Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is visiting Saudi Arabia at the personal invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Riyadh ahead of this high-profile visit to lay the groundwork for what is being described by the media as a major boost in Saudi-Pakistan ties, especially in terms of economic, trade and environmental cooperation.
This augurs well for the two brotherly countries, as their historic friendship faced an unfortunate rupture last year.
Luckily the leadership on both sides was resilient enough to see through the challenge and bring Saudi-Pakistan ties back on track.
To be sure, this resilience is rooted in the people-to-people relationship, which eventually helps them overcome temporary glitches and sustain cooperation on issues of mutual concern and interest. This time is no different — and here is why.
Soon after his election as prime minister in August 2018, Khan was able to develop a personal relationship with the crown prince.
He traveled to Saudi Arabia twice in the next two months, the second time at the personal invitation of the crown prince to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference as part of Saudi Vision 2030.
Khan had inherited a serious balance of payments crisis. So Saudi Arabia took the lead in offering a financial relief package of $6.2 billion, including $3 billion in loans and a $3.2 billion deferred oil payment facility.
Taking a cue from Riyadh, the UAE followed suit by offering $6 billion in additional support to Pakistan.
When the Saudi crown prince visited Pakistan in February 2019, he was personally driven by Khan to the prime minister’s house in Islamabad, up on the hill in Islamabad.
In another example that symbolized the personal chemistry between the two charismatic leaders, the crown prince cheerfully told the Pakistani premier: “I am your ambassador in Saudi Arabia.” (Later in the year, the crown prince would offer his personal plane to Khan to fly to New York for the UN summit. And even while Saudi-Pakistan ties briefly experienced a bad spell in 2020, Khan declared: “Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will always remain close friends.”)
That historic visit to Pakistan by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2019 witnessed a major transition in Saudi-Pakistan strategic relations in the economic sphere, with the announcement of $20 billion of Saudi investments in Pakistan, including a $10 billion Aramco oil refinery and petrochemical complex in the strategic port city of Gwadar.
The rest of the investments were in the mining and renewable energy sectors.
This was in parallel with the efforts to sign the Free Trade Agreement to increase the volume of bilateral trade, which was worth $2 billion.
In the past, the two nations cooperated closely in security and geopolitical matters, and Saudi economic help was confined to oil concessions. Now, for the first time, the Kingdom was interested in the long-term economic development of Pakistan.
“This promising moment in Saudi-Pakistan ties is occurring amid a favorable turnaround in regional geopolitics, marked by breakthroughs on different fronts.“
–Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri
In particular, the choice of Gwadar for such an investment stake indicated the Saudi inclination to join the wider regional integration network: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
In the natural order of things, the next logical step would have been to jointly work out the development plans for the proposed Saudi economic projects in Pakistan.
Unfortunately, international forces inimical to Saudi Arabia’s exceptional position in the Muslim world, and the historic Saudi-Pakistan alliance, could not digest the fact that the two brotherly nations were taking their relationship to a different level, where their interests could be geo-economically intertwined in future.
What happened next is a sad part of our current history, which is not worth recalling.
What is worth stating, however, is that Saudi Arabia is, and will remain, the heart of Islam for the Muslims of the world, and no other country can claim such a right: That the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the sole representative body of 57 Muslim countries and no attempt to create an alternative Muslim bloc will ever succeed; and, of course, the fact that Saudi-Pakistan ties are well-rooted in the love and affection that their people have for each other, and hence no conspiracy can hamper their organic evolution as historic partners.
That is why the false narrative regarding the OIC’s role in Kashmir did not take hold for long. That is why the dismal portrayal of Saudi economic support for Pakistan finally failed the test of times.
Fortunately, both nations have formal and informal channels of communication to overcome any instance of grave misunderstanding or deliberate misinformation impacting their relationship.
Their bond is unbreakable as it is founded on the will of the two peoples.
Hence, the two brotherly nations have always stood shoulder to shoulder with each other in difficult times. From defending the sanctity of the two holy mosques to defeating the scourge of terrorism, Pakistan has always been a key Saudi partner.
Likewise, Saudi Arabia has never disappointed Pakistan when it is faced with hard times, be it the wave of terrorism post-9/11 or the devastating earthquake of 2005.
The two countries also closely cooperate to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan. The current or emerging Saudi engagement in Pakistan reflects the same spirit of camaraderie with Islamic roots.
In retrospect, what the visit of Prime Minister Khan to Jeddah shows is that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is back to the level it was at when the crown prince visited Islamabad more than two years ago.
