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‘Imran Khan sought IMF’s guarantee for timely general elections’

In this file photo taken on April 15, 2020, a sign is seen outside the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, DC. — AFP
In this file photo taken on April 15, 2020, a sign is seen outside the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, DC. — AFP
  • IMF says it keeps a close eye on the situation in the country: sources.
  • “Short-term bailout package will likely to ensure smooth transition of power.”
  • Interim set-up will hold general elections in country on time, hopes IMF.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had sought International Monetary Fund (IMF) guarantee that the general elections in Pakistan will be held on its scheduled time, sources privy to the development told Geo News on Saturday.

In a bid to seek assurance and support for the key objectives and policies under the recently announced $3 billion bailout programme, a delegation of the IMF called on the PTI chief in Lahore on Friday — days before the global lender’s executive board meeting to review and possibly endorse the Standby Arrangement (SBA) for Pakistan.

IMF’s resident representative Esther Perez Ruiz in a statement said that the meetings with political parties were to “seek assurances of their support for the key objectives and policies under a new IMF-supported programme ahead of the approaching national elections”.

However, sources privy to the IMF delegation’s meeting with the PTI chief on Saturday revealed that the latter asked the global lender to ensure that the general elections, scheduled to take place in October this year, will be held on its time.

“What guarantee can you [IMF] give that the elections in the country will be held on time,” the PTI chief was quoted as saying in the huddle.

The IMF representatives, as per insiders, responded by saying that the Washington-based lender keeps a close eye on the situation in the country but “we cannot interfere too much in internal political matters”.

The IMF delegation further added that short-term bailout package has been chalked out in such a way that the transition of power is expected to take place on time, the sources added.

The insiders added that the IMF officials also expressed hope that the interim set-up will hold general elections in the country within constitutionally-mandated time period.

Following the meeting, the former ruling party, PTI, welcomed the IMF’s deal with Pakistan to preserve macroeconomic stability by anchoring external financing and sound policies ahead of the national elections due in the fall of this year and until a new government is formed, party leader Hammad Azhar said.

The meeting was attended by IMF country chief Nathan Porter who joined virtually from Washington and Resident Representative Ester Perez Luis who was physically present, he added.

Giving details, the former finance minister said that discussions took place around the staff-level agreement that the IMF reached with the government for a 9-month $3 billion SBA. “In this context, we support the overall objectives and key policies.”

The PTI leader also said they wish to stress the importance of programmes to protect the lower-income segments of the population from high inflation.

The PTI considers political stability and rule of law as integral to the economic stability of Pakistan, Azhar said, adding that following free, fair, and timely elections as per the Constitution, a new government mandated by the people will initiate reforms and engage on a longer-term basis with multilateral institutions to further economic transformation, higher and more inclusive growth.

It is worth mentioning here that the IMF executive board will meet on July 12 to review the SBA for Pakistan.

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