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Pakistan

France-led donor conference faces delay

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ISLAMABAD:

The France-led international donors’ conference seeking financial commitments for the rehabilitation of flood-hit Pakistan will not be held this month due to a delay in finalising the reconstruction framework, sources said on Friday.

The proceedings of a consultative meeting held on Friday between the planning ministry and the international donors revealed that the Resilient Recovery and Reconstruction Framework (3RF) was still at a consultative stage.

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The framework at least in some shape is the prerequisite for convincing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to send its mission to Pakistan and also hold the international donors’ conference.

Secretary Planning Commission Syed Zafar Ali Shah chaired the consultative meeting with the donors and diplomats from various countries so a comprehensive rehabilitation plan comprising short-term and long-term could be presented before the donor conference, according to the planning ministry’s press statement.

The sources said that the proceedings showed that the preparation for the framework was at a “pre-framework stage” where stakeholders’ consultations were being held. Another round of consultations will be held next week once Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal returns from Egypt where he has gone to attend the COP27 conference.

The purpose of consultations is to refine strategic recovery objectives and prioritise sectors for inclusion in the recovery framework as part of each strategic recovery objective.

French President Emmanuel Macron has offered to hold a donor conference with the collaboration of the United Nations to get financial support for Pakistan to cope with $30 billion losses caused by the floods.

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Last month, a spokesman of the Foreign Office said that “a comprehensive plan will be taken to this conference. We can expect this to take place towards the end of the year, perhaps the end of November”. He added that final decisions would be taken on this, about the exact timing and the venue of this conference.

Read Learning gap root cause of deficits

While speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, the planning minister had also hoped to hold the conference this month. But the details shared with the diplomats and the foreign lenders showed that the conference may not take place before December 20.

The planning ministry officials said two more stages were left after the completion of the phase. The 3RF looks at the recovery and reconstruction needs within a period of five to seven years.

The sources said that after the preparation of the framework the validation exercise will be done before convening the donors’ conference.

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The donors were informed on Friday that by November 23rd the multi-stakeholder roundtables with the donor community and line ministries will be finalised. Similarly, the planning priorities for each sector will be finalised by November 30. The analysis and drafting of chapters will be completed by December 5 and feedback and validation by all the stakeholders will be done by December 10.

The report will be ready by December 20, leading to the holding of an international conference.

However, given the usual bureaucratic inefficiencies coupled with the ongoing half-day strike by the Economist Group that is seeking parity in pay, following these deadlines appears to be a difficult task.

A day earlier, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, the foreign office spokeswoman said that an international donors’ conference to seek funds for the flood victims in Pakistan will likely be held in Geneva. Once the dates are finalized, we will share with you,” Mumtaz told reporters at her maiden press briefing after she was appointed as the Foreign Office spokesperson.

Read more UN proposes debt relief to Pakistan amid flood recovery

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Secretary Zafar Ali Shah said that the consultative process will continue and the ministry will hold another round of meetings next week before finalizing a concrete plan which will plan the country to uplift in the rehabilitation phase.

Pakistan strongly pleaded its case before the COP27 Climate Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh and urged the world to support it despite it having a less than 1% contribution to global warming.

Last month, Pakistan released the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report, which called for coordinated international support.

During the meeting, the Secretary Planning Commission informed the participants that the basic objective of this meeting is to expedite the consultative process by engaging the donors before presenting a comprehensive plan at the donor conference.

A day earlier, the finance ministry officials had held the planning ministry officials for delaying the preparation of the framework, which the IMF has demanded to determine the impact of the floods on the $6.5 billion bailout package and Pakistan’s budget.

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Ironically, Pakistan does not know how many people have been affected by the floods, as per the statement by a director of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

Read ‘Unrealistic’ flood cost baffles IMF

The 17 sectors have been properly covered in the 3 RF which needs maximum funds to rebuild climate-resilient infrastructure in flood-affected areas, said Syed Zafar Ali Shah, while appreciating the donors for supporting Pakistan.

During the meeting, several projects were highlighted which have been recently started by the provincial governments after the recent floods in collaboration with the donor based on climate resilience.

The reconstruction framework will enhance the transparency of recovery and reconstruction activities and identify financing gaps and how various financing streams can be filled, according to the planning ministry. It will also define the timeframe, priority, institutional arrangements and financial planning for recovery and reconstruction implementation, it added.

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The framework will also identify on and off budget financing needs and suggest measures to mobilize funds through the budget review, donor assistance and private sector help.





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Pakistan

Imran’s right of defence struck out in defamation case

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ISLAMABAD:

Additional District Judge Lahore Chaudhry Muhammad Asif struck out the right of defence of former prime minister since concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff were not submitted on Thursday.

“This court has been left with no option except to strike out the right of defence of the defendant (Imran Khan) in this case due to non-submission of requisite replies by the defendant regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff. So, the right of defence of the defendant is hereby struck out in this case accordingly,” the order stated.

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The court asked the plaintiff to submit a list of witnesses on November 29.

It has been learned that the court has so far conducted 78 hearings of the case.

The order stated that the counsel for the defendant submitted an application for adjournment on the ground that the defendant was going to file a revised petition against the order of the court regarding the dismissal of concerned objections of the defendant.

