UAE exploring opportunities for cooperation under CPEC — Chinese envoy

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Ambassador of the People's Republic of China Yao Jing ( middle) speaking at the Fifth CPEC Media Forum in Islamabad on Nov. 22, 2019. ( Photo credit: Embassy of China, Islamabad)
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In this file photo, a Chinese worker stands near trucks carrying goods during the opening of a trade project in Gwadar port, some 700 kms west of the Pakistani city of Karachi on Nov. 13, 2016. (AFP)
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China’s ambassador to Islamabad Yao Jing during an interview with Arab News in Islamabad on Nov. 22, 2019. (AN photo)
Updated 25 November 2019

UAE exploring opportunities for cooperation under CPEC — Chinese envoy

  • Yao says Pakistan and China have stepped up efforts to promote “third party investment” in the bilateral project
  • Last September, Islamabad invited Saudi Arabia to become a “strategic partner” in CPEC

ISLAMABAD: China and the United Arab Emirates are exploring opportunities for cooperation under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China’s ambassador to Islamabad said on Friday.
The Belt and Road initiative is a Beijing-led program to boost economic and trade ties in dozens of countries in Asia, Europe and beyond, mostly through investments in energy and infrastructure.
In Pakistan, Beijing has pledged about $60 billion for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor of power stations, major highways, new and upgraded railways and higher capacity ports, aimed to help turn Pakistan into a major overland route linking western China to the world.
The first phase of the corridor focused on the development of infrastructure and electricity projects and the second phase will be oriented towards industrialization and socio-economic development in nine special economic zones across the country.
“UAE is also a partner under the Belt and Road Initiative and has a lot of trade and economic links with Pakistan,” Ambassador Yao Jing told Arab News in an interview. “Between China and UAE, maybe we have some opportunities to cooperate for Pakistan’s development.”
Yao said since the ninth meeting of a Pakistan China Joint Cooperation Committee held this month, both countries had stepped up efforts to promote “third party investment” in the bilateral project.
After the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to Saudi Arabia last September, Islamabad had invited Saudi Arabia to become a “strategic partner” in CPEC.
Ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf senator Syed Shibli Faraz welcomed investment in Pakistan from the UAE and Arab countries and told Arab News the government was discussing opportunities for Arab countries to join CPEC. They had shown “willingness,” he said.
Senator and Chairman of China-Pakistan Institute, Mushahid Hussain Syed, said the participation of friendly countries like UAE would be a “great plus” for CPEC.
In an earlier interview,  UAE Deputy Head of Mission in Islamabad, Abdul Aziz Al Neyadi, told Arab News that UAE and China had common interests and were “ready to jointly work in a third country, as the government of UAE and China enjoy strong relations with Pakistan.”
UAE Ambassador to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al-Zaabi, has also said: “Pakistan and UAE need to work together to further upgrade their ties aiming at developing a strategic partnership.”


Pakistani PM appreciates Saudi Arabia for support in wake of deadly floods

Updated 8 sec ago

Pakistani PM appreciates Saudi Arabia for support in wake of deadly floods

  • Muslim World League secretary general is visiting Pakistan
  • Dr. Al-Issa will be in Pakistan until October 14

ISLAMABAD: Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, called on Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif today, Thursday, with the latter expressing his appreciation for Saudi Arabia for supporting the South Asian nation in the wake of deadly floods that have killed at least 1,700 people and left 33 million scrambling to survive.

The Muslim World League is an International Islamic NGO based in Makkah that aims to spread the true message of Islam and advance moderate values that promote peace and tolerance.

Al-Issa will be in Pakistan until October 14.

“Highlighting the ongoing devastating impact of the floods in Pakistan which have affected more than 33 million people all across Pakistan, [PM] appreciated the support provided by Saudi Arabia to Pakistan during these hard times,” a statement from the PM’s Office said.

“Prime Minister also highlighted that the role played by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Muslim World League and His Excellency [Al-Issa] for important Muslim causes, especially on Palestine and Kashmir is commendable.”

Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa (second from left), the secretary general of the Muslim World League, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki (right), Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan, call on Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (left) is Islamabad, Pakistan, on October 6, 2022. (APP)

The statement added: “The Prime Minister expressed that Pakistan attaches great importance to its relationship with Saudi Arabia which is rooted firmly in our common religion, shared values and culture.” 

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are close allies, with over 2.5 million Pakistani expats living in the kingdom, which is also the largest source of remittances to Islamabad. 


