- 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.