Pakistan all praise for Kingdom after $6bn aid promise

Pakistan all praise for Kingdom after $6bn aid promise
Following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the Kingdom, the stock market jumped more than 1,000 points. (Social media )
Updated 24 October 2018

Pakistan all praise for Kingdom after $6bn aid promise

Pakistan all praise for Kingdom after $6bn aid promise
  • Stock market recovers following PM Khan’s successful visit to the country
  • Experts appreciate Saudi’s timely financial assistance

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ailing economy can breathe a sigh of relief once the $6 billion, pledged by Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, is injected into the country to resolve its issues of balance of payments and oil imports, experts said on Wednesday.
The monetary aid extended by the Kingdom at the Financial Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh, which ended on Wednesday, will also bolster Pakistan’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves and stabilize its falling currency against the dollar – a move pertinent for a consumer-focused nation which is heavily dependent on imports.
The stock market jumped more than 1,000 points following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “successful visit” to the Kingdom, tweeted Faraz Chaudhry, an entrepreneur and philanthropist.
“Thank you Saudi Arabia” and “good work by Imran Khan” wrote notable political analyst and former foreign ministry advisor Mosharraf Zaidi on social media. “Pakistan has to delicately manage complex regional dynamics and an insatiable youth-based economy,” he added.  
Saudi Arabia’s aid package has been hailed by economy experts who were quick to add a caveat -- the amount of $3 billion towards repayment of debts and an additional $3 billion in deferred oil payments is not enough to avoid the bailout request which Pakistan approached the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for, especially since the looming deficit crisis amounts to $18 billion. The country, therefore, immediately requires an additional $12 billion, according to reports quoting PM Khan.    
“This strengthens Pakistan’s position with the IMF,” Dr Vaqar Ahmed, an economy expert and deputy executive director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute said, praising the Kingdom’s repeated generosity. In 2014, Riyadh “unconditionally gifted” Islamabad $1.5 billion to avert a similar economic crisis at the time.
“We appreciate the gesture of Saudi Arabia. This facility will provide some space for meeting urgent requirements,” Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) opposition leader and former minister of planning and development, told Arab News.
Experts added that Improved foreign exchange reserves would empower Pakistan to negotiate with the IMF in a better manner and secure development funding from the World Bank.      
Weeks before Imran Khan assumed office as Pakistan’s prime minister, China had approved $2 billion for its all-weather friend, to ease pressure on the depleting State Bank of Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves. “It’s a fine start but this only buys oxygen for reforms,” Zaidi said.
Iqbal added that this is not a solution because “the entire amount is payable”. “The fundamental crisis is ensuring political stability and continuity of policy,” he said.
He blamed the economic crisis on the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s movement to overthrow the former PML-N government. “That caused billions of dollars of foreign investment to shy away from Pakistan which widened the gap in the balance of payments and now he (Imran Khan) is facing the effects of that crisis,” he said.
Pakistan time and again has sought financial assistance from its allies, repeating the same mistakes in governance, specifically over-spending, dependence on imports and taking loans to repay loans. These are some key factors, but “we seriously need to plug the leaks”, Dr Ahmed said.

'No food left in the sea': Pakistani fishermen fearful as Chinese trawlers dock at Karachi port 

'No food left in the sea': Pakistani fishermen fearful as Chinese trawlers dock at Karachi port 
Updated 19 October 2020

'No food left in the sea': Pakistani fishermen fearful as Chinese trawlers dock at Karachi port 

'No food left in the sea': Pakistani fishermen fearful as Chinese trawlers dock at Karachi port 
  • Fisherfolk forum says government plan to allow Chinese to carry out deep-sea fishing in territorial waters could render millions jobless 
  • Federal government says bottom trawling will not be allowed under new fishing policy

