Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced that the threat of the country defaulting on its debts is now over and that a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is expected to take place soon. Speaking to a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) in Islamabad, Sharif said his government had successfully managed to save the country from default and was making all efforts to pull it out of its economic slump. Sharif also accused the previous government of knowingly abandoning agreements made with the IMF. An agreement with the IMF would release $1.1 billion, which analysts say is critical if Pakistan is to avoid defaulting on external debt obligations and unlock inflows from friendly countries. The country is in a race against time to implement measures to reach an agreement with the IMF on the completion of the ninth review of a $7bn loan program.
During the speech, the Prime Minister also addressed the recent face-off between law enforcement agencies and supporters of the opposition party PTI at Lahore’s Zaman Park. He accused PTI Chief Imran Khan of defying the courts and pointed out that leaders from his own party, PML-N, had appeared in court without any objection. Sharif also dismissed the perception that PML-N was shying away from going into polls and assured that the party will participate in elections according to the guidelines set by the election commission. The Prime Minister inherited an economy in shambles and highlighted the difficulty in pushing it into recovery, particularly because his government had to honour agreements made by the previous PTI government. Despite the challenges, Sharif expressed optimism about Pakistan’s economic prospects and pledged to continue efforts to pull the country out of its current economic slump.