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POLICY

Oct 29 - Nov 04, 2001

Pakistan reaches understanding with IMF

Pakistan has reached a "broad understanding" with the International Monetary Fund on a major poverty reduction loan, Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz said after talks with IMF officials on Thursday.

Aziz also said the Paris Club group of creditor states had scheduled a session to discuss a separate request for "substantive debt relief" in December.

Pakistan is burdened by some $36 billion of debt, of which around $15.5 billion is with the World Bank, IMF and other institutional lenders and $12.5 billion with Paris Club states.

Aziz said talks held with delegations from both the IMF and the Paris Club on Thursday had been "very constructive", but said the amount of any IMF loan was still open. "We have a broad understanding on the modalities of the (poverty reduction) programme. The amount obviously depends on many other factors," Aziz told a news conference.

Earlier this week, the IMF said in Washington it was "highly satisfied" with progress made in agreeing the terms of economic reforms Pakistan would adhere to in return for a potential three-year poverty reduction loan.

IMF officials have also said it is too soon to put a figure on the size of the new loan.

Federal minister currently visiting Algiers to attend the 26th annual meeting of Islamic Development Bank, also held important bilateral consultations with delegates from countries of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE on Wednesday, adds APP.

Turkey backs broad-based Afghan setup

Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on Thursday supported the idea of forming a broad-based government but stopped short of saying anything about inclusion of moderate Taliban in the proposed future political setup in Kabul.

"This is not the right time to talk about whether this or that group should be included in the broad-based government," Mr Sezer said at a joint press conference with President Gen Pervez Musharraf here at the President House.

The Turkish president, however, underlined the need for ensuring representation to all the social and ethnic groups in the future political dispensation in Afghanistan, mentioning the word 'Pakhtoon' in particular.

Peshawar peace moot seeks UN, OIC help

Attaching extra significance to former king Zahir Shah's role to resolving the conflict, the conference of Afghan elders and leaders on Thursday called upon the Organization of Islamic Conference and the United Nations to cooperate with them in convening Loya Jirga to put an end to the crisis.

Organized by the Assembly for Peace and National Unity of Afghanistan (Apnua) at the Nishter Hall, the two-day conference concluded on Thursday after adopting eight unanimous resolutions.

Apnua convener Pir Syed Ahmad Gillani presided over the conference which was attended by some 1,500 Afghan notables, former Mujahideen commanders, tribal elders, various chieftains and religious leaders, representing various ethnic groups.

One of the resolutions pointed out that the US-led military strikes might cause the fall of the Taliban regime which, it warned, would create political vacuum. The country might slip into another spell of anarchy and bloodshed, if the vacuum was filled through a military operation.

Riyadh to stand by Islamabad in need

Saudi Arabia on Thursday assured that it had and would stand with Pakistan whenever the national interests of either country were challenged.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal told newsmen after meeting with President Pervez Musharraf that he had brought a message of friendship and solidarity for the people of Pakistan from the King and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.

About Pakistan's economic difficulties, the special envoy of King and Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia said the kingdom would not leave Pakistan in lurch. "We stand together and whatever Saudi Arab can do it will do."

EoIs invited

The Privatization Commission has decided to disinvest the government's 49 per cent shares in the Allied Bank of Pakistan (ABL) through a public auction.

The commission has invited Expressions of Interests (EoIs) from interested parties who desired to be pre-qualified to take part in the bidding process for the government's equity stakes, equivalent to 51.97 million.

Islamabad offered

Pakistan has been offered $800 million immediate "cash grant" by the United States and its allies to help improve its economy. "We will be very soon provided this net cash grant of $800 million in addition to $600 million for Afghan refugees," said minister for finance Shaukat Aziz.

Unfolding his economic assistance package jointly being sought from the US, European Union and International Financial Institutions (IFIs) at a news conference on Saturday the minister said that Pakistan has been offered a substantial budgetary support as well as debt relief.

ABAMCO acquires Security Fund

ABAMCO Limited, the fund management company announced on Wednesday that together with its subsidiary Confidence Financial Services Limited they had acquired the (entire) shareholding in Security Fund Management Limited the investment advisor to Security Stock Fund Limited (a closed-end mutual fund).

Opec investment

Director General Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) has appreciated the reforms agenda initiated by Pakistan for the revival of the economy and offered to provide finances to the private sector in the country.

Offer to this effect was made at a call on meeting of Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz with Opec Director General at Algiers, says a message received on Thursday.