Pakistan's top security body decides to rationalize imports, curb currency smuggling

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (center) chairs National Security Committee meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, on December 30, 2022. (Photo courtesy: Government of Pakistan/File)
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Updated 02 January 2023
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Pakistan's top security body decides to rationalize imports, curb currency smuggling

  • National security revolves around economic security, sovereignty comes under stress without economic independence, says Prime Minister's Office
  • Without naming Afghanistan, NSC says no country will be allowed to provide sanctuaries to militants, Islamabad reserves all rights to safeguard its people

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's top national security body on Monday decided in a high-level meeting to rationalize imports and curb illegal currency outflows to ensure economic stability in a bid to strengthen its ailing economy. 

The second round of the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting was held under the chair of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif today, Monday. The meeting was attended by federal cabinet members, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, all services chiefs, and heads of intelligence services.

Pakistan's foreign exchange reserves fell alarmingly below $6 billion last week while high inflation and a depreciating currency continue to add to Islamabad's economic woes. Last week, the NSC met to discuss Pakistan's precarious security situation and vowed to take action against militants. 

In a press release after the second meeting, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) disclosed important decisions that were taken regarding Pakistan's economy. 

"In order to strengthen the economy, the committee agreed on undertaking concrete steps including imports rationalization as well as preventing illegal currency outflows and hawala business," the PMO said.  "The forum underscored that comprehensive national security revolves around economic security and that sovereignty or dignity comes under stress without self-sufficiency and economic independence," it added.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar briefed participants of the meeting about the government's roadmap for economic stability, including the status of its discussions with international financial institutions. He also spoke about exploring other financial avenues, based on mutual interests as well as relief measures for the people, the PMO said. 

It added that a comprehensive view of the ongoing economic situation and challenges being faced by the people was taken by participants of the meeting. 

"It was resolved that people-centric economic policies with trickle-down effects to common people will remain priority," the statement said.

The PMO said that the forum was apprised of the recent security situation and the surge in militant attacks in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. 

"Prime Minister emphasized that the war against terrorism will be led by federal and provincial governments as per National Action Plan in accordance with National Internal Security Policy," the PMO said. 

The forum decided to revive provincial apex committees "in full earnest and LEAs especially CTDs will be brought up to the required fighting standards with requisite capabilities."

In a veiled reference to Afghanistan, the NSC said that no country would be allowed to provide sanctuaries and facilitation to terrorists. "Pakistan reserves all rights in that respect to safeguard her people," it said while reiterating its "zero tolerance" policy for militants in Pakistan. 

The forum also said that militants would be "dealt with full force of the state."

"Pakistan’s security is uncompromisable, and the full writ of the state will be maintained on every inch of Pakistan’s territory," it said.


Saudi Arabia likely to invest $1 billion in Reko Diq project — Pakistani state media

Updated 6 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia likely to invest $1 billion in Reko Diq project — Pakistani state media

  • Located in Pakistan’s Balochistan, Reko Diq contains one of biggest copper, gold deposits in world
  • The project has the potential to produce a large amount of these precious commodities for decades

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia is likely to invest $1 billion in Reko Diq copper and gold mine project in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, Pakistani state media reported on Sunday.
Located in the Chagai district, Reko Diq contains one of the biggest undeveloped copper and gold deposits in the world, with the potential to produce a large amount of these precious commodities for decades.
The project is owned 50 percent by Canada-based Barrick Gold Corporation, 25 percent by three federal state-owned enterprises, 15 percent by Balochistan on a fully funded basis, and 10 percent by Balochistan on a free carried basis, according to Barrick.
“A Saudi investment of up to one billion dollars is likely next month in the Reko Diq Copper Gold project located in Chagai district in Balochistan,” the state-run Radio Pakistan broadcaster reported.
“Special Investment Facilitation Council is trying to remove obstacles in this regard.”
Pakistan set up the SIFC, which also includes its army chief, in June last year with the sole purpose of reviving the frail economy, dented by low foreign exchange reserves, currency depreciation and record inflation.
In the subsequent months, Islamabad signed a number of bilateral agreements with brotherly countries in the Middle East during high-level engagements by caretaker PM Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar and Army Chief General Asim Munir.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will soon constitute a committee comprising finance ministry officials and all stakeholders in order to ensure smooth completion of the Saudi investment, according to the Radio Pakistan report.
“Following this investment, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will sign agreements for further investment in the mining sector,” the report read.


Pakistan pacer Ihsanullah leaves for England for assessment of elbow injury

Updated 14 April 2024
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Pakistan pacer Ihsanullah leaves for England for assessment of elbow injury

  • The fast bowler sustained the injury in April last year following a white-ball series against New Zealand
  • At the time, the PCB did not believe the injury was severe and the initial treatment reportedly worsened it

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan fast bowler Ihsanullah left for England on Sunday for a crucial appointment with esteemed orthopedic surgeon, Professor Adam Watts, regarding his elbow injury, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said.
The pacer sustained the injury in April last year following a white-ball series against New Zealand. At the time, the PCB did not believe the injury was severe and the initial treatment, including gym and weight work, reportedly worsened it.
Ihsanullah’s appointment is scheduled for Monday, according to the PCB. Professor Watts specializes in hand and wrist surgery, shoulder and elbow procedures, sports injuries, and trauma surgery.
“Ihsanullah’s franchise, Multan Sultans, has collaborated with the PCB to secure this appointment,” the cricket board said in a statement. “The PCB, as Ihsanullah’s parent body, will cover all expenses for his treatment and rehabilitation.”
The PCB said it would provide further updates after the assessment and diagnosis by Professor Watts.
Since April 2023, there had been almost no official updates on Ihsanullah’s injury. His case received media attention this month, when Ali Tareen, owner of Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Multan Sultans, accused the PCB of failing to provide “appropriate treatment” to the player.
Tareen said the franchise had borne considerable expenses for the pacer’s treatment and he would likely require another surgery.


