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Pakistan rejects US censure on its religious freedom violations

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Here’s what’s happening across the border: Shah Mehmood Qureshi asks for India’s help to end the Afghan war; Balochistan cabinet calls CPEC spending in province so far a “joke”.

Pakistan reacts after US designates it as country violating religious freedom of minorities

Pakistan Wednesday dismissed the US State Department’s move to add the country to its blacklist of countries that have infringed on the religious freedom of their people, reported Geo TV.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Tuesday announced that he had designated Pakistan, Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

This implies that the US government holds legitimate rights to ramp up pressure on countries to end their violations of religious freedom.

The US accused these countries of “having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.’”

Pakistan’s Foreign Office Wednesday responded saying, “Besides the clear biases reflected from these designations, there are serious questions on the credentials and impartiality of the self-proclaimed jury involved in this unwarranted exercise.”

It added, “Pakistan does not need counsel by any individual country how to protect the rights of its minorities.”

Last year, Pompeo had placed Pakistan on a Special Watch List. This was seen by analysts as a US tactic to force Islamabad to exercise reforms, Dawn reported.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi asks for India’s help to end the Afghan war

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Monday that Pakistan was committed to ending the 17-year long ongoing war in Afghanistan but this won’t be achieved without the shared support of other regional countries, including India, reported Dawn.

Qureshi made the remark while addressing the National Assembly.

He asked for countries like India, Iran, Tajikistan and China to help it in advancing the peace process in Afghanistan.

He added that Pakistan’s opening of the Kartarpur corridor was a gesture of goodwill towards India and that he expects it to reciprocate.

“Since India is present in Afghanistan, its cooperation in this regard will also be required,” said Qureshi.

The minister added that Prime Minister Imran Khan had asked US President Donald Trump also to help bring peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Baloch cabinet says CPEC expenditure in province minuscule, labels it a ‘joke’

The Balochistan government was outraged recently after a briefing that revealed that the province has been allotted a miniscule share of funds meant for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

It was also upset after it was revealed that little progress has been made with respect to execution of the projects in the province.

The provincial cabinet was given a briefing on this matter by the CPEC Cell, which was formed by the Balochistan government with the help of the World Bank, reported Dawn.

The overall size of the portfolio of CPEC projects in Balochistan was less than 9 per cent of the total committed by China, only around $5.5 billion. Out of this, less than $1 billion has been spent in the past four years, found the CPEC Cell.

Moreover, it was also revealed that no progress had been made on projects connected with the western route which was supposed to pass via the province. Recent reports suggest that this does not even exist in the Chinese record and has been quietly erased from the government’s agenda.

The cabinet members termed the CPEC expenditure so far a “joke” and held the previous government led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif responsible for its inaction.

World Bank cancels $250 million emergency relief loan to Pakistan 

The World Bank suspended a $250 million emergency relief loan to Pakistan after it failed to reach a consensus with the country on a new macroeconomic framework for the country, reported The Tribune.

The IMF and Pakistan government were unable to reach an agreement at the staff level. The report said Pakistan’s gross official foreign currency reserves stand at $7.5 billion, enough to provide for only six weeks of imports.

Had the World Bank given the loan, it would have been Pakistan’s second bailout package within a span of five years.

Bailout packages help provide immediate liquidity and complement the existing resources.

The Asian Development Bank has, however, loaned out $200 million to Pakistan to set up a National Disaster Management Fund.

Imran Khan reiterates resolve to run nation as per State of Madina

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday reaffirmed his government’s resolve to run the country based on the fundamentals of the State of Madina, reported Pakistan Today.

“Students should get education about the life of world’s greatest leader and our Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) so as to take guidance from his Seerat-e-Tayyiaba,” Khan said while talking to students of Cadet College Mastung at the PM Office in Islamabad.

Khan announced that the government was establishing Seerat Chairs in three major universities in the country for research on the Seerat-e-Tayyiba of Prophet Muhammad.

“Every minor success prepares the man for big achievements. If a person continues to strive, he becomes a successful man,” he remarked.

“A person loses only after he accepts the failure. As good and bad times are part of life, a person gets a lesson from bad times,” he added.

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