Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday rejected demands to give up long-range nuclear missiles, saying no one has the right to tell Pakistan what range it has, and pointed to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) “unconventional” approach. .
The minister’s highly unusual statement comes amid Pakistan’s efforts to mend relations with China, which recently saved Islamabad from default by refinancing two commercial loans. But Islamabad is waiting for the $2 billion Chinese field, which matures on March 23 (Pakistan Day), to come into circulation.
“No one has the right to tell Pakistan what range of missiles it has and what kind of nuclear weapons it has. We should have our own barrier,” Dar said while addressing the ambassadors of many countries at a special session of the Senate.
For the first time, the Minister of Finance has brought the issue of the distance of nuclear missiles to the public sphere. In private conversations, some Pakistani officials have said they have long demanded that the West abandon its long-range nuclear missile program.
Shaheen-III is Pakistan’s long-range nuclear missile, capable of carrying nuclear warheads to a range of 2,750 kilometers, covering all of India and parts of the Middle East.
Read: ‘Safe, perfect and free’: PMO dismisses nuclear rumours
“Nobody will compromise on Pakistan’s nuclear or missile programs – not at all,” Dar insisted. His stark statement may end the debate over whether Pakistan will compromise its nuclear arsenal in response to the IMF program.
Hours after Ishaq Dar’s statement, the Prime Minister’s Office also issued a statement to clear the air about the nuclear program and its security.
“Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs are national assets that the state jealously guards,” the prime minister’s office said. The entire program is completely safe, flawless and without any stress or pressure, he added.
The nuclear and missile programs continue to fully serve the purpose of developing this capability, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The Prime Minister’s Office said that following all the latest statements, press releases and inquiries, various statements regarding Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program are being circulated on social and print media, which even included a traditional visit by IAEA Director Rafael Mariano Grossi. The peaceful nuclear program was portrayed negatively.
Dar also spoke about the delay in reaching a staff-level agreement with the IMF, saying the delay was “not on the part of the government”.
“Each review appears to be a new program for the IMF that is very unnecessary,” Dar said.
The pending ninth review negotiations began on January 31 and were supposed to end on February 9, but have not yet been completed.
“It was a massive deal, unusual, too long, too long and too demanding, but we got it all done,” Dar said as he expressed his displeasure with the IMF.
He said the agreement signed by the PTI government in 2019 was different from the previous one, according to which the TMC Act was “amended by this very parliament and then the monetary policy, in my opinion, was too independent”.
Read more: IMF not fair to Pakistan, says FM Bilawal
Talking about the remaining hurdles, Dar said that during the previous review, some friendly countries had pledged bilateral support to Pakistan. “The IMF is now asking them to meet and fulfill these commitments. This is the only delay,” the finance minister said in the Senate.
Pakistan needs $6 billion in new loans to close the funding gap, but Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have yet to provide those loans despite Pakistan’s repeated requests.
Chinese bon ami
Sources said Express tribune Pakistan is making efforts to normalize relations with China. The foreign minister has visited Beijing and the army chief is also expected to visit China next week, they added.
Before leaving for Beijing, the Minister of Foreign Affairs met with the Minister of Finance Ishaq Dar at Block Q.
China recently agreed to refinance a $2 billion foreign commercial loan and transferred $1.2 billion to its central bank accounts.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar tweeted on Thursday that another $500 million in Chinese funding as part of the $2 billion has been finalized and the money will be transferred soon. China’s injection helped keep official foreign reserves at $4.3 billion, still very low but enough to avoid default.
However, China has yet to transfer the $2 billion SAFE deposit due on March 23, the sources said. A $2 billion loan from China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) is diverted every year because the country can’t afford it. loan repayment.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has formally requested the Chinese government to repay both the overdue loans, officials said. These loans are taken to support the budget, create currency reserves and finance projects.
Beijing pledged to repay its debt to the IMF in 2019 before the end of the fund program.
Diplomatic sources said there had been some procedural delays and that China would soon repay the $2 billion debt.
China is proud to provide financial assistance to Pakistan, as are the IMF and the United States.
Also Read: Pakistan Govt Seeks IMF Agreement
However, Pakistan has failed to meet its obligations to Beijing, particularly the payment of $1.5 billion in outstanding dues from China’s independent power producers (IPPs). Syed Tariq Fatmi, special assistant to the prime minister, wrote on Monday that the non-payment of $1.5 billion in Chinese dues to Ahsan Iqbal was a “grave concern” that Pakistan needed to address urgently.
He further wrote that China’s power plants at Hubko, Sahiwal and Port Qasim are facing currency exchange restrictions and there are still gaps between the Revolving Fund raised by Pakistan and the Current Account Agreement signed between the two countries.
During the visit of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan requested the transfer of SAFE fields. In February last year, Pakistan requested a $21 billion bailout, which included the replacement of $10.7 billion in commercial and SAFE deposits.
Pakistan also requested an increase in the size of the currency swap agreement from $4.5 billion to $10 billion – an additional $5.5 billion loan that was not approved by Chinese authorities at the time.
The Foreign Exchange Agreement is a Chinese trade financing tool that Pakistan has been using since 2011 to repay foreign debt and maintain its foreign exchange reserves at a level suitable for trade purposes.
The advantage of this arrangement is that China’s additional debt does not appear on the books of the federal government and is not considered part of Pakistan’s external public debt.