Pakistan’s economy gradually stabilizing, says PM Khan

In this file photo, Pakistani workers unload rice sacks at a wholesale market in Karachi on April 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2019

Pakistan’s economy gradually stabilizing, says PM Khan

  • Praises the country’s new wind power projects since they will help reduce its reliance on expensive fossil fuel
  • Pakistan plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its overall power mix to at least 30 percent by 2030

KARACHI: Pakistan’s economy was out of a difficult phase and gradually stabilizing, said Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday while addressing a ceremony in Islamabad, adding that all major economic indicators of the country were moving in the right direction.
“The difficult period experienced by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government during its first year in power is over. The rupee is gaining value without support, stock market is showing positive sentiment, exports are increasing, current account deficit is declining, and investors are reposing confidence [in the country’s economic policies],” Khan told the audience at the signing ceremony of the Super-6 310-MW Wind Power Projects.
The program aims to build six wind power projects in Pakistan with a total investment of $450 million that will help reduce the country’s reliance on expensive fossil fuels and produce cleaner electricity.
“I am happy today for three reasons,” Khan said. “The country will get cheap electricity as these projects will result in power generation for less than five cents. This will also reduce the overall electricity prices. Besides, the projects will help us produce clean energy because the next generation is about to face the big challenge of global warming.”
Pakistan secured $6 billion bailout program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address the balance-of-payments crisis and stabilize its economy. The loan required the country to increase revenue collection and undertake stringent economic reforms.
“By the grace of God, we are moving in the right direction. After the stabilization phase, we now have to move forward and to run our economy so that we can lift the general public out of poverty as China did through enhanced revenue generation,” he said.
Despite the huge potential of hydroelectricity, the prime minister added, the country relied on costly power generated through imported fuel due to the lack of long term planning.
The Super-6 projects are expected to reduce the power generation cost substantially, bringing it down to more than 40 percent of the current average cost of electricity production.
Pakistan plans to increase the share of renewable energy in the overall power mix to at least 30 percent by the year 2030.
On Tuesday, the country’s Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) executed the Implementation Agreements (IAs) with 11 Wind Power Projects. The cumulative capacity of these projects will be 560MW and they will provide more than 1.8 billion units of clean energy annually.
An investment of about $700 million will be brought into Pakistan as soon as these projects achieve the financial closing in the coming weeks. According to the AEDB, these projects are envisaged to come online by 2021.
The Super-6 plants, with a combined capacity of 310 megawatts, will be among the lowest cost power generation facilities in the country to date. They will be built in the Jhimpir wind corridor in Sindh province and will generate more than 1,000 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power 450,000 homes. The program is also expected to lead to emission reductions of about 650,000 tons of CO2 per year.
All Super-6 projects are being developed by domestic companies, including the ACT Group, Artistic Milliners (Private) Limited, Din Group, Gul Ahmed Group and Younus Brothers Group.
“The government is aiming to increase the non-hydro renewable energy share in the overall generation mix from 4 percent to 20 percent by 2025 and it is welcoming to see Pakistan’s local private sector behind these Super-6 wind projects,” Omar Ayub, federal minister for energy, said in a statement issued on Friday.


'No set timeline' for Peshawar school attack commission report — spokesman

Updated 15 December 2019

'No set timeline' for Peshawar school attack commission report — spokesman

  • Over 150 people, most of them children were gunned down by Taliban militants in an attack on an army-run school in Dec. 2014
  • Parents of the victims have made calls for a high-level investigation to identify officials, both civil and military, whose negligence allowed the attack to take place

The spokesman of a commission set up last year to investigate a 2014 militant attack in which 132 children were killed in the Pakistani city of Peshawar said on Friday there was “no set timeline” for when the body would deliver its final report. 
Over 150 people, most of them children were gunned down by Taliban militants in an attack on an army-run school in the northwestern town of Peshawar on December 16, 2014, the bloodiest massacre the country had seen for years.
Last October, five years after the attack, the Supreme Court formed a one-man commission comprising Justice Muhammad Ibrahim Khan of the Peshawar High Court and gave him six weeks to compile a report into the causes of the attack, including official negligence. 
Over a year later, the findings of the commission have yet to be submitted before the top court.
“Justice Khan is a serving judge; whenever he gets time from his court responsibilities he works on the report,” Imran Ullah, the focal person of the commission, told Arab News when asked when the investigation would be completed and the confidential report submitted to the court. “There is no set timeline. It could take a while.”
Though Pakistan executed four men for involvement in the massacre in 2015, parents of the victims have made calls for a high-level investigation that would identify officials, both civil and military, whose negligence allowed the attack to take place. 

The parents’ plea revolves around a letter by the National Counter Terrorism Authority, written a few months prior to the assault, alerting authorities about a plan to hit an army-run educational institution.
“Why was the security of the school not increased? Why was the threat not taken seriously?” said Ajoon Khan, a lawyer who represents some of the victims’ parents and whose son was also gunned down in the attack. “All those responsible should be made accountable.”
Until now, the commission has recorded the statements of a 100 parents and 50 state officials from the military, police, and bureaucracy, the commission’s spokesman said, adding that the final report had been delayed on account of many of the statements being very long and therefore difficult to compile, as well as due to a delayed response from military officials to a list of queries.
Andaleeb Aftab, a longtime teacher at the army school, whose 16-year-old son was killed in the attack, said she had little expectation the commission would deliver justice.
“The commission has been working for over a year and so far there is only silence from their side," Abbas said. "Our children were innocent. They were young. They had their whole life in front of them. But no one wants to give us justice.”