Finance and revenue minister Ishaq Dar on Monday said "technical reasons", not nuclear programme were behind the delay in the stalled International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan's revival.
The global lender has yet to release the fresh tranche from a $6.5 billion bailout package it approved in 2019 despite several staff level meetings with the Pakistani side.
The minister, who was speaking on the floor of the Senate, was responding to a query of PPP's Senator Raza Rabbani who had raised concerns about whether the delay in the staff-level agreement has anything to do with the country's strategic assets, including the nuclear and missile programmes.
Dar stated that the coalition government won't compromise on its nuclear programme for reviving the stalled IMF loan facility.
Separately, PTI Vice Chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also demanded an explanation from the government.
Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter, IMF resident representative in Islamabad Esther Perez Ruiz jumped into the controversy, denying denied attaching any strings to the External Fund Facility (EFF).
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"I want to be categoric that there is absolutely no truth to this or any insinuated link between the past or current IMF supported programme and decision by any Pakistani government over its nuclear programme,” the official said.
In the press release issued by the Ministry of Finance today, Ishaq Dar said his statement on the floor of the Senate, in response to a query regarding reasons for delay in IMF programme, was being “quoted out of context”.
Ishaq Dar also issued a statement, saying his comments on the Senate's floor were in response to a colleague senator's specific question, wherein, he emphasised that Pakistan has a sovereign right to develop its nuclear program, as it best suits "our national interests, without any external dictation".
"...which, by no means should in any way whatsoever be linked with the ongoing negotiations with the IMF," the finance minister — who assumed office in September last year — said.
The minister clarified that neither IMF nor any other country has attached any conditionality or made any demand from Pakistan with regards to the nation's nuclear capability.
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He said the delay in IMF staff-level agreement was purely due to technical reasons, adding the government was in touch with the IMF to finalise the deal package as early as possible.