PM Khan to visit Malaysia weeks after skipping KL summit

Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (L) shakes hands with his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan during a welcoming ceremony at the prime minister's office in Putrajaya on November 21, 2018. (AFP)
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Updated 09 January 2020

PM Khan to visit Malaysia weeks after skipping KL summit

  • Foreign Office will soon announce dates for the visit
  • PM Khan skipped Kuala Lumpur Summit in December 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan would soon visit Malaysia, said Foreign Office Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui on Thursday, adding that both sides were working to finalize the plan.

“Soon we will announce the exact dates for the visit,” she informed.

Khan was scheduled to travel to Malaysia to attend the Kuala Lumpur Summit from December 18 to 21 on the invitation of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, but he decided to skip the gathering at the eleventh hour.

The prime minister’s abrupt change of mind fueled speculations that his decision was made under Saudi Arabia’s influence since the Kingdom was said to be concerned that the Kuala Lumpur Summit constituted an effort to set up a new platform to replace the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

However, the Saudi Embassy in Pakistan on December 21 issued a statement denying the claim that Riyadh had exerted pressure on Islamabad and asked it not attend the summit in Malaysia.

“The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Pakistan denied the information and fake news broadcast by some media channels, claiming that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pressurized and threatened Pakistan to refrain from participating in the Kuala Lumpur Summit,” said the statement.

To warm up bilateral relations with Malaysian PM, Khan visited Kuala Lumpur in November last year.

In December 2019, the Malaysian premier sent a luxury car, X-70 Proton, for Khan which was handed over to the Pakistan government during a ceremony at the Malaysian High Commission in Islamabad.

Manufacturing of the Malaysian Proton cars has already begun in Pakistan with a local partner, Al-Hajj Automotive.

35 percent Pakistanis say coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes — survey

Updated 22 September 2020

35 percent Pakistanis say coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes — survey

  • Labor experts say a large number of workers laid off by their organizations in the name of social distancing
  • Standard Chartered Bank survey shows 87 percent respondents said they were willing to adapt to emerging environment by using more technology

KARACHI: The coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes for at least 35 percent of Pakistanis, a survey conducted by a leading international bank said, while a large number of people had lost their livelihoods to the virus.
According to an online study carried out by Standard Chartered Bank, one-third or 35 percent of Pakistanis, including 36 percent of the country’s youth, reported a reduction in their salaries.
The study was conducted in July this year in 12 different markets, including the United States, United Kingdom, India and China. Its findings were released last week.
The study involved 12,000 individuals above the age of 18, Farhan Ahmed, the bank’s communications head in Pakistan, told Arab News on Tuesday. Among the respondents were 1,000 Pakistanis from various urban centers working in different fields, he said.
The survey showed that 88 percent people preferred to work harder for a fewer number of hours and less pay, while 72 percent were looking for a second source of earning to add to their income stream. Over 50 percent anticipated major changes in the next three to six months, with 48 percent expecting reduced pay and 49 percent fearing redundancy.
“Business owners have found a plausible excuse to cut down workforce in the name of implementing the prescribed precautionary measures that require fewer people to operate in a given space,” Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan, told Arab News.
“In the first place, people over 50 years of age were asked not to come to work,” he said. “These senior employees did not get their salaries and other benefits. After that, organizations relieved a majority of their workforce in the name of social distancing. In such cases, they reduced the number of employees by about 50 percent. The remaining staff was either laid off or retained without pay.”
In April, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), a government entity, projected that the coronavirus pandemic, ensuing lockdowns, and falling growth rates were likely to drive between 12.3 million and 18.5 million people out of jobs.
“Such estimates inadvertently downplay the actual impact of the economic downturn since they usually focus on small regions or areas of economy. It should be clear that even the primary sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing and mining etc., have also suffered a lot,” Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, joint executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), told Arab News. “The second wave of virus is already hitting our trade partners in the West and that will make current estimates outdated in the coming days.”
According to Farhan Ahmed of Standard Chartered Bank, 87 percent of survey respondents said they were willing to adapt to the emerging environment by using more technology. Similarly, 83 percent respondents were confident they had the necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digital world and were willing to explore greater opportunities by working more relentlessly in the post-COVID-19 environment.
Sixty-six percent people also said they wanted to start new businesses.
“There are many opportunities emerging for our youth who are willing to adapt,” Ahmed said. “The changing business models are providing opportunities to urban and rural dwellers alike.”