Pakistani military chief asks for U.S. assistance to release IMF loan

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s army chief, who is in deep economic distress, has contacted Washington to ask for assistance from Washington.

According to several government officials Gen. Qamar Javed Baswa had a discussion with U.S. Secretary of State Wendy Sherman about the matter, and asked Washington for help in helping Pakistan.

This was an unusual appeal by the army chief. Relations between Pakistan and the United States have become strained in recent years due to tensions over Afghanistan’s future, which is now controlled by the Taliban.

Relations remained particularly tense after the resignation of Imran Khan (previous Prime Minister) in an April no confidence vote. The Pakistani military has been in control of the country’s 75-years and has worked closely with the U.S. as an ally in its war against al-Qaida.

The foreign ministry of Pakistan confirmed that Sherman and Bajwa had spoken on Friday.

” I understand that the conversation took place but, at this point, I don’t have direct knowledge about its content,” Asim Iftikhar, a ministry spokesperson, said.

The officials that spoke with The Associated Press Saturday stated the conversation was about the IMF loan. Because they weren’t authorized to speak to the media, they spoke under condition of anonymity.

Pakistan was the first to sign the bailout agreement in 2019.. The release of the $1.7 billion tranche was put on hold earlier in the year after the IMF raised concerns about Pakistan’s compliance to the terms of the Khan-negotiated bailout agreement.

Khan was replaced by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. This agreement, which was reached earlier in the month, allowed the IMF to restart the bailout package. The agreement had to be approved by the board of directors.

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Pakistan hoped for an immediate revival of the bailout. However, the IMF has not yet released the crucial installment. This may have led to Bajwa calling Washington. The U.S. government could not immediately speed up the bailout process.

There was no comment made by Washington during the telephone call.

According to a military statement,

Bajwa spoke on Friday by telephone with Gen. Michael Kurilla (head of U.S Central Command for the Mideast), according to the military statement. Kurilla was quoted as saying that he appreciated Pakistan’s role in stabilizing the region and expressed his hopes for improved cooperation with Pakistan.

Pakistan urgently needs an IMF loan. The IMF loan is urgently needed by Pakistan.

Sharif repeatedly blamed former prime minister’s cabinet, alleging Khan – an ex-cricket star who became an Islamist politician and had intentionally violated IMF conditions to stay popular with his followers.

Analysts believe that the IMF bailout revival will benefit Pakistan and inspire other financial institutions around the world to work with South Asia.

Sharif has been in touch with Washington regarding the IMF bailout. Khan claims that Khan’s government was overthrown by a U.S. plot since his demise, which Washington refutes.

Since Khan’s demise, Pakistan’s currency plummeted to an unprecedented low due to uncertainty over IMF support. Last weekend, the rupee fell to a record low against the dollar of 240. The dollar was previously sold at 225 rupees.

The steady fall in the currency of this Islamic country has caused panic within its business community. Inflation and rising food prices have made Sharif’s government unpopular in just four months of its existence.

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