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Pakistan's economy contracts for first time in 68 years by -0.38% amid COVID-19 pandemic
This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 58%. (I'm a bot)
Islamabad: For the first time in 68 years, Pakistan's economy is set to contract in the outgoing fiscal year with a negative 0.38 per cent due to the adverse impact of the coronavirus pandemic coupled with the already weak financial situation before the pandemic hit the country, according to the economic survey unveiled on Thursday. The pandemic has badly hit the economy in the current fiscal year ending on June 30. For the first time in 68 years, Pakistan's economy has marginally contracted by 0.38 per cent in the outgoing fiscal year due to adverse impacts of novel coronavirus coupled with economic stabilisation policies that had hit the industrial sector much before the deadly pandemic. He said the current account deficit was reduced by 73.1 per cent to USD 2.8 billion against USD 10.3 billion last year which was 3.7 per cent of GDP. "The current account deficit that we inherited was around USD 20 billion but we have reduced that to around USD 3 billion. This is a huge achievement of the government," he said. Minister for Economic Affairs Khusru Bakhtiar said that this government had USD 9 billion forex exchange reserves when it came to power in August 2018 and by the end of this year it would be more than USD 18 billion. He said the debt was USD 40 billion in 2013 and rose to USD 48 billion by 2013 during the tenure of Pakistan Peoples Party and again increased to USD 73 billion by 2018 in the five years of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
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-Rupee continues to recover, gains Rs4.16 in four months The Pakistani rupee has maintained a gradual uptrend against the US dollar since the beginning of current fiscal year in July and is anticipated to gain more ground in the remaining eight months amid expectations of increase in foreign currency inflows. The rupee gradually strengthened Rs4.16 or 2.60% in the past around four months to Rs155.88 to the US dollar in the inter-bank market on Friday, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). “The rupee may recover to 145 to the greenback by June 30, 2020,” Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP) President Malik Bostan projected while talking to The Express Tribune. Further: -In a positive development, Pakistani Rupee hits highest level of four months against US dollar The Pakistani rupee has shown recovery against the US dollar as the US currency reached the lowest level in four months. -ExxonMobil to help build LNG terminal in Pakistan After getting a liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply contract from private-sector consumers, US energy giant ExxonMobil is planning to build the third LNG terminal in Karachi as a joint-venture partner. Some time ago, ExxonMobil, in collaboration with Pakistan’s exploration and production companies, drilled an offshore well to search for hydrocarbon reserves in the Arabian Sea. However, the effort could not prove successful. Now, in a new venture with Energas consortium, the US firm is going to invest in setting up an LNG terminal in Pakistan. -Pakistan's Hindu community celebrates Diwali today in a renovated temple reopened by the Pakistan government after 72 years he country’s Hindu community is celebrating the annual religious festival of Diwali. The religious festivities are expected to take place in Shawala Teja Singh Temple, located in Sialkot, after 72 years. All preparations for the upcoming festival have been completed. The festival of Diwali is being seen as more of a cultural than a religious one as people from other faiths will celebrate alongside members of the Hindu community. The temple, where the festivities will take place, was closed down in 1947. The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) and certain members of the Hindu community decided to open the temple a few months ago, after which the renewal and renovation work had begun. Now, for the first time, this temple is going to celebrate a religious ceremony. -Tax Returns Filed Per Day in 2019 Have Increased by 127 Percent: FBR Chairman Federal Board of Revenue’s (FBR) Chairman Syed Shabbar Zaidi has announced that on average, tax returns filed per day in 2019 have risen by 127 percent compared to last year. In a Twitter post, Zaidi shared details of the tax returns filed so far. As per the records, the number of tax returns filed in 2019 till October 25 stands at 918,027, as compared to 585,209 tax returns filed in the same period last year. Zaidi said that as of November, the FBR will impose strict measures against unauthorized interactions and harassement between its staff and the business community. The business community is suggested to report to FBR if any person contacts them through any manner without proper authorization. -Pakistan, Nepal agree to enhance trade ties President Dr. Arif Alvi on Saturday held a meeting with the Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli on the sidelines of 18th Non Aligned Movement Summit in Baku, ARY News reported. According to a statement issued by the ministry, both the leaders affirmed to enhance trade ties between the two countries and expressed their desire to further strengthen the bonds of friendship. Matters of mutual interest, bilateral relations, regional peace, grave human rights violations and humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir and other issues were came under discussion in the meeting. Speaking on the occasion, President Alvi briefed the Nepalese prime minister on Indian illegal actions in occupied Kashmir. He expressed hope that Nepal will play its role as SAARC chair, for strengthening peace and stability in the region. -CPEC enters into 2nd phase: Poverty, agriculture, B2B initiatives prime focus: Khusro Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar Wednesday said the CPEC has now entered into its second phase with focus on poverty alleviation, agriculture and B2B industrial cooperation. “The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government's economic reform measures will strengthen the country's economy as the investors' confidence is rebounding due to corrective measures," the minister expressed these views while talking to Australian High Commissioner Dr Geoffrey Shaw who called on him on Wednesday. Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan was also present in the meeting. While discussing bilateral relations and foreign investment in various sectors in Pakistan especially in Gwadar, the minister said that ongoing phase of CPEC will bring about socioeconomic benefits for the welfare of the people. He said that CPEC offers enormous potential to boost national economy and reduce poverty. -Pakistan's Defence Exports have reached USD 212.6 MILLION IN 2018-2019 According to the Pakistan Ministry of Defence Production’s (MoDP) “First Year Performance Report,” the country had registered $212.6 million US in defence exports from August 2018 to August 2019. Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) booked the highest value at $184.38 million US, which was followed by Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) at $7.13 million US and Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) at $1.3 million US. In addition, private sector firms booked $19.36 million US in sales. No additional breakdowns were provided by the MoDP. It is likely that PAC’s exports were fueled by co-production work for FC-1/JF-17 sales to Myanmar and/or Nigeria. Though an agreement was signed with Turkey for the sale of 52 Super Mushshak basic trainers, it is unclear if PAC has started manufacturing these aircraft. -DRAP to launch countrywide drive against substandard, spurious medicines The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) is launching a countrywide campaign against substandard medicines, the PM’s Special Assistant on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza said while addressing the federal and provincial drug inspectors in Islamabad on Thursday. He said a crackdown is being launched throughout the country to eradicate the menace of unregistered, spurious and sub-standard medicine. In addition to medicine quality, he added, DRAP will also take stern action against violation of fixed prices of medicines. -Foreign exchange: SBP reserves increase $79m to $7.89b The foreign exchange reserves held by the central bank increased 1.14% on a weekly basis, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Thursday. Earlier, the reserves had spiralled downwards, falling below the $7-billion mark, which raised concern over Pakistan’s ability to meet its financing requirements. However, financial assistance from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and other friendly nations helped shore up the foreign exchange reserves. On October 18, the foreign currency reserves held by the SBP were recorded at $7,892.7 million, up $79 million compared with $7,813.7 million in the previous week. The report cited no reason for the increase in reserves, which stood below the $8-billion mark. -Ease of business: Pakistan up 28 places on World Bank index Pakistan has jumped up 28 places on the World Bank’s (WB) Ease of Doing Business Index and secured a place among the top 10 countries with the most improved business climate – a development that will greatly improve Islamabad’s image abroad, Pakistan carried out six reforms that helped improving its ranking from 136 to 108, according to the WB’s annual flagship report, ‘Ease of Doing Business 2020’, released on Thursday. It turned out to be the sixth global reformer and first in South Asia that brought ease in doing business in the last one year. The fewer are the regulations the better is the ranking on the index. The key to attain perfection is to cut the bureaucracy hindering business activities in the name of various regulations and procedures. -CM approves Rs 500m for Punjab Housing & Town Planning Agency Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has given approval of Rs 500 million for Punjab Housing & Town Planning Agency. He gave approval while presiding over a high-level meeting at CM Office here on Monday. During the meeting progress on Naya Pakistan Housing Project for low-income persons was reviewed and