Pakistan, KSA discuss enhancing defense cooperation

Pakistan’s defense delegation led by Secretary Defense Lt. General (Retd) Zamir Ul Hassan Shah traveled to KSA where the delegation also met General Rahil Sharif, head of Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan Ministry of Defense)
Updated 10 July 2018
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Pakistan, KSA discuss enhancing defense cooperation

  • The Pakistani delegation was briefed about the organizational aspects of the coalition at the headquarters of Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition
  • Both sides expressed satisfaction over the present status of bilateral defense relations and expressed a keen desire to further enhance and diversify them

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s defense delegation visited Saudi Arabia to discuss existing bilateral defense ties, the Pakistani Ministry of Defense said in a statement on Monday.
“A defense delegation led by Secretary Defense Lt. General (Retd) Zamir Ul Hassan Shah visited KSA, during which the delegation met high-level officials including Chief of General Staff and Assistant Minister of Defense KSA,” the statement said.
“During the interactions issues relating to existing bilateral defense relations and areas of future cooperation were deliberated upon,” it added.
“Both sides expressed satisfaction over the present status of bilateral defense relations and expressed a keen desire to further enhance and diversify them.” 
The Pakistani delegation also visited the headquarters of Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition, where it was briefed about the “organizational aspects of the coalition besides the future roadmap of the organization,” the Defense Ministry said.
Pakistan is part of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition.


Government will issue ‘debt instrument’ for Pakistani expats to finance dams

Updated 19 min 5 sec ago
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Government will issue ‘debt instrument’ for Pakistani expats to finance dams

  • ‘This will be the last IMF bailout package the country is seeking,’ claims Asad Umar
  • Pakistan’s current account deficit will likely remain around $1 billion

KARACHI: Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Saturday that the government will introduce a “debt instrument” for Pakistanis living overseas in order to secure financing for the construction of a number of dams. 
“We are planning to issue a debt instrument for overseas Pakistanis, on which we will offer them good returns,” he said during a speech to the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). He did not elaborate.
Facing a water and power shortage, Pakistan is currently seeking donations to build dams in Diamer-Basha and Mohmand and has set up a fund for that purpose. Prime Minister Imran Khan has already asked expat Pakistanis to donate $1000 each to the Dam Fund established by the chief justice of Pakistan.
Umar also explained that the government was taking steps to increase the investment opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which currently contribute 30 percent of the country’s GDP. 
“We are asking banks to increase SME financing by reducing their cash-to-deposit ratio from the existing 37 percent to 25 percent,” he said. “By doing this, two trillion rupees of credit will be available for financing purposes. People keep asking how we will finance our housing project. This is how.”
Pakistan is currently facing serious economic challenges. According to the central bank, Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves stand at $8.08 billion and its current-account deficit for July-August was $2.7 billion.
However, the minister told the business community that the government was reshaping the country’s foreign policy by focusing more on its economy. “The ministries of finance, commerce and foreign affairs are working closely to make Pakistan self-reliant and economically secure,” Umar said.
He noted that oil products make up around 30 percent of the country’s $60 billion imports, so the government is currently encouraging domestic oil exploration.
Earlier, speaking about the International Monetary Fund bailout program at an event organized by the Pakistan Stock Exchange, the finance minister said that the government had approached the IMF for the last time. 
“This will be the last IMF program Pakistan is seeking,” he claimed.
Pakistan approached the IMF last week for a bailout program to stabilize the country’s external balance-of-payments crisis. Last year, the country faced a current-account deficit of $18 billion and is currently struggling with depleted foreign-exchange reserves.
Pakistan needs $12 billion to plug the financing gap for the current year and, Umar said that gap would be reduced by “adding one time.”
He stressed that Pakistan’s current-account deficit was easing, saying it had “almost halved” in the August-September period to around $1 billion, as imports had gone down and exports had surged.
The finance minister assured his audience that the country’s “painful economic days” would end “in three years,” claiming that “the third year will be the break-even time since all the indicators are moving in the right direction.”
Umar reiterated that the country was not in emergency mode, contrary to what was being said in the media.
He assured his audience that the government would find solutions for the real price valuation of properties in the country for greater transparency and stressed that the government was working to make it easier to do business in Pakistan. 
“The council of business leaders is tasked to come up with suggestions to improve the country’s ranking from 147 to under 100 (in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ report),” he added.