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

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.


India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

Updated 07 October 2019

India’s Magsaysay award winner says ‘democracy is in danger’

  • Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades

NEW DELHI: Ravish Kumar is nervous about the “danger that Indian democracy is facing today” and how “a systematic attempt is being made by the ruling establishment in Delhi to suppress all the dissenting voices in the country.

“Journalism prepares you to face the unknown everyday, so I was not really surprised when I got the call from the (Magsaysay) award committee,” Kumar said.

“The problem was that I was asked to keep it a secret until they had made a public announcement. It was painful to keep quiet for almost a month,” he told Arab News with a smile.

“When the news became public, I realized what I had been bestowed with. I feel the award is a vindication of trust in good journalism. People felt as if the award had been bestowed on them,” he added.

It is this concern for democracy and its institutions that earned Kumar the prestigious Magsaysay award for 2019.

Instituted in 1957, it is awarded every year by the Philippine government in memory of its former president Ramon Magsaysay for “integrity in governance, courageous service to the people and pragmatic idealism within a democratic society.”

Kumar, who works as a managing editor of India’s leading bilingual TV channel, NDTV, has created a niche for himself in the world of journalism with his daily primetime show, which draws huge audiences from across India. 

At a time when most mainstream TV channels and newspapers have stopped questioning the government and challenging its narrative, Kumar’s reporting takes a critical approach to the lawmakers.

For this constant critique of the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), the government does not send any of its spokespersons on his show or the channel.

He laments that a large section of the Indian media has become “an extended arm of the government and the mouthpiece of the establishment.”

For his outspoken attitude, Kumar and his family have received threats from “people who are subsidized by the ruling party.”

“I don’t have any hope for the media. It is dead in the country. Just a few are holding the placard of fearless journalism,” he said, adding that “the death of independent media has affected true reporting from Jammu and Kashmir.

“The situation in the region is so bad that after the abrogation of its special status, even the significant moderate voices in India have been pushed to the militant camps,” he said.

Describing the government’s policy on Kashmir as “brazen,” he questioned the “audacity of the government to hold local body elections in the valley when there is a complete lockdown.

Kumar is pained by the decline of independent institutions that have upheld the flags of democracy for more than seven decades, adding that he was aghast at the Supreme Court’s silence on the abrogation.

“Why is it taking so long for the apex court to intervene on the issue of the internet lockdown in the Kashmir valley? Can you imagine the American Supreme Court behaving the way the Indian judiciary is acting on such a crucial issue?” He asked.

He said that the decline of independent institutions such as the media, judiciary and election commission is gradually creating a democratic imbalance.

Kumar understands the award has given an extra responsibility on him and that he felt “burdened with expectations.” So great are those expectations, he has not ruled out entering politics.

“Politics is a good thing. I tell everyone to join politics,” he said, adding that his current responsibility is to “warn people about the danger that is lurking in Indian society.”