Updated February 29th, 2024 at 21:32 IST

Imran Khan's Letter to IMF Asking to Halt Bailout Package 'Hostility Towards State': Nawaz Sharif

Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday criticised jailed ex-premier Imran Khan's letter to the IMF linking the cash-strapped country's political stability with any future bailout talks, saying his action was akin to hostility against the state.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif. | Image:AP
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Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday criticised jailed ex-premier Imran Khan's letter to the IMF linking the cash-strapped country's political stability with any future bailout talks, saying his action was akin to hostility against the state. Nawaz Sharif made these remarks as he arrived at Parliament House for the inaugural session of the 16th National Assembly. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo said such tactics were the 'tradition' of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

The 74-year-old three-time prime minister said that "no political party will write such letters" and asked if this was not an act of hostility. "You can draw the conclusions yourself." A day earlier, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar also expressed his disapproval of the PTI chief’s letter to the International Monetary Fund, terming this move as 'highly irresponsible'. Appearing on a talk show on a private TV channel, Kakar said the letter was sent at a time when the caretaker government had significantly worked for economic revival, with relevant indicators showing positive trends and achieving various financial targets.

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He noted that negotiations with the IMF are underway for a USD 6-billion-dollar agreement, which is crucial for the country's economic health. Moreover, different multilateral agreements also depend on it. He said there are appropriate forums to sort out electoral disputes, and PTI’s decision to write a letter to the IMF was unjustified and highly irresponsible. However, he noted that the letter would have no effects in tangible terms, but it would have political costs for the PTI.

PTI founder Khan confirmed that he 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 Pakistan. Khan has urged the IMF to conduct an "audit" of at least 30 per cent of the national and provincial assembly seats to unearth the brazen "intervention and fraud" during the elections before considering any further bailout talks with the cash-strapped country.

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"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 a rise 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. Khan, 71, alleged that the institutions were compromised to ensure the selection of PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, causing harm to various organisations, including the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

In his letter, Khan accused that the election process was rigged in favour of Nawaz and claimed that he had been unfairly subjected to corruption allegations. Official sources said that the new government would seek a fresh loan of about USD 6 billion from the IMF to help it address the issue of balance of payments. Pakistan last year avoided default after the IMF provided a USD 3 billion short-term loan and it may face problems to meet external liabilities in case the new IMF loan is delayed.

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Despite Imran's efforts, it remains to be seen whether the letter will yield the desired results, as the IMF has expressed its willingness to work with the new Pakistani government.

Nawaz Sharif has nominated his younger brother and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif to be the next prime minister to head a coalition government with a post-poll power-sharing deal with Bilawal Zardari-Bhutto-led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). The new prime minister is expected to be elected by the newly formed National Assembly on Sunday. 

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Published February 29th, 2024 at 21:32 IST