Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Sunday questioned Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s statement on nuclear weapons in the Senate, demanding that the senator clarifies whether the International Monetary Fund (IMF) asked for Pakistan to give up its missile system.
Addressing a press conference, Qureshi said that the finance minister was the in-law of the ruling party and his statement on the Senate floor was important.
“This statement has created a new crisis in the country,” the former foreign minister said, adding that the Foreign Office spokesperson had to clarify during her weekly press briefing.
“The spokeswoman says that talks about nuclear power are not on the agenda of talks with any country or financial institution [then] why did Ishaq Dar give this statement on the Senate floor,” Qureshi questioned.
“Tell us if IMF asked you for a missile system, Ishaq Dar. Why did you make such a big statement on the floor of the house?” asked Qureshi. No one has the right to ask us about our nuclear programme, said Qureshi.
“Our nuclear [weapons] are for our defence,” the PTI leader said, highlighting that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani has also asked the prime minister to give a policy statement on nuclear weapons.
Qureshi said that his successor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, should have issued a clarification.
Earlier this week, finance czar Dar, in his address to the Senate, had said that Pakistan would not compromise on its nuclear programme for reviving the stalled IMF loan facility.
The finance minister’s comments came in response to Senator Raza Rabbani’s concerns that he raised during a Senate session, wherein he asked whether the IMF programme was being delayed to force the government into resorting to moves that were against state interests.
“I believe in transparency and fiscal discipline […] let me assure you that nobody is [ready] to compromise on the nuclear or missile programme of Pakistan. No way!” he stressed.
The finance minister said nobody has any right to dictate to “Pakistan what range of missiles and what nuclear weapons it can have; we have to have our own deterrence”.
Minister Dar said that the incumbent government did not enter into the ongoing agreement with the IMF and noted that it was the PTI-led administration that had entered into the programme in 2019.
“This programme should have been completed in 2022,” he said, castigating the PTI regime for succumbing to IMF demands including the autonomy of the State Bank of Pakistan.
He said that previously, there were reviews that were completed, but now, it seems that every review has become a “new programme, which is very uncustomary with the IMF”.
The finance minister said the delay is not on part of the incumbent government and claimed that they have been involved in extensive engagements with the IMF which are “unusual, too lengthy, too long, too demanding”.