PM Khan meets Abu Dhabi crown prince, IMF chief in Dubai

Prime Minister Imran Khan was received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, upon his arrival in Dubai on Sunday. (PID)
Updated 10 February 2019

PM Khan meets Abu Dhabi crown prince, IMF chief in Dubai

  • Khan is attending the seventh World Government Summit in Dubai
  • He was received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, at the Royal Airwing

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Dubai on a day-long visit to participate in the seventh World Government Summit on Sunday.

In a special gesture, he was warmly received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, at the Royal Airwing.

The two leaders discussed matters of bilateral and international interest and agreed to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries in diverse fields.

Prime Minister Khan also met with H.H.Sheikh Rashid bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Prime Minister of UAE in Dubai on Sunday where both leaders underscored the importance of greater collaboration in all areas of common interest especially in enhancing investment and trade.

On the sidelines of the summit, Khan also met with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde. The two sides agreed to continue deliberations over the bailout package that Pakistan seeks.   

"IMF stands ready to support Pakistan," Lagarde was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the IMF after the meeting.   

Khan presented his vision for Pakistan's growth and prosperity in his keynote address with focus on attracting investment, enhancing trade, and promote tourism "through open-visa regime."   

He also met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri on the sidelines of the World Government Summit in Dubai. 

The prime minister was invited to the global platform dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide by the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

A high-profile international event arranged on an annual basis, the summit brings together presidents, prime ministers, policymakers, business leaders and experts, giving them a chance to discuss current and future opportunities to improve governance through reform, innovation and technology.

Pakistani women artists in Dubai paint cheerful mural overlooking medical center

Updated 3 min 46 sec ago

Pakistani women artists in Dubai paint cheerful mural overlooking medical center

  • The project is in premises of Pakistan Association in Dubai, visible to patients inside the organization’s health care facility
  • Vivid mural depicts famous monuments from Pakistan and UAE, artists say wanted to “cheer up” patients during the pandemic

DUBAI: Eight Pakistani women artists braved the summer heat for three days late last month to paint a truck art mural in Dubai as a cheerful reminder to patients at a medical center not to lose hope during the pandemic.
The 10-feet-high and 20-feet-wide mural brightens up an entire wall in the premises of the Pakistan Association in Dubai (PAD) and is visible from the welfare organization’s health care facility for patients to see.
“The idea behind painting this mural was to give back to the community and spread positivity,” president of the Overseas Pakistani Artists Fraternity (OPAF) and one of the mural’s painters, Masooma Rizvi, told Arab News on Sunday.
“We completed the project despite the fact that temperatures were touching 40 degrees celsius,” Dubai-based Rizvi said.
Under the vivid painting which depicts well-known monuments from Pakistan and Dubai, the artists wrote an Urdu couplet often found on the bright cargo trucks on Pakistani highways: “Go in wellness. Return in wellness.”

Undated photo of a mural painted by a team of eight Pakistani female artists at the Pakistan Association in Dubai, UAE. (AN Photo/Masooma Rizvi)

Maria Faridi, an artist with a focus on calligraphy, said she took part in the project despite having no experience of working on murals.
“The wall we painted is just next to a place where children play cricket and also where patients coming into the Pakistan Medical Center at PAD can see it directly... so it is very prominent,” Faridi said. “Since I do calligraphy and I know how to mix colors, I wrote the Urdu couplet on the mural and painted the buildings.”

Sumbal Umbreen Abidi paints a mural at the Pakistan Association in Dubai, UAE, on March 26, 2021 (AN Photo/Masooma Rizvi)

Sumbal Umbreen Abidi, an art teacher who also took part in the project, told Arab News all the artists wanted was to provide people motivation through color.
“The situation is very challenging for everyone nowadays,” Dubai-based Abidi said. “The idea was to use bright colors to cheer people up.”

Linde traps Pakistan as South Africa level T20 series

Updated 12 April 2021

Linde traps Pakistan as South Africa level T20 series

  • Pakistan opening batsman Mohammad Rizwan fell into a trap off the first ball of the match and never recovered
  • South Africa deliberately placed mid-off Aiden Markram inside 30-meter circle to tempt Rizwan to go over the top

