Over 2.7 million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia to benefit from new green card

Billboards showing portraits of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan displayed on a roadside ahead of the prince's arrival in Islamabad on Feb. 15, 2019. (AFP/File)
Updated 15 May 2019

Over 2.7 million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia to benefit from new green card

  • “Privileged Iqama” scheme first mentioned by Saudi Crown Prince Salman nearly three years ago
  • Once approved, new system will end the need for expatriates to have a local sponsor, or “kafeel”

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s green-lighting of a new residency scheme for expatriates is a game-changer for 2.7 million Pakistanis living in the Kingdom, business officials and experts said, and might finally give expatriates who can pay a required fee the right to live, work and own business and property in the Kingdom.
The new residency scheme, officially known as a “Privileged Iqama” and commonly referred to as the Saudi “green card,” was first mentioned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nearly three years ago. Those eligible will be able to choose between an annual renewable option or permanent residency, with indefinite leave to remain in exchange for a higher, one-off fee. Saudi government officials have told Arab News that the scheme now awaits cabinet approval. “This is a very positive and long-awaited step,” Sehr Kamran, President of the Center for Pakistan and Gulf Studies, told Arab News. “It will give confidence to the expatriate community, especially the investors, since many people had been losing their businesses to Kafeels (Saudi sponsors).”
Once approved, this new system will end the need for expatriates to have a local sponsor, or “kafeel.” For those who already bend the rules by constantly renewing limited visitor visas, there will no longer be “visa runs” every few months. It will also eliminate long queues at embassies.
Without a Kafeel, a foreigner cannot do business in Saudi Arabia, and a local sponsor has controlling share over businesses, often leading to disputes.
“The biggest benefit [of the new scheme] is that Pakistanis who have been living there are aware of their language, and they can invest in small and medium size businesses and employ other Pakistanis without relying on local partners,” Rizwan-ul-Haq, former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia told Arab News.
“If mid-to-large scale businesses are assured of legal rights and a conducive environment, they would definitely move to Saudi Arabia. The educational and hospitality sector can boom,” he added.
Pakistan’s bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia stood at $1.871 billion in 2017-18 with exports amounting to $170 million and imports at $1.7 billion. Since 1971, Pakistanis have contributed toward building the Kingdom’s infrastructure. They remit nearly $6 billion from Saudi Arabia every year.
In order to be eligible for the new green card scheme, expatriates must meet several criteria including having a valid passport, clean criminal record, financial solvency, and authentic credit and health reports.
Farhan Ahmed, the CEO of an Islamabad-based travel and tourism company, said Riyadh’s decision was encouraging for Pakistan’s business community.
“This is a very positive and encouraging move. It gives hope to the business community to go and invest there without concerns over the protection of their investment,” Ahmed said, adding that he would definitely consider availing the opportunity “after proper consideration.”


Peshawar dismisses Islamabad for PSL6's lowest score of 118

Updated 27 February 2021

Peshawar dismisses Islamabad for PSL6's lowest score of 118

  • Zalmi’s victory can help it replace Karachi Kings on top of the tournament's points table
  • Peshawar's skipper Wahab Riaz led from the front by taking four wickets and conceding 17 runs

KARACHI: Peshawar Zalmi on Saturday took early wickets while playing against Islamabad United, dismissing the whole team for 118 runs in 17.1 overs.

Skipper Wahab Riaz led from the front as his team strove to be on the top of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) points table. 

Peshawar won the toss and invited Islamabad to bat on a wicket where all nine PSL matches this season have so far been won by the teams chasing, including those facing the daunting challenge of making over 190 runs. 

Karachi Kings is currently on top of the table with four points and Zalmi's victory in today's match can replace it with six.

Riaz led his team's strike against Islamabad United by taking the wicket of Paul Stirling in the first over. Phil Salt was the second to go after losing his wicket to English bowler Saqib Mahmood.

Salt scored 9 of 11 balls. 

Faheem Ashraf, who made significant contribution to his team's total in the few last matches, could only score two runs after facing four balls. Skipper Shahab Khan was run out on a good throw by Imam-ul-Haq to wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal. 

Alex Hales who remained the top scorer of the match for his side (41 of 27 balls) was the next to go to the pavilion. Hussain Talat scored 22 of 15, Iftikhar Ahmed 7 of 12, and Asif 19 of 12. 

