Muhammad Radaqat, a 27-year-old greengrocer in Islamabad, is worried about how to afford the fuel he needs to heat his home and keep his family warm. Pakistan is experiencing a balance-of-payments crisis, with the country spending more on trade than it has brought in, running down its stock of foreign currency and weighing on the rupee’s value. This has led to huge bills for reconstruction and aid, adding to strains on the government budget. Pressure is growing on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government to unlock billions of dollars in emergency financing from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF sent a delegation to the country this week for talks, and the government has been resisting the changes the IMF requested, such as easing fuel subsidies, since they would cause fresh price spikes in the short term. The crisis has led to rampant price increases, a nationwide power outage last month, and long lines at gas stations as prices swing wildly in the country of 220 million. People are suffering, with food prices in January rising 43% year over year and a man in the southern province of Sindh losing his life in a scramble to obtain a bag of subsidized flour.
Today: December 10, 2023