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2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame: Bears-Texans kick off HOF week on Aug. 1

The Hall of Fame Game (8 p.m. ET, Aug. 1) will be televised on ESPN, ABC and ESPN Deportes. Read more about the HOF inductees, including Dwight Freeney and Julius Peppers.

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The Chicago Bears and Houston Texans will face off in the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 1, and it will be televised on ESPN, ABC and ESPN Deportes.

The game kicks off Enshrinement Week in Canton, Ohio, where seven players will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Read more about each Hall of Fame inductee below.



Indianapolis Colts, 2002-12; San Diego Chargers, 2013-14; Arizona Cardinals, 2015; Atlanta Falcons, 2016; Detroit Lions, 2017; Seattle Seahawks, 2017

Though some initially questioned whether Freeney was too short (6-foot-1) to play defensive end, he was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection as well as a three-time first-team All Pro during his 11 years with the Colts. Freeney was the No. 11 pick of the 2002 draft and made an immediate impact for the Colts (13 sacks as a rookie and a second-place finish in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting) on the way to being one of the most consistent, impactful pass rushers of the Super Bowl era.

Freeney, an all-decade selection for the 2000s, finished 18th in career sacks (it officially became a statistic in 1982) with 125.5. His spin move was routinely cited by opposing linemen as one of the most difficult pass-rush moves to deal with against any player. He had 47 forced fumbles, including a staggering league-leading nine as a rookie. Freeney had seven seasons with at least 10 sacks, and he forced at least four fumbles in eight seasons.

Denver Broncos, 1974-83

Gradishar is the first player from the fabled Orange Crush defense who will have a bust in Canton. In an era featuring Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain, Dallas' Doomsday and Minnesota's Purple People Eaters, Gradishar anchored the Broncos' storied group. Over the course of Gradishar's career, the Broncos were in the top 10 in rushing defense, pass defense, total defense, scoring defense and interceptions. From 1977 to 1981, the Broncos were first in fewest yards allowed as well as fewest passing touchdowns allowed.

Gradishar, credited with a franchise-record 2,049 tackles, may have been the most decorated player in the Hall's seniors pool. He never missed a game and was named to seven Pro Bowls and was a first- or second-team All Pro selection four times. He was the first inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense to finish in the top three in voting for Defensive Player of the Year (1977) and the first to win DPOY (1978).

Chicago Bears, 2006-13; Atlanta Falcons, 2014-15; Baltimore Ravens, 2016; Seattle Seahawks, 2016

Hester's 19 career regular-season touchdown returns (14 punt, five kickoff) are a league record, and he returned the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI for a touchdown. That was despite the fact that most opponents tried to keep the ball away from him after he brought three punts and two kickoffs back for touchdowns in his rookie season. Hester was a rare selection to two all-decade teams (the 2000s and 2010s) and was selected as one of the returners for the NFL's all-century team as part of the league's 100th anniversary.

Many personnel executives, former opponents and teammates consider him the best returner to have ever played. Before kickoffs were made from the 35-yard line, teams often elected to send kickoffs out of bounds -- giving the Bears the ball at the 40-yard line -- rather than put it in Hester's hands. He once returned a kickoff for a touchdown when Chicago had the hands team on the field instead of the usual allotment of blockers. He is the only player in history with at least five special teams touchdowns in a season -- and he did it twice. He is also the only returner to ever lead the league in both kickoff and punt return yards twice. At age 34, in the final game of his career, he had a career high in postseason kickoff return yards (194).

Houston Texans, 2003-14; Indianapolis Colts, 2015; Tennessee Titans, 2016

Johnson's combination of size, strength, speed and fearlessness made him the rarest of receivers. Before the 2003 draft, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound Johnson ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the University of Miami's pro day, with a 41-inch vertical jump. It was just a preview of the seven-time Pro Bowler's career, which included 14,185 receiving yards and 70 receiving touchdowns. He played 12 of his 14 NFL seasons with the expansion Texans, who drafted him at No. 3.

