Government officials said on Friday that Pakistan’s finance minister has canceled a travel to Washington for the IMF and World Bank’s spring meetings, citing domestic political turmoil as the reason.
Minister Ishaq Dar was expected to attend the meetings beginning on April 10 and meet with senior IMF officials and international creditors in order to secure the stalled funds that the South Asian country urgently needs to prevent a balance of payments crisis.
Two government officials said that political turmoil was to blame for the cancellation. In a conversation with a team of international news reporters, Dar was quoted as claiming that the political climate was the reason he was staying at home. The finance ministry did not respond to a request for comment from Reuters.
Islamabad and the IMF have been in discussions since the beginning of February in order to secure $1.1 billion as part of a $6.5 billion rescue program approved upon in 2019.
Since he was dismissed as prime minister last year after failing to win a vote of confidence in the assembly, Imran Khan, a former cricket star, has been critical of the administration.
Khan has led a protest movement that is requesting new elections. Shehbaz Sharif, the prime minister, rejected Khan’s plea and stated that a general election was already planned for later this year.
Recently, the Supreme Court ordered two provincial assemblies to be elected quickly, but the government disagreed with the decision. Khan wants the province elections held immediately now, but Sharif claims that since doing so would be too expensive, all the elections should be held at once later.
The administration also argues that holding two rounds of voting this year would place an unnecessary load on electoral security forces while also dealing with the threat posed by Islamist terrorists, which is on the rise. The Supreme Court ruled that postponing provincial elections would be illegal.