Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has presented a bleak picture of the country’s dwindling economy, regretting that even friendly countries have started looking at Pakistan as one that was always begging for money.
“Today, when we go to any friendly country or make a phone call, they think that we have come [to them] to beg for money,” Pakistan’s Dawn news quoted the Pakistani Prime Minister as saying in an address to a lawyers’ convention on Wednesday.
Mr Sharif said even small economies have surpassed Pakistan, “and we have been wandering for the past 75 years carrying a begging bowl”.
According to Mr Sharif, Pakistan’s economy was facing a “challenging situation” even before the floods, which had made it more “complicated”.
He said Pakistan was on the verge of “economic default” when he assumed power in April, following the ouster of then Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and the coalition government had saved the country from default through its hard work.
He added that the coalition government led by him controlled “to some extent” the economic instability in the cash-strapped nation.
Admitting that inflation was “at its peak” when he took charge, the premier indirectly blamed the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government for this situation in the country.
Mr Sharif alleged that the previous rulers had violated the agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), compelling the incumbent government to agree on tough conditions.
The IMF had even threatened withdrawal of its programme if the agreed conditions were not met, he added.
The IMF on August 29 approved a bailout package for cash-starved Pakistan, including disbursement of about USD 1.18 billion.
The IMF move followed the completion of the USD 4 billion in bilateral financing from four friendly nations, including China.
The Pakistani Prime Minister also warned of a possible gas crisis in the coming winter, stating that he had been struggling to arrange gas before the advent of the winter season.
He said the rains and floods had played unprecedented havoc in the country, adding that such climate-induced catastrophe had perhaps not been witnessed anywhere in the world, according to a report in Pakistan’s Dawn news.
The cash-strapped nation has been struggling with the worst floods in the past 30 years, leaving more than 1,400 dead and 33 million people affected since early June.
A third of the country is submerged in water and one in every seven persons is badly affected by the floods that have led to an estimated USD 12 billion in losses that have left about 78,000 square kilometres (21 million acres) of crops under water.
The UN said that USD 150 million have been pledged so far in response to flash appeals for Pakistan’s flood victims but only USD 38 million has been converted into assistance.
While several countries have come forward to provide aid to Pakistan in such a crisis, Pakistan and the UN had launched a flash appeal for USD 160 million in initial funding out of which USD 150 million has been pledged.
United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis said the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Denmark, Australia, Singapore, and others were the main donors besides the Central Emergency Response Fund of the United Nations, which raised USD 10 million.
Meanwhile, the Nepalese government Wednesday sent humanitarian relief materials to Pakistan to support the flood-affected people. The Nepal Airlines chartered flight carried food items, medicines, and garments apart from other household items.
Canada on Wednesday announced an additional USD 25 million of funding in humanitarian assistance to support Pakistan in this difficult time.
An official statement said the new allocation was in addition to the USD 5 million announced last month and added that Canada would continue to provide food, clean water, and other essential services through trusted partners.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)