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Sunday, May 28, 2023  
07 Dhul-Qadah 1444  

No condition imposed on Pakistan’s nuclear assets, says IMF

Fund's resident representative cites talks are only on economic policy
<p>The Shaheen-III missile is displayed during the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2016. A portrait of Pakistan’s national poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal is seen in the background.  Reuters</p>

The Shaheen-III missile is displayed during the Pakistan Day parade in Islamabad, Pakistan, March 23, 2016. A portrait of Pakistan’s national poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal is seen in the background. Reuters

The International Monetary Fund has not imposed any condition on Pakistan’s nuclear assets, the fund’s resident representative said in a statement on Monday.

“Talks with Pakistan are only held on economic policy,” Esther Perez Ruiz said. “There is no truth to rumours about the nuclear programme.”

The clarification comes after Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s statement on the country’s missile programme at the special Senate session last week.

“Nobody has any right to tell Pakistan what range of missiles it can have and what nuclear weapons it can have. We have to have our own deterrence,” he had said in response to PPP Senator Raza Rabbani’s query on the conditions on which the deal is being signed.

Pakistan was yet to reach a staff-level agreement with the IMF despite the government’s claim that it would be signed “soon”.

Finance czar Dar claimed that there was not any delay on part of the government and the materialisation of external commitments was the last hurdle in the IMF deal

Pakistan desperately needs more than $1 billion to shore up its tottering economy. The Dar-led finance ministry has taken several measures to win the loan from the stalled prorgamme. But, the country still awaits the funds to welcome inflows from friendly countries and other international donors.

According to Dar, the lender was demanding that bilateral commitments made by Pakistan’s certain friendly countries to bilaterally support the country should be completed.

Pakistan needs $6 billion in new loans to bridge the financing gap, a concern raised by the International Monetary Fund during talks with Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have not yet given these loans despite repeated requests by Pakistan.

Many social media users blamed Dar for distracting the masses from the demands of the Fund by making statements about nukes.

On the same day, Prime Minister Shehbaz said that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was being “jealously guarded by the state”. His statement stated that even a “traditional routine visit” of International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi was portrayed in a “negative spotlight”.

In a press briefing on Friday, the Foreign Office also rejected such statements and reiterated that issues about Pakistan’s nuclear programme were not on the agenda with any government, financial institution or international organisation.

FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch described such a debate as “just speculative” and liked not to add to the speculation.

The international lender has asked Pakistan to tax the rich and provide subsidies to the poor.

“There is no truth to linking Pakistan’s nuclear programme with the deal. The talks with Pakistan are only on the economic policy,” Perez said.

CENTCOM chief confident with Pakistan’s nuclear security procedures

Commander of US Central Command (Centcom) General Michael E Kurilla during testimony before the US Senate Arms Services Committee has expressed satisfaction regarding Pakistan’s nuclear security procedures.

“I am confident in their [Pakistan] nuclear security procedures and the US is satisfied with Pakistan’s nuclear programme,” General Kurilla said while responding to a question by a senator whether Pakistan’s nuclear programme was secure against the backdrop of ongoing political instability and economic crisis.

General Kurilla said: “I have a great relationship with Chief of the Army Staff General Asim Munir. I think the concerns right now in Pakistan are their budget, their financial situation, the current political situation and the counterterrorism situation.”

He also referred to the resurgence of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as attacks by the militant group have increased significantly since the end of a ceasefire with the outlawed group.

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