Khawaja Asif terms IMF official’s statement ‘meddling in our internal affairs’

Published June 1, 2023
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif in conversation with Adil Shahzeb on Dawn News English.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif in conversation with Adil Shahzeb on Dawn News English.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has termed International Monetary Fund (IMF) Pakistan chief Nathan Porter’s recent statement — which is being seen as a comment on the country’s political situation — “meddling in our internal affairs”.

While the IMF usually does not comment on domestic politics, in a statement on Tuesday, Porter said the IMF hopes “a peaceful way forward is found in line with the Constitution and the rule of law”.

Minister of State for Finance and Revenue Dr Aisha Ghaus Pasha has already responded to the comment, saying that the IMF Pakistan chief should not “interfere in politically domestic” matters.

This stance was reiterated by Asif, who was asked about Porter’s statement by Adil Shahzeb on Dawn News English.

Quoting Porter, Shahzeb said, “he was obviously talking about Pakistan’s recent political developments. What do you think about this?”

Sharing his views, Asif said, “I think these institutions should take into account, take stock of the situation elsewhere also in the globe.

“Like what is happening in Gaza? What is happening in the West Bank? What is happening in Srinagar or the Kashmir valley?

“Why do they close their eyes when something is happening somewhere, some location in the globe where American interest is involved — but they don’t speak.”

Asked whether he believed Porter’s statement was tantamount to meddling in the country’s internal matters, Asif replied: “Yes, it is meddling in our internal affairs.”

He added that the country was facing a “precarious economic situation” and that a “very serious law and order situation” was created on May 9.

On May 9, protests erupted countrywide in the wake of former prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest in a corruption case, during which several private and public properties, including military installations, were attacked. Government blames Imran was the attacks, but he has denied the allegations.

“The state was threatened [on May 9] and a mutiny took place, which was unprecedented in the 75 years of our history,” Asif said, adding that the measures being taken by the government were in line with the “crisis that perpetrated on the 9th of May”.

He maintained that the events of May 9 “demand that a special arrangement or dispensation be there to deal with the consequences of these events”.

When asked if placing curbs on the freedom of expression or freedom of speech was the right way of dealing with a political opponent, Asif said, “I will look at it from a different angle.

“I think the way he (an apparent reference to the PTI chief) has been making mistakes during his tenure as the prime minister also and subsequently as leader of the opposition party for the last 12-13 months, I think he should be allowed to make mistakes. When your enemy is making a mistake, you don’t interrupt.”

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