ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Friday said the South Asian country was “nowhere near default” and would fulfill its international financing obligations on time, denying former prime minister Imran Khan’s claim that the country was on the verge of a default.
Khan, who was ousted in a parliamentary no-trust vote in April, last week said he had already predicted six months ago that his ouster would adversely impact the country’s economy and destroy its ability to service its debts. Khan's comment came amid Pakistan's rising credit default swap (CDS) rating that serves as a form of insurance against default.
But the Pakistani central bank chief said a day earlier that the country would be repaying a $1 billion international bond on December 2 — three days before its due date. The statement set aside growing uncertainty about Pakistan’s ability to meet external financing obligations amid an economic crisis further aggravated by this year's devastating floods.
Citing data from Bloomberg, Dar told a Pakistani news channel that Pakistan’s one-year probability of default was at a low of 10 percent as against Khan’s claims.
"I assure you — and by the grace of God, whatever I say always proves to be true — that Pakistan is nowhere near default and it will fulfill all of its liabilities," the finance minister told the 24 news channel Friday night.
“I was disappointed to see Khan tweeting that the country was about to default. Whatever he said was not in the country’s interests as he was joining negative forces who want to damage Pakistan’s economy."
Dar’s claim was backed by financial analysts and experts earlier this week, who downplayed historic growth of the Pakistani five-year bond’s credit default swap.
CDS is a financial derivative that lets an investor offset their credit risk with that of another investor. To swap the risk of default, the lender buys a CDS from another investor, who agrees to reimburse them the amount in case the borrower defaults.
Pakistan’s CDS had been steadily rising in the last few days, mainly due to lower foreign exchange reserves and political turmoil in the South Asian country.
The higher CDS rate was equated with the country’s default on payments of its five-year bonds, including $1 billion of the Third Pakistan International Sukuk bonds maturing on December 05, $1 billion of the Pakistan Government International Bond maturing in 2024, and $500 million of the Pakistan Government International Bond maturing in 2025.
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.
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
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, Major General (retired) Rashid Qureshi, said.
“I am in contact with the family for the repatriation of the mortal remains of the former president,” he told Arab News.
Another close aide, Dr. Muhammad Amjad Chaudhry, a former chairman of the APML, 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,” Chaudhry added.
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.”
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.
“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.”
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:
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%
Updated 05 February 2023
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.
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.”