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Imran Khan's party urges IMF to audit Pakistan elections ahead of bailout talks

Imran Khan's party urges IMF to audit Pakistan elections ahead of bailout talks

 


By Asif Shahzad, Ariba Shahid

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Jailed former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's party called on the International Monetary Fund on Wednesday to ensure an audit of the disputed Feb. 8 election is carried out before new bailout talks with Islamabad.

Pakistan's cash-strapped economy is struggling to stabilize after securing a $3 billion IMF support deal last summer, amid record inflation, a devaluation of the rupee and dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

Analysts say a new government – which Khan's opponents are expected to form – will likely need more funds from the global lender after the stand-by deal expires in April.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said it had sent a letter on the matter to the IMF representative in Pakistan, confirming an earlier Reuters report.

“We have sent this letter to the IMF today,” lawyer Gohar Khan, the party's acting chairman, told a news conference in Islamabad.

The letter, shared with Reuters by two sources and confirmed by the party's Zulfikar Bukhari, calls on the IMF to honor its commitment to demand free and fair elections.

During Imran Khan's last interaction with IMF officials in 2023, it said, the PTI had agreed to support the lender's financing facility for Pakistan on the condition that free and fair elections were held in the country. .

The IMF had sought support from all political parties, including Khan's, soon after agreeing with Islamabad on a $3 billion stand-by arrangement, which the lender said was expected in the near future. national elections.

“An audit of at least thirty percent of the national and provincial assembly seats should be ensured,” the PTI said in its letter.

Last week, the IMF declined to comment on the country's political situation after Khan's aides said they would urge the Fund to seek an independent audit of the disputed elections before continuing negotiations with Islamabad.

Mohammed Sohail, CEO of Karachi-based Topline Securities, said the letter was unlikely to have a major impact on the market.

“The IMF will do its due diligence,” he said.

China has extended a $2 billion loan to Pakistan over one year, which expires in March, according to local channel Geo TV.

Another Khan aide, Muzammil Aslam, told the news conference that the IMF delegation had also met the party's acting chairman late last year, when the former cricket star was in prison , before releasing the last slice of the program.

The IMF's communications section said in an email to Reuters that it had not yet received the letter and had not yet responded to the delegation meeting.

(Reporting by Ariba Shahid in Karachi; writing by Shivam Patel; editing by Andrew Heavens and Christina Fincher)

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