The decision by Saudi Arabia and the UAE to roll over $2 billion loans to next year implies the resumption of their respective financial relief packages, which Pakistan desperately needs to ward off the devastating effects of the third wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The visit is expected to kick-start work on the $20 billion Saudi development projects in Pakistan, especially the Aramco oil refinery and petrochemical complex in Gwadar.
To boost bilateral trade, a comprehensive customs cooperation accord is also reportedly on the agenda.
Moreover, General Bajwa’s almost week-long interaction with his Saudi counterparts, and the recent appointment of retired Lt. Gen. Bilal Akbar as Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will ensure enhanced coordination in defense and the strategic relationship between the two countries.
In fact, this time the relationship is expected to deliver deeper cooperation beyond defense and the economy, on issues of climate change in particular.
Khan shares the vision of the crown prince as set out in the recently announced Saudi Green and Green Middle East initiatives, which align with his government’s Clean and Green Pakistan initiative.
And, luckily, this promising moment in Saudi-Pakistan ties is occurring amid a favorable turnaround in regional geopolitics, marked by the Saudi olive branch to Iran, the end of the Qatar crisis, and the India-Pakistan cease-fire in Kashmir.
These developments surely open up the diplomatic space for Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to concentrate their joint efforts for economic development and regional stability.
• Dr Ali Awadh Asseri served as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Pakistan from 2001 to 2009 and received Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Hilal-e-Pakistan, for his services in promoting the Saudi-Pakistan relationship. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Beirut Arab University and authored the book ‘Combating Terrorism: Saudi Arabia’s Role in the War on Terror’ (Oxford, 2009).
Western Moves to Contain China’s Rise and The New Global Order!
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Many Western countries are actively working to limit China’s rise to power on the global stage. Their approach involves utilizing international law and norms to create a narrative that portrays China as a potential threat to the current world order. This strategy aims to curb China’s influence and prevent it from becoming a dominant force in the international community. By constructing this narrative, Western countries hope to gain support from other nations and strengthen their positions in the global arena. However, this approach may also lead to increased tensions and conflict between China and the West.
II. Western Countries’ Efforts to Contain China’s Rise
A. Use of International Law and Norms
Western nations have strategically harnessed international law and norms to impede China’s rise. This involves leveraging their diplomatic and economic influence to mould a narrative that portrays China as a disruptor of the established global equilibrium.
B. Creation of a Narrative Portraying China as a Threat to the World Order
The West, through its geopolitical manoeuvring, has meticulously crafted a narrative painting China as a menace to the prevailing world order. This narrative, however, raises questions about its veracity, as it seems detached from objective facts and is utilized to rationalize Western aggression against China.
C. Lack of Factual Basis for the Narrative
Scrutinizing the narrative reveals a notable absence of a factual foundation. The depiction of China as a global threat appears to be a strategic fabrication, a tool wielded to legitimize Western actions against China and rally international support.
D. Use of the Narrative to Justify Western Aggression Against China
The narrative portraying China as a threat serves as a pretext for Western aggression against the emerging global power. This aggressive stance, built on a shaky foundation, not only distorts the reality of China’s peaceful rise but also contributes to an increasingly precarious global situation.
III. China’s Response to These Challenges
A. Efforts to Create a New World Order
In response to the challenges posed by Western containment strategies, China is actively engaged in creating a new world order that prioritizes equity and inclusivity. This involves a departure from the traditional power dynamics and a quest for a more balanced and fair global system.
B. Focus on Equity and Inclusivity
China’s approach to reshaping the world order underscores a commitment to equity and inclusivity. By advocating for a fair and just global environment, China aims to foster cooperation, mutual respect, and understanding among nations.
A. Recap of the Main Points
The central theme revolves around Western attempts to stifle China’s ascent, deploying international law and norms to construct a narrative that casts China as a global threat. tIt also analyses China’s response, emphasizing its pursuit of a new world order marked by equity and inclusivity.
B. Final Thoughts
The Western endeavours to contain China’s rise carry significant implications for global stability. Recognizing China’s ascendancy and engaging in collaborative efforts to construct a more equitable and just world order is not only prudent but essential for fostering a harmonious and cooperative international community. As we navigate these complex geopolitical waters, the imperative is to move beyond adversarial narratives and embrace a shared vision for a better future.
Fidelity National Financial Hacked: Real Estate Industry in Chaos
In a significant setback to the real estate and mortgage industry, Fidelity National Financial (FNF), a Fortune 500 company that provides title insurance and settlement services, was forced to take down its entire network on November 22, 2023, following a cybersecurity incident. The attack, which is still under investigation, involved the unauthorized access of FNF systems using exfiltrated credentials.
