Islamabad [Pakistan], July 29 (ANI): Pakistan's army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has sought help from the US to secure an early loan dispersal from the International Monetary Fund at a time when the country is battling with dwindling foreign reserves, media reports said.
Nikkei Asia while quoting sources, who requested anonymity, said that Pakistan's most powerful man Bajwa made an appeal for the White House and Treasury Department to push the IMF to immediately supply nearly USD 1.2 billion that Pakistan is due to receive under a resumed loan program.
Furthermore, sources from US and Pakistan confirmed the media portal that Bajwa held a telephonic conversation with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in a highly unusual move earlier this week.
Bajwa's appeal to the US comes as he is putting out efforts to pull out Pakistan out of its economic mess. As dwindling foreign reserves spark a scramble in Islamabad Bajwa is reaching out to US to avoid a default.
In an ideal situation the appeals should have come from Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif but here the case in point was different. Shehbaz Sharif does not have much credibility or political capital beyond Islamabad.
PM Shehbaz also faces persistent pressure from former Prime Minister and arch rival Imran Khan. As per Pakistani observers power lies with Bajwa, 61, an infantry officer who was supposed to retire three years ago but who managed to stay on through years of backroom politicking.
On Thursday, S&P Global downgraded Pakistan's outlook to negative from stable. The U.S. is the largest shareholder in the IMF, founded in 1945. While Washington has voted for funding Pakistan in the past, the Trump administration openly expressed its reservations about the country using IMF loans to pay back China, as per the media portal.
General Bajwa's appeal comes in the wake of separate meetings between senior civilian Pakistani and American officials in July, none of which managed to negotiate an early disbursement of funds.
"Several senior Pakistani officials have met with U.S. and other key stakeholder nations in the IMF and World Bank in the past week to register concerns about the timing of IMF Executive Board decisions, pressing to expedite review of Pakistan's progress on prior actions," said an official familiar with the proceedings.
According to sources, the lack of progress in those meetings spurred Gen. Bajwa, commander of the 650,000-strong military, to get Washington's attention when other emissaries could not deliver.
"This reflects the Pakistan army's concerns about the state of the economy," said Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's former ambassador to Washington and currently the director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington. "It also reflects that the Pakistan army chief is the authority with whom the global players feel the final word rests." (ANI)