Shehbaz warns of ‘more burden’ on people

Shehbaz IMF

Says Imran, despite defying all courts, getting ‘relief from everywhere’

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Tuesday that he saw “more burden” on the masses in the coming days as the cash-strapped nation continues to meet tough International Monetary Fund demands to secure a $1.1 billion loan tranche.

During an interview with a private news channel, the prime minister said that when he came into power, he and his partners were aware that the situation was very bad and that Pakistan was on the brink of default.

But what he did not know was “that Imran Khan had completely gone back on the promises he made with the IMF, and I was also not aware that [IMF’s] trust in Pakistan was also damaged to a great deal”.

The premier also said that due to Imran’s repeated backtracking, the Washington-based lender is forcing Pakistan to implement the pre-conditions for unlocking the loan tranche.

“Definitely, these conditions resulted in burdening the masses and they will be burdened further. I absolutely acknowledge this,” the prime minister said, mentioning that “hardworking Pakistanis will be burdened by this.”

The IMF deal would unlock other bilateral and multilateral financing avenues for Pakistan to shore up its foreign exchange reserves, which have fallen to just four weeks’ worth of import cover.

The prime minister also noted that it was not only the IMF’s conditions that were leading to historic-high inflation but Pakistan was also being impacted due to “imported inflation”.

He mentioned that since his government came into power last year in April after removing Imran from power, the Russia-Ukraine war broke out and resulted in the increase in prices of fertiliser, oil, and other commodities that the nation imports.

“The IMF’s toughest conditions have been met and we will sign the staff-level agreement within a few days,” he said. The prime minister also mentioned that despite Khan and his cabinet’s repeated criticism of China, the friendly nation has forwarded $1.5 billion in loans to Pakistan.

As the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman has been facing scores of court cases and avoiding in-person appearances, PM Shehbaz came down hard on Imran Khan for “defying courts — from the Supreme Court to lower courts”.