ISLAMABAD/ MADINAH   -   Pakistan is making last ditch efforts to avert the International Monetary Fund program as Prime Minister Imran Khan struggles to find rich friends for help.

He yesterday reached Saudi Arabia on a two-day official visit. He will participate in the “Future Investment Initiative” conference there and hold talks with the Saudi leaders.

The prime minister will discuss Pakistan’s economic crisis and is hopeful of positive results, officials said.

Khan will fly to Malaysia on October 28, and leave for weeklong visit to China on November 3.

The premier upon arrival in Madinah Munawara was received at the airport by Madina Governor Prince Faisal Bin Salman and senior Saudi officials.

Ambassador of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan Nawaf Al-Maliki, Consul General Shehryar Akbar Khan and other officials from Pakistan consulate were also present on the occasion.

Imran Khan was accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umer, Information Minister Fawad Hussain, Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, and Minister of State and Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif.

The prime minister along with his delegation would pay respects at Roza-e-Rasool (Peace Be Upon Him) and offer Isha prayers and Nawafil there.

The Future Investment Initiative Conference (FIIC) is being hosted by Riyadh from October 23-25. PM Khan is attending it on the special invitation of King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz.

Termed as “Davos in the desert”, it will host leading businesspersons, investors, corporate giants, representatives of hi-tech industry and major media outlets at one platform.

Friendly states and IMF

Senior government officials told The Nation that PM was against going to the IMF but had kept it as a last option.

“He is asking the friendly countries to at least deposit money in Pakistan to improve the economy if the loans were not possible,” said one official.

Another official said since there had been little response from the friendly countries so far, the IMF program was imminent.

However, he added, “Since Imran Khan will be done with three visits (to Saudi Arabia , Malaysia and China) before the IMF delegation’s visit, we cannot give up hope. We will then see how we can talk to the IMF (next month)”.

In Saudi Arabia , the prime minister is accompanied by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umer, Information Minister Fawad Hussain and Adviser to PM on Investment Abdul Razak Dawood.

Imran will participate and address the session dedicated to investment in Pakistan. The debate will also have a session on Pakistan’s Investment climate and stability and open new opportunities for bringing in foreign direct investment into the country.

Prime Minister Khan’s participation in first day of the investment conference is aimed at projecting Pakistan’s economic and investment potential and his vision of the country in the five years to come.

The conference provides an opportunity to interact with important business leaders who are interested in investing in Pakistan, said the ministry.

Khan will also call on King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz and meet Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. “Matters of mutual interest will be discussed,” the foreign ministry said.

“Future Investment Initiative” is now an annual feature in Saudi Arabia . The first FII was held last year, with participation of 3800 people from 90 countries. This year’s conference is also likely to attract participation from a large number leading figures.

The prime minister’s participation in the conference signifies “our solidarity with the Kingdom in its efforts to become emerging hub of international business and investment,” said the statement.

Last week, Prime Minister Khan said that Pakistan may skip loan from the IMF as the government was consulting some friendly countries to come out of the economic crises. The premier said the friendly countries were being consulted for cooperation.

“Their response is positive. I am quite hopeful that we will not have to approach the IMF for our economic needs,” he said.

The prime minster assured that people will start receiving good news in a few months in the wake of some harsh decisions as so many things will also be changed.

An IMF team is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on November 7 to negotiate the programme, likely to cover a period of three years. The Institute of International Finance in its latest report said a potential IMF programme for Pakistan could be valued at $ 15 billion. The IIF expects an agreement on a three-year IMF programme of $ 15 billion by end of this year.

Finance Minister Asad Umar however says the IMF would be asked for a $12 billion package while another $ 5 billion would be sought from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf formed the federal government in September, pledging to bring a ‘change’ in its election campaign. There has been massive criticism against the government after Imran Khan and Asad Umar announced to borrow money from the international financial institutions to improve the country’s economy.

Opposition parties refer to the PTI’s promises in the election campaign that borrowing money was against the integrity of the nation.



PM arrives in Saudi Arabia with hope


SHAFQAT ALI/agencies