Not without strings: Opposition raises doubts over $1.5b bailout motive

Published: March 15, 2014
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Suspects the amount has been paid to ensure a shift in foreign policy on Syria. PHOTO: MARIAM ESSA/EXPRESS

Suspects the amount has been paid to ensure a shift in foreign policy on Syria. PHOTO: MARIAM ESSA/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: 

Opposition members in the Senate submitted an adjournment motion on Friday seeking debate on the $1.5 billion bailout package given by a friendly Muslim country and its alleged link to a shift in the country’s foreign policy on Syria.

The adjournment motion was submitted by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar, who stated that the claim of national debts coming down by Rs800 billion as a result of appreciation of the rupee against the dollar following the $1.5 billion bailout was most welcome.

“But we need to be reassured there is no ‘quid pro quo’ and trade-off with a critical area of our foreign policy,” he added.

Babar recalled how Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had said earlier this week that a Muslim country had given Islamabad $1.5 billion for the ‘Pakistan Development Fund’ but the donor country did not wish to be identified.

“The secrecy raises questions. We need to know when and for what purpose Pakistan Development Fund was set up and what happened to a similar fund set up sometime back by Friends of Democratic Pakistan,” asked the PPP leader, adding that the opposition needed to know whether it was an outright grant, ‘or aid or loan and on what terms and conditions’.

The senator said Syria had the potential of becoming the Afghanistan of the Middle East and warned against any misadventure by changing course disregarding the catastrophic experience in Afghanistan next door.

“It will be a mistake of monumental proportions if we allowed ourselves to be sucked into the web of regional power politics in the Middle East,” he noted.

He said the alarm bells first rang when reports surfaced late last month that a Muslim country was in talks with Pakistan for supply of anti-aircraft and anti tank rockets to Syrian rebels.

The senator said the Geneva 1 joint communiqué stressed ending violence and human rights abuses and launching a Syrian-led political process leading to a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.

“There is a sea of difference between a ‘political process leading to a transition’ as envisaged in Geneva 1 and ‘formation of transitional governing body with full executive powers’ as stated in the joint statement [issued by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia] and there is an ominous ring to it,” he said.

Khursheed Shah seeks explanation

Opposition leader in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah, also sought explanation from the government over the amount secretly received by the government from a Muslim country.

“The fluctuation in the dollar’s rate from Rs108 to Rs98 and then again Rs100 within a week is very perplexing both for economic experts and people of the country,” he said in a statement.

Shah said the government was also unable to hint at the reason of this rapid rise and fall of the dollar.

He said reportedly Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had obtained Rs1.5 billion from Saudi Arabia on personal guarantee, “but we have not been told whether it is a grant or a loan?”

“We are afraid this amount has a link with the Syrian situation,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Truther
    Mar 15, 2014 - 10:28AM

    Why the “opposition” never questions where the Rs. 8000 billion went to that were taken as loans on this country during corruption party federal rule between 2008 to 2013 ???

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  • YP Mississauga
    Mar 15, 2014 - 10:52AM

    PPP tried their level best to get financial aid from friendly middle easernt countries without any result. Now when someone has helped Pakistan they are screming blue murder,

    PPP cant even take care of people of Tharparkar who are dying beacuse of PPP’s lack of any governance.

    Recommend

  • nomi
    Mar 15, 2014 - 2:16PM

    Why would anyone give Pakistan a grant of $1.5b? Because Saudi King adores Pakistani Prime Minister?? or because Saudi King has sought Pakistan’s help in their flawed foreign policy? If this money results in blood shed of innocent Syrians then history will never forgive us!Recommend

  • Parvez
    Mar 15, 2014 - 2:44PM

    Never look a gift horse in the mouth……..apart from kicking you it also has bad breath.

    Recommend

  • islooboy
    Mar 16, 2014 - 8:44AM

    What a fantastic deal by Saudis!!!
    Just for 1.5 billions, they will get 30000 trained pakistani soldiers to die in Syria!!!

    Recommend

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