Johnson led the league twice both in receptions and receiving yards. He had 21 games in his career with at least 10 receptions and at least 100 yards receiving -- the most all time -- and his eight career games with at least 10 receptions, 150 yards receiving and one touchdown are also a league record. Johnson and Hall of Famer Jerry Rice are also the only players to have multiple 1,400-yard seasons after age 30.

New England Patriots, 1980; Chicago Bears, 1981-93; Green Bay Packers, 1994

McMichael, who has ALS, didn't break out onto the NFL scene as some do on their way to Canton. He was released by the Patriots after a back injury that limited him to six games as a rookie. He didn't play all 16 games in a season until his fourth year while with the Bears. But that's where he carved out a gold-jacket career as part of one of the best defenses in league history. From 1983 to 1993, McMichael was a foundational player who became one of the best interior pass rushers, with 95 career sacks.

McMichael had seven seasons with at least eight sacks. There are just four defensive tackles (since sacks became an official statistic) to have more seasons with at least eight: Hall of Famers John Randle, Alan Page and Alex Karras, along with recently retired Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. In the 11-year span McMichael was a starting defensive tackle for the Bears, Chicago allowed the second-fewest rushing yards and led the league in sacks. He had 53 sacks in a six-season span (1983-1988) when the Bears' defense was at its peak. He was named first-team All Pro twice and second-team once, and he was selected to two Pro Bowls in those six years.

Carolina Panthers, 2002-09, 2017-18; Chicago Bears, 2010-13; Green Bay Packers, 2014-16

At 6-foot-6¼ and 283 pounds at the 2002 NFL scouting combine, Peppers intrigued talent evaluators as a potential pass rusher given his résumé at North Carolina. But he also had played 56 games over two seasons for the Tar Heels' basketball team, averaging 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. That propelled Peppers to a career as one of the league's best all-time pass rushers. He is fourth on the official sack list with 159.5, one of four players on the list who finished his career with more than 155. He also scored six career touchdowns: four interception returns and two fumble returns.

Only Jim Marshall and Hall of Famer Bruce Smith played more games at defensive end than Peppers' 266. Though he never led the league in sacks in a season, he finished with at least 10 sacks 10 times in 17 seasons and had at least 12 sacks three times. He also had 11 career interceptions, forced 52 fumbles and knocked down 82 passes. At age 38, he finished the 2018 season with five sacks and knocked down six passes. He was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, a three-time first-team All Pro and named to the all-decade team for the 2000s.

San Francisco 49ers, 2007-14

Willis packed more quality into an eight-year career than almost any player could have. He retired, much like Hall of Famer Jack Lambert, because of a painful toe injury that wouldn't heal and severely hampered his mobility. He played in six games his final season, had surgery and retired the following spring. But seven Pro Bowl selections as well as five first-team All Pro selections give him the rarest of résumés. He was also selected to the all-decade team of the 2010s despite playing in only half of the decade considered.

Willis was elite as soon as he set foot on an NFL field. He led the league in tackles his rookie season with 174 and was the Defensive Rookie of the Year, a first-team All Pro and a Pro Bowl selection. He was the first rookie inside linebacker named first-team All Pro since Dick Butkus. He led the league in tackles again in 2009, had six 100-tackle seasons and five 120-tackle seasons in the middle of the 49ers' defense. In his eight seasons, he led the league in solo tackles over that period, as well as tying for the league lead in forced fumbles and finishing second in passes knocked down.
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Sports

Everything you absolutely need to know about the offseason

Think you missed something in the NFL offseason? We've got you covered with everything important that has happened since February.

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Most of the NFL's 32 training camps will commence Tuesday, as a roughly 6½-month journey -- culminating with Super Bowl LIX at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans on Feb. 9 -- kicks into gear. The days, weeks and months since the Kansas City Chiefs broke the hearts of the San Francisco 49ers in 25-22 overtime fashion in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11 in Las Vegas have been mighty eventful. If the league exited your radar at the moment Travis Kelce was heard "singing" atop the Super Bowl champions' podium, here's everything you might have missed:



Jump to:
Who changed teams | Rodgers saga | Coaching moves
Historic draft | Rules changes | Big contracts
Schedule expansion? | Other news



Brooke Pryor: Because free agency and the months after the season are always chaotic, it's easy to forget that some of the league's most well-known players are in not-so-familiar places as training camp officially ushers in the 2024 season.

