Afghan Politicians To Meet in Pakistan for Peace Talks
Senior political figures from Afghanistan, including several presidential candidates, will attend a rare, unofficial meeting in neighboring Pakistan Saturday where they will hold discussions on how to promote “peace and reconciliation” efforts in their war-ravaged country.
The conference will be held in the tourist resort of Bhurban, about 70 kilometers from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Around 30 Afghans, mostly opposition leaders, have been invited, organizers said. They say that the meeting is being held in support of ongoing U.S.-led efforts to bring an end to the 17-year-old war with the Taliban.
No representatives of the Taliban insurgency will attend the conference. It comes ahead of the June 27 official visit to Pakistan by President Ashraf Ghani, who is also seeking re-election in the September presidential vote in Afghanistan.
Ghani’s election rivals, Gulbadin Hekmatyar, Haneef Atmar and Abdul Latif an to support our economic reform program. Our program supports broad based growth by reducing imbalances in the economy. Social spending has been strengthened to completely protect vulnerable segments,” Shaikh tweeted.
Islamabad last month agreed on the loan conditions and announced plans to reduce civil expenditures and freeze military spending.
The government also pledged to substantially raise revenues to stop a yawning fiscal deficit and said it was aiming to collect $36 billion in taxes. Tax collection has long been a challenge for Pakistan’s fiscal authorities.
Discontent is simmering in the country following repeated devaluations of the national currency — the rupee — soaring inflation, and increasing utility prices.
“Pakistan is facing a challenging economic environment, with lackluster growth, elevated inflation, high indebtedness, and a weak external position,” the result of a “legacy” of uneven policies, IMF mission chief Ernesto Ramirez Rigo said in a statement in June.
An IMF mission led by Rigo had visited Islamabad from April 29 to May 11 to discuss a bailout package.
This is Pakistan’s 13th IMF program, and it includes a primary budget deficit target of 0.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) — excluding debt service costs.