KARACHI: A pressure group that represents Pakistani fishermen has said a government plan to allow Chinese companies to carry out deep-sea fishing in the country’s territorial waters could threaten the survival of at least three million people who depend on the sea for livelihood.
Last month, 12 Chinese deep-sea trawlers docked at the port of Karachi, unleashing fear among local fishermen who say commercial fishing vessels and bottom-trawling would deplete fish stocks in the exclusive federal sea zones off the Sindh and Balochistan provinces. 
Bottom trawling - dragging nets across the sea floor to scoop up fish - stirs up the sediment lying on the seabed, displaces or harms some marine species, causes pollutants to mix into plankton and move into the food chain and creates harmful algae blooms or oxygen-deficient dead zones.
The coastal line of Sindh and Balochistan is 1,050 km long, Mohammad Ali Shah, Chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, told Arab News last week, saying around three million fishermen relied on the sea to survive. 
A new fishing policy is expected but yet to be revealed by the government, he said. 
“The deep-sea trawler policy has not yet been approved but before that they [China] have brought these trawlers,” Shah said, calling the arrival of the Chinese vessels at Karachi port last month ‘illegal.’ 

In this undated photo, fishing vessels of Fujian Fishery Company move from the Gwadar port towards Karachi, Pakistan (Photo courtesy: Fishermen Cooperatives Society)

In 2018, the government enacted a deep-sea fishing licensing policy that both fishermen's representative bodies and provincial government bodies opposed, calling it a constitutional violation and an encroachment on the livelihoods of fishermen in the coastal provinces.
Fears about foreign fishing companies eating up local communities are not new.
For years, fishermen in the southwestern city of Gwadar in Balochistan province - a flagship of the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor - have protested against foreign trawlers. 
Tensions first began to mount when the Fisheries Department disclosed its plan to issue licenses to various foreign fishing vessels to operate in an exclusive economic zone in 2016.
But last week, the federal minister for maritime affairs, Ali Haider Zaidi, told Arab News the country’s new deep-sea fishing policy would not allow Chinese trawlers to engage in unregulated deep-sea fishing. Bottom trawling, he said, would be banned under the new policy.
“Importing boats is not illegal,” he said. “How you use them has to be regulated.”
Pakistan divides its sea into three zones, where zone-3 (from 20 to 200 nautical miles) is controlled by the federal government. Up to 12 nautical miles (zone-1) is the domain of the provinces Sindh and Balochistan and between 12 to 20 nautical miles the sea is declared a buffer zone. 

Fishermen remove fish from a net at the Clifton beach in Pakistan's port city of Karachi on Oct. 6, 2020. (AFP/File)

Local fishermen are not allowed to fish in zone-3 and foreign fishing vessels are not permitted to fish in the other two zones under the existing policy.
The Fishermen's Cooperative Society (FCS), which issued the permit to the Chinese trawlers, said the Chinese fishing vessels would not use the destructive bottom trawling method and instead help ‘upgrade’ Pakistan’s fishing industry and export.
Official figures put the annual value of Pakistan’s fish exports at roughly $450 million.
“Bringing Chinese trawlers for deep sea fishing is in line with the government’s deep-sea fishing policy and aimed at upgrading and modernizing fishing, besides providing job opportunities to local fishermen,” Abdul Berr, Chairman of the Fishermen's Cooperative Society, told Arab News.
“Around 3,500 fishermen will get employment opportunities with the arrival of the world’s latest fishing boats and modern small boats,” Berr said. 
He added: “First, 70 percent of the staff at trawlers and processing facilities will be local. There will be no fishing in provincial territorial waters. The trawlers will bring all their catch to Karachi where it will be processed in factories and then exported.”
Small local fishermen would receive modern fiber boats on ‘easy instalments,’ Berr said, a step towards replacing their obsolete boats.
But Sindh’s minister for livestock and fisheries, Abdul Bari Pitafi, said the mega fishing ships would wipe out sea-life, even if they were only operating in the federal government’s zone-3.
“We will...also oppose its [trawlers’] operations in zone-3 because they will just wipe out sea-life including the fish’s seed,” Pitafi told Arab News.
In 2016, a survey carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation revealed that more than 72 percent of the fish stock in Pakistan’s coastal areas had already declined.
“One trawler does a catch that is equal to a catch by 100 of our fishing boats,” Younus Khaskheli, a fisherman, said. “And their fishing net is the most dangerous one, because it hunts thousands of tons of fish.” 
Tens of thousands of fishing boats are registered in Pakistan, he said, with fishermen from Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and even Bangladesh fishing in these waters.
“Our sea stock will end; the country will lose the income of billions and our fishermen will become jobless,” Khaskheli said. “There won’t be any food left in the sea.”