Of course, you've heard plenty about Justin Fields and Russell Wilson heading to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Kirk Cousins getting $100 million guaranteed and a lifetime supply of Kohl's Cash from the Atlanta Falcons, but those moves just barely scrape the surface of another wild offseason.

Three members of the dismal 2022 quarterback draft class -- Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell and Kenny Pickett -- were traded this offseason, with Ridder heading to the Cardinals, Howell to Seattle and Pickett to the Eagles. All three started games in 2023, and all three are widely expected to be backups with their new teams.

The wide receiver market was also active as the Bills traded Stefon Diggs to the Texans, the Bears landed Keenan Allen from the Chargers, and the Broncos swapped Jerry Jeudy for a pair of the Browns' late-round picks.

There was also plenty of shuffling among running backs in the offseason. Not only did longtime Giant Saquon Barkley sign with the Eagles, but former Titan Derrick Henry signed with the Ravens and one-time rushing champ Josh Jacobs went to the Packers, while former Packer Aaron Jones went to the Vikings.

And let's not forget the slew of blockbuster defensive moves across the league. The Panthers traded DE Brian Burns to the Giants, while the reigning Super Bowl champs shipped cornerback L'Jarius Sneed to the Titans. New York's other NFL team landed DE Haason Reddick in a trade with the Eagles.

Miami fan favorite DT Christian Wilkins also has a new home, signing a free agent deal with the Raiders, and Danielle Hunter signed with the Texans.

Got all that? There won't be a quiz, but there will be fantasy football drafts, and y'all might want to study up.



Stephen Holder: No offseason would be complete without Aaron Rodgers making headlines.

Rodgers is back for the New York Jets in 2024, and it wasn't just his ruptured Achilles tendon that threatened to keep him out. The four-time All-Pro quarterback has recovered from the injury he sustained on the first offensive series in Week 1 of last season, his first with the Jets. But his immediate future became less clear in recent months when it was revealed he was among those under serious consideration to be named the running mate of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Rodgers has not been shy about expressing controversial political and social opinions in recent years, so it was perhaps unsurprising that he was initially receptive to the idea of running for office.

"There were really two options: Retire and be his VP or keep playing," Rodgers said in May.

Rodgers picked the latter and will be back with the Jets. Kennedy ultimately tapped lawyer and tech entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan for the role. But Rodgers drew additional attention in June when he missed the Jets' mandatory minicamp, an absence that coach Robert Saleh described as "unexcused."

Sticking with the topic of quarterback drama, there remains uncertainty in Dallas, where Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is entering the final year of his contract, as the stalemate between him and the organization continues. The Cowboys have been accused in some corners of mismanaging the situation, and the idea of Prescott playing elsewhere in 2025 cannot be ruled out.

Team owner Jerry Jones has a delicate situation on his hands, and how he manages it moving forward will be one of the NFL's biggest stories in the coming months.



Pryor: Entering the 2024 season, a quarter of the league's teams will have a new head coach, and for the first time since 1999, Bill Belichick won't be among them.

After 24 seasons, New England mutually parted ways with its six-time Super Bowl-winning head coach in January and elevated linebackers coach and former player Jerod Mayo to the role. Belichick, meanwhile, had only tepid interest from organizations with head-coach openings, including the Atlanta Falcons, and he finished the hiring cycle on the outside looking in.

While Belichick failed to land another job, one decorated, familiar face is back in the head-coaching ranks: Jim Harbaugh.

The Michigan Man returned to the league fresh off a national championship with the Wolverines to coach quarterback Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers.

