ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party parliamentary leader Senator Sherry Rehman on Tuesday grilled the government for keeping the Parliament in the dark on the ongoing meetings with the International Monetary Fund. In a statement, she said: “What is going on with the IMF meetings? Neither the Prime Minister nor the Minister of Finance briefed the Parliament on the terms of the negotiations. Before briefing the IMF with the terms of agreement regarding the country’s foreign debts, the government should have discussed it in Parliament. What is with this secrecy?”

Senator Rehman added: “It is highly disrespectful to both houses and the people of Pakistan that media outlets know more about the deals that the government has been making back-to-back. These are not small figures and will be felt in our economy in the months to come. The Parliament was also not briefed prior to Prime Minister’s major international trips. We have a right to know and like every functioning democracy, the right to deliberate on matters of this importance”.

The lawmaker said that she had brought the issue up in the Senate and continuously called for minister to address this. “Crucial information regarding the state’s balance of payments remains unknown to the Parliament.

 How will we pay for our $95 billion external debt? A serious government should not allow conversations around such sensitive issues to be dominated by speculation and hearsay. We need a clear answer for this,” the Senator insisted.

The PPP Vice-President concluded said that her party, in both houses of the Parliament, had called for the government to present the facts and conditions that they agreed to and intend to with the IMF and other international lenders.

“Is it because the government does not have a clear economic policy and expected outcomes for these negotiations, that is why it’s avoiding Parliament? If there is one and the government has failed to lay out the strategy prior to engaging international lenders, then they have to explain why because we are not going to cease asking questions,” she added.

Meanwhile, the same day, Amir Fida Paracha, the spokesperson for Asif Ali Zardari, said that negative propaganda and character assassination against the former president was not a new phenomenon as his media trial was on for the last 30 years.

Paracha said that time and again accusations against Zardari had proved to be figment of imagination of sick minds. “These minds tried to defeat the former president in the field of politics but he proved to be invincible in politics. Asif Ali Zardari is a man of reconciliation but he will never compromise the party’s principles,” he said.

The spokesperson said that Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Fawwad Chaudhry were jesters of a ‘U-turn king Imran Khan.’ He said that Imran Khan himself was ‘a parasite who is fed on the anti-democratic forces’.