detailed briefing was also given to the participants on Naya Pakistan Housing strategy. While addressing the meeting, Usman Buzdar said that obstacles should be removed in order to ensure completion of Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme and financial conditions of common man should be kept in mind while chalking out housing policy of the project. All out attention should be paid while constructing small houses in the province, he added. It has also been decided during the meeting to launch rural housing project in 17 model villages. -KSE 100 gains 204 points amid improved sentiments The benchmark KSE 100 Index depicted remarkable progress as it gained around 204 points and concluded at 33,861-level.It was a busy start to the week at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) with earnings season hitting its peak, while volumes remained at par with previous weeks’ average. Biggest single day investment in treasury bills in the previous week of estimated US $87.5 million, increasing total investment to US$440 million since July 2019 was the major rally point in the market sentiments. The bourse recorded an intraday low of 33,572.36 soon after the commencement of the session. However, after regaining the momentum, the index marked its day’s high at 34,008.35 adding 350.89 points. It settled higher by 204.13 points at 33,861.59. The KMI 30 Index accumulated 386.53 points to settle at 55,155.92, while the KSE All Share Index managed to gain 86.13 points, ending at 24,543.78. -Sindh to reserve 0.5% job quota for transgender persons The Sindh Cabinet on Wednesday agreed to reserve 0.5 per cent quota in government jobs for transgender persons. “I want to bring transgender people into the mainstream,” said Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah during the cabinet meeting. “We want to make them an asset for our society.” CM Murad congratulated the transgender community on behalf of the cabinet and advised them to improve their education. Around 41,000 positions are vacant in different government departments across Sindh out of which 206 will be given to transgender people. A spokesperson from the chief minister’s house stated that out of the 41,000 available jobs 16,000 positions will be filled this fiscal year. Rest of the positions will be filled in the period of next three years. -Malaysia's Mahathir stands by Kashmir comments despite India palm oil boycott Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday he would not retract his criticism of New Delhi’s actions in occupied Kashmir despite Indian traders calling for an unprecedented boycott of Malaysian palm oil. The impasse could exacerbate what Mahathir described as a trade war between the world’s second biggest producer and exporter of the commodity and its biggest buyer so far this year. India’s top vegetable oil trade body on Monday asked its members to stop buying Malaysian palm oil after Mahathir said at the United Nations General Assembly last month that India had “invaded and occupied” Kashmir. -“World’s two major companies setting up solar panel plants in Pakistan” Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry announced on Monday that the world’s two major solar panel firms will establish their plants in Pakistan. The minister tweeted saying “good news gets lost in political plays, yet I am very happy that the world’s two major companies are setting up solar panel’s plants in Pakistan.” Chaudhry added that China’s second-largest Lithium battery producer will also set up its workshop in Pakistan. The Lithium battery-powered buses will also be manufactured in Pakistan, the tweet further said. The Minister for Science and Technology was recently on a visit to Beijing where he met various Chinese officials and the country’s business leaders. -Pakistan Navy organizes free medical camp in Balochistan Navy organized a free medical camp in the village Dam of Balochistan in collaboration with Sahil and Ulfat welfare foundations. According to the spokesperson of Pakistan Navy, specialist doctors of surgical, medical, skin, gynecology, child and general medically inspected patients at the camp. Over 700 patients were provided with free medical treatment, medicines and ordinary surgical facilities. -Lahore to get Tram service soon Citizens of Lahore are getting a modern-day tram service soon, based on the famous British-era tram service. In this regard, the Punjab Transport Department has inked an agreement with CRSC International, a Chinese company specializing in rail transportation control systems, and Inkon Group of the Czech Republic. The development of the project is divided into several phases. In the first phase, a 35 km track will be constructed on Canal Road, Lahore. Up to 50 trams will run on this track. Once operational, the trams will be able to carry 35,000 passengers in 1 hour. The trams will be powered through electricity and batteries. A single tram will have a service life of around 40 years. 2 tram depots will be constructed at different locations as well. -10 Pakistani Universities Ranked Among the World’s Best in ‘University Impact Rankings 2019’ Ten Pakistani universities have been ranked among the top universities in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE)’s list. THE is a weekly UK-based magazine that issues its annual list of world’s most influential universities. The list called ‘University Impact Rankings 2019’ has included 10 Pakistani varsities in different categories, including Gender Equality, Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education, Decent Work, Economic Growth, and others. According to the magazine, the rankings assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. -PM Imran Khan inaugurates China-Hub Power Generation Plant in Balochistan Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan has said that Pakistan is moving forward through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. Addressing inaugural ceremony of China Hub Power Generation Plant in Balochistan, he said this is the first joint project under the CPEC umbrella and he is very happy after inaugurating it. “The government will facilitate joint collaboration between Pakistani and Chinese businesses in various sectors.”, he said. PM Imran Khan said with the help of coal reserves in Thar, Pakistan can generate huge amount of electricity, which can be enough for at least 100 years. -Punjab Forest Department develops ‘record keeping’ mechanism Department of Forest Punjab is managing 1.6 million acres of forest land area – 67 per cent of the entire forest land area in Punjab – under the Geographic Information System (GIS), Pakistan Today learnt reliably on Friday. The program enabled the forests department to ensure sound management and introduce state of the art record-keeping and mapping methods. ‘Development of GIS-Based Forest Management Information System in Punjab’ was approved at PC-1 with a cost of Rs75 million and a gestation period of 36 months (2016-2019) has allowed for transfer of all forest resources and inventories into IT-based inventory systems and achieved extensive field surveys, rapid data collection and its processing for development of the forestry sector on efficient lines. -Hutchison Port Holdings announces $240m investment in Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has welcomed $240 million foreign investment from Hutchison Port Holdings, a Hong Kong-based port operator. A delegation of Hutchison Port Holdings, led by its Group Managing Director Eric Ip, called on Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday. Other delegation members included HPH Middle East & Africa Managing Director Andy Tsoi and Middle East & Africa Business Director Eric Ng. Maritime Affairs Minister Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razzaq Dawood, Special Assistant to PM on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, Ambassador-at-Large for Foreign Investment Ali Jehangir Siddiqui and Board of Investment Chairman Zubair Haider Gilani were also present on the occasion. Group Managing Director Eric Ip apprised the prime minister of Hutchison’s fresh investment into Pakistan approximating $240 million which will enhance the new container terminal capacity at the Karachi Port, and increase Hutchison Ports’ total investment in Pakistan to $1 billion. -Punjab's tax collection jumps 44% Punjab’s tax collection registered a 44% growth to Rs77 billion in first quarter of the ongoing fiscal year compared to the corresponding period of previous year, despite tough conditions of the federal government for the provinces to get a share in the federal divisible pool of resources. Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht disclosed this at a review meeting of the Finance Department on Monday. The meeting was briefed that despite the financial backlog left by the previous government, the current government gave a surplus budget of Rs233 billion in order to meet financial requirements of the federal government to comply with conditions of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan programme. -‘SECP recognised as 7th most effective regulator in world’ The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) has been recognised as the “7th most effective regulator” by the World Economic Forum in its ‘Global Competitiveness Report-2019’. “Pakistan was ranked as the 52nd most dynamic economy in the world. The country secured this by improving 15 points from last year, as it stood at 67th in 2018,” said a statement issued by Mishal Pakistan, Country Partner at WEF’s Institute of the Future of Economic Progress System Initiative, on Wednesday. “The progress of Pakistan’s competitiveness was due to the achievements made during the last 12 months.” The most effective improvements were made due to the initiative and strategies adopted by the apex regulator for the corporate sector and the capital markets; supervision and regulation of insurance, non-banking financial companies and private pension schemes. The SECP improved Pakistan’s competitiveness rankings by improving the “number of days to start a business”, where Pakistan was ranked at the 90th position compared with 96th in 2018. -Pakistan China bilateral trade crosses $19 billion, highest ever in history Pakistan Ambassador to China , Naghmana Hashmi has said the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and China has now touched US $ 19.08 billion and