Moody’s upgrades NBP’s outlook to Stable, affirms ratings

nbp ho image with new logo final

Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”) has today affirmed the B3 long-term local currency deposit ratings of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) and upgraded the outlook from negative to stable.

The rating action follows Moody’s decision on 2 December to affirm the B3 rating for the Government of Pakistan and change the outlook on the sovereign rating to stable from negative and reflect reduced external vulnerability risks and ongoing fiscal reforms.

The rating action reflects improvements in the operating environment in Pakistan and in the country’s sovereign credit profile. The primary driver of Moody’s decision to change the bank’s outlook to stable is the extensive interconnectedness between the bank’s balance sheet and sovereign credit risk, owing to the bank’s high exposure to government securities. The high direct exposure to government credit risk, in addition to the primarily Pakistan focus of its operations, links the bank’s credit profile to that of the government. As a result, the improvements in the operating environment and in the sovereign credit profile have eased pressures on the bank as well.

The stable outlook assigned to the bank’s local currency deposit ratings also reflects Moody’s expectation that the government’s capacity to support banks in case of need will not deteriorate. This is reflected by the stable outlook on Pakistan’s sovereign B3 bond rating which is driven by reduced external vulnerability risks on the back of policy adjustments and currency flexibility, as well as ongoing fiscal reforms that will mitigate risks related to debt sustainability and government liquidity.

A team of Moody’s had a meeting with the CEO and CFO of National Bank Pakistan on November 22nd and discussed the latest macroeconomic indicators, macro-financial risks and new opportunities for growth in Pakistan.

NBP starts $20 fee collection from Kartarpur Yatrees

Baba Nanak temple

In picture below, some NBP officials are seen with some Sikh Yatrees at Kartarpur. NBP has established its counters at Kartarpur to receive entry fee from Yatrees, visiting temple of their spiritual leader Baba Guru Nanak. Kartarpur border is located a few kms away from Narowal district of Punjab province.

NPP Kartarpur

Corporate Ambassador/KARTARPUR: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) teams successfully started collection of Service Charges from Yatris at Kartarpur Sahib Corridor through NBP counters. The bank is collecting $20 entry fee from the Sikh Yatrees. Special arrangements for collection of service charges from Sikh Yatris were made through three options i.e Collection of USD Cash @ USD 20/- per Yatri per visit through 24 Cash collection counters, Collection through web portal / Internet Payment Gateway for payment of service and charges via credit cards (Master / Visa / UPI). Collection through 10 ‘Cheque & Cash Deposit Machines’ (CCDMs) and Collection through ‘Point of Sale’ (POS) to be placed at the counters.

PM Khan opens kartarpur
Prime Minister of Pakistan inaugurated the Corridor in a ceremony held in the courtyard of Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on November 09, 2019. The ceremony was also attended by State Ministers from Pakistan & India, Foreign Diplomats, Officials from MOF / MORA and SBP/ NBP and Sikh Yatris from all over the world including the general public. The newly established NBP cash collection counters at Kartarpur Sahib Corridor was visited by the Army Chief and the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Both expressed satisfaction and appreciated the arrangements made in such a short span of time.

Sidhu at kartarpur

File photo of Navjot Singh Sidhu, famous Indian dignitary, who participated in the opening ceremony of Kartarpur Corridor.

NBP Counters are also selling special coins of Rs. 550 minted by the Government of Pakistan on the eve of 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak Devji. The NBP project team was led by Mr. Tariq Jamali, SEVP, Chief of Operations, Mr. Faisal Ahmed Topra, SEVP, GC-SBAG and Mr. Tariq Zafar Iqbal, EVP-Group Head, OPG and Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Nadeem, EVP, Operations who was responsible for co-ordination and management with SBP / MOF / MORA, Mr. Aqib Malik who was in liaison with Military Authorities and Mr. Aamer Manzoor, Regional Head Sialkot.

Furthermore a NBP team comprising of senior executives from Commercial and Retail Banking Group, Operations, IT, Logistic Support, Strategic Business Analytics Groups from Head Office, Regional Management Team Sialkot were also present at the inauguration ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib corridor. Also the field staff from Narowal area opened and serviced the 24 Cash Counters for collection of Service Charges from Yatris. NBP delegation was also accompanied by SBP Officials namely Mr. Qader Bakhsh, Additional Director, Mr. Muhammad Ali Sario, Senior Joint Director, Mr. Abdul Malik Achakzai, Senior Joint Director, Mr. Hassan Jawad, Deputy Director, Mr. Ghulam Muhammad Phul, Senior Joint Director, SBP (BSC) Karachi and Mr. Ansar Iftikhar Butt, Chief Manager, SBP (BSC), Sialkot.

