‘Baseless and fabricated’: FO rejects report on Pakistani arms sale to Ukraine to secure IMF bailout
The Foreign Office on Monday sternly rejected a report that claimed Pakistan sold arms and ammunition to Ukraine in order to secure a crucial bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Russia-Ukraine crisis began last year when President Vladimir Putin ordered the latter’s invasion on February 24.
Separately, the IMF executive board approved a $3 billion bailout programme for Pakistan in July of this year, with the arrangement coming during a challenging economic juncture for the cash-strapped government.
A report from The Intercept on Sunday connected the two developments, alleging that “secret Pakistani arms sales to the US helped to facilitate a controversial bailout from the IMF earlier this year, according to two sources with knowledge of the arrangement, with confirmation from internal Pakistani and American government documents.”
The report added that the arms sales were “made for the purpose of supplying the Ukrainian military — marking Pakistani involvement in a conflict it had faced US pressure to take sides on”.
When approached by Dawn.com for a comment on the report, FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch rejected it as “baseless and fabricated”.
“The IMF Standby Arrangement for Pakistan was successfully negotiated between Pakistan and the IMF to implement difficult but essential economic reforms. Giving any other colour to these negotiations is disingenuous,” she said.
Baloch added that Pakistan maintained a policy of “strict neutrality” in the dispute between the two countries and did not provide them any arms or ammunition in that context.
“Pakistan’s defence exports are always accompanied with strict end-user requirements,” she said.
During a visit to Pakistan in July, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba had similarly rejected reports that Pakistan was supplying arms to Ukraine to support its military during the ongoing conflict with Russia.
He had clarified that the two nations had no deals for the supply of arms and ammunition.
Former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had also expressed similar views, stating that Pakistan had not signed any agreement with Ukraine for military supplies since the war began.
The Ukrainian official’s visit had come amid speculation that Pakistan had supplied arms and ammunition to Ukraine.
Pakistan, however, rejects these reports, asserting that it had not supplied arms to either side after the conflict.
A report in June had claimed that an arms consignment from Pakistan Ordnance Factories was being shipped to Ukraine.
An earlier report had also claimed Pakistan set up a defence trading firm in Warsaw to smoothen the process of arms supplies to Ukraine. In April in an interview with BBC, a Ukrainian commander had talked about receiving rockets from other countries including Pakistan.
But officials strongly reject claims of providing any ammunition to Ukraine insisting the country maintained a “policy of strict neutrality.” An official, however, had said if a third party supplied weapons purchased from Pakistan to another country, it was their responsibility.
The FO in February had questioned the accuracy of reports claiming that Pakistan was providing ammunition to Ukraine in its war with Russia.
Reports claiming that Pakistan was providing ammunition to Ukraine regularly surfaced in the media since the middle of last year, but it was rare until then for Islamabad to officially deny such involvement in the Russia–Ukraine conflict.
Many of those reports had alleged that the ammunition was sent to Ukraine via some other European country.
The Intercept based its report on “two sources with knowledge of the arrangement” as well as “internal Pakistani and American government documents”.
“The documents describe munitions sales agreed to between the US and Pakistan from the summer of 2022 to the spring of 2023. Some of the documents were authenticated by matching the signature of an American brigadier general with his signature on publicly available mortgage records in the United States; by matching the Pakistani documents with corresponding American documents; and by reviewing publicly available but previously unreported Pakistani disclosures of arms sales to the US posted by the State Bank of Pakistan,” the report added.
It further said that the economic capital and political goodwill garnered from the transactions performed a “key role” in securing the IMF bailout with the US State Department “agreeing to take the IMF into confidence regarding the undisclosed weapons deal, according to sources with knowledge of the arrangement, and confirmed by a related document”.