Pakistan signs €150 million loan agreement with ECO Trade and Development Bank in Turkey

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, left, meets Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Trade and Development Bank Yalçın Yüksel in Istanbul on November 26, 2022. (Photo courtesy: @PakPMO/Twitter)
Short Url
Updated 26 November 2022

Pakistan signs €150 million loan agreement with ECO Trade and Development Bank in Turkey

  • The agreement was signed during PM Sharif’s meeting with the bank president in Istanbul
  • The prime minister also urged Turkish investors to help enhance bilateral trade to $5 billion

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Trade and Development Bank on Saturday signed an agreement with Pakistan in Istanbul to provide a soft loan of €150 million for flood relief efforts and support import of fuel by the South Asian country.

Pakistan’s prime minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in Turkey on Friday on a two-day visit that he said would unpack the “untapped potential” of bilateral ties between the two countries.

He held a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and also inaugurated one of the four MILGEM corvette ships for the Pakistan Navy at the Istanbul shipyard.

The agreement with the bank was signed during a meeting between the Pakistani delegation led by Sharif and the ECO Trade and Development Bank delegation led by its president Yalçın Yüksel.

“The ECO Trade and Development Bank will provide a soft term loan of Euro 150 million to the Government of Pakistan,” the Prime Minister’s Office announced in a statement. “The financial package will contribute to flood relief efforts as well as provide financial support for import of fuel.”

The statement added the overall financial assistance to Pakistan since the inception of the bank would reach about $1 billion after the disbursement of the committed amount.

In a separate meeting with the Pakistan-Turkey Business Council, the prime minister invited Turkish companies to invest in Pakistan as the two countries signed a memorandum of agreement to enhance bilateral trade volume to $5 billion in the next three years.

“We have signed a memorandum of agreement to enhance our trade volume from a very small amount of less than $1.5 billion to $5 billion in the next three years,” Sharif said, adding that Turkey’s international trade was somewhere around $250 billion and its bilateral trade with Pakistan was just a fraction of it.

“It’s not a big task at all and let’s resolve and commit today that we will do everything to achieve this target in three years – rather double it in three years,” he continued.

He vowed that his government would fully provide a hassle- and red tape-free environment to them: “My government would no longer tolerate any snags and impediments in the way of investment from foreign investors, including the Turkish brothers and sisters.”

To further promote bilateral trade and business ties, the prime minister said, the Turkish president had assured him that work on a “trade and goods agreement” between the two brotherly countries would be expedited.

“President Erdogan has instructed his minister to expedite its approval from the Turkish parliament,” he said.

Sharif said his government had resolved to cut down on the expensive oil and petroleum imports.

“Last year we had to spend $27 billion to finance imports of our petroleum [products] which we simply cannot afford,” he said.

“Therefore, we have rolled out our vision of 10,000 megawatts solar investment projects before local and international investors about one and a half months ago.”

He expressed his commitment to complete this scheme in letter and spirit, through investments from Saudi Arabia, Turkiye, China, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

“So please be ready with your coffers open and come to Pakistan as I am going to hold a special conference for Turkish investors,” he added.

The premier said the Pakistani government would also ensure payments to investors within 60 days without, in a transparent manner and without the involvement of a third party.


Quetta Gladiators edge out Peshawar Zalmi in exhibition match at home venue

Updated 05 February 2023

Quetta Gladiators edge out Peshawar Zalmi in exhibition match at home venue

  • Peshawar Zalmi take on Quetta Gladiators at Nawab Akbar Bugti Cricket Stadium
  • Quetta's Iftikhar Ahmed scores 94 from 50 balls, Mohammad Hasnain takes three wickets

ISLAMABAD: Sarfaraz Ahmed's Quetta Gladiators on Sunday defeated Peshawar Zalmi by three runs in a last-ball thriller in a Pakistan Super League (PSL) exhibition match at Quetta's Nawab Akbar Bugti Cricket Stadium.

Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's impoverished southwestern Balochistan province, has not seen a cricket match in several years owing to the province's precarious security situation. Separatist groups, who demand independence from Pakistan, have mounted attacks on the country's security forces in recent weeks. 

