LAHORE:

A delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has assured former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan that general elections in Pakistan will be held on time.

On Friday, officials of the global money lender held a meeting with the PTI chief at his Lahore’s Zaman Park residence with Mission Chief Nathan Porter joining it virtually.

The former premier expressed support for a recently reached bail-out deal with the IMF.

The global lender said it was, in the lead-up to general elections in autumn, seeking support of the main political parties, including the PTI, for the new nine-month $3 billion stand-by arrangement and policies associated with the programme.

The former premier asked whether the international money lender could guarantee that elections will be held in Pakistan on time.

The IMF delegation assured the PTI chairman, saying that Pakistan’s loan agreement had been designed in such a manner that polls in the country would be held on time as per the Constitution, adding that it was closely monitoring the situation in the country.

The delegation said it could not predict what position the IMF Executive Board would adopt regarding Pakistan’s political issues, noting that the board directors would keep their point of view in the meeting.

According to the sources, the delegation said that the executive board members were free to give their opinion and that their stance will be included in the IMF staff report.

PTI leader and former finance minister Hammad Azhar, who attended the meeting virtually, said in a post on Twitter that the former premier and his economic team had discussed last week’s staff-level deal between the IMF and the government.

The meeting lasted for more than an hour, during which “discussions took place around the staff-level agreement that the IMF has reached with the government of Pakistan for a nine-month $3 billion stand-by arrangement and in this context, we support the overall objectives and key policies,” the PTI leader said.

“We welcome the SBA to preserve macroeconomic stability by anchoring external financing and sound policies ahead of the national elections due in the fall of this year and until a new government is formed.

“We wish to stress the importance of programmes to protect the lower-income segments of the population from high inflation,” he added.

Earlier, IMF Resident Representative Esther Perez Ruiz said in a statement that the meetings with political parties were to “seek assurances of their support for the key objectives and policies under a new IMF-supported programme ahead of the approaching national elections”.

The general elections are scheduled to be held by early November.





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