Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir to represent Pakistan in the meeting instead of finance minister
ISLAMABAD: After skipping the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings due to graft case in the accountability court, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar will not attend the Pakistan-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) meeting scheduled to be held in Moscow on November 26 to 28, it has been learnt reliably.
According to information available with Pakistan Today, Defence Minister Khurram Dastagir will represent Pakistan in IGC meeting instead of Dar—who was declared absconder by the accountability court in amassing assets of an approximate value of Rs831.7 million disproportionate to his known sources of income.
Officials told that the finance minister has represented Pakistan during the last four meetings, but he will not be represented in the coming meeting due to his ongoing treatment in London.
Dar’s lawyer also prayed to accountability court to give him an exemption as he was in London for treatment for his heart problem; however, the judge rejected the counsel’s plea and summoned his guarantor for the next hearing.
Earlier, the government had sidelined Dar from major policymaking decision bodies like Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), Council of Common Interest (CCI) and Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).
Inter-governmental Commission on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation between Russia and Pakistan was created to aid the development of mutual cooperation in the fields of trade and economy, science, technology and education.
Officials said that economic and trade relations between Islamabad and Moscow have remained severely affected for about five decades because of cold war tensions, even though Pakistan’s two major ventures—the Pakistan Steel Mills and the largest hydrocarbon producer Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC)—came into being with financial and technical support of the erstwhile Soviet Union in the 1960s.
The two sides have been cosying up over a couple of years and have signed a few memorandums of understanding (MOUs) in recent months, enabling Russian energy firms to enter Pakistan’s oil and gas exploration and production sectors through government-to-government contracts, officials added.
Pakistan was Russia’s 73rd largest trading partner in the 2nd quarter of 2017 (up from 82nd in the 2nd quarter of 2016), accounting for 0.0911 per cent of Russia’s total trade (up from 0.0739 per cent in the 2nd quarter of 2016).
In addition to this, Pakistan was Russia’s 78th largest export market in the 2nd quarter of 2017 (up from 87th in the 2nd quarter of 2016), accounting for 0.0861 per cent of Russia’s total exports (up from 0.0466 per cent in the 2nd quarter of 2016).