Imran Khan Rips Into Army Chief Amid Reports of Pakistan Seeking Help From US to Secure IMF Deal
13:37 GMT 30.07.2022 (Updated: 14:09 GMT 14.02.2023)
© AP Photo / Rahmat GulFILE - In this Nov. 19, 2020 file photo, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a joint news conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan. Pakistani rights groups are criticizing Khan after he claimed in an online show on Sunday, April 4, 2021
© AP Photo / Rahmat Gul
Pakistan is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, with the government announcing that the country's current foreign exchange reserves of approximately $8.5 billion could sustain imports for just about a month and a half. Earlier this week, the South Asian nation's currency hit a record low of 236 against the US dollar.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has slammed the country's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa after reports emerged that the 61-year-old commander of the country's armed forces had reached out to the United States to press for an immediate dispersal of a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
As per a report published in Nikkei Asia on Friday, the Pakistani Army had sought help from the Joe Biden administration for the early release of an IMF financial package. The global money lending institution was yet to disburse $1.2 billion of the total $6 billion agreed in 2019.
According to Khan, Bajwa's move to ask the US to intervene in matters of Pakistan's economy was a sign that the South Asian country was getting weak.
The cricketer-turned-politician also said that General Bajwa had no business interfering in Pakistan's economic issues and it wasn't his job to keep the nation's economy afloat.
"If the news of Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa contacting the United States officials for early dispersal of loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was true, it means we [Pakistan] are getting weaker," Khan said in an interview with broadcaster Geo TV.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) supremo claimed that General Bajwa was forced to take the matter of the IMF loan deal into his own hands because the financial institution didn't trust the country's current leaders led by PM Shehbaz Sharif.
"I think that's why the army chief has taken the responsibility now," Khan said.
This wasn't the first time Islamabad has tried to gain support from Washington to press the IMF to release the $1.2 billion it badly needs.
Last week, Tariq Fatemi, the special assistant on foreign affairs to PM Shehbaz Sharif, met officials in Washington to reiterate that Pakistan was looking to the US to get the IMF to release the last tranche of $1.2 billion under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).
Earlier this month, Pakistan's authorities and the IMF reached an agreement on the final installment of the EFF.
The EFF is a financial package that was originally signed by the previous Imran Khan-led government and the IMF in 2019. The multilateral financial agency put it on hold after the government headed by the former Pakistan cricket captain failed to increase overall tax collections besides reneging on its promise of cutting subsidies.
After the Shehbaz Sharif government came to power in April, it decided to withdraw fuel subsidies in addition to hiking the prices of petroleum products.
Abolishing fuel subsidies was one of the terms set by the IMF for releasing the next installment of the EFF program, which is yet to be done.