both countries aimed to raise it further. “The bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and China has now touched US$ 19.08. We aim to raise it further,” Ambassador Hashmi said joint ventures in defence production have led to the manufacture of the MBT 2000 Al-Khalid Tank and JF-17 Thunder, a fighter aircraft. “On the diplomatic front, the two countries are committed to protecting and promoting multilateralism and upholding the United Nations (UN)Charter, while our cooperation has extended to science and technology, socioeconomic sectors and nuclear cooperation for peaceful purposes,” she added. -Foreign Company Agrees to Drop $6 Billion Penalty, Re-Invest in Reko Diq: Reports The International Center of Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) had slapped the country with a $6 billion penalty for revoking the contract without prior knowledge back in 2009. Soon after the development, the Prime Minister had empowered his financial team to contact the executives of the Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) to reach an out-of-court settlement and avoid the penalty. Reportedly, after the Pakistan authority’s approach, the company has not only agreed to take back the penalty but has also agreed to invest in the project again. As per media reports, PM Imran Khan contacted the TCC management and discussed the prospects of the matter. He assured the company his full support if they wanted to revise the investment plan for the project. The company will reportedly withdraw its appeal from the ICSID, while Pakistan will compensate for their damages due to the cancelation of the contract. -Current account deficit shrinks massive 64pc The country’s current account deficit (cad) in the first quarter of current fiscal year declined by a huge 64 per cent mainly on the back of a 21pc reduction in the imports bill. The State Bank’s latest data issued on Friday showed the current account deficit for July-September FY20 clocked in at $1.548 billion compared to $4.287bn in the same period last fiscal year; a decline of $2.739bn. The reduced current account deficit is a positive omen for the government, which is struggling with slow economic growth and high inflation. However, despite massive decline in rupee’s value, the country’s exports have failed to register any noticeable increase during the period. -Food imports down 24pc, exports up 14pc in Q1 FY20 Food group imports into the country during the first quarter of the current financial year (July-Sept 2019-20) decreased considerably by 24.7pc, whereas exports increased by 13.98pc compared with the corresponding period of last year. The import of food commodities into the country during the period under review came down from $1.45 billion to $1 billion, whereas the exports increased from $864 million to $984.7 million, according to latest data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). -Chinese Smartphone Company Realme to build mobile phone manufacturing factory in Pakistan Chinese company Realme's Director of Marketing in Pakistan Mr He Shunzi in an interview disclosed that Realme is planning to set up the mobile phone manufacturing factory in Pakistan. He told that company is inspecting locations in Islamabad, Peshawar, and Faisalabad Industrial Estate for suitable land. Pakistani mobile market offers guaranteed capital as Realme ranked top five android brands in Pakistan in less than nine months, capturing 8% of total market share, he added. -Chinese Coal Giant Wants to Convert Thar’s Coal to Diesel China’s Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group will help convert Thar’s coal into oil and the talks between the two parties are underway. The Shenhua Ningxia Coal Industry Group is a subsidiary of China’s biggest coal producer, the Shenhua Group and the company already has the world’s largest plant for converting coal into diesel, with an annual production capacity of 4 million tons in Ningxia in its portfolio. The agreement, if signed, will be a ‘game-changer’ for Pakistan, believes Adviser to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar, who accompanied Imran Khan on his recent visit to China. The Pakistani delegation held talks with the Shenhua Group during the trip: -In a positive development, Pakistan projected among top 20 rising economic growth engines of the World Pakistan projected among 20 top rising economic growth engines of the World that would dominate the global growth in next 5 years. Pakistan has been projected as one of 20 countries that will dominate global growth in five years time in 2024, an assessment made by Bloomberg using data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). -In a positive development, Pakistan textile exports register increase Textile exports from the country increased by 2.95pc during the first quarter of the current fiscal year (July-Sept FY20) compared with the corresponding period of the last fiscal year. The textile exports during the period under review were recorded at $3,371.974 million as against the exports of $3,275.303 million during July-September 2018-19, according to latest data by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS). The textile commodities that contributed to the positive growth included raw cotton, exports of which grew by 53.65pc, from $7.047 million to $10.828 million. Similarly, the exports of yarn (other than cotton yarn) increased by 21.95pc, from $7.759 million last year to $9.462 million, while that of knitwear surged by 11.14pc, from $701.393 million to $779.548 million. -Kartarpur Corridor will open to public on November 9: PM Imran Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced that Pakistan will inaugurate the Kartarpur Corridor on November 9. The premier’s announcement came via a Facebook post in which he said that construction work on the Pakistani side had entered the final stage. “Pakistan is all set to open its doors for Sikhs from all across the globe,” he wrote. “World’s largest Gurdwara will be visited by Sikhs from across India and other parts of the world,” he said. -'$1.2b penalty in Karkey case likely to be waived' Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and senior lawyer Babar Awan has said that the $1.2 billion penalty that Pakistan has to pay to Turkey’s Karkey rental power plant is likely to be waived. “International institutions, through high-level backdoor contacts, have agreed to waive off the penalty. This is very good news for Pakistan,” said Awan while addressing the media on Friday. “International institutions have shown their trust in Prime Minister Imran Khan,” he added. -Punjab Govt to Introduce a Unified Tax Collection System Punjab government is contemplating the introduction of a unified tax collection system in the province. The unified system will streamline the tax collection process and facilitate the taxpayers. At the moment, Punjab Revenue Department, Excise and Taxation Department, and local administrations collect taxes in Punjab. On Sunday, Finance Minister of Punjab, Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht, headed a meeting of Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA). Bakht said that a special tax management unit will be set up at the Punjab finance department that will unify tax collection all across the country. -PM To Launch Clean Green Pakistan Index for Multiple Cities Prime Minister’s Adviser on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, said that Imran Khan will launch the Clean Green Pakistan Index (CGPI) at a grand launching ceremony on October 30. The initiative is aimed at introducing competition among cities on various indicators, including public access to clean drinking water, safe sanitation, effective solid waste management, and tree plantation. The prime minister will announce a six-month competition among 19 cities of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, he added. The adviser said that after six months, these cities will be ranked again and those with prominent progress will be rewarded with special federal and provincial government funds and more cities will be joining the competition. -PM Khan Will Lay The Foundation of Baba Guru Nanak University on Oct. 28 Prime Minister Imran Khan is going to lay the foundation stone of Baba Guru Nanak University on October 28. The establishment of this university in Nankana Sahib was announced earlier this year when PM Khan was in the town for a Spring Tree Plantation Campaign. -Sindh govt invites bids for Dhabeji SEZ The Sindh government has launched the well-connected Dhabeji Special Economic Zone in district Thatta near Port Qasim, according to a statement issued on Monday. In this connection, the Sindh Economic Zones Management Company (SEZMC), being the provincial SEZ custodian, has invited proposals for the development and operation of Dhabeji project through an advertisement published in leading national and international newspapers. Dhabeji SEZ was highlighted in the recent meeting of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Joint Working Group on Industrial Cooperation. The senior officials of China’s National Development Reforms Commission (NDRC) appreciated the Sindh government on the progress made so far. The Sindh government launched the project through an international competitive bidding process as a build-up to the upcoming 10th Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) meeting between China and Pakistan, which would be held next month. -Rice exports surge 51pc in first quarter FY20 Rice exports from the country during the first quarter of the financial year 2019-20 grew by 50.76pc as compared to the corresponding period last year. During the July-September period, about 839,356 metric tonnes of rice, worth $470.584 million, were exported as compared the exports of 551.5,86 metric tonnes, valuing $312.147 million, during the same period of FY19. According to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the exports of basmati rice increased by 47.29pc, as 212,873 metric tonnes of basmati rice ($194.669 million) were exported during the first quarter of FY20, as compared the 127,669 metric tonnes ($132.166 million) in the same period of last year. Meanwhile, 34,090 metric tonnes of fish and fish preparations worth $79.549 million were also exported in the period under review as compared to the exports of 25,859 metric tonnes valuing $67.294 million during the same period of last year.
