of February 10 — reflects the miseries of the $350 billion economy struggling to fund imports as thousands of containers of supplies were stranding at its ports stalling production and putting jobs of millions of people at risk.

He said all the solutions to the nation's problems lie within the country and not with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) — whose crucial $1.1 billion loan Pakistan is desperately trying to secure.

Daily life for the masses, which was already tough given the current state of the economy, got even harder after the petrol price surged to a historic high of Rs272 per litre — in line with the IMF's demands.

"For the last 32 years, I have seen politics getting disgraced in Pakistan," the defence minister said.

Terrorism

Further, Asif said security forces were battling terrorists last night in Karachi when militants attacked the office of the Karachi police chief.

Three militants were killed and four people, including two policemen and a Sindh Rangers sub-inspector, embraced martyrdom in the nerve-racking operation that lasted for nearly four hours on Friday evening.

Meanwhile, 18 other people, including police and Rangers personnel, were also injured in the terror attack, which occurred after a deadly suicide attack at a Peshawar Civil Lines mosque that left 84 dead.

Without naming the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Asif said that the security people were fighting against the terrorists last night as militants were brought back and rehabilitated nearly a year ago.

“Whatever is being said on television has nothing to do with reality,” the defence minister said.