By: Abdul Basit Alvi
Pakistan faced a crippling economic crisis as the country’s foreign reserves have depleted to around $4bn which can just cover a month of import. Inflation has been skyrocketing while the country is also dealing with the aftermath of last year’s catastrophic floods that resulted in an estimated loss of more than $30bn.
The situation in the country needs immediate financial assistance from foreign countries. Pakistan has big hopes with friendly countries including China, Pakistan and UAE. Few days ago Pakistani finance minister Ishaq Dar in a news conference expressed hope that Saudi Arabia will park its deposits in the central bank to provide some relief to the economy. Pakistan Immediately needs Saudi money to shore foreign reserves and ensure a safety valve from default. Riyadh deposited $3bn in November 2021, under the tenure of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Last month, the kingdom extended the terms of the fund.
One of the reasons among many others behind the current financial crises is the flood which hit Pakistan and destroyed infrastructure badly.
In a Conference under the leadership of Pakistan in the city of Geneva, Switzerland to help and recover the damage caused by climate disasters, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that the estimated cost of rehabilitation of flood affected areas is more than 30 billion dollars and Pakistan needs 16.3 billion dollars for immediate reconstruction and rehabilitation.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif while addressing the ceremony said that the flood caused a large-scale destruction in Pakistan, the flood in Pakistan has changed the lives of the victims, today we are standing at an important turning point in history, in September last year, the UN Along with the Secretary General visited the flood affected areas, the people of Pakistan will always remember the support of the UN Secretary General, they are also grateful for the support of the international community, Pakistan will not forget the countries that helped in difficult times.
He said that the flood caused serious damage to agriculture, which led to food shortages. The restoration of the country’s economy with reconstruction is a big challenge for us. The damage caused by the flood is estimated to be more than 30 billion dollars.
He said that 33 million people were affected by the recent floods in Pakistan, the economy was badly affected by the destruction of infrastructure, houses, educational institutions, agriculture sector were damaged by floods.
Shahbaz Sharif said that there is still flood water in many areas of Sindh and Balochistan, the flood victims have to be rehabilitated and given a better future, a framework has been prepared for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the flood victims, work on the framework $16.3 billion is needed to do this.
President of the Islamic Development Bank made a major announcement for Pakistan during this conference on reconstruction and rehabilitation of flood-affected areas in Pakistan in Geneva. President of Islamic Development Bank said that 4 billion 20 million dollars will be provided to Pakistan in 3 years. Apart from this, the World Bank has also announced the completion of development projects worth 2 billion dollars in the affected areas. Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron also announced one million dollars in aid for Pakistan.
Since taking office last April, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif travelled to several Gulf countries to seek economic aid and investment. According to official data between April to November last year, Saudi Arabia has given more than $900m in aid and $500m for importing oil. Qatar promised to invest $3bn during Sharif’s trip to Doha in August.
With the relationship between the two nations going back more than 50 years, this is not the first time a Pakistani leader, either civilian or military, has picked the Saudi kingdom as their first destination after taking charge.
It is quite interesting to note that both the current Prime Minister Sharif and his predecessor Imran Khan travelled to Saudi Arabia on their maiden visits in 2018 and 2022 respectively. It shows the level of friendship of both countries and importance of Saudi Arabia for Pakistan.
To assist Pakistani Civilian Government in current financial situation, The Army Chief of Pakistan is also active and using his influence with full and sincere efforts.
Army Chief General Asim Munir met the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad Bin Salman. According to Saudi media, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman welcomed Pakistani Army Chief General Asim Munir in the winter camp. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman congratulated General Asim Munir on becoming Army Chief and agreed to strengthen bilateral relations. In the meeting, it was also agreed to promote military and defense cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It should be remembered that Army Chief General Asim Munir has gone to Saudi Arabia on his first official visit. Pakistan’s new army chief held talks with top Saudi officials, including the defense minister, on his first official trip to the Gulf kingdom as the South Asian country faces an unprecedented economic crisis.
General Syed Asim Munir, who took charge in November visited Saudi Arabia which is a close defense and economic ally of Pakistan. He visited the Kingdom on his maiden overseas trip. He also visited the United Arab Emirates during the nearly one-week trip.
General Munir discussed military cooperation with Saudi defense minister Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz in the capital Riyadh on Thursday, according to the Saudi Press Agency. “We emphasized the strategic partnership between our brotherly countries, reviewed the bilateral military and defense relations, and discussed ways of strengthening our cooperation,” Prince Khalid bin Salman tweeted.
The last two former army chiefs, General Qamar Javed Bajwa – General Asim Munir’s predecessor, and General Raheel Sharif, went to Saudi Arabia for their first trip. General Asim Munir himself has served time in Saudi Arabia as part of the Pakistani army’s close defense cooperation with the kingdom.
Readers, it’s very good to see that Civil Government and Military Institution are on one page in these critical times. Pakistanis are quite optimistic that the day is not so far when these efforts will give fruitful results and will bring the country out of this worst crises which is affecting each and every citizen of Pakistan in shape of inflation. It’s a good sign for Pakistan and its deteriorating economy that all stake holders are on forefront to encounter the current crises.