Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has reportedly pulled out of a crucial scheduled visit to the United States to attend the upcoming annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Dar was expected to travel to the US from April 10 to 16, but pulled out due to the "domestic political situation", according to a report in The Express Tribune.
The finance minister was also scheduled to meet with UAE officials during his visit to the US. The report suggested the meetings with UAE officials have not yet been rescheduled.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Finance and Economic Affairs will lead the Pakistani delegation in the summer meetings, said the report.
The development comes as Islamabad remains in talks with the IMF to resume the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme, which remains stalled till date. Dar's meeting was being seen as a key step in taking forward the talks with the IMF and other lenders as Pakistan faces depleting foreign exchange reserves.
The resumption of the programmed is crucial for the South Asian economy, which has been faced with a barrage of woes with a perceived default risk and a downgrade by international rating agencies reflecting the state of the economy that has also had to bear major political turmoil and frequent change in key leadership.
The IMF funding is also critical for Pakistan to unlock other external financing avenues, and the two have been negotiating since early February to resume $1.1 billion in funding held since November, part of the bailout agreed upon in 2019.
On Thursday, Minister of State for Finance Aisha Ghaus Pasha said Saudi Arabia has assured the IMF it will provide a $2-billion loan tp Pakistan, a development that takes Islamabad closer to meeting the financing gap, a key prerequisite of resuming the IMF programme.
However, the agreement still rests on a similar commitment from the United Arab Emirates for a $1 billion loan, added the minister.
Last month, the international lender had said it needs to ensure financing assurances are in place in order to take “the next step with Pakistan”.
“Timely financial assistance from external partners will be critical to support the authorities’ policy efforts and ensure the successful completion of the review [with Pakistan],” Julie Kozack, the IMF’s Director of Strategic Communications, stated back then.
“Ensuring that there is sufficient financing to support the authorities is the paramount priority. A Staff Level Agreement (SLA) will follow once the few remaining points are closed,” she said.