Pakistan PM says India planning military action in Azad Kashmir

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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses Kashmir's Legislative Assembly on the occasion of Pakistan's Independence Day, in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir, Wednesday, August 14, 2019. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
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Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses Kashmir's Legislative Assembly on the occasion of Pakistan's Independence Day, in Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir, Wednesday, August 14, 2019. (Photo Credit: PID)
Updated 15 August 2019
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Pakistan PM says India planning military action in Azad Kashmir

  • “Strategic blunder” by Indian PM to revoke special status of Jammu and Kashmir, impose lockdown, Khan says
  • Warns Modi will pay “heavy price” for his actions against Kashmiris, Pakistan army “fully aware” of Indian plans

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday India was planning military action in Azad Kashmir, referring to the portion of the Himalayan region administered by Pakistan, adding that the international community and multilateral organizations like the United Nations would be responsible for any Indian misadventures in Pakistan. 
India revoked the special status of its portion of Kashmir on August 5 and moved to quell widespread unrest by shutting down communications and clamping down on freedom of movement. Islamabad has retaliated by suspending bilateral trade and all public transport links with India, as well as expelling New Delhi’s top envoy to Islamabad.
On Wednesday as Pakistan celebrated its 73rd Independence Day, Khan traveled to Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, in his first visit to the region since becoming Pakistan’s leader in 2018. 
Khan said India planned more extensive action against Pakistan than in February this year when its fighter jets struck inside Pakistan, following a dramatic escalation in tensions.
“They have made a more horrendous plan to divert world attention from their move-in Kashmir, they plan action in Azad Kashmir,” Khan said in his speech to parliament in Muzaffarabad. “The Pakistani army is fully aware that they (India) have made a plan of taking action in Azad Kashmir.”
The PM added that the international community would be responsible for any misadventure against Pakistan by India as Islamabad had repeatedly brought the matter to its notice: “It is now their [international community and United Nations] trial … over a billion Muslims of the world are looking toward the UN for the right to self-determination of Kashmiris and plebiscite in the territory.”
India rules the populous Kashmir Valley and the Hindu-dominated region around Jammu city, while Pakistan controls Azad Kashmir, a wedge of territory in the west. China holds a thinly populated high-altitude area in the north.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir since gaining independence from colonial power Great Britain in 1947, They came close to another one in February after a deadly attack on Indian police by a Pakistan-based militant group resulted in airstrikes by both countries. Pakistan denies state complicity in the attack and has since launched a widespread crackdown against violent and banned organizations within its borders. 
India’s revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir blocks the state’s right to frame its own laws and allows non-residents to buy property there. Modi’s government argues that the old laws prohibiting people from outside Kashmir from buying property, settling there and taking up government jobs had hindered its development.
Restrictions were lifted in five districts of Jammu and nine districts of Kashmir on Monday, India’s home ministry said, adding that security would be heightened for both countries’ Independence Day celebrations and Muslim Friday prayers.
In Islamabad, posters urged residents to express solidarity with Kashmiris and roadside vendors sold Azad Kashmir flags as well as the Pakistan flag commonly displayed on August 14.
Khan called India’s decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and impose a subsequent lockdown on the Kashmiri people a “strategic blunder.”
“Narendra Modi has made a strategic blunder,” the PM said. “He has played his final card, and Modi will now have to pay a heavy price for it. Modi has internationalized the Kashmir issue [through his actions], and now the world’s eyes are on it,” Khan added, vowing to become “an ambassador for Kashmir to raise the voice [of the oppressed].”
Khan also repeated earlier comments comparing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological parent of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, to the German Nazi Party.
“We are faced with a terrifying ideology – the Hindu nationalist RSS party’s ideology, which Modi has been a member of from childhood,” Khan said. “In this ideology, like Hitler’s Nazi Party, they [BJP] believe in the racial superiority of Hindus and believe in taking revenge from Muslims who ruled them for 600 years.”
“The time has come that we will now teach you [India] a lesson,” Khan said. “Don’t remain in an illusion … you have played your last card and Kashmir will now move toward freedom.”
Representatives of India’s armed forces and its foreign ministry have not responded to Khan’s remarks.


Experts warn Pakistan to renegotiate economic targets with IMF

Updated 26 min 46 sec ago
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Experts warn Pakistan to renegotiate economic targets with IMF

  •   An IMF delegation is due in Islamabad next week to review economic progress after the country bagged $6 bn loan this year 
  • Weaknesses in tax administration, FBR capacity gaps impeding Pakistan from meeting IMF targets, experts say

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan must consider ground realities and try to renegotiate some of its economic targets with the International Monetary Fund, Dr. Ashfaque Hassan Khan, members of the government’s Economic Advisory Council, told Arab News on Sunday ahead of an expected visit of an IMF delegation to the country next week.
The international financial institution announced a $6 billion bailout package for Pakistan after months of negotiations in May this year. The Fund also announced in its official statement that the money would be dispersed over a period of 39 months.
Even while it was faced with a difficult balance-of-payments crisis, Pakistan did not readily agree to the IMF terms and conditions and took its time to negotiate with the lending organization. 
However, Khan, a leading economist, believes the targets set in the bailout program “were grossly unrealistic” and “no one can achieve them” in the present economic environment.
His comment came days after the IMF spokesperson, Gerry Rice, said that Pakistan needed to mobilize domestic tax revenue to fund the “much need” social and development spending while simultaneously keeping its debt on a “firm downward trend.”
According to Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, the deputy executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute, IMF’s concerns “were expected because the Federal Board of Revenue [FBR] is certainly struggling to meet the targets [set by the global lender].”
“The FBR devised a new [tax and revenue] system to achieve the Rs. 5.5 trillion targets. But capacity gaps here are preventing the country from achieving the target,” Ahmed told Arab News.
“There were shortfalls in previous months which are large because of the ongoing negotiations with the trader community, with people belonging to wholesale and retail trade, and there are some businesses who owe large taxes but have gone to court and taken stay orders. Until the negotiations and stay orders do not end, it will be difficult for the FBR to achieve its targets,” he added.
Analyzing the situation, Dr. Khurrum Husain, an economic affairs expert, said: “There are two targets, in particular, Pakistan has to focus on Net International Reserves [NIR] and tax collection.”
“Pakistan’s NIR is currently negative which has to be brought into the positive territory by building the [foreign] reserves,” one of several key points of the IMF program.
“We will know by the end of September if we are achieving that NIR target when the quarter ends,” he continued.
Husain noted that the country was slightly behind the tax and revenue target, though he added: “Is Pakistan so far behind that it would cast a shadow over the program and declare an emergency? I don’t think that’s the case at the moment.”
However, Moody’s credit agency on Friday presented a grim economic forecast, placing Pakistan among the countries that could face serious financing issues.
“Moody’s assessment is largely forward-looking and it is based on the fact that Pakistan is supposed to repay some of its debts in the coming days. This implies that the country could face a financial liquidity shortage,” Khan said.
“The government has been working on two or three approaches to avoid that shortage,” he added. “It is approaching other multilateral partners like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank to expedite the dollar-based approach at lending. Pakistan is also trying to reach those lenders to whom it owes money so that the debt can be rescheduled and its maturity can be extended.”
Discussing what the country should expect during the upcoming visit of the IMF delegation, Khan said: “Pakistan is likely to get a reminder from the IMF of the commitments it has made under the program. The country will try to impress upon the visiting team of the difficulties and request for relaxation on some of the targets. However, our economic managers have little leverage at this point to negotiate with the IMF.”