Thanks to all who gave me such wonderful appreciation and to the mods who gave me platinum, I don't deserve your praise, I just love our country. I want it to succeed. Now let's get riiiiiiiiigt into the neeeeeeewwws. -PM Khan makes it to Foreign Policy magazine's 2019 Global Thinkers list Prime Minister Imran Khan has been named among Foreign Policy magazine's 2019 list of 'Global Thinkers'. The short writeup on the premier states that Khan, "a former cricket star, finally got the job he had long coveted ─ prime minister"."His reward was an incredibly difficult to-do list, starting with Pakistan's looming fiscal and debt crises," it added. Prime Minister Khan shares the spotlight with other world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and US lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. -Atletico shoot for football future in Pakistan Spain´s Atletico Madrid are taking on a challenge tougher than winning La Liga — developing football in cricket-mad Pakistan, where bat and ball are king, pitches come with stumps not goalposts, and even the prime minister is a former World Cup winner. During a recent session at the club´s new facility in Lahore — the country´s first European football academy — a cabal of Spanish coaches watched as a new class of young Pakistani hopefuls fired off penalty kicks. -National Job Programme to be launched for providing jobs to youth The National Job Programme will be launched under the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme for providing job opportunities to the educated youth. In this connection Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Muhammad Usman Dar held a meeting with Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit in Islamabad on Monday to explore avenues of collaboration for the development of an effective National Job Programme. The special assistant to the prime minister appreciated GIZ for its role in the development of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector in Pakistan. He expressed hope to leverage their expertise in the field for creating better employment opportunities for the youth. The National Job Programme would include vocational training of youth in best Technical and Vocational Training Institutes and their placements in relevant industries to spur national economic growth. -You Can Even Sleep in This New Luxury Bus Service from Karachi to Quetta The 9-hour journey between Karachi and Quetta has now been made easier thanks to a newly launched luxury service. ‘Super International’ is aiming to make the experience of traveling on a bus as comfortable as possible. For that, apart from the usual amenities, it offers an onboard sleeping facility. Hence, the company’s slogan ‘Sleep Well, Live Well.” According to details, the bus will depart from Sadar area of Karachi on alternate days throughout the week. The ticket price is still to be confirmed but it will be around Rs. 3,000 per person. -KSE 100 picks 237 points on foreign inflow news The benchmark KSE 100 index of Pakistan Stock Exchange surged by 237.27 points or (+0.60%) closed at 39,543 on Monday. Analysts at Arif Habib Limited said that the Market moved upwards on the back of positive news flow on financial support from friendly countries in Gulf, as well as anticipation of China’s support in the offing. Higher international crude prices helped E&P sector to perform better, with OGDC and PPL scoring 4M and 3.1M shares respectively. Besides, expectation of improvement in Core Delta for EPCL, helped stock reach new highs and last half hour’s trading pulled the price back above 41. -Federal government released Rs 233 billion under PSDP The federal government has released Rs233.4 billion against the total allocation of Rs675 billion under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2018-19 for various ongoing and new schemes. The released funds include Rs86.5 billion for federal ministries, Rs111 billion for corporations, and Rs25.6 billion for special areas, according to a data released by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform on Monday. Out of these allocations, the government released Rs101.46 billion for National Highway Authority out of total allocation of Rs185.2 billion, whereas Rs9.6 billion have been released for NTDC and PEPCO for which an amount of Rs33.36 billion was allocated under PSDP 2018-19. Similarly, Rs4.6 billion have been released for Communication Division (other than National Highway Authority) for which the government has earmarked Rs13.97 billion under PSDP 2018-19. Railways Division received Rs8.07 billion out of its total allocation of Rs28.06 billion whereas Aviation Division received Rs443.5 million out of total allocation of Rs3.65 billion. The government also released an amount of Rs11.8 billion for various development projects of Higher Education Commission out of total allocation of Rs30.9 billion. The government also released Rs2.2 billion for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division, for which an amount of Rs10.9 billion have been allocated. An amount of Rs1.44 billion has been released for Finance Division out of its total allocations of Rs12.34 billion and Rs540.68 million have been released for Climate Change Division out of its total allocations of Rs802.7 million for the current year, Rs20.3 million for Human Rights Division, and Rs408.5 million for National Food Security and Research Division. -Discussions Continue on Economic Bailout Package for Pakistan: IMF International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistan are continuing discussions for a bailout package. Fitch Solutions stated in its latest report that the latest round of Chinese largesse has given Islamabad the confidence to snub the IMF’s more stringent requirements for obtaining funds. However, should Pakistan experience acute signs of a currency crisis over the coming months, we would not be surprised to see talks between Pakistan and the IMF resume, it added. -PM Imran Khan holds important meeting with Qatari PM, followed by official dinner Prime Minister Imran Khan met Prime Minister of Qatar Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani at his residence in Doha on Monday. Bilateral relations, with a focus on economic cooperation between the two countries, were discussed during the meeting. The Qatari Prime Minister also hosted a dinner in the honour of Prime Minister and his delegation. -USD likely to trade in Rs138 and 139 range, positive news expected from Qatar: Malik Bostan President Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), Malik Bostan Khan has said that at positive news is expected from the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit of Qatar, adding that if Pakistan is able to get deferred payment facility on imported gas from Qatar, the country will sail out of economic crisis in three years. He said Pakistan’s delegation visiting Qatar would also discuss human resource and security exports to Qatar, which will give a boost to remittances. -Over 3.9 crore children under age of five to undergo polio immunization across Pakistan The first nationwide polio vaccination campaign of 2019 started across the country on Monday to immunize over 39 million children despite harsh cold weather with continuous rainfall and snowfall on hilly areas. According to an official of National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), as many as 260,000 front line workers started going door to door across all provinces and towns to ensure more than 39 million children under the age of five receive two drops of the vaccine to protect them against the polio virus. -Pakistan sees increase in IT exports, government targets $7 billion The Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunication industry of the country has contributed US $ 540 million foreign exchange to national kitty through exports during first two quarters of this fiscal year 2018-2019. The telecommunication, computer and information services managed to export IT and IT-enabled services worth US $ 540 million, seeing an increase of US $ 20 million as compared to exports figures of same period last year, statistics of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) revealed. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan's IT industry achieved a benchmark of US $ 1.065 billion of exports in last financial year 2017-18. Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui Monday said that IT sector would bring a change in the country in future, so it is need of the hour time to digitalize the country. Talking to the media persons during his visit to the Virtual University (VU) here, he said that Pakistan was earning one billion dollars per annum through software development and its volume could be increased up to seven billion dollars per annum in the next five years Similarly: IT exports fetch $540m in six months According to Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), Pakistan’s IT & ITES-BPO industry comprises more than 2,500 companies, and this number is growing each year. The industry employs over 300,000 English-speaking professionals with many world-class experts in current and emerging IT products and technologies. -UNGA president acknowledges Pakistan's peace-keeping history President of the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA), Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa Monday acknowledged Pakistan’s meritorious contributions to the United Nation peacekeeping missions and termed it one of the largest countries to have contributed to bringing peace in areas marred by insecurity and unrest. Ms Fernanda stated this while interacting with faculty members and students of National University of Science and Technology (NUST) during her visit to the university. Ms Fernanda, accompanied by Ms Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, paid a visit to Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) at NUST. Lt Gen Naweed Zaman, HI (M), (Retd), Rector NUST, along with NUST senior management and faculty received the esteemed guests upon arrival at the main campus. She also lauded NUST for providing peacekeeping training both to local and foreign troops. -More than 40 World Nations to participate in Pakistan Navy International Exercise Pakistan Navy will host AMAN 19 exercise in February this year under the slogan of 'Together for Peace'. According to Pakistan Navy , more than forty countries will participate in the exercise. It is aimed at fostering maritime