Pakistan’s ex-premier Khan warns of economic ‘collapse’


ISLAMABAD – The former prime minister of Pakistan said on Wednesday that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government is mismanaging the country’s fragile economy.

Imran Khan’s remarks to journalists at his residence in Islamabad came hours after Pakistan’s currency plummeted to an all-time low of 225 rupees against the US dollar, amid uncertainty. politics is increasing. The delay in the release of a vital $1.17 billion from the International Monetary Fund to Islamabad has also added to the current economic crisis.

Last week, the fund said it had reached a preliminary agreement with Pakistan to restore a $6 billion bailout. However, this agreement must be approved by the IMF executive board.

On Wednesday, Khan said he was “worried” that Pakistan was leaning toward an “economic collapse.” A spokesperson for Sharif did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He said a crisis loomed “it all started after my government was overthrown.” He reiterated his call for snap elections, a claim that has been rejected by Sharif and his allies.

Khan came to power after the 2018 parliamentary elections, but he lost his majority in Parliament in April when his allies and about two dozen lawmakers from his own Tehreek-e-Insaf party dropped out. he.

Khan’s ouster in April comes as his relationship with Pakistan’s powerful military has cooled, which many of Khan’s political opponents say helped propel the former prime minister to power in a general election. elections in 2018. The military has directly ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 75 years and holds considerable power over civilian governments.

Since his ouster, Khan has criticized the country’s powerful military chief, Qamar Javed Bajwa, saying he was also part of a larger plot to remove him from power. The military has denied the allegation.

Khan also insists his government was overthrown under a US conspiracy, a charge Washington denies.

When Khan took power, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves rose to over $18 billion, having recently dropped to $10 billion. Khan said he could revive the country’s economy with the help of his team if he had another chance during his tenure.

In recent weeks, Sharif has cut fuel, electricity and natural gas subsidies to meet IMF conditions. It made Sharif’s government unpopular and caused food prices to skyrocket.

Over the weekend, Sharif faced a major political defeat as Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party won elections in the country’s most populous province. Khan’s party won 15 of the 20 seats elected in the 371-member provincial parliament in Sunday’s vote.

That brings the total number of seats held by Khan’s party and its allies in the Punjab chamber to 188. He needs 186 legislators backing to govern Punjab province. On Friday, the Punjab Assembly will elect a new prime minister to replace Hamza Shahbaz, the son of Prime Minister Sharif, who currently holds the post.

On Wednesday, Khan reiterated his request for the snap vote.

“The only solution to today’s political and economic problems is to hold new elections,” he said.

But Sharif and his allies rejected Khan’s request, saying further elections would be held as scheduled next year. They also blame Khan for the current economic crisis.

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