Struggling Pak state enterprises made to advertise for Ishaq Dar’s award

Islamabad [Pakistan], Oct. 14 : As per recent reports, five Pakistan state-owned firms partially funded Finance Minister Ishaq Dar's 'Best Finance Minister of South Asia Award' conferred on him last week by 'The Emerging Markets' newspaper.

National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), National Insurance Corporation Limited (NICL) and Pak-Arab Refinery Company (PARCO) gave advertisements to the paper last month, reports the Express Tribune.

Last week, the newspaper had conferred 'Best Finance Minister of South Asia Award' to Dar and 'Best country in South Asia in infrastructure development to Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal.

The respective ministries had claimed that 'The Emerging Markets' is a World Bank and IMF publication, adding it was a matter of honour for the country that the publication bestowed these awards to Pakistani political personalities.

However, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Mission Chief to Pakistan, Harald Finger, said yesterday that the newspaper does not belong to the mission as was being claimed by the Pakistan ministries.

"Emerging Markets is an independent publication," said Harald Finger, the Washington-based chief of the IMF mission for Pakistan, while addressing a press conference from Washington through a video-link while responding to a question about whether he congratulated Finance Minister Dar on winning IMF/WB Best South Asia Minister award.

After the publication of the award, the government functionaries jumped to congratulate them for winning such a 'prestigious' award.

Even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif congratulated Dar for winning the award. The Planning Ministry not only declared Emerging Markets as a WB/IMF publication but also exaggerated the paper's standing by claiming that it was an 'international institution'.

It added that Emerging Markets had invited the Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal to receive the award in Washington.

However, the management of the newspaper denies that there was a link between the funding and awards. Meanwhile, NBP spokesman insisted that the bank gave the advertisement due to its prestigious global standing and maintained that nobody from the government put pressure on the bank to give the advertisement.

He also refused to disclose the cost of the advertisement. Such costly advertisements comes amid reports that the Nawaz Sharif-led government has, after motorway and airports, decided to mortgage PTV and Radio Pakistan buildings in order to secure loans to overcome the economic crisis being presently faced by the state.

Source: ANI