PAKISTAN RANKS THIRD IN ISLAMIC FINANCE AWARDS

There are numerous indices, rankings, awards, prizes and accolades in business, politics, academia and society to recognize excellence and leadership roles played by individuals and institutions. These are used as performance indicators in different fields.

From country risk ratings (as issued by the likes of Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s) to poverty score cards (as used by the likes of Benazir Income Support Programme), they summarise detailed information about composite numerical figures, providing easy-to-understand indicators to decision-makers on a number of commercial, political and social issues.

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Consumer price indices are another important indicator reflecting the state of affairs of an economy, particularly inflation.

Bank Alfalah Head of Islamic Banking Rizwan Ata stated in an interview after his bank was adjudged the Best Islamic Window of a Conventional Banking Group in Pakistan at the recently concluded Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA) in Bahrain, “Industry awards are an indicator of performance and relative standing of a particular business.”

A number of industry recognitions have contributed to the positive outlook on Bank Alfalah’s Islamic operations. Its winning of GIFA awards for the last two years is fast paving the way for the bank to spin off its Islamic banking unit into a fully-fledged Islamic bank in Pakistan.

GIFA also honoured Finance Minister Ishaq Dar with a special award in recognition of the Ministry of Finance’s advocacy role in promoting Islamic banking and finance in the country.

When the present PML-N government took over in 2013, the share of Islamic banking in the country was about 9%, which is fast approaching 12%, primarily because of the proactive approach of the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Pakistan.

Meezan Bank, the recipient of the Shariah Authenticity Award at this year’s GIFA, has now emerged as a leading premier Islamic bank competing with even larger conventional banks in Pakistan. The products structured by Meezan Bank are respected not only in Pakistan but there is also global recognition of its products and services.

There were three Pakistani banks that received the awards. Albaraka Bank Pakistan Limited was the third, which received the Best Sukuk Deal of the Year Award for its Tier-II Capital Mudaraba Sukuk. Previously, Bank Islami Pakistan Limited also received a GIFA award in 2012.

As a result of this year’s excellent performance of Islamic banks, Pakistan stands at number three (along with the UK and Saudi Arabia) after Malaysia and the UAE.

Building on the success

Amidst a general picture of doom and gloom, Pakistani Islamic banks achievements at the global forum must be highlighted and celebrated. The government of Pakistan must continue to build on the success of the Islamic banking sector to promote the country as a centre of excellence for Islamic banking and finance.

Even some developed countries, most notably the United Kingdom, are positioning themselves as friendly jurisdictions for Islamic banking and finance.

After the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) held in London in 2013, the UK issued a £200 million sovereign Sukuk in an attempt to position itself as an active player in Islamic banking and finance.

If Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif takes personal interest in promoting Islamic banking and finance, it is likely that he will receive the Global Leadership in Islamic Finance Award in future. This year’s Global Leadership in Islamic Finance Award was won by Muhammadu Sanusi II, Emir of Kano, Nigeria.

Last year, this award was presented to Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, for his active involvement in promoting Islamic banking in his country.

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