An about turn on transparency | Pakistan Today

An about turn on transparency

  • And a tryst with IMF

Deals brokered by Imran Khan in Saudi Arabia, China and UAE remain shrouded in mystery.  Saudi Arabia, we were told, had promised to provide $6 billion, half as  balance of payments support and half in the form of  deferred payments on oil imports. When asked about a quid pro quo, it was claimed there was none. Before proceeding to China  hopes were aroused that Pakistan would get a bigger financial deal from Beijing thus strengthening the government’s hands in negotiations with IMF.  Asad Umar told media on  Sunday he would not  divulge the details at this moment.  Before Imran Khan proceeded to UAE, government  circles hoped to get a  package  similar to the one agreed with Saudi Arabia. If one was really received, it  remains a guarded  secret.  Imran Khan is thus  increasingly looking  no different from the politicians he had scandalised for brokering secret agreements.

Today  when Asad Umar  sits down with the IMF team to reach an agreement on a basic economic policy framework programme he would have only $ 1 billion of Saudi assistance in hand after toing and froing for nearly two months. Meanwhile President Trump has fired another salvo  justifying the stoppage of military aid to Pakistan because, as he put it, Islamabad does not do “a damn thing” for the US. He also  accused Pakistan  of  helping Osama Bin Laden hide near the garrison city of Abbotabad. The statement came ominously a day before the crucial talks with  IMF.

The IMF conditionalities would put more burden on the man in the street  who is  already bedeviled by  the rising prices of articles of daily use.  To claim that the PTI government is placing burden only on higher income individuals is no more than a myth. The common man is already reeling under indirect taxes and the impact of the rise in the petrol price which has shot up prices of all commodities.

What should worry the government is that the  policy of austerity is being implemented at a time when there  is no political consensus  on any issue with the opposition while the government  is relentlessly filing new cases against the opposition leaders.  it will have to face  public reaction single handedly.