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.

Pakistan sees a 28% drop in COVID-19 patients

Updated 12 July 2020

Pakistan sees a 28% drop in COVID-19 patients

  • Planning minister says recoveries on track due to effective implementation of lockdown measures
  • National caseload stood at 248,871 infections as of Sunday

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has seen a 28 percent decrease in the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients across the country with Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar attributing the decline to an “effective implementation of smart lockdown measures.”
“On June 20, 2,969 patients were being provided oxygen while 546 were on ventilators. Now there are 1,762 patients on oxygenated beds and 394 on ventilators, which depict a 28 percent reduction in number,” he said in a Twitter post on Saturday.
The number of daily infections has also seen a gradual decline since the start of the month while the fatality count dropped from 153 on June 19 to 74 on Sunday. 
According to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 portal, as of Sunday, the national caseload stood at 248,871 – with 2,521 new infections reported – while 5,197 people had died from the disease.
Meanwhile, the country has also seen an uptick in recoveries with 156,700 cases recorded thus far.
Urging people to exercise caution during the upcoming Eid Al Adha celebrations, Prime Minister Imran Khan said it was necessary to avert a resurgence of the coronavirus as the curve was flattening in the country.
“I appeal to my people not to do again what they did on previous Eid (Eidul Fitr). Any public gathering causes the spread of the virus and puts pressure on hospitals, doctors and nurses besides causing deaths,” he told the media after inaugurating the first Isolation Hospital and Infections Treatment Center in Islamabad on July 9.