cooperation, promoting safe and security maritime environment for regional and global stability and for preserving oceans which is the common heritage of mankind. -Gwadar to be made a modern port city The Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar chaired a meeting to review progress on Gwadar City Master Plan project here on Monday. The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Commander Southern Command, Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, Balochistan Provincial Minister for Information Zahoor Ahmed Buledi, Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan and other officials, said in statement issued by Ministry for Planning, Development and Reform. Director General Gwadar Development Authority, Dr. Sajjad Hussain and Project Director China Pakistan Economic Corridor Hasaan Duad briefed the participants regarding the master plan. It was agreed to develop Gwadar as a modern smart port city, keeping in view the international standards being followed across the globe. -Top Pakistani company announces completion of mega construction project in Iraq Attock Cement on Monday announced it had finished civil, mechanical and electrical work on its Iraq project and the cement grinding unit was at commissioning stage. In a notification sent to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), Attock Cement said it was in the process of obtaining permission for the import of clinker. It added once it got the approval, the company would start the process of import of clinker and thereafter commence trial production. -European Union to provide 40 Million Euros for Balochistan Water Conservation Projects European Union and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have agreed to work in Balochistan in Water Conservation projects. This was told by EU Ambassador to Pakistan Jean-Francois Cautaian and IUCN Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema who called on Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam. Under the agreement European Union will provide forty million Euros and IUCN will provide technical and human resource assistance.The Advisor briefed the delegation about the Ministry of Climate Change performance in environmental protection and conservation and apprised them the" Recharge Pakistan Project " which aims at raising the under water table by conserving flood water in the right and left bank of Indus River reservoirs, that water could be utilised for domestic as well as horticulture purposes. -Pakistan, Turkey could increase bilateral trade between through FTA Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Turkey could potentially increase bilateral trade with direct impact in the emerging geo-political scenario, said Secretary General of The Businessmen Panel (BMP-Federal) and former chairman of FPCCI standing committee Ahmad Jawad on Monday. -Punjab government to construct tunnel at Baba Guru Nanak birthplace for Sikh Pilgrims Provincial Minister Human Rights & Minority Affairs Aijaz Alam Augustine Monday said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had planned the construction of a tunnel from the railway station Nankana Sahib to the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak to facilitate the Sikh pilgrims. The minister was talking to a delegation of minorities, led by MPA Mahendra Pal Singh, here. He said that after completion of the project, the Sikh pedestrian pilgrims would be able to reach the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak more comfortably. He said that under the PTI government, equal opportunities were being provided to the minorities in each sector besides protecting them. He said that provision of special funds for upgradation of the minority communities' worship places, upkeep and protection of their graveyards and their residential areas would be ensured. MPA Mahendra Pal Singh acknowledged the efforts made by the PTI government for the Sikh community. -$1 billion export opportunity for Pakistan Chief Executive Officer Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Mian Kashif Ashfaq has said Pakistan has great potential to export at least one billion dollars handmade wood furniture annually if the government properly patronizes furniture industry. In a statement, he urged the government to introduce a skill development programme for the export-oriented furniture industry with a view to promoting the country’s value-added sector. He said that a tax exempted furniture sector in Pakistan will enliven the economy in general, create new jobs and increase production level -Bakhtiar calls for investor-friendly regulations in Gwadar Planning, Development and Reform Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar on Monday called for the provision of basic facilities to uplift Gwadar. He was chairing a meeting in the federal capital to review progress made on the Gwadar Master Plan project. The Gwadar Development Authority director general briefed the meeting about the master plan. It was decided that Gwadar would be made a green, clean and environment-friendly city. The minister instructed the authorities to initiate the process of preparing investor-friendly regulations in order to attract maximum investment in the port city. -‘Govt taking all possible measures to facilitate private sector’ President Dr Arif Alvi said on Monday that revival of the economy was among his top priorities, adding that the government was committed to taking all possible measures to facilitate businesses. “The government is committed to developing the private sector through investment promotion, improvement in the ease of doing business, employment generation and fast growth of manufacturing sector,” he stated while talking to Amreli Steels Chairman Abbas Akberali. The president underscored that investment in value-added products, where the country enjoyed a comparative advantage, was vital for economic revival. He said despite all challenges, the incumbent government was striving hard to develop an ecosystem which could attract investment in the country. -FBR resolved 20% of total tax evasion and fraud cases involving billion of rupees in 2018, unearthed tax evasion worth Rs170 billion throughout Pakistan last year Around 20% of the overall tax evasion and fraud cases involving billions of rupees have been resolved by the tax department during 2018. The Director-General Intelligence and Investigation-Inland Revenue department has unearthed tax evasion worth Rs170 billion throughout Pakistan. Moreover, official data regarding these cases shows around 50,000 real estate transactions worth around Rs600 billion at deputy commissioner (DC) rate have been unearthed. However, the market value of these transactions unearthed is possibly going to be higher than the stated amount. Out of these, around 7,500 transactions included people who were not present in tax rolls. Likewise, cases of people not on the tax rolls who purchased vehicles more than Rs10 million were also unearthed. According to an official, the number of these kinds of people numbers in the thousands in Islamabad alone. And all case reports were forwarded to the Federal Board of Revenue’s regional tax offices (RTOs) and large taxpayers’ units (LTUs) for recovery and execution. -Govt to install 0.1m digital meters by Feb-end Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan has directed electricity distribution companies to immediately undertake GIS (geographic information system) mapping of all 11-kilovolt feeders and replace 100,000 electromagnetic meters with digital meters by the end of February 2019 in order to reduce line losses. The directives were issued in a meeting with chief executive officers of all the power distribution companies at the committee room of the Power Division on Monday. The minister directed the CEOs to personally inspect the power transformers of various capacities on a random basis to ascertain their mechanical fitness. He also called for launching a clean-up operation in the highly populated areas and removing hazardous wires and other such things. -Peshawar airport to commence night-time flight operations after five years After a gap of five years, Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar will start night-time flight operations from January 22. The first flight, after the resumption of 24-hour flight operations, will be to Sharjah. Night flight operations were ceased in 2014 after gunmen fired at a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft while it was landing. One passenger was reported dead in the incident while a member of the cabin crew was injured. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan was apprised about the plan and has been requested to appear for the inaugural flight. On January 3, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) installed a state-of-the-art full body scanner at the terminal to check for smuggling and money laundering. -Weekly review: KSE-100 index posts gains for third successive week The stock market had a somewhat decent performance during the outgoing week as the KSE-100 index advanced 258 points or 0.66% to settle at 39,307. It was the third successive weekly rise, indicating that the cloud of uncertainty that hovered over the market was finally vanishing. The renewed interest was seen ahead of the upcoming mini-budget announcement, hinting that the new finance bill may bring good news for the investors. Expectations of a possible reduction or abolition of advance tax of 0.02% on brokers fuelled positive sentiments at the bourse. The positivity was evident on first trading day of the week as the benchmark index rallied, following Finance Minister Asad Umar’s reassurances to the business community during his visit to Karachi at the weekend. Additionally, anticipation of measures to improve ease of doing business and reduction in input cost for the export-oriented sector also helped boost sentiments. -Mazari underscores need for restructuring in Sindh, Punjab police Underscoring the need for restructuring in Sindh and Punjab police, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari on Monday accused Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government of politicizing police. Mazari said that time has come to end the decades of tolerance for killing through encounters. She said that cops involved in Sahiwal shootout should be given exemplary punishment. The minister clarified that Prime Minister Imran Khan had not appreciated the counter terrorism department.
