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Govt committed to provide relief to masses, says Marriyum Aurangzeb

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Govt committed to provide relief to masses, says Marriyum Aurangzeb

 Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Thursday that the coalition government was determined to provide relief to the people.

Addressing a press conference, Ms Aurangzeb said the prime minister announced the ‘Kisan Package’ worth Rs1800 billion, which was yielding results.

She said, “The people getting relief after the “political picnic” is over. The price of flour has been reduced by Rs40 per kg. Whereas, the price of cooking oil has also been reduced by Rs70.”

Taking a swipe at the political opponents, Ms. Aurangzeb said, “They left the country on the brink of default”.

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Regarding the budget, Ms Aurangzeb said that the prime minister had started holding a consultation meeting regarding the budget. She criticised the previous government, saying, “The previous government had entered into an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and then violated the agreement”.

“It takes time to revive an economy. However, the previous government destroyed the country’s economy,” Ms Aurangzeb said. 

On Monday, Ms Aurangzeb asked Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief to provide proof of his claims in connection with the alleged mistreatment of women workers and members of the latter’s party.

Describing the PTI chief’s claims as a “new lie”, Ms Aurangzeb said, “Such a grave accusation cannot be tolerated.”

On Saturday, Ms Aurangzeb ruled out the possibility of holding talks with the PTI chief, saying those who attacked the state must be punished.

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Citing the attacks on the GHQ and other national buildings, she mentioned that any talks with those disrespecting the monuments of martyrs was tantamount to disgracing them (martyrs).

“Now you are saying that [you] want to hold talks after torching schools, hospitals [and] ambulances?” said the minister who also accused the former prime minister of poisoning the minds of youth by spreading chaos in the country.

She said the PTI chief had suddenly realised the importance of talks only after his party had been shattered. The PTI was formed by transporting the people by planes, she remarked. “The parties that aren’t political are shattered this way.”

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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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