The shutdown of FNF’s systems has had a widespread impact on the real estate industry, causing significant disruptions to title insurance, escrow, and mortgage transactions across the United States. The company’s customers, which include lenders, real estate agents, and homeowners, have been left scrambling to find alternative solutions to complete their transactions.
The Scope of the Attack
Details about the nature of the attack remain limited, but FNF has acknowledged that the cyberattack involved the unauthorized access of its systems and the potential theft of sensitive data. The company has not confirmed whether the attack was ransomware-based, but the fact that it took down its entire network suggests that it may have been a sophisticated attack.
The impact of the attack has been felt throughout the real estate industry. Lenders have been unable to issue title insurance, which is required for most home purchases. Real estate agents have been unable to close deals, and homeowners have been left in limbo, unable to finalize their home purchases or refinance their mortgages.
FNF’s Response to the Attack
In response to the attack, FNF has taken a number of steps to mitigate the damage and restore its systems. The company has brought in cybersecurity experts to investigate the attack and implement corrective measures. It has also been working to restore its systems and services as quickly as possible.
FNF has also been communicating with its customers about the attack and the steps it is taking to address the situation. The company has set up a dedicated website to provide updates on the progress of the investigation and restoration efforts.
The Impact on the Real Estate Industry
The cyberattack on FNF is a stark reminder of the growing threat of cyberattacks in the real estate industry. As more and more businesses rely on technology to conduct their operations, they become increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks.
The attack on FNF is likely to have a lasting impact on the real estate industry. Businesses will need to invest more in cybersecurity measures to protect their systems and data. They will also need to be more vigilant in detecting and responding to cyberattacks.
Recommendations for Real Estate Businesses
In light of the cyberattack on FNF, here are some recommendations for real estate businesses:
- Implement strong cybersecurity measures. This includes using strong passwords, firewalls, and antivirus software. Businesses should also regularly back up their data.
- Educate employees about cybersecurity. Employees should be trained to identify and avoid phishing scams and other social engineering attacks. They should also be aware of the company’s cybersecurity policies and procedures.
- Have a plan for responding to cyberattacks. This includes having a team in place to investigate and respond to attacks. Businesses should also have a plan for communicating with customers about cyberattacks.
Cyberattacks are a growing threat to businesses of all sizes, including those in the real estate industry. By taking proactive measures to protect their systems and data, businesses can help to reduce their risk of being attacked.
The Aftermath of the Cyberattack
The cyberattack on Fidelity National Financial (FNF) has had a significant impact on the real estate and mortgage industry. The attack has caused widespread disruptions to title insurance, escrow, and mortgage transactions, and it has left businesses and consumers scrambling to find alternative solutions.
Impact on Title Insurance
Title insurance is a crucial part of the real estate closing process. It protects lenders and homeowners from financial losses caused by defects in the title to a property. The cyberattack on FNF has made it difficult or impossible for lenders to issue title insurance, which has caused delays in closings and has left some homeowners unable to finalize their purchases.
Impact on Escrow
Escrow is a process in which a third party holds funds and documents for the benefit of two or more parties involved in a real estate transaction. The cyberattack on FNF has disrupted escrow services, causing delays in the transfer of funds and documents. This has made it difficult for buyers to pay for their homes and for sellers to receive their proceeds from the sale.
Impact on Mortgage Transactions
The cyberattack on FNF has also had an impact on mortgage transactions. The company’s systems are used to process mortgage applications and to verify loan documents. The shutdown of these systems has made it difficult for lenders to process mortgages, which has caused delays in loan closings.
Impact on Consumers
The cyberattack on FNF has also had a direct impact on consumers. Homebuyers and sellers have been left in limbo, unable to finalize their transactions due to the disruptions caused by the attack. This has caused financial hardship and frustration for many consumers.
The Road to Recovery
FNF is working to restore its systems and services as quickly as possible. The company has brought in cybersecurity experts to investigate the attack and implement corrective measures. It is also working to communicate with its customers about the attack and the steps it is taking to address the situation.
However, it is unclear how long it will take for FNF to fully recover from the attack. The company’s customers are likely to face continued disruptions in the coming weeks and months.
The cyberattack on FNF is a stark reminder of the growing threat of cyberattacks in the real estate industry. Businesses need to take proactive measures to protect their systems and data. They should also be prepared to respond to cyberattacks quickly and effectively.
Here are some lessons that can be learned from the cyberattack on FNF:
- Cyberattacks are a real threat to businesses of all sizes.
- Businesses need to invest in strong cybersecurity measures.
- Businesses need to educate their employees about cybersecurity.
- Businesses need to have a plan for responding to cyberattacks.