Pakistan and Press Freedom in the New-Age


Freedom of Press

By Zeeshan Shah/KARACHI: Pakistan is heading towards progress.  The recent hue and cry about censorship is on the rise as the government crackdown on corruption hits the media pundits.  For years, the country has seen a constant flow of negative propaganda undermining the ability of credible journalists to make a mark as yellow journalism has been at the forefront.

2019 marks a remarkable change inside Pakistan as the government brings truth to power. Media and communications went through unprecedented challenges as battle lines were drawn between the ones speaking the truth against the status quo. Past regimes were exposed on major corruption schemes, actions were taken and justice was upheld. This in-turn lead to one of the biggest media trails for some of the major players and their media channels, as the monopolistic narratives were identified to the core and corruption was cut down to size.

Escalation on the protests by certain journalists was imminent. During the last decade, a huge stake in the media was held random by certain political forces, where some media gurus backed up the powerful elite were spreading false narratives, backed up by the corrupt funding, both locally and by external elements.

Is press freedom really under threat in Pakistan?  Are we witnessing a new-age ?

In 2018, the regulatory authorities in Pakistan blocked the website of VOA- Voice of America local language service and a case was filed against them for spreading a malicious campaign within the local population. They were not campaigning for provincial rights but internally collecting voices to revolt against the newly elected democratic government. Not only did this government engage in a peaceful transition to power, it also diluted this populist notion that press freedom was at stake.  What later transpired in that particular region was a new transition towards forging peace treaties, major police reforms, greater governance on environment, more jobs and end of war-zones.   We saw the biggest environmental initiative through Green campaigns, better water and sanitation in the province, women empowerment into parliament and protection of child rights. For the first time in history, child courts were set up in the county to ensure speedy justice to the under-privileged.

The mission-failure on part of some media giants who were previously given patronage by corrupt rulers were obviously finding it hard to meet their extravagant needs to maintain the power grip over the nation.  Many so called experts used to come on TV, spreading fake news about how Pakistan has been gripped by terror, underrating the good work done by the allied armed forces and the civilian bureaucracy.

Looking globally, we see society, culture and environment on local channels, people and travel shows, credible socio-political narratives being challenged, and public-opinion openly broadcast and basic human rights openly respected. Media as a watch dog for the nation is the real job of the media. Becoming spawns in the game of corrupt leaders and being their entourage is not what the media is supposed to do.  In Pakistan, that is what was being done and little else was seen in those turbulent times, until the media crackdown took form, leaving many shocked and exposed, in the wake of the transparency drive initiated by the new government.

Facts eventually revealed showed a different picture.  On the contrary,  under the new government, the media was given a respectable “space” in the scheme of things, journalists were given public media briefings, the media policy was revamped for the benefit of the viewers and negative anti-state content was barred through effective implementation of peace initiatives with the media leading the way forward. No attacks on press freedom were recorded, except the false accusations by certain journalists, who were previously getting kickbacks to promote hysteria and agitation through press channels. In fact in reality, there were no acts of violence during the period that followed, terrorism almost diminished from all provinces, city life improved, thefts and robberies reduced drastically and the international stature of the country became prominent as the new leadership worked hard to get Pakistan back on track.

Today like never before, the media is invited by the government for live briefings on major economic and political debates, discussions and feedback, something we saw for the first time in Pakistan. Last year, regulatory authorizes issued advisory notes to all media channels and outlets to stop the incorrect reporting of facts and events and curtail negative content on television channels by introducing viewer-friendly content for the general public as earlier the public was being subjected to propaganda news invoking violence, abuse and terrorism.

The work done by the media sector today is commendable, as the real true image of the country is seen today under the new lens of transparency.  Pakistan today is the forerunner as the best country for investment, Islamic and conventional tourism and a peace maker nation within the forging powerful diplomatic ties with Turkey, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and bigger nations like UK, France, Germany and the United States.  Even India was approached through diplomatic means, but Indian fake diplomacy was unmasked in front of the world through their illegal actions in the occupied region of Kashmir- the biggest humanitarian crisis by any means so far.

Today, we have credible media and laws that are being enforced and followed, just like in any country or region. There are no media wars being fought today.  The only war that is being fought here in Pakistan is the war against financial crime and corruption, that was executed in the country as the official means to do business- through kickbacks. This resulted in major arrests in the country of a former President and two former Prime Ministers of the country. No wonder their media-associates today are running from pillar to post echoing cry wolf.

