Islamabad. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar has canceled a visit to the US amid a domestic political and judicial crisis. Dar was scheduled to attend the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and IMF to be held in Washington from April 10 to 16.
Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has canceled his trip to the US to attend the World Bank and IMF spring meetings and unlock a USD 1.1 billion IMF bailout amid deepening domestic political uncertainty and a developing judicial crisis. Have discussed with the officials to do. During his visit to the US, Dar was to meet the International Monetary Fund Management (IMF) to clear the bottlenecks in the staff-level agreement on revival of the stalled bailout package.
Dar’s US tour canceled due to a domestic situation
Dar will not attend the spring meeting of the World Bank and IMF to be held in Washington from April 10 to 16. The newspaper quoted Dar as saying, “I am not going because of domestic circumstances.” The newspaper said that deepening political uncertainty and a developing judicial crisis were cited as reasons behind the cancellation of the trip to Washington.
The economic affairs minister will also not go to America
Sources said Economic Affairs Minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq will also not go to the US due to the prevailing uncertain political situation. The Minister of Economic Affairs always represented Pakistan in the World Bank. Ayaz is considered very close to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and used to handle the political affairs of allies.
The gap between the judiciary and the government has deepened regarding the elections
The development comes amid a growing rift between the judiciary and the federal government over holding elections in the country’s politically crucial Punjab province. The federal government claims that it has the power to delay the elections and hold general elections in the country after August this year.
However, former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has been pushing for early elections and is demanding that instead of delaying the elections in Punjab province, the National Assembly should be dissolved and the country declared general. Elections should be called. Finance Secretary Hameed Yaqoob Sheikh and Economic Affairs Secretary Kazim Niaz will now represent the government at the WB-IMF spring meetings.
Pakistan waiting for USD 1.1 billion from IMF
Pakistan has been awaiting much-needed funding of USD 1.1 billion from the Washington-based IMF, which was originally scheduled to be disbursed in November last year. The funds are part of the USD 6.5 billion bailout package approved by the IMF in 2019. Analysts say this is crucial if Pakistan is to avoid defaulting on external debt obligations.
The IMF program signed in 2019 is going to end on June 30, 2023 and the program cannot be extended beyond the deadline under the prescribed guidelines. The pending 9th review was to be completed in December 2022 and the 10th review was to start from February 2023. The 11th review was to begin on May 3.
Pakistan facing an economic crisis
Pakistan and the IMF have been in talks for months to restart the stalled program but have not yet reached an agreement. Pakistan is currently grappling with high foreign debt, a weak local currency, and dwindling foreign exchange reserves, which are barely enough for a month’s imports. The current volatile political situation in Pakistan has become a factor in delaying a much-anticipated deal with the IMF.