WASHINGTON: The United States played a key behind-the-scenes role to help Pakistan secure a $3 billion bailout package with the Interna­tional Monetary Fund (IMF), diplomatic sources told Dawn.

The recent staff-level agreement (SLA) came after an eight-month delay in releasing funds from a 2019, $6 billion loan.

“The United States supported Pakistan throughout the process but also insisted that they implemented the reforms they agreed with the IMF,” a diplomatic source said.

According to these sources, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had at least two telephonic conversations with Secretary Antony Blinken over this issue. The matter was also discussed in face-to-face meetings between the two leaders.

The Pakistan embassy in Washington maintained regular contacts with officials at the US Treasury and State Department. At the Treasury, they worked with Deputy Under Secretary Brent Nieman, who oversees international financial matters.

The embassy also sought the support of key US lawmakers, including Senator Lindsey Graham who met a Pakistani team days before the deal.

The breakthrough, however, came in late June when Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met IMF’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in Paris and asked her to release the critical tranche of $1.1bn withheld since November.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2023

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