Thousand of cricket fans watched the action live as Pakistan captain Babar Azam donned the yellow colors of the Peshawar Zalmi for the first time and led the franchise against Sarfaraz Ahmed's Quetta Gladiators. 

Set a target to chase 185 runs, the Gladiators managed to score an impressive 181-7 and needed four runs off the last ball before Naseem Shah was able to steal the match away with a dot ball. 

"It was one cracker of a game," Quetta Gladiators wrote on Twitter. "This victory is for our fans," it added. 

 

 

 

Batting first, the Gladiators' impressive performance was spearheaded by middle-order batter Iftikhar Ahmed, who remained unbeaten on 94 from 50 balls while Abdul Wahid Bangalzai scored 28 runs from 19 balls. 

The highlight of the match was the last over of the Gladiators' innings when Ahmed hit Wahab Riaz for six sixes. Riaz proved to be the pick of the Zalmi bowlers though, finishing with figures of 3/47 at the end. 

For Zalmi, Muhammad Haris smashed 53 off 35 balls while Shahid Afridi scored 25 from 17 balls. Muhammad Hasnain ended up with figures of 3/30 while Ahmed also performed well with the ball, taking two wickets. 

The PSL, Pakistan's own professional cricket league, will see its eighth edition kick off from February 13 when defending champions Lahore Qalandars take on the Multan Sultans in Multan. The PSL, arguably Pakistan's biggest sports event, will see cricket action in Karachi, Multan, Lahore, and Rawalpindi before it concludes on March 19. 

PLAYING XI

Quetta Gladiators: Sarfaraz Ahmed (c), Ahsan Ali, Bismillah Khan, Umar Akmal, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Aimal Khan, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Umaid Asif, Abdul Wahid Bangalzai

Peshawar Zalmi: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Haris, Saim Ayub, Haseebullah, Azam Khan, Aamir Jamal, Usama Mir, Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Salman Irshad


Former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf dies in Dubai after years in exile

Updated 5 min 31 sec ago

Former Pakistan military ruler Pervez Musharraf dies in Dubai after years in exile

  • Ex-military dictator was under treatment at a Dubai hospital for amyloidosis, a rare disease
  • Musharraf seized power in a bloodless 1999 coup and ruled Pakistan until 2008

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani president and army chief, General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, passed away in Dubai, close family associates confirmed, after years of self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates.

Musharraf, 79, was under treatment at a Dubai hospital for amyloidosis, a rare disease, a former close aide of the military ruler and chairman of his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party, Dr. Amjad Chaudhry, said.

Chaudhry said the former president had been "seriously sick since 2018." 

"When I last talked to his family about a week back, he was serious and hospitalized,” he added.

“I am in contact with the family for the repatriation of the mortal remains of the former president,” another close aide of the former general, Major General (retired) Rashid Qureshi, told Arab News.

The Pakistani army, navy, and air chiefs and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC) condoled Musharraf's death in a statement to the press.

“CJCSC & Services Chiefs express heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of General Pervez Musharraf,” the statement said. “May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to the bereaved family.”

A general view of the exterior of the American Hospital Dubai, where former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf is believed to have died, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), on February 5, 2023. (REUTERS)

Musharraf, the son of a career diplomat, was born in New Delhi in 1943 and migrated to the newly independent Pakistan with his family in 1947. Musharraf joined the army in 1964 and graduated from the Army Command and Staff College in Quetta. He also attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London and has fought in Pakistan’s 1965 and 1971 wneighboringneighbouring India.

After holding a number of appointments in the army's artillery, infantry, and commando units, Musharraf was appointed army chief by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998 - a move he would later come to regret when the military ruler ousted Sharif in a bloodless military coup in 1999. Musharraf then served as Pakistan's president from 2001 to 2008.

Following the US invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Washington sought Pakistan's support in the 'War on Terror,' and Musharraf became a close ally of the then US administration of George Bush. He also won mass appeal in the West through his calls for Muslims to adopt a lifestyle of “enlightened moderation.” He also embraced liberal economic policies during his rule that impressed business leaders, brought in foreign investment and led to annual economic growth of as much as 7.5 percent.

