The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Sunday rejected rumors that it has been seeking alterations to Pakistan’s nuclear program in exchange for reviving a stalled loan facility that has been stalled since last year despite weeks of engagement.
Islamabad has been endeavoring to revive a stalled Extended Fund Facility since the end of January, hosting an IMF mission and undertaking multiple negotiations as part of these efforts. The country has already adopted several stringent measures, including withdrawing subsidies, raising utility tariffs and devaluing the Pakistani rupee, triggering record inflation that shows no signs of abating. The efforts are aimed at unlocking the next tranche of a $6.5 billion bailout package that was approved in 2019, with analysts warning that the country risks default if it cannot achieve this.
Earlier this month, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani raised concerns about whether the prolonged delay in reviving the IMF program was linked to the global lender seeking restrictions on the country’s strategic assets, including its nuclear and missile programs. In a letter, he urged Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to clarify the situation and share with the public if such demands were on the table.
In response, Dar vowed before the Senate last week that there would be no compromise on the country’s nuclear and missile programs. “Let me assure you that nobody is going to compromise anything on the nuclear or the missile program of Pakistan… no way,” he said, adding that once it had been signed, details of the staff-level agreement would be made public on the Finance Ministry’s website. “We have to have our own deterrence, as we represent the people of Pakistan and we have to guard our national interests,” he stressed.
Reacting to these statements, IMF resident representative in Islamabad Esther Perez Ruiz issued a statement to media, denying any demands to curb the nuclear program. “Regarding recent speculation that program discussions with the authorities for the ninth review under the IMF-supported program may have covered Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, I want to be categoric that there is absolutely no truth to this or any insinuated link between the past or current IMF supported program and decision by any Pakistani government over its nuclear program,” she said.
Ruiz went on to say that discussions between the lender and the government had exclusively focused on economic policies to solve Pakistan’s economic and balance of payments problems, in line with the IMF’s mandate for promoting macroeconomic and financial stability.