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PM Shehbaz stresses unity to tackle terrorism at apex committee huddle

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PM Shehbaz stresses unity to tackle terrorism at apex committee huddle

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday called for national unity by setting aside differences to tackle the menace of terrorism as the country recently witnessed one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s capital Peshawar amid new wave of terrorism sparked since November last.

The premier expressed this view while addressing a huddle of the Apex Committee at the KP Governor House days after a suicide bomber targeted worshippers in a mosque of the Peshawar Police Lines – one of the highly-fortified zones – killing over 100 people and injuring more than 200 others. 

The meeting was attended by KP’s caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Punjab’s interim CM Mohsin Naqvi, Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, and officials of intelligence agencies. The moot was called to consider steps to eradicate terrorism and upgrade the Counter-Terrorism Department and police in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack.  

Expressing solidarity with the families of the victims of the Jan 30 suicide blast in Peshawar, the premier said every stakeholder should play its role to eradicate the menace of terrorism. Mr Sharif said political, social and religious leadership was united for eliminating the menace of terrorism from the country, adding: “We will continue to fight until eradication of terrorism in the country”.

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Describing the Peshawar attack as the most horrific incident after the APS tragedy, he raised concerns over the resurgence of terrorism as it had been weeded out a few years back. He said several terror incidents were reported in the last few months in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “The whole nation is in shock,” he remarked.

The premier also called into question the use of Rs417 billion funding provided to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government in the last 10 years under the National Finance Commission Award to maintain security. He said the KP, where the PTI has been ruling since 2013, could have established a forensic lab and the Safe City Project. “There had been peace in the province if the KP government would have spent even half of the provided funds,” he commented.

The premier admitted security lapse in the Peshawar incident but, at the same time, dispelled rumours that the mosque was targeted in a drone attack. He rejected such allegation as baseless and asked people to avoid such an inappropriate behaviour.al

He asked the nation to put up a united front against terrorism by setting aside the differences, adding that all constitutional institutions should play a role to bring unity in the country. The premier vowed to provide assistance to the northwestern province to boost strength against terrorism. He said he had convened an All Parties Conference (APC) on Feb 7 to discuss ways to overcome the current national challenges. He mentioned that invitation had also been extended to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to attend the conference. 

In an indirect criticism of the PTI, he said the terrorists were allowed to settle here but they (PTI leaders) were not ready to work with the government for the sake of the country’s future. 

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In the key huddle, the premier also touched on the topic of the government’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) delegation which is visiting Pakistan for the ninth review of a $7 billion loan programme. Mr Sharif revealed that the delegation of the global lender was giving a tough time to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and his team as its conditions are beyond the imagination. 

Saying Pakistan was facing tough economic challenges, he said there was no other option except implementing the conditions of the IMF to revive the loan programme.

On the occasion, PM Shehbaz also announced compensation for the victims of the Peshawar blast. He announced Rs2 million compensation for each family of the martyred and Rs500,000 for each injured person.

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Pakistan reaches new $7 billion loan deal with IMF

Pakistan reaches new $7 billion loan deal with IMF

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Pakistan reaches new $7 billion loan deal with IMF

Pakistan on Friday reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF for a new $7 billion loan with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support its economy as well as deal with its debts.

Earlier this year, the IMF approved the immediate release of the final $1.1 billion tranche of a $3 billion bailout to Pakistan. Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said the government planned to seek a long-term loan to help stabilize the economy after the end of that bailout package.

The new loan deal will last for 37 months. It is aimed at strengthening fiscal and monetary policy as well as reforms to broaden the tax base, improve the management of state-owned enterprises, strengthen competition, secure a level playing field for investment, enhance human capital, and scale up social protection through increased generosity and coverage in a major welfare program, the IMF said.

“The program aims to capitalize on the hard-won macroeconomic stability achieved over the past year by furthering efforts to strengthen public finances, reduce inflation, rebuild external buffers and remove economic distortions to spur private sector-led growth,” said Nathan Porter, IMF’s mission chief to Pakistan.

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The agreement is subject to approval by the IMF’s executive board.

