ISLAMABAD - The opposition in the Senate on Monday accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for allegedly “dictating foreign policy of the country” urging the PTI government to disclose what assurances it gave during the recent visit of international lender’s team to Islamabad.

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi opening the debate in the house quoting some media reports suggest that IMF team during his recent talks with the government’s financial team while in Islamabad had asked Pakistan to cut its reliance with China with regard to trade and commerce.

After getting prices of essential commodities, gas and electricity increased, whether the IMF also dictate Pakistan on the nature of its relations with other countries, he said while speaking on an adjournment motion.

“China had invested at a time in Pakistan when one was avoiding making investment herr,” he said and sought an explanation from the government if it surrendered its foreign policy before the IMF after compromising its economic sovereignty.

He demanded that the government should make public what it finally agreed with the team and what assurances were given to the lender.

His party colleague Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that that the government had not formally contradicted or denied these media reports and called it a blatant interference into affairs of Pakistan.

Stages walkout for not presenting FIA report on wheat, sugar crisis

He said that certain international forces were bent on making the CPEC project controversial.  Former Chairman Senate and PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani reminded that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July 2018 had said IMF bailout package for Pakistan’s new government would be used to pay off Chinese lenders who have invested in CPEC.

Another PPP Senator Rehman Malik recalled US President Donald Trump’s anti-CPEC statement and said Pakistan and China will thwart all conspiracies against the project. He remarked that IMF and FATF were tools of the west.

PTI lawmaker Nauman Wazir said some loans under the CPEC had been poorly negotiated and added most of the conditionalities of IMF were in Pakistan’s interest. “Out rightly rejecting the IMF is not something right,” he said.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Senator Azam Swati winding up that discussion avoided to clarify whether IMF had demand from Pakistan to cut its reliance on China or not but only asserted that no conspiracy was being hatched against China.

He said there was no substitute when it comes to Pakistan’ relations with China. “We will not compromise on the friendship pf China.” He said the IMF has remarked that there should be continuity of the on-going fiscal policy.

In the middle of the minister’s speech, Senator Rabbani objected over the absence of Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

He said that Swati was not part of the negotiations with the IMF and the advisor should have come to brief the house.

With this, the opposition staged a second protest walkout from the house against advisor’s absence from the house.

After this, an opposition lawmaker pointed out the quorum and the chair prorogued the house due to the lack of required quorum.

Earlier, the opposition also staged a first walkout from the house protesting the government’s failure to present the FIA report on wheat flour and sugar crisis in the house.

Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani had directed the government on Friday to present the report by Monday.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Swati told the house that Prime Minister Imran Khan had sent back the report to FIA with some queries and observations.

The revised and comprehensive report will be shared with the house during the next session, he assured.

The house also passed an opposition-sponsored resolution demanding the government to “immediately place the inquiry report of FIA about current wheat crisis before the Senate, so that vulnerable people of Pakistan will be able to identify the main culprits responsible for creating this crisis.”