Thursday April 18, 2024

Imran Khan 'writes to IMF' ahead of new bailout talks with Pakistan

Former premier urges IMF to prioritise Pakistan's "political stability" in new bailout talks

By Haider Sherazi & Web Desk
February 28, 2024
IMF delegation meets PTI leadership at Imran Khans Zaman Park residence in Lahore in this undated photo. — Threads/@imrankhan.pti
IMF delegation meets PTI leadership at Imran Khan's Zaman Park residence in Lahore in this undated photo. — Threads/@imrankhan.pti

Incarcerated former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) founding chairman Imran Khan urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a letter to prioritise the country's "political stability" in new bailout talks with Pakistan, according to the UK-based news agency.

The former ruling party, whose top leaders are facing a plethora of cases after the May 9 riots, sent a letter to the global lender detailing its position, Reuters reported citing two senior sources in the PTI.

The IMF, a Washington-based lender, has yet to receive the letter, the lender said in an email to the foreign news agency.

Last week, Khan decided to write a letter to the IMF urging it to call for an audit of the February 8 election before it continues talks with Islamabad.

“Imran Khan will issue a letter to the IMF today. The charter of IMF, EU, and other organizations stipulates that they can function or provide loans to a country only if there’s good governance,” the incarcerated PTI founder chairman’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar told reporters at the Adiala Jail last Thursday.

He had said Imran will write a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today, in which the IMF will be asked to call upon the Government of Pakistan to conduct an audit of the rigged constituencies through an independent audit team.

Last week, the IMF declined to comment on the country's political situation after Imran's aides said they would urge the lender to call for an independent audit of Pakistan's disputed Feb 8 elections before engaging in further talks with Islamabad.

Sohail Ahmed of Karachi-based Topline securities said the letter was unlikely to have a major market impact.

"The IMF will do its own due diligence," he said.

'Widespread intervention, fraud'

Later in the day, the PTI released a letter addressed to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

In the letter, available with Geo News, PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan said February 8 general elections were subjected to "widespread intervention and fraud in the counting of votes and compilation of results".

"In view of the policies and principles the IMF stands for, there should be no doubt that the abuse of power by a small number of holders of public office to impose their likes and dislikes on Pakistan’s populace as aforesaid, and thus to ensure their continuing personal gain, would not be promoted or upheld by the IMF," Imran-led party alleged.

Moreover, it said not just the PTI, but several other political parties in Pakistan, along with several western governments, Commonwealth observers, local civil society organisations, and international print and electronic media, have called for an independent probe into claims of intervention and electoral fraud.

"We, therefore, call upon the IMF to give effect to the guidelines adopted by it with respect to good governance as well as conditionalities that must be satisfied prior to the grant of a finance facility that is to burden the people of Pakistan with further debt. An audit of at least thirty percent of the national and provincial assemblies’ seats should be ensured, which can be accomplished in merely two weeks," the letter added.

There are at least two indigenous organisations in Pakistan namely the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) and PATTAN-Coalition38 that have proposed comprehensive methodologies to conduct an audit of the elections which, with some modifications, could be implemented locally to the satisfaction of all stakeholders, read the letter.

"Such a role by the IMF would be a great service to Pakistan and its people, and could become the harbinger of enduring prosperity, growth, and macroeconomic stability in the country."

Pakistan's cash-strapped economy is struggling to stabilise after securing a $3 billion standby arrangement from the IMF last summer, with record inflation, rupee devaluation and shrinking foreign reserves.

China has rolled over a $2 billion loan to Pakistan, according to Ministry of Finance sources.

The $2 billion loan was due in March and has been extended for one year, it said.

The new government — which is likely to be formed by a coalition of the Imran-founded party’s political arch-rivals — would be eyeing more funds from the IMF after the expiry of the standby agreement in April.

Former premier Khan had been ousted from his office through a parliamentary vote in April 2022 by the opposition parties who also accused him of undermining an IMF $6 billion deal days before leaving the rulership, a charge he denies.

Amid the latest developments on Pakistan’s political landscape and Khan’s call for setting conditions in new bailout talks, an IMF spokesperson said last week that it would stick to the completion of the standby programme besides showing readiness to support the post-election government via a new arrangement to address the country’s economic challenges if approached.