ISLAMABAD: 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 in 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 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.

Ms 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.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2023

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