Pakistan to receive $2.1 billion loan from China by March 25

In this file photo, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, and China’s Premier Li Keqiang attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 3, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2019
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Pakistan to receive $2.1 billion loan from China by March 25

  • Pakistani finance ministry says loan will “help improve foreign exchange reserves and ensure balance of payment stability”
  • Pakistan also “closely engaged” in bailout discussions with the IMF

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will receive a loan worth $2.1 billion from staunch ally China by Monday, the Pakistani finance ministry said, an injection that will help stabilize a wobbly economy hurt by a shortage of dollars plus ballooning current account and fiscal deficits.
Pakistan has been searching for investment from friendly countries since the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took office in August.
Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have each offered Islamabad loan packages of $3 billion. Islamabad is also in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout deal expected to be signed next month. 
Unlike China and countries in the Middle East, the IMF is likely to demand painful structural reforms that might clash with the political agenda of Khan, who on the campaign trail vowed to build an Islamic welfare state.
“All procedural formalities for the loan worth $2.1 billion from China have been completed,” Dr. Khaqan Hassan Najeeb, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance, told Arab News, adding that the amount would be deposited in the central bank of Pakistan by March 25 to “help improve foreign exchange reserves and ensure the balance of payment stability.”
In November last year, China promised to support Pakistan’s economy following a meeting in Beijing between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Khan. The two countries also share the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Beijing touts as the flagship infrastructure program in its vast Belt and Road Initiative.
On Friday, Gerry Rice, Director of Communications at the IMF, said at a press conference that the Fund was “closely engaged” in discussions with Pakistan for a loan deal and would take a mission to Pakistan “shortly.”
“I can’t put a date on when they [discussions] would conclude or when we would be in a position to announce agreement,” Rice added.
Fitch Solutions, a statistical rating organization headquartered in New York, said in a statement last month that Pakistan and the IMF could reach an agreement for a potential bailout package of about $12 billion.


Punishment unless first wife and arbitration body approve second marriage, Pakistan court rules

Updated 25 June 2019
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Punishment unless first wife and arbitration body approve second marriage, Pakistan court rules

  • Verdict a “big win” for me and all women fighting against patriarchy, petitioner Dilshad Bibi says
  • Council of Islamic Ideology Chairman says no need to seek permission under Sharia law

ISLAMABAD: Dilshad Bibi, a woman who moved the court eight years ago against her husband for marrying for a second time, said on Tuesday the Islamabad High Court’s recent decision recommending punishment if male spouses did not get permission to remarry from an arbitration council as well as the first wife was a “big win” for women.
In a ruling on Monday, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah said a man would be punished if he entered into a second marriage unless it was approved by a reconciliation council and his wife.
“It [the verdict] is a big win for me and all women who have been fighting against patriarchy and injustices in society,” Bibi told Arab News. “I never lost hope and faith in our justice system, and finally won the case after eight years of long struggle.”
Bibi and husband Liaqat Ali Meer tied the knot in May 2011. Meer remarried in January 2013 without seeking permission from his first wife or a reconciliation council whose permission is binding under Muslim family law in Pakistan.
Subsequently Bibi moved a local court against her husband which sentenced him to one month in prison and a fine of Rs5,000 ($32). The punishment was overturned by an appellate court in February 2017, after which Bibi went to the IHC.
On Monday, the IHC overturned the verdict that acquitted Bibi’s husband. Meer will now have to serve his term and pay the fine, and an appellate court will reexamine whether additional punishment is required.
“During the subsistence of an existing marriage, no man shall contract another marriage except with the previous permission in writing of the Arbitration Council,” the court ruled in a 12-page verdict, quoting a section of the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance, 1961 related to polygamy.
According to Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act, 2015, the federal government is responsible for establishing an “arbitration council” for the amicable settlement of disputes in a locality. The council comprises a panel of seven members, including at least one woman, who are nominated for a term of five years.
With Monday’s verdict, the court had not banned second marriage, Bibi’s lawyer Ali Hussain Bhatti said, but made it “compulsory for men to follow a due process before contracting a second marriage.”
“This is still a historic verdict and will help protect the rights of women,” he told Arab News.
Bibi said the IHC’s verdict would now serve as a precedent for future court cases and “help women get justice and equal rights.”
Having multiple wives is common in about a quarter of the world’s nations, predominantly conservative male-dominated communities in Africa and Muslim-majority countries where it is part of traditional or religious customs.
But campaigners say most polygamous marriages fuel poverty — with husbands neglecting one family over another — leaving thousands of women and children impoverished and easy prey for exploitation.
In Pakistan, polygamy is not widespread and is mostly common in rural areas in families without a male heir or in cases when men fell in love with another woman.
Rights campaigner Farzana Bari said Monday’s verdict would “encourage more women to fight for their rights and approach courts for justice in case of any unfair treatment by their husbands.”
Dr. Qibla Ayaz, chairman of Pakistan’s Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam, said Pakistani law was in contradiction with Sharia law which did not bind a man to seek permission from his first wife to contract a second marriage.
“If a man does not seek permission from his wife and the conciliation council before remarrying, he will be punished under the law of the land, but his second marriage will still remain valid,” Ayaz told Arab News, “Under Sharia law, there is no need to seek permission of the first wife.”