Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Islamabad [Pakistan], January 21 (ANI): Pakistan could sink deeper into the quagmire especially if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme is not resumed within the next few weeks, reported Al Arabiya Post.

IMF is delaying its 24th loan, and the Saudis and the UAE have warned Pakistan that they will no longer serve free lunch.

Pakistan must introduce reforms and push them to the last. The Gulf friends delivered this message to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the new Army Chief, Gen. Asim Munir, who visited earlier, reported Al Arabiya Post.

The warning comes as Pakistan is currently gripped by the chicken-and-the- egg syndrome. Its economic woes are caused by its bad politics - or, the friends ask: Is it the opposite?Pakistan is facing existential multi-dimensional crises of politics and economy with a highly dysfunctional state. It is about much more than democracy and debt. Short-term fixes and political engineering may not work this time.

The country needs a radical break from the past policies but nobody wants to do it, reported Al Arabiya Post.

The zero-sum political game between Sharif and his predecessor Imran Khan is hurtling down the nation on the path of a likely election in the summer of this year.

But far from offering any lasting solution, the faltering economy screaming for urgent redressal is bound to go into a further tailspin, reported Al Arabiya Post.

The US has confirmed its 'concern' about Pakistan's economic instability. "This is a challenge that we are attuned to," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on January 19.

The indication from Washington is that the Biden administration cannot do beyond what it has done to support an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan that Pakistan desperately needs. That doesn't necessarily soothe frayed nerves in Islamabad.

The loan has been delayed for several months now, and the beleaguered Sharif Government has surrendered, dropping all its protectionist, populist measures, hoping for an early release of the loan amount, reported Al Arabiya Post.

This has expectedly sent the prices of essential commodities high and Pakistan, battered by floods in its farmlands last year, is gasping for even wheat flour. Pakistan does not have the dollars or the means to feed its people beyond a few weeks.

The vicious grip on the economy gets complete as the exchange rate is primarily hit hard by a steep decline in the central bank's foreign exchange reserves, now shrunk to a near nine-year low of USD 4.34 billion.

Nobody outside can solve Pakistan's battle against a weakening rupee, rising demand for an elusive dollar, falling foreign remittances, stunted exports and more, when its politicians fiercely fight each other and involve as per their need of the moment, reported Al Arabiya Post. (ANI)

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