ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Thursday the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did not trust Pakistan, blaming the previous government for violating the terms of the lender’s previous agreement with Pakistan.
Pakistan has been desperately seeking to revive a $6 billion loan from the IMF after the Fund objected to former prime minister Imran Khan’s move to provide massive subsidies to the oil and power sectors in February. The move on Khan’s part was to offset the impact of surging inflation.
Faced with little choice, the new Sharif government has increased prices of petroleum products over the last couple of weeks to get approval from the Fund for the latest tranche of bailout funds.
Speaking to senators of his ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party on Thursday, Sharif lamented the last government’s decisions that violated the agreement with the IMF.
“The IMF was adamant— [it told the government] to fulfill all the terms of the agreement and we do not trust [Pakistan],” said PM Sharif.
“They [Khan government] agreed to those terms, signed off on them and then destroyed it. So now, the IMF is saying to us, ‘How can we trust you, you’re also the Pakistan government.’”
Sharif said Pakistan and the IMF had almost reached an agreement, adding that if the Fund did not impose any new conditions on Pakistan, the agreement would be finalized in the next couple of days.
However, the PM said Pakistan’s agreement with the IMF would not solve the country’s problems overnight.
“We have to stabilize our financial position,” he said. “This was a very difficult phase for us and I want to tell you further, that there will be more difficulties [in future].”
Dubai’s Crown Prince Hamdan meets Pakistani delivery rider after act of goodness goes viral
Delivery rider went viral after removing two concrete blocks from a busy intersection while on duty
“An honor to meet you Abdul Ghafoor, a true example to be followed,” tweeted Sheikh Hamdan
Updated 11 August 2022
DUBAI: Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum has met with delivery rider who went viral on social media after removing two concrete blocks from a busy intersection while on duty.
Abdul Ghafoor Abdul Hakeem gained widespread admiration on social media after a video captured the delivery rider waiting for trucks and vehicles to pass before rushing to remove two concrete blocks dangerously laying in middle of the road.
“An honor to meet you Abdul Ghafoor, a true example to be followed,” tweeted Sheikh Hamdan.
Sheikh Hamdan had earlier posted the video as an Instagram story, inviting the public to help him identify the rider.
“An act of goodness in Dubai to be praised. Can someone point me to this man?” he captioned his story.
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Navy on Wednesday saved nine crew members of an Indian vessel after it sank in the Arabian Sea near Gwadar, Pakistani media reported on Thursday, quoting the Director-General Public Relations.
The ship “Jamna Sagar” sank with 10 crew members aboard on Tuesday (August 9), the navy spokesperson said in a statement, available with Dawn.com.
“The navy immediately responded to the distress call and the Pakistan Maritime Information Centre requested a nearby merchant ship ‘MT KRUIBEKE’ to provide necessary assistance to the stranded crew of the drowning sailing vessel,” the spokesman said.
“The merchant ship eventually recovered nine crew members and continued voyage to its next port Dubai and onward disembarked the crew.”
The statement said one Pakistan Navy ship, along with two helicopters, reached the area and located the dead body of one crew member who had gone missing when the vessel sank.
"The body was handed over to Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) authorities for further proceedings," it added.
KARACHI: Pakistan’s national currency on Thursday continued its bullish trend and appreciated 1.38 percent against the United States dollar amid easing balance of payment pressure and expected inflows from the International Monetary Fund, traders and analysts said.
The Pakistani rupee gained Rs3.03 to close at Rs218.88 against the greenback in the interbank market following eight consecutive appreciation trading sessions. The rupee has recouped its value by 9.3% or Rs21 against the greenback in the continued uptrend, according to State Bank of Pakistan data.
“There are couple of reasons for the current appreciation of the Pak rupee against dollar including easing off balance of payment pressure and declining demand at home after government’s administrative measures to curtail imports,” Tahir Abbas, Director Research at Arif Habib Limited, told Arab News.
“Declining current account deficit and price cut of oil and other commodities also eased off pressure on the rupee. The expected inflows from the IMF by the end of this month and undervalued currency are also the key reasons of rupee appreciation.”
Following austerity measures by the government and a restriction on imports, the import bill has declined from $7.8 billion in June 2022 to $4.8 billion in July 2022, which has not only reduced the trade deficit but also eased pressure on the national currency.
The rupee in the open market also appreciated from Rs218 to Rs216 for selling during trading on Thursday. The currency in the open market has appreciated by over 11% or Rs28 since July 29, 2022, according to the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP).
“There are only sellers in the market after the sentiments have changed following the measures taken by government and the central bank,” Zafar Paracha, General Secretary of ECAP told Arab News.
“The central bank has taken action against the banks’ treasuries departments which were involved in maneuvering of dollar in interbank market. In addition, the expected reduction in the import bill of August has also played appreciation role.”
The pressure on the Pakistani rupee eased off after the government took steps to curtail imports and meet preconditions of the IMF for the revival of a $6 billion program signed in 2019 to stave off a balance of payment crisis.
The IMF said last month it had reached a staff level agreement with Pakistan that would pave the way for the disbursement of $1.17 billion after its board approval later this month. Islamabad also has to convince the fund about the availability of funds for a $4 billion financing gap.
Last week, the UAE’s state news agency had reported that the country intended to invest $1 billion in Pakistani companies across various sectors, which include gas, energy infrastructure, renewable energy and healthcare.
Following the current bullish trend in the currency market, Pakistani analysts said the currency was likely to appreciate further to around Rs200 against the greenback in the near future.