Musharraf ruled as army chief until 2007 when he quit, trading the military post for a second five-year term as president.

He stepped down as president also in 2008 over fears of being impeached by Pakistan’s then ruling coalition. He subsequently left the country but returned in 2013 with the hope of regaining power as a civilian at the ballot box. However, he encountered a slew of criminal charges, and within a year, was barred for life from running for public office.

In 2016, after a travel ban was lifted, Musharraf left for Dubai to seek medical treatment and has since remained there. In 2019, a special court indicted him on treason charges in absentia, which he denied, and eventually sentenced him to death, though the ruling was later overturned by a higher court.

During his years in power, Musharraf saw many moments of tumult.

In 2006, a popular tribal leader from the southwestern province Balochistan was killed in military action ordered by Musharraf, unleashing an armed insurgency that goes on to date. In 2007, he ordered troops to storm a mosque in Islamabad whose clerics and students were calling for the imposition of Shariah law. The siege led to the birth of an indigenous Taliban movement, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has since led an insurgency against the government in Islamabad and killed tens of thousands in brazen assaults on security, government and civilian targets.

In 2007, Musharraf demanded the resignation of then chief justice of the Supreme Court, unleashing a mass protest movement that massively dented his popularity and started calls for him to step down.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is the brother of three-time former PM Nawaz whom Musharraf ousted in 1999, condoled over the military ruler's death and "sent prayers for forgiveness of the deceased and patience for the family,” the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.

Among others who condoled were Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Pakistan Peoples Party Leader Faisal Karim Kundi, and a senior leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Chaudhary Fawad Hussain, who was for years in Musharraf's party.

“I have a long association with him and he always considered me his family member,” he said in a video statement. “Many called him a military dictator but Pakistan has never seen better democracy than his tenure.”

“He led Pakistan in very difficult circumstances and made it a pluralist society. He was a very big person, his friends proved to be small.”


In photos: The life and times of late Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf

Updated 05 February 2023

In photos: The life and times of late Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf

  • Musharraf seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup, became Pakistan's president in 2001
  • He was the chief regional ally of the US during its invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has died in Dubai after a prolonged illness, the Pakistani military said on Sunday. 

Musharraf seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup, ruling as "chief executive" when the 9/11 attacks on the United States took place, before becoming president in 2001. 

He was the chief regional ally of the United States during its invasion of the neighbouring Afghanistan, but resigned in 2008 and was subsequently forced into exile after a backlash over his constitutional overreach. 

Here are some pictures depicting the life of the former Pakistani military ruler: 

On October 7, 1998, Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif appointed General Pervez Musharraf as the country's army chief. (AFP/File)

 

Pakistani army chief General Pervez Musharraf speaks during a nationwide address on state-owned television in Karachi on October 13, 1999. Musharraf said the armed forces had to intervene to end "uncertainty and turmoil." Musharraf said the "self serving policies" being followed by ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had rocked the country's very foundations. (AFP/File)
Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, left, taking oath as the President of Pakistan during a ceremony in President House in Islamabad on June 20, 2001. (AFP/File)
In his address to the nation on radio and TV on September 19, 2001, Musharraf explained his government's promise to back possible US military actions against Afghanistan a week after the September 11 attacks on the United States. (AFP/File)
Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf waves to his supporters at a polling station in Rawalpindi on April 20, 2002, after winning a referendum to extend his presidency by five years. (AFP/File)
On December 14 and 25, 2003, Musharraf survived two assassination attempts by Al-Qaida in Rawalpindi. (AFP/File)
During his television address to the nation on December 24, 2003, former president Pervez Musharraf confirmed he will quit as Pakistan's military chief in December, 2004. (AFP/File)
On December 30, 2004, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said he would stay on as army chief after controversially breaking an earlier promise to hang up his uniform by the year's end. (AFP/File)
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf launched his autobiography “In the Line of Fire” in New York, United States, on September 26, 2006. (AFP/File)
President General Pervez Musharraf suspended Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on allegations of misconduct on March 9, 2007, which sparked city-wide protests in the federal capital Islamabad in the top judge's favor. (PID/File)
Pakistani security officials examine a long barrelled anti-aircraft gun in Rawalpindi, 06 July 2007, after gunmen fired at President Pervez Musharraf's plane. (AFP/File)
On July 10, 2007, then Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf ordered military troops to storm Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque, to end a week-long siege by seminary students in Islamabad, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: Daily Pakistan)
November 3, 2007 — President General Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency law in Pakistan. (Pakistan Television/Screen grab)
President Musharraf retired as army chief on November 28, 2007, putting an end to his eight years of military rule. (AFP/File)
Pervez Musharraf took oath as the president of Pakistan for a second term on 29 November, 2007. (AFP/File) 
President Musharraf lifted the emergency on December 25, 2007, and pledged free and fair elections next month. (AFP/File)
President Musharraf resigned from the office on August 18, 2008. (AFP/File)
Lawyers shout slogans against former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdul Hamid Dogar on July 31, 2009, after the Supreme Court declared the imposition of emergency rule by the former president unconstitutional. The court gave him seven days to respond. (AFP/File)