JOHANNESBURG: Pakistan opening batsman Mohammad Rizwan fell into a trap off the first ball of the match and the tourists never recovered as South Africa romped to a six-wicket win with six overs to spare in the second Twenty20 international at the Wanderers on Monday.
Man of the match George Linde revealed at the post-match presentation that South Africa deliberately placed mid-off Aiden Markram inside the 30-meter circle in order to tempt Rizwan to go over the top.
Rizwan danced down the wicket and went for a big hit but only succeeded in hitting a high catch to Markram.
“We had a game plan to bring that guy up and I was happy when he (Rizwan) came down the wicket,” said left-arm spinner Linde who went on to take three for 23.
He also held three catches in the deep and Pakistan were restricted to 140 for nine on what South African captain Heinrich Klaasen said was “a 180-190 wicket.”
South Africa showed up Pakistan’s batting shortcomings by racing to a series-levelling victory. Opening batsman Markram set the tone by slamming 54 off 30 balls.
There was a brief wobble when leg-spinner Usman Qadir took two wickets in successive overs to reduce South Africa to 92 for four but Klaasen (36 not out) and Linde took the hosts to the target with no further alarms.
Linde finished off a good day by scoring 20 not out off ten balls.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam made 50 and shared Pakistan’s only productive partnership, 58 off 49 balls for the third wicket, with Mohammad Hafeez (32).
“Aggression cost us the game,” said Babar after five of his batsmen fell to catches when they mistimed big hits.
“Early wickets cost us and the South Africans bowled really well,” he said.
Klaasen said the execution of South Africa’s bowlers was “spot on.” He singled out fast bowler Sisanda Magala, who had a nightmare first over, starting with three no-balls and then bowling three wides in conceding 18 runs.
“He begged me for another over,” said Klaasen. “He said, ‘I’m your guy today’ and he proved it.”
Magala’s next three overs, including two at the ‘death’, cost only 14 runs and he took the key wicket of Babar, his first in international cricket.
Klaasen said the message to the South African batsmen was to be positive and to base their approach on the quality of the pitch rather than the runs required.
“We want to play aggressive cricket but not cowboy cricket,” he said, pointing out that he tempered his aggression after Qadir’s double strike.
The series moves to nearby Centurion for the final two matches, on Wednesday and Friday.

Protests across major Pakistani cities after religious party chief arrested in Lahore

Updated 38 min 58 sec ago

Protests across major Pakistani cities after religious party chief arrested in Lahore

  • Saad Rizvi has threatened government with protests if it does not expel France’s ambassador over cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
  • Rizvi has called on the government to honor what he says was a commitment made in February to expel the French envoy before April 20

ISLAMABAD: Protests erupted in major Pakistani cities, causing massive traffic snarls, while main intercity highways remained blocked as police arrested the leader of a religious political party, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), on Monday, a day after he threatened the government with protests if it did not expel France’s envoy to Islamabad over caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Saad Rizvi was arrested in the eastern city of Lahore to “maintain law and order,” Ghulam Mohammad Dogar, chief of Lahore police, told AP.

Hafiz Saad Hussain Rizvi, center, son of late Khadim Hussain Rizvi, founder of Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, gestures with party leaders during a gathering in Lahore on January 3, 2021. (AFP/File)

Rizvi called on the government to honor what he said was a commitment it made in February to his party to expel the French envoy before April 20 over the publication in France of depictions of the Prophet (pbuh).

The government of Prime Minister Imran Khan says it had only committed to debating the matter in Parliament.

“Protests broke out at numerous places in Karachi and other major cities following the development,” Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported.

Police use water cannon to disperse supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) during a protest in Lahore on April 12, 2021, after the arrest of their leader, who has called for the expulsion of the French ambassador. (AFP)

In a video message, another TLP leader, Syed Zaheerul Hassan Shah, called on supporters to come out in the streets in protest, saying the government had "completely deviated from" the agreement it had reached with the TLP.

“Carry out protest demonstrations on roads and wherever you are, jam the entire country," Shah said. 

Rizvi became the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party in November after the sudden death of his father, Khadim Hussein Rizvi. 

Rizvi’s party wants the government to boycott French products and expel the French ambassador under an agreement signed by the government with Rizvi’s party in February.

Tehreek-e-Labiak and other religious parties denounced French President Emmanuel Macron since October last year, saying he tried to defend caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as freedom of expression. Macron’s comments came after a young Muslim beheaded a French school teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in class. The images had been republished by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to mark the opening of the trial over the deadly 2015 attack against the publication for the original caricatures. That enraged many Muslims in Pakistan and elsewhere who believe those depictions are blasphemous.

Rizvi’s party gained prominence in Pakistan’s 2018 federal elections, campaigning to defend the country’s blasphemy law, which calls for the death penalty for anyone who insults Islam.

It also has a history of staging protests and sit-ins to pressure the government to accept its demands.

In November 2017, Rizvi’s followers staged a 21-day protest and sit-in after a reference to the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was removed from the text of a government form.

