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PTI writes letter to IMF

Our Correspondent
Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan Wednesday said that the party had written a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to remind the financial body of its “promise” on the conduct of free, fair and transparent polls.

However, it was made clear that the PTI and its founding Chairman Imran Khan never wanted to create any obstacle to hurt the country’s economy in any way. The party has demanded an audit of at least 30 percent seats of the National and provincial assemblies and said the task can be accomplished in two weeks.

In its letter addressed to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva Wednesday, PTI Spokesperson Raoof Hasan said the letter was being sent ‘under the instructions and on behalf’ of Imran Khan.

It said that the party was not calling for the IMF to adopt the role of an investigative agency itself, adding that there were two indigenous organisations in Pakistan namely the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) and PATTAN-Coalition38 that had the proposed comprehensive methodologies to conduct the election audit.

“Such a role by the IMF would be a great service to Pakistan and its people, and could become the harbinger of enduring prosperity, growth and macroeconomic stability in the country,” the letter says.

The letter says, “It must be clarified at the very outset that the PTI does not wish to stand in the way of any IMF facility to the state of Pakistan that promotes the immediate as well as the long-term economic well-being of the country.

“It is clear that such facility, along with the national commitment to bring about necessary reforms that facilitate repayment and enable the country to stand on its own feet, can only be negotiated in the best interests of the people of Pakistan by a duly elected government that has the trust of the people of Pakistan,” it added.

The letter says the PTI was aware of the importance the IMF attached to good governance, transparency, upholding the rule of law and curbing corrupt practices while entering financing agreements with member countries. It highlighted the policy adopted by the Fund in 1997 under a Guidance Note titled ‘The Role of the IMF in Governance Issues’ and cited its relevant excerpts. “It is a well-established reality that a government without legitimate representation, when imposed upon a country, carries no moral authority to govern, and, in particular, to carry out taxation measures,” the letter said.

The PTI says in the letter that in the previous interaction held between Imran and IMF representatives last year, the PTI had ‘agreed to support IMF’s financing facility involving Pakistan on the condition and reassurance of a free and fair election’. It alleged that the February 8 general elections — which it said caused the public expenditure of Rs50 billion or $180 million — were ‘subjected to widespread intervention and fraud in the counting of votes and compilation of results’.

The letter says, “This intervention and fraud have been so brazen that the IMF’s most important member countries including the US, Great Britain, and countries forming part of the European Union have called for a full and transparent investigation into the matter. A mission of the European Union has carried out an examination of the general elections of February 8, 2024. The report of the said mission must be examined by the IMF and made available to the people of Pakistan.”

“In view of the policies and principles the IMF stands for, there should be no doubt that the abuse of power by a small number of holders of public office to impose their likes and dislikes on Pakistan’s populace as aforesaid, and thus to ensure their continuing personal gain, would not be promoted or upheld by the IMF,” the letter stated.

The party said that other political parties along with the Western governments, Commonwealth observers, local civil society organisations and international print and electronic media had called for an independent probe into the claims of ‘intervention and electoral fraud’ on and after the election days.

However, it noted, the calls had gone unheeded for over two weeks. “We, therefore, call upon the IMF to give effect to the guidelines adopted by it with respect to good governance as well as conditionalities that must be satisfied prior to the grant of a finance facility that is to burden the people of Pakistan with further debt. An audit of at least thirty percent of the national and provincial assemblies’ seats should be ensured, which can be accomplished in merely two weeks,” the PTI demanded.

Meanwhile, speaking to a news conference, Barrister Gohar said the PTI and PTI founding chairman did not want to harm Pakistan’s economy in any way. “We will have to battle to make Pakistan a truly independent country, as people have expressed their confidence in Imran Khan and other leaders under the slogan of ‘slavery unacceptable’,” he added.

Gohar said that those who were hell-bent on forming the government did not have a public mandate but a stolen mandate, adding that they were not the elected representatives of the people, hence they could not have the passion, honesty and dedication to take this country forward.

“Our country is facing numerous challenges be it political or economic and the PTI wanted Pakistan to develop by moving forward according to the vision of Imran Khan,” he maintained.

Speaking on the occasion, Muzzammil Aslam, an economic expert, said Pakistan has so far secured 24 programmes of the IMF out of which the first programme was taken in 1958. He said the PMLN and Peoples Party governments only completed one programme out of the total 14 programmes. He said that the biggest IMF programme in the history of Pakistan was taken by the PMLN in 2008, which was worth $10 billion.

Muzzammil recalled that after coming to government in 2018, the PTI was criticised for not taking the IMF programme, as Imran Khan tried to get $10 billion from the world in 10 months and after that he took a programme of $6.5 billion after relaxing the conditions of the IMF. “On February 5, 2022, the IMF gave an instalment of $1.25 billion to the PTI government, after which a no-confidence motion was brought a month later.”

He claimed that Ishaq Dar could not complete a single review of the IMF in 10 months, from October to August. “In June 2023, IMF contacted the PTI while at that time we were neither in the National Assembly nor in a provincial assembly. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the IMF said that the Board of Directors wants to take the approval of Imran Khan and PTI for the programme,” he added.

He said that in the meeting held at Zaman Park, the IMF said that if they did not give this programme, Pakistan could face bankruptcy, adding that the board of directors conditioned the programme with PTI’s prior consent, then Imran Khan gave approval for the IMF programme despite the fact that about 200 false cases were registered against him.

“As per the details, IMF programme will cover nine months out of which the first part will be given to the PDM, the second part will be given to the caretaker government and the third part will be given to the newly-elected government,” he added.

Muzzammil Aslam revealed that in November, the IMF once again contacted the PTI and expressed its desire to meet Imran Khan and the leadership; however it was not possible because the PTI founding chairman and other leaders were incarcerated, adding that the review was completed on November 15, but the board of directors made the release of another installment conditional on a meeting with PTI leadership, resultantly Barrister Gohar met them and the fund was released on January 11.

“The IMF had said that for the third tranche, negotiations would be held only with the government with a public mandate and we want to remind the IMF of the same promise,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub said that the party never created any obstacle to put a stop on the economic wheel of the country, rather always extending all-out support to resolve the country’s economic issues because they were patriotic people.

He said that during the meeting with the IMF team, Imran Khan was given an assurance of holding free, fair and transparent elections in lieu of supporting the financial programme. However, Omar Ayub lamented that the most rigged polls were held on February 8, as public mandate was stolen in the dark of the night to fraudulently impose PDM-2 on the nation once again.