The International Monetary Fund has not imposed any condition on Pakistan’s nuclear assets, the fund’s resident representative said in a statement on Monday.
“Talks with Pakistan are only held on economic policy,” Esther Perez Ruiz said. “There is no truth to rumours about the nuclear programme.”
The clarification comes after Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s statement on the country’s missile programme at the special Senate session last week.
“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,” he had said in response to PPP Senator Raza Rabbani’s query on the conditions on which the deal is being signed.
Pakistan has been hosting an IMF mission since early February to negotiate the terms of the deal, including the adoption of policy measures to manage its fiscal deficit ahead of the annual budget due around June.
The funds are part of a $6.5 billion bailout package the IMF approved in 2019, which analysts say is critical if Pakistan is to avoid defaulting on external debt obligations.
Veteran politicians Senator Raza Rabbani and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had raised concerns about whether the delay in the staff-level agreement with the Fund has anything to do with the country's strategic assets including the nuclear and missile programmes.
In a statement released to the media on Sunday, IMF resident representative in Islamabad Esther Perez Ruiz denied attaching any strings to the External Fund Facility (EFF).
“Regarding recent speculation that programme discussions with the authorities for the ninth review under the IMF-supported programme may have covered Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, I want to be categoric that there is absolutely no truth to this or any insinuated link between the past or current IMF supported programme and decision by any Pakistani government over its nuclear programme,” the official said.
The IMF chief further said that the discussions have exclusively focused on economic policies to solve Pakistan's economic and balance of payments problems, in line with the Fund's mandate for promoting macroeconomic and financial stability.