 

On March 24, 2013, Musharraf returned to Pakistan after more than four years in exile to contest in general elections. (AFP/File)
Former president Pervez Musharraf launched a career as a TV analyst on February 27, 2017. (Photo courtesy: Bol Tv)
A special court on December 17, 2019, sentenced former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in absentia to death for treason. (AFP/File)
Azhar Siddique, the lawyer of Musharraf, gestures along with team members outside the Lahore High Court on January 13, 2020 after the court annulled the death sentence handed to the former president, ruling that the special court which had found him guilty of treason in 2019 was unconstitutional. (AFP/File)

 


OBITUARY: Pakistan’s Musharraf, military ruler who allied with the US and promoted moderate Islam

Updated 05 February 2023

OBITUARY: Pakistan’s Musharraf, military ruler who allied with the US and promoted moderate Islam

  • The four-star general who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999
  • Under Musharraf, foreign investment flourished and Pakistan saw annual economic growth of as much as 7.5%

ISLAMABAD: Pervez Musharraf, the four-star general who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999, oversaw rapid economic growth and attempted to usher in socially liberal values in the conservative Muslim country.

Musharraf, 79, died in hospital after a long illness after spending years in self-imposed exile, Pakistan media reported on Sunday. He enjoyed strong support for many years, his greatest threat Al-Qaeda and other militant Islamists who tried to kill him at least three times.

But his heavy-handed use of the military to quell dissent as well as his continued backing of the United States in its fight against Al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban ultimately led to his downfall.

Born in New Delhi in 1943, Musharraf was four years old when his parents joined the mass exodus by Muslims to the newly created state of Pakistan. His father served in the foreign ministry, while his mother was a teacher and the family subscribed to a moderate, tolerant brand of Islam.

He joined the army at the age of 18 and went on to lead an elite commando unit before rising to become its chief. He took power by ousting the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who had tried to sack him for greenlighting an operation to invade Indian-held areas of Kashmir, bringing Pakistan and India to the brink of war.

In his early years in government, Musharraf won plaudits internationally for his reformist efforts, pushing through legislation to protect the rights of women and allowing private news channels to operate for the first time.

His penchant for cigars and imported whisky and his calls for Muslims to adopt a lifestyle of “enlightened moderation” increased his appeal in the West in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

He became one of Washington’s most important allies after the attacks, allowing US forces to operate armed drones from secret bases on Pakistani soil that killed thousands and ordering domestic troops into the country’s lawless tribal areas along the Afghanistan frontier for the first time Pakistan’s history.

That helped legitimize his rule overseas but also helped plunge Pakistan into a bloody war against local extremist militant groups.

In a 2006 memoir, he took credit for saving Pakistan from American wrath saying the country had been warned it needed to be “prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age” if it did not ally itself with Washington.

