Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday said that he was informed by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail that Pakistan could receive $2 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
"Miftah Ismail relayed a message in the morning saying that we will hopefully be receiving not $1bn from the IMF, but $2bn. I replied by saying that our real goal is [achieving] self-reliance. Easier said than done," the premier said while addressing the 'Turnaround Pakistan' conference organised by the Ministry of Planning and Development.
The premier stressed the need for all quarters to work together for the country's progress as well as the need for self-reliance. Self-reliance guarantees political and economic independence, he said.
The prime minister's comments came hours after Ismail announced that the country had received combined economic and financial targets for the seventh and eighth reviews of its IMF bailout programme.
Talking about the recent opening of a mega development project in Bangladesh, PM Shehbaz said that his counterpart had proudly announced that they had achieved this feat without the help of international donors. "Surely, this is a big achievement," he said, adding that Pakistan was not lacking in resources or expertise. He cited the example of Reko Diq, saying Pakistan had wasted billions but had yet to earn anything from the project. PM Shehbaz said that Pakistan was drowning under debts, saying the country's liabilities far outweighed its assets. He regretted that the 1,200-megawatt Haveli Bahadur Shah Power Plant, set up by the former PML-N government, had still not been completed. "If you look at the electricity we were supposed to get, which was supposed to run the agriculture sector, our industries, [and] give millions employment; when you take all of this into account, then we suffered a colossal loss."
During his speech, the premier said that Pakistan had nothing to show after 75 years of independence. "But nothing will be achieved by crying over spilled milk," he asserted.
He went on to say that a few weeks ago, there was a danger of the country running out of edible oil. He said he wrote to Indonesian President Joko Widodo in this regard and also spoke to him on the phone.
"The Indonesian president said he would issue instructions," he said, adding that he directed a minister to go to the country at his own expense, where he stayed until the vessels departed for Pakistan. "This is one example. When you want to work then countless doors open." PM Shehbaz went on to say that Pakistan was facing countless issues as he called for rising above personal interests and differences.
"New governments blame the previous governments. We need to decide on changing the country's fate and for that we need to work day and night. Unless this is done, we will keep moving in circles," he said.
'Builders, furniture dealers to be brought into tax net' In his speech, the finance minister said that the government will be bringing builders and furniture dealers into the tax net.
"I will be bringing builders, real estate agents, car dealers, carpenters ... all these people into the tax net. And I will make things easier for them," he stated, stressing that Pakistan could only become "self-reliant" if everyone, including the affluent, paid taxes. "We have imposed taxes on the prime minister's sons. I am also paying more tax. We can only ask the nation to sacrifice if we do the same," he pointed out. He reasoned that the government had imposed direct taxes as opposed to non-direct as the former were non-inflationary. "This year, we will take 33pc more tax than last year which is an achievement."
The minister also cautioned that although Pakistan was no longer in danger of defaulting, it was still important for the government and the people to tread carefully and "stay disciplined".
He further thanked the nation for supporting the government and understanding the need to hike petrol and diesel prices.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday instructed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to notify PTI members on five reserved seats of the Punjab Assembly (PA) that fell vacant following the de-seating of 25 PTI lawmakers over defection. Last month, 25 PTI dissident lawmakers, which included five elected on seats reserved for women and minorities, were de-seated for voting for PML-N's Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister's election. They were officially de-notified by the ECP on May 23. The PTI had filed a petition in the LHC on May 28 requesting it to direct the electoral watchdog to notify the five new MPAs and "summon [them] personally".
Subsequently, the high court had given the ECP a deadline for June 2 to decide the matter. The commission had, however, decided that the notification would be stayed until by-elections were held in the province on July 17. Arguments made in the case today During the open court hearing today, PTI's lawyer Ali Zafar argued that the electoral body was bound to notify PTI members on the reserved seats after de-seating defecting lawmakers. "The list provided by political parties are not subject to change," he said. He recalled that when the PTI had approached the commission for notifying their members on the five reserved seats, the ECP had contended that the de-seating of 20 members had changed the total number of seats for each party. The lawyer contended that this stance by the commission was "illegal".