Pakistani man among six killed in Sydney knife attack — community groups

Updated 14 April 2024
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Pakistani man among six killed in Sydney knife attack — community groups

  • Faraz Tahir was killed by a knife-wielding man who also killed five women
  • The 40-year-old suspect was previously diagnosed with mental health issues

SYDNEY: A 30-year-old Pakistani man was named on Sunday as the security guard killed in a weekend knife attack in a Sydney shopping mall, according to two local community groups.
The Australian Pakistani National Association and Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said Faraz Tahir was killed by a knife-wielding man who also killed five women.
On Sunday evening, members of the Muslim community held a silent vigil for the man, who is said to have moved to Australia last year.
“He quickly became an integral part of our community,” a statement said.
The Australian Pakistani National Association encouraged the community to “stand together in solidarity, offering support and prayers to those grieving and affected by this heartbreaking loss.”
As the attack unfolded on Saturday, online social media accounts falsely reported that the attack was linked to ideological or religious groups or events in the Middle East.
Police have named the assailant as 40-year-old itinerant man Joel Cauchi who was previously diagnosed with a mental health issue.
New South Wales police Assistant Commissioner Anthony Cooke said there was no evidence to suggest Cauchi was “driven by any particular motivation, ideology or otherwise.”


PM directs speeding up relief operations as rains, lightning kill over 20 in Pakistan 

Updated 31 min 37 sec ago
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PM directs speeding up relief operations as rains, lightning kill over 20 in Pakistan 

  • Heavy rains in Pakistan’s Balochistan and Punjab provinces have killed over 20 since Friday, say authorities 
  • Pakistan consistently ranks among the world’s countries that are most vulnerable to climate change effects

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday directed authorities to speed up relief operations as heavy rains, and lightning strikes killed over 20 in Pakistan’s Punjab and Balochistan provinces this week. 

Rains, thunderstorms and gusty winds hit Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces on Friday. Intermittent showers continued in these regions on Saturday and Sunday. 

The death toll from lightning strikes in Punjab’s Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, Lodhran, Bahawalpur and Bahawalnagar districts were recorded at 17, the Punjab Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said on Saturday. 

In the southwestern Balochistan province, at least eight people were killed in similar incidents in Surab, Dera Bugti, Pishin and other areas, local media reports said.

“The prime minister has directed the NDMA [National Disaster Management Authority] and other relevant institutions to speed up relief activities in affected areas,” a statement from Sharif’s office said. 

He also directed authorities to provide medical aid to the injured and expressed deep sorrow and regret over the loss of lives in the incidents. 

Pakistan has been prone to natural disasters and consistently ranks among one of the most adversely affected countries due to the effects of climate change.

Last month, heavy rains in Pakistan’s Balochistan triggered urban floods in Gwadar and Kech districts, destroying nearly 100 homes and killing at least five people.

In 2022, torrential monsoon rains triggered the most devastating floods in Pakistan’s history, killing around 1,700 people. Over 33 million people were affected by the floodwaters — a staggering number close to the population of Canada.

Millions of homes, tens of thousands of schools as well as thousands of kilometers of roads and railways still need to be rebuilt.


Pakistan ‘deeply saddened, shocked’ by mass stabbing at Sydney shopping center 

Updated 14 April 2024
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Pakistan ‘deeply saddened, shocked’ by mass stabbing at Sydney shopping center 

  • Faraz Tahir, 30-year-old security guard from Pakistan, was the only male victim killed in the Bondi junction stabbing incident
  • Five of the six killed were women while eight people, including a nine-month-old baby, were taken to hospital with stab wounds 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign office said on Sunday it was “deeply saddened” and “shocked” by the mass stabbing at a Sydney shopping center a day earlier which claimed six lives, including that of a Pakistani security guard. 

An attacker fatally stabbed six people on Saturday afternoon at the busy Westfield Bondi Junction shopping center in Sydney. 

Five of the six victims killed were women, while eight people, including a nine-month-old baby, were taken to hospital with stab wounds, New South Wales Police Commissioner Karen Webb told a press conference. 

The only male victim who was killed in the attack was identified as 30-year-old Faraz Tahir from Pakistan, who worked at the mall as a security guard. 

“We are deeply saddened and shocked over the terrible and tragic events at Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney, Australia on Saturday,” the foreign office said on social media platform X. 

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who have lost their lives.”

Webb said during a press conference on Saturday that police did not believe the attack was “terrorism-related” Webb while Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there was no indication yet of the man’s motive.

Australia has some of the world’s toughest gun and knife laws, and attacks such as the one on Saturday are rare.