Panama crisis cost $14b to national economy [The Nation] 27 Aug, 2017

ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal Saturday said that national economy faced a loss of around $14 billion due to the political instability created by the Panama crisis in the country.The minister gave the statement a day after ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif raised 12 questions over the legal proceedings adopted by the Supreme Court in the Panama case.Pakistan was moving on a fast-track development but the national economy suffered a loss of around $14 billion during the last three to four months due to political instability created by some political figures, the minister said after reviewing the losses at “Sasta Bazaar”, located in Sector H-9 caused by Wednesday morning’s inferno.His statement is first of its kind as earlier the finance ministry never told about such losses. He also did not quote any source of his information to substantiate his claim.The minister was referring to the time period of three to four months, the time from the establishment of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) over Panama Papers case to the July 28 verdict of the Supreme Court.He also said the nation had to bear the cost of the decision that disqualified Nawaz Sharif for not getting salary of 10,000 dirhams from his son’s company.Accompanying the State Minister for Capital Administration & Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry and Mayor Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation (IMC) Sheikh Anser Aziz, Ahsan Iqbal said conspiracies and progress could not move side by side in any country. He added that the government wanted to see stability and durable peace in the country.About US President Donald Trump’s plan for Afghanistan and his anti-Pakistan remarks, he categorically stated that the government would safeguard national interests at all costs. Pakistan’s resolve against terrorism is for its own interest, and not for serving the interests of the United States, he added. He said Pakistan would continue playing its due role for peace and stability in the region in collaboration with the regional states.Ahsan said the political and military leadership has reviewed in detail the US President Donald Trump’s strategy regarding Afghanistan and South Asia and outrightly rejected his assertions of giving billions of dollars to Pakistan over the years on account of eliminating terrorism.The US narrative is wrong as Pakistan’s view is that Washington is yet to pay Islamabad billions of dollars under the previous agreements regarding logistic support to the United States, he said.He stressed the need for forging unity among ranks of countrymen to send across a message that the nation is united to face any conspiracy.About making public the report of Dawn Leaks, the interior minister said that a joint investigation was conducted over the issue and was taken to its logical end. “Now Dawn Leaks is a past and closed transaction,” he said and added: “We should think over bigger things now.”To another question about prevailing situation in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries, the minister said that he himself had time and again pointed out the conspiracies being hatched in the countries surrounding Pakistan. “Pakistan is a distinguished country among comity of the nations and it will continue its efforts for regional peace in collaboration with friendly countries,” he remarked.He also said the interior ministry would continue to play an effective role under the National Action Plan (NAP) for establishment of peace and stability in the country.The minister also assured the affected shopkeepers of the bazaar that the government would help re-establish about 600 shops that burnt to ashes the other day. A damage assessment committee had been constituted, which would prepare its report within two daysfor onward submission to the Prime Minister for compensation, he added.He said rescue operation was started promptly because of CCTV cameras installed under the Safe City Project and other safety measures adopted by the district administration otherwise the volume of losses would have been higher.The minister said the blaze was controlled within two hours and it could be dozed off in initial stage, if shopkeepers would have followed the prescribed safety measures and installed fire extinguishers.He directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to make an assessment of all business centres and high-rise shopping malls in the capital whether they were following the required safety measures or not, besides asking to make the city fire-brigade department more efficient.He advised that all commercial sites should be fully equipped with the gadgets to meet emergencies as it was must for safety of all. Ahsan Iqbal said his ministry would make Islamabad police a role model force for other provinces. Moreover, he said police stations were being equipped with latest technologies and peace and reconciliatory committees were also being activated to facilitate citizens.IMRAN MUKHTARThis news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 27-Aug-2017 here.

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