-Pakistan to be out of FATF's grey list by September, promises Central Bank Islamabad will strictly implement the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in order to get out of the money laundering grey list released by the Paris-based body, a senior official of Pakistan's Central Bank said on Wednesday. FATF had previously placed Pakistan on its watch list of countries that need to do more in relation to anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. "The FATF challenge has be to be addressed. Pakistan has mandated upon itself to enforce the FATF plan in letter and spirit. Whatever the requirements about the FATF plan are, they will be imposed and Pakistan will be out of grey list by September 2019. FATF is a risk but we are addressing it in the right letter and spirt," said Syed Irfan Ali, executive director for Banking Policy and Regulation Group at the State Bank of Pakistan. -NAB finds 'proof of massive money laundering' against Sharif family The Sharif family’s troubles seem set to worsen as reports suggest the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has found evidence of massive money laundering through which Shehbaz Sharif and his family members accumulated assets in the United Kingdom. According to sources privy to NAB’s investigation, the illegally accumulated assets are worth Rs85 billion to Rs100 billion and were bought during Shehbaz’s tenure as Punjab chief minister. They said the evidence found was irrefutable and showed striking similarities with the money laundering and fake accounts case against former president Asif Ali Zardari and other Pakistan Peoples Party leaders. -US debunks Indian claims of shooting down PAF F-16 Indian claims of shooting down a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 on February 27 were debunked by US officials as all aircraft are accounted for. Pakistan invited US officials to physically count the F-16 planes after the incident. Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took US personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets, one of the officials said. The report stated that two US defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said US personnel had done a count of Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing. -Finance minister rules out further rupee devaluation Finance Minister Asad Umar on Friday ruled out the need for further devaluation of the Pakistani rupee as the currency stands at equilibrium. “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has made no demand for rupee devaluation,” Umar clarified categorically while addressing at Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) through online video conference. “Today, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has clarified the rupee is standing at equilibrium,” he said. Dismissing reports of further devaluation, he added: “Stop circulating rumors that Asam Umar has said rupee would depreciate to 160 or 180.” -o For the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) in Lahore, Christian children have the right to study the Bible, Hindu children have the right to study the Bhagavat Gita and Buddhist children have the right to study the Vedas. Together with the People’s Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR), the CSJ held a conference on 29 March in which they adopted a resolution entitled ‘Right to education without discrimination’ demanding the right of minorities to teach their own religion in schools, as guaranteed by Article 22 of the Pakistani Constitution. Currently, only Islam is taught in schools. -China’s BeiDou Navigation System Will be Able to Replace GPS in Pakistan Soon Pakistani military reliance on the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS) will be reduced after the use of China’s Beidou satellite navigation system which is projected to achieve global coverage by 2020. This was the crux of background discussions between former military officials and telecom experts. Beidou is the world’s fourth space-based navigation system, following GPS by the United States, GLONASS by Russia and Galileo by the European Union. According to experts, the satellite-based system plays a vital role in the modern world, especially during wartime. -PM Imran Khan announces unprecedented 10 years development package for tribal districts Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced a ten-year special development package for tribal districts. Addressing a big public meeting at Jamrud, Khyber district this evening, he said one hundred billion rupees will be spent on the development of tribal areas each year. He said health, education and sports facilities in tribal areas will be enhanced. -SBP’s Forex Reserves Cross the $10 Billion Mark The foreign exchange reserves of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) have crossed the $10 billion mark by March-end. During the week that ended on 29 March 2019, SBP received inflows of RMB 15 billion (equivalent to US$2.2 billion) as proceeds of the loan obtained by the government of Pakistan from China. After taking into account outflows relating to external debt and other official payments, SBP reserves increased by $1.931 billion during the week. -Benami Properties: FBR takes an unprecedented step Federal Board of Revenue has established three Benami Zones at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for enforcement of Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 2017. In a press release issued today (Thursday), it was said after examination of available information FBR Benami Zones Karachi and Lahore have issued show cause notices in six cases of Companies holding shares and immovable properties as Benamidar. -Ministry of Finance proposed to amend Foreign Exchange Regulations Act in Pakistan Ministry of Finance has proposed to amend the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act 1947 to prevent illegal foreign exchange transactions. Under the proposal, the previous act will be updated with an amendment act to empower the State Bank of Pakistan to regulate foreign exchange regime in the country more effectively. It said proposed amendment has been approved by the Federal Cabinet and transmitted to Parliament for enactment. The measure is a part of government's efforts to enhance the transparency of financial transactions. -KP government launches 'Pink Bus Service' exclusively for women Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government launched on Thursday ‘Pink Bus Service’ exclusively for women in Mardan. A spokesman of the project told our Peshawar correspondent that a total of seven Pink Buses will ply in Mardan. There are fifteen bus stops each facilitated with the solar panels. -Pakistan makes a new offer to Iran, FTA in works Pakistan has invited Iran for talks on a free trade agreement (FTA). Pakistan has proposed that talks could be held on April 23-24 in Pakistan. The report added that lack of direct banking channel between the two countries is the main hurdle in finalizing the free trade agreement. -Govt Mulling to Withdraw 10% FED on 1,700cc Vehicles: Abdul Razaq The government is considering to withdraw its decision of imposing 10% federal excise duty (FED) on cars with engine capacities exceeding 1,700cc. The Senate’s Standing Committee on Industries and Production, on Wednesday, was informed that the 10 percent FED imposed on locally manufactured cars and SUVs, having engine capacity exceeding 1,700cc, would be withdrawn soon. -Govt to Crackdown Against High Medicine Prices & Launch An Online Price Portal The federal government has ordered a crackdown against pharmaceutical companies that are illegally increasing medicine prices. Minister for National Health Services (NHS), Aamer Mehmood Kiani, ordered an operation against such firms on Wednesday. “Though the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) deals with the matter, as a government representative, I consider myself responsible for providing relief to the masses and answerable to them. I am personally looking into the matter and would not tolerate an illegal and unauthorized increase in the prices of medicines,” the minister said. -Pakistan’s First Environment Friendly Food Festival to Start on 5th April To discourage single-use plastics and promote sustainable food consumption, WWF-Pakistan is organizing the country’s first environmental-friendly food festival in Karachi. The festival, ReFest, aims to reduce food waste and raise awareness about eating food in a responsible way as well as adopting sustainable practices in our daily lives such as reduced use of single-use plastics. The theme of the festival is to spread awareness about the cause and enjoy the festivals responsibly, as per WWF, festivals were one of the reasons of over-littering due to massive use of single-use plastic in food festivals. The idea is to promote a sense of responsibility among citizens about how we can enjoy and be responsible at the same time. -Gilgit is Getting a Dedicated Tourism Police Division Gilgit-Baltistan Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sanaullah Abbasi said that a special tourism force will be formed in the region to ensure the safety of national and foreign tourists. He also told that the GB government will deploy 700 personnel for the protection of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor route. The special tourism force called, “Tourism Police Division” will be set up on the model of Malaysia and Thailand. -PM takes part in Hyderabad University’s Groundbreaking Ceremony. The project is projected to complete within 3 years, with over Rs. 2 billion as the estimated cost. The land for building the university has been marked in Kohsar. A bill will be passed from the National Assembly for the construction of the university. The name of the university has been decided as “Federal Urdu University Hyderabad”. -Facebook Launches Its Innovation Lab Platform in Pakistan Facebook and Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology along with the National Technology Fund (IGNITE) launched the first Facebook Innovation Lab located in the National Incubation Centre (NIC) at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The launch event, held on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, was attended by several thought leaders from across the world who came together and debated on issues such as women and technology; the impact that VR has on social good and impactful ways to harness technology for social good. -UN Adopts Pakistan Sponsored Resolution Against Islamophobia The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday strongly condemning acts of violence and terrorism against religious minorities.mThe resolution, titled ‘Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief’ was moved by Turkey and co-sponsored by Pakistan. Through this, the UNGA condemned the atrocious terrorist attack targeting Muslims during Friday prayers in two mosques at Christchurch, New Zealand this month, while offering deepest condolences to the victim families.The UN assembly called for the protection and promotion of freedom of religion and belief while developing a domestic environment of religious tolerance, respect, and peace. -Government announces changes for new budget With the new budget coming up, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government announced on Tuesday its first tax amnesty scheme on hidden domestic and offshore assets – in an attempt to boost the sinking tax revenue. Besides, the government announced that it would stop the unchecked outflow of dollars through foreign currency accounts, declaring its intention to amend laws to link the outflows for investment with the approval of the authorities. “An asset declaration scheme will be announced before the budget,” Finance Minister Asad Umar told journalists. -First ever Pakistani international tourism corner opens in Europe Pakistan has opened its first International Information Tourist Corner in Belgium to offer Europeans Pakistan’s unique culture, stunning scenic view of its northern areas and the traditional lifestyle of mountain people. Launched jointly in collaboration with the Embassy of Pakistan in Brussels and Tribes, a Dutch Company established in Brussels, the tourist corner is the first-ever initiative by the Pakistani mission in Belgium to promote tourism in Pakistan -Asad Umar hints at withdrawing tax exemptions for elite Finance Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday hinted at withdrawing tax exemptions being availed by the elite and also announced a drastic reduction in the number of withholding taxes from the next budget including the tax on banking transactions being paid by non-filers of tax returns. The minister expressed these views at the launching ceremony of a book, ‘Growth and Inequality in Pakistan – Agenda for Reforms’. The book has been written by Dr Hafiz A Pasha whom Umar described as Pakistan’s number one economist. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung – a German institute – has financed the book under the theme of ‘Economy of Tomorrow’. The book discusses almost every important aspect of Pakistan’s economy and carries a detailed chapter on elite capture of the state. -PM Imran Khan to perform ground breaking of two Naya Pakistan Housing Programme sites Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of two housing projects in Islamabad and Quetta later this month. Both projects are part of PM Khan’s ambition of Naya Pakistan Housing Program (NPHP) under which he promised to deliver 500,000 low-cost residential units to the underprivileged faction of the society. -PM Khan announces economic corridor between KP Khyber and Afghanistan PM Imran Khan has announced formation of economic corridor between KP Khyber and Afghanistan for improving trade and economic activities in the region. PM Khan announced that he has issued directives for the Torkham border with Afghanistan to be kept open 24/7 in order to facilitate business and trade for locals. -First woman principal appointed at K-P police training centre A police training centre in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) Mansehra has appointed a woman principal – a first for the province. Sonia Shamroz, an MBA in human resource management and an 18-grade officer, termed her appointment to the billet as a matter of great pride for her family and herself. -Pakistan expected to get significant export orders at Istanbul fair Pakistan Consul General in Istanbul Bilal Khan Pasha has said that the auto industry of Pakistan, especially the manufacturers of auto and tractor parts, tyres and tubes, has the potential to make inroads into the Turkish market. “Turkish automakers and Pakistani engineering companies are negotiating to form joint ventures; in the next phase small and medium enterprises of the two countries will enter into partnerships,” Pasha said while talking to The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the Automechanica exhibition, which kicked off in Istanbul on Thursday. “This year, Pakistani companies manufacturing auto and tractor parts as well as tyre tubes are expected to get significant export orders at Automechanica, which will help increase non-traditional goods export from Pakistan to Turkey,” the consul general said. -PM Imran urges lawmakers to share meal with homeless at govt shelters Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday urged lawmakers to visit the homeless at government shelters and “share a meal with the people using them”. The premier asserted that this practice will sensitise public representatives to issues faced by the bottom tier Pakistani society. “In the coming months I will personally monitor effectiveness of our poverty alleviation jihad,” the prime minister went on to add in a tweet.
