Pakistan vows not to abandon nuclear program for IMF aid

Pakistan has been seeking help from the International Monetary Fund for its many economic problems. But a delay is causing speculation in the media and among lawmakers that the country is under pressure over its nuclear program.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has responded to the speculation on social media, calling it "misleading." He said the nuclear program is for deterrence, and represents "the unwavering consensus of the nation."

He earlier issued a statement expressing regret that a recent visit by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency had been portrayed in a negative light. The visit has fueled the speculation.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has also ruled out any compromise. He said in the Senate on Thursday that nobody has any right to tell Pakistan what missiles and nuclear weapons it can have.

Pakistan is believed to have around 160 nuclear warheads, and is actively developing weapons.

Pakistan desperately needs the IMF funds. Its currency has plunged and energy prices have soared. Massive floods last year added to the problems.

The country has been in talks with the IMF over financial aid totaling more than one billion dollars. The finance minister has repeatedly said the deal will be finalized soon, but it hasn't happened yet.