On the invitation of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Prime Minister Imran Khan spent Sunday in Dubai, representing Pakistan at the World Government Summit.

A big reason for attending the summit was to advertise a growing Pakistani economy. The summit is an “annual gathering of heads of states/government, policy makers, business leaders and experts” which operates to “provide an occasion to discuss current and future opportunities to improve governance through reform, innovation and technology.” The summit thus was a good platform to highlight the steps that would be taken to bring about progress and reform for a prosperous Pakistan, and through doing that, encourage foreign investment.

Trying to encourage foreign investors the Prime Minister definitely did. Imran Khan reached out to foreign investors during his speech at the summit, telling them this was the time to come to Pakistan, when “it is just going on the upswing”. Khan backed up his point by stating that his government has been focusing on making it easier for people to do business in Pakistan by reforming tax laws which disincentivesed investment.

It must be noted that encouraging foreign investment was not the sole purpose of Pakistan’s participation in the summit. In the audience sat International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde. Perhaps her presence was why the Prime Minister emphasised in his address the need for economic reforms, stating that while reforms at first might have some downfalls, they were better for restructuring the economy in the long run. Khan also addressed the price hikes that were seen immediately after his government, saying they were a part of the efforts to cut down the fiscal deficit and imports and improve exports. Making these points infront of the IMF Chief was note-worthy considering the IMF has impressed upon Pakistan the need for corrective measures to improve the highest ever current account deficit if Pakistan is to avail the IMF’s bailout package.

While we hope that the PM is able to negotiate successfully with the IMF for a bailout package that is suitable for all, there might be still other options for Pakistan on the table. Khan earlier in the day held a bilateral meeting with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. While no announcements so far has come on to the result of the meeting, it is possible that the PTI government is still on its efforts to avail as little assistance as it can from the IMF.