The U.S.-brokered loan let Pakistan’s military postpone elections, deepen a brutal crackdown, and jail former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Secret Pakistan arms sales to the U.S. helped to facilitate a controversial bailout from the International Monetary Fund earlier this year, according to two sources with knowledge of the arrangement, with confirmation from internal Pakistani and American government documents. The arms sales were made for the purpose of supplying the Ukrainian military — marking Pakistani involvement in a conflict it had faced U.S. pressure to take sides on.
The revelation is a window into the kind of behind-the-scenes maneuvering between financial and political elites that rarely is exposed to the public, even as the public pays the price. Harsh structural policy reforms demanded by the IMF as terms for its recent bailout kicked off an ongoing round of protests in the country. Major strikes have taken place throughout Pakistan in recent weeks in response to the measures.
The protests are the latest chapter in a year-and-a-half-long political crisis roiling the country. In April 2022, the Pakistani military, with the encouragement of the U.S., helped organize a no-confidence vote to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan. Ahead of the ouster, State Department diplomats privately expressed anger to their Pakistani counterparts over what they called Pakistan’s “aggressively neutral” stance on the Ukraine war under Khan. They warned of dire consequences if Khan remained in power and promised “all would be forgiven” if he were removed.