And although he never left the NFL, Raheem Morris is back in Atlanta after a stint as the Rams' defensive coordinator. Morris was previously in Atlanta from 2015 to 2020, eventually serving as the interim head coach in 2020 after Dan Quinn's early-season dismissal. Quinn, by the way, is a head coach again, this time as the man in charge of the Washington Commanders.

The other head-coach hires this cycle are: Dave Canales (Carolina Panthers), Antonio Pierce (elevated from his interim role with the Las Vegas Raiders), Brian Callahan (Tennessee Titans) and Mike Macdonald (Seattle Seahawks).



Holder: This year's NFL draft had a distinct offensive flavor among early-first-round picks, and we're not talking about just quarterbacks.

A record 14 consecutive offensive players were selected before a single defensive selection came off the board, with six quarterbacks among the top 12 picks -- another record. All told, there were 23 offensive players selected in the first round, easily surpassing the previous record of 19.

But as the league doubled down on offense, quarterbacks -- per usual -- were the headliners.

No. 1 pick Caleb Williams heads to the Chicago Bears, joining a remarkably reshaped roster that, suddenly, has real expectations. But the Bears being the Bears -- they haven't seen a first-round quarterback become an All-Pro since Sid Luckman was selected in 1939 -- can Williams buck their sordid quarterback history and find success? That figures to be one of the biggest storylines of this season as the Bears and coach Matt Eberflus try to find their way.

No. 2 pick Jayden Daniels takes over in Washington; Drake Maye went No. 3 to New England; Michael Penix Jr. stunningly was selected by Atlanta at No. 8 (despite the spring signing of Kirk Cousins); J.J. McCarthy was chosen 10th by the Vikings; and Bo Nix gets a chance to replace Russell Wilson in Denver after becoming the 12th pick.

Even the most ambitious predictions didn't project such a long parade of quarterbacks being chosen so quickly. But the difficulty of landing a franchise quarterback for teams that lack one has compelled teams to be more audacious than ever in drafting the position. Meanwhile, wide receivers were also popular in Round 1, with a record-tying seven selected in the first 32 picks. Marvin Harrison Jr. (fourth overall, Arizona), Malik Nabers (sixth overall, Giants) and Rome Odunze (ninth overall, Bears) all went in the top 10 and could be among the most intriguing rookies on the field this season. Pass rusher Laiatu Latu went to the Indianapolis Colts at 15th overall, the first defensive player off the board.



Pryor: Buckle up because NFL kickoffs are going to look a lot different this year. Like, a lot.

The league adopted a new, XFL-style kickoff format with the goal of reducing injuries and increasing the number of kickoff returns. Now, instead of running at full speed toward each other "Braveheart" style, no one -- other than the kicker -- can move until the ball either touches the ground or touches a player.

The rule is currently approved for one year, but it's already affecting team strategy and personnel. The Steelers signed return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson, while also floating the once-unthinkable possibility that quarterback Justin Fields, a physical, big-bodied dynamic runner, could be involved in the return game.

The rule change could also lead to the league's kickers being more involved in bringing down the return man, something Ravens kicker Justin Tucker brought up during offseason workouts.

"I don't think [tackling is] necessarily something that is encouraged [for kickers], but it's not discouraged either," Tucker said, adding that he's hitting the weight room to put on a little more muscle. "It kind of just comes with a territory. It's a football play. We're all football players out there, and ultimately if a returner is beelining toward the end zone and I'm the last guy there to stop him, it is part of my job description."

While the kickoff change is the most visible rule change for the 2024 season, the league also adopted other adjustments, including a ban on hip-drop tackles. Using the tackle, which occurs when a defender wraps up a ball carrier, rotates his hips and drops his weight onto the ball carrier's legs, will result in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down.

The league also expanded the use of replay, now permitting reviews of plays where the quarterback was ruled down by contact or out of bounds before throwing a pass. There can also be replay when there is "clear and obvious visual evidence" that the game clock expired before the snap.

Teams can also earn a third challenge after winning their first. Previously, a team had to win both challenges to get a third.

