Here’s what’s happening across the border: Islamabad High Court order reveals charges against Sharif family never proven; Pakistan’s scuba divers cleaning sea floors.
Increasing financing gap can significantly hurt Pakistan economy, says IMF
Pakistan is facing a financing gap of $10 to $12 billion after including all the projections of dollar inflows during the current fiscal, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team has found.
The IMF team’s week-long visit to Pakistan concluded Wednesday with the analysis that its economy will be under threat in medium or short term as the twin deficit continues to rise, reported The News International.
“Without taking remedial measures on internal and external fronts, Pakistan’s economy will see severe difficulties whereby the GDP growth will be slowed down and the inflationary pressures will rise,” the report quoted IMF as saying.
Meanwhile, Naveed Kamal, Citi Head of Public Sector, Middle East, Pakistan & Levant, Head of Banking, UAE and Oman, told The Express Tribune that Pakistan should approach IMF for a bailout as well seek financial assistance from friendly countries.
Kamal said if the country wants to avoid foreign payment crisis it should arrange an amount of up to $20 billion.
High Court’s detailed verdict on Nawaz Sharif raises questions on NAB’s allegations
A detailed verdict of the Islamabad High Court reveals that corruption charges against the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family were never proven, reported The Daily Times.
The High Court released a detailed 41-page verdict Wednesday of the 19 September order that suspended the jail terms of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (Retd) Muhammad Safdar in the London Avenfield luxury flat corruption case.
The trio had filed a petition challenging an accountability court’s 6 July order that convicted them in the case.
The judgment penned down by Justice Athar Minallah revealed intricate details of the case.
It stated, “The petitioners were alleged to have acquired Avenfield Apartments by corrupt, dishonest or illegal means. Yet, the accountability court held that the prosecution had not brought evidence in respect of [section 9 (a)(iv) NAO, 1999]. So the accused are acquitted under that section of the law.”
Further, it added, “The bureau, in its wisdom, has not challenged the said acquittal.”
The High Court also said, “The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) mostly relied on Panama Papers case to argue their points against suspension in sentences.”
First Lady’s ex-husband breaks down during hearing in officer’s transfer case
Pakistan’s First Lady Bushra Maneka’s ex-husband Khawar Maneka broke down during the Supreme Court’s Wednesday hearing on the case of the unaccounted transfer of Pakpattan’s district police officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondol, reported The News International.
The incident happened when Maneka was asked to submit his response on National Counter Terrorism Authority’s finding that confirmed political pressure behind Gondol’s transfer.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, however, reprimanded Khawar and said, “No need for you to cry and get emotional here.”
During questioning, when Khawar was asked to explain why he approached Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar to get DPO Rizwan transferred, Khawar said, “I did not have anyone to seek help from. I couldn’t go to my ex-wife Bushra Bibi or PM Imran on the matter.” He even went on to claim that his family was mistreated by the police.
Earlier in August, Khawar and Gondol got involved in an altercation when the DPO tried to stop his over-speeding vehicle at a checkpoint. Gondol was transferred subsequently.
Pakistan’s cautious steps on China’s CPEC projects
An $8.2-billion railway link between Karachi to Peshawar, which forms China’s biggest Belt and Road Initiative project in Pakistan, seems to have irked the latter as both the cost and financing of the project look daunting, reported Dawn.
Pakistan’s mounting debt levels and a request for foreign loans has been met with more scepticism under Imran Khan’s newly installed government.
Khan’s government had sought an evaluation of all BRI contracts, said the report. The report further quoted officials to say some deals were unsatisfactorily negotiated and favourable towards China.
To add to Islamabad’s exasperation, Beijing is ready to assess only those projects which are yet to begin, three senior government officials revealed to Dawn.
Pakistan’s new government is particular about price and affordability of CPEC projects. China has, in a way, attempted to reorient its investments by promising $60 billion for infrastructure projects that are in sync with Imran Khan’s assurance of bringing about social development.
Moreover, Yao Jing, China’s ambassador to Pakistan, was quoted as saying, “We will definitely follow their agenda to work out a roadmap for BRI projects based on ‘mutual consultation’.” Jing also assured that Beijing would move ahead with only those projects that Pakistan was interested in.
South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Maldives too have been reassessing Chinese investments in their countries.
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan on verge of finalising Gwadar refinery agreements
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are on the cusp of successfully finalising an agreement for setting up a major oil refinery at Gwadar, a port city of strategic importance in Balochistan, announced petroleum minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan.
After concluding a meeting with the Saudi delegation headed by energy advisor Ahmad Hamid Al-Ghamidi, Khan added that a summary of the agreements would be sent to the federal cabinet Thursday for their final approval so that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) could be signed, reported Dawn.
The plan put forward for the 5 lakh barrels per day capacity refinery is expected to be completed with $8-9 billion worth investment.
Pakistan has kept China informed about its status of agreements with the Saudi delegation. Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, minister for planning and development, told Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing about how the refinery will drastically reduce Islamabad’s oil import bill which stands at an estimated $18 billion this year.
Pakistan’s scuba divers are looking to clean seas
Syed Mansoor Ahmed, one of Pakistan’s few certified scuba divers from the world’s prime scuba diver training organization Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), is among a handful of certified divers who have been removing litter from the Arabia Sea, reported Dawn.
Ahmed, who spearheads professional dive centre Scuba Adventures, has remained resolute in his determination to get oceans rid of debris left behind by humans ever since he started in 1998, said the report.
Saquib Mehmood, a 46-year-old who became a certified instructor in 2016, has been working with three other scuba divers, as well as with Ahmed with whom he collaborated with two years back, on filtering out waste from the sea area surrounding Arabian Seas’ uninhabited Charna island, hardly a few kilometers from Balochistan’s Hub river.
Mehmood said they use local knowledge for tracking active operating areas of fishermen who leave behind nets for fishing and also deploy sonar technology to locate and clean up the bottom of the sea.
The team is also working on providing training to more than 20 divers out of a large group of Pakistan’s 700 certified scuba divers as they realised the need for more manpower to assist them in their mission.