ISLAMABAD: Finance and Federal Revenue Minister Hammad Azhar said despite the challenges, the country’s economy is in a much better shape than it was in 2018 when the incumbent government took power.
Speaking in a joint direct call session with Prime Minister Imran Khan, the federal minister said there were undoubtedly challenges but there were a sea of differences between Pakistan in 2018 and Pakistan today. He said in 2018, the country was on the verge of default but today Pakistan, even after the COVID-19 outbreak, is moving forward on a path of growth and progress in a way that is better and way ahead of growth forecasts.
He said that in 2018, economic indicators were in a worse condition and could not be disseminated to the public through the media because of the negative impact. “If we talk openly with people about this indicator, it will create a crisis in the currency market and stock market,” he said, saying that the country was almost on the verge of default.
Foreign reserves are running low and the remaining US $ 7 to $ 8 billion, which is in Bank Negara, is a reserve based on short-term loans that must be paid back in two to three months. In this condition, continued the Minister of Finance, the government must make difficult decisions and must devaluate the currency and raise interest rates. After that these decisions started to pay off and the historic current account deficit, which was inherited by the government, turned into a surplus after 17 years.
After that the world organizations, which had previously downgraded the economy, began to upgrade it one year after the incumbent government took power. He said that in the midst of a successful economic recovery journey occurred when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and contracted the economy by 5 to 10 percent including in India, Britain and other countries.
However, he said, Pakistan is witnessing a contraction of only 0.4 percent in economic growth due to prudent government policies that take the right decisions at the right time to save people’s lives as well as their livelihoods.
“We are moving forward with the right strategy and not following Western policies blindly and our economy contracted only 0.4 percent and that too recovered very early,” he added.
As disputes over Meghan’s claims of oppressive royal aides escalate, Sussexes’ tour of Australia and New Zealand in 2018 has emerged as the epicenter of the disintegration of relations between the couple and Buckingham Palace.
The royal family has launched an investigation into allegations that Meghan was bullying the staff, following reports the royals left “a lot of broken people”.
The 39-year-old vehemently denies the accusations, which come ahead of her Oprah interview, saying the palace is using the media to peddle “a completely false narrative.”
A growing stream of claims from anonymous royal sources paints a picture of rising tensions and clashes between the former actor and staff during his 16-day October 2018 tour of Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Fiji with Prince Harry just months after their marriage.
“The Australian tour is one of the most important in the kingdom’s world but there have long been allegations of clashes with staff,” a source told The Sun.
“If this assistant advances, it will become the center of the oppression investigation in the palace. That is a critical time.”
Those claims include Meghan becoming annoyed at being given only the wing of the Admiralty House, the Australian Governor-General’s official Sydney residence, rather than the entire property. On another occasion, he reportedly lost his temper with an assistant and a hot drink was dropped.
The trip appears to have highlighted the gulf between the reality of royal duties and the hopes of the former Suits star, who told Oprah in an interview this week that “the construction of” court life “is different than I think one might imagine.”
When Meghan learned that hundreds of people were waiting outside the Sydney Opera House to welcome the newlyweds, the duchess reportedly said to the team: “What are they doing here? This is ridiculous.”
The source told The Times that Meghan was told: “They are here because they admire and support the king and the institutions you represent”, adding: “She doesn’t understand.”
The cracks forming on the royal facade at the Opera House echo a scene in 1983 when Princess Diana was photographed crying there during her tour with Prince Charles, overwhelmed by attention. As Harry told Oprah this week, his biggest fear is “history repeats itself.”
But there are important differences between Diana and naive Meghan – who described herself as “an adult leading a truly independent life” before she was pushed into a tightly controlled royal environment.
On the same trip, during a Fiji market tour, Meghan was spotted by several reporters throwing a tantrum at an aide. Royal Daily Mail correspondent Rebecca English said she witnessed the royals “turning and ‘hissing’ at a member of his party, who was clearly angry about something, and demanded to leave”.
English added: “I then saw that – a woman – a very depressed staff member sitting in the official car, with tears streaming down her face. Our eyes met and she lowered hers, humiliation etched on her face.
