ISLAMABAD -- The IMF Thursday (April 16) approved almost $1.4 billion (Rs. 228.6 billion) in emergency aid to Pakistan to help it weather the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
"While uncertainty remains high, the near-term economic impact of COVID-19 is expected to be significant, giving rise to large fiscal and external financing needs," the international lender said in a statement.
Pakistan has recorded just over 100 deaths, but observers have voiced fear that the country of 215 million people could see a rapid and devastating increase due to its shortage of medical infrastructure and crowded cities.
Worried about hurting an already weak economy, Prime Minister Imran Khan has resisted a sweeping, nationwide lockdown, but provinces have shuttered schools and companies.
"The domestic containment measures, coupled with the global downturn, are severely affecting growth and straining external financing," said Geoffrey Okamoto, the IMF's first deputy managing director.
"This has created an urgent balance of payments need," he said.