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Pakistan weekly round-up: Imran’s ‘sponsored’ trip to Davos, PCB’s ‘warning’ to BCCI and more

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From Imran Khan’s “sponsored” trip to Davos to PCB flexing muscles over 2021 World Cup in India, here’s a round-up of everything that made headlines in Pakistan over the past few days:

Here’s your weekly Pakistan round-up
1

Imran Khan terms his trip to Davos “cheapest” ever

Calling his participation in the recently held World Economic Forum (WEF) summit in Switzerland’s Davos as the “cheapest” official visit, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan disclosed that his trip was sponsored by two of his friends and well-known businessmen Ikram Sehgal and Imran Chaudhry.

Khan said his trip cost 10 times less than those of previous leaders, Pakistan daily Dawn said in a report. He said that his trip to the UN General Assembly in New York last November was the least expensive, costing just around $160,000 compared to former President Asif Zardari ($1.4 million), former premier Nawaz Sharif ($1.3 million) and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi ($800,000).

To be able to attend the WEF annual meeting, a person has to be invited – in which case the event is free – or has to be a member of the forum. Membership of the WEF costs anywhere between $60,000 to $600,000, plus an additional fee is needed to acquire an attendance badge, which runs to about $27,000 per person.

Promoting his “austerity programme”, Khan also made a case for banking on over nine million Pakistanis residing overseas, who he said have a combined GDP of almost 50 per cent of Pakistan’s (overall) GDP of 200 million people.

Khan also said that he doesn’t allow his ministers to go on a junket if he is not convinced about how the visit will benefit Pakistan.

2

Ties with India to remain challenging: Pakistan think-tank report

A report titled ‘Pakistan Outlook 2020: Politics, Economy & Security’ by a think-tank, Islamabad Policy Institute, predicts that the biggest challenge in 2020 for Pakistan will be to manage the fallout from the US-India nexus.

It said that the primary security threat that Pakistan faces is from India, especially after the “transformation” of the country as a “Hindu state” under the BJP. It added that the US continues to support India, while ignoring Delhi’s “reckless behaviour” which is in violation of all norms of civility, international norms and principles.

It predicted that tense relations with India would continue to consume much of Pakistan’s strategic and diplomatic bandwidth throughout the year. Also, the peace process in Afghanistan would in near future continue to be marred by uncertainty, Dawn quoted the report as saying.

The situation in Kashmir and plight of the Muslims in India will guide Pakistan’s engagement with Delhi. Chances of limited conflict between India and Pakistan would remain high, the report added.

The report also highlighted that navigating China-US competition will test the craft of Pakistani policymakers in the near term.

3

Will Pakistan be able to exit FATF ‘Grey List’?

If Pakistan fails to meet the obligations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), it will have a devastating impact on the economic reform programme of the country.

When asked if the funding by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) could be affected given that Pakistan does not meet the FATF regulations, acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells said that Pakistan can win the confidence of the global business community by providing proof that its taking against militants operating on its soil.

“The more evidence of Pakistan’s seriousness in both documenting its economy and in shrinking the space for militants to be able to take advantage of Pakistan’s either banking system or territory, the more confidence that the international community and business community will have in working with Pakistan,” she said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan got the all clear on 14 out of 27 action plans by the FATF at the recent review meeting in Beijing, which means it may just escape the dreaded blacklist at February’s FATF plenary in Paris.

According to sources, there is a definite softening of the western position on Pakistan. China has pushed to get Pakistan off the hook at the FATF and will continue to make efforts in the upcoming meeting.

While there’s little chance of Pakistan getting into the blacklist, it is likely to stay on the greylist, perhaps with fewer restrictions, sources said

4

Pakistani girl sent to shelter after forced conversion

Pakistani Hindu girl Mehak Kumari (15) — a resident of Jacobabad who was abducted, converted to Islam and forcibly married to a Muslim man — has been sent to a women protection centre following a local court’s order. Her parents have urged the Pakistan government not to accept her confession of wilfully embracing Islam and marrying Ali Raza Solangi, who has already divorced two wives and is the father of four children.

According to an FIR filed by Mehak’s father Vijay Kumar, the class IXth student was allegedly abducted on January 15 by Solangi.

Kumar said, “Pakistani law doesn’t give the voting right to a minor, they can’t get a driving license, then how could it accept a minor’s statement of wilfully embracing Islam and marrying a Muslim man without the consent of her family?”

5

‘Women on Wheels’ trend is catching up in Pakistan

The ‘Women on Wheels’ started as a campaign by an NGO in Pakistan to make more women mobile by teaching them how to ride a bike and helping them obtain licenses. This week the initiative, started by Salman Sufi Foundation, organised a graduation ceremony in Sindh province of Pakistan, felicitating those women trainees who were able to secure a driving licence. A lucky draw was also organised at the graduation ceremony where a motorcycle was gifted to the winner.

The foundation started the project in 2018 in Punjab, Pakistan. It aims to empower women by improving their access to mobility – provides subsidised motorbikes for women, as well as training and road safety lessons and networking opportunities. In its first phase, some 500 women learned how to ride motorcycles at the University of Karachi.

According to its founder Salman Sufi, the bulk of Pakistan’s female population heavily relies on either a male family member or the poor public transport infrastructure to get from one place to another which is why he invested in this initiative.

6

Pakistan threatens to skip 2021 T20 World Cup in India?

Pakistan does not want to give up its hosting rights for the 2020 Asia Cup and said that if India decides not to participate in the tournament, it might also boycott next year’s 2021 T20 World Cup in the neighbouring country.

Last week, it emerged that BCCI hasn’t budged on its decision of not playing cricket on Pakistani soil, thus resulting in Pakistan losing hosting rights for the Asia Cup. Pakistan last year welcomed back Test cricket after a long gap when Sri Lanka toured the nation in December.

Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) chief executive Wasim Khan said, “It is not the prerogative of the PCB or the ICC to change the host as it was the decision of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC),” The Dawn reported.

“We are currently considering two venues to host the Asia Cup,” he added. “If India doesn’t come to Pakistan for the Asia Cup, we would also refuse participation in the 2021 T20 World Cup there,” said Khan.

However, Khan later said that his statement was taken out of context and reports of Pakistan threatening to boycott the event in India are “incorrect”.

“This has been completely taken out of context. Even though we would still want to host the Asia Cup in Pakistan, the Asian Cricket Council needs to decide on what it will do about the matches involving India,” Khan was quoted as saying by Sportstar.

Times of India

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