Russian minister in Islamabad to offer investment in heavy industry

Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky and Pakistan's Ministry of Energy Additional Secretary Sher Afgan Khan sign a memorandum of understanding in Moscow, Russia on Sept. 27, 2018. (Photo by Russian Energy Ministry)
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Updated 10 December 2019

Russian minister in Islamabad to offer investment in heavy industry

  • Russians are interested in Pakistan’s energy, oil and gas, defense and steel sectors
  • Russian delegation is in Islamabad to attend Inter-Governmental Commission meeting

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia have agreed to expand business and trade ties, with investment in the energy, oil and gas and defense, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar told Arab News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

A delegation of 64 Russian officials, led by Trade and Industries Minister Denis Manturov, discussed the plans with Pakistani stakeholders at a meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Energy in Islamabad on Monday.

“The Russian delegation is here to expand ties with Pakistan and engage in trade and business worth billions of dollars. They are interested in three major sectors – energy, oil and gas, and defense,” Babar said.

“In its first phase, Pakistan is going to auction 12 blocks of E&P (exploration and production) this month. Russians are very much interested in this auction,” he added.

“They have representatives of oil and gas companies with them in this delegation, who discussed different projects and showed interest in bidding for these blocks. We are very hopeful that they will take a few blocks in this auction which would be a first as they have never operated in Pakistan before,” he said.

Russian companies are also interested to build a gas pipeline from Karachi to Lahore, Babar said. “We hope to sign an agreement on this in the next two months as both sides have agreed on many things. We have many meetings on this and after this visit, we hope all remaining issues will be solved.”

He said Pakistan and Russia have also discussed an agreement, which was signed earlier, for the laying of more than 1,500 kilometers of an offshore gas pipeline that would transport natural gas from Russia to Pakistan.

Babar said Russia has also shown interest in the rehabilitation and upgrading of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) and wants to invest $1 billion. He added, however, that “other countries are also interested in Steel Mills.”

Sergey Vasiliev, director of Russia-Pakistan Business Forum who is in the delegation, told Arab News the visit will be good for removing trade and investment obstacles between the two countries, and for improving business to business contacts.

As Pakistan’s image has lately improved in Russia, “Russian businessmen are more interested in the oil and gas and energy sectors,” he said.

“We are discussing collaboration with Pakistan Steel Mills, so new technology from Russia can enhance its production. We are also ready to provide support in the field of agriculture, especially in increasing storage capacity for local food items and fruits.”

A major breakthrough in Pakistan-Russia relations was the signing of an agreement in Moscow on Dec. 4 by Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak and Pakistani Ambassador Qazi Khalilullah, whereby Pakistan will repay its $93.5 million debt to Russia, he said.

On Wednesday, the delegation is scheduled to attend an inter-governmental commission meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


Hundreds of abandoned animals die at Pakistan pet markets

Updated 07 April 2020

Hundreds of abandoned animals die at Pakistan pet markets

  • Animals still alive in the corner of Karachi's sprawling Empress Market were rescued only after activists appealed
  • In the eastern city of Lahore, animals met with a similar fate

KARACHI: Abandoned when Pakistan's largest cities went into lockdown, hundreds of caged cats, dogs and rabbits have been found dead inside pet markets hurriedly shuttered as the coronavirus spread.
Animals still alive in the corner of Karachi's sprawling Empress Market were rescued only after activists appealed to the authorities for access.
Two weeks into the shutdown, Ayesha Chundrigar could hear the cries of the pets from outside the shops, which together housed up to 1,000 animals.
"When we got inside, the majority of them were dead, about 70 percent. Their bodies were lying on the ground," Chundrigar, who runs ACF Animal Rescue, told AFP.
"It was so horrific, I can't tell you."
Starving and locked in cages with no light or ventilation, the surviving pets sat amongst the dead, trembling.
As the virus pandemic grew, Pakistan's major cities were plunged into lockdown, forcing many shops to close. Only stalls selling essential goods such as food and medicine were allowed to continue operating.
It left pet shop owners blocked from their businesses, some resorting to sneaking in at night to feed the animals.
After the desperate rescue, Chundrigar has now convinced the Karachi authorities to allow pet shop owners and her team daily access to the animals.

In the eastern city of Lahore, animals met with a similar fate.
The bodies of about 20 dogs were found dumped in a sewer near Tollinton Market, a hub for pet businesses which had closed leaving animals to starve.
Kiran Maheen was able to rescue more than two dozen dogs, rabbits and cats after convincing officials at the market to let her in, but a large number had already died.
"When the police opened up the shutters, a lot of animals were already lying dead inside," Maheen told AFP, adding that many had suffocated from a lack of air.
Pakistani authorities have confirmed about 2,900 cases of COVID-19 and 45 deaths, though the tally is thought to be many times larger because of testing limitations in this impoverished country of 215 million.
Around 25 percent of the population already live under the poverty line, but millions more who earn a daily wage have joined them since the lockdown began, experts say.