INCEIF makes a foray into Pakistan

Early this month (November 2006), Pakistan joined a growing list of foreign countries where INCEIF and its Certified Islamic Finance Professional certification programme is given recognition by the local authority and industry players.

On November 5, 2006, INCEIF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Institute of Banking and Finance (NIBAF).

The signing took place at the Prime Minister of Pakistan’s House in Islamabad and was witnessed by both the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Abdullah Hj. Ahmad Badawi and the Prime Minister of Pakistan, HE Shaukat Aziz.

NIBAF is the operational arm of the State Bank of Pakistan, whose mission includes strengthening Pakistan’s banking industry via research and training services for financial institutions in Pakistan.

On November 6, 2006, INCEIF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Meezan Bank Limited, the premier and largest Islamic bank offering comprehensive Shariah complaint financial products and Islamic banking training in Pakistan.

Pakistan is an important foreign strategic partner for INCEIF due largely to its large Islamic population of more than 150 million. In addition, Islamic banking in Pakistan is growing at a rapid pace attracting both local and international investors. The industry has now gained a domestic market share of over 2.2 per cent from 0.5 per cent in 2003.

The State Bank of Pakistan has granted licences to six full-fledged Islamic banks and 11 conventional banks for the provision of dedicated Islamic banking services through a total of 98 branches in all the four provinces of Pakistan. Moreover, the State Bank of Pakistan recently set up a Task Force on Capacity Building and Research & Development in Islamic Banking to explore ways for addressin g the various issues faced by this rapidly growing industry.

At the INCEIF-NIBAF signing, the Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Tan Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz signed on behalf of INCEIF in her capacity as Chairman of INCEIF’s Board of Directors while the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, Dr Shamshad Akhtar signed for NIBAF in her capacity as the Chairman of NIBAF’s Board of Directors.

Mr Agil Natt, the Chief Executive Officer of INCEIF, who was also in Islamabad, said the signing of the MoU was part of INCEIF’s initiative to establish a framework of cooperation between INCEIF and foreign organisations in mutual and joint cooperation, promoting and undertaking research, development, training and education in Islamic finance.

Joint cooperations between Pakistani parties such as NIBAF and Meezan Bank will help to strengthen the partnership between the two countries and enable both parties able to tap into each other’s strengths and perspectives of the industry as well as wider access to the pool of market practitioners, Shariah scholars, university professors, regulators and other service providers.

The MoU signifies the commitment to strengthen the ties between two countries, taking into consideration their long established relationship as members of the OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) communities.

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