23 Oct 2008

Pakistan seeks IMF financial help

6:10 am on 23 October 2008

Pakistan has asked the International Monetary Fund to help it deal with a looming balance of payments crisis.

Talks on plans to strengthen Pakistan's economic stability will begin in the next few days.

An IMF statement said Pakistan's difficulties were "a result of high food and fuel prices and the global financial crisis". The scale of financing had yet to be determined.

Pakistani officials had said they would only ask the IMF for money if other options failed.

Pakistan is going through its worst economic crisis in a decade, with massive trade and budget deficits, plunging foreign currency reserves and capital flight.

Its traditional allies, China and Saudi Arabia, have so far refused its request for help.

Pakistan needs up to $US3 billion within a month to avoid defaulting on loans.