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China to help increase Pakistan’s exports: Asad Umar

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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Finance Asad Umar on Wednesday said concrete measures would be taken to increase exports to further strengthen the national economy.
During the recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China, the Chinese president had assured to help to enhance Pakistan’s exports, he said talking to a private news channel. He said during the visit, talks were held with China about the transfer of leading technology of Cyber Security.  The minister said any condition of International Monitory Fund (IMF) against the national interest would not be acceptable and expressed hope that this would be the last programme of IMF for the country.
He said the previous government had taken massive loans from international organizations, which was why the country was confronting economic challenges. Loans were indispensable but the governments should try to take fewer loans, he added. Asad Umar said a huge amount of the loan, instead of being utilized for the welfare of masses, was going directly to pay the loan’s interest, adding Rs. 1900 billion would be paid in shape of loan interest this year.  He said the government had approved to import 50,000-ton urea fertilizer this year for Rabi crop.
The minister said the government would not privatize PIA and Steel Mill but would make them profitable organizations. Task had been given to Minister for Trade Razaq Dawood for formulating the policy to run the Steel Mill in 45 days, he added. He said no compromise would be made on national security and decisions would be taken for the betterment of the nation and larger interest of the country.
Replying to a question, Asad said he met with Alice Wells who was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs and discussed with her matters of economy and IMF programme. He said crackdown was needed to be done against money laundering and legislation would be made for this purpose.
The minister said the government had only imposed a tax on luxurious items in the budget, without putting the burden on poor people. Asad Umar said inflation was still in single digit and the inflation ratio was four percent on 20 percent of the poor people in the country.

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PM expresses grief over the loss of lives in Kabul blast

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'Few signs of progress' in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Tuesday expressed his grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives in a blast in Kabul, targeting a religious gathering.
He strongly condemned the cowardly act of terrorism and said being the biggest victims of terrorism; he could feel the pain of their Afghan brethren who continued to pay the price of war that was brought to their region.
“Our people and the two countries have paid the heaviest toll, both in terms of human lives as well as material losses, but we stand firm and unshaken,” the PM Office Media Wing in a press release quoted the Prime Minister as saying.
The prime minister also condoled with the bereaved families, saying “Our heart goes out to the bereaved families at this hour of grief.”

 

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Bangladesh photographer freed

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DHAKA: Award-winning Bangladeshi photographer and activist Shahidul Alam was released from prison Tuesday after more than 100 days behind bars, in a closely watched freedom of speech case.
The 63-year-old Alam was arrested on 5th August for making “false” and “provocative” statements on Al Jazeera television and Facebook during student protests.
He was freed from Dhaka’s main jail Tuesday after being granted bail last week, his wife Rahnuma Ahmad told the Media. 
“He is now heading home,” she said.
He was being held under controversial internet laws which critics say have been wielded by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to stifle dissent and harass journalists.
Alam spoke briefly to reporters after he came out of prison to describe conditions inside the jail, Alam’s close associate Rezaur Rahman told the Media.
The photographer had previously said he was badly beaten while in custody.
Although Alam was granted bail for his release on Thursday last week, he had to wait another five days to be set free as the prosecution moved to appeal against the bail order.
He had earlier applied unsuccessfully for bail four times.
Alam, whose work has appeared widely in global media and who founded the renowned Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, faces a maximum 14 years in jail if convicted.
His lawyers have argued Alam’s continued detention was “a clear violation” of his fundamental rights under Bangladesh’s constitution.
The photographer’s arrest triggered international protests – with rights groups, Nobel laureates and academics calling for his release – and came after a series of mass rallies this summer after two teenagers were killed by a speeding bus.
The massive rallies evolved into broader demonstrations against Hasina, who will seek a third consecutive term next month, and her Awami League party.
Alam told Al Jazeera at the time that the protests were the result of pent-up anger at corruption and an “unelected government… clinging on by brute force”.
He was arrested the same day, with many other protesters held on similar charges as authorities cracked down on demonstrators.
Human Rights Watch accused Bangladesh of targeting activists and journalists in the wake of the protests instead of prosecuting those who attacked students with fists and rods.
Michelle Bachelet used her first statement as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to raise the issue of attacks on journalists in Bangladesh.
In recent weeks, Hasina has been accused of stifling dissent further by ratifying a controversial new digital-security law.
And a prominent critic of the government was arrested for defamation last month, days after he helped form an opposition coalition.

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Imran Khan reaches Kuala Lumpur

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KUALA LUMPUR: Imran Khan reached here today on a two-day official visit of Malaysia. It would be the first state visit by any foreign leader since Dr. Mahathir Mohamad assumed office in May.

A relevant piece published earlier: 

Imran Khan leaves for Kuala Lumpur

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