Crisis-stricken Pakistan army chief seeks US help in swift release of IMF funds : Sources – Times of India


ISLAMABAD: the powerful of Pakistan army Chief called on Washington to use its leverage to secure the early release of International Monetary Fund money, Pakistani sources said Friday as the South Asian nation struggles to avert an economic crisis.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed a telephone conversation between the US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and General Qamar Javed Bajwa, but gave no details.
Islamabad and the IMF reached a staff-level agreement earlier this month to clear the way for the release of a $1.17 billion tranche — but the lender is awaiting board approval, which will not meet until the end of August.
Multiple Pakistani government sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Bajwa has asked the US to expedite the release as Pakistan faces dwindling foreign exchange reserves and a free-falling currency.
The contact was first reported by Nikkei Asia.
“Yes, our army chief has reached the Americans,” said one of the sources, adding that Bajwa had spoken to Sherman by phone earlier this week.
“We cannot say what the reaction of the Americans was, but we think it is a good move at this critical stage,” the source said.
The source said the military had to take the initiative when several backdoor moves from the civilian side did not bring immediate results. The Pakistani military has long played an influential role in policy issues in Pakistan.
A spokesman for the State Department said: “US officials regularly talk to Pakistani officials about a range of issues. As standard practice, we do not comment on the details of private diplomatic conversations.”
The United States is the largest shareholder of the IMF. Washington has worked closely with Pakistani military leaders and civilian governments over the years.
The army’s PR department, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Information and the local IMF representative did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment.
The approval of the IMF board of directors would also open other financing options for Pakistan.
High commodity prices have hit Pakistan hard. The current account deficit rose to more than $17 billion in the past fiscal year, compared to less than $3 billion in the prior period. Reserves have fallen to dangerous levels, covering less than two months of imports.

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