Islamabad [Pakistan], February 9 (ANI): US-based NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should work with the Islamabad government to strengthen social protection and mitigate harm to the most vulnerable by advancing economic rights, the Dawn reported.
According to HRW, the IMF should work with the Pakistan government by broadening protection systems and minimising reform measures that risk further harm to the most vulnerable people.
Pakistan is currently facing one of the worst economic crises as a result of soaring poverty, inflation and unemployment. This has jeopardised the health, food and living standards of millions, the HRW said in a statement issued on Monday.
Pakistan's negotiations with the IMF are meant to clear the IMF's 9th review of its Extended Fund Facility paving way for the release of a USD 1.1bn tranche, according to Dawn.
According to HRW, the inflow would ease the crippling shortage of foreign exchange and unlock access to other funding, including from multilateral and bilateral donors, which is defending human rights worldwide.
"Millions of Pakistanis have been pushed into poverty and denied their fundamental social and economic rights," said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, as quoted by Dawn.
"The IMF and the Pakistani government have a responsibility to address this crisis in a way that prioritises and protects low-income people," she said.
The Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Pakistan's social protection system, is a government cash transfer scheme for women living in extreme poverty.
While the programme is an important initiative assisting millions of households, it needs to be expanded significantly to protect large segments of the population from the added burden of potential additional IMF-mandated measures raising prices for necessities, according to Dawn.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Wednesday said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Pakistan government should consider the plight of those affected by floods in the country and ensure that they are protected from economic difficulties, the Dawn reported.
The foreign minister, while unveiling a post-flood rebuilding project in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sindh, urged the government and the international lender to provide "relief" to flood-hit people similar to the one given countrywide during the pandemic days in 2020.
Zardari said it was the responsibility of international organisations, including the IMF, "to suggest reforms for our betterment but flood affectees must also be provided protection so that they can come out of the current situation".
He said the country faced serious damage in the wake of the floods as 33 million people were affected while five million acres of standing crops were destroyed. (ANI)