IMF officials hold meeting with former Pakistan PM Imran Khan on bailout deal

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team visited former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore on Friday. During the meeting, which lasted more than an hour, the two sides discussed the recent staff-level pact agreed upon between Pakistan and the global lender with Khan extending his full support to it.

In an address via a video link, Imran said PTI has agreed to “endorse the standby arrangement” with the IMF until elections were held and a new government was formed.

“Obviously, when a new government comes, they will hold talks with the IMF according to their own programme,” he added.

Apart from Imran, the IMF team met with other PTI members including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Shaukat Tarin, Omar Ayub Khan, Sania Nishtar, Shibli Faraz, Taimur Jhagra and Muzammil Aslam.

“We welcome the SBA (standby arrangement) to preserve macroeconomic stability by anchoring external financing and sound policies ahead of the national elections due in the fall of this year and until a new government is formed,” said senior PTI leader Hammad Azhar.

Earlier, IMF’s resident representative Esther Perez Ruiz said meetings with different political parties were to “seek assurances of their support for the key objectives and policies under a new IMF-supported programme ahead of the approaching national elections”.

Apart from PTI, the Washington-based lender is holding consultations with the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as well as Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Notably, the IMF officials met Imran and his party, a day after he was named in six cases, including three under the tough Anti-Terrorism Act, for his connection to the 9 May riots in the country after his arrest.

Pakistan clinches the deal

Last week, after months of negotiations, Pakistan managed to clinch a last-minute relief from IMF on an initial $3 billion loan. The development lowers the risk of a sovereign debt default as the South Asian nation continues to grapple with sky-high inflation and staggeringly low exchange reserves.

The agreement aims to support Pakistan’s purported efforts to stabilise the economy from recent external shocks, preserve macroeconomic stability and provide a framework for financing from multilateral and bilateral partners.

“The new SBA will also create space for social and development spending through improved domestic revenue mobilisation and careful spending execution to help address the needs of the Pakistani people,” the IMF said in an official statement.

(With inputs from agencies)