AN International Monetary Fund team has reached Pakistan and is set to begin 10 days of consultations, which started formally on Friday with a series of meetings. The IMF has been to Pakistan before, under the first Benazir government, and has been invited again to help in the turnaround of Pakistan's economy. The Fund is notorious for its interference and its refusal to allow a country following one of its programmes to follow not merely its national interests, but sound economics. The government has turned to the IMF, after the World Bank and the friendly countries have refused it budgetary support in the form of loans. The Bank has turned down a request for a loan of $500 million, which has left Pakistan the option of turning to the IMF. The IMF's record in Pakistan was not exceptional, but its interfering ways and economic incompetence have been noted in all those parts of the world to which it has extended a programme. The IMF has been anti-growth and anti-employment historically, and there is no reason to suppose it has changed. It imposes such harsh conditions for its loans that the contracting nation is permanently crushed, and its programmes are further reinforced by the World Bank an other international lending agencies, which insist on adherence to Fund conditions as the prime conditionality of their loans. As it is, even though Pakistan is no longer in an IMF loan programme, it is still receiving IMF advice on such matters as tax revenue administration, macroeconomic policy and macroeconomic indicators. Going onto a programme will mean following this advice to the letter. The IMF men are in town at a particularly bad time. The Federal Bureau of Statistics has announced that inflation had reached a new high, measured year-on-year, and was 25.33 percent in August, compared to 6.45 percent the year before. That year, which was the last fiscal, Pakistan witnessed one of its worst years for inflation, because of the tremendous rise in the prices of food and oil. While oil prices internationally are apparently stabilizing at around $100 a barrel, still punitive but stable, commodity prices have not yet steadied, with wheat reaching Rs 2500 per 100 kg in Karachi. This inflation is more than likely to spook the government, what with the foreign exchange reserves being drawn down to very old levels, and make it liable to the blandishments of the IMF, and accept its programme, which will be designed to subject it to the wishes of its Western masters. It will not be designed to extract Pakistan from its current crisis, but to keep it there, and dependent on the IMF.