ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s energy minister Khurram Dastagir said on Tuesday the government would announce an “alternative strategy” before presenting the annual budget to deal with the ongoing economic crisis as its negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were still in a state of limbo.
Pakistan has been facing an economic turmoil for the last several months, with soaring inflation, a depreciating currency, and critically low foreign currency reserves. To avert the possibility of default, the government has been striving for the resumption of a stalled IMF loan program, though the global lender is yet to sign a staff-level agreement with Pakistan which has tried to meet most of its conditions.
As the country prepares to announce the budget for the next fiscal year on June 9, the energy minister said the government had prepared a contingency plan to keep the economy afloat and undo the damage caused by the prevailing political instability.
“The preparations for the budget are in their last stages as it has to be presented on June 9, but before that, the prime minister and the finance minister will collectively announce an alternative strategy to deal with the economic woes as well as a fascist assault on Pakistan [by former prime minister Imran Khan’s political party],” he said in an interview with Dawn News TV.
Dastagir was referring to the violent protests that unfolded in different Pakistani cities following the arrest of the ex-premier in a land fraud case on May 9. Protesters burned and vandalized public properties and sensitive military installations to demand the release of their leader. Khan was later released on bail by a court. However, a massive crackdown was launched against his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the wake of the development.
The energy minister accused Khan’s political faction of “deliberately spreading uncertainty and anarchy” in Pakistan to damage the economy.
Khan was ousted in a no-trust vote in April last year and has since been seeking early elections in the country. He also instructed his party and its allies to dissolve two provincial assemblies earlier this year to mount pressure on the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to hold snap polls.
“We have to ponder over how Imran Khan and his supporters launched a fascist assault on Pakistan and indirectly targeted defense installations,” Dastagir said. “But the purpose was also to damage the economy of the country.”