Pakistan’s new coalition government presented its first budget in parliament last month, promising an increase of up to 25% in the salaries of government employees and setting an ambitious tax collection target.

The finance minister said Pakistan wants to collect 13 trillion rupees ($44 billion) in taxes, which would be 40% more than in the current fiscal year.

Aurangzeb also said the government will ensure that the number of taxpayers increases. Only about 5 million people in Pakistan pay taxes.

Analysts said the new budget of about $68 billion — up from $50 billion in the last fiscal year — was aimed at qualifying for a long-term IMF loan of $6 billion to $8 billion to help stabilize the economy. Pakistan in 2023 nearly defaulted on the payment of foreign debts.

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Money-laundering: Moonis Elahi, six others declared absconders

Money-laundering: Moonis Elahi, six others declared absconders

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Money-laundering: Moonis Elahi, six others declared absconders

The special central jail in Lahore has declared Moonis Elahi, son of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, and six other accused absconders in the money-laundering case filed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). 

The special central jail heard the money-laundering case on Saturday. The FIA submitted the incomplete challan of nine accused including Moonis Elahi in court. 

Chaudhry Moonis Elahi and other accused have been declared proclaimed offenders in the challan. The other proclaimed offenders are Farasat Ali, Imtiaz Ali, Amir Sohail, Wajid Ahmad and Amir Fayyaz. 

The accused Zara Elahi, Ahmad Farhan and Zaigham Abbas have been included in Column No 4 for being on bail. 

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The FIA has requested the court to freeze the properties of Moonis Elahi and other nine accused. The court has frozen the properties of seven accused, except Monis Elahi and Zaigham Abbas. 

Counsel for Moonis Elahi and Zaigham Abbas requested time for arguments on properties freezing matter from the court. 

The court directed the counsel to present arguments until Aug 20. Judge Tanveer Ahmed Sheikh issued the written verdict of early hearing on challan. 

The judgement mentions that Interpol is being engaged for the arrest of Moonis Elahi and Interpol has issued red notices to him. Zara Elahi is accused of receiving kickbacks. As per investigative officer, Zara Elahi couldn’t present evidence of her income sources. 

Zaigham Abbas is a cash boy of Moonis Elahi and accused Zaigham Abbas used to do illegal money transactions in the bank accounts of other accused. It has been alleged that accused Ahmed Farhan used to deposit money with bank accounts. 

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It is pertinent to note that the FIA registered the money-laundering and corruption case against Moonis Elahi on June 6, 2023.

Also read: FIA confiscates Chaudhry Moonis Elahi’s assets

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Pakistan, US pledge collaboration on multiple fronts

Pakistan, US pledge collaboration on multiple fronts

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Pakistan, US pledge collaboration on multiple fronts

 Federal Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi met US Ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome and both sides agreed to strengthen mutual cooperation in counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, and security. 

The US ambassador visited the Ministry of Interior, where Naqvi welcomed him. Other officials were also present on the occasion. 

During the meeting, both sides discussed the Pakistan-US relations, security and other matters of mutual interest. They pledged to enhance cooperation in security, counter-terrorism, anti-narcotics, and other areas. 

Both sides agreed to organise “law enforcement dialogues” in October. 

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The interior minister assured the US ambassador of the ministry’s full cooperation in enhancing bilateral relations. 

Talking about his recent visit to New York, Naqvi said the issue of cooperation between Islamabad and the New York Police Department was discussed. He said a delegation of Islamabad police would soon visit New York to improve mutual cooperation. 

He said officers from Islamabad police were keen to receive training from the New York Police Department. 

The minister said Pakistan’s minorities were enjoying equal rights under the country’s constitution. He assured the ambassador that all possible measures had been implemented to net those involved in the Jaranwala incident. 

Regarding cricket affairs, Naqvi (who is also the chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board), lauded the US government for hosting a successful T20 World Cup. He said efforts were on to arrange a tri-nation series involving Pakistan, US and Canada. He also mentioned that Pakistan was working for a cricket league in America and Canada.

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The US ambassador expressed his gratitude, saying a number of cricket lovers enjoyed the T20 World Cup matches.

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