Islamabad [Pakistan], June 2 (ANI): Pakistan's Minister of Defence Khawaja Asif has cited the recent remark by Nathan Porter, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Pakistan, as "meddling" in the country's internal affairs, the Dawn reported.
Porter in a statement on Tuesday had stated that the IMF hopes "a peaceful way forward is found in line with the Constitution and the rule of law", even though the IMF typically refrains from commenting on domestic politics due to the political drama taking place in Pakistan.
Aisha Ghaus Pasha, the minister of state for finance and revenue, also addressed the remark and urged the IMF Pakistan chief not to "interfere in politically domestic" matters, according to Dawn.
Asif maintained this position when questioned about Porter's remarks on Dawn News English.
On being asked whether Defence Minister Asif believed Porter's statement was tantamount to meddling in the country's internal matters, Asif replied, "Yes, it is meddling in our internal affairs."In addition, Khawaja Asif responded, "Why do they close their eyes when something is happening somewhere, some location in the world where American interest is involved, but they don't speak," when questioned about his thoughts on Nathan Porter discussing the current political developments in Pakistan.
Khawaja further added that the country was facing a "precarious economic situation" and that a "very serious law and order situation" was created on May 9, Dawn reported.
On May 9, protests erupted countrywide in the wake of former prime minister Imran Khan's arrest in a corruption case, during which several private and public properties, including military installations, were attacked. Government blames Imran was the attacks, but he has denied the allegations.
"The state was threatened [on May 9] and a mutiny took place, which was unprecedented in the 75 years of our history," Asif said, adding that the measures being taken by the government were in line with the "crisis that perpetrated on the 9th of May".
He maintained that the events of May 9 "demand that a special arrangement or dispensation be there to deal with the consequences of these events".
When asked if placing curbs on the freedom of expression or freedom of speech was the right way of dealing with a political opponent, Asif said, "I will look at it from a different angle.""I think the way he (an apparent reference to the PTI chief) has been making mistakes during his tenure as the prime minister also and subsequently as leader of the opposition party for the last 12-13 months, I think he should be allowed to make mistakes. When your enemy is making a mistake, you don't interrupt."Earlier this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged Pakistan to follow the Constitution in order to resolve its political disputes, as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif contacted Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to revive the derailed USD 6.5 billion bailout package apparently in a last-ditch effort to avoid default, The Express Tribune reported.
The contact was made a day before Finance Minister Ishaq Dar criticised the global lender again on National Television.
"We are at a point where it would be extremely biased and shameful for them [IMF] if the 9th review doesn't take place now," Dar told a private TV channel.
Two days after the highest-level contact was established between Shehbaz and Georgieva, IMF Mission Chief to Pakistan Nathan Porter gave a statement, expanding the IMF's focus to the political arena.
"We take note of the recent political developments, and while we do not comment on domestic politics, we do hope that a peaceful way forward is found in line with the Constitution and rule of law," IMF Pakistan Chief Porter Nathan said.
The statement came amid the ongoing crackdown against the PTI workers, abductions of people, breach of the 90-day constitutional limit to hold elections in the two provinces and trial of civilians in military courts under the Army Act. Usually, the IMF does not comment on political matters.
In response to questions sent by The Express Tribune, Porter also spelled out the conditions that Pakistan has to meet to reach an agreement with the foreign lender. These include arranging foreign loans, approval of a new budget in line with the IMF framework, and restoration of the foreign exchange market's proper functioning.
The Pakistani side as only one month is left in the expiry of the programme, although Pakistani authorities still insist that the IMF can shorten the review completion period by calling a board meeting within two weeks from the date of announcement of the staff-level agreement, The Express Tribune reported.
The sources said that Pakistan was currently not fulfilling any conditions of the IMF. The rupee was traded at PKR 285.41 in the interbank market on Monday but its value was around PKR 316 to a dollar in the open market, The Express Tribune reported.
The new budget is completely off track with the framework that the IMF had discussed, the sources said.
The IMF mission chief emphasised that strengthening domestic revenue mobilisation and eliminating state-owned enterprises (SOE) losses to create fiscal space are also critical for ongoing sustainability, reducing inefficiencies that affect the private sector, and allowing a scaling up of social and development spending.
The USD 6.5 billion programme remains derailed since November last year and it is going to expire on June 30. Of the USD 6.5 billion, the IMF has not yet disbursed USD 2.6 billion, including the USD 1.2 billion tranche linked with the completion of the 9th review. Dar said on Sunday that "our understanding is that the IMF would complete the 9th review".
Pakistan has only USD 4.1 billion in foreign exchange reserves, which are not sufficient to make USD 25 billion in repayments in the next fiscal year. In the absence of the IMF umbrella, other lenders are also not giving loans to Pakistan, The Express Tribune reported.
The sources said that there was still a difference of opinion on the issue of the current account deficit for this fiscal year, as the IMF has not yet accepted the government's revised estimate of around USD 4 billion to USD 4.5 billion. (ANI)