A year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Pakistan’s economy continues to bleed 

Ukrainian bystanders look on to residential buildings that were destroyed during an attack, in Borodyanka on February 23, 2023. (Photo courtesy: AFP/FILE)
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Updated 25 February 2023

A year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Pakistan’s economy continues to bleed 

  • Economists say the conflict cost Pakistan 1 percent of GDP, directly contributing 9 percent to inflation rate 
  • Pakistan will continue to suffer from impacts of Russia-Ukraine conflict until 2027, experts say 

KARACHI: When Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan visited Moscow on February 24 last year, he did not realize that the man he was to meet in Kremlin was about to press the war button and his country would bear its brunt. A year on, the estimates indicate that the war has cost his country 1 percent of its economic growth. 

The Russian invasion, which entered its second year on Friday with no end in sight, coincided with Khan’s visit to Moscow and has hit Pakistan hardest in terms of diplomatic relations with the West and economically at home. 

The conflict disrupted the global supply-chain network and led to an international hike in oil price. It came at a time when the South Asian country was recovering from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and, according to economists, has dented Pakistan’s economy in various ways. 

“The first major impact of the Russia-Ukraine war was that Pakistan’s energy import bill inflated substantially and increased the cost of production which triggered huge inflationary pressure in the country,” Dr. Sajid Amin, a deputy executive director at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), told Arab News. 

“We estimate that the war has directly contributed 8-9 percent to current inflation rate in Pakistan as oil and food commodities prices shoot up in the global market after a war.” 

The South Asian nation is currently experiencing multi-decade high inflation that was recorded at 27.6 percent in January and is projected to hit as high as 40 percent in coming days. 

“The war has had severe impact in terms of commodity price hikes, termed as the commodities super cycle, which coincided with the opening of the industrial world after COVID and the shortage caused by the Russian-Ukraine war,” Dr. Khaqan Najeeb, a former adviser to the Pakistani finance ministry, told Arab News. 

The increase in Pakistan’s overall energy bill pushed the country’s current account deficit (CAD) beyond $17.4 billion, impacting its reserves that were already dwindling since December 2021, according to Najeeb. 

“Coupled with fund delays, Pakistan’s balance of payment remained challenging and continues to do so even today,” he added. 

Pakistan’s petroleum import bill remained $23.3 billion in the last fiscal year (FY22), which was 105 percent higher than the previous year, while the country has imported energy products worth $10.6 billion during the first seven months of this current fiscal year (FY23), according to official data. 

Economists say 1 percent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) has directly suffered because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

“The GDP loss that has been globally estimated by many institutions is 1 percent due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” Amin said. 

“Our estimates show that it has increased unemployment in Pakistan and pushed roughly 3.5 million people below the poverty line.” 

The conflict, through oil and food price hikes, has severely impacted the life of a commoner in Pakistan. 

“Particularly, the poor segment that spends 60-70 percent of their income on food basket,” Amin said. 

“Those who were close to the poverty line have slipped below the poverty line and at the same time, employment opportunities have diminished amid monetary and fiscal policy tightening.” 

The most important fact, according to Pakistani economists, is that the impacts of the Russian invasion will continue to haunt Pakistan for the next five years. 

“Our estimates suggest that the war impacts will continue to persist until 2026-27, also because of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program and contractionary monetary policy,” Amin said. 

As cash-strapped Pakistan continues to suffer at the economic front, experts say the country has faced setbacks on the diplomatic front as well. 

“Pakistan has suffered from the almost exclusive focus of the US and Western countries on the war in Ukraine. These countries have little time and energy left to pay attention to other problem spots around the world, including Pakistan,” Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to the US who is currently a scholar at the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi, told Arab News. 

“The fact that former prime minister Imran Khan chose to stand beside President Putin in Moscow on the day Russia invaded Ukraine further diminished Pakistan’s ties with the West.” 

Haqqani said though Pakistan has move on but the war has caused it economic and political damages. 

“Pakistan has moved on from that moment but the Ukraine war has hurt Pakistan economically as well as politically,” he said. 

“Politically, Pakistan’s loss has come from the lack of ability of major Western leaders to attend to Pakistan and its neighborhood because their attention is on the war in Ukraine.” 

As Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to fuel volatility in the global commodity market, Pakistani authorities are striving to import petroleum products and Russian oil at discounted rates. 

“Pakistan has now tried to take advantage of price tact, Russian crude and refined products. Let’s hope that it does materialize,” Najeeb said. 

“The price that has been quoted informally around $60 a barrel may help bring down Pakistan’s imported energy costs and ease the balance-of-payment pressure as we move forward.” 

