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Pakistan to present flood rehabilitation plan at Geneva moot today

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  • PM Shehbaz Sharif in Geneva to co-host donor’s conference.  
  • Conference is aimed at marshalling support to rebuild Pakistan after floods.
  • Bilawal Bhutto, Ishaq Dar among others in PM-led delegation.

GENEVA: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has touched down in Geneva late Sunday night to co-host an international conference on ‘Climate Resilient Pakistan’, along with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The international conference, which is aimed at marshalling support to rebuild Pakistan after historic floods, is scheduled to be held today during which the ‘Resilient Recovery, Rehabilitation, and Recons­truction Framework’ (4RF) will be launched.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, Minister of Climate Change Sherry Rehman and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marryium Aurangzeb accompanied PM Shehbaz, according to a statement issued by the PM’s Office.

The framework outlines a vision for rehabilitation and reconstruction of the flood-affected areas as well as will emphasise the need for global support and long-term partnership to implement it.

In the inaugural high-level opening segment, the official document would be unveiled and feature partner support announcements.

The prime minister and the UN secretary-general will also hold a joint press stakeout.

Leaders and high-level representatives from several countries and international financial institutions, foundations and funds are expected to attend the conference, both in person and virtual format.  

Flood-hit Pakistan

Pakistan and the United Nations are holding the conference to mobilise international support to help the country recover more effectively from the devastation caused by recent floods.

Record monsoon rains and melting glaciers last September displaced some 8 million people and killed at least 1,700 in a catastrophe blamed on climate change.

Most of the waters have now receded but the reconstruction work, estimated at around $16.3 billion, to rebuild millions of homes and thousands of kilometres of roads and railway is just beginning and millions more people may slide into poverty.

Islamabad, whose delegation is led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, will present the recovery “framework” at the moot where United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and French President Emmanuel Macron are also due to speak.

Guterres, who visited Pakistan in September, has previously described the destruction in the country as “climate carnage”.

“This is a pivotal moment for the global community to stand with Pakistan and to commit to a resilient and inclusive recovery from these devastating floods,” said Knut Ostby, United Nations’ Development Programme’s Pakistan Representative.

Additional funding is crucial to Pakistan amid growing concerns about its ability to pay for imports such as energy and food and to meet sovereign debt obligations abroad.

However, it is far from clear where the reconstruction money will come from, especially given difficulties raising funds for the emergency humanitarian phase of the response which is around half funded, according to UN data.

At the COP27 meeting in Egypt in November, Pakistan was at the forefront of efforts that led to the establishment of a “loss and damage” fund to cover climate-related destruction for countries that have contributed less to global warming than wealthy ones.

However, it is not yet known if Pakistan, with a $350 billion economy, will be eligible to tap into that future funding.

Organisers say around 250 people are expected at the event including high-level government officials, private donors and international financial institutions.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Khalil Hashmi, said Islamabad was willing to pay for about half of the bill but hoped for support from donors for the rest. “We will be mobilizing international support through various means,” he said. “We look forward to working with our partners.”

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government contests Imran Khan and Qureshi’s exoneration in the cipher case

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On Thursday, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court contesting the exoneration of former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the well-known cipher case.

Citing procedural and jurisdictional issues, the Ministry of Interior has appealed the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) ruling.

In hearing the cipher case, the High Court allegedly overreached its power, arguing that judges cannot change laws where Parliament has not expressly passed legislation.

Despite receiving government-funded legal representation, the petition emphasized Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s lack of cooperation during the trial, submitting 65 separate motions and neglecting to cross-examine witnesses.

The petition contended that in order for a retrial to satisfy legal standards, the High Court should have ignored important evidence that was given during the trial. It requests that the appeals contesting the IHC’s June 3 acquittal be given a hearing date by the Supreme Court.

