Prince William: ‘Extremism in all forms’ must be defeated

Prince William greets a youngster atAl-Noor Mosque in Christchurch on Friday in the presence of New Zealand Premier Jacinda Ardern. (Reuters)
Updated 27 April 2019
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Prince William: ‘Extremism in all forms’ must be defeated

  • Prince in emotional meeting with survivors of NZ mosques massacre

CHRISTCHURCH: In an emotional meeting with survivors of the New Zealand mosques massacre, Britain’s Prince William appealed Friday for “extremism in all forms” to be defeated.
About 160 people gathered at the Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch to meet the prince who had earlier told first responders to the March 15 carnage that when “a good friend” is in need “you travel to their place and you put your arms around them.”
Six weeks to the day from when a self-styled white supremacist killed 50 people and wounded just as many in two Christchurch mosques, the prince said he stood with the people of New Zealand, the people of Christchurch and the Muslim community.
“An act of violence was designed to change New Zealand, but instead, the grief of a nation revealed just how deep your wells of empathy, compassion, warmth and love truly run,” the prince said after arriving at the mosque from a meeting with hospital staff who had tended to the wounded.
“In a moment of acute pain, you stood up, and you stood together. In reaction to tragedy, you showed something remarkable.
“I stand with you in gratitude to what you have taught the world in these past weeks. I stand with you in optimism... I stand with you in grief. I will support those who survive.
“May the forces of love always prevail over the forces of hate... Extremism in all forms must be defeated.”
As armed police stood guard outside the mosque and a police helicopter circled overhead, the prince was welcomed to the mosque by the imam Gamel Fouda, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and attack survivor Farid Ahmed whose wife was among those killed.
Ahmed, who became the face of the Muslim community when he said he loved and forgave the gunman, told the prince: “We have to keep up hope and not surrender to hatred.”
When William arrived in the country on Thursday he made an unannounced visit to the Starship Children’s Hospital in Auckland where he met with five-year-old Alen Alsati and her father, Wasseim, who were both injured in the March 15 attack.
In a touching video released by Kensington Palace, Alen, who only woke from a coma early this week, asked William: “Do you have a daughter?“
“Do I have a daughter? Yes, she’s called Charlotte... she’s about the same age as you,” William replied.
He flew to Christchurch later in the day to meet with police and medical officers who were first to the scene of the carnage, telling them they did “an incredible job on a very bad day.”
William — who also visited Christchurch just weeks after the devastating February 2011 earthquake which claimed 185 lives — will end his brief visit later Friday when he lays a wreath at the earthquake memorial site.


Pakistan bracing for austere budget under IMF, finance chief says

Updated 25 May 2019
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Pakistan bracing for austere budget under IMF, finance chief says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is preparing a belt-tightening budget to tame its fiscal deficit, the de facto finance minister said on Saturday, adding that both civilian and military rulers agreed austerity measures were needed to stabilise the economy.
But Hafeez Shaikh, Prime Minister Imran Khan's top finance adviser, declined to say whether the military's hefty budget would be cut following last week's agreement in principle with the International Monetary Fund for a $6 billion loan.
The IMF has said the primary budget deficit should be trimmed by the equivalent of $5 billion, but previous civilian rulers have rarely dared to trim defence spending for fear of stoking tensions with the military.
Unlike some other civilian leaders in Pakistan's fragile democracy, Khan appears to have good relations with the country's powerful generals.
More than half of state spending currently goes on the military and debt-servicing costs, however, limiting the government's options for reducing expenditure.
"The budget that is coming will have austerity, that means that the government's expenditures will be put at a minimum level," Shaikh told a news conference in the capital Islamabad on Saturday, a few weeks before the budget for the 2019/20 fiscal year ending in June is due to be presented.
"We are all standing together in it whether civilians or our military," said Shaikh, a former finance minister appointed by Khan as part of a wider shake-up of his economic team in the last two months.
In the days since last week's agreement with the IMF, the rupee currency dropped 5% against the dollar and has lost a third of its value in the past year.
Under the IMF's terms, the government is expected to let the rupee fall to help correct an unsustainable current account deficit and cut its debt while trying to expand the tax base in a country where only 1% of people file returns.
Shaikh has been told by the IMF that the primary budget deficit -- excluding interest payments -- should be cut to 0.6% of GDP, implying a $5 billion reduction from the current projection for a deficit of 2.2% of GDP.
The next fiscal year's revenue collection target will be 5.55 trillion rupees ($36.88 billion), Shaikh told the news conference, highlighting the need for tough steps to broaden the tax base.