ADB, Pakistan sign $250 million loan agreement for investment in infrastructure, services

ADB, Pakistan sign $250 million loan agreement for investment in infrastructure, services
In this handout photograph, taken and released by Asian Development Bank on June 21, 2024, ADB Country Director Yong Ye (right) and Pakistan’s Secretary Economic Affairs Division Kazim Niaz (left) sign the agreement for $250 million policy-based loan in Islamabad. (Photo courtesy: Facebook/ADB Pakistan)
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Updated 21 June 2024
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ADB, Pakistan sign $250 million loan agreement for investment in infrastructure, services

ADB, Pakistan sign $250 million loan agreement for investment in infrastructure, services
  • Loan to help drive investments in infrastructure, services through public-private partnerships
  • ADB has committed over $52 billion in public and private sector loans and grants since 1966

KARACHI: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Pakistan on Friday signed an agreement for a $250 million loan that would help drive sustainable investments in the country’s infrastructure and services sectors, the Pakistan chapter of the bank confirmed.
The ADB announced on June 5 that it had approved a $250 million policy-based loan to help drive investments in Pakistan’s infrastructure and services sector through public-private partnerships (PPPs).
“ADB Country Director for Pakistan Yong Ye and Secretary Economic Affairs Division of Pakistan Kazim Niaz today signed the agreement for $250 million policy-based loan,” ADB Pakistan wrote on social media platform X.
In its earlier press statement on June 5, ADB said its PPP program supports the implementation of government policies to create a fiscally affordable environment for public-private partnerships, apart from promoting economic growth. 
“The reforms will facilitate efficient infrastructure planning and promote sustainable development practices in infrastructure projects, such as climate risk screening and gender considerations in project feasibility assessments and PPP contracts,” ADB Director-General for Central and West Asia Yevgeniy Zhukov had said.
The regional development bank has committed over $52 billion to Pakistan, one of its founding members, since 1966 in public and private sector loans, grants, and other forms of financing to promote inclusive economic growth in the country.
In December 2023, the ADB approved three projects totaling $658.8 million to improve Pakistan’s domestic resource mobilization, rehabilitate schools damaged by the devastating August 2022 floods, and enhance agricultural productivity to improve food security.


Pakistan aims to increase revenue by 1.5 percent of GDP this year under new IMF deal — minister

Pakistan aims to increase revenue by 1.5 percent of GDP this year under new IMF deal — minister
Updated 12 sec ago
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Pakistan aims to increase revenue by 1.5 percent of GDP this year under new IMF deal — minister

Pakistan aims to increase revenue by 1.5 percent of GDP this year under new IMF deal — minister
  • The statement came during Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb’s virtual meeting with representatives of Fitch Ratings agency
  • The discussions encompassed reforms in energy sector and state enterprises, including privatization and ‘rightsizing’ of entities

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s finance minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, said on Monday the South Asian country aimed to increase its revenue by 1.5 percent of the gross domestic product this fiscal year under a new $7 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Pakistani finance minister said this during a virtual meeting with representatives of Fitch Ratings agency, including Senior Director Thomas Rookmaker, and Directors Asia Pacific Krisjanis Krustins and Jeremy Zook.
The discussions encompassed ongoing reforms in the energy sector and state-owned enterprises, including privatization and “rightsizing” of government entities to streamline operations and improve governance, according to the finance ministry.
Aurangzeb informed the rating agency about multilateral institutions’ confidence in financing Pakistan’s projects and briefed them on the staff-level agreement reached with the IMF this month to bolster Pakistan’s homegrown economic reform agenda.
“The Federal Minister apprised the Fitch representatives of salient features of the new program which includes setting a target of increasing our revenues by 1.5 percent of GDP in FY 2025 and by 3 percent over the coming 3 years,” the finance ministry said in a statement. “A primary surplus of 1 percent of GDP will also be achieved for FY 2025.”
He provided an extensive update on Pakistan’s current economic landscape and highlighted Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves had reached $9.4 billion, robust stock exchange performance, and CPI inflation recorded at 12.6 percent in June.
The minister noted a 7.7 percent rise in foreign remittances and emphasized the government’s efforts to broaden the tax base, citing a 30 percent increase in tax collection during the outgoing fiscal year as compared to previous year.
“More than 150,000 retailers have registered as first-time tax payers. The IT exports crossed the figure of USD 3 billion,” Aurangzeb was quoted as saying by his ministry.
Pakistan’s new government presented its first budget in parliament last month, setting an ambitious tax collection target. Aurangzeb said at the time Pakistan wanted to collect Rs13 trillion ($44 billion) in taxes, which would be 40 percent more than the outgoing fiscal year.
“The representatives from Fitch Ratings appreciated the ambitious targets and fiscal measures adopted by the Government of Pakistan and acknowledged the improvement in economic indicators,” the finance ministry added.


