That Pakistan's economy is in absolute shambles has been known for quite some time now. The challenge for the newly-elected Imran Khan government has been billed as ginormous with the country now looking to borrow billions just to keep itself running. Just how much, though, is required? Nine billion dollars, according to newly-appointed Finance Minister Asad Umar.
According to Pakistani media, Umar told the country's Senate on Friday that $9 billion dollars would need to be borrowed in the time to come to keep the country afloat. "The number that we need to borrow, according to the budget, is $9 billion," he informed the Senate, according to Dawn. "But we are trying to address the root cause that compels us to borrow these $9bn. Of course, we know any measures will take time — maybe even two or three years — to bear fruit."
Umar said that plans being formalised would be completed in a week or two and that suggestions would be sought from the country's National Assembly. He however said that knocking on International Monetary Fund's door is an idea still under consideration.
Many have been predicting Pakistan to approach IMF for a bailout package despite certain austerity measures which came into effect soon after Imran Khan and his ministers took oath on August 18. Such is the state of Pakistan's economy that many say there is no other option but to look at IMF. But even if the country does approach IMF, there is no assurance that it would get a bailout package as easily as it has in the past. Why? The United States.
The US has already made it clear that it is against any bailout package from IMF to Pakistan. Being one of the largest contributors to IMF, the US says American dollars cannot be used to help countries that would then use the money to repay loans taken from China. And Pakistan has some considerable amount to repay its so-called ally.
The other possible options for Islamabad are looking at Beijing for further financial assistance while some suspect that if IMF shuts its doors, Pakistan could also look at help from Saudi Arabia.
At a time when the country's imports have been rising exponentially but exports only by a trickle, rising crude oil prices in the international markets may wrek even more havoc on the Pakistani economy.