Saudi Arabia, Pakistan will soon finalize volume, areas of investment, Finance Minister Asad Umar tells Arab News

Asad Umar rebuffed recent media reports that claimed Riyadh would “invest $10 billion in Pakistan,” dismissing the impression that the volume of investment had been ascertained yet. (AFP/File)
Updated 30 September 2018

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan will soon finalize volume, areas of investment, Finance Minister Asad Umar tells Arab News

  • A Saudi delegation will visit Pakistan in the first week of October to discuss trade enhancement and investment visas
  • Prime Minister Imran Khan, during his Saudi visit, discussed trade, foreign direct investment, visa fees, and issues faced by our labor class

KARACHI: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will decide the quantum and areas of Saudi investment in a meeting with the Kingdom’s delegation to Pakistan, which is due to arrive in the country during the first week of October, said Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Asad Umar, speaking exclusively to Arab News.
The minister rebuffed recent media reports that claimed Riyadh would “invest $10 billion in Pakistan,” dismissing the impression that the volume of investment had been ascertained yet.
“The prime minister’s visit was meant to make agreements at the highest level with the King of Saudi Arabia and build a stronger relationship. In principle, only verbal discussions have taken place so far,” he added.
Umar noted: “We have discussed trade-related issues, foreign direct investment, visa fees, and issues faced by our laborers.”
The finance minister also dispelled the notion that Pakistan was facing a financial emergency. “Pakistan is not in an emergency situation that requires it to rush to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to seek a bailout,” he maintained.
“We have neither stopped imports nor imposed financial sanctions,” said the minister. However, he emphasized that it was important to be prudent while taking economic decisions.
“We need to take well-measured decisions. As a situation emerges, we take steps to manage it. We don’t want to take decisions in emergency.”
The staff mission of the IMF is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on Sept. 27 to engage with the Pakistani authorities. “We are in discussion with them, but this is not to negotiate for a loan. Our purpose is to do our homework, in case we want to approach them at some stage,” the minister clarified.
Responding to a question about managing the balance of payment deficit, Umar said: “We are eliminating the root cause of this problem, and that root cause is fiscal deficit. We have done that through the recent finance bill which will reduce our cost of import.”
He said that during his visit to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan’s prime minister discussed measures for trade enhancement and investment. “These are measures which will help fill the external financing gap,” he noted.
He also said Pakistan was constantly in touch with international commercial markets and banks for financing.
About the measures to increase the country’s exports to ease its external payment obligations, the finance minister said the issue had been discussed in detail with the Chinese.
“During the upcoming international trade exhibition, which will be attended by the prime minister as one of the chief guests in China on Nov. 4 and 5, we will discuss items line by line so that they can give us trade concessions to increase exports to China.”
“Similarly, when the Saudis will come, decisions will be made here in Pakistan about trade enhancement and investment,” he added, hoping that these steps would mitigate the balance of payments crisis.
The government is also planning to float overseas, dollar-based saving certificates for Pakistanis living abroad. The finance minister said the amount of issue would be decided at the time of floating these certificates.
“We will float them in October, but it will not be a one-time issue. We will be floating these certificates periodically for overseas Pakistanis,” said Umar.


India, Pakistan exchange fire in Kashmir, killing 9

Updated 20 October 2019

India, Pakistan exchange fire in Kashmir, killing 9

  • Pakistan’s army later said that “unprovoked cease-fire violations” by Indian troops killed five civilians and one soldier
  • India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India: Pakistani and Indian soldiers traded fire in disputed Kashmir on Sunday, killing at least nine people on both sides, officials said.
The Indian military said Pakistani soldiers targeted an Indian border post and civilian areas along the highly militarized frontier in Kashmir early in the day, leaving two army soldiers and a civilian dead.
Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman, said three Indian civilians were also injured in the Pakistani firing. Kalia called it an “unprovoked” violation of a 2003 cease-fire accord between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan’s army later said that “unprovoked cease-fire violations” by Indian troops killed five civilians and one soldier and wounded another three civilians and two troops across the highly militarized Line of Control that divides Kashmir between Pakistan and India.
The army said Indian troops targeted civilians in Jura, Shahkot and Nousehri sectors. It said Pakistani forces responded with heavy fire on Indian soldiers.
India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir, which is divided between the rivals but claimed by both in its entirety. The renewed fighting comes amid an ongoing lockdown in Kashmir that was put in place after India stripped the region of its semi-autonomy in early August.
Since then, soldiers from the two nations have regularly engaged in cross-border shelling and firing along their de facto frontier in Kashmir, where rebel groups are fighting for the territory to be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country. In the past, each side has accused the other of starting the hostilities in violation of the 2003 accord.
India accuses Pakistan of arming and training anti-India rebels and also helping them by providing gunfire as cover for incursions into the Indian side. Pakistan denies this, saying it offers only moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris who oppose Indian rule.
Rebels have been fighting Indian rule since 1989. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.
On Aug. 5, India’s Hindu nationalist-led government stripped Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status and imposed a strict crackdown, sending in tens of thousands more additional troops to the region, which is already one of the highest militarized zones in the world. India has arrested thousands of activists and separatist leaders in the days leading up to and after the revoking of Kashmir’s special status.
More than two months later, the region remains under a communications blockade. Authorities have restored landline and some cellphone services, but the Internet remains suspended.