Pakistan police raid headquarters of ex-PM Khan party, arrest official over ‘anti-state propaganda’

Pakistan police raid headquarters of ex-PM Khan party, arrest official over ‘anti-state propaganda’
Updated 22 July 2024
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Pakistan police raid headquarters of ex-PM Khan party, arrest official over ‘anti-state propaganda’

Pakistan police raid headquarters of ex-PM Khan party, arrest official over ‘anti-state propaganda’
  • Videos shared online showed policemen surrounding PTI party secretariat in Islamabad, leading away Information Secretary Raoof Hasan
  • Pakistan’s interior ministry says the raid was conducted on the basis of initial investigation and analysis of the party’s digital content

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s police on Monday raided the headquarters of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in Islamabad and arrested a top official of the party for involvement in anti-state propaganda, the interior minister said.
PTI social media accounts shared videos of dozens of policemen surrounding the PTI secretariat in Pakistan’s federal capital of Islamabad and leading away PTI Information Secretary, Raoof Hasan.
Pakistan’s interior ministry confirmed Hasan’s arrest and said the Islamabad police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) raided the PTI digital media wing based on initial investigation and analysis of party’s digital content.
“The PTI is involved in anti-state propaganda,” the interior ministry said in a statement. “A JIT [joint investigation team] is being constituted [to investigate the allegations].”

Women police officers taking the arrested female workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from the party's headquarters into police van after a security raid in Islamabad on July 22, 2024. (AFP)

Authorities also briefly detained PTI Chairman Gohar Khan, who is also Khan’s lawyer, on Monday but released him later, Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, Khan’s key adviser on media, told Arab News.
The raid at PTI headquarters and the arrest of the party’s information secretary comes days after several other PTI members, including the party’s top media manager Ahmed Waqqas Janjua, were arrested by authorities.
An anti-terrorism court on Monday remanded Janjua into police custody for seven days after the investigating officer said he was found in possession of explosives during the arrest and they wanted to probe his alleged links with outlawed organizations, according to the PTI and Janjua’s lawyer.
Pakistan’s Information Minister Ataullah Tarar last week said the government planned to ban the PTI, days after the Supreme Court made a crucial ruling in the party’s favor that dealt a huge blow to the government.
Khan has been jailed for nearly a year, but this month an Islamabad judge overturned his illegal marriage conviction while the Supreme Court awarded PTI more parliamentary seats — a move set to make them the largest party in the National Assembly.

Policemen make way for prison van after a security raid at the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party's headquarters in Islamabad on July 22, 2024. (AFP)

Both cases were considered a major blow to the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who has been leading a weak coalition since the February 8 election.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) described the attempt to ban the PTI as “an enormous blow to democratic norms” and said it “reeks of political desperation.”
“If pushed through, it will achieve nothing more than deeper polarization and the strong likelihood of political chaos and violence,” HRCP Chairman Asad Iqbal Butt said in a statement.
Khan, who says the cases against him have been orchestrated to prevent his return to power, remains languishing in jail on fresh charges of inciting protests and graft.
A United Nations panel of experts this month found that Khan’s detention “had no legal basis and appears to have been intended to disqualify him from running for political office.”


Pakistan welcomes Omani investors’ visit to Islamabad this week with economic cooperation on agenda

Pakistan welcomes Omani investors’ visit to Islamabad this week with economic cooperation on agenda
Updated 47 min 35 sec ago
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Pakistan welcomes Omani investors’ visit to Islamabad this week with economic cooperation on agenda

Pakistan welcomes Omani investors’ visit to Islamabad this week with economic cooperation on agenda
  • Pakistan, faced with low forex reserves, currency devaluation and high inflation, this month reached a staff-level agreement with IMF for $7 billion loan
  • The South Asian country is making desperate attempts to boost foreign investment to cut its reliance on foreign debts to support its $350 billion economy