“At that time I could not document anything because I could not conclusively link the two incidents, despite my suspicions. I later learned from other sources that my instincts were right.”
The duchess – who recently announced that she is pregnant with her first child in Australia – was thrown off the market by security officers after she whispered to a bodyguard. At that time, the reason given for its sudden walk was because the area was hot and crowded.
But The Times reports that Meghan is concerned about the presence of UN Women, the group she has previously worked with to promote women’s empowerment. Her lawyer denies this and says she meets other UN Women’s leaders on the trip.
The newspaper’s royal correspondent also described seeing the royals “appearing to have sharp words with his aides”.
Meghan’s personal assistant Melissa Toubati resigned a month after the tour.
He is one of the former aides labeled the “Sussex Survivor’s Club”, who is allegedly “kicked out” from the palace.
Samantha Cohen, an Australian who is assistant to the Queen’s personal secretary and remains Harry and Meghan’s personal secretary, left the post in 2019.
Jason Knauf, who was communications secretary for Harry, Meghan, William and Kate until the couple set up separate offices two years ago, will be a key figure in the investigation. He reportedly sent at least one colleague an email about the alleged bullying at the time.
As Meghan and Harry’s interview airs, this unhappy affair is still a long way off, with reports that the couple could be stripped of their titles as Duke and Duchess of Sussex – one step ahead of the recent “Sandringham Summit” agreement in which they lost various protection and titles in their departure as working aristocrats.
The ongoing war is unfavorable to both sides, with the Sussex family accusing the palace of “a calculated smear campaign based on misleading and dangerous information”, even as royal sources continue to brief The Times on how Meghan “was never ready for royal life” – another claim he denies.
There may be one anonymous comment in a British newspaper in which the Californian – who has faced isolation, arrogance, racism and relentless criticism from the press while in England – will agree: “Meghan doesn’t understand what she’s letting herself in for, and why should he? “
Posts on social media claim to show former US president Donald Trump on a “surprise visit” to Switzerland on March 1, 2021. The footage in question is more than three years old, taken from Trump arriving in Davos for the World Economic Forum in January. 25, 2018.
One Facebook post is visible here features a YouTube video screengrabs entitled “Donald Trump’s Surprise Visit to Switzerland” and contains the caption, “Donald Trump’s surprise visit to Switzerland today at Marine 1 …. interesting.” YouTube videos, found here uploaded on March 1, 2021 from the channel “AMERICAN EVENTS” and has been viewed over 800,000 times until March 2.
Some of the comments echoed claims made by QAnon conspiracy theorists disputed that Trump is still secretly president and will return to power on March 4 (here).
The original footage, uploaded to YouTube on January 26, 2018, can be viewed here . The description reads, “US President Donald Trump lands in Davos / Switzerland to attend the 2018 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. Camera: Beni Wülser. Edit: Armin Rüede. Swiss TV SRF. “
The moment of his landing on this date was also shared by Euronews here and Swissinfo.ch here .
Since 1971, Davos, Switzerland has hosted the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, which brings together CEOs and corporate leaders as well as dozens of heads of state and government, as well as heads of major international organizations, technology pioneers, and representatives of civil society (here , here).
A Reuters photo of Trump’s 2018 Davos landing can be found here , here and here .
As president, Trump attended the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2018 and 2020 ( here , here ).
In August 2020, the World Economic Forum canceled the summit for January 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with organizers planning to reschedule the event to around early summer 2021 (here).
Miscaptioned. Trump’s footage arriving at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland is from 2018, not 2021.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) accused 20 MPAs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of trading horses in the 2018 Senate elections but was unable to substantiate the allegations.
PTI chairman Imran Khan has announced that cases against MPA involved in corruption will be referred to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) but not a single case against MPA has been referred to NAB.
Several former MPAs have filed libel suits against Prime Minister Imran Khan in various courts, but PTI has not submitted evidence or answers in any case. Two petitions filed under the Defamation Law 2002 are still pending. The PM’s lawyers used a variety of tactics to delay the case. The special jirga met with former special assistant chief minister Arif Yousaf for an out of court settlement. The court dissolved the case after reconciliation between the two parties. Former MPA Kurban Ali Khan, Zahid Durrani, Obaidullah Mayar and Yasin Khalil were also convinced to settle the matter out of court via jirga.
