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Pakistan

No choices, no options

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After an American intelligence report stated that Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was directly involved in the murder of Washington Post columnist and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the US State Department placed restrictions and travel bans on 76 individuals belonging to the desert kingdom.

Tahir Malik Profile Tahir Malik

They were responsible for the murder, the State Department said.

Pakistan, however, immediately rejected the report and stood by its old ally.

Questions are being asked now, whether standing by Saudi Arabia instead of the only super power in the world, was a wise thing to do.

There are no permanent friends nor permanent enemies in the world of International Relations. Permanence is granted only to benefits. In our foreign policy, money, whether in the form of foreign aid or in the form of remittances, constitutes a very important cornerstone. Pakistan’s Achilles heel, if you will.

During the past 7 months, remittances have been rising steadily, now averaging about $2 billion monthly or more. From July last year till January, a record increase of 24.9% saw the amount reach $14.2 billion.

Approximately 60% of this amount is sent from Gulf countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. Between July and December 2020, the country received $4 billion from the former and $3 billion from the later. A combined $1.2 billion came from the other gulf countries. One of the reason for this increase is the preference for banking channels instead of hundi. “Roshan Digital Accounts” have made it easy for the   diaspora to send money back home. I am happy that in just six months, over 86000 accounts were opened and $550 million made their way over to our banks.

More than 9 million Pakistanis are settled or working abroad. If just half of them open these accounts, then a sizable amount will start pouring in, providing much needed stability to our foreign reserves.

Perhaps it is now easier for the reader to understand why Pakistan stood by Saudi Arabia. Its not just about the brotherly or friendly relations between two Islamic countries but also the much needed foreign reserves. At no cost whatsoever, will Pakistan spoil its equation with the desert kingdom. Especially not now when it is going through a particularly rough patch. Loans from fleecing international organisations such as IMF and ADB have become a given; we just cannot survive without them.

Just recently, Pakistan revived the IMF program of $6 billion, implementing harsh conditions which were a prerequisite for the loan. Foreign loans have now reached the sum of $113 billion.

Can we afford to oppose Saudi Arabia? Do we have a choice here? No. Not in such a severe financial crunch. 

Tahir Malik

Tahir Malik is a seasoned journalist and analyst at GNN

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World

Death toll from Iran tower block collapse rises to 18

The number of people still trapped under the rubble remains unclear.

Published by Mehak Javed

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Tehran: Iranian authorities announced Thursday that 18 people were killed in the collapse of a building under construction in southwestern Iran, in a new toll after four days of the tragedy. 

On Monday, a large part of the 10-storey "Metropol" building under construction collapsed in Abadan, one of the main cities in Iran's Khuzestan province. The building is located in the middle of one of the busiest streets in the city of 230,000 people.

The number of people still trapped under the rubble remains unclear.

The cause of the collapse, which occurred during a sandstorm, is yet to be ascertained. 

Police, however, arrested the owner of the building and the project manager of the construction company that built it.

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Pakistan

Riots in Islamabad: Police register cases against PTI leaders including Imran Khan, Asad Umar

Riots in Islamabad: Police register cases against PTI leaders including Imran Khan, Asad Umar

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman

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Islamabad: The Islamabad police Thursday booked senior PTI leaders including chairman Imran Khan in a case for the riots that ocurred in the federal capital during the “Azadi March” on Wednesday.

Police also registered cases against PTI leaders Asad Umar, Imran Ismail, Raja Khurram Nawaz, Ali Amin Gandapur, and Ali Nawaz Awan.

The police registered two separate cases at the Kohsar Police Station for "rioting and arson".

The first FIR was registered at the complaint of a sub-inspector (SI) named Asif Raza, while the second one was filed on behalf of SI Ghulam Sarwar. 

The cases have been registered against 150 people out of which 39 have been arrested. They also mention the burning of the metro bus stations at Islamabad's Jinnah Avenue, damaging a government vehicle at the Express Chowk, and breaking the glass windows of Geo News and Jang office. 

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Pakistan

Salman Sufi appointed head of PM’s Strategic Reforms

Salman Sufi, a Mother Teresa Award winner and an expert in introducing unique social welfare schemes, will render his services voluntarily. 

Published by Mehak Javed

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Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday appointed public policy expert Salman Sufi as the head of the Prime Minister’s Strategic Reforms.

Salman Sufi, a Mother Teresa Award winner and an expert in introducing unique social welfare schemes, will render his services voluntarily. 

Mr. Salman has introduced a number of people-friendly schemes, including the Punjab Women Protection Act, Violence Against Women Centre, Women on Wheels and Shehr-e-Khamoshan. 

He has also served as Director General Strategic Reform Unit during Shehbaz Sharif’s Punjab chief ministership.

Salman Sufi was named one of the top five women’s rights activists in the world, including by the government of incumbent US President Joe Biden, and was also awarded the Vital Voices Award.

Additionally, the government has directed all ministries to make every effort to effectively implement the Prime Minister’s reform agenda. 

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