ISLAMABAD: In a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the PTI has urged the lender to endorse an audit of the 2024 elections for the sake of political stability in the country, before entering into a dialogue with Islamabad for a new bailout package.

This was disclosed during a press conference addressed by PTI leaders Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, Omar Ayub, Meher Bano Qureshi, and Muzammil Aslam in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Barrister Gohar said that a letter — written by Imran Khan’s spokesperson Raoof Hasan — was handed over to the IMF resident representative in Pakistan and would be opened in Washington. He said once the letter was received by the intended recipients, it would be then shared with the media in Pakistan as well.

“For now, we can share that PTI’s founding chairman Imran Khan does not want any adverse effects on the economy of Pakistan. In the letter, we have reminded IMF of its promises that the election will be free and fair,” he said.

Gohar says Imran does not want to hurt economy; civil society organisations urged to hold election audit

On the other hand, caretaker premier Anwaarul Haq Kakar in a TV show expressed his disapproval over the PTI leadership’s move and termed it ‘highly irresponsible’.

The letter was sent at time when the caretaker government had worked significantly for economic revival, he said. There were appropriate forums for the electoral disputes and the PTI’s gesture of writing a letter to the IMF was unjustified and highly irresponsible, he added.

The draft text of the letter was also circulating on social media on Wednesday. Dawn reached out to Mr Hasan to confirm its authenticity, who said that this was indeed the draft he had signed.

The letter also calls for an election audit from civil society organisations Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) and Pattan-Coalition38, to expose rigging.

Barrister Gohar said those parties that lacked the mandate to form the government would not be able to steer the country.

“Today a debate has been started about why the PTI wrote a letter to the IMF. It is the vision of Imran Khan to ensure the development of the country and not let anyone become a burden on the economy,” he said.

‘Broken promises’

Economist Muzammil Aslam said it was being portrayed that PTI had done something wrong by writing to the IMF.

“I want to make it clear that Pakistan has entered into 24 programmes with IMF since 1958. From 1988 to 2024, Pakistan got 14 IMF programmes. Out of these, only one programme was completed. The biggest bailout package of $10 billion in Pakistan’s history was taken by the PPP in 2008, but it could not be completed,” he said.

He said the PTI entered a deal with the IMF for $6bn package but the PTI only took $3 billion from the Fund, adding that the PML-N tried to revive the programme after the ouster of the PTI government. He further claimed that the PML-N went back on its commitments with the Fund thrice.

“Then, Ishaq Dar could not complete the review and levelled allegations against the IMF that it wanted to compromise Pakistan’s missile programme, which the IMF rebutted. Then Mr Dar alleged that the IMF was not allowing the release of funds for elections, but the IMF again refuted it,” he claimed.

Sharing details of a meeting between Imran Khan and the Fund officials at Zaman Park before the PDM government signed a $3bn deal with the lender, he said the PTI founder had asked the IMF for assurances of free and fair polls.

The nine-month programme was supposed to span three governments: the PDM, the caretaker government, and the elected government. “The IMF had said the last instalment will be released to the new government,” he said, adding that in the first week of November the IMF again contacted the PTI.

“That is why we decided to write a letter to the IMF,” he said. He said the ongoing programme would end on March 30 and the new government could address the grievances of all parties before going for a new agreement.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2024

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