Regulated media operates around the world, where media organizations preserve and protect democratic values instead of resorting to malicious content and derogatory reporting in some elements, influenced by the powerful elite.  Al-Jazeera and CNN are prime examples of a credible media form. In Pakistan, many today see this narrative as a politically motivated one, not as a pressure on the media sector but as a conspiracy hatched by few blacklisted media channels to undermine judicial harmony and good governance that has been prominently introduced in the country- a part of the new rising Pakistan.

History has proven today that past corrupt rulers were purposely reinventing new ways of concealing their illegal source of funds, by buying out media houses and funding them to continue their reign of corruption, using media as front face. This truly facilitated the increase in financial crime, money laundering, terror financing and other such corrupt practices, involving major stakeholders, both from within and outside the country.

After the elections of 2018, the government of the day took a major stand against white collar financial crime, with discovering and exposing money trials, which eventually attributed to major devaluation of the currency and diminished foreign currency reserves.  The media sector also witnessed a record lowest number of attacks on journalists, as compared to the previous 5 years of the previous government.  There were rumors of dissent and atrocities on journalists when some major newspapers and television channels announced massive layoffs, mainly due to financial rightsizing –more than any other reason.

The employee attrition we saw in the media post elections last year was nothing but a ripple effect on the government’s harsh stance on corruption which in turn has exposed some media channels and their wrongdoings, involving billions of dollars of kickback funds, yellow journalism and journalists on illegal payroll of corrupt governments. These journalists were thereby rewarded through high priced gifts and perks like houses, jets, cars, air tickets and other entertainment kickbacks.  The worst affected in the entire story was the real deserving staff employed in media organizations. It was also noticed that lot of staff salaries, bonuses, allowances, entertainment budgets of the “well-connected” media personalities were being paid at the expense of the lower staff, leading lead to lot of genuine people losing legitimate jobs because of a corrupt few.

Few media groups citing “financial constraints” further started a negative press movement against the newly elected government as a pre-planned deflection campaign as their money trails came into question. Investigations were eventually initiated against, forcing the end of the monopoly of few power-brokers in the media industry, which later resigned or flew out of the country, as law enforcement agencies were given an open hand to end corruption. Important to further mention today that a lot of media propaganda was exposed in view of the corruption allegations on some of the media strongholds, unchecked in the past. This was not due to any media censorship or suppression nor was media freedom at stake.

Pakistan today is a true beacon of inter-faith harmony, youth empowerment, good governance and press freedom. People are genuinely happy and the state machinery is running effectively to combat all kinds of crimes against society.  The recent results on the Global happiness index for Pakistan further speaks volumes of the changing tides for the country on route to prosperity.

There is no threat to press freedom in Pakistan. In fact, the press has never been so independent than it is now.

NBP ready to fulfil local, global challenges

National Bank of Pakistan celebrates its 70th anniversary in Karachi

NBP 70th anniversary 

Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has proved itself as a leading commercial bank of the country in terms of assets and profit, and is prepared to launch initiatives for promotion of inclusive banking to meet local and global business challenges.

NBP’s President Mr. Arif Usmani, while speaking at the 70th anniversary celebration at NBP Head Office said, ‘National Bank is the backbone of national economy and we will continue to strive to do more for the nation. He added that under a new major initiative the bank would focus on the financing of Agriculture, SMEs and projects/businesses aimed at women empowerment. For this purpose, he added, a new business group had been formed to focus on these sectors and deliver results within shortest possible time.

He said strengthening of Agriculture sector is a must for the progress of our country, SMEs is the second largest and important economic sector. Earlier, people were shy to get loan from banks because of lack of information about the loan procedure. However, NBP is now organizing seminars in different areas of the country to train SMEs borrowers. These training sessions are titled ‘Certified to Borrow,’ this certificate would work as license for getting loans for SMEs and NBP would give discount in interest rate to certified SMEs borrowers.

Arif Usmani said the bank had also gone for systematic up-gradation and the use of latest technology to provide best services to its customers in the era of digitalization.  NBP is prepared to move with digital revolution as around 75 million cellular phones are functional in the country and people are constantly demanding banking facilities on their phones.

