Pakistan military chief seeks US help on release of IMF loan

Pakistan military chief seeks US help on release of IMF loan

Pakistan military chief seeks US help on release of IMF loan

Pakistan’s powerful army chief has contacted Washington, seeking U.S. help in securing an early release of a crucial $1.7 billion installment from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to his country, struggling with a deepening economic crisis, Pakistani officials have said.

According to several government officials, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa discussed the issue with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, appealing on Washington to use its influence with the IMF to help Pakistan.

The appeal was a rare reaching out by the army chief. Pakistan’s relations with the United States have been troubled in recent years.

The relations remained especially tense under former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April.

However, Pakistan’s military, which has directly ruled the country for more than half of its 75-year history, has closely worked with the U.S. and was an official ally in the war on terror against al-Qaida.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed on July 29 that Bajwa and Sherman had talked.

The officials who spoke to The Associated Press on July 30 said the discussion focused on the IMF loan.

Pakistan and the IMF originally signed the bailout accord in 2019. But the release of a $1.7 billion tranche has been on hold since earlier this year, when the IMF expressed concern about Pakistan’s compliance with the deal’s terms under Khan.

Khan’s successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and his government reached a preliminary agreement with the IMF earlier this month to revive the bailout package.

That agreement was subject to approval from the fund’s board of directors.

Pakistan had hoped for a quick revival of the bailout, but the IMF has so far not released the much-needed installment, which may have prompted Bajwa’s call to Washington. It remained unclear what U.S. officials could do to speed up the process of the bailout.