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan welcomes the visit of a delegation of Omani investors to Islamabad this week, the Pakistani deputy prime minister said on Monday, amid the South Asian country’s push to boost trade and foreign investment.
The statement came after Pakistan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar’s telephonic conversation with Omani FM Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Albusaidi.
The two leaders reviewed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, ranging from political, economic and defense cooperation to people-to-people exchanges, according to the Pakistani foreign office. 
“The Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister welcomed the forthcoming visit of a delegation of Omani investors to Pakistan later this week, geared toward exploring areas of mutually beneficial economic cooperation,” the foreign office said in a statement. 
“The two leaders also shared views on a range of regional and international issues of mutual interest.”
Pakistan, which has been facing low foreign exchange reserves, currency devaluation and high inflation, this month reached a staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $7 billion loan.
The South Asian country is making desperate attempts to boost foreign investment to cut its reliance on foreign debts to support its $350 billion fragile economy. In recent months, there has been a flurry of visits, investment talks and economic activity between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Japan, Azerbaijan, Qatar and other countries.
During the conversation, Dar and his Omani counterpart also discussed an attack on Imam Bargah Ali bin Abu Talib in Wadi Kabir in Muscat that killed six people, including four Pakistanis, and injured dozens of others on July 15.
Dar emphasized the importance of concerted action to combat militancy in all its forms and manifestations and extended Pakistan’s full support to Oman in this regard, according to the Pakistan foreign office. 
He appreciated Oman’s support in repatriation of bodies of the mosque attack victims to Pakistan and taking care of the injured Pakistani nationals.


Anti-terrorism efforts being made ‘controversial’ by ‘political mafia’ — Pakistan army 

Anti-terrorism efforts being made ‘controversial’ by ‘political mafia’ — Pakistan army 
Updated 22 July 2024
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Anti-terrorism efforts being made ‘controversial’ by ‘political mafia’ — Pakistan army 

Anti-terrorism efforts being made ‘controversial’ by ‘political mafia’ — Pakistan army 
  • Government has announced launching new counterterrorism operation which has been rejected by opposition, incluidng Khan’s PTI
  • Head of army’s media wing labels anti-military narrative work of “digital terrorists” who will be dealt with through the law, regulations

ISLAMABAD: A spokesman for the Pakistan army said on Monday anti-terrorism efforts, including a new “comprehensive” operation announced by the government, were being “politicized” to the detriment of the country’s national interests, in veiled comments against the party of jailed ex-premier Imran Khan.

Pakistan last month announced it would launch a new “multi-pronged” operation called Azm-e-Istehkam, or Resolve for Stability, that would not only eliminate militants though military and intelligence actions but also deter extremist thinking through socio-economic uplift.

The campaign has so far been rejected by opposition parties, particularly the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of former prime minister Khan, on the grounds that opposition parties and parliament were not consulted.

Pakistan has seen a massive surge in militancy in recent months, with daily attacks on security forces and assassinations of police and government officials. Islamabad blames the attacks on militants operating out of Afghanistan. Kabul denies that it allows its territory to be used by insurgents and says Pakistan’s security woes are a domestic issue.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry said the Azm-e-Isjtehkam operation had been “politicized” by what he described as a “political mafia.”

“Why did a mafia, a political mafia, and an illegal mafia say that they would not let this [campaign] happen?” Chaudhry said, adding that opponents of the operation had tried to make it “controversial” and paint it as a purely military operation in which thousands would be displaced. 

“Azm-e-Istehkam is a comprehensive and integrated counter-terrorism campaign, not a military operation as it is being presented,” he added. “This is a comprehensive campaign against terrorism, which won’t just root out terrorism but which will lift up all of society … and the stakes are very high here.”

He said 137 officers and soldiers had been killed in anti-terror operations this year and security forces had conducted 22,409 intelligence-based operations. Together, the armed forces, police, intelligence agencies, and other law enforcement agencies were conducting more than 112 operations daily, the general said. 

Despite the army’s sacrifices, he said “digital terrorists” were using “fake news and propaganda” to spread lies about the army and its intentions. He was answering a question about the army’s decreasing popularity in Pakistan.

“This is digital terrorism,” Chaudhry said. “The physical terrorist also attacks law enforcement agencies and the army, and the digital terrorist also attacks the army. They are doing the same thing.”

“Digital terrorists,” the spokesman said, would be deterred through laws, regulation and monitoring. 