Punjab Advocate General Shahzad Shaukat said that nominations on reserved seats were supposed to be held after the general polls. "Now, the positions of parties have changed because of 20 vacant seats. I believe the matter should be taken to a larger bench," he added. Subsequently, the LHC directed the ECP to issue a notification regarding the reserved seats and declared its previous decision on the matter "null and void".
Speaking to Dawn.com outside the courtroom, Zafar said that the LHC's decision had "changed the numbers game" in the provincial assembly. After the notification of the five reserved seats, the PTI will become the majority party, he said. "This means that the existing chief minister will now have to take a vote of confidence because the numbers are greater on our end," the PTI's counsel said. PTI's petition In its petition filed on June 3, Zainab Umair, wife of PTI MPA Umair Khan Niazi, said that according to Article 104 (5) of the Election Act, 2017, "Where a seat reserved for women or non-Muslims in an Assembly falls vacant as a result of death, resignation or disqualification of a member, it shall be filled in by the next person in order of precedence from the party's list of candidates submitted to the Commission." The petition stated that no by-elections for disqualified members of Punjab Assembly were needed for the aforementioned (reserved) seats. "The party list was already in the possession of ECP; therefore, it was needed that ECP issue the notifications to the declared/elected MPAs for the 5 Reserve Seats."
Zainab contended that the order of ECP "clearly shows its bias and prejudice against the petitioner (PTI) and the advantages ECP is adamant upon providing to the PML-N". "Its order is an erroneous assumption of jurisdiction as ECP does not possess the power or authority to interpret the Constitution as vested with the Honourable Courts of Pakistan," she added. ECP de-seats dissident MPAs The votes of the 25 PTI dissidents had been instrumental in helping Hamza get over the line in the election for the chief minister; he received a total of 197 votes while 186 votes are required for a simple majority. The dissident lawmakers were Raja Sagheer Ahmed, Malik Ghulam Rasool Sangha, Saeed Akbar Khan, Mohammad Ajmal, Abdul Aleem Khan, Nazir Ahmed Chohan, Mohammad Amin Zulqernain, Malik Nauman Langrial, Mohammad Salman, Zawar Hussain Warraich, Nazir Ahmed Khan, Fida Hussain, Zahra Batool, Mohammad Tahir, Aisha Nawaz, Sajida Yousaf, Haroon Imran Gill, Uzma Kardar, Malik Asad Ali, Ijaz Masih, Mohammad Sabtain Raza, Mohsin Atta Khan Khosa, Mian Khalid Mehmood, Mehar Mohammad Aslam and Faisal Hayat. On May 20, the electoral watchdog had passed an order to de-seat these lawmakers, stating that they had defected from the party under Article 63-A of the Constitution, which bars lawmakers from voting against the party line in the election of prime minister and chief minister, in a vote of confidence or no-confidence, a Constitution amendment bill and a money bill.
Punjab numbers game During the April 16 election, Hamza had bagged 197 votes, including 25 PTI dissidents, four independents and the lone Rah-i-Haq Party MPA. Five rebel PML-N lawmakers had abstained from voting in favour of Hamza. The fifth independent MPA, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, has so far distanced himself from the entire political drama. At the time, the magic number required to show majority was 186 in the 371-strong house. The PTI originally had 183 members in the house which was reduced to 158 with the defection of 25 lawmakers. With the addition of 10 PML-Q's lawmakers, their numbers stood at 168. But with the LHC's verdict today, the numbers of the PTI-PML-Q alliance will rise to 173. On the other hand, with 25 PTI dissidents no longer part of the house, Hamza's tally was trimmed to 172. However, since the Punjab CM election, the PML-N has been trying to win back its rebel MPAs in a bid to strengthen the party’s position in PA. So far, the party has won back three of the five rebel MPAs. As the situation stands, the total strength of the house is 351 with the PTI-PML-Q alliance with a total strength of 173 and the PML-N with a total strength of 175. Seemingly, neither party holds the majority in the house. Ultimately, the by-elections on the 20 vacant seats scheduled for July 17 will decide which party ends up with the majority in the PA.
The Foreign Office (FO) on Monday confirmed that a member of the five-nation summit BRICS "blocked Pakistan's participation" in a dialogue for non-member states held virtually on the sidelines of the event last week.
The BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) brings together five of the largest developing countries in the world, representing 41 per cent of the global population, 24pc of the global GDP and 16pc of the global trade. This year, China is hosting the summit in its capacity as the chair of the group.
On June 24, leaders of two dozen non-member countries of the BRICS' "High-level Dialogue on Global Development" attended the meeting virtually. However, Pakistan remained absent from the meeting. Today, in response to media queries over the matter, the FO, without naming the country, said: "Regrettably one member blocked Pakistan’s participation." It is believed that the country blocking Pakistan's participation was India as both do not share a pleasant relationship and are embroiled in disputes, most prominently over the territory of Kashmir, that go back decades. However, the FO continued, "we do hope that future engagement of the organisation would be based on the principles of inclusivity keeping in view the overall interests of the developing world and in a manner that is devoid of narrow geo-political considerations". Pakistan then went on to congratulate China for successfully hosting the BRICS meeting. "We appreciate China’s role in promoting the interests of the developing countries. Together with China, Pakistan has been a strong voice for global peace, shared prosperity and inclusive development. Pakistan is the current chair of G77+China and also part of group of friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI)," it said. The FO added that Pakistan and China were all-weather strategic partners and their "iron brotherhood" was rock solid. "The two countries are fully committed to take our all-round cooperation to higher levels both bilaterally and multilaterally." It further expressed resolve that Pakistan was ready to stand with all developing countries, including the BRICS members for addressing the challenges faced by the global community.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has conferred Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa with the King Abdulaziz Medal of Excellent Class for his "distinguished efforts in consolidating and strengthening bonds of friendship and joint cooperation and developing Saudi-Pakistani relations", the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Sunday.
Gen Bajwa, who was visiting the Kingdom, was received by Prince Mohammed, with whom a meeting was held on a host of issues, the SPA reported.
The meeting reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries, especially in the military fields, and opportunities for developing them. The two sides also deliberated upon a number of issues of common interest.
"In implementation of the order of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, HRH the Crown Prince decorated the Commander of the Pakistani Army with King Abdulaziz Medal of Excellent Class in recognition of his distinguished efforts in consolidating and strengthening bonds of friendship and joint cooperation and developing Saudi-Pakistani relations," the SPA said.
Saudi Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Chief of General Staff Lieutenant-General Fayyad Al-Ruwaili, and a number of senior officials from both sides were also present on the occasion.
KARACHI: With a spiraling energy crisis brought on by the Russian invasion of Ukraine putting pressure on global fuel reserves, a key member of the federal cabinet admitted on Saturday that the country simply could not compete with the buying power of European countries who were also potential customers for the same reserves that Pakistan desperately needed.
According to State Minister for Petroleum Musadik Malik, Pakistan’s failure to find a bidder for liquefied natural gas (LNG) slots had forced authorities to shift to alternative sources of energy for power generation, which would take a month or so to yield results.
“The situation is that we have carried out two rounds of tenders of three to four tenders each, but no one responded to them,” he said in reply to a question put to him by a journalist during a media interaction on the sidelines of a two-day conference organised by the Centre for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA).
