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Tuesday Oct 09 2018

Politicians react to PM Khan's U-turn on IMF bailout package

The International Monetary Fund logo is seen during the IMF/World Bank spring meetings in Washington, US, April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/Files

ISLAMABAD: Various politicians and former ministers have reacted to Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government's decision to "immediately" approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package — a move that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader has criticised in the past and had promised not to opt for during electoral campaigns.

"Sharam karo, haya karo! (You should be embarrassed by yourself!)," said former foreign minister Khawaja Asif.

"Go on, now, commit suicide. But, oh well, what can we do, for one needs respect and honour to do so," the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader added.

Amir Khan of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) said the government was only "making U-turns" and reminded people that Khan had said earlier it would be better to die than to go to the IMF for money.

On the other hand, Shaukat Tareen, who was the finance minister during the tenure of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), said the conditions the global financial body would set against the bailout package would be strict.

This, he said, would mean that there was a higher likelihood of another hike in the prices of electricity and gas.

Earlier, on Monday, Finance Minister Asad Umar confirmed that the government had decided to approach the IMF to deal with the prevalent financial crisis.

Talks with the international body would commence "immediately" as the premier gave the go-ahead to do so, Umar had said in a video message. The country is going through a tough time, he added, which has been left behind by the previous government.

“We have to find a way to get out of this difficult situation,” he explained.

Pakistan is likely to request the IMF for providing it $6-7 billion. Sources within the Ministry of Finance informed Geo News that the IMF would demand Islamabad to reduce its non-development expenses to bring down the budget deficit.

They said the world organisation will also demand an expansion in the country's tax net, sources noted, adding that the IMF also wanted Pakistan to decrease circular debts and losses in state institutions.

A day prior, reports had surfaced stating that the Pakistani government required $9 billion to fulfil its fiscal needs and that, while it wished to approach the IMF for a bailout package, it was unwilling to name it so.