-Karachi is Planning to Restart Tram Services Sindh Government is planning to restore the glory of old Karachi area and is planning to rebuild tram services. For the construction and operations of tram service, the provincial government is looking to acquire services of Austrian experts. The Sindh Chief Minister, Murad Ali Shah, met with the Pakistani ambassador posted in Vienna, Mansoor Ahmed Khan, at CM House Karachi. In the meeting, both discussed ways to improve relations with the Austrian government in the field of technical education, renewable hydropower and city planning for Karachi. -Pakistan’s logistics market reaches $34.2bln Pakistan’s logistics market has reached $34.2 billion with annual growth of 18 percent, a minister said on Saturday, while unveiling a plan for state-owned postal operator to enter into ecommerce business. Minister for Postal Services Murad Saeed said future initiatives of Pakistan Post would be compatible with the contemporary needs of existing times. “This would include an entry into the ecommerce business,” Saeed said at a meeting. The minister announced a pilot project for microfinance loan disbursement of Khushhali Bank through Pakistan Post. The project will be piloted by the first week of January and will formally be inaugurated by the mid of January. -Pakistan Army inducts indigenous built Multiple Launch Rocket system in Artillery Corps As per the media report, Pakistan Army has inducted A-100 rocket in Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) of its Corps of Artillery. Media wing of the armed forces, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said A-100 rocket had been indigenously developed by Pakistani scientists and engineers. “With over 100 kilometers range the Rocket is a highly effective and potent for interdiction that can effectively disrupt enemy’s mobilization and assembly,” said the ISPR. -$15 billion investment package likely from UAE including mega oil refinery in Pakistan Pakistan is likely to get $ 10 -15 billion investment package from UAE , likely to be announced during the visit of Crown Prince, sources said. Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan is expected to announce the facility for Pakistan during his visit to the country starting January 6. The sources added that Pakistan, in collaboration with the UAE , is also starting construction of Parco Coastal Refinery in Balochistan worth over $5 billion. -Abu Dhabi crown prince to arrive in Pakistan on January 6 Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad on January 6, Express News reported. Sheikh Mohammad, who is also Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, had accepted an invitation to visit the country extended by Prime Minister Imran Khan in a telephonic conversation last year. Sources the crown prince will be accompanied by a high-level delegation. He is expected to announce investments in Pakistan. -Currency dealers offer to bring $1b a month Currency dealers have brought $13 billion in Pakistan in the past eight years, including $1 billion since August 2018, to stabilise the country’s foreign currency reserves, the dealers claim. “Dealers contribute $200-300 million a month to the country’s reserves through commercial banks,” said Pakistan Forex Association President Malik Bostan while briefing Finance Minister Asad Umar. “They (dealers) have the potential to bring up to $1 billion a month,” he told The Express Tribune after meeting the finance minister and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Bashir Memon in Islamabad recently. A delegation of currency dealers, headed by Bostan, asked the minister that the government should offer Rs2 per dollar in rebate to attract higher remittances from overseas Pakistanis. The incentive would help currency dealers to realise their true potential and contribute maximum dollars to the country’s foreign currency reserves, it said. -Imran, Erdoğan discuss bilateral relations, regional issues in Turkey Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday held a one-to-one meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara during his two-day official visit to Turkey. Both the leaders discussed various issues including bilateral relations, national and international issues of mutual interests. A high-level delegation including Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Planning Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser on Trade Abdul Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to PM Zulfikar Bukhari is accompanying the PM during his first tour to Turkey. -TLP chief Khadim Rizvi remanded to police custody for another 20 days An anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Punjab capital city has granted a 20-day physical remand of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi and others. Civil Lines police officials, after producing Rizvi in court amid tight security, sought a 30-day remand of the firebrand cleric, Pir Afzal Qadri, Pir Ijaz Ashrafi, and Hafiz Farooqul Hassan. -Pakistan prepares Terror Financing Risk Assessment Report for FATF crucial session Pakistan has prepared Terror Financing Risk Assessment Report in line with the FATF conditions that would be scrutinized in face to face upcoming meeting of the FATF scheduled to be held next week at Sydney. “We will dispatch Terror Financing Risk Assessment Report to FATF on Friday (today) that basically identifies both domestic and foreign sources of funding being utilized for execution of terrorists’ activities,” confirmed by one top official. -This city in Pakistan is going to use cow poo to power its buses In a bid to freshen its air and cut planet-warming emissions, the Pakistani port city of Karachi will introduce cleaner-running buses powered by a decidedly "unclean" fuel: cow poo. With funding from the international Green Climate Fund, Karachi will launch a zero-emission Green Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network, with 200 buses fuelled by bio-methane. Locals said the new bus system - due to start operating in 2020 - would help reduce air pollution and street noise, but doubted whether it would have enough buses to resurrect the city's ailing transport system. "(Karachi's) public transport system has totally collapsed and most people have to use online taxi-hailing services (and) auto rickshaws," said commuter Afzal Ahmed, 45, who works as a medical sales representative. After management problems forced the Karachi Transport Corporation to fold some two decades ago, Chinese-imported buses running on compressed natural gas fell into disrepair and were taken off the road, worsening public transport woes, he noted. -KP announces development package for Buddhist sites in Mardan Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has announced a development package for preserving and promoting the Buddhist relics at Takht Bahi, Jamal Garhi and Shehbaz Garhi. Senior Minister for Culture, Tourism and Youth Affairs Atif Khan said this during his visit to Buddhist sites in Mardan on Thursday. “The K-P government will develop Buddhist sites at Takht Bahi, Jamal Garhi and Shehbaz Garhi as international tourism destinations,” he said announcing plans to construct chairlift to facilitate the tourists" -PM Imran Khan approves Rs 50 billion package for Karachi Sindh Governor Imran Ismail has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has given approval of funds of 50 billion rupees for Karachi that would be utilized to resolve the long standing issues of the metropolis. He was talking to media in Karachi today (Friday) after attending the International Property Expo. The Governor said we intend to start work to improve the condition of roads in the city and to lift the garbage that has marred the beauty of the city for a long time now. He said work would also start soon to lift the debris of encroachments that have been razed to the ground.Talking about the transport projects, the Governor said that the Green Line Bus Service will be fully functional within 4 to 6 months. He said that work on the project by the Federal Government has been completed. He said Sindh Government is carrying out its work while provision of buses for the project by Sindh Government is also awaited. -KP government launched mega project in 25 Tehsils of tribal districts Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government launched a mega project of establishing new playgrounds and upgrading the existing ones in twenty-five different tribal tehsils. Secretary Sports Shahid Zaman said that administration is working on war footing on this project as directed by Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said besides constructing playing fields in tribal areas, it has also been decided to hold a grand tribal districts games event wherein 8 to 10 mostly popular games would be organized and players would be given kits and other facilities. -Turkey hints at buying Military Aircrafts from Pakistan Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has hinted at buying Military trainer aircrafts from Pakistan. -Pakistan becomes 5th largest Motorcycle producing country of the World With 2.5 million units produced annually in Pakistan, country has become the fifth largest motorcycle producing country of the World. -Huge weapons cache recovered by Security Forces in KP Aurakzai Scouts on Friday during a raid at compound in Baghnak area of upper Tehsil of district Aurakzai seized a huge cache of arms and ammunition dumped underground, security sources said. The raid was conducted on tip off that huge quantity of arms and weapons have been dumped at foot-hills. The weapons included 14 hand grenades with 11 fuses, four mortar-shell, explosives and 478 cartridges of machine guns. The seized weapon was dumped for use in some subversive activities, the sources added. -After British Air, Yet another leading Airline of the World wants to start flight operations from Pakistan: Report German Ambassador has hinted that German Flag carrier and one of the leading Airline of the World Lufhtansa Air wants to start operations from Pakistan. -$46 