Pakistani authorities expect to import Russian refined oil from March this year, expecting that Moscow will provide cheap energy alternates to energy-deficient Pakistan. 

Pakistan reaffirms stance against forging diplomatic ties with Israel, cites Palestinian well-being

Updated 57 min 58 sec ago

Pakistan reaffirms stance against forging diplomatic ties with Israel, cites Palestinian well-being

  • The country’s interim information minister calls it the discretion of other Muslim states how they view relations with Israel
  • Murtaza Solangi says Pakistan respects all countries and their policies but can’t be forced by them to change its position

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi on Sunday reaffirmed Pakistan’s unchanged stance of not establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, citing the well-being of the Palestinian people as the primary reason in an interview.
Solangi’s comments came hours after Geo News reported that Pakistan’s interim foreign minister Jalil Abbas Jilani had said any decision to establish bilateral relations with Israel would hinge on the nation’s own interests and the well-being of the Palestinian people.
Jilani’s remarks were said to be in response to claims by his Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, who indicated he had met with leaders of several Islamic nations in recent days who were likely to forge diplomatic ties with Israel soon.
However, the Pakistani foreign minister clarified there had been no recent meetings between his country’s officials with Israeli authorities.
“Some Muslim countries in the world have long maintained diplomatic relations with Israel,” Solangi told GTV News. “But we don’t have such ties for the last 75 or 76 years. Pakistan has taken a traditional and principled stand [over the issue], and the state and its institutions stand by it.”
“Pakistan’s position on Israel is related to the future of the people of Palestine,” he continued. “As long as Palestinians do not get their free country and their right to self-determination, which is recognized in the United Nations resolutions, Pakistan will not abandon its Palestinian brothers.”
The information minister said how other Muslim countries viewed their relations with Israel was their discretion.
“We respect all countries and their policies,” he said. “But we cannot be forced by any country to alter our position as well.”



Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar also advocated for a two-state solution as a path to enduring peace in Palestine during his United Nations General Assembly speech on Friday.
He reiterated Pakistan’s position on the matter, calling for the “establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 borders with Al-Quds as its capital.”
Kakar also criticized Israeli military raids against Palestinians and its expansion of settlements in the Occupied Territories.
However, Geo News quoted an unnamed Pakistani diplomat in its report as saying he hoped that his country “would not have to make a decision on this matter [of normalizing relations with Israel] in the near future.”

Pakistan’s interim government advocates inclusive elections, calls for impartial state media coverage

Updated 24 September 2023

Pakistan’s interim government advocates inclusive elections, calls for impartial state media coverage

  • Murtaza Solangi says it is the responsibility of the caretaker government to create the right environment for transparent polls
  • PM Kakar told international media on Friday it was possible to hold fair elections without ex-PM Khan who was facing legal action

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s interim information minister Murtaza Solangi stressed the importance of unfettered political participation in the upcoming national elections on Sunday, saying the state media must remain impartial during the political contest.
Solangi’s issued the statement at a time when supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have tried to highlight attempts to eliminate their top leader from the political landscape of the country.
Khan has been facing a number of cases since his ouster from power in a parliamentary no-trust vote in April of last year and remains incarcerated in a high-security prison on charges of corruption and violating the Official Secrets Act.
Addressing a ceremony at Radio Pakistan Karachi, Solangi said it was clearly written in the constitution that the country would be run by democratically elected leaders.
“The state media should not support or oppose any political party,” he was quoted as saying by the Associated Press of Pakistan news agency.
He said it was the responsibility of the caretaker government to provide the right environment for transparent polls. He instructed the country’s official media to provide fair coverage to all registered political parties in the country.
It may be recalled that Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday it was “absolutely absurd” to say Pakistan’s powerful military would want to manipulate the election results keep ex-PM Khan from winning.
However, he also maintained in the same conversation it was possible to hold fair elections without the former premier and his jailed party leaders since they were involved in violent protests on May 9 and were facing legal action as a consequence.

