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Amid growing political uncertainty in Pakistan, IMF expresses concern over its financial stability

Amid growing political uncertainty in Pakistan, IMF expresses concern over its financial stability
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has expressed concern over ongoing political uncertainty in Pakistan, ARY News reported. The IMF voiced concern in its recent report regarding the political scenario in Pakistan.

The IMF noted that despite a coalition government formed by the alliance of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the independent candidates backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) received more votes than other political groups in the general elections held on February 8, according to ARY News report.

Expressing concern over the major opposition formed by the PTI-backed members in the National Assembly, the IMF stated in the report that the recently formed government has committed to continuing the standby arrangement policies. However, the complicated political situation, inflation, and social tensions might impact the implementation of the policy reforms in Pakistan.

The IMF report warned that the non-implementation of economic policies and a decrease in external financing are likely to put pressure on loans and exchange rates. Furthermore, there could be increased pressure on international banks to approve loans to Pakistan's government if the external financing is delayed, according to ARY News report.

In the report, the IMF expressed concern over further reductions in financing capacity for the private sector. It said that factors like shipping disruptions, fluctuating commodity prices, or tighter global financial conditions will impact external stability.

Pakistan held its 12th national general election on February 8, amid allegations of rigging and the shutdown of cellular and internet services. The PTI dominated the election results, with the highest number of successful candidates in the February 8 general elections. However, the party has alleged rigging in the polls.

Earlier this week, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed concerns over increasing political polarisation in the country, resulting in greater restrictions on civil and political rights, Pakistan-based Dawn reported. The HRCP demanded economic justice and protection of civil rights and stressed the importance of upholding democratic principles and the rule of law.

In its annual report, 'State of Human Rights 2023', released on May 8, the HRCP noted with concern that irreparable political divisions led to public acts of arson and violence on May 9, 2023, after the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan. The report reads, "What followed was a flagrant disregard for the Constitution as unelected forces tightened their grip on the country's democratic structures and civic spaces shrank to an all-time low," Dawn reported.

According to the report, the state's response to the May 9 riots was to quell dissent by resurrecting military courts to try civilians, perpetrating enforced disappearances, ordering mass arrests and allegedly orchestrating public disassociation from the PTI among many senior party leaders. The report noted that the right to freedom of expression and assembly took a particular hit during the year.

According to the report, the rule of law was poor, with a six-year high in fatalities related to terrorist attacks and counter-terrorism operations. The report noted that the practice of extrajudicial killings continued while street crime and the incidence of mob lynchings witnessed a rise. According to the report, journalists, activists and political workers were subjected to enforced disappearances across the country, like what happened in previous years, Dawn reported.

The report noted that Baloch women held a long march from Turbat to Islamabad to protest against alleged extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. The report said that religious minorities reported an increasing climate of fear, particularly following the attack in Jaranwala, in which scores of churches and homes were torched and looted by mobs after allegations of blasphemy against a Christian man.

Speaking on incidents of enforced disappearances, HRCP secretary-general Harris Khalique condemned the role and performance of the Commission of Inquiry of Enforced Disappearances and termed it 'disgraceful,' Dawn reported. HRCP chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt called it critical for the state to fulfil people's rights to education, livelihood and health. He also expressed concern over the low rate of trade unionisation. HRCP Islamabad Vice-Chair Nasreen Azhar said religion continued to be 'weaponized for political purposes'.


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