Case history

The cipher issue concerns a supposed diplomatic document that disappeared from Imran Khan’s custody. The cipher allegedly contained threats from the US to remove Khan from office, according to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several aides, including Asad Umar, are named in the First Information Report (FIR) submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in accordance with Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 5 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act.

The then-foreign secretary received a diplomatic cipher from Washington on March 7, 2022, according to the FIR. The lawsuit claims that by manipulating the data for their own benefit, Khan and Qureshi put the safety of the country at risk. It alleges that on March 28, 2022, Khan secretly met at his Bani Gala home and gave his Principal Secretary, Muhammad Azam Khan, instructions to change the content of the cipher to his advantage, jeopardizing national security.

The document asserts that Khan still has custody of the cipher, jeopardizing Pakistan’s encrypted messaging systems and possibly helping foreign forces, which would be detrimental to the nation. A complaint has been filed by the FIA’s Anti-Terrorism Wing against Khan, Qureshi, and other individuals for improper use of state secrets and unapproved possession of the cipher.

Acquittal by the Islamabad High Court

In the cipher case, on June 3, the IHC cleared Khan and Qureshi when Justice Aamir Farooq issued a succinct ruling in their favor. Their sentences were appealed in the case, which has since been a source of political and legal controversy, leading to their acquittal.

This acquittal and the ongoing legal and political struggles surrounding the cipher case are highlighted by the government’s subsequent move to contest it.

With potentially huge ramifications for the parties involved and the larger political scene, the Supreme Court’s decision over whether to hear the appeal will be keenly scrutinized.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi urges political stability in order to accelerate economic expansion.

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Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the former prime minister, emphasized on Thursday how important political stability is to Pakistan’s economic development and how the nation cannot prosper without it.

His concern was that export growth had not progressed, and he emphasized that stability in the current climate is vital to draw investments and carry out the necessary reforms.

In his criticism of the tax system, Abbasi brought up the erratic nature of tax laws and the transient nature of the most recent tax slab implementation. Insisting that difficult choices are unavoidable for economic recovery, he emphasized the necessity of designing a tax system that is equitable and does not burden the people.

Furthermore, arguing that the effectiveness of organizations like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is essential for economic governance and transparency, Abbasi urged for changes within these and other organizations.

Abbasi, in his discussion of more comprehensive fiscal plans, suggested that the National Finance Commission (NFC) award be reviewed again and that power distribution companies (DISCOs) be decentralized to the provinces.

In order to reduce inefficiencies and corruption at the provincial level, he recommended looking into ways to share the cost of defense spending and decentralize the management of energy resources.

In closing, Abbasi emphasized that Pakistan’s economic trajectory will stay stagnant unless comprehensive changes are implemented immediately. To move the nation towards sustainable progress, he urged policymakers to give stability and structural reforms first priority.

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Through in-app QR payments, Zindigi and SBP streamline transactions involving sacrificial animals.

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With its in-app QR code payment system based on Raast, Zindigi—powered by JS Bank—has elevated the convenience of cashless payments for the procurement of sacrificial animals to a whole new level for Eid ul Adha.

This program uses QR code payments to streamline transactions for sacrificed animals for the general public and traders. It is a component of the State Bank of Pakistan’s Raast quick payment service.

This feature enables users of Zindigi and users of any digital banking apps or wallets to safely and easily make payments at certain cattle markets throughout Pakistan using Zindigi QR. The consumer must scan the QR code of the livestock merchant and pay the transaction amount in order to complete the payment.

In order to further financial inclusion and digital innovation in Pakistan’s developing economy, Zindigi and the State Bank of Pakistan have partnered. Both organizations are committed to improving the efficiency and accessibility of financial services, especially on holidays such as Eid ul Adha, by utilizing the most recent developments in fintech.

One of the most important steps toward promoting financial inclusion and economic empowerment at the local level is the integration of livestock markets into the digital economy. Farmers and retailers may take charge of their financial operations and help realize the larger goal of an inclusive digital Pakistan by adopting digital payments.

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