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IMF Delegation in Pakistan While Imran Khan Is Being Isolated

March 13, 2024 (EIRNS)—A delegation of the International Monetary Fund has arrived in Pakistan on March 13 as the new government announced austerity measures. The IMF will carry out a review of a $3 billion bailout program. If the review starting tomorrow is “successful,” the IMF will release a tranche of around $1.1 billion, according to Reuters.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif assigned his newly-appointed Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb to initiate work on seeking an Extended Fund Facility with the IMF. Aurangzeb, who formerly worked for JPMorgan and had just been head of Hibib bank is among the five highest-paid bankers in Pakistan. As an austerity measure, he has forgone his salary as minister, as has Sharif. The Prime Minister has also established a government commission to draft an austerity plan.

At the same time, former prime minister Imran Khan, who has been imprisoned since September 2023 on what are widely believed to be trumped-up charges, has now been banned from receiving visitors for two weeks at the Rawalpindi-based Adiala jail, where Khan is currently serving sentence. Punjab’s Home Department, citing a security alert, restricted all forms of visits, meetings, and interviews within Adiala Jail. It is reported that barbed wires went up around the premises last week.

Security alert aside, the two weeks in question is also the period in which the IMF review will be taking place, when public statements by Khan would not be greatly appreciated by the currently IMF friendly government. The chairman of Khan’s PTI Party,Gohar Ali Khan, told a press conference outside the prison that he was apprehensive regarding the former prime minister’s safety. According to Geonews, Gohar demanded immediate meetings and consultations with Khan.