Pakistan may go to IMF to address economic woes, says PM Imran Khan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan says the country might need to return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address its mounting balance of payments crisis and economic woes.

“We may go to IMF for loan to handle the country’s financial issues,” Khan told reporters in eastern city of Lahore on Sunday.

The premier, however, said that Islamabad would seek funding from friendly countries first. Khan did not name the countries or provide any details of the requests.

“But, first we will try to get assistance from other countries as we have requested three countries to deposit money in Pakistan’s State Bank that would help boost national reserves.”

Last week,  the IMF concluded a consultative visit with a warning that Pakistan needed to quickly secure “significant external financing” to stave off a crisis.

Any IMF bailout would likely include conditions to curb government spending. The IMF’s demands could threaten Khan’s campaign promise to build an Islamic welfare state.

Finance Minister Asad Umar earlier said foreign reserves need to be boosted by at least $8 billion. But foreign reserves dropped by $627 million in late September to $8.4 billion. The weekly fall was the sharpest in years.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Khan on Sunday also blamed the previous government for the economic situation and repeated a promise to recover billions of dollars he says corrupt officials have stashed abroad. “Pakistan is suffering huge internal and external debt … caused by corruption of the former rulers.”

On Friday, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog, detained opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif on charges he took bribes to improperly award a low-cost housing contract while he was chief minister of Punjab province.

Commenting on Shahbaz Sharif’s jailing, Khan said, “He should have been arrested months ago”.

Sharif is the brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was removed by the Supreme Court last year and in June was sentenced to 10 years in prison by an anti-corruption court.

Both Sharifs deny any wrongdoing, calling the cases politically motivated.

Khan saw his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party sweep to victory in a July 25 general election promising to fight corruption and lift millions of people out of poverty. His success in the election ended decades of political dominance by two dynastic powerhouses, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif, and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), founded and led by the Bhutto family.

News Reporter
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