The entire Islamabad team was dismissed for 118 in 17.1 overs. 

Wahab Riaz remained the most successful bowler and showed his best performance in all PSL tournaments by grabbing four wickets and conceding 17 runs. Saqib Mahmood also demonstrated outstanding bowling skills by taking 4 wickets in 2.1 overs. 

Mujeeb-ur-Rehman and Umaid Asif both grabbed one wicket each. 

Earlier in the day, Babar Azam helped Karachi Kings win a match against Multan Sultan by hitting his second successive PSL half century. 

Babar's unbeaten 90 off 60 balls — including 13 fours and a six — led Karachi to 198-3 with seven balls to spare in yet another successful chase in Pakistan's premier Twenty20 league, Associated Press reported. 

Multan had earlier spoiled a blistering start and were restricted to 195-6 as Karachi skipper Imad Wasim followed a familiar script of captains putting the opposition into bat after winning the toss. 


Babar leads Karachi to 7-wicket win over Multan in PSL

Updated 27 February 2021

Babar leads Karachi to 7-wicket win over Multan in PSL

  • Multan had earlier spoiled a blistering start and were restricted to 195-6
  • All nine league matches in this season’s PSL have been won by the teams chasing, including four successful chases of 190-plus runs

KARACHI: Babar Azam hit his second successive half century in the Pakistan Super League and anchored Karachi Kings to a seven-wicket win over Multan Sultans on Saturday.

Babar’s unbeaten 90 off 60 balls — including 13 fours and a six — led Karachi to 198-3 with seven balls to spare in yet another successful chase in Pakistan’s premier Twenty20 league.

All nine league matches in this season’s PSL have been won by the teams chasing, including four successful chases of 190-plus runs.

Multan had earlier spoiled a blistering start and were restricted to 195-6 as Karachi skipper Imad Wasim followed a familiar script of captains putting the opposition into bat after winning the toss.

“Credit goes to the bowlers first,” Wasim said. “The way we finished at the end was fantastic. We saved almost 15-20 runs at the death.”

Englishman Joe Clarke (54 off 26 balls) took the game away from Multan by combining in an electrifying stand of 97 runs with Babar.

Clarke smashed four sixes against spinners Shahid Afridi and Khushdil Shah and also hit three boundaries in his robust half century before he was caught at short fine leg while attempting to ramp a slow bouncer from Shanawaz Dhani (2-28).

Babar led Karachi to its second win in three games with a six and two fours in succession against fast bowler Sohail Khan in the penultimate over.

Earlier, Multan failed to cash in on Chris Lynn’s robust start (32 off 14 balls) and were cruising along at 72-1 in the first six overs of batting powerplay.

James Vince (45) and skipper Mohammad Rizwan (43) both fell in successive overs of fast bowler Arshad Iqbal (2-36) as Multan slipped to 133-3 in the 14th over.

Karachi came back strongly in the last five overs with their fast bowlers leaking only one boundary. Left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who earlier started with a maiden over, bowled seven wide balls in his next three overs but got the dangerman Shahid Afridi (3) in the 19th over to finish with 1-34.

After its third loss, Multan slipped to fifth in six-team event with a solitary win against Lahore Qalandars, who are due to meet Islamabad United in Saturday’s other league match.


Pakistan, India can live in peace, downed Indian pilot says in newly released footage

Updated 27 February 2021

Pakistan, India can live in peace, downed Indian pilot says in newly released footage

  • Newly released footage comes days after a cease-fire on Kashmir border was settled by the Indian and Pakistani military
  • Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured on Feb. 27, 2019 when his jet entered Pakistani airspace