Musharraf also successfully lobbied then-President George W. Bush to pour money into the Pakistani military. Still, the army’s allegiances were never unambiguous: its powerful intelligence services cut deals with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and bolstered an insurgency fighting US troops in Afghanistan.

In other areas of foreign policy, Musharraf attempted to normalize relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.

At a regional summit in 2002, less than three years after launching the military operation against India, Musharraf shocked the world when, after finishing a speech, he suddenly moved toward Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to shake hands and offered to talk peace.

Analysts say the issue of Kashmir – which remains the most potent point of contention between India and Pakistan – was close to being solved during the Musharraf era. But the peace process was derailed soon after his rule.

Under Musharraf, foreign investment flourished and Pakistan saw annual economic growth of as much as 7.5 percent — which remains the highest level in nearly three decades, according to World Bank data.

The later years of his presidency were, however overshadowed, by his increasingly authoritarian rule. In 2006, Musharraf ordered military action that killed a tribal head from the province Balochistan, laying the foundations of an armed insurgency that rages to this day.

The next year, more than a hundred students calling for the imposition of Sharia law were killed after Musharraf shunned negotiations and ordered troops to storm a mosque in Islamabad. That led to the birth of a new militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has since killed tens of thousands in suicide bombings and brazen assaults.

Later in 2007, a suicide attack that assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, triggered waves of violence. His efforts to strong arm the judiciary also led to protests and a besieged Musharraf postponed elections and declared a state of emergency.

In 2008, the country’s first democratic elections in 11 years were held. Musharraf’s party lost and facing impeachment by parliament he resigned the presidency and fled to London.

He returned to Pakistan in 2013 to run for a seat in parliament but was immediately disqualified. He was allowed to leave for Dubai in 2016.

In 2019, a court sentenced him to death in absentia for the 2007 imposition of emergency rule but the verdict was later overturned.


Pakistan minister asks world if ‘economic interests’ alone will decide fate of Kashmiris

Updated 05 February 2023

Pakistan minister asks world if ‘economic interests’ alone will decide fate of Kashmiris

  • The statement comes as Pakistan observes Kashmir Solidarity Day to express solidarity with Kashmiris
  • Ahsan Iqbal calls out the world for its ‘double standards’ on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine and Kashmir 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday criticized the international community for its role toward the resolution of the Kashmir conflict, questioning if “economic interests” alone would decide the fate of Kashmiris. 

Iqbal’s statement came ahead of the Kashmir Solidarity Day, which Pakistan observes every year on the February 5 to express solidarity with the people of Indian-administered Kashmir. 

The Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between Pakistan and India since their independence from the British rule in 1947. Both Pakistan and India rule parts of the Himalayan territory, but claim it in full and have fought two of their four wars over the disputed region. 

However, many in Pakistan believe the world’s lukewarm response to the resolution of Kashmir dispute has much to with India’s economic growth over the past years, which allows New Delhi to ignore international conventions. 

“Unfortunately, India feels that it can ignore the international conventions, it can violate the fundamental rights of people in Jammu and Kashmir and it can use its brutal force because it is an attractive market for other countries,” Iqbal told Arab News in an exclusive interview. 

“We have to decide whether economics alone will decide the fate of humanity or fundamental rights, law, justice, self-determination and democratic values have any place. If we will only settle for dollars and cents and commercial and economic interests, then this world will become very brutal.” 

Ties between bitter rivals India and Pakistan stand frozen since August 5, 2019, when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special status, taking away the territory’s autonomy and dividing it into three federally administered territories. 

Pakistan calls the revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy part of New Delhi’s alleged attempts to change the demography of the region, and has demanded the world fraternity take notice of it. 

Iqbal, however, called out the international community for its “double standards” on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine and the Kashmir issue.

“It is quite an irony that on the one hand the whole western world is fighting a war against annexation… of the eastern parts in Ukraine and they are not willing to compromise on the geography and on the area which has been annexed by Russia, but in Kashmir the international community easily feels it convenient to ignore the annexation by India,” he said. 

“These are double standards. And when such double standards are exercised it gives rise to extremism. If we want to see a world which is peaceful, we have to find peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.”