This is apropos a letter to the Editor ‘IMF no solution to the problem...’ carried by the newspaper yesterday through which the writer, Tiwana, has aptly explained his point of view in order to contribute to a wider debate over the plight of the country’s economy.
Having said that, I would like to add to his argument by arguing that International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) approach to Pakistan is utterly ambivalent owing to a variety of reasons. It is vastly different from what it has exhibited for default-hit Sri Lanka for which it has approved over $3 billion bailout two days ago.
It seems to have fully recognized the fact that these two South Asian countries—Sri Lanka and Pakistan—have different histories, needs, upsides and downsides.
That is why perhaps the lender of last resort has decided to send mixed signals to Pakistan insofar as its locked tranche is concerned. Its remark “substantial progress by Pakistan” does not necessarily mean that it has approved of whatever the government of Pakistan has done so far in order to meet the conditions the former has set for the latter to comply with, come what may.
That’s why perhaps, a staff-level agreement between the Fund and the incumbent government still remains elusive, adding to economic chaos in Pakistan, a country where people are suffering from unprecedented food inflation in particular.
Our predicament is such that we cannot ask the IMF to come clean about Pakistan and the locked bailout for it. How ironic it is that the entire direction of country’s economic course is hinging upon IMF’s acquiescence or its stipulations. So fingers crossed!
Hina Siddiqui (Karachi)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023