News from Pakistan: Family refutes rumors of Musharraf’s death, defense spending hiked in new budget, and more

Rumors of former President Pervez Musharraf’s death, another potentially costly hike in petrol and diesel prices, and a phone call between the United Nations General Assembly President and Pakistan Foreign Minister on the BJP leaders’ controversial remarks on the Prophet — these are some of the key stories that have made headlines in Islamabad in the past 24 hours.

Here’s a glimpse of the larger picture.

Budget 2022-23: Fuel to get costlier, defense spending increased

Petrol and diesel prices in Pakistan are likely to get costlier as the country’s budget, presented Friday, proposes to raise the target of petroleum levy from PAK Rs 610 billion to PAK Rs 750 billion, reported Pakistan-based daily Dawn.

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This could mean that the fuel prices, which were already increased by PAK Rs 60 per liter two weeks ago, could touch “Rs280 and Rs300 a unit in the next four to six months,” said the report.

Meanwhile, in the 2022-23 budget presented on Friday, the defense expenditure has increased from 1.48 trillion rupees to 1.52 trillion rupees for 2022-23 while the health budget has been cut to 19.03 billion rupees from 154.49 billion rupees in 2021-22. Several austerity measures like a ban on buying new cars for government officials and cuts in fuel consumption by government officials were announced as was a proposal to hike government employees’ salaries by 15%.

Ex-President Pervez Musharraf’s organs are malfunctioning, says family

Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has been hospitalised for the last three weeks After his health worsened, his family said Friday, amid reports that he was kept on a ventilator.

Amyloidosis is a rare disease that occurs when an abnormal protein builds up in organs and interferes with normal function. Musharraf, 78, ruled Pakistan from 1999 to 2008. The leader was also the head of the Pakistani military and had come into power by removing the then PM Nawaz Sharif in a coup.

FM Bilawal informs UNGA President of controversial questions on Prophet

Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in a telephone call apprised President of UN General Assembly Abdulla Shahid of the controversial remarks made by two former senior officials of India’s ruling party against Prophet Mohammad, the Foreign Office said in Islamabad on Friday.

Noting that such provocation had deeply hurt the sentiments of billions of Muslims around the world, the Bilawal urged Shahid to take cognisance of this “abhorrent” development amidst rising Islamophobia in India, it said. Referring to the muted response of the Indian leadership to the incident, the foreign minister noted that “silence could be taken as complicity, and could lead to further incitement to violence, communal discord and hate incidents,” the Foreign Office said. (Press Trust of India)

Imran Khan’s planned march to Islamabad delayed till late July

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s much-publicised march to Islamabad will be delayed till July 20, reported Pakistan-based Geo Newsquoting one of Khan’s key allies.

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures as he travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 26, 2022. (Reuters)

The reason for delay was attributed to the upcoming provincial elections in Punjab, one of Pakistan’s four provinces. “Imran [Khan] will do the politics of dharna (sit-ins) after the elections,” said Pervez Elahi, a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), who has sided with Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) .

‘No discussion’ on India’s permanent UNSC membership between Bilawal and Blinken: Pak FO

Pakistan on Friday rejected as “totally baseless” the media reports that foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave an assurance on India’s bid for permanent membership of the UNSC.

Rejecting media reports that Bilawal gave an assurance to Blinken last month on India’s bid for permanent membership of the UNSC, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmed said, “no discussion” on this issue took place during the foreign minister’s meeting with the US Secretary in New York. (Press Trust of India)

Pakistan beat West Indies to seal ODI series

All-rounder Mohammad Nawaz bagged four wickets as Pakistan defeated West Indies by 120 runs in the second one-day international on Friday to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Chasing 276, the visitors were bundled out for 155 within 33 overs in Multan as Nawaz excelled with his spin bowling and finished with career-best ODI figures of 4-19. Mohammad Wasim also chipped in, taking 3-34 on his comeback. Earlier, Pakistan captain Babar Azam (77) and opener Imam-ul-Haq (72) formed a formidable partnership of 120 for the second wicket to hand the hosts a par score after they opted to bat. (Press Trust of India)

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