Islamabad, March 16
Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday assured Parliament that the government would not make any compromise on the country’s nuclear and missile programme despite tough economic conditions and hurdles to secure a loan from the IMF.
Pakistan’s economy is in dire straits. The country is awaiting a much-needed USD 1.1 billion tranche of funding from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“Let me assure you that nobody is going to compromise anything on the nuclear or the missile program of Pakistan — no way,” Dar said while responding to a query by Senator Raza Rabbani.
He said that no compromise would be made on Pakistan’s nuclear capability adding that the agreement signed with the IMF would be uploaded on the website of his ministry.
While addressing the House, Senator Raza Rabbani talked about the reasons for the delay in the agreement with the IMF, including its impact on the country’s security.
“The question arises […] if the delay is being made because of some sort of pressure to be exerted on Pakistan’s nuclear programme,” Rabbani said.
Rabbani also lamented that the Senate had “neither before nor today been taken into confidence on what are the conditionalities of the IMF”.
“Nobody has any right to tell Pakistan what range of missiles it can have and what nuclear weapons it can have. We have to have our own deterrence…We represent the people of Pakistan and must guard our national interests,” Dar stressed.
The USD 1.1 billion tranche of funding from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) is part of a USD 6.5 billion bailout package that the IMF approved in 2019 when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was in power.
The loan is critical if Pakistan is to avoid defaulting on external debt obligations.
Dar also indirectly held PTI and its chief Imran Khan responsible for the delay in the IMF funding as he blamed the then government of Imran Khan for agreeing on tough conditions to get the funding.
Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was being “jealously guarded by the state”.
According to the statement by his office, Sharif noted that press releases, queries, and various assertions regarding Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme were circulated on social and print media.
It said that even a “traditional routine visit” of International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi was portrayed in a “negative spotlight”.
“It is emphasised that Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programme is a national asset, which is jealously guarded by the state. The complete programme is totally secure, foolproof, and under no stress or pressure whatsoever,” the PMO statement said.
“It continues to fully serve the purpose for which this capability was developed,” it further added.
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