Ishaq Dar, the Finance Minister of Pakistan, has rejected rumours that International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials declined to meet with him during the spring meetings of the Bretton Woods institutions. Dar clarified that he had postponed his visit to the US at the request of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in light of the current political climate. In a passionate speech, Dar emphasized that Pakistan is an IMF member and not a nation that begs for aid, and that the IMF does not have the authority to prevent him from attending the spring meetings.
Ishaq Dar, the Finance Minister of Pakistan, was scheduled to attend the World Bank-IMF spring meetings held in Washington from April 10 to 16. During his visit, he was expected to discuss the elimination of obstacles to revive the derailed $6.5 billion programme with the IMF management. Pakistan has been in talks with the IMF since January to obtain $1.1 billion from the $6.5 billion bailout package approved in 2019. To unlock the funding, the government has implemented various measures, such as reducing subsidies, removing an artificial exchange rate cap, imposing taxes, and increasing fuel prices. Despite these efforts, the agreement has been postponed due to assurances of additional funds from friendly countries.
The finance minister addressed the ongoing political crisis in Pakistan and stressed that the disbursement of funds to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is a huge responsibility for the Ministry of Finance. The Supreme Court’s April 4 ruling declared the ECP’s decision on the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) election null and void, ordering snap polls in Punjab on May 14. The court has ordered the federal government to provide $21 billion for the elections in Punjab by April 10, creating a sense of urgency for the finance ministry and the cabinet. The finance minister emphasized that despite these challenges, these are routine procedures and that a constitutional crisis should not be created.