Will Pakistan be ever out of IMF clutches?

By Irum Saleem

   IMF had held separate meetings with two political parties over the $3bn sought by Pakistan under a Stand-by Arrangement…this generated quite a debate.

    Dawn says while the IMF also held a similar one-on-one meeting with the PPP, it was the agency’s meeting with the PTI leadership (Imran Khan) that piqued the most curiosity.

    However, the ensuing gossip, which gave the meeting a political tint, ignored a simple fact: the only reason the IMF had sought the meetings was to secure assurances that whatever agreement was eventually signed with the current government would not be jeopardised by the next. To this end, all parties seem to have endorsed the deal that will be presented to the IMF board on July 12. However, they must also reflect on why an international lender felt the need to approach them individually.

   As a nation, we have had a big problem keeping our promises. From the Reko Diq fiasco to the IPP contracts signed in the PPP era, to the repeated violation of IMF deals — Pakistan has a habit of failing to honour contracts and agreements, which has left it in a very weak position in negotiations that must be backed by some form of sovereign guarantee, Dawn writes in it’s editorial.

    The usual reason behind our inability to keep our promises has either been a change of policy following a change of government, or interference and ‘intervention’ by the other branches of the state. The country has paid billions of dollars in direct fines and suffered incalculable secondary losses due to this.

Even if the original agreements in the aforementioned cases may have been deleterious to our national interests, refusing to honour them after they were signed was indefensible under the timeless, universal laws that guide formal contracts.

When the wise talk about the need for a ‘charter of economy’, this is one of the main issues they seek to address. The IMF, or any foreign entity interested in taking a stake in the country, should not feel the need to have our officials jump through hoops in order to satisfy it that they are, indeed, serious about the commitments they are making.

It is essential for this to happen that creditors and investors see some continuity in policy. This can be ensured if government leaders involve the opposition in the decision-making process so that any major reservations within political circles are cleared up well before the country enters into any sovereign agreement.

All contracts should also be vetted thoroughly beforehand by the relevant parliamentary committees to ensure that they are lawful. Once an agreement is finalised and inked, it must then be honoured consistently. Protecting the national interest is important, but what it means cannot keep changing, especially where sovereign contracts are concerned.

   Will Pakistan be out of IMF clutches ever? PAK DESTINY

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