Other rule changes include the trade deadline getting pushed back to after the Week 9 games, emergency quarterbacks being able to be on the practice squad rather than the 53-man roster, and allowing an unlimited number of players to be designated to return to a team in the postseason.



Holder: If this offseason proved anything, it established that the NFL's escalating salaries aren't slowing down.

More mind-blowing deals were signed, with two players joining the rare air of the $50 million club. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff signed extensions with their respective teams that will average more than $50 million per season. They became the fifth and sixth players to reach that threshold in league history.

The quarterback position keeps creating new salary frontiers. The Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts became the first quarterback to surpass $50 million per season in April 2023, followed 10 days later by Lamar Jackson.

Look for the numbers to keep going up, with Dak Prescott's new deal -- with the Cowboys or someone else -- still looming.

The backdrop here is important: The NFL's salary cap increased by a record 13.6% for 2024 to $224.8 million per team. That's a jump of $30.6 million per team from last season, in part because the NFL has resolved its revenue setbacks connected to the 2020 pandemic. Those revenue reductions had led to a temporary decline in the salary cap. The league is also benefiting from additional revenue generated from the lucrative 2021 deal with its broadcast partners.

And Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson isn't complaining one bit. He signed a deal last month that made him the league's highest-paid non-quarterback, a deal that pays the All-Pro $35 million per season.

Elsewhere, Detroit receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown cemented his elite status with a new deal paying $30 million per season. And the Miami Dolphins will have a boatload of cash tied up in their top receivers, with Jaylen Waddle inking a contract that will average $28.25 million per season to keep him lining up across from Tyreek Hill ($30 million per year).

Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, coming off a sensational performance in the Super Bowl, also cashed in. He signed a massive $158.75 million contract that included $95 million in total guarantees.

But not everyone who was seeking big money got it.

San Francisco 49ers receiver Brandon Aiyuk's standoff with the team continued as he requested a trade last week. Aiyuk has been seeking a contract extension from the club, but the sides have been unable to reach a deal. Aiyuk has one season remaining on his rookie deal.

Relatedly, the Prescott situation in Dallas is compounded by the lack of a deal between Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb and the team. Lamb stayed away from the team all offseason -- including mandatory practices -- as he awaits a contract extension entering the final season of his rookie deal.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati Bengals receiver Tee Higgins will have to settle for playing on the franchise tag this season as the team decided against a multiyear extension. Higgins remains the only player to receive the franchise tag this year but not ultimately sign a multiyear contract.



Pryor: Good news, football fans: If Roger Goodell has his way there could soon be even more regular-season football -- and maybe even a holiday Monday the day after the Super Bowl. The NFL commissioner floated the idea of an 18-game regular season on "The Pat McAfee Show" during the NFL draft, suggesting the league could further reduce the number of preseason games in favor of another regular-season matchup.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Not so fast.

To expand the regular season, the league and the players' union, the NFLPA, would have to agree to renegotiate the CBA, which is set to expire following the 2030 season. And so far, the NFLPA and players around the league have expressed serious concerns about a longer regular season. In a preliminary survey by ESPN, many said they would be more amenable to the longer season with a greater share of the league's revenue.

"Eighteen games sounds great when Roger's on 'The Pat McAfee [Show],'" said Colts center Ryan Kelly, who is on the NFLPA's executive committee. "Until you're the one that's going out there and putting the helmet on for 18 of those games, then come talk to me."

An expanded regular season isn't the only potential schedule change on the horizon. The NFLPA is also working on a proposal that would revamp the offseason program as early as 2025.

That could mean eliminating organized team activities, while introducing an earlier report date to training camp to allow for a ramp-up period before traditional, physical camp practices. The changes would create a longer break for players following the end of their season, while eliminating the six-week summer break between an early June mandatory minicamp and late July training camp.

Meanwhile, Sunday Ticket subscribers who paid for the service from 2011 to 2022 could be getting a nice chunk of change. A federal jury ruled the NFL must pay $4.7 billion in damages after violating antitrust laws in distributing out-of-market Sunday afternoon games on a premium subscription service. Not only was the residential class of the lawsuit awarded $4.7 billion, but the commercial class was awarded $97 million.