Pakistan’s central bank says studying feasibility of issuing its own digital currency

Updated 12 April 2021

Pakistan’s central bank says studying feasibility of issuing its own digital currency

  • State Bank governor says “comprehensive internal survey” being carried out to learn about trends in other countries
  • Global central banks developing digital currencies to modernise financial systems, ward off threat from cryptocurrencies, speed up payments

KARACHI: Pakistan’s central bank is conducting a “comprehensive internal survey” to study the feasibility of launching a digital currency in the country, the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan said on Monday.  

Global central banks are looking at developing digital currencies to modernise their financial systems, ward off the threat from cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and speed up domestic and international payments. China is one of the most advanced in its effort, and last month proposed a set of global rules for central bank digital currencies, from how they can be used around the world to highly sensitive issues such as monitoring and information sharing.
“There are many things involved and we are conducting a comprehensive internal study that what are the trends in other central banks,” governor State Bank Dr Reza Baqir said while speaking to journalists at the Pakistan Stock Exchange. “When our study would be completed the outcome will be shared … The experience of other central banks and may be the basis for our considerations.”

Pakistan central bank governor Dr. Reza Baqir speaks at a gong ceremony at the Pakistan Stock Exchange in Karachi, Pakistan, on April 12, 2021. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan Stock Exchange)

In an interview to international media last month, Baqir said introducing a digital currency would boost the government’s efforts at financial inclusion and allow it to make “progress in our fight towards anti-money laundering and towards countering terrorism financing.”
The Bank of Japan began experiments this month to study the feasibility of issuing its own digital currency, joining efforts by other central banks that are aiming to match the innovation in the field achieved by the private sector. The first phase of Japan's experiments, to be carried out until March 2022, will focus on testing the technical feasibility of issuing, distributing and redeeming a central bank digital currency (CBDC).

As digital currencies such as bitcoin gain more traction with mainstream companies and investors, and as private efforts like the Facebook-backed Diem seek approval, the onus is on central banks to accelerate plans to issue digital cash to fend off threats to their control over money.

The People's Bank of China is aiming to become the first major central bank to issue a CBDC, part of its push to internationalise the yuan and reduce dependence on the dollar-dominated global banking system.

The European Central Bank is also exploring the introduction of a digital euro, within the next five years. It’s running into opposition from Germany, though, where the Bundesbank worries that a digital euro could pose risks to banks.

A CBDC that gains wide acceptance in international trade and payments could ultimately erode the dollar’s status as the de facto currency of world trade and undermine US influence, many analysts say.

But cybersecurity experts also warn against threats to security as well as privacy risks.
“It provides opportunities for malicious hackers and cyber crooks to carry out frauds, scams, and theft through phishing and ransomware attacks,” Muhammad Khurram Khan, founder & CEO of the Washington DC-based Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, told Arab News. “To build a secure, resilient and privacy-preserving ecosystem, the central bank of Pakistan needs to implement strong data security standards, processes, protocols, and technologies to protect against burgeoning cyber risks.”
“One major challenge associated with digital currencies is the consumer's privacy concerns,” Khan added. “Therefore, the central bank has to make sure to protect the rights of users for their privacy while they make transactions.”

Pakistan hopes UK will review adding it to 'high risk' countries over terror funding

Updated 12 April 2021

Pakistan hopes UK will review adding it to 'high risk' countries over terror funding

  • UK government list replicates 21 countries listed by Financial Action Task Force for being high risk or under increased monitoring
  • Since 2018, Pakistan has been on FATF “grey list” of countries with inadequate terror financing and money laundering controls

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Monday it hoped the United Kingdom would review its decision to add Pakistan to a list of 21 countries that were at ‘high-risk’ over terror funding and money laundering concerns.

The list replicates countries listed by the global watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), for being high risk or under increased monitoring.

Since 2018, Pakistan has been on FATF’s “grey list” of countries with inadequate controls over terrorism financing, which has made foreign firms more cautious about investing in Pakistan.

In a statement issued from Islamabad, Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said Pakistan hoped the "UK would review its regulations in light of facts on ground and avoid politically motivated and misplaced measures."

FATF has said Pakistan had now met over 21 targets out of 27 set for it in 2018 but still needs to demonstrate that law enforcement agencies are identifying and investigating the widest range of terrorism financing activity.

The watchdog also asked Islamabad to demonstrate that terrorism financing probes resulted in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.

Pakistan has lately been pushing through tougher legislation and other measures to ward off blacklisting by the FATF.

In recent months, it says its law enforcement agencies have cracked down on militant groups - especially Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its welfare arms, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insanyat - and on their sources of income, arresting, trying and convicting several of their members and leaders.

Pakistan denies long-standing accusations that it has nurtured and supported militant groups for use as proxies to project power in the region, particularly towards its arch-rival India and in Afghanistan.