He informed remorsefully that only 40 percent economy is documented and the banks are working with this portion only. Increasing the tax-GDP ratio is essential for strengthening the economy of the country and the government is taking effective steps to remove trust deficit among taxpayers. President informed that under Kamyab Jawan Program, so far 470,000 people had applied through NBP. Its other partner banks are Bank of Punjab and Bank of Khyber.

Mr. Arif Usmani also displayed the trphy won by World Snooker Champion Muhammad Asif and announced a Rs. 750,000 cash prize for his historic victory.

Indian Air Force lacks professionalism, pilots are incompetent: Ex-PAF chief

exPAF chief

Former chief of Pakistan Air Force Sohail Aman speaking at a round-table conference in Islamabad. PICSS organized this conference. Former Ambassador Abdul Basit and managing director of PICSS are also seen in the group.

Corporate Ambassador/ISLAMABAD

On the occasion of Indian Air Force Day, former Pakistani Air Chief Sohail Aman raised serious questions on the professional abilities of Indian Air Force and its fighter pilots. He was talking to defense and security experts during a Roundtable conference organized by an Islamabad-based think-tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS).

Indian Air Force is celebrating IAF Day on October 8. Chief of Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria has released a promotional video last Thursday featuring purported story of failed Balakot Attack. Indian Air Force Chief has also announced an award for Wing Commander Abhinandan’s 51st Squadron.
However, Air Chief Marshal (r) Sohail Aman said that the way Abhinandan’s jet was shot down and the manner in which Indian pilots conducted Balakot raid shows that Indian Air Force not only lacks professional level planning but the training of its pilots is also very poor. He said, “Look at the level of their training that one of their SU-30 was shot down 25 miles inside of the territory India controls”. He was referring to shooting down of Russian-made fighter Jet SU-30 by a Pakistani pilot from within Pakistani territory.
Indirectly replying to the newly made claim of Indian Air Chief that IAF is ready to fight a war and conduct operations like Balakot raid, Sohail Aman said that Indians Air Force is like a man who gets a knife to threaten opponents but does not know how to do that.

He said that during the last fifteen years, Pakistan Air Force has become battle-hardened and post Balakot counter strikes by PAF on Indian targets are like cakewalk for our pilots. It has become a matter of routine for our pilots to carry out such strikes.
Sohail Aman recalled the post-Uri scenario when India had threatened to carry out strikes inside Azad Kashmir. However, PAF had gone into aggressive postures within hours of the attack which forced Indians to stay away from any misadventure. In September 2016, Kashmiri militants had carried out one of the most devastating attacks on Indian military in Uri area of Baramula district of Occupied Kashmir in which more than 18 Indian soldiers were killed. India had immediately blamed Pakistan. Sohail Aman was Air Chief at that time.

Former Pakistani Air Chief also underlined lack of coordination among different branches of Indian military. He said that they shot down their own Mi-17 on February 27 when there wasn’t a big fight going on. As far as Pakistani standards are concerned, what was happening on 27th February was just a normal kind of operation.
To a question whether Israeli pilots were part of the operation or any Israeli pilot was captured Sohail Amam declined to give any direct answer however he said that if Israeli pilots were involved in Balakot then their professional abilities are also of very poor like Indians.
Sohail Aman said that war is not a solution to Kashmir issue, however, we have to keep ourselves ready for any eventuality. He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan very aptly highlighted Kashmir issue in UNGA. However, there is need to keep the issue alive consistently.
Brig. (r) Ehtasham, Brig (r) Amir, Director NIPS NUST, Air Commodore. (r) Dr. Anjum Sarfraz, Advisor NIMA, Mr. Abdullah Hamid Gul, Chairman Tehrik Jawanan Pak/ Kashmir, Brig (r) Saif Malik, Head of Department Muslim University, Ghulam Muhammad Saffi leader Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu Kashmir, Abdullah Khan Managing Director PICSS, Brig. (r) Muhammad Khan, Professor IR, IIUI and others were among the participants in the roundtable.

USAID officials discuss their revolving fund account with NBP high ups


KARACHI: From left to right: Mr. Sheraz Ashraf (Chief Financial Advisor USAID), Mr. Tariq Jamali (SEVP, Chief of Operations and Administration), Ms. Charline Eastin (Director Financial Management, USAID), Mr. Tariq Zafar Iqbal (EVP, Group Head Operations), Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Nadeem (EVP, Operations) seen in a group photo at NBP Head office. USAID-NBP discussed the USAID’s revolving fund account management.


Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: The Director Finance, Chief Financial Advisor, USAID, along with their team visited National Bank of Pakistan, Head Office. During their visit, the team briefed the USAID delegation about the system developed by NBP, under the guidance of State Bank of Pakistan; for handling of revolving fund account maintained by USAID in NBP branches.

The Director Finance USAID, Ms. Charline Eastin, expressed satisfaction over the newly developed application which will reduce turnaround time and standardize the statement of account of USAID across NBP network. State Bank of Pakistan, National Bank of Pakistan and USAID have developed a combined training program for potential users of the system. USAID is currently working on multiple initiatives in Pakistan in education, health, governance and Social sectors.


269 die in terrorist attacks in 9 months of 2019: PICSS


APP77-30 NORTH WAZIRISTAN: November 30 – Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa talking to troops during his visit to North Waziristan Agency. APP

Staff Report/ISLAMABAD

Militants have carried out 130 attacks in different areas of Pakistan, in first nine months of 2019 in which 269 people have been killed and 595 injured. Average militant attacks per month have dropped from 19 to 14, while average deaths fell to 30, from 50 in the corresponding months of last year.

Meanwhile, a slight decrease was observed in militant attacks across the Pakistan in September 2019, according to statistics released by Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) – an Islamabad based security think tank.

A total of 23 terror-related violence were reported, including militant attacks and security forces actions in September 2019 as compared to 21 incidents in August 2019. Resultantly, eight militants, 11 security forces personnel and 12 civilians got killed.

Rangers2PICSS also reported 10 arrests and 2 kidnapping cases in September this year. Total injuries after these anti state violence-related acts were 49 including 26 civilians and 23 officials of security forces. Overall anti-State violence-related incidents increased by around 10% .However, number of militant attacks dropped by 11% in September 2019.

PICSS recorded 16 militant attacks during September, as compared to 18 militants’ attacks in August 2019.  In these 16 militant attacks, 10 security forces personnel and 12 civilians lost their lives while 2 militants were also killed. About 44 people got injured in the militant attacks in which 26 were civilians and 18 were the security officials. The number of militant attacks in tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has remained same as of August, but casualties have slightly increased. In eight attacks in August, 9 people were killed, whereas, in September 14 persons got killed in militant attacks. Balochistan region were faced 6 militant attacks with 6 casualties.

According to stats collected by PICSS regarding anti-state violence in Pakistan, a total number of 10 IEDs were recorded with 4 in Balochistan, 5 in the tribal districts, one in KP. There were two militants’ physical assaults that were also noted throughout the country with one in KP and one in the tribal district. There was one target killing incident recorded in Balochistan. One grenade attack was also noted in Balochistan as well.

PICSS also recorded a suicide attack in Balochistan. A security force personnel was martyred and three others were injured in a clash with militants in Quetta on 30th September 2019, while security personnel killed one militant and another blew himself up.

PICSS statistics revealed that security forces conducted seven operations against the militants in the country during September 2019. In these seven security forces’ actions, six suspected militants were killed. Also, one security forces’ personnel got killed. Security forces activities in Balochistan during the month was also notable. Six suspected members of the militant Islamic State (IS) group, including a local commander, were killed in a gun battle with security forces during an intelligence-based operation in the Eastern Bypass area in Quetta on 3rd September 2019. This was a big blow to IS in the province which had established its Pakistan chapter back in May 2019 to step up its operations in the country.

Babar Awan, Asad Umer, Amir Liaquat may get Ministries

federal ministers


Corporate Ambassador/ISLAMABAD: A new list circulating in important government’s circles is indicating that Babar Awan is being appointed as Information Minister, Amir Liaquat is likely to become Minister for Religious Affairs while Asad Umer is rejoining the federal cabinet as Minister for Planning and Development.

It is also believed that Dr Atta-ur-Rehman is also being appointed as the Minister for Science and Technology. Another expected important change in cabinet seems the appointment of Shafqat Mahmood as Interior Minister in place of Ejaz Shah.

Similarly, Dr Shahbaz Gill is likely to be made as PM’s spokesman while senior TV anchor Dr Moeed Pirzada is expected to become PM’s Adviser on Media. Moreover, the portfolios of federal ministers Fawad Chaudhary, Shirin Mazari, Shaikh Rasheed and Khushroo Pervez are likely to be changed. Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Federal Cabinet are likely to approve changes in the portfolios of federal ministers.

Worth noting is that PM Khan had already indicated that the non-performing ministers will be removed.

NBP enhancing its penetration in market

A technical team of the World Bank visits NBP Head Office to look into various aspects of the country’s largest commercial bank in size.


Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: The World Bank technical team visited the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Head Office to discuss the dynamics of Pakistan’s financial sectors, particularly the development finance landscape and the role NBP can play in this area. The World Bank Group is conducting this analysis on the request of the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Pakistan.
The World Bank Group plays a critical role in advancing development finance in Pakistan since it can leverage its financial sector expertise by holding country engagement and dialogue, financing and risk-sharing instruments, unique data-sets and research capacity, and influence with standard-setting bodies. Mr. Marius Vismantas (Lead Financial Sector Specialist) and Ms. Namoos Zaheer (Senior Financial Sector Specialist) met Mr. Rehmat Ali Hasnie, SEVP/Group Chief, Inclusive Development Group and Mr. Faisal Ahmed Topra, SEVP/Group Chief, Strategy & Development Analytics Group, discussed various initiatives planned by NBP for development finance and priority sectors including agriculture, SME, Housing and Microfinance.
Mr. Rehmat Ali Hasnie informed the representatives on NBP’s initiative to reposition itself and increase its market penetration and growth in the priority sectors of the economy.
The World Bank team appreciated the renewed focus of NBP and assured of its support for further development of these sectors that are essential contributors to Pakistan’s economy.

IMF package, lack of direction slowdown CPEC projects

In round-table conference organized by Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS), an Islamabad-based security think-tank, experts said that for just US$ 6 billion from IMF, Pakistan has practically wasted 23 billion dollars. They termed the slow down on CPEC projects as a result of Pakistan’s deal with IMF

PICSS pic1

Corporate Ambassador/ISLAMABAD
During a roundtable conference organized by an Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) the experts on CPEC subject said that Pakistan lacks strategic clarity on CPEC which has resulted in slowdown in the overall progress of the projects. Raja Amir Iqbal, former President Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who has recently attended a workshop in China was the keynote speaker during the roundtable while economic and strategic experts, businessmen, academia, journalists, international relations experts, researchers were among the participants including Chairman PICSS Major General (R) Saad Khattak, Dr. Azhar Ahmad head of department International Relations Bahria University, Brig. (R) Saif Malik, Head of Department IR MUSLIM University, Dr. Talat Shabir Director China Pakistan Study Center (CPSC) ISSI, Brig (R) Saad Muhmmad strategic analyst, Brig. (R) Ahtisham defense analyst, Abdullah Khan Managing Director PICSS, Wajeeha Butt, political analyst and others participated in the discussion.
The participants expressed serious concern over progress on CPEC projects. Raja Amir Iqbal said the Chinese have no strategic ambiguity while it seems Pakistan lacks strategic clarity regarding CPEC. Most of the participants agreed with the notion that we lack strategic clarity on the issue. A question was raised that whether the strategic clarity was a shortcoming or a deliberate plan.

Raja Amir Iqbal said that things were moving in right direction till 2018 but then things changed and situation is like a stalemate. He said that CPEC is our requirement and we need to focus on industrialization rather than thinking about transit trade and collecting just toll tax.
Brig (R) Saad Muhammad said that Chinese want us to avoid conflicts and progress but unfortunately we are marred with conflicts since Pakistan’s creation. Raja Amer Iqbal emphasized on developing strategic clarity among the various power circles of Pakistan so that Pakistan’s economy could be facilitated by the benefits of this initiative. The most important hurdle regarding CPEC is the difference of business ethics between Chinese and Pakistanis counterparts. However, we cannot implement Chinese business ethics in Pakistan as we have to develop things as per our own domestic requirements.
They all stressed the need to bring structural reforms in the political and economic sphere of Pakistan to get the benefit of CPEC instead of shelving various projects under CPEC.
Experts also said that for just US$ 6 billion from IMF Pakistan practically wasted 23 billion dollars. They termed the slow down on CPEC projects as a result of Pakistan’s deal with IMF.
One of the participant Abid Imam said that Pakistan did not need IMF package and should get out of it as soon as possible. However, Raja Amir contradicted and said that in his opinion Pakistan should have gone to IMF in September 2018.
Participants have raised the question of the worries of the local producers and their capabilities in the wake of this Belt Road Initiative and also the role of the external elements and their interests in making the pendulum swung the other way. No Progress on CPEC due to external pressure would cost Pakistan more than China.
Major General (R) Saad Khattak while giving concluding remarks said that there are people in power corridors who have their vested interests in countries who do not look positively towards Pakistan-China relations and in the presence of such people it is very difficult to achieve the dividends of CPEC properly.