Pakistani, Saudi officials discuss bolstering ties via new media

Pakistan's Additional Secretary Information Shafqat Jalil spoke to the Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, Dr Awad bin Saleh Al Awad to discuss cooperation in the fields of media and culture. (Photo courtesy: @DanyalGilani/Twitter)
Updated 25 June 2018
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Pakistani, Saudi officials discuss bolstering ties via new media

  • Saudi Minister expressed keenness to evolve Pak-Saudi relationship by way of media exchanges

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on Monday discussed ways to bolster bilateral ties by way of increased cooperation in the fields of media and culture.
Shafqat Jalil, additional secretary in Pakistan’s Information Ministry, discussed with Saudi Culture and Information Minister Dr. Awad bin Saleh Al-Awad the importance of new media in the lives of youths, and exploring ways to tap into that.
“We have an independent and vibrant media, and in order to interact and engage with it — the Pakistani and Western mixture of it — we’d have to explore the entire gamut,” Jalil told Arab News.
“Our youths aren’t aware of the relationship we have with Saudi Arabia, and to take forward our relations it’s important to involve new media, be it Facebook, Western media, Twitter etc.,” he said.
“Media personalities from Radio Pakistan and Pakistan Television (PTV) will be extended an invitation for Hajj.”
When asked about a tentative timeline for projects and media exchanges, Jalil said Al-Awad is keen to start but is waiting for Pakistan’s new government to settle in. Al-Awad accepted Jalil’s invitation to visit Pakistan. 
On Saturday, Jalil called for the unconditional restoration of the internationally recognized Yemeni government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and the withdrawal of rebel forces from territories seized by them, including the capital Sanaa.
“Pakistan supports all efforts for peace in Yemen, and urged all parties to return to the negotiation table,” Jalil said.


Parts of Balochistan plunged into darkness as Iran cuts off power supply

Updated 16 July 2018
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Parts of Balochistan plunged into darkness as Iran cuts off power supply

  • Officials say Iran’s production has decreased by 1,000 megawatts owing to a technical fault, which has affected its power supply to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Balochistan province of Pakistan
  • Leader of traders’ association in Gwadar says trading has scaled down by 90 percent, whereas businesses for which power is mandatory have completely shut for the past 18 days

GWADAR, Balochistan: Makran division of Balochistan has faced massive power outage for the past 18 days owing to a power cut from Iran, officials of the power supply company told Arab News Monday.
According to locals, the power outage of up to 20 hours a day has brought business activities in Gwadar city to a halt where electricity is supplied only for two hours last night.
Last week the traders’ association of Kech district observed a shutter down strike to lodge their protest against prolonged power outage.
“We are bearing huge losses due to power cut for the last 18 days,” Ghulam Hussain, a leader of the Anuman-e-Tajiraan-e-Gwadar (Gwadar traders’ association), told Arab News, adding that sales have dropped by 90 percent while businesses that absolutely require electricity to run have completely shut down.
“We have submitted over 100 applications with Quetta Electricity Supply Company (QESCO) as part of our ‘Meter Katao’ (cut electricity meter) campaign and have told the power supply company that we don’t need it for two hours at night if our source of livelihood has been snatched,” said Hussain.
“The power cut has also given rise to a severe water crisis in Gwadar, where water scarcity had already been a top issue,” Hussain said, saying the uncertainty has increased their worries manifold.
Mujahid Baloch, a civil society activist, says there are three rumors about the power cut and neither QESCO and the local government officials nor the senators who represent them in Pakistan’s upper house of parliament are telling them the actual situation.
“It’s said that Iran has cut the electricity due to non-payment but there are others who say the power has been disconnected due to maintenance work. Another theory is that Iran’s power production has dropped down, which had been providing 100 megawatt electricity to the districts of Makran division,” Baloch said.
Hassan Ali Magsi, a QESCO official in Gwadar, however, says the power cut is owing to a fault in Iran, which has decreased the country’s power generation.
Speaking to Arab News, Magsi said Iran had been providing 100 megawatts to Gwadar, Ketch and Panjgur districts of Makran Division. However, on July 3 the supply went down to 12 hours and decreased to five hours on July 5. The supply from Iran has gone up to 12 hours again, Magsi claimed, but locals insist there is no power except for two to three hours at night.
“We are told that Iran’s production has decreased by 1,000 megawatts due to a technical fault, which has impacted its power supply to Afghanistan, Iraq and Balochistan province of Pakistan,” Magsi said, adding that the supply may remain disturbed for two more weeks.
Concurring with Magsi, the caretaker Information Minister Malik Khurram Shehzad said the Balochistan government is in contact with the Iranian government through the Iranian Consul General in Quetta to resolve the issue.
“I have talked to the QESCO chief and he says efforts are underway to restore the power at the earliest,” Shehzad told Arab News, adding that the crisis began in start of the month will be resolved by the weekend.
“Although we haven’t been given any written assurance, the Iranian officials have verbally told us that the power supply of 100 megawatts will be restored after removing the fault by end of this week,” Shehzad concluded.
Iran has been supplying electricity to Gwadar, Ketch and Panjgur districts of Makran division of Balochistan since 1999. It supplied 35 megawatts daily till 2013 and increased it to 100 megawatts for its utilization in Gwadar, which will become an international business hub with the commencement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.