Breaking news from Islamabad confirms that military co-operation with the U.S. with relation to the latter’s plans for their September 11 exit from Afghanistan has reportedly given the Khan government leverage regarding increasingly unpopular IMF reforms. Pakistani officials are looking to receive financial support from their U.S. counterparts in exchange for bringing the Taliban to the negotiation table.
This news comes from Pakistan’s fourth finance minister during the Khan administration, Shaukat Tareen, who further went on to say that the IMF had been “receptive” to their requests to postpone their proposed raising of power and sales tariffs which have hit poverty-stricken areas the hardest.
The Khan government is currently in talks with the IMF to release their next round of funding as part of Pakistan’s current $6bn loan programme. This comes as Pakistan suffers from hyperinflation as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
Pakistan’s current relationship with the U.S. is impaired by the former Trump administration’s sudden disposal of the country’s $2bn security aid in 2018. At the top of the year, Trump had tweeted that Pakistan had given the U.S. nothing but “lies and deceit.” However, since then, Pakistan has played a vital role in establishing relations between the U.S. and the Taliban.
The White House’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, this week claimed that the U.S. and Pakistan had “constructive discussions” regarding the “future of America’s capabilities,” which include a proposed U.S. base in Pakistan to use in order to launch counter-terrorism operations in neighbouring Afghanistan whenever necessary.
The poor folk in Pakistan have been consistently undermined by inflation during the Khan era, and their growing contempt for the economy harms PM Khan’s credibility even further. While the Republic has made significant progress trying to overturn the turmoil caused by the pandemic, rating agency Fitch has placed its outlook on Pakistan at B-.
Asfandyar Mir, an analyst on South Asian affairs at Stanford University, confirms that as Biden withdraws his military from Afghanistan, Pakistan’s leverage on the U.S. has improved significantly. “The U.S. is desperate for help with both the Afghan peace process and counterterrorism. It is left with no option but Pakistan.”
Pakistan is eager to build upon this trust the U.S. has placed in them in order to supposedly help Pakistan’s poor. Tareen says that the last thing Pakistan needs is “more burden on our poor people … we have been talking to American officials and they’re willing to help.”
This is not Tareen’s first stint at negotiating with the IMF. He had done so in 2008 as well, during the PPP era, where Pakistan-U.S. co-operation was hand-in-hand. “In 2008, we obviously had the U.S. and everybody else on my right side because of the war on terror,” says Tareen. “Today, things are different.”