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Thursday, May 23, 2024

PTI defends Shaukat Tarin’s leaked audio calls on IMF deal

The leaked audio calls have raised alarm and PTI is now being accused of hatching a conspiracy against the IMF deal which will lead to devastating financial repercussions for Pakistan. 

PTI has defended former federal Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin’s leaked audio call for allegedly “jeopardizing” Pakistan’s deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ahead of the lender’s Executive Board meeting scheduled for August 29 (today).

According to the details, Shaukat Tarin allegedly asked Punjab Finance Minister Mohsin Leghari to withdraw from the IMF deal. In the leaked audio, which is going viral on social media, Shaukat Tarin can be heard directing Leghari to tell the lender that the commitment Punjab made was pre-floods and now the province “cannot honor it”.

To clarify, ensuring surpluses by provinces this fiscal year is a key requirement previously agreed upon to revive the IMF program.

“You have signed a Rs750 billion [surplus] commitment with the IMF. You now need to tell them that the commitment you made was before the floods, and now [Punjab] has to spend a lot of funds for [the] floods [rehabilitation].”

“You need to say now that ‘we will not be able to honor our commitment’,” Tarin said, telling Leghari that this is all he wants –  for pressure to increase on the incumbent government.

Interestingly, another audio of Shaukat Tarin surfaced, this time, he was talking to KP Finance Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra, and asking him whether he had written the letter or not. Tarin directed Jhagra that the key point of his letter should be the floods and devastations in the province.

Read more: Govt. & KP Finance Minister trade barbs over IMF deal

Earlier, Taimur Khan Jhagra wrote a letter to Finance Minister Miftah Ismail saying the provincial government could not fulfill the requirements of the IMF program due to various reasons.

Pertinent to mention that currently, PTI is in governance in KP and Punjab. The leaked audio calls have raised alarm and PTI is now being accused of hatching a conspiracy against the IMF deal which will lead to devastating financial repercussions for Pakistan.

PTI’s stance

Reacting to the audio clips, PTI leader Shireen Mazari said there was “nothing illegal or wrong” in the conversations since PTI has publicly opposed the IMF terms. She, however, did bring into question the illegal wiretapping done on the conversation which is a criminal offense.

Soon after, PTI’s Secretary-General Asad Umar held a press conference with the KP Finance Minister and said Shaukat Tarin didn’t suggest anything wrong.

Read more: IMF deal would be materialized: Miftah Ismail

Asad Umar said Shaukat Tarin had asked both provincial finance ministers to request the federal government to renegotiate the IMF agreement due to the recent floods as the expenses required for relief operations would make achieving a provincial surplus difficult.

“Can anyone say this isn’t good advice?” Asad Umar questioned. He also slammed the government for “cutting, pasting and editing” audio and videos.