Senator Raza Rabbani criticizes IMF’s meetings with Pakistan’s political parties ‘erosion of political sovereignty’

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The IMF held meetings with the PPP and opposition PTI to secure their support for a standby arrangement, which had been reached between the IMF and Islamabad as an older program expired.

PPP Senator Raza Rabbani has criticized the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) meetings with political parties in Pakistan before the approval of a $3 billion deal, calling it a threat to political sovereignty. He stated that financial sovereignty had already been surrendered.

Rabbani drew a parallel between these meetings and the return of the East India Company, suggesting that notables were being asked to support the company’s policies. He questioned the fate of political parties supporting privatization and worker retrenchment and whether the election commission would take exception to their manifestos.

Economist Dr. Ashfaque Hassan Khan commented that the IMF’s meetings with political parties were unusual. Normally, IMF officials meet with stakeholders such as representatives of chambers, banks, and labor unions. He speculated that the IMF might be counting on negotiating a new program with the incoming government, regardless of which party forms it, as the standby arrangement envisions elections being held this year.

The IMF has emphasized that it does not favor any particular party and will negotiate with the next government. Some analysts view the lender’s meetings with political parties in the same context. However, many warn that the uncertain political climate in Pakistan could jeopardize the IMF program.

The meetings between the IMF and the economic teams of the PPP and PTI were held to seek assurances of their support for the objectives and policies of the new IMF-supported program ahead of the upcoming national elections. The IMF’s resident representative for Pakistan, Ester Perez Ruiz, stated that meetings were also planned with representatives of other major political parties.

PPP leader Naveed Qamar confirmed that the party supported the agreement and the need for the IMF program, highlighting the severe repercussions for the economy if the program was not implemented. PTI’s Hammad Azhar also expressed support for the objectives and policies of the new program, emphasizing the need for macroeconomic stability until a new government is formed after the elections.

It is unclear whether the IMF team will meet with other members of the coalition government, and the incumbent government has remained silent about the meetings. Previously, the government had criticized the IMF’s statement on political stability, considering its interference in internal matters.

However, the uncertain political climate in Pakistan raises doubts about the program’s success. The PPP and PTI have expressed their support for the IMF program’s objectives and policies, emphasizing the need for stability until a new government is formed.