Chaudhry’s veiled comments about the PTI and Khan came days after the federal government of PM Shehbaz Sharif announced plans to ban the party and moved the country’s top court to press treason charges against Khan. 

Khan came to power in 2018 and was ousted in 2022 after what is widely believed to be a falling out with Pakistan’s powerful military, which had helped propel him into office. The army denies political interference.

Since his ouster, the PTI founder and his party have faced an ever-widening state-backed crackdown and Khan himself has been in jail since August last year. He was acquitted earlier this month in one of the last standing convictions against him but was not freed after authorities issued new orders to arrest him in another case involving riots by his followers in May last year. 

Khan, arguably the country’s most popular politician, says all legal cases are motivated to keep him out of politics and dent the popularity of the PTI. He has led an unprecedented campaign of defiance against the army and independent analysts say has succeeded in denting its popularity in a nation that has been ruled by the military for nearly half its history. 

The convictions against Khan had ruled him out of Feb. 8 general elections, which all candidates from his party were forced to contest as independents after the election commission denied the party its iconic symbol of a cricket bat on technical grounds. Despite the setbacks, Khan-backed candidates won the most seats in the polls but could not form the government, which is now being led by Sharif’s PML-N party in coalition with other parties. 


Pakistan calls for strengthening OIC cooperation to tackle pressing water, food and energy crises

Pakistan calls for strengthening OIC cooperation to tackle pressing water, food and energy crises
Updated 22 July 2024
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Pakistan calls for strengthening OIC cooperation to tackle pressing water, food and energy crises

Pakistan calls for strengthening OIC cooperation to tackle pressing water, food and energy crises
  • Pakistan hosts three-day conference on water, energy, food and ecosystems for OIC member states in Islamabad
  • Participants urge academia, decision-makers to join hands to solve common challenges faced by member states 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Senate Chairman Yousaf Raza Gillani on Monday stressed the need to strengthen collaboration among the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries to tackle the common challenges of water, food and energy scarcity faced by member states for the sake of future generations. 
Gillani expressed these views during the 25th Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) conference on “Water-Energy-Food Ecosystem Nexus for the Security of OIC countries” in Pakistan’s capital. The OIC is the second-largest inter-government organization after the United Nations, with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents. It is considered globally as the collective voice of the Muslim world and seeks to safeguard and protect its interests. 
The three-day conference, jointly organized by the Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS) and the IAS, featured delegates and scientists from over 13 OIC member countries. Participants discussed challenges faced by member states related to water, energy, food, and ecosystems, exploring ways to improve collaborative efforts.
“The definition of national security is evolving beyond traditional military threats to include a broader range of issues,” Gillani said as he addressed the conference’s inaugural session. “As the modern discourse now also encompasses threats to water, food, energy and environment as matters of national security.”
The former Pakistani prime minister said enhancing cooperation between OIC nations was imperative to address and resolve common challenges.
“This vision demands sharing of expertise, resources and scientific innovations to build up collective resilience and response since the challenges we face transcend national borders and require concerted action,” he said. 
Gillani lamented that these crises were acute in OIC countries, where rapid population growth, urbanization and environmental degradation were putting immense pressure on natural resources.
He urged the Parliamentary Union of OIC Member Countries (PUIC) to proactively push sustainable development agendas through legislative interventions. 
“The PUIC members also need to promote science diplomacy by initiating collaborative initiatives and sharing of good practices between parliaments, friendship groups and relevant committees which can be a game changer in our common endeavor to enhance national food, water, energy and environmental security,” Gillani said. 
’DON’T NEED TALKS’
IAS President Professor Adnan Badran said OIC countries were not doing enough to address climate change effects and ensure a healthy planet for future generations.
“The most common problem in the OIC countries is the synergy of water, energy, food security, and ecosystem,” Badran noted. He called on all OIC member states to focus on these problems and resolve them through scientific research.
He lamented that there wasn’t a bridge between decision-makers and academia in OIC countries as everyone was working alone.
“I think those silos, we have to melt them down and integrate and have integrated policies,” Badran said. “[As] people they need water, they need energy, they need food security they don’t need talks.”
Pakistan’s former climate change minister, Senator Sherry Rehman, said OIC countries need to make integrated and collective efforts to revive Mother Nature so that it can survive and be nurtured for future generations.
“We need to balance our relationship with nature and our patterns of consumption,” Rehman stressed. “Let’s take care of our own region, recognizing that we are all interconnected as environmental issues have no boundaries,” she added.