ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin rejected on Thursday a media report saying that Islamabad is leveraging cooperation with the US over its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan to win concessions from the International Monitory Fund (IMF).
Islamabad is in talks with the IMF to release the next tranche of a $6 billion loan, which requires the South Asian nation to undertake a series of reforms, some which, like increasing power tariffs, are quite unpopular.
In a report published on Thursday morning, the Financial Times (FT) said, citing an interview with Tarin, that Pakistan was seeking US support in the form of financial backing from the IMF in exchange for helping President Joe Biden withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 and bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Tarin denied the claim in a press conference.
“We are going to issue a rebuttal today,” he said, adding that during the FT's hour-long interview with him "only at one point the US came under discussion."
"I said the US had allocated some amount for our military training," Tarin said, arguing that the FT had tried to link his comments to another development. "When (FT) asked me about IMF, I didn’t say anything about the US."
The FT interview follows another media report indicating that US and Pakistani officials have been in talks over giving a military base to the US for monitoring neighboring Afghanistan after its troops completely withdraw from the war-battered country.
According to a New York Times report from Monday, Pakistan had demanded a variety of restrictions in exchange for the use of a base in the country.
In response to the article, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told a local broadcaster that the government had no intention to give its military bases to Washington.
"There's no question of giving them (US) bases, we have to see our interest,” Qureshi told Geo News, reiterating his words to lawmakers.
"Forget the past," he said during a senate address last month, referring to the reported establishment of a US base in Pakistan during the Cold War and later during the US invasion of Afghanistan in the early 2000s.
"I want to tell the Pakistanis that no US base will be allowed by Prime Minister Imran Khan so long he is in power,” he said.