Just two days after the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government reversed course on the IMF arrangement, PTI leader Shaukat Tarin allegedly requested Punjab Finance Minister Mohsin Leghari to withdraw from it.
The KP and Punjab provinces are controlled by the PTI, and there have been numerous instances of disagreements between the federal government and the provinces. This all began in April when Imran Khan was removed as prime minister.
The leaked tape surfaced on the day that the executive board of the international lender was to meet to discuss Pakistan’s request for the release of the $1.2 billion tranche under the Extended Fund Facility.
Shaukat Tarin Tarin- Mohsin LeghariAudio leak
Since all conditions have been satisfied, economic experts anticipate that the IMF deal will proceed despite the hurdles; nonetheless, if the board decides not to release the trance, it will be a serious blow to the nation’s already fragile economy.
The letter has already been drafted by the Punjab government, which the PTI runs in conjunction with the PML-Q but which is entirely under the authority of PTI.
In the released tape, Tarin can be heard pleading with Leghari to inform the lender that Punjab “cannot honour” the guarantee it made before the floods.
“You have signed a Rs750 billion [surplus] commitment with the IMF. You now need to tell them that the commitment you made was before the floods, and now [Punjab] has to spend a lot of funds for [the] floods [rehabilitation].”
“You need to say now that ‘we will not be able to honour our commitment’,” Tarin said, telling Leghari that this is all he wants – for pressure to increase on the incumbent government.
The finance minister was instructed by the PTI leader to draught a letter and transmit it to him for approval before delivering it to the federal government and then the IMF representative in Pakistan.
Leghari questioned if Pakistan would suffer if Punjab—the country’s largest province—withdrew from the agreement at Tarin’s request.
“Actually, given how they are abusing your chairman [Khan] and everyone else, isn’t the state already in trouble? IMF will undoubtedly inquire about their source of funding.” Tarin answered.
According to Tarin, this situation could not continue and the party could not tolerate being “mistreated” while remaining silent. The PTI leader declared, “We cannot be blackmailed.”
Shaukat Tarin Tarin- Taimoor Jhagra Audio leak
Tarin can be heard asking Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Finance Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra if he wrote the letter in another audio recording that was leaked.
“I am on the way. I have the previous letter. I will send the letter to you after drafting it,” replied the KP finance minister.
Tarin instructed Jhagra to make the destruction caused by the floods in the province the main focus of his letter as part of a plot to thwart the IMF agreement.