By taking these steps, businesses can help to reduce their risk of being attacked and can minimize the impact of an attack if it does occur.
The cyberattack on Fidelity National Financial is a major setback for the real estate and mortgage industry. The attack has caused widespread disruptions and has left businesses and consumers scrambling to find alternative solutions. It is a stark reminder of the growing threat of cyberattacks and the need for businesses to take proactive measures to protect themselves.
Unveiling the Megacities: A Comprehensive Look at the World’s Urban Giants
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In the vast canvas of global urbanization, megacities emerge as the epicentres of human civilization, shaping the narrative of our collective existence. This meticulously crafted exploration aims to peel back the layers of the top ten largest cities worldwide, offering an intricate tapestry of insights that go beyond mere statistics.
From the pulsating energy of Tokyo’s technological marvels to the historical grandeur of Istanbul’s dual-continent embrace, each city becomes a chapter in the dynamic saga of urban life. Join us on this journey as we dissect the unique characteristics that propel these megacities into the forefront of global attention, transcending borders and unlocking the essence of modern living.
1. Tokyo: A Technological Wonderland
Tokyo, the pulsating heart of Japan, emerges as a seamless blend of tradition and innovation. Boasting a skyline that mirrors its technological prowess, the cityscape is punctuated by iconic landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower and the Shibuya Crossing. With a population density that defies expectations, Tokyo’s efficient public transport system intertwines the fabric of this sprawling metropolis.
2. Delhi: The Cultural Melting Pot
In the vibrant tapestry of India, Delhi stands tall as a cultural melting pot. From the historic Red Fort to the bustling markets of Chandni Chowk, every corner whispers tales of a bygone era. The city’s rich history, coupled with its contemporary vigor, makes it a fascinating subject of exploration for locals and tourists alike.
3. Shanghai: The Economic Powerhouse
Shanghai, a beacon of China’s economic ascent, commands attention with its glittering skyline along the Huangpu River. As a global financial hub, Shanghai epitomizes the rapid evolution of China’s economic landscape. The juxtaposition of colonial architecture in the Bund and futuristic skyscrapers in Pudong paints a vivid picture of the city’s dynamic identity.
4. São Paulo: Latin America’s Megacity
São Paulo, the sprawling megalopolis of Brazil, pulsates with a rhythm uniquely its own. Nestled within the lush landscape, this city is a testament to the resilience and vibrancy of Latin American culture. From the bustling Paulista Avenue to the tranquillity of Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo captivates with its diverse offerings.
5. Mumbai: The Maximum City
Mumbai, India’s financial powerhouse, unfolds as a narrative of contrasts. The city’s iconic skyline, adorned with skyscrapers, stands in stark contrast to the serene shores of the Arabian Sea. With Bollywood at its heart and the Dabbawalas weaving through its streets, Mumbai encapsulates the essence of India’s cultural diversity.
6. Beijing: Where Tradition Meets Modernity
Beijing, China’s ancient capital, showcases a kaleidoscope of history and innovation. From the Forbidden City, a testament to imperial grandeur, to the avant-garde architecture of the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, Beijing seamlessly intertwines its rich heritage with a vision for the future.
7. Istanbul: Bridging Continents
Istanbul, straddling Europe and Asia, unfolds as a city where history and geography converge. The Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque are timeless witnesses to the city’s imperial past. The Bosphorus Strait, a natural masterpiece, not only divides but also unites this city of two continents.
8. Lahore: Pakistan’s Cultural Gem
Lahore, a jewel in Pakistan’s crown, resonates with an aura of cultural grandeur. Standing as architectural marvels, the Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque reflect the city’s Mughal legacy. The bustling streets of the Walled City exude an old-world charm, inviting exploration into the heart of Pakistan’s cultural heritage.
9. Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Asia
Shenzhen, a testament to China’s technological prowess, emerges as the Silicon Valley of Asia. With a skyline dominated by sleek skyscrapers, the city is a breeding ground for innovation. From the vibrant electronics markets to the avant-garde architecture, Shenzhen epitomizes the fusion of technology and commerce.
10. Jakarta: Southeast Asia’s Megacity
Jakarta, the vibrant capital of Indonesia, unfolds as a sprawling metropolis between the Java Sea and the Bogor Highlands. From the historic remnants of the Old Town to the modernity of the National Monument, Jakarta encapsulates the diversity and dynamism of Southeast Asia.
By dissecting the stories of these megacities, we are able to see beyond national borders and gain insight into the global pulse of urban life. Every city adds to the rich tapestry of human civilization with its own fusion of modernity and tradition, providing a mosaic of experiences that capture the spirit of urban life and pique the imagination.
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