WASHINGTON - Finance Minister Ishaq Dar sounded confident on simultaneous release of two IMF tranches, totaling $1.1 billion in December, after an agreement was reached with the Fund on combining the fourth and fifth reviews of the country's economic performance.

The International Monetary Fund has said Pakistan's economic reforms are on track and that the Executive Board would meet in early December for approval of the combined release. Wrapping up a hectically scheduled visit, the finance minister told journalists that he had a series of discussions with the financial institutions including the World Bank, OPIC, IMF and EXIM Bank. The finance minister said he and his teammates also met with finance leaders from other countries including Britain, China and Iran to discuss cooperation in areas of trade and economy. The Pakistani delegates in all had 44 meetings during the IMF-World annual autumn meetings. Besides, Dar also represented Pakistan at US-Pakistan Economic and Finance Working Group meeting, held under the Strategic Dialogue, and attended a major conference on $14 billion Diamer Basha Dam, saying it generated interest among investors. Pakistan will build both Diamer Basha and Dasu dams as part of efforts to generate energy, enhance water storage capacity and avoid flash flooding.

During his stay in Washington, Dar also met with US Trade Representative Michael Froman, USAID Chief, US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Dan Feldman, and US deputy nationals security adviser. He also discussed cooperation with Deputy Secretary William J Burns and Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Catherine Novelli.

Another milestone achieved during the visit was Pakistan-Afghanistan transit fee accord at 1.25 cent per KW. This accord, he said, will help accelerate work on bringing 1,000MW of Central Asian energy to Pakistan via Afghanistan under CASA 1000 project.

“We are working for our country's development and trade expansion, and do not rely on aid (alone),” Dar said, seated beside Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani and Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan.

In this respect, he said the country has already spent a huge amount of Rs46 billion for relief of internally displaced persons from Zarb-i-Azb operation, and flood affected people. He said these two expenses are massive, with the flood relief and recovery cost likely to be Rs80 billion. Another major amount would be needed for reconstruction once the military operation in North Waziristan concludes. Pakistan, he said, has not made a formal appeal for international help to meet the gigantic expenses. However, Pakistan held a meeting with major donors in Islamabad recently to have an assessment for recovery and damage costs. In response to a question, the finance minister said the US has clarified that recent drone strikes took place on Afghan territory and not on the Pakistani side of the border as reported in the media.

Responding to another question, the minister said Pakistan wanted to resolve tensions along the Line of Control through peaceful means, but if something is imposed on the country, its armed forces are capable of dealing with any eventuality.