Also read: ‘No objections’ to Imran’s helicopter landing at Parade Ground: GHQ

“From the perusal of record, it reveals that various reasonable opportunities have been provided to defendant to submit the requisite replies to concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff but the defendant has not done the needful,” it stated.

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“Vide previous order dated 17.11.2022, one more opportunity was granted to the defendant in this regard with the clarification that in case of submission of requisite replies from the defendant’s side regarding concerned interrogatories of the plaintiff on the next date, the right of defence of the defendant shall be struck out. No lawful justification exits for the grant of further adjournment,” it added.

The court rejected the adjournment plea of Imran’s counsel.

According to details, the defamation suit states that Imran started uttering false and malicious statements against the plaintiff (Shehbaz) that the latter offered Rs10 billion to the former through a common friend in exchange of withdrawing the case of Panama Papers pending before the Supreme Court (SC).

Also read: President Alvi in Lahore to consult Imran over COAS appointment

​​​It pleads that the baseless and defamatory statements by the defendant widely circulated by media lowered the integrity of the plaintiff and caused him extreme mental torture, agony and anxiety. The court has been requested to issue a decree for recovery of Rs 10 billion as compensation for the publication of defamatory content in favour of the plaintiff.

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In his written statement, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief states that one of his friends told him that someone known to him and also the Sharif family approached him with an offer to pay billions of rupees if he could convince him to stop pursuing the Panama Papers case.

Imran says that he disclosed the incident for the consumption of the public at large and in the interest of the public good does not constitute any defamation.





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Pakistan to send armed helicopter unit to UN peacekeeping mission

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UNITED NATIONS:

Pakistan and Bangladesh will each be sending an armed helicopter unit to the UN peacekeeping operations in Mali, which faces serious problems as several countries have withdrawn or announced plans to pull out their personnel, a UN spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Spokesman Farhan Haq said that India will supply a utility helicopter unit to the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, and all three are expected to be deployed by March next year.

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“These provide much-needed support to our forces and are critical for early warning and rapid response to protect civilians,” the spokesman told reporters at the regular noon briefing at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The UN continues to discuss with member states the deployment of new assets and plans to fill longer-standing gaps in addition to those resulting from recent announcements” of withdrawals, he said.

Set up in 2013, MINUSMA has 17,622 personnel helping the Malian government combat terrorists operating in the country.

MINUSMA is one of the deadliest operations having claimed the lives of 292 peacekeepers.

France completed its withdrawal earlier this year and it was followed by Egypt in August.

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Germany said that it was withdrawing its personnel, who numbered 595 in the latest UN roster, from MINUSMA by May next year.

Also read: Who is country’s new army chief Asim Munir?

Britain is also pulling out its 249 personnel.

Ivory Coast also said that it would discontinue the participation of its personnel, who numbered 898, in MINUSMA when the current deployment ends because of a separate dispute with the Mali government over the arrest of its soldiers who went there on a mission unconnected to the UN.

Despite the dangerous nature of the Minusma, Pakistani military doctors serving in Mopti, a town in the fifth administrative region of Mali. have continued to serve, earning praise for their work. They operate a state-of-the-art hospital staffed with 75 medical personnel, including 10 women and 65 men, according to the UN.

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The hospital operates 24 hours a day, every day, and they are always on alert. All specialities are covered, from pharmacy to gynaecology. However, its main purpose is to perform life-saving and urgent surgery when peacekeepers are injured, it was pointed out.





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Imran urges ‘all Pakistanis to participate’ in PTI long march

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Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday urged all Pakistanis to participate in his party’s much-hyped long march on Saturday (Nov26) in what appears to be his final showdown with the incumbent government to force it to announce early election date.

“Dear Pakistanis, I want all of you to participate in our haqeeqi long march in Pindi at 1pm on Saturday,” he said in a short video statement.

Imran, who was removed from power through a vote of no confidence in April, said that only a nation which has justice in it will get real freedom. “When there is justice, there are rights. When there are rights, a nation is free. Only an independent nation is prosperous,” he went on to say.

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Read more: Interior ministry warns PTI of threats, urges postponing Pindi march

The former premier said that the nation will not stay silent until it gets real freedom. “I am coming for you despite my [health] condition and all of you need to come to Pindi for me,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Asad Umar presided over a meeting regarding the party’s preparation for the long march in Rawalpindi. Senior PTI leadership including Umar Ayub, Shibli Faraz, Ali Nawaz and others participated in the meeting.

The meeting discussed the overall preparations for the long march in Rawalpindi. The security plan, long march route and other significant matters came under discussion during the meeting.

The meeting was briefed that a caravan had left from Karachi for Rawalpindi whereas two others were ready to begin their journey to the garrison city from Quetta and Gilgit-Baltistan.

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A briefing was also given in the meeting regarding the accommodation of the participants.

Issues regarding the provision of all basic needs including food and accommodation to the participants of the march were also discussed in the meeting.

“The nation is fully united and eager to achieve real freedom,” Umar said, adding that the party would welcome caravans from all over Pakistan in Rawalpindi.

“The captain [Imran Khan] will lead the ocean of people in Rawalpindi on November 26,” he further said.





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