As the crucial International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) executive board review meeting takes place to discuss and release a $1.18 billion tranche to Pakistan under a bailout package, the centre and the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) appear to be driving towards opposite directions on the terms, earlier agreed upon, to make possible the release of the IMF package. The controversy arose of nowhere when Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finance minister Taimur Jhagra’s letter to the federal government appeared in the media, possibly leaked by the federal government, where he showed his inability to meet the terms set by the IMF, which was seen as an effort by the rival government of the PTI to sabotage the IMF disbursement schedule. Sadly, the issue could not be resolved between the two sides amicably, for which the ugly politics should be blamed. In a belated effort to save the IMF deal, Federal Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and Mr Jhagra will meet today to resolve differences between the Centre and the province over outstanding issues. This should have happened months ago. The KP minister’s concerns highlighted in his letter to Mr Ismail are real as his province, reeling from terrorism and flood calamities, needs more funds and give up the vital term set by the IMF to keep its budget surplus. The province needs extra budget for the newly merged areas of former FATA and also release of outstanding monthly transfer of net hydel profits as per agreed terms, and the immediate revival of the National Finance Commission award. The centre should not make payments hostage for political reasons.
All eyes are set on today’s IMF meeting, and hopefully, Pakistan will be released the much-needed assistance. Pakistan has met all terms, toughest one, only for the bailout package at political cost. So far centre-provinces row, such issues should not have made to the media. Politics on national interest is not politics; it is simply enmity.