WASHINGTON

Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar wound up his hectic three-day visit to this capital city and flew back home, saying Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves have risen to $17.67 billion and were expected to hit a record high this year.

“Our next target is to cross the past highest level of $18.29 billion in reserves this year – we have not had the luxury of a front-loading IMF facility as was the case when that level was achieved – but we have built up reserves on the basis of a range of policy measures and macroeconomic stability,” he told Washington-based Pakistani journalists. Currently, the State Bank of Pakistan holds $12 billion, while private banks have the rest of the total reserves.

The finance minister, who led Pakistan delegation to the Spring 2015 IMF-World Bank meetings, held about three dozens meetings including leaders of the two financial institutions and top US Treasury, State Department, USAID, OPIC, US-Pakistan Business Council officials and investors.

Officials said he briefed them about the performance of Pakistan economy during last 22 months, referring to the build-up of foreign exchange reserves, decline in inflation and discount rate and soaring remittances.

At his press conference, Dar also revealed that the seventh review of Pakistan’s economic performance under the IMF programme would take place from May 1 to 9 in Dubai. Regarding Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan, the finance minister said the two countries would benefit enormously from the economic cooperation, which will see Beijing investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects with the involvement of the private sector. He said the motorway project would connect Peshawar with Karachi. The finance minister also had a meeting with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the Spring gathering. Responding to a question, the finance minister said Pakistan has a clear-cut position on territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia and defence of the Holy Mosques as contained in the Parliamentary resolution on the question of Yemen war. “Pakistan will stand shoulder to shoulder with Saudi Arabia in the event of a threat to its territorial integrity.” Dar said the resolution was misunderstood by some in the Arab world and saw no negative repercussions on account of this for Pakistani expatriates, saying the highly talented Pakistani human resource has contributed critically to the development of the Gulf region. “There should have been no confusion about Pakistan’s position - we have condemned the Houthis and support restoration of the elected government of President Hadi -Pakistan, along with Turkey, has a reconciliatory role and wants to bring them to negotiating table.”