But don't count on that money any time soon. The league plans to appeal the verdict.

"We obviously disagree with the jury verdict and we are committed, obviously, to following the legal process," Goodell said in an interview with CNBC. "It's a long process and we're aware of that. But we feel very strongly about our position, our policies, particularly on media.

"We make our sport available to the broadest possible audience. Sunday Ticket is just a complementary product. We're committed to following the litigation all the way and making sure that we get this right."



Holder: That sound you heard back in March was quarterbacks around the NFL rejoicing after hearing the news that Aaron Donald had retired. One of the best defensive linemen of all time, Donald walked away after 10 seasons, accumulating eight first-team All-Pro selections, 111 sacks and 24 forced fumbles...

Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson appears healthy again after missing 13 games as a rookie last year with a season-ending injury to his right (throwing) shoulder. Richardson experienced some soreness after a heavy workload and missed the final day of offseason practices in June. But the word from the team is the 2023 No. 4 overall draft pick will be ready to begin training camp as the undisputed starter...

Chiefs receiver Rashee Rice faces one count of aggravated assault, one count of collision involving serious bodily injury and six counts of collision involving injury after his involvement in a chain-reaction auto accident in Texas in April. What remains to be seen is if and when the still-unresolved legal matter results in an NFL suspension. An unrelated matter involving Rice, an altercation at a Dallas nightclub, did not result in charges...

The NFL is taking a major step forward in its internationalization of the sport, with a matchup featuring the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers slated to kick off the season Sept. 6 in Sao Paulo -- the first regular-season game to be played in Brazil. The NFL is also returning to London this season for three games, with another to be played in Munich. The league announced further plans to expand its international footprint in 2025 with a regular-season game scheduled for Madrid...

Tragedy struck the NFL on July 6 when Minnesota Vikings rookie cornerback Khyree Jackson was one of three men killed in a car crash that occurred in Prince George's County, Maryland. The accident also took the lives of Isaiah Hazel and Anthony Lytton Jr., two former high school teammates of Jackson's and ex-college football players. Police said Hazel was driving a Dodge Charger with Jackson in the passenger seat when their car was struck by an Infiniti Q50 attempting to change lanes at a high speed. The Charger left the road and struck multiple tree stumps. Jackson was selected by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 2024 draft and had been considered a contender to start.

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton was suspended eight games without pay under the league's personal conduct policy following his arrest in April in a domestic violence case. Sutton, while still a member of the Detroit Lions, was charged with misdemeanor battery after turning himself in to authorities in Florida in March. He subsequently entered a pretrial diversion program. Sutton was released by the Lions and later signed a one-year contract with the Steelers.
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Pakistan

FinMin to visit China amid Pakistan’s efforts for rescheduling $15bn loan

A joint working group will be set up between Pakistan and China to facilitate loan rescheduling

Published by Hussnain Bhutta

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Islamabad: Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb would embark on a visit to China starting on Tuesday (today).

The sources close to the development said that the finance minister’s visit to China aimed at Pakistan’s efforts for rescheduling of $15bln loan from Beijing.

They said that a joint working group would be set up between Pakistan and China to facilitate the loan rescheduling.

The sources said that the discussions would address China’s energy circular debt, which currently amounts to Rs480 billion.

The Finance Minister would also engage in talks regarding the Panda Bond. Pakistan aims to secure a $250 million Panda Bond during this visit.

China earlier this year had rolled over a $2 billion loan to Pakistan.

The $2 billion loan was due in March and was extended for one year. Beijing had communicated the decision to Islamabad, it added.

Pakistan is making attempts to stabilise from a financial crisis. Pakistan also secured a $3 billion standby arrangement from the International Monetary Fund last summer.

Rating agency Fitch last week had said that Pakistan’s vulnerable external position meant that securing financing from multilateral and bilateral partners would be one of the most urgent issues facing the next government.

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