Pakistan says 'thankful' to Saudi Arabia for its continued support

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (R) meets with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Jeddah on September 19, 2018. (Saudi Ministry of Media handout via AFP/File photo)
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Updated 12 August 2020

Pakistan says 'thankful' to Saudi Arabia for its continued support

  • Minister Shibli Faraz says the country cannot run independent foreign policy until it gains economic strength
  • Claims Pakistan’s economy has improved in the last two years due to the government’s prudent policies

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz thanked Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for always rescuing his country in difficult times while dismissing rumors of any differences between the two countries.
“Saudi Arabia has always been with us and we are thankful to them,” the minister said while briefing reporters here in Islamabad on various decisions made during the federal cabinet meeting earlier in the day that was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The minister said the Kingdom was a brotherly country that had “always stood by us in difficult times.”
He said that a lot of Pakistani labor was working in the Kingdom, adding that the two holiest sites of Islam were also located in the same country.
To a question about the reported return of $1 billion to Saudi Arabia, he said that the money taken as a loan. “It was taken and returned. This is not in our interest to link it [the loan issue] to other things,” he said.
Saudi Arabia extended a $6.2 billion financial package, including $3 billion cash as a soft loan and $3.2 billion of deferred oil payment facility, to Pakistan in November 2018 to help the country stave off its balance of payments crisis.
The minister said that the world was moving toward readjustment as the world order was changing, especially in the last few years.
Faraz said that like every other country, “Pakistan as a sovereign state will work in the direction and pursue objectives that reinforce its national interests.”
He also added that the country could not run an independent foreign policy without acquiring adequate economic strength.
Talking about the government’s economic achievements in the last two years, he said that Pakistan’s current account deficit was brought down from $20 billion to $3 billion while the central bank’s reserves had increased from $8.5 billion to $12.5 billion due to prudent economic policies.
The minister informed that sales of cement, fertilizers, diesel and petrol had increased many times in the last two years, reflecting an improvement of the country’s fragile economy.
He noted that the coronavirus pandemic had not hit the country’s economy as hard as other countries in the region.
“The economic revival has started … Difficult times have almost passed and better days are right ahead of us,” the minister claimed.

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

Updated 19 September 2020

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

  • The book tells the story of a young boy from Karachi's Lyari, who is learning about the virus to help others
  • 'Little Master' is illustrated by Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series 'Paak-Legion'

RAWALPINDI: "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book, is going to be released on Monday to guide Pakistani children how to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic and cope with COVID-19 misinformation.
Published by Mehrdar Art & Production (MAP), the book tells the story of Ahmed, a young boy from Karachi's Lyari area, who is trying to learn about the coronavirus to help keep others safe, regardless of their community background.
"Comics are a great way to tell a story positively and are really useful in countering misinformation,” Muhammad Faheem, documentary filmmaker and MAP founder, told Arab News on Saturday.

The cover of "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book to help Pakistani children cope with COVID-19 misinformation. (Photo courtesy of Muhammad Faheem via AN)

The efforts have been funded by MAP itself and through government and private support. To illustrate "Little Master," Faheem asked for help Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series "Paak-Legion."
Thousands of copies of "Little Master" will be distributed at schools in underprivileged areas such as Lyari, where misinformation has led to blame games and community tensions that affected virus response. Some narratives even questioned the very existence of the virus and necessity to follow any precautions against it.

Umair Najeeb Khan is working on an illustration for the "Little Master" comic book in Islamabad on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Umair Najeeb Khan via AN)

In May, Faheem rolled out "Hum Sab Saath, Corona ki Kilaaf" ("All of Us Together Against the Coronavirus"), a campaign through posters, social media and talks by community leaders to address the situation.
"It got to the point where relief efforts in these areas were being compromised because people were questioning who deserved help," Faheem said. "We needed to address not only the severity of what was going on but educate the citizens of these areas on what was real information to help combat the fake news and rising bigotry."
The comic book is a follow up to these efforts.
"When kids read our comics, we hope they will learn more about the pandemic and how it is a collective effort that we all have to join together, regardless of our backgrounds."