Stocks, however, on Thursday, remained bearish mainly due to profit taking that kicked off during the midsession. The benchmark KSE-100 index closed at 42,243 points, down by 251 points.
“Stocks fell sharply lower on political noise and hike in power tariff. Mid session support remained on strong rupee and falling Pakistan dollar bond yields,” Ahsan Mehanti, CEO of Arif Habib Corporation, told Arab News. “Investor concerns for weak earnings outlook played a catalyst role in bearish close.”
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani journalists and lawyers on Thursday urged the government to formulate a mechanism to follow before registering cases under laws related to sedition, saying this was a pre-requisture to avoiding discrimination, vengeance and suppression of freedom of expression.
Pakistani governments and even private individuals have filed cases against journalists and activists in recent years under colonial-era sedition and incitement laws. A majority of these cases are registered under section 124-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, commonly known as the sedition law, and its sections 505 and 506, for incitement and promoting hatred between different religious, racial, or regional groups.
Pakistan’s sedition law carries sentences of life imprisonment which lawyers and journalists say was a “harsh punishment” used by governments to silence critics and suppress freedom of expression.
“Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the federal or provincial government established by law shall be punished with imprisonment for life to which fine may be added, or with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added, or with fine,” Pakistan’s law of sedition says.
“This section of the law is of sensitive nature and its implementation needs to be regulated,” Afzal Butt, president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), told Arab News. “There must be a mechanism that needs to be followed before registration of a criminal case under the sedition law … The due process must be followed to avoid discrimination and vengeance.”
Butt said a majority of the cases registered under sedition and incitement laws were later quashed by the courts for being “frivolous in nature and lodged in violation of the merit.”
“Criminal cases are not registered against journalists anywhere in the world on the basis of their news and analysis,” he said, adding that Pakistani governments had been using these laws to gag journalists and media houses for decades.
“These laws should either be abolished completely, or reformed at least to ensure their just application,” Butt said.
The Pakistan government says it does not suppress the press.
Legal experts have also raised questions over the sedition law, calling for its repeal to ensure the freedom of expression.
“There is need to at least revisit this British-era law’s characteristics and features to avoid its misuse by the authorities,” Advocate Mian Ali Ashfaq, who recently represented journalist Imran Riaz Khan in sedition cases, told Arab News.
He said the charge of sedition against anybody was of a “heinous nature” that would quickly invite public reaction, therefore a vetting process before registration of the case should be made mandatory.
“Proper protocols should be set up to see if the sedition charges against a journalist or activist were substantiated and tangible,” he said. “There must be no blanket application of the law.”
Advocate Abid Saqi, who challenged the application of sedition laws in a case in the Lahore High Court in October 2020, said the law was made when there was no concept of the constitution and the freedom of expression.
“This law must be abolished,” he told Arab News, “as this is against the fundamental rights of the citizens including the freedom of expression.”
KARACHI: With six metal suitcases, three filled with gold and three with clothes, the family of Muhammad Akram Khan fled Jabalpur in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh for newly created Pakistan in 1947, leaving without saying goodbye even to best friends and forsaking a sprawling home and a vast business for an uncertain future in Karachi.
Khan’s family was among the millions whose lives were thrown into turmoil by the partition of colonial India into two states, mainly Hindu India and mostly Muslim Pakistan, when British rule ended in 1947.
One of the biggest mass migrations in history was marred by violence and bloodshed as about 15 million Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs swapped countries in a political upheaval that cost more than a million lives.
Before partition, Khan, now 104 years old, recalled that his family lived in harmony with Hindu neighbours and the young man’s best friend was a neighbour called Shankar Lal. But in the months running up to the partition of India on August 14, Khan said he began to feel unsafe and started convincing his reluctant father to leave for Pakistan.
“I’m alive today but tomorrow they’ll kill me,” he said, quoting his words to his father. “All young men will be killed if we don’t leave.”
When the family eventually left, they took the route of Khokhrapar, a border town situated in Tharparkar District in Sindh, considering it safer compared to Punjab province where much of the violence was taking place. With death looming over him, Khan walked for miles and miles with his family, often carrying his disabled mother on his shoulders, until they made it safely to the other side.
The Sikh personnel who checked the family’s luggage at the border were kind, he said, and the Sikh and Hindus they met along the way, who were en route India, also didn’t show hate.
But the ordeal didn’t end there.
In Pakistan “there was no shade,” Khan said, and his family had to wait a whole day to catch a train to Karachi. At first, the family lived in a small house owned by a relative, before moving to a shanty for several years. Finally, at a cost of Rs2,400, the government allotted them two small quarters in Karachi's Korangi area.
It took Khan a few months to grasp the new reality of his life, but he ultimately resumed the scrap business after selling the 12 kilograms of gold the family had brought with them from Madhya Pradesh and eventually bought cycle-rickshaws to launch a transportation business.
“I earned and built bungalows,” Khan said, smiling. “I have constructed 25 to 30 houses, all through my hard work.”
The centenarian said he had lived a full life, tying the knot four times.
“Now at my home there are 200 people,” he said smiling. His eldest daughter is in her 90s and youngest is 14 years old.
Though he does not regret his decision to migrate to Pakistan, Khan said he was distressed by the country’s ever worsening economic situation.
“We dreamt of a great Pakistan,” he said. “We wanted young people to be honest, hardworking and respectful toward their parents and country.”
Khan got his passport a few decades ago and had a strong urge to return to Jabalpur to meet old friends. The dream of traveling back to India, however, has not come true.
“I don’t think I will be able to go now since my eyes don’t open,” he said, wistfully. “In any case, who am I going to meet there after so much time has passed?”