Pakistan reaches ‘agreement in principle’ with IMF over bailout package: Revenue Minister

Pakistan has reached an “agreement in principle” with IMF over bailout package, the country’s state minister for revenue Hammad Azhar said. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 15 April 2019
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Pakistan reaches ‘agreement in principle’ with IMF over bailout package: Revenue Minister

  • Pakista last year expected to sign up for 13th IMF bailout program since late 1980s
  • Pakistani officials say conditions attached to proposed IMF loans could hurt economic growth

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has reached an “agreement in principle” with IMF over bailout package, the country’s state minister for revenue said on Monday after the lending body announced arrival of its staff mission in Islamabad later this month.
A mission team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will travel to Pakistan this month, the IMF said in a statement.
Hammad Azhar, the minister, said the staff mission’s visit was just aimed at finalizing technical details.
“An agreement in principle has been reached with IMF,” he announced in a tweet, hours after Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar returned home from Washington where he had meetings with the IMF and World Bank.
Pakistan was last year expected to sign up for its 13th IMF bailout program since the late 1980s but talks ground to a halt, with Pakistani officials saying the conditions attached to the proposed IMF loans could hurt economic growth. (Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Toby Chopra)


UN: Pro-government forces kill more Afghans than insurgents

Updated 27 min 19 sec ago
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UN: Pro-government forces kill more Afghans than insurgents

  • The report says 1,773 civilians were hurt or died in the first three months
  • This is a significant drop from the same period last year when 2,305 civilians were killed or wounded

KABUL, Afghanistan: Afghan and international forces had killed more civilians than insurgents in the first three months of the year, the UN announced Wednesday, the first time the deaths caused by the government and its allies exceeded their enemies.
Still it was insurgents who were responsible for the majority of dead and wounded civilians combined, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan’s report, which was released in Kabul.
The report said 1,773 civilians were hurt or died in the first three months, which is a significant drop from the same period last year when 2,305 civilians were killed or wounded. Last year, many brutal suicide bombings were blamed for the high casualties.
Between Jan. 1 and March 31, the report said 581 civilians were killed and 1,192 were hurt. While insurgents caused a significant majority of the injuries, it was pro-government forces, including NATO, whch killed the majority of civilians. They were responsible for 305 civilian deaths, nearly half of them in airstrikes. The other heavy death toll took place during searches, according to the report.
At the same time, the government and international forces injured 303 civilians, compared to insurgent attacks that injured 736, the report said.
It’s the first time since 2009, when the UN began compiling statistics on civilian casualties, that the deaths as a result of actions by the government and its allies exceeded their enemies.
Most of the deaths were the result of aerial attacks, which were most often carried out by international forces. While the report does not identify the United States, it is the US that carries out airstrikes when called in to assist Afghan forces. It also follows a trend reported in last year’s UN annual report on civilian casualties, which showed a dramatic hike in civilian deaths by pro-government forces including more than 1,000 civilian casualties from airstrikes, the highest since the UN began keeping track 10 years ago.
In September last year, Masih Rahman’s entire family of 11 __ his wife, four daughters, three sons and four nephews __ were killed when a bomb flattened their home in Mullah Hafiz village in the Jaghatu district of Afghanistan’s central Maidan Wardak province.
“It’s not just my family, there are dozens of families just like mine who have been lost in bombings,” he said in an interview on Tuesday.
Rahman was working in Iran when he was told his entire family had been killed in an airstrike on his village, which is controlled by the Taliban. Rahman has sought redress from the United Nations. He has taken his case to Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, which put out its own report on civilian casualties on Tuesday.
In that report, the commission said 11,212 civilians were hurt or wounded between March 31, 2018, and March 31 this year. In just the last 10 years of Afghanistan’s 17-year war, the commission said 75,316 Afghan civilians had died.
“A shocking number of civilians continue to be killed and maimed each day,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan.
He said that anti-government elements need to stop deliberately targeting civilians and using improvised bombs, which cause indiscriminate harm, while pro-government forces are called upon “to take immediate measures to mitigate the rising death toll and suffering caused by airstrikes and search operations.”