Pak Defence Minister rejects IMF condition of cutting defence budget by 30 pc

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Islamabad, Oct 25 : Rejecting IMF condition that Pakistan should cut down on its defence budget by 30 percent, the country's Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar has said that the defence sector was already facing a "financial crunch" because of the devaluation of Pak rupee against the US dollar. And, hence, there was not a possibility of cutting down on the defence budget.

Terming the IMF's condition as "mere hearsay" at this stage, he insisted Pakistan "had not even applied for the fund's assistance".

He said Pakistan had yet to apply for the IMF bailout package which, according to him, would be the last option for the government to avail.

About the IMF's reported condition for a 30 per cent cut in defence budget, he said he did not think such a major slashing in defence spending would be possible. Already the government was contemplating upgrading its defence forces, which would only be possible with added resources.

"Right now the defence forces were facing financial constraints because of the massive devaluation of the Pak rupee against the US dollar," The News quoted Mukhtar as saying.

Earlier, media reports had said that an IMF document had set the cut of 30 per cent in the country's defence budget between 2009 and 2013 as "one of the major conditions" for the provision of required assistance to Pakistan.

Mukhtar said the government would knock the doors of the IMF "once all other options were exhausted".

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