Here’s what is happening across the border: Country seeks more funds from China as the Afghan Taliban rejects peace talk offer.
Facing arrest on arrival, Sharif defiant
After being sentenced to 10 years in prison by an accountability court in Islamabad, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Friday evening reiterated his promise to return to Pakistan,reported Dawn.
Holding a press conference in London, Sharif told journalists, “As part of my struggle, I am returning to Pakistan. I will pursue this struggle even from jail”. Geo TV reported that Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz will be arrested on arrival in the country.
Sharif made a scathing attack on the Pakistani army generals and judges, saying he would “not be a slave to those who violate their oath and the Constitution of Pakistan”.
Sharif did not mention a particular date or time for his return to Pakistan. He said that the due to his wife Kulsoom Nawaz’s deteriorating health, he cannot travel to the country on short notice.
Meanwhile, PML-N workers took to streets in some cities of Pakistan and protested against the court’s verdict, reported Dawn. They blocked roads, burned effigies while chanting slogans in support of Sharif and his daughter.
PML-N president and Nawaz’s brother Shahbaz Sharif said that they “reject this decision” as it was based on “injustices”.
Imran Khan welcomes Avenfield verdict, calls it a beginning of new Pakistan
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf(PTI) Chief Imran Khan expressed great satisfaction on the conviction of Nawaz Sharif and his children in the Avenfield case.
“July 25 (date of general elections) will see the dawn of a new era, a new Pakistan,” he said while he addressing a public rally in Timergara Dir and Swat District, reported The News. “All of Pakistan was awaiting the verdict, I myself was awaiting anxiously and at last the corrupted have been convicted for looting public money and deceiving the nation for their personal gains,” the PTI supremo told the crowd. He also said that it is the first time in the country’s history that a powerful person has been punished. “This is just the beginning of Naya Pakistan,” Imran told his supporters.
Ridiculing Sharif, Imran said, “He did everything to protect his looted money and targeted institutions, including the armed forces, besides calling the Mumbai attack, an attack sponsored by Pakistan. This claim of his ultimately resulted in putting Pakistan on the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) grey list,” he stated as reported by Express Tribune.
Pakistan demands more funds from China
In order to avert a foreign exchange crisis, Pakistan has asked China to keep lending money, warning that refusal could even lead to the failure of Beijing’s 60-billion-dollar investment in the country, reported Financial Times.
Pakistan has already borrowed four billion dollars from China in the year ending 2018. The government, however, wants China to infuse more funds as it does not want to approach the IMF for a bailout.
Pakistani officials have cautioned that disruption in lending can affect the future of the China – Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). They added that if Islamabad is forced to approach IMF, it may cancel some of planned projects and will be forced to reveal China’s investment details in the country.
After exiting IMF’s (International Monetary Fund) last programme in 2016, Islamabad had never turned to the global monetary organisation for any sort of help. But growing dependence on Chinese funding has started to worry some people. Sakib Sherani, a former adviser to the finance ministry, said, “It is vital to restore the market’s confidence in Pakistan’s ability to keep up with its repayments”.
Bilawal Bhutto stress on PPP’s people friendly manifesto
“Poverty is the biggest challenge facing Pakistan right now,” Pakistan People’s Party Chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Friday while addressing a party rally in Rahim Yar Khan, adding that he strives to fulfill the promises made by his mother, Benazir Bhutto, Geo Tv reported.
Stressing on his party’s manifesto, Bhutto said the priority would be to serve people rather than building metros. He questioned the opponents by asking what good they did for the people of South Punjab.
“We will issue Benazir Kisan cards to all the farmers, which will allow them to attain interest-free loans and subsidies,” the PPP chief said, while highlighting the fact that PPP’s manifesto is people friendly.
Taliban in Afghanistan rejects government’s offer for peace talks
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the group is not interested in any peace talks with the Afghanistan government as long as there are foreign soldiers in the country, reports The Dawn.
Last month, the Afghan high peace council had made a request for a meeting to end the country’s 17-year-old war.
Mujahid has since termed Afghan government officials are mere puppets of the American government. He also said that they not ready for a conversation with the puppets but would rather directly hold talks with the US government.
All this while two land mines detained in a residential area in the eastern Ghazni province, killing three children and injuring seven.
Contributors: Sharanya Munsi, Manisha Monda, Rupanwita Bhattacharjee, Anagha Deshpande and Soniya Agrawal and Alind Chauhan