Pakistan thanks Kuwait for support after deadly floods

Updated 43 min 19 sec ago

Pakistan thanks Kuwait for support after deadly floods

  • Last month, Kuwaiti charities said Pakistan was “witnessing one of the worst humanitarian disasters”
  • Kuwaiti foreign ministry collaborating with 27 local charities to provide urgent relief for flood survivors

ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, on Thursday thanked Kuwait’s ambassador to Pakistan for the Gulf nation’s support after recent floods in Pakistan that have killed at least 1,700 people and left 33 million scrambling to survive.

Last month, the Kuwait News Agency, KUNA, had reported that the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs was collaborating with 27 local charities to provide urgent relief to Pakistan flood survivors. Other Gulf states like the UAE and Saudi Arabia have also sent thousands of tons of relief goods to Pakistan via land and air routes. 

“Ambassador of Kuwait, H.E. Nassar Abdulrahman J Almutairi, called on Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar at the Ministry,” the foreign office said. “MOS thanked Ambassador for Kuwait’s support during recent floods in Pakistan.”

Last month, Kuwaiti charities in a joint statement said Pakistan was “witnessing one of the worst humanitarian disasters.”

“Without urgent access to medical aid, food, water, and shelter, those affected are most exposed to grave risks,” the statement added, calling for more aid for the flood-ravaged nation.

The calls for aid from around the world come as hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis who fled their homes are living in government camps set up to accommodate them, or simply out in the open.

Stagnant floodwaters, spread over hundreds of square kilometers (miles), may take two to six months to recede in some places, officials say, and have already led to widespread cases of skin and eye infections, diarrhea, malaria, typhoid and dengue fever.

The crisis hits Pakistan at a particularly bad time. With its economy in crisis, propped up by loans from the International Monetary Fund, it does not have the resources to cope with the longer-term effects of the flooding without international aid. 


Pakistan government to file Supreme Court reference to revive Reko Diq gold mine project

Updated 06 October 2022

Pakistan government to file Supreme Court reference to revive Reko Diq gold mine project

  • Reko Diq project is in southwestern Pakistan hosts one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits
  • Project was suspended in 2011 after Pakistan denied a joint venture, Tethyan Copper Company, a licence to develop it

KARACHI: Pakistan’s federal government will file a reference in the apex court next week for the revival of Reko Diq, a gold and copper project located in Balochistan province, the attorney general said on Thursday.  

The Reko Diq project in southwestern Pakistan, which hosts one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits, was suspended in 2011 after Pakistan denied a joint venture, the Tethyan Copper Company, comprising Barrick Gold of Canada and Antofagasta Minerals of Chile, a licence to develop it. 

Pakistan’s Supreme Court blocked Tethyan Copper in 2013 from developing Reko Diq following a court case over how the contract had been awarded.

But Barrick Gold ended a long-running dispute with Pakistan and is set to start to develop the project under an agreement signed earlier this year.

Under the out-of-court deal, an $11 billion penalty slapped against Pakistan by a World Bank arbitration court and other liabilities will be waived and Barrick and its partners will invest $10 billion in the project, Pakistan’s then Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin had said.

On September 30, the federal cabinet approved filing a reference in the Supreme Court for the revival of the project.

“The reference will be filed after October 9 ... and all the consultations have been completed,” Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali told Arab News. “This reference and the agreement [signed with Barrick Gold] will be put before the apex court with the question of whether it negates the earlier judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.”  

The federal government plans to seek the court’s opinion on two questions:

“Whether the earlier judgment of the Supreme Court, the Constitution of Pakistan, laws or public policy prevent the federal and provincial governments of Balochistan from entering into the Reko Diq Agreements or affect their validity?' and 'If enacted, would the proposed Foreign Investment (Protection and Promotion) Bill, 2022 be valid and constitutional'," Pakistan's state-run media APP reported on Wednesday.

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in 2019 announced a huge award of $5.8 billion against Pakistan in the Reko Diq case, filed in 2012 by Tethyan Copper. Damages included compensation of $4.087 billion by reference to the fair market value of the Reko Diq project at the time of the mining lease denial, and interest until the date of the award of $1.753 billion. The Tribunal also awarded TCC just under $62 million in costs incurred in enforcing its rights and also imposed another fine of $4 billion.

However, in March this year, the government of former Prime Minister Imran Khan signed an agreement with Barrrick Gold to avoid the $11 billion penalty.