billion export target: Comprehensive strategic policy urged to boost exports President Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Malik Shahid Saleem Friday called for formulating a comprehensive strategic policy to boost exports. He said business community was looking towards government’s concrete steps to ensure key macro indicators of the economy. "We want more information and input on the Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2018-23 with an aim to double the country’s exports to $46 billion in next five years," he added. In a statement, President RCCI said the government should evolve a comprehensive strategy in consultation with the private sector to increase exports . -Gilgit Baltistan Tourism and Gems sector: PTI government takes important decisions Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur says GB has world's best tourism attractions with beautiful waterfalls, lakes, meadows, deserts, and skiing resorts. In an exclusive interview with Radio Pakistan's Correspondent Ijaz Hussain, he said government is committed to develop the untapped tourism potential of Gilgit-Baltistan. The Minister said an MoU will soon be signed with leading international companies to develop eight lakes in the first phase -ExxonMobil making $250 million investment in Pakistan: Razak Dawood Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said Exxon Mobil was making an investment of $250 million in Pakistan. He said the company had re-entered Pakistan after a gap of almost three decades and setup its office in the country. Pakistan is requesting China to switch its investment focus from power & infrastructure to industrialization, agriculture and education in regard to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). -Weekly inflation decreases by 0.31pc The inflation based on Sensitive Price Index (SPI) during the week ended on January 3, for the combined income group registered a decrease of 0.31pc as compared to the previous week. The SPI for the week under review in the above-mentioned group was recorded at 237.85 points against 238.58 points registered in the previous week, according to the data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) on Friday. -Chinese group to set up $70 million ceramics unit in Faisalabad A prominent Chinese industrial group has decided to establish a ceramics unit in Pakistan with an investment of $70 million – a decision that is likely to lessen country’s reliance on imported tiles. “The ceramics unit is expected to become operational by March 2020,” according to a senior official of the Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (FIEDMC). FIEDMC, located in the heart of Pakistan’s industrial hub, is rapidly transforming into an attractive destination for well-known foreign companies, which are planning to set up their units following lack of progress on the Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which are planned to be constructed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “The Chinese industrial group already enjoys its presence in 50 countries,” said FIEDMC Chief Executive Officer Aamir Saleemi. “The group plans to import machinery from China and aims to complete work by March 2020.” -Prime Minister Imran Khan invites Turkish investors to join CPEC Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is on his first official two-day visit to Turkey, on Thursday said that it's time for Islamabad and Ankara to take their bilateral trade to a higher level, citing Pakistan’s ideal geo-strategic location and its huge potential for investment in infrastructure and tourism. Addressing a business forum of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) in Ankara on Thursday night, he said his government will provide all possible assistance and support to the Turkish investors in Pakistan, Khan said that Pakistan is a virgin territory as a lot of trade areas have not been exploited yet, adding that huge reserves of oil, gas, copper, coal and other admirals are yet to be unexplored. He said tremendous trade and economic activities will start due to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said special economic zones are being established through this mega project.
Why I believe Modi is the real peacemaker in the India- Pakistan faceoff!
Context : Unless you've been living under a rock, you'd know that India had conducted an airstrike in Pakistani territory in response to Pulwama suicide bombing which killed more than 40 CRPF men in Kashmir, India. The terror outfit Jaish-e-mohammad took responsibility of the attack. Feb 26 airstrikes by India were conducted on a major installation of this terror outfit. As the situation was expected to go, Pakistan vowed retaliation. On Feb 27, 24 F-16s and JF-17s progressed towards Indian side. In response to this infiltration attempt, India scrambled 8 jets ( MIG-21 Bison, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi 30MKI ). In this Dog fight, one of the F-16 of Pakistan was shot down by a MIG 21 BISON. However, the MIG also crashed and it's pilot, W.C Abhinandan landed on the Pakistani side. Pakistan PM had made 2 attempts to "persuade " (in their own terms) India to de-escalate. Coupled with the release of W.C, Pakistan PM is being promoted as a candidate for Nobel peace prize by their media and citizen alike. BUT IS THIS THE ONLY PERSPECTIVE ? Analysis If one changes the shades and sees through Modi's eye, the situation looks all rehearsed by the Indian side with nothing (much) really going off tracks. So yes, Prime Minister Modi decided to take action on terror outfit. The objective of the mission? To eliminate the chief commanders and key people of JEM who provided strategic and logistic support to this terror outfit. The airstrikes made sure that this was achieved. In a press briefing, the Indian Foreign secretary confirmed a "non- military, preemptive action ". Words matter a lot in international diplomacy and hence, the need to put them out there in bold. Since this was not a military action, the action cannot be treated as an act of war and qualifies, at best, as an aggressive violation of airspace. But unless declared as a "state of war"(as required by Hague convention) by any one side, the situation at best can be defined as an " armed conflict ", thus triggering the Article 2 of Geneva convention (which only means that the conditions of Geneva conventions relating to treatment of soldiers, POWs, nurses etc now apply under Article 12). Okay, so Pakistan did react but this time hitting **"military installations" ,**as confirmed during the joint press brief of all the three forces of India. This does translates down to an act of war as it gives a logical excuse to any country to declare an official state of war. However, India did not choose to do so. Also, in his request to de-escalate, Pakistan, a state with $6Bn as forex, talked about how nuclear war would be disastrous for the region. But wait a second, who even mentioned war? Pakistan did! Did Government of India or any of the representatives of the armed forces even mentioned the word 'WAR' when they were being blackmailed by the terms such as "nuclear" from the other side? I don't count the war room experts of ABP news as official spokespersons for India, sorry. While watching France24 debate on this issue, I heard a unique point being mentioned by a panelist who said that Modi's continued engagements with scheduled functions showed a complete lack of leadership. I found it interesting because his continued engagements at different events showed how disinterested the Government of India was in a war that was almost a reality to the TRP freaks and keyboard warriors. It also showed how India was calling the bluff of Pakistan out in the open. Was Indian reaction to the inbound Pakistani jets wrong? Isn't it the duty of IAF and other armed forces to react as bravely as they did? Isn't it logical that India offered no negotiations on the release of W.C Abhinandan, making it clear that the Pakistan must release it ? Isn't it logical that India took the matter to UNSC the day airstrikes were conducted , thanks to the French? Would a country, interested in war or escalation of conflicts approach an international body on security ? Isn't it logical that few hours into the announcement of visit of Saudi FM to Islamabad and a interesting remark the US president, PM Imran khan offers a peace gesture? Conclusion Truth is, the whole narrative of war was created by Pakistan and fueled by the TRP hungry news channels. India and it's leadership are the real peacemakers here because we defeated the narrative of war, pressurized Pakistan into making a BBC gaffe which made them admit, on record, that they know where JEM chief is , and also called the bluff that Pakistan takes with itself to the table. EDIT : Forex of Pakistan changed from $2BN to $6 BN as reported in January 2019. EDIT 2: Formatting and grammatical edits to make it simpler to read.
Pakistan's China debt at $6.6bn. In past 10 months, funds mostly used on two nuclear plants
This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 60%. (I'm a bot)
NEW DELHI: The debt owed by Pakistan to China has been pegged at $6.56 billion for the July-April period, equal to three-fourths of the total $8.6 billion worth loans that Islamabad received in the past 10 months. These loans are for the Karachi nuclear power plants, known as K2 and K3, and China SAFE deposits. Out of the $6.5-billion loans from China, $2 billion was in SAFE deposits and $2.53 billion in foreign commercial loans, to cushion declining forex reserves. China Development Bank gave $2.24 billion as a short-term loan, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China disbursed $300 million. China gave $628.4 million for the construction of two ongoing nuclear power plants in the past 10 months, Pakistan finance ministry statistics revealed. China also gave $1.4 billion in project financing in the past 10 months, largely for projects that form part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
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