Just days after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan railed against French President Emmanuel Macron for his remarks against Islamist extremism and hundreds and thousands of Pakistanis marched on the streets calling for nuking France, Islamabad is expecting debt relief from France worth hundreds of millions of dollars from France.
According to a report by The Express Tribune, Pakistan had qualified for the G-20 relief initiative announced in April this year for May-December 2020 period to fight the financial impact of the pandemic, along with 76 poor African nations. The relief was subject to the condition that each country would make a formal request. From the past seven months, Pakistan, which is staring at a catastrophic monetary crisis and whose total debt as of August stands at $25.4 billion, was able to secure about $800 million worth of debt freeze deals from 14 of the G-20 countries, including France.
As per official documents, Pakistan is yet to finalise the debt rescheduling modalities with Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Pakistan has reportedly not made repayments to these countries on the understanding that these members would eventually sign-off the deals as per the G-20 scheme.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs of Pakistan has estimated that it can receive a total $1.8 billion temporary debt relief from the members of G-20 nations for May-December 2020 period, which included $1.47 billion principal loans repayments and $323 million interest on the loans. Among this, they have been able to sign agreements to defer repayment of loans amounting to $800 million to 14 nations.
The ministry estimates that Pakistan can receive $613 million worth of temporary debt relief from Saudi Arabia, $309 million from China, $23 million from Canada, $183 million from France, $99 million from Germany, $6 million from Italy, $373 million from Japan, $47 million from South Korea, $14 million from Russia, $1 million from the UK and $128 million from the US.
Pakistan expects France to agree for $183 million and $104 million in debt relief in two phases
As the menace of COVID-19 returns with the vengeance and starts affecting the countries yet again, the G-20 nations have decided to extend the debt relief initiative by another six months (January-June) 2021. Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee on Friday passed an approval to make another formal request to the G-20 nations for an extension to the debt relief initiative for another six months.
With G-20 extending the relief, the Ministry of Economic Affairs expects that Pakistan can receive relief of $915 million for the extended 6 months period. This includes $385 million from China, by $211 million from Japan, $104 million from France, $53.6 million from Germany, $65 million from the US, $12 million from Saudi Arabia, $7 million from Russia and $0.5 million from the UAE.
Thus, Pakistan is expecting debt rescheduling relief worth $183 million from France for the first eight-month period of Mya-December, it is estimating relief worth $104 million for the extended term of six months from January to June 2021. Therefore, the total estimate relief from France is USD 287 million for the entire 14 month period.
So far, Pakistani authorities have entered into 27 debt rescheduling agreements with about 16 countries, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs.
France-Pakistan relationship in a tailspin
The Pakistan government has been openly ranting against France and especially French President Emmanuel Macron after his denouncement of radical Islam following the gruesome beheading of a French schoolteacher by an Islamic terrorist.
Macron spoke against the extremism bred by radical Islam and stressed the need for developing an “Islam of Enlightenment”. Simultaneously, French authorities initiated a crackdown against certain mosques and deported individuals they deemed were involved in extremist activities in France.
This provoked a stern reaction from Pakistani PM Imran Khan, who appeared to justify the decapitation of Mr Paty during his address at UNGA. Imran Khan had also criticised Macron’s ‘leadership’.
However, Khan did not stop just there. In a bid to appear as the leading light of the Muslim Ummah, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan intensified his attack against the Western countries, especially against France, by releasing a statement wherein he issued a clarion call to the Muslim leaders in the world to take note of the “growing Islamophobia” in the non-Muslim states. The Pakistan National Assembly had passed a resolution calling for the withdrawal of their ambassador to France, forgetting that for the time, Pakistan did not have an ambassador in Paris.
The Pakistani senate had also passed a resolution against France, and there has been calls to boycott French products both from politicians and citizens of Pakistan.
Pakistani citizens had asked PM Imran Khan to nuke France and impose a blanket ban on French products
Even as Imran Khan continued criticising Emmanuel Macron, Pakistani social media users urged their Prime Minister to launch a ‘nuclear attack’ against France. Social media plaforms in Pakistan were replete with messages asking Imran Khan to nuke France and asking their fellow countrymen to boycott all French products.
France too had responded in its own manner, refusing to upgrade Pakistan’s Mirage fighter jets and submarines. Recently, Pakistan’s minister Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari had shared a dubious report on Twitter saying, “Macron is doing to Muslims what the Nazis did to the Jews.” The French embassy in Pakistan called out her lies saying that claim she had made on Twitter was nothing but ‘Fake News and false accusations’. The French Foreign Ministry had asked Pakistani authorities to withdraw the insulting remarks by the Pakistani minister against Macron. The tweet was subsequently removed.