Saturday, February 18, 2023
SIALKOT: As Pakistan grapples with the economic crisis, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said Saturday that the cash-strapped nation has "already defaulted".
The senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, while addressing a convention at a private college in Sialkot, stressed: "The country has defaulted. We live in a state that has defaulted."
Due to the serious economic crisis that has forced several industries to shut down operations and pushed millions of people on the brink of poverty, the centre is trying to get the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on board in the next day or two as depleting reserves and upcoming repayments on external fronts have pushed the government into the corner.
However, the defence minister said all the solutions to the nation's problems lie within the country and not with the IMF — whose crucial $1.1 billion loan Pakistan is desperately trying to secure.
Pakistan's economy is in dire straits, stricken by a balance-of-payments crisis as it attempts to service high levels of external debt amid political chaos and deteriorating security.
Inflation has rocketed, the rupee has plummeted and the country can no longer afford imports, causing a severe decline in the industry.
The critical position of foreign exchange reserves — which stand at around $3.19 billion as of February 10 — reflects the miseries of the $350 billion economy struggling to fund imports as thousands of containers of supplies were stranding at its ports stalling production and putting jobs of millions of people at risk.
Daily life for the masses, which was already tough given the current state of the economy, got even harder after the petrol price surged to a historic high of Rs272 per litre — in line with the IMF's demands.
"For the last 32 years, I have seen politics getting disgraced in Pakistan," the defence minister said.
Further, Asif said security forces were battling terrorists last night in Karachi when militants attacked the office of the Karachi police chief.
Three militants were killed and four people, including two policemen and a Sindh Rangers sub-inspector, embraced martyrdom in the nerve-racking operation that lasted for nearly four hours on Friday evening.
Meanwhile, 18 other people, including police and Rangers personnel, were also injured in the terror attack, which occurred after a deadly suicide attack at a Peshawar Civil Lines mosque that left 84 dead.
Without naming the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Asif said that the security people were fighting against the terrorists last night as militants were brought back and rehabilitated nearly a year ago.
“Whatever is being said on television has nothing to do with reality,” the defence