It is noteworthy that the PTI MPA allowed two PPP candidates to be elected to the Senate from a province where PPP only has seven MPAs. The late Maulana Samiul Haq, the technocrat candidate for chair, only got four votes while the other candidate who lost was Khayal Zaman. PTI spokesman and Provincial Manpower Minister Shaukat Yousafzai told this clerk that 20 members were expelled from the party for the horse trade in the last Senate election. However, in such cases it is impossible to find concrete evidence against members involved in corruption. “The provincial government acted on reports from various sources and agencies. Two PTI candidates were defeated and how the seven MPA PPPs chose two Senate members,” he said.
Shaukat Yousafzai called Arif Yousuf’s claim baseless and said that he himself had asked Babar Awan to withdraw his case but if Babar Awan came to his house for tea and that is why Babar Awan went to his house. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan did not apologize to anyone. If anyone contacts a former member, it must be done individually.
An initial investigation ordered by Chief Minister KP Pervez Khattak into the alleged horse trade revealed that at least 20 MPA PTI in the KP had selected candidates outside the party. As a result, two candidates for PTI Khayal Zaman and Maulana Samiul Haq lost the election. Two PPP candidates Behramand Tangi and Rubina Khalid won the election. Imran Khan announced on April 18 2018 that the party was taking action against 20 lawmakers for “participating in the horse trade” during the Senate elections.
During a press conference in Islamabad, the head of PTI said his party would give defendants the opportunity to explain before their names were passed on to NAB.
PTI removed the MPA from its party but took no legal action. The PTI chairman announced that the accused MPs had received as much as Rs40 million each and added that the party would issue a reason notice to them. “This is not the first time lawmakers have taken part in the horse trade,” said Imran Khan. “This has been happening for the last 30 or 40 years.” The names of members of the PTI parliament suspected by the party leadership of “selling votes” include Deena Naaz, Nargis Ali, Nagina Khan, Sardar Idrees, Obaid Mayar, Zahid Durrani, Fouzia Bibi, Naseem Hayat, Qurban Khan, Arif Yousaf, Amjid Afridi, Abdul Haq, Javed Naseem, Yasin Khalil, Faisal Zaman and Sami Alizayi. QWP Meraj Hamayun’s MPA, Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Khatoon Bibi and Babar Saleem are also named on the horse trade register. Wajihuz Zaman from PML-N who joined PTI is also on the list.
Former MPA Arif Yousuf told Jang he was falsely accused and had filed a libel suit against the prime minister at the District Judge and Peshawar Abdul Majeed Additional Session court. The court has resolved the matter after reconciliation between the two parties due to an out of court settlement.
Arif Yousaf told this clerk that the delegation led by Babar Awan came to his house and apologized without reservation from the PM. She received the jirga and the suitcase was thrown away.
When former MPA Yasin Khalil was contacted, he said that the Peshawar High Court had rejected their case and directed to approach the District Judges and Sessions courts, but a jirga led by incumbent Defense Minister Pervez Khattak came to see them. Many MPAs, including myself, don’t take cases to lower courts. Another interesting case is that of former women MPs Fauzia Bibi and Meraj Humayun being tried in the Peshawar and Swabi courts. Fauzia Bibi’s lawsuit, which was filed under the Defamation Law of 2002, is still in its early stages because the defendant Imran Khan, who later became prime minister, has not yet filed a reply even though his team of lawyers has submitted a different application, thus postponing the trial. Despite repeated orders from the court, the defendant (Imran Khan) has not filed a written reply to the suit. Fauzia, a lawmaker originally from Chitral, has filed a lawsuit under Section-8 of the 2002 Defamation Act. She claims that the defamatory statements damaged the plaintiff’s political, social and family life in addition to destroying his personality. An application was filed on behalf of Imran Khan who asked to return the lawsuit, saying the press conference was addressed in Islamabad, which falls outside the jurisdiction of the current court. However, the lawsuit was dismissed by the court on 30 January 2019. On 14 December 2019, the court here rejected Imran’s request for Fauzia’s withdrawal on the grounds that it was untenable. The order was challenged by Imran before the Peshawar High Court and the petition is pending there.
