Pakistan might still need IMF help, despite Saudi bailout: Imran Khan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan address his nation on Wednesday evening after his return from his Saudi Arabia. (Hum TV screen grab)
Updated 25 October 2018

Pakistan might still need IMF help, despite Saudi bailout: Imran Khan

  • Prime Minister thanks Saudi leadership for reducing visa fees for Pakistanis who go to the Kingdom to work
  • Pakistan is strengthening its institutions to curb money laundering, says Khan

ISLAMABAD: Financial assistance from Saudi Arabia has helped lessen Pakistan’s economic problems, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday, but he added that the country might still need help from the International Monetary Fund.
“We have secured an amazing package from Saudi Arabia that has taken off the financial burden,” he said in a televised speech to the nation. He also thanked the Saudi leadership for reducing visa fees for Pakistani blue-collar workers who go to the Kingdom for jobs.
Khan said his government is trying to secure loans from other “friendly countries” to address the nation’s economic crisis and that he would share more “good news” in the coming days.
“We are negotiating a similar package (to the one from Saudi Arabia) with two other countries and hope to secure it,” he said. “If we get this package, we won’t be burdening our salaried class with more inflation.”
However, Khan did not rule out the possibility of seeking loans from International Monetary Fund, but added that “even if we go to the IMF, we won’t need much from the lender.”
He also revealed that Pakistan will be a peacemaker in the war in Yemen, saying: “We are playing the role of an arbitrator in the Yemen conflict.”
The speech came just a day after Pakistan secured a $6 billion financial-assistance package from Saudi Arabia during a visit to the Kingdom. In a condemnation of the leading opposition parties, he said the country’s debt increased from 6,000 billion to 30,000 billion rupees in the past 10 years, and all state enterprises were running at a loss, to the tune of billions of rupees. Khan also made it clear to the leaders of the opposition parties that they will not deter the government through protests, nor would any reconciliation offers be extended.
“The country has no future as long as the corrupt go scot-free,” he said. “The process of accountability will continue, come what may.”
The prime minister said his government is conducting an audit of the development funds handled by previous governments to hold the “corrupt accountable.”
Referring to money laundering, he said looted money is first transferred tp phony bank accounts, then laundered abroad. “We are strengthening our institutions to tackle money laundering,” he added.
Exporters and foreign investors will be encouraged through a one-time offer to help improve the economic situation and create jobs in the country, Khan said. He will also announce a “safety net for the downtrodden” in the coming days, and urged the nation to maintain its support for the government for some time, so that it can properly address all issues.
“The country will rise rapidly as we have got all the needed potential,” he said. “The time is not far away when we will be extending loans to other nations instead of getting them.”


UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

Updated 8 min 44 sec ago

UK sees rise in Islamist extremist cases referred to counter radicalization program

  • Cases involving Islamist extremism increase for first time in four years
  • Program aims to spot people who could go on to commit terrorist acts

LONDON: The number of people referred to the UK government’s counter extremism program has jumped amid concerns over increased radicalization among young people.
Cases involving Islamist extremism increased by 6 percent from 1,404 to 1,487. The numbers, which represent individuals of concern referred to the Prevent scheme between April 2019 and March 2020, mark the first year-on-year increase for Islamist cases since 2016.
While far-right cases remained steady compared to the previous year at 1,388, overall the number of people referred to the program rose 10 percent.
The rise in Islamist cases comes after a recent surge of attacks across Europe. Last month a school teacher was beheaded by an extremist after he had shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a freedom of speech discussion. Days later, three people were killed in a terrorist attack at a church in Nice.
In the UK, three people were killed in a knife attack on London Bridge almost a year ago.
The UK’s Prevent program is part of its wider counter-terrorism strategy and aims to safeguard people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.
The most serious cases are referred to a panel known as “Channel,” which then decides what further action to take. Of the 697 cases that reached the panel, most were related to the far-right (302), while 210 were linked to Islamist extremism. 
More than half of all referrals were aged under 20.
Security Minister James Brokenshire said the Prevent strategy was an essential strand to the UK’s counter-terror strategy.
“It is about supporting vulnerable individuals, steering them away from terrorism, and protecting our communities,” he told the Royal United Services Institute on Thursday.
Last week the head of counter-terror policing in the UK, Neil Basu, said that while Islamist terrorists remained the greatest threat to Britain, the far right is growing faster.
He said COVID-19 had created a “perfect storm” with young and vulnerable people spending more time alone and online.