In a major decision aimed at curbing the worsening financial and economic situation of Pakistan due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that his government will reach out to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) again, seeking a second relief package.
The announcement by the premier came during the launch ceremony of the UN Development Programme's (UNDP) Pakistan National Human Development Report on Inequality.
"We are going to speak to the IMF because we see disruptions ahead. Just when our economy was recovering and all the indicators were positive, unfortunately, we will have to review the whole situation and our new Ehsaas Programme," Khan said.
"The service industry has been badly hit everywhere in the world but in Pakistan, our service industry has been really badly hit."
The premier said the strict conditions of the IMF could not be applied on the people, who he said are already suffering because of the pandemic.
The government's decision to knock the doors of the IMF again for a second bailout is expected to push the country into further strict compliance parameters, implementation of which would have a major negative effect on the lives of the locals, who are already facing serious the brunt of the pandemic and the ever increasing cost of living due to a surge in prices of basic commodities, imposed by the government.
While the pandemic and its global impact on the economy may play out in favour of Pakistan in front of the IMF, the country's diplomacy would also come under pressure as Islamabad would be seeking support from countries including the US to back it up in pursuing the second bailout.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan's continued efforts for a transactional reset in ties with US President Joe Biden's administration have not yielded results so far, as Washington has opted for a cold shoulder response to Islamabad till now.
However, Pakistan's important role in the Afghan peace process keeps is relevant to the United States and would certainly come in handy when Islamabad support is needed to get a second bailout and settle the country's crippling economy.
On the other hand, Khan's government also faces serious criticism over its failed policy making competencies by the opposition benches back home, who are now reminding the government of its tall claims of never going back to the IMF again.
While the military and civil government remain on the same page, the government may not face major resistance from the opposition parties.
However, a second IMF programme would definitely come with more stiff restrictions on compliance, which may make the coming days, even more difficult for the locals.
( 460 Words)