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SBP governor to be nominated next week: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail

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  • Finance Minister Miftah Ismail says Acting SBP Governor Murtaza Syed has no hand in depreciation of rupee.
  • Defence Minister Khawaja Asif says govt will take all necessary steps needed to revive the economy.
  • If we had gone home, country could have gone bankrupt. We made a political sacrifice for the sake of country, says Asif.

ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Miftah Ismail announced on Thursday that the government will nominate a new governor of the State Bank of Pakistan — a post that has remained vacant for more than two months — in the next week.

Addressing a press conference along with Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, the finance czar of the country said that the new governor will be nominated next week.

While talking about the depreciating rupee, Miftah also assured the reporters that Acting SBP Governor Murtaza Syed had no hand in the depreciation of the rupee.

He added that the local currency would stabilise against the greenback next month. 

“Due to import payments of $7.5 billion, pressure is coming on the rupee,” said the finance minister, adding that the rupee had also come under pressure due to the political crisis that resulted following PML-N’s thrashing in the July 17 by-polls.

“The demand for dollars in banks will decrease. Last month, there were imports of $7.5 billion and this month’s imports are less than last year,” said Miftah.

He further stated that the government was focusing on minimising imports and increasing exports.

The finance minister also stated that there has been a significant decrease in the import of diesel and furnace oil, adding that the country has a couple of months of furnace oil in its reserve.

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“The economy is moving in the right direction,” said the finance minister, repeating what his colleague Khawaja Asif had said in the press conference that the coalition government would sacrifice its political capital for the sake of the country.

Talking about the pressure on him, Miftah dismissed those rumours by saying that no one in the federal cabinet has accused him of the loss the PML-N took in the July 17 by-polls.

Reviving Pakistan’s economy main priority: Khawaja Asif

On the other hand, Asif assured the reporters that the coalition government’s main priority was to revive the economy.

“Will take all necessary steps needed to revive the economy,” the defence minister said while noting that his party may face the voters’ wrath in the elections.

“How many finance ministers did the previous government change? Whatever we did in three months, we did it sincerely,” said Asif.

The ministers also spoke about the PML-N’s thumping in Sunday’s by-polls, saying that compared to 2018, the PML-N’s vote bank had increased.

“In the constituencies where we took 6,000 votes last time, we grabbed 45,000 votes. Compared to 2018, we took 200,000 more votes in the recent by-elections,” said Asif.

The PML-N stalwart noted that there were some districts where his party had no vote banks in the past but received a large number of votes from those areas on Sunday. He also noted that the party had given tickets to PTI defectors instead of its workers in some places which had made them heartbroken.

“Ever since we took an oath, we have tried to bring stability rather than doing politics. We will learn from the experience of July 17,” said Asif.

The minister also reminded the media persons that the coalition government had taken over the charge themselves. 

“If we had gone home, the country could have gone bankrupt. We made a political sacrifice for the sake of the country,” said Asif.

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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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