Just after meeting the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the World Government Summit, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said Sunday February 10th his nation needed "painful" economic reforms in order to reduce its massive debt, signalling the former cricketer may be willing to slash government spending for a bailout.
Khan made the comments at the summit held in Dubai, which also saw the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri present an investment pitch for his small country, now struggling through a major economic crisis as one of the world's most-indebted nations.
Khan repeatedly clarified the need for economic reforms, as IMF Chief Christine Lagarde looked on from the audience.
"I repeat the reforms are painful…It's like a surgery. When you conduct surgery for a while the patient suffers but that improves," Khan said. "The worst thing that can happen for society is that you keep postponing reforms because of the fear that you would have opposition, the vested interests stand up and you don't do reforms."
Khan has been campaigning for funds in several countries; he went to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for financial support, as well as repeatedly praising China in his speech, another source of funding.
Before taking the stage, Khan met with Lagarde. Pakistan has been seeking an $8 billion bailout from the IMF. Pakistan has around $100 billion in external debts and liabilities, according to the State Bank of Pakistan.
Lagarde in her statement called the meeting "good and constructive."
"I reiterated that the IMF stands ready to support Pakistan," Lagarde said and added, "I also highlighted that decisive policies and a strong package of economic reforms would enable Pakistan to restore the resilience of its economy and lay the foundations for stronger and more inclusive growth."