Pakistan's Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Sunday, 19 February, claimed that the cash-strapped nation is already bankrupt and has defaulted, amid fears that it may not be able to receive a $7 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Driving the news: At a public address in Pakistan’s Sialkot, Asif’s hometown, he blamed the politicians and bureaucracy for the prevailing economic crisis and claimed that standing on its own feet was critical in Pakistan stabilising itself.
What did Asif say: According to The Express Tribune newspaper, the defence minister said, "You must have heard that Pakistan is going bankrupt or that a default or meltdown is taking place. It (default) has already taken place. We are living in a bankrupt country."
The minister said that the IMF does not have the solution to the country's problems and added that “the solution to our problems lies within the country.”
Asif also lashed out at the Shehbaz Sharif-led government and said that terrorists were brought to Pakistan close to two-and-a-half years ago, which has now resulted in a wave of terrorism.
He said that most of his time had been spent in Opposition camps and that he has witnessed politics being disgraced for the last 32 years.
The timing: Asif’s comments come at a time when Pakistan is battling decades-high inflation, severely low foreign exchange reserves, and multiple debt repayment obligations.
Meanwhile, some of Pakistan’s largest companies have halted operations over the last few months as they ran out of raw materials and foreign exchange.
The beginning of the end? The country’s $3.19 billion in foreign currency reserves translates to only 10 to 15 days of imports that can be funded, stranding thousands of supply containers at its ports and stalling production.
Moreover, the constantly mounting inflation has also put several essential goods out of the public’s reach.