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IMF refuses to be entangled in Pakistan’s electoral dispute

Monitoring Desk
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) attempt to block the next multi-billion-dollar bailout package backfired on Friday after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) refused to interfere in Pakistan’s politics but encouraged the country to hold fair resolution of all electrical disputes.
PTI founder Imran Khan had penned a letter to the IMF, urging the global lender to give the poll results a thorough once-over before cutting any new cheques for Islamabad.
“If the country gets a loan in such a situation, then who will return it?” he questioned, expressing concerns that such a loan could lead to an increase in poverty.
The former prime minister warned that without substantial investment in the country, the burden of loans would continue to rise, underscoring the need for political stability.
While breaking its silence on the PTI’s attempt to involve the global lender in political matters, a spokesperson of the IMF instead showed readiness to negotiate the next medium-term programme with the newly-elected government.
“The IMF, as an international institution with a narrow mandate on economic issues, does not comment on domestic political developments,” said the IMF spokesperson while commenting on the letter written by the PTI.
The IMF said that it received a letter from a PTI spokesperson on February 28 regarding the Fund’s engagement with Pakistan under the programme.
The PTI is disputing the February 8th election results and is claiming to have won about 177 seats as against 92, which were notified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as independently elected members of the National Assembly. The PTI has also claimed to have documentary evidence of rigging in the elections and demanded that the IMF should play a role in conducting the investigations.
“Given the importance of the institutional environment for economic stability and growth, we do encourage the fair and peaceful resolution of all electoral disputes,” said the IMF spokesperson.
The PTI’s decision to write the letter to the IMF was also against the party’s vocal opposition to the involvement of any foreign player in Pakistan’s political matters.
The attempt to involve the IMF in domestic political affairs had also given credence to the apprehensions that former prime minister Imran Khan could go to any extent to win back the power that he had lost because of a vote of no confidence in April 2022.
The IMF’s current $3 billion short-term bailout package is expiring before the middle of next month and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has already given a go-ahead to the Ministry of Finance to begin discussions for signing a new Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
The last EFF had expired in June without the disbursement of the $2.6 billion loan amount due to Pakistan’s failure to meet the programme conditions.