Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend a Saudi Arabian investment forum next week despite widespread outrage over a missing journalist as Islamabad continues to seek funding to plug its deteriorating finances.
The former cricket star will travel to Riyadh on Oct. 23 to participate in the Future Investment Initiative, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday. The announcement comes after reports emerged that journalist and government critic Jamal Khashoggi had been tortured and killed by Saudi agents in the country’s Turkish consulate.
Khan’s trip is aimed at “projecting Pakistan’s economic and investment potential and the prime minister’s vision of the country in the five years to come,” the Foreign Ministry said. His “participation signifies our solidarity with the Kingdom in its efforts to become emerging hub of international business and investment.”
Khan’s administration announced this month that it will ask the International Monetary Fund for its 13th bailout since the late 1980s. Coming to power after July elections, Khan was at first reluctant to turn to the IMF to stem a mounting financial crisis and widening current-account deficit. Instead, he sought funds from China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but with little success.
Pakistan expects to finalize details of the IMF bailout program before Christmas and won’t allow its dwindling foreign-currency reserves to fall from a current $8 billion, Noor Ahmed, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry in Islamabad, said by phone on Friday.
“We are trying to get some inflows — foreign-currency reserves won’t be allowed to decline further,” Ahmed said, without elaborating on how this will be achieved.
Corporate leaders from a range of industries have backed away from the conference scheduled for next week. Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., dropped out on Sunday night, joining Blackstone Group LP CEO Steve Schwarzman, Uber Technologies Inc.’s Dara Khosrowshahi and others. Diane Greene, who runs the cloud unit of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, canceled this week.
That list expanded Thursday to include Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Fox Business also pulled out as a media partner.
(This news item/article originally appeared in the Bloomberg on October 19, 2018)