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Inflation at 50-year high in crisis-hit Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan’s year-on-year inflation hit 35.37 per cent in March – the highest in nearly five decades – as the government scrambled to meet International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions to unlock a desperately needed bailout.

Month-on-month inflation was 3.72 per cent, according to government data released yesterday, while the average inflation rate for the past year was 27.26 per cent.

Years of financial mismanagement and political instability have pushed Pakistan’s economy to the brink of collapse, exacerbated by a global energy crisis and devastating floods that submerged a third of the country in 2022.

The country needs billions of dollars of financing to service existing debt, while foreign exchange reserves have dwindled and the rupee is in freefall.

Poor Pakistanis are feeling the brunt of the economic turmoil, and at least 20 people have been killed since the start of the month of Ramadhan in crowd crushes at food distribution centres.

“The way inflation is rising, I believe a famine-like situation has been simmering,” said Shahida Wizarat, a Karachi-based analyst.

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