November 7, 2018 / 12:51 PM / 10 days ago

Begging in Beijing? Pakistan sacks state TV chief after broadcast gaffe

FILE PHOTO: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan attends a welcome ceremony hosted by China's Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 3, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan has removed the acting chief of state-run television after a caption read “Begging” instead “Beijing” during a broadcast of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China, which has promised economic aid to the impoverished South Asian country.

Khan was in Beijing seeking financial aid to help end a spiraling balance of payments crisis after securing $6 billion in support from Saudi Arabia and before Pakistan sat down to talks with the IMF.

An official Ministry of Information order seen by Reuters said the ministry had withdrawn the services of Hasan Immad Mohammadi, who had served as acting managing director of Pakistan Television for just a matter of weeks.

PTV apologized after “Begging” ran on screens for 20-25 seconds on Monday while Khan was making a speech, kicking off a debate on social media as to whether the misspelling was deliberate.

Khan has criticized Pakistan’s many international bailouts and decried previous leaders as roaming the world with a begging bowl.

An information ministry spokesman said the misspelling had nothing to do with Mohammadi’s removal, saying it was a “routine affair”.

Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Tuesday that “Pakistan’s immediate balance of payment crisis is over”, adding that the combined Saudi support plus as-yet-unspecified aid promised by China had shored up foreign currency reserves.

Umar spoke a day before the arrival on Wednesday of an IMF team for a two-week visit to Islamabad to negotiate Pakistan’s request for a 13th IMF bailout since the 1980s.

He has previously said the country needs $12 billion in immediate relief.

Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Nick Macfie

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