Ankur Chatterjee: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has given a grim idea of the country’s shrinking economy, lamenting the fact that even friendly countries have begun to regard Pakistan as a country that keeps constantly asking for money.
“Today, when we go to any friendly country or make a phone call, they think that we have come [to them] to beg for money,” the Pakistani Prime Minister said this in an address to a lawyers’ conference on Wednesday, as per Pakistan’s Dawn news.
Even small economies, according to Mr Sharif, have outpaced Pakistan, “and we have been travelling for the past 75 years carrying a begging bucket.”
Mr Sharif claimed that Pakistan’s economy was already in a “struggling state” before the floods. The flood only has made things more bleak.
He said that when he took office in April, following the ousting of then-Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan was on the edge of “economic default” and that the coalition administration had saved the country from default via hard labour.
He went on to say that the coalition administration he led got “some control” over the country’s economic instability.
In admitting that inflation was “at its peak” when he took office, the prime minister tacitly blamed the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government for the country’s present state.
Mr Sharif claimed that the former regime breached its agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), forcing the current government to accept harsh terms.
He stated that the IMF had threatened to discontinue its programme if the agreed-upon conditions were not met.
On August 29, the IMF approved a bailout package for cash-strapped Pakistan, including a USD 1.18 billion payout.
The IMF action came after the completion of USD 4 billion in bilateral financing from four friendly countries, including China.
The Pakistani Prime Minister also cautioned of a potential gas crisis the coming winter, claiming that he had been unable to secure gas before the winter season began.
According to a story in Pakistan’s Dawn news, he said the rains and floods had inflicted unparalleled destruction in the country, adding that such climate-induced disaster had possibly not been observed anywhere else in the globe.
Since early June, Pakistan has been battling with the worst floods in 30 years, that killed over 1,400 people and affected 33 million people.
A third of the country is under water, and one in every seven people has been impacted by the floods, which have caused an estimated USD 12 billion in losses and have submerged over 78,000 square kilometres (21 million acres) of crops.
According to the UN, an amount of USD 150 million has been donated for flood victims in Pakistan, but only USD 38 million has been channelled into assistance.
While various countries have offered to help Pakistan in this time of crisis, Pakistan and the UN have launched a rapid appeal for USD 160 million in first support, with USD 150 million donated.
According to United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis, the most crucial donors were the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Singapore, and others, in addition to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, which raised USD 10 million.
Meanwhile, the Nepalese government dispatched humanitarian aid to Pakistan on Wednesday to assist flood victims. Aside from other home necessities, the Nepal Airlines chartered aeroplane supplied food, medicines, and clothing.
Canada pledged an additional USD 25 million in humanitarian aid funds for Pakistan during this tough time on Wednesday.
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