“Since supply from Russia is suspended due to the war with Ukraine, European countries are also buying gas from everywhere it’s available. As a result, LNG, which was priced at $4 two-and-a-half years ago, is no longer available for even $40. So, Russia’s war [with Ukraine] created a real crisis,” he said. Musadik Malik says ‘pain’ from power shortages to last till at least July 15; govt exploring alternative means of energy generation His thoughts came a day after the country failed to find a bidder for three LNG slots and received the highest-ever rate for another slot for the last week of July as European customers lapped up spot market quantities to compensate for the Russian supply disruption amid widespread electricity shortages. The state-run Pakistan LNG Ltd (PLL) had floated a tender on June 16 for four cargoes — one each in the first and second weeks, and two in the last week, of July. However, no bidders came forward for the July 2-3, 8-9, and 25-26 delivery windows. It is worth noting that this was the third futile attempt by PLL to have an LNG cargo in the first week of July. The earlier two tenders, issued on May 31 and June 7, attracted only two and one bidder, respectively, but none was technically responsive. Hence, the bids were returned unopened. The minister told reporters point-blank: “We don’t have enough energy right now. The gas is not available and we can’t afford such expensive gas. So what we are doing is arranging alternates. The recent increase in production, imports of coal and furnace oil is part of the same strategy,” Senator Malik said. Sharing the fresh moves the government was making to meet the growing energy glut, he referred to the import of five ships worth of furnace oil within a month and the larger amount of coal acquisition to keep power production units running. Senator Malik was also confident that nature would favour them with the upcoming monsoon, which could help turn the tide of the power crisis to a large extent. However, he cautioned that the ‘pain’ caused by power shortfall and loadshedding could take weeks to heal, adding that the situation was only likely to improve after July 15. “We produce around 6,000MW to 8,000MW through hydel energy, but for that you need a certain amount of water flow,” he said. With an increase in imports of furnace oil and coal as alternative energy sources and the approaching monsoon rains that would improve water flows to enhance power generation through hydel energy, he said the government hoped to see some relief after July 15. Senator Malik said he was sure that the Shehbaz Sharif’s government would have to pay a “political price” for these fresh measures, but termed them critical for saving the teetering economy that was brought to the brink of collapse by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government by its failure to foresee the growing demand for energy. Things had only gotten worse after the breakout of war between Russia and Ukraine, he said. “We know what the political price of all these tough decisions is,” he said, adding: “Don’t you think we know that these decisions will hit our vote bank? We know it well. But what other options we have?”
“Should we sit idle and keep watching as the country turns into Sri Lanka? The PTI government did the same. They planted the landmines for the country’s economy for their political gains. We are here to save the country, not our politics,” the state minister concluded.
Pakistan on Saturday strongly rejected and opposed the Indian government's reported plan to hold a G20 event in India-occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK) next year. According to a report published in The Indian Express on Friday, India has decided to host the meetings of the G20 in the disputed region next year and formed a five-member committee to coordinate the event.
An official order issued by IOJK's housing and urban development department on Thursday revealed that the committee was formed in response to a June 4 communication from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
Separately, a Hindustan Times report said that this would be the first major international "summit" to be held in occupied Kashmir after the Indian government revoked its special status guaranteed under Article 370 of the Constitution.
In a statement issued by the Foreign Office today, Pakistan condemned the neighbouring country's plans, stressing that occupied Kashmir was an internationally recognised “disputed” territory between Pakistan and India.
The territory has been under forcible and illegal occupation of India since 1947 and this dispute has remained on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council for over seven decades.
The FO observed that India was responsible for "widespread atrocities and egregious human rights violations" in the region. "Since its illegal and unilateral actions of August 5, 2019, Indian occupation forces have killed 639 innocent Kashmiris in extra-judicial murders.
"Numerous reports of the UN, including the two commissioned by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2018 and 2019, have re-confirmed ongoing Indian atrocities against the Kashmiri people," the statement highlighted.
It continued that contemplating the holding of any G20-related meeting/event in occupied Kashmir was in utter "disregard of the globally acknowledged disputed status of the territory" and was a "travesty" that the international community could not accept under any circumstances.
"It is expected that in case of any such controversial proposal from India, which would be designed to seek international legitimacy for an illegal and tyrannical occupation continuing for over 7 decades, the G20 members will be fully cognisant of the imperatives of law and justice and would reject it outright."
Pakistan also strongly urged the international community to call upon India to end its gross and systematic violations of human rights in IOJK, revoke its illegal and unilateral actions, and free all political prisoners including the true Kashmiri leaders. "The only way to lasting peace in South Asia is by granting the people of the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir their inalienable right to self-determination as pledged to them in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions," the FO added. Correction: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that the FO's response was on India planning to host a G20 "summit" when the response was actually on a planned G20 "meeting/event". The error is regretted.
A Karachi court on Saturday instructed the provincial health secretary to constitute a medical board to determine the age of Dua Zehra — the girl who went missing from Karachi in April and was recovered from Punjab earlier this month.
Dua has in previous court hearings said she is 18 years of age, and a medical test ordered by the Sindh High Court found she was 17. The SHC later ruled that Dua, who claims she had contracted marriage of her own accord, was free to decide her fate.
