Pakistan to start receiving Saudi oil on deferred payment

In this file photo, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih signs a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with his Pakistani counterpart in Islamabad on Feb. 17, 2019. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister Imran Khan also witnessed the signing ceremony. (PID)
Updated 03 July 2019
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Pakistan to start receiving Saudi oil on deferred payment

  • Supplies will continue over the next three years, with a total value of $9.9 billion
  • The facility is part of $20 bn Saudi economic support package for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will start receiving Saudi oil on deferred payment facility from July 1, a press statement from the Saudi embassy in Islamabad confirmed late Monday.
“Pakistan will start receiving monthly oil supplies worth $275 million from Saudi Arabia with effect of July 1, 2019,” the embassy said in a statement.
These supplies will continue over the next three years, with a total value of $9.9 billion, the statement added.
In October 2018, Saudi Arabia announced a $20 billion economic support package for Pakistan, which included $3 billion to support balance of external payments in addition to oil import facility on deferred payment. 
Saudi embassy said that the package showed “keenness of Saudi leadership to support Pakistan’s economy for achieving financial stability and help the government to overcome the economic challenges and push the comprehensive development in Pakistan, and to emphasize the depth of relations between the two brotherly counties and people.”
Dr. Vaqar Ahmed Joint Executive Director at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), an Islamabad based think-tank, said that “this will bring significant relief to the balance of payment situation in Pakistan,” which is already struggling to narrow down the current account gap. “Any arrangement which can allow Pakistan deferred payment of its oil supplies will certainly be welcomed.”
“This will also provide certainty to the industry which of course requires sustained oil supplies as input and raw material,” Ahmed added calling the move “a great help for Pakistan in pressing times.”
According to official figures, Pakistan spends more than $16 billion each year on importing 26 million tons of petroleum products, including 800 million cubic feet of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Gulf countries.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy deep-rooted economic ties. During the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan in February 2019, the Kingdom signed several agreement and memoranda of understandings (MoUs) pledging to invest $20bn in Pakistan to boost its depleting foreign exchange reserves — including establishing a $10bn oil refinery in the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan province.


Blasphemy accusation in Pakistan sparks ransacking of Hindu temple, school

Updated 16 September 2019

Blasphemy accusation in Pakistan sparks ransacking of Hindu temple, school

  • The violence erupted in the southern province of Sindh after a student accused the Hindu principal of blasphemy

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: A crowd in Pakistan ransacked a school and Hindu temple after a Hindu principal was accused of blasphemy, police said on Monday, the latest case to raise concern about the fate of religious minorities in the predominantly Muslim country.
The violence erupted in the southern province of Sindh after a student accused the Hindu principal of blasphemy in comments about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. The enraged crowd ransacked the school and damaged a nearby temple, a district police chief said.
The principal had been taken into protective custody and police were investigating both the alleged blasphemy and the rioters, he added.
“It seems the principal had not done anything intentionally,” the district police chief, Furrukh Ali, told Reuters.
Insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad carries a mandatory death penalty in Pakistan, which is about 95 percent Muslim and has among the harshest blasphemy laws in the world.
No executions for blasphemy have been carried out in Pakistan but enraged mobs sometimes kill people accused of it.
Rights groups say the blasphemy law is often exploited by religious hard-liners as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle scores.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan condemned the weekend violence, footage of which was recorded in a video and circulated on social media. It called on authorities should take prompt action.
“The video ... is chilling: mob violence against a member of a religious minority is barbaric, unacceptable,” the commission said in a post on Twitter.
Hindus make up about 1.6 percent of Pakistan’s population of 208 million, the majority of whom are Sunni Muslims.
In January, the Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of a Christian women who spent years on death row after being convicted of blasphemy in a case that had drawn alarm from religious and human rights advocates.
In March, Pakistan’s government sacked a provincial minister for making offensive comments about Hindus as tension between Pakistan and Hindu-majority neighbor India ran high after a militant attack in the Indian-controlled portion of the contested Kashmir region.