Fathers of Noor Mukadam, Sara Inam call for expedited justice in daughters’ murder cases

Updated 24 September 2023

Fathers of Noor Mukadam, Sara Inam call for expedited justice in daughters’ murder cases

  • The demand for quicker trials by fathers of the two high-profile murder victims highlights a stagnant justice system
  • The murders of Mukadam and Inam led to public outrage, calling into question the safety and rights of women in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The fathers of Noor Mukadam and Sara Inam, victims of two high-profile murders in Pakistan, held a news conference in the federal capital on Sunday, calling for expedited legal proceedings speedy justice in their daughters’ cases.
The media interaction was arranged exactly a year after Inam, a 37-year-old economist, was killed by her husband, Shahnawaz Amir, in suburban Islamabad.
The fathers of the two women not only pressed the judiciary for timely justice but also reignited the focus on the safety and rights of women in Pakistan which came under question after the two murders.
“It has been a year,” lamented Engineer Inam Rahim, Sara's father. “We were hoping this would take about six months since these were open-and-shut cases.”
He also asked the media not to forget about the murders and discuss them in newspapers and on television channels.
“We request you to continue to highlight these cases since that will raise our hopes of getting justice,” he continued, adding that his daughter was trapped by a husband whose main goal was her wealth and who eventually subjected her to brutal murder.
Shaukat Ali Mukadam, the father of Noor Mukadam who was murdered in July 2021, also called for a speedy trial.
“The courts will lose their credibility if such cases continue to remain pending in them,” he said.
His statement came as Zahir Jaffer, who was sentenced to death in his daughter’s murder case, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Pakistan in April 2023. The case has remained pending since then.

Pakistan recalls injectable medicine amid eye infection reports, initiates probe

Updated 24 September 2023

Pakistan recalls injectable medicine amid eye infection reports, initiates probe

  • The interim health minister assures the public of transparent inquiry, vows to prosecute those responsible
  • The government had received complaints related to loss of sight among diabetic patients using Avastin in Punjab

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s interim health minister Nadeem Jan said on Sunday the government had recalled an injectable medicine from the market after receiving reports it had caused eye infections and loss of sight among patients in the Kasur, Multan, Lahore, and Sadiqabad districts located in the eastern Punjab province.
According to media reports, the caretaker administration in Punjab formed a five-member committee to investigate the issue, following complaints related to a locally manufactured injection called Avastin which was used by diabetic patients in the province.
The federal health minister invited his provincial counterpart to Islamabad to discuss the issue in the wake of this development. He said authorities had launched an investigation and would soon assign responsibility for the matter.
“Investigations are ongoing,” Jan said in a televised statement. “A committee has been formed, comprising five of our most senior experts, who will analyze the issue from all angles and provide us with a comprehensive report within the next three days.”
“As of now, the batch of medicine in question has been recalled,” he continued. “It is now in our possession, and its sales are prohibited.”
The minister explained the investigation team was tasked with determining whether the problem was caused by the medicine itself, issues in its supply chain, the skill level of the administering doctors, or the sterilization process.
He added the government had filed a police report against two individuals representing the supply company and had initiated legal action against them.
Jan assured the public of a transparent inquiry, adding the authorities would share their findings and prosecute those responsible for causing harm to patients.

Asian Games: Sri Lanka beat Pakistan to set up India cricket final

Updated 24 September 2023

Asian Games: Sri Lanka beat Pakistan to set up India cricket final

  • Pakistan manage below-par 75-9 in 20 overs against Sri Lanka 
  • Pakistan and Bangladesh will face off for bronze on Monday

HANGZHOU, China: In-form Sri Lanka, fresh from a stunning Twenty20 series victory in England, beat Pakistan by six wickets on Sunday to reach the women’s cricket final at the Asian Games and set up a clash with India.
Pakistan never got going on a difficult batting surface affected by days of rain at the Zhejiang University of Technology ground in Hangzhou, and could only muster a below-par 75-9 in their 20 overs.
Left-arm medium pace bowler Udeshika Prabodhani led the Sri Lankan attack with three wickets and Kavisha Dilhari took two with her offspin.
Sri Lanka sauntered to their target with 21 balls to spare to spark wild celebrations as their players ran on to the field to high-five and hug each other.
Earlier, the Indians routed Bangladesh for 51 on the same ground with all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar, only drafted into the squad as a last-minute replacement, taking four wickets.
They wasted no time in racing to an eight-wicket victory with more than 11 overs remaining as Jemimah Rodrigues top-scored with an unbeaten 20.
Rodrigues is yet to be dismissed in the Asian Games, scoring 47 not out in the quarter-final against Malaysia, which was later abandoned because of rain.
It was the second time in just over a week that Sri Lankan cricketers had proven party-poopers by preventing a Pakistan-India major cricket final.
The country’s men’s team beat Pakistan in the semifinal of the 50-over Asia Cup in Colombo to prevent a final showdown against their fierce rivals India.
Earlier this month, Sri Lanka’s women secured a historic first-ever white-ball series triumph over England, winning 2-1.
Pakistan and Bangladesh will face off for bronze on Monday before India take on Sri Lanka in the gold-medal match.