Subsequently, her father, Mehdi Kazmi, challenged the SHC verdict in the Supreme Court where his petition was disposed of as "it didn't fall in the jurisdiction" of the apex court. In that hearing, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar asked the petitioner if they had challenged Dua's medical report. The three-member bench had further told Kazmi to approach the relevant forums for the formation of a medical board to determine his daughter's age.
During the hearing at the Court of Judicial Magistrate East today, the petitioner and his counsel, Jibran Nasir, contended that the police challan focused on two aspects: Dua's age and her statement.
In the police challan, the teenager's age is stated to be 17 years, while her father says she is 14 and has Nadra documents to prove it. Nasir told the court that the SC had told them to move Dua to a shelter home and re-determine her age through a medical board. He then presented the top court's order to the judicial magistrate. "The SC also said that the SHC's order would not become a hindrance in this procedure," he said. He also pointed out that the police had declared the case "C-class" without even determining her age and Zaheer — the man Dua was said to have contracted marriage with, Zaheer Ahmad, had not been arrested yet.
At one point during the hearing, the judicial magistrate asked the plaintiff's lawyer why they hadn't challenged Dua's statements in court to which Nasir replied that two separate statements had been recorded by the teenager.
"In Lahore, Dua was forced to lodge a fake request against her father and cousin accusing them of threatening her and Zaheer. But she never mentioned any of this in front of the judicial magistrate," he said.
"Even in the high court, nothing was said about the father and cousin," he added, arguing that the statement was not "independent".
Subsequently, the judicial magistrate returned the case challan to the police, directing it to further investigate it and collect evidence regarding the true age of Dua through a medical board.
In a tweet later, Nasir revealed that their right to challenge the teenager's age certificate — which was presented before High Court pursuant to which Dua was set at liberty — had been honoured. "The same report was prepared by one medical expert and not a medical board," he added. 'Zaheer can't be charged for kidnapping' Separately, in a media talk outside court, the investigating officer in the case said that the police had no grounds to charge Zaheer with kidnapping and had taken him into protective custody.
"We have investigated the case from every angle and found out that the girl went with her own free will," he said. "Dua and Zaheer became friends on the online game PUBG and had known each other for three years. They decided to get married there." The officer added that they had obtained a copy of the SC order and would further study the case. The case On April 16, Dua's parents filed a first information report alleging that their daughter had been kidnapped when she left the house to dispose of some trash. The incident had provoked an outcry, especially on social media, which had prompted authorities to take notice.
After nearly 10 days, on April 26, the teenage girl was recovered from Okara. In a video statement that day, Dua had said that she wasn't kidnapped and had married Zaheer of her "free will".
She had said that she had left her house of her own accord. "I have married out of free will. No one forced me. I'm happy with my husband here. For God's sake, don't bother me," she had stated. Dua had also claimed that her parents were lying about her age. Subsequently, she and Zaheer approached a Lahore district and sessions court and filed a petition against Dua's father and cousin.
Meanwhile, the police had also filed a plea in court demanding that Dua be sent to Darul Aman. However, the magistrate rejected the request and had allowed the teenager "to go wherever she wanted to".
On the other hand, Dua's parents were adamant that their daughter had been kidnapped and said that she had been forced to give the statement.
The teenager's father had also approached the SHC in May with a plea against the Punjab's court's orders. Kazmi had stated in the petition that as per her educational, birth certificates and other records, Dua’s age was 13 and under the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act 2013 it was illegal to marry a minor. He had asked the court to order a medical examination of his daughter. In the following days, Karachi police repeatedly failed to produce the teenager in court earning the judges' ire. On June 6, the SHC had ordered an ossification to determine Dua's age. She was also sent to a shelter home for the time being after she refused to meet her parents. Two days later, the court ruled that the teenager was at liberty to decide who she wanted to live with. During the hearing, the IO filed his report along with age certificate issued by the office of the police surgeon which stated that as per the opinion of doctors and the Civil Hospital’s department of radiology, the bone age of the alleged abductee was between 16 and 17 years of age.
In its order, the bench said the petition had served its purpose as it was only to the extent of the whereabouts of the alleged minor/abductee.