ISLAMABAD: India and Pakistan can live in peace, an Indian Air Force pilot who was briefly in Pakistani custody in 2019 said in footage released by the Pakistani Army on Saturday.
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured on Feb. 27, 2019 when Pakistan shot down his jet after Indian warplanes crossed the Line of Control (LoC) — the de facto border in Kashmir — and dropped bombs near Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
No casualties were caused by the attack and Pakistan soon released the Indian pilot in a goodwill gesture.
Parts of the video recorded by the Pakistani Army, including Varthaman’s famous praise of the “fantastic” tea he was served by Pakistani officers, were aired already in 2019, but some lines in the footage shared on Saturday, including the pilot’s call for peace, are new.
“I want that peace should prevail, and we (India and Pakistan) can live in peace,” Varthaman said in the video.
“Wars happen when there is no peace. I don’t know what needs to be done to bring about peace, but I do know that there should be peace. And I see no reason for us to continue with any kind of hostilities.”
He added: “What is happening to Kashmiris? Neither you nor I know about it ... We should think with a calm mind.”
The newly released footage comes after the military operations heads of Pakistan and India said in a joint statement on Thursday that they had agreed to discuss each other’s concerns that could disturb peace and lead to violence along the Line of Control (LoC).
The announcement has been seen as restoring a cease-fire agreement from 2003, which has been fraying in recent years.
Kashmir has long been a flashpoint between Pakistan and India as both claim the region in full but rule it in part. Tensions increased in August 2019, after New Delhi withdrew the region’s autonomy and split it into federally administered territories. In recent months, cross border firing has become frequent, often killing or maiming people living in the area.


Pakistanis share tea-rrific memes on anniversary of Abhinandan's 'fantastic' cuppa

Updated 27 February 2021

Pakistanis share tea-rrific memes on anniversary of Abhinandan's 'fantastic' cuppa

  • Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was captured on Feb. 27, 2019 and soon released by Pakistan in a goodwill gesture
  • Video in which he said he had been treated well and 'the tea was fantastic' became a viral sensation

RAWALPINDI: Pakistani Twitterati did not miss the chance on Saturday to share new memes of an Indian pilot who two years ago became a social media sensation as he praised Pakistan Army officers for "fantastic tea."

Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured on Feb. 27, 2019 when Pakistan shot down his jet for violating its airspace. He was soon handed over to India in a goodwill gesture, but a video in which he said he had been treated well and "the tea was fantastic" stayed with Pakistanis forever.

In remembrance of Abhinandan's tea, celebratory trends emerged on Pakistani Twitter, followed by new memes and laughs:  #FantasticTeaDay, #HappySurpriseDayIndia, #WorldsBiggestTeaParty.

Retired Pakistan Air Force veteran pilot Air Marshal Shahid Lateef pointed out that Abhinandan's tea was not only fantastic but also expensive as it cost him his MiG-21 jet.

 

 

Pilot and entertainer Fakhr-e-Alam commemorated the day by tweeting out a tongue-in-cheek promotion of Pakistani hospitality and tea.

 

 

Fantastic tea was also combined with another major trend of the day — the ongoing Pakistan Super League — on the cricket event's "strategic timeout" poster.

 

 

Another Twitter user shared a shot of a trail of teacups, writing: “Let’s attract Indian pilots.”

 

 

As four trees fell on the Pakistani side during the Indian operation of Abhinandan was part, on Fantastic Tea Day comedian Ali Gur Pir released an entire track in honor of the fallen wooden heroes.

 

 

As Abhinandan memes continue to entertain Pakistanis, Twitter user Sadaf Ikram shared a photo of the pilot's portrait being used in advertisements and thank him for “fueling creative thinking" in Pakistan.

 


 

 


Pakistan security forces kill 2 militants in southern Sindh province

Updated 27 February 2021

Pakistan security forces kill 2 militants in southern Sindh province

  • Officials say the slain militants were involved in attacks on police and security forces in South Waziristan and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province
  • The two men entered Sindh province in recent days and had been under surveillance of security agencies

MULTAN: Pakistani counterterrorism police and secret service officials raided a militant hideout Saturday, killing two militants accused of involvement in attacks on security forces, an official said.
Shahid Solangi, a counterterrorism officer, said the early morning raid took place in the Patni area of the city of Sukkur in southern Sindh province. He said the militants attempted to escape and opened fire on officers, triggering a shootout. Solangi said two militants belonging to the Noor-e-Islam group of the Pakistani Taliban were killed.
Solangi said the slain militants were involved in attacks on police and security forces in South Waziristan and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest. He said the two men entered Sindh province in recent days and had been under surveillance of security agencies.
Pakistani militants have in recent months stepped up attacks on security forces in the former tribal regions in northwest and southwestern Balochistan province, raising concerns that insurgents are regrouping in various parts of the country.