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Pakistan to begin easing restrictions today despite testing deficiencies

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Pakistan to begin easing restrictions today despite testing deficiencies

Imran Khan
Photo: Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin

In the hopes of reinvigorating earning facilities for workers and daily wage earners, Pakistan will today begin easing restrictions implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Next week, the International Monetary Fund intends to approve and disburse an additional $1.4 billion in emergency financing to help shield the Pakistani economy. Prime Minister Imran Khan, who has warned the pandemic may spread in coming weeks, has announced multiple stimulus packages—including the country’s largest-ever cash payout—and the reopening of the construction industry.

Khan has relied on a boom and bust cycle to help balance the national economy in the past, but the country is expected to experience a slow recovery; exports have fallen 50% compared to last year. Even with the IMF bailout, Khan faces significant challenges in terms of protecting Pakistani citizens. High rates of poverty and minimal testing facilities will create a dire need for medical care in the coming months, and reopening will put a greater number of Pakistanis at risk of infection. As the crisis likely extends through the fall, expect Islamabad to lean even more on its critical ally, Beijing, for economic and medical support, bolstering the latter’s political leverage over Pakistan.

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