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Pakistan military offers to cut defence budget amid severe financial crisis

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Pakistan military offers to cut defence budget amid severe financial crisis

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Amid a severe financial crisis in Pakistan, its military, in what media reports dubbed “an unprecedented move”, has voluntarily decided to cut the defence budget before Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government presents its budget for the fiscal year through June 2020 next Tuesday (June 11).

The move comes amid an austerity drive launched by the government to solve the cash-strapped nation’s economic woes, with the country bracing for a raft of belt-tightening measures to address an out-of-control deficit.

Economists warn the government may have to come up with a combined 700 billion rupees ($5 billion) worth of expenditure cuts and new taxes to satisfy the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is negotiating to loan the country $6 billion over the next three years, said a Reuters report. Pakistan is expected to put in place measures to rein in a ballooning fiscal and current account deficits to get access to the funds.

Without mentioning how much budget cut would be undertaken, Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General (DG) Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) – the media wing of the military – in his Twitter message yesterday (Tuesday, June 4) said that voluntary cuts in the defence budget for next fiscal year would not be at the cost of defence and security.

“Voluntary cut in defence budget for a year will not be at the cost of defence & security. We shall maintain effective response potential to all threats. Three services will manage impact of the cut through appropriate internal measures. It was important to participate in development of tribal areas & Balochistan,” Ghafoor said.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan said he was very appreciative of the Pakistan military’s “unprecedented voluntary initiative of stringent cuts in their defence expenditures” in light of the country’s financial situation.

Khan said he was grateful for the move that came “despite multiple security challenges” that Pakistan faces. He said that the funds saved will be used for the development of the newly-merged tribal areas as well as in Balochistan.

Imran Khan, after assuming office last year, launched several austerity measures. He moved into a modest three-bed room house of his military secretary along with two servants. Last month, the government announced that all civil and military institutions would contribute to the austerity-oriented federal budget for 2019-20.

“There will be austerity in the coming budget. We will try to keep government expenditures to the minimum possible level,” Prime Minister’s Adviser on Finance and Economic Affairs Hafeez Shaikh had said.

In 2018, Pakistan was the 20th biggest military spender in the world with an expenditure of USD 11.4 billion, a report published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said in April.

The military spending of 2018 made up for four per cent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) which is the highest level since 2004, according to the report by the Sweden-based institute.

The top military spender in the world is the United States, which spent USD 649 billion on its forces last year. The US military spending, however, has decreased by 17 per cent over the past decade, the report said.

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PM Modi condoles Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s death says India stands with Iran

PM Narendra Modi extended condolences to Ebrahim Raisi’s family and the people of Iran.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday condoled Iran president Ebrahim Raisi’s death and said he was deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic demise. The PM also said contribution to strengthening India-Iran bilateral ties will always be remembered.

Taking to social media X, formerly Twitter, PM Modi said deeply saddened and shocked by the tragic passing of Iran’s president, Dr. Seyed Ebrahim Raisi. He also said, he will never forget his contribution to the bilateral ties between Iran and India. The PM said his heartfelt condolences are his family and the people of Iran, he added. PM Modi wrote, India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow.

Ebrahim Raisi was found dead a day after his helicopter went missing. He reportedly died in a chopper crash in the mountainous region of the country.

The helicopter crash claimed the lives of officials, bodyguards, and Iran’s foreign minister in addition to Raisi.

State television announced on Monday that Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi, the servant of the Iranian nation, has achieved the highest level of martyrdom whilst serving the people, and Mehr news agency confirmed his death.

The missing helicopter was being looked for by Iranian authorities since Sunday afternoon.

Reportedly, the crash occurred in the East Azerbaijan province of Iran and claimed the lives of nine individuals, including Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

There was no proof that the passengers were still alive, according to reports from Iranian media.

Out of the three helicopters in his convoy, only two made it to their destination, including Ebrahim Raisi. He had traveled to the northwest province to join President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan at the inauguration of a dam project in Jolfa.

