US Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland held a phone call with Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on Wednesday during which she assured him of Washington’s support to stabilise Pakistan’s economy and its continued engagement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Last month, the global lender’s executive board had green-lit a $3 billion nine-month standby arrangement (SBA) for Pakistan in order “to support the authorities’ economic stabilisation programme”.
The board had approved the bailout package for the country for an amount of $2.25bn Special Drawing Rights — reserve funds that the institution credits to the accounts of its member nations — the IMF had said in a statement, adding that this amounted to about $3bn, or 111pc of Pakistan’s quota.
Last week, caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar had an introductory virtual engagement with the staff mission of the IMF and was reported to have promised steadfast implementation of the policy actions committed under the SBA during the tenure of the caretaker government to ensure economic stability.
Informed sources told Dawn that the two sides had an informal update of the programme implementation with particular emphasis on structural benchmarks necessary for successful completion of the second quarterly review due in October or early November based on end-September data that would secure disbursement of about $710 million worth of second tranche in December.
According to a statement issued by the US State Department today, Nuland congratulated FM Jilani on his appointment.
“They discussed broadening and deepening the US-Pakistan partnership on issues of mutual concern, including Pakistan’s economic stability, prosperity and continued engagement with the IMF (International Monetary Fund),” it said.
The talks focused on “Pakistan’s economic stability, prosperity, and its continued engagement with the IMF,” the department’s spokesperson Matthew Miller stated.
The leaders discussed the importance of timely, free and fair elections in a manner consistent with Pakistan’s laws and constitution,“ he added.
Separately, in a post on social media platform X (erstwhile Twitter), Nuland said: “Appreciated our call today on our shared commitment to our bilateral relationship and Pakistan’s economic stability, security, and prosperity.”
Meanwhile, FM Jilani said while talking to journalists at the Foreign Office that Pakistan’s relations and cooperation with the US were “very strong”.
He said an agreement was reached to further deepen and strengthen this partnership in his talk with Nuland. He said trade volume with the US had now reached $20 billion annually.
Jilani added that the US had not demanded the termination of Pakistan’s trade relations with any country, including China or Russia.
The foreign minister is expected to accompany the interim prime minister to the 78th UNGA in New York next month. The Pakistani delegation, which will also include Shamshad, is hoping to have a series of meetings with US officials during their stay in New York.
Last week, Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar met US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome and assured him that the caretaker government’s main responsibility was to assist the ECP in holding general elections.
Similarly, in a meeting with Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja on August 25, Blome reaffirmed the United States’ support for free and fair elections “conducted in accordance with Pakistan’s laws and Constitution”.
Pakistan was scheduled to go to polls by November after the National Assembly was dissolved and a caretaker government announced earlier this month, but following a decision by the Council of Common Interests to approve results of digital census and its notification two days prior to NA dissolution, the ECP had announced a schedule to delimit the constituencies, going beyond the constitutional deadline to conduct the polls.
Additional reporting by Abdullah Momand.