In a bombshell revelation, US-based online publication The Intercept has claimed that the United States played an important role in brokering the $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout for Pakistan earlier this year. The alleged motive behind this assistance was to return Pakistan a favour for providing munitions to Ukraine for its ongoing conflict with Russia.
The story has sparked a debate amongst the public over the controversial nature of the deal. This is particularly noteworthy considering that it claims how, in the past 18 months, democratic forces have been suppressed, and Pakistan's military has taken a prominent role. As a result, the possibility of a delay in general elections appears imminent.
However, in an official response to the story, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan has categorically denied the allegations, including arms sales to Ukraine.
"The IMF Stand-by Arrangement for Pakistan was successfully negotiated between Pakistan and the IMF to implement difficult but essential economic reforms. Giving any other colour to these negotiations is disingenuous. Pakistan maintains a policy of strict neutrality in the dispute between Ukraine and Russia and, in that context, does not provide any arms and ammunition to them. Pakistan's defence exports are always accompanied by strict end-user requirements."
Yet, as far as the supply of munitions is concerned, there have been several reports of them being present with the Ukrainian military. Further, the country has experienced a surge in arms exports since the war began.
Another argument that explains the presence of Pakistani military supplies in Ukraine is the consequence of onward sales of goods produced by the state-owned Wah Industries Limited, Pakistan's leading arms and ammunition exporter. They say Wah agreements with several countries for the supply of ammunition. As a result, the international market is awash with Pakistani munitions and may not have been sold directly to Ukraine under a bilateral or even trilateral agreement. Rather, it could been independently sourced by the Eastern European country through a third party.
Pakistan's contracts with Ukraine are pre-war. No new contract has been signed after war broke between Russia and Ukraine. Although then PM Imran Khan was in Moscow the day war broke against the advice Foreign Policy Officials. Moreover, Pakistani munitions are available in… https://t.co/0tKR2TvMsN— Muhammad Ibrahim Qazi (@miqazi) September 18, 2023
However, it is important to note that the part of the story pertaining to the US brokering the IMF deal and the subsequent commentary has relied heavily on speculation. Pakistan's military does have a history of assisting the West in global conflicts in exchange for rewards. One notable example was the post-9/11 economic aid from the West, which helped stabilize the country's debt and prevent default.
Moreover, the military junta has a track record of tailoring IMF agreements to suit their interests rather than prioritizing the country's overall economic well-being. In an interview, journalist Khurram Husain recounts an incident from the late 1980s when Pakistan sought the IMF Stand-by Facility to shore up its reserves. However, under military pressure, the civilian government was compelled to adopt a more stringent structural adjustment facility to fund the acquisition of F-16 aircraft.
It is, however, important to reiterate that much of the discussion surrounding the story is based on conjecture. It is in Pakistan's best interest to maintain a neutral stance on the conflict, as it cannot afford to become entangled (once again) in someone else's war.