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

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.

Pakistan summons Indian diplomat over cross-border firing

Updated 29 min 32 sec ago

Pakistan summons Indian diplomat over cross-border firing

  • Two children among those killed in Kashmir attack by Indian army, Foreign Office says
  • Islamabad says cease-fire violations are a threat to regional peace and security

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday summoned India’s Deputy High Commissioner Gaurav Ahluwalia to lodge a protest against the unprovoked firing by Indian troops across the border in which three civilians, including two children, were killed, the Foreign Office said.

Mohammad Faisal, Director General South Asia, and SAARC further condemned the cease-fire violations by the Indian forces along the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday.

“Due to indiscriminate and unprovoked firing by the Indian Army in Nezapir Sector of LoC, three innocent civilians, Ghulam Qaider s/o Lal Din 55 years, Mariam Bibi 12 years and Haider Ali 10 years, residents of village Kirni, embraced Shahadat (martyrdom) while eight others, including women and children, sustained serious injuries,” excerpts from the statement read.

It added that the Indian forces have been consistently targeting civilian-populated areas with artillery fire, heavy-caliber mortars, and automatic weapons.
“The deliberate targeting of civilian populated areas is indeed deplorable and contrary to human dignity, international human rights, and humanitarian laws,” the statement said, adding that the cease-fire violations are a threat to regional peace and security and may lead to a strategic miscalculation.

There was no immediate comment from India.

Tensions soared high between India and Pakistan since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special constitutional status by abolishing Article 370 of the Indian constitution on August 5.

Islamabad reacted with fury to India’s decision, cutting trade and transport ties and expelling India’s ambassador.