The defendant submitted an application in April 2019 based on Order VII of Rule 11 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The defendant has stated that the press conference referred to by the plaintiff (Fauzia Bibi) was conducted by him (Imran Khan) in good faith in accordance with the report submitted by the party disciplinary committee. He has stated that the plaintiffs did not contest the report. The court announced its order after nearly six months on December 14 and rejected Imran’s plea.
Another woman, former Provincial Assembly member Meraj Humayun has submitted a case to the Supplementary District court and the Swabi Judge Session where no progress has been made on the case due to objections raised by lawyer Imran Khan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday that the 2008-2018 period was a “decade of darkness” for Pakistan.
Speaking of the current comings and goings of previous administrations, he said they were “only thinking about their own election campaigns rather than planning ahead” for resources.
“They are thinking about their selection rather than building a dam.”
He was addressing a meeting in Islamabad held to perform a docu-drama “Paani ke pankh” which highlighted the importance of Pakistan harnessing its hydropower capabilities.
The prime minister said it was due to government mismanagement in the past that the electricity tariff was high. Past deals were such that there was or was no use of electricity, payments had to be made, he said.
The prime minister says the secret to China’s progress is long-term planning.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said that in Pakistan, after 50 years two new dams are being built, whereas this should be an activity that goes on “from time to time”.
“If the dam is built on time, the power plant capacity will be 70,000 MW,” he said.
Criticizing the Opposition for saying that the ruling government has amassed more debt for Pakistan, he reminded them that when the PTI came to power, the country had debts of Rs25,000 billion. Of the Rs11,000 repaid, Rs6,000 was used for interest payments, he said.
He went on to say that due to the depreciation of the rupee, debt rose by Rs3,000bn.
PM Imran added that out of the target of Rs2,000 billion in tax collection, there was a deficit of Rs800 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pakistan must pursue independence, not please others
PM Imran Khan said that Pakistan should always aim to be independent and not be afraid to have lofty dreams.
“People are talking about projecting a soft image for Pakistan. What does a gentle image mean? […] Will the world start to think highly of us? “Said the prime minister.
He said Pakistan should not be deceived by this misunderstanding. “This is a sense of inferiority. When a country loses confidence, it starts thinking about how to please others,” said the prime minister.
Pakistan ‘suffers’ while pursuing Western ideology
“We shouldn’t think of doing something the West wants. Like when Musharraf spoke of ‘enlightened moderation’. […] Nobody knows what it is. People think the more they look like people from the West, the more moderate they will look, “said Prime Minister Imran Khan, adding that a country only does things like that when there is no confidence.
He said Pakistan only needs to project one image – that it is an independent country, that stands on its own feet, has faith and believes in its future and is independent of other nations. “Only then did the world respect such a nation.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan said it was a grave mistake to take part in the “war of others”, referring to Pakistan’s support for the US after 9/11 in the fight against terrorism.
“We are under pressure and are taking part in their war […] First we took part in [Soviet-Afghan War] in the 80s and glorify the mujahidin […] And then after 9/11, we labeled them terrorists and at their request they started fighting them, “said the prime minister, adding that of course Pakistan then” suffered “.
Nations must realize that strength comes from within
“So what lessons have we learned from the past? We must strengthen the nation and stand on its own feet. We must prepare the nation to pay taxes, without which we will not be able to educate our citizens, take care of their health or improve infrastructure, “continued the prime minister.
He said it was his country that had to pay the taxes “so we don’t ask for grants elsewhere”. “When our mindset starts to change, believe me, I say this as a person who has seen the world, Pakistan’s enormous potential will start to open up.”
The prime minister said his country was blessed with countless gifts, saying that “we sold ourselves off and lacked faith”.
“The day we have confidence that we can compete with other countries, the country will reach its zenith.”