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Tuesday May 28, 2024

PTI protests outside IMF head office

The protesters were holding placards and banners, inscribed with allegations of election rigging

By Ag App & Wajid Ali Syed
March 16, 2024
PTI protesters holding a demonstration outside IMF headquarters in Washington, USA on March 15, 2024. — X/@PTIOfficialUSA
PTI protesters holding a demonstration outside IMF headquarters in Washington, USA on March 15, 2024. — X/@PTIOfficialUSA

WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD: A number of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters gathered outside the IMF headquarters here on Friday to protest against any lending programme until an independent probe into alleged electoral irregularities was completed.

The PTI crowd, mostly from the DMV area, circulated a letter addressed to the IMF managing director (MD), and demanded that the Fund should withhold any further assistance or loan disbursement to Pakistan until a credible investigation by an independent body cleared it of all rigging allegations. It further claimed that the PTI seats were fraudulently brought down to 90 from 180.

The protesters were holding placards and banners, inscribed with allegations of election rigging, and a demand for restoration of democracy in Pakistan. Few of them chanted abusive slogans too, besides calling for ‘Azadi’. The protest was organised by a group called ‘First Pakistan Global’. However, Dr Shahbaz Gill, Imran Khan’s former chief of staff, and PTI’s point person in the US, Sajjad Burki, were also in attendance. The group had hired a truck to drive around the IMF headquarters displaying similar messages.

In their speeches, the protesters insisted that the PTI was not preventing the IMF from assisting Pakistan, but urging them to engage with elected representatives to ensure responsible use of funds by the government. The PTI mandate had been stolen, they claimed, adding that the party that won the majority was deprived of forming the government. “Results show that this is not the representative assembly. This is not the will of people,” Sajjad Burki said while talking to The News.

Meanwhile, Federal Information Minister Attaullah Tarar slammed a “handful of miscreants” protesting outside the World Bank (WB) and the IMF headquarters in the US.

Addressing reporters in Islamabad, he said these miscreants associated with the PTI were bent upon sabotaging country’s deal with the IMF, which was crucial for economic stability.

“In a bid to disrupt Pakistan’s ongoing talks with the IMF, some miscreants protested in front of the IMF and the World Bank offices in United States and indulged in sloganeering against Pakistan Army,” he added.

“This is a fashionable crowd and these are the enemies of Pakistan who are left with no love for the country,” the minister said while paying tributes to the overseas Pakistanis, who were sending their hard-earned money to the country by doing white- and blue-collar jobs abroad. He said the people protesting to stop funding to the people of Pakistan were wearing costly branded shoes and carrying branded bags.

He said the country was not created for the agenda on which the PTI was acting. Slamming the PTI, Tarar said, “Their past behaviour was also anti-national. They are demanding the IMF give Pakistan a grant after their leader is released.” He asked the PTI to tell the nation why they were holding protest demonstrations in the US, as earlier they claimed that Washington had hatched a conspiracy to topple the Imran Khan-led government in 2022. “The anti-national party embroiled in May 9 incidents is working against Pakistan’s interests,” he alleged.

They only wanted to sabotage the IMF deal because their dream was to make Pakistan default but InshaAllah, Pakistan would make progress and the growth rate would increase soon.

The heinous conspiracies of anti-national elements would not have any effect on the IMF deal, the minister said, adding the imprisoned PTI founder chairman was involved in corruption cases including Tosha Khana fraud and 190-million-pound scam, as well as cipher case.

He advised the PTI to approach courts of Pakistan for release of Imran Khan, as the IMF and the WB would not release him in corruption cases.

Tarar said the country was stable today with the sacrifices of martyrs, Ghazis and efforts patriotic political leaders. The Allah Almighty had always protected Pakistan from external and internal threats and the talks with the IMF were going on positively which was also reflected by the trends in stock exchange, he added. “We have been voted by the people to solve problems in the country, not to increase them,” he added.

The PM, he added, had given a comprehensive agenda on economic reforms including restructuring of the FBR, increasing tax network, and reducing the government expenditures.

He said since PM Shehbaz Sharif took over the power, the economic situation had started improving. He said that international organisations like Bloomberg were hailing the appointment of Muhammad Aurangzeb as the finance minister of the country as he had command over economic affairs. The minister said unfortunately an anti-national party involved in May 9 incidents was conspiring and working against the interests of Pakistan.

To a query, he said the PTI would be requested in the dialogue to refrain from taking any such initiatives that undermine economy or country.