The Ministry of Finance has issued a statement by Ishaq Dar, in which it is said that “I gave a statement on Pakistan’s nuclear program in response to a fellow senator who has nothing to do with the ongoing negotiations with the IMF.” Earlier, IMF Representative for Pakistan Esther Preez-Riz said that there is no truth in the speculations related to Pakistan’s nuclear program.
He said that there was no mention of the nuclear program in any agreement between the IMF and Pakistan. “Negotiations with Pakistan are only on economic policy.” Earlier, Ishaq Dar had said that there were ‘technical reasons’ behind the delay in the staff-level agreement with the IMF.
How the debate started?
These speculations started when PPP leader Raza Rabbani wrote a letter to the Prime Minister on March 6, citing reasons for delaying a possible deal with the IMF, relations with China in the region, and growing terrorism in the country. Parliament was asked to take into confidence the events and the policy of negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The debate gained momentum when, during the Golden Jubilee session of the Senate a few days ago, Senator Raza Rabbani of the People’s Party expressed concern that the Parliament was not taken into confidence regarding the terms of the IMF. He said the delay in the agreement with the IMF was “unusual,” which had never happened before in Pakistan’s history.
He questioned whether the reason for this is that a role is being demanded from Pakistan at the global level that is not in accordance with its security needs and priorities. Is the reason for this delay due to pressure on Pakistan’s nuclear program or regional relations with China? In response, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that there would be no compromise on Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs. No one has the right to tell Pakistan what range of missiles and nuclear weapons it can keep. He said that we are responsible citizens of Pakistan and that we will protect our national interest.
While talking to the Senate, he said that the delay in the agreement with the IMF was not a new program that this government had started or finished. The delay is not due to the government of Pakistan; many demands were made of us, which we fulfilled.
After the discussion on this topic between the two leaders in the Senate, the speculations about the possible elimination of Pakistan’s nuclear assets or the possible closure of this program gained momentum in the social media and the local media of Pakistan, and there was concern in various circles. Outside Parliament, Vice Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Shah Mehmood Qureshi also expressed concern over Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s statement in the Senate regarding the nuclear program.
The government’s stance on the nuclear program
Here’s what you need to know:
On March 17, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a statement about this situation that “misleading speculations about Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs are regrettable because our nuclear program represents the unwavering consensus of the nation.” In his tweet, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs are completely safe, foolproof, and free of any pressure.
The misleading speculations about Pakistan’s nuclear & missile program are unfortunate. The stringent, fool-proof & multi-layered security safeguards, duly testified by IAEA, are in place. Our nuclear program represents the unwavering consensus of the nation & is for deterrence.
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) March 16, 2023
On Thursday, the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar denied claims that there was going to be a compromise on the country’s nuclear program.
The Prime Minister’s Office declared Pakistan’s nuclear program as completely safe and said that ‘all recent statements, press releases, questions, and various claims circulating in social and print media regarding Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program are false. ‘
What did the IMF say about Nuclear program?
Esther Prizres, who works for the IMF in Pakistan, said that rumors about possible conditions on Pakistan’s nuclear assets were not true. In response to an email from Samar Abbas, a journalist and anchor with Pakistan’s private TV channel Hum News, he declared that the allegations regarding Pakistan’s nuclear program are untrue.
In this e-mail message sent to the IMF representative for Pakistan, Esther Preez-Raz, journalist Samar Abbas asked her whether the IMF had asked Pakistan to end its long-range missile program or nuclear weapons program. What is the demand? And if this is true, how does it relate to the country’s economic system?
In response, Esther Preez said that there was no talk about the nuclear program in any agreement between the IMF and Pakistan and that the negotiations with Pakistan are only on economic policy.
Will this debate end after the IMF’s denial?
While speculations and debates related to Pakistan’s nuclear assets were linked to the integrity of the country, the political circles in the country also did not miss any opportunity to score points in this regard. In these circumstances, after the rejection of any such conditions by the IMF, will this debate now end?
Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, says that there was no truth in these speculations and discussions from the beginning, and serious circles in Pakistan never gave them importance.
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Criticizing Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, she said that it was an irresponsible statement by a government minister to hide his incompetence in delaying the agreement with the IMF on two completely different issues and tried to link Pakistan’s missile and nuclear programs.
Maleeha Lodhi commented that Pakistan’s IMF program is very old and has been around for decades. To my knowledge, there is no such pressure that any country has put on Pakistan. She further said that even the IMF cannot discuss the country’s strategic issues. And there was no justification for this discussion. She said, “I think that this discussion should end now.’
Arifa Noor, anchor of the Dawn News program and senior journalist, said that this discussion was started by the government, and it seems that this matter arose from the background briefings of the Ministry of Finance, on which Raza Rabbani wrote a letter. And then they asked the question in the Senate, and the debate went on.’