It was anticipated that Raisi, a devout conservative, would succeed the eighty-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Since 2021, Ebrahim Raisi has served as Iran’s president. He replaced Hassan Rouhani, the centrist president.

Under his leadership, the death of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman who had been detained for violating the Iranian dress code for women, sparked widespread public unrest throughout the nation.

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Slovakia’s Prime Minister safe after surviving multiple gunshot

The assailant critically injured 59-year-old Prime Minister Fico by shooting him five times.

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Slovakia’s Deputy Prime Minister has confirmed today that Prime Minister Robert Fico’s condition is stable, with his life no longer in immediate danger, following an alarming incident where he was shot multiple times.

The Prime Minister was shot by an assassin while he was leaving a meeting on Wednesday.The assailant critically injured 59-year-old Prime Minister Fico by shooting him five times.

Following the attack, Prime Minister Fico was urgently airlifted to the hospital, where he underwent extensive surgery that lasted several hours. Defence Minister Robert Kalinak, addressing reporters from outside the hospital where Fico was receiving treatment on Wednesday, described the Prime Minister’s condition as critical, emphasising that he was fighting for his life.

The identity of the suspect is yet unconfirmed as the police further investigate. Unconfirmed reports from local media suggest that the assailant may have been a 71-year-old writer and political activist.

A video is currently circulating in which the alleged perpetrator can be seen. In the clip, he mentions that he does not agree with government policy.

The shooting has sparked international concern. Expressing shock over the incident, PM Modi conveyed his solidarity with the people of the Slovak Republic, wishing Prime Minister Fico a speedy recovery. He strongly condemned the shooting, denouncing it as a cowardly and despicable act while emphasising the need for unity against such violent acts and reaffirming India’s support for Slovakia during these challenging times.

Earlier, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen also expressed disapproval of the vile attack on Prime Minister Robert Fico . On X, she stated that such acts of violence have no place in society, undermining democracy, the most precious common good. Von der Leyen extended her thoughts to Prime Minister Fico and his family, highlighting the European Union’s solidarity during this challenging time. The condemnation from EU leadership underscores the gravity of the situation and the need for a united stance against violence targeting political figures. As the investigation unfolds, international support for Slovakia remains steadfast, emphasising the importance of upholding democratic principles and ensuring the safety of leaders across Europe.

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World Earth Day 2024: Google Doodle showcases aerial view of planet’s natural beauty

Google celebrated Earth Day 2024 with a special doodle featuring an aerial view of our planet’s biodiversity.

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Google shared a doodle today to celebrate World Earth Day 2024, which showcased aerial photos of the planet’s biodiversity and natural beauty. Google reminded us of the importance of protecting planet earth for future generations with the help of this doodle.

The Google letters depict specific locations across the globe where people, communities, and governments work every day to help protect the planet’s natural beauty, biodiversity, and resources, according to the explanation of the annual Earth Day 2024 doodle on their website.

It said, these examples remind us that there’s much more to do to address the climate crisis and biodiversity loss, but also offer the promise of hope and optimism.

The islands of Turks and Caicos are represented by the letter “G.” The islands’ conservation efforts are concentrated on protecting important regions for biodiversity and addressing persistent environmental problems.

The largest reef in the southern Gulf of Mexico and a UNESCO biosphere reserve, Scorpion Reef National Park, is represented by the letter “O” in the Mexican flag.

The letter “O” features Iceland’s Vatnajokull National Park, which was designated as a national park in 2008 following decades of advocacy. The ecology within and surrounding the biggest glacier in Europe is safeguarded by this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The letter “G” has the Jau National Park in Brazil on it. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biggest forest reserves in South America.

The Great Green Wall of Nigeria is represented by the letter “L,”  and the Pilbara Islands Nature Reserves of Australia are represented by the letter “E.”

Meanwhile, Earth Day is a worldwide event that promotes protection of the environment every year. April 22 serves as a reminder of the importance of conservation efforts and sustainable practices to guarantee a healthier world and a brighter future.

The occasion inspires people across the world to come together and take action to protect the environment, strengthening our bonds with nature and promoting good change.

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