The project will be operated by Barrick, which owns 50% stakes, while 25% shares each will be owned by the Balochistan provincial government and Pakistani state-owned enterprises. 

The first production of copper and gold is expected in 2027-2028.


Pakistan is not seeking climate ‘reparations’ after deadly floods — PM

Updated 06 October 2022

Pakistan is not seeking climate ‘reparations’ after deadly floods — PM

  • Sharif’s own climate minister Sherry Rehman has called for climate reparations from the wealthy polluting nations
  • Rich countries say purse strings tight due to soaring energy costs, fallout of Ukraine war and COVID-19 pandemic

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said this was not the “proper” time to seek climate reparations from wealthy nations, saying that instead he wanted them to take note of their climate impacts and act before it was too late.

Sharif’s statement comes as vulnerable countries ramp up demands for rich countries to pay compensation for losses inflicted on the world’s poorest people by climate change, and after deadly floods in Pakistan have killed over 1,700 people and affected 33 million, Hundreds of thousands of displaced people who are living in the open are being exposed to diseases like malaria, diarrhea, dengue fever, severe skin and eyes infections, cholera, dog and snake bites, all of which are fast spreading amid stagnant floodwaters that officials say will take several months to recede.

Amid the disaster, many Pakistani commentators, as well as Sharif’s own climate minister, Sherry Rehman, have been calling not for aid but for climate reparations from the wealthy polluting nations.

But in an interview to the Guardian published on Thursday, Sharif pushed back on this suggestion.

“We’re not asking about reparations,” he said. “No, we’re not. I don’t think talk of reparations is proper at this point in time. What I am saying is that they should take notice of the situation, take responsibility and act speedily before it’s too late, before the damage becomes irreparable – not just for Pakistan, but for the world.”

Sharif’s statement comes despite wealthy countries failing to deliver a promise for $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor countries lower emissions and prepare for climate change. Loss and damage payments would be in addition to that $100 billion.

Indeed, when diplomats from nearly 200 countries meet on November 7 in the beachside resort town of Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, for the UN climate summit, this issue is likely to dominate the talks: “loss and damage,” or climate-related destruction to homes, infrastructure and livelihoods in the poorest countries that have contributed least to global warming.

The world’s 46 least developed countries, home to 14 percent of the global population, produce just 1 percent of the world’s annual CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, according to the UN.

As COP27 approaches, climate losses are surging — in rich and poor countries alike. In recent weeks, wildfires have swallowed huge swathes of land in Morocco, Greece and Canada, drought has ravaged Italy’s vineyards, and fatal floods hit Gambia, China and Pakistan.

But COP27 will not be easy, as rich countries arrive with purse strings tightened by soaring energy costs, the economic fallout of the Ukraine war and the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted wealthy countries spend trillions of dollars propping up their economies.


Pakistan central bank to complete probe soon into alleged FX manipulation by banks

Updated 06 October 2022

Pakistan central bank to complete probe soon into alleged FX manipulation by banks

  • Rupee has fluctuated wildly this year, leading authorities to suspect manipulation by banks and exchange companies
  • Rupee is currently at around 223.94 to the US dollar, down around 20 percent in 2022, it had lost 27% at one stage

KARACHI: Pakistan’s central bank will soon complete an investigation into alleged manipulation by commercial banks of foreign exchange operations in the country, an official said on Wednesday.

Pakistan’s rupee has fluctuated wildly this year, particularly recently, hitting record lows against the US dollar last month before suddenly rising in recent days, leading authorities to suspect manipulation by banks and exchange companies.

“The investigations are being carried out by the regulator and results might come soon,” the chief spokesperson for the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Abid Qamar, told Reuters.

He said he could not give an exact date for the completion, but said the probe had started some time back during the tenure of the previous finance minister.

The rupee is currently at around 223.94 to the US dollar, down around 20 percent in 2022. It had lost 27 percent at one stage, hitting a low of 220 on Aug. 31.

A parliamentary committee on Tuesday directed the SBP to take appropriate action against all banks and exchange companies involved in volatility in the exchange rate in recent weeks.

In 16 sessions up to Sept. 22, the rupee lost close to 9 percent against the dollar. Since then, it has gained about 7 percent, without any changes in economic fundamentals.

The rupee gains coincided with the return of Ishaq Dar as finance minister for his fourth stint. Dar has strongly favored intervention in currency markets and has come down hard on exchange speculation in the past.