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Pakistan election 2024 | Imran Khan asks IMF to audit results before considering any bailout talks with new govt

Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan on February 28 sent a letter to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), urging it to ensure the audit of at least 30% of national and provincial assembly seats before considering any further bailout talks with the cash-strapped country.

The 71-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party founder had announced last week that he would ask the global lender to avoid any assistance as the authorities rigged the electoral outcome to keep his party out of power.

His nominated chairman of the party, Gohar Ali Khan, addressing a press conference with party secretary General Omar Ayub Khan, confirmed the letter but he refused to share its content. A party spokesman also said that the letter would not be shared with the media until it was recognized by the party.

However, the Press Trust of India has seen a letter addressed to IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva by party spokesperson Raoof Hasan under the guidance of Khan. It begins with a clarification that the party was not against the IMF facility to Pakistan.

“It must be clarified at the very outset that the PTI does not wish to stand in the way of any IMF facility to the state of Pakistan that promotes the immediate as well as the long-term economic well-being of the country,” the letter read.

But it added that the IMF facility should be linked with conditions. “It is clear that such facility, along with the national commitment to bring about necessary reforms that facilitate repayment and enable the country to stand on its own feet, can only be negotiated in the best interests of the people of Pakistan by a duly elected government that has the trust of the people of Pakistan,” it stated.

The letter stated that the IMF is attached to good governance, transparency, upholding the rule of law and curbing corrupt practices while entering financing agreements with member countries.

“It is a well-established reality that a government without legitimate representation, when imposed upon a country, carries no moral authority to govern, and, in particular, to carry out taxation measures,” the letter said.

It further recalled that in the previous interaction between Khan and the IMF representatives last year, the party had “agreed to support IMF’s financing facility involving Pakistan on the condition and reassurance of a free and fair election”.

Allegations of rigging, fraud

The letter alleged that the February 8 general elections — which it said caused the public expenditure of ₹50 billion or $180 million — were “subjected to widespread intervention and fraud in the counting of votes and compilation of results”.

“This intervention and fraud have been so brazen that the IMF’s most important member countries, including the US, Britain, and countries forming part of the European Union, have called for a full and transparent investigation into the matter. “A mission of the European Union has carried out an examination of the general elections of February 8, 2024. The report of the said mission must be examined by the IMF and made available to the people of Pakistan,” the party said.

“In view of the policies and principles the IMF stands for, there should be no doubt that the abuse of power by a small number of holders of public office to impose their likes and dislikes on Pakistan’s populace as aforesaid, and thus to ensure their continuing personal gain, would not be promoted or upheld by the IMF,” the letter stated.

“We, therefore, call upon the IMF to give effect to the guidelines adopted by it with respect to good governance as well as conditionalities that must be satisfied prior to the grant of a finance facility that is to burden the people of Pakistan with further debt.

“An audit of at least 30% of the national and provincial assemblies’ seats should be ensured, which can be accomplished in merely two weeks,” the party demanded.

It also said that PTI was not calling for the IMF to adopt the role of an investigative agency itself, and suggested that two indigenous organisations, including the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) and PATTAN-Coalition38, had the proposed comprehensive methodologies to conduct the election audit. “Such a role by the IMF would be a great service to Pakistan and its people, and could become the harbinger of enduring prosperity, growth, and macroeconomic stability in the country,” the letter concluded.

IMF’s guarantee

Mr. Gohar said at the presser that the letter was not related to the ongoing programme of the IMF, but was about any new deal with the Government that would come to power as a result of the fraud in the future. Defending the letter, he said that writing a letter to the IMF was not surprising.

PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan said that before the launch of the previous loan, Iman Khan had asked the IMF for a guarantee of clean and transparent elections, which was given to him. According to him, at that time elections were supposed to be held in November, but then they did not take place and the subsequent elections held on February 8 were heavily rigged.

The current IMF programme is expected to conclude in the second week of April.

Official sources said that the new government would seek a fresh loan of about $6 billion from the IMF to help it address the issue of balance of payments. Pakistan last year avoided default after the IMF provided a $3 billion short term loan and it may face problems to meet external liabilities in case the new IMF loan is delayed.

Meanwhile, the IMF’s review mission is likely to visit Islamabad by the end of this month or early next month, provided the government formation at the federal and provincial levels is complete, according to media reports. The mission will finalise the salient features of the anticipated medium-term bailout package to Pakistan to avert a default on repayment of foreign debts.

Earlier, the IMF’s review mission was scheduled to visit the country in the first week of February, but the delegation refused to visit on the eve of the general elections.

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