Pakistan asked the IMF for a loan Wednesday, after allies rebuffed its requests for aid.
Pakistan, a frontline country in fighting global Islamic militancy, counts wealthy nations like the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia among its friends – all of whom understand that Pakistan's shortage of funds will severely handicap its already weak government.
Yet its tumbling economy has caused even its strongest allies to so far resist bailing it out.
Pakistan, a country that had boasted some of the highest GDP growth rates in the world since 2004, now requires up to $5 billion in immediate cash injections to avoid defaulting on sovereign debt due for repayment next year.
"The government may have been counting on a bailout for a while and now that it's nowhere to be seen they're caught off guard," says Ali Cheema, the head of the economics department at the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
As late as last week Shaukat Tarin, economic adviser to the prime minister, called turning to the IMF for a loan a last resort "plan C."