Pakistani PM urges action on Kashmir as UNGA president-elect in Islamabad 

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met with the UN General Assembly president-elect on August 10, 2020 in Islamabad. (Photo courtesy: Volkan Bozkir Twitter Account)
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Updated 10 August 2020

Pakistani PM urges action on Kashmir as UNGA president-elect in Islamabad 

  • Khan briefs Volkan Bozkir about “ongoing gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people”
  • Says UN must play ‘rightful role’ in ensuring Kashmiris get right to self-determination under relevant UN resolutions 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday met with the UN General Assembly president-elect who arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit, urging the United Nations to play its “rightful role” in ensuring the right of self-determination for the people of the disputed Kashmir region. 
The Himalayan region has long been a flashpoint in ties between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan, with both claiming Kashmir in full but ruling it in part. UN peacekeepers have been deployed since 1949 to observe a cease-fire between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.
The UN Security Council adopted several resolutions in 1948 and in the 1950s on the dispute between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region, including one which says a plebiscite should be held to determine the future of mostly Muslim Kashmir.
A press release from the PM’s office said Khan briefed Volkan Bozkir about “ongoing gross and systematic violations of human rights of the Kashmiri people and the attempts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory.”
“He stressed that the UN must play its rightful role in addressing the grave situation and ensuring that Kashmiris exercise their right to self-determination promised to them in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” the statement said. 
Last August, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government stripped Jammu and Kashmir — India’s only Muslim-majority state — of its special rights and split it into two federally administered territories. The government said the change was necessary to develop the revolt-torn region and integrate it with the rest of India, but it infuriated many Kashmiris as well as neighboring Pakistan.

In a series of tweets, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also welcomed the UNGA president-elect to Pakistan.

Bozkir has been elected as the President of UNGA’s 75th session.
“Pakistan strongly believes in the importance of a multilateral world anchored on the tenants of peace, progress and stability,” Qureshi said. “It is in this spirit, we welcomed @UN General Assembly President Elect @volkan_bozkir to #Pakistan for a constructive and fruitful visit.”
“Pakistan has consistently supported & valued the @UN’s significant role in global affairs and we continue to strengthen bonds within the institution of the UN be it for conflict resolution, peacekeeping, sustainable development, health, economic & social cooperation et al,” the foreign minister added. 
Qureshi said Pakistan reinforced its position of peace and stability in the region, and was pursuing a policy of diplomatic accord globally, as he thanked the UNGA president elect for his visit, which he said was “a manifestation of the UN’s belief in Pakistan’s commitment to a secure and harmonious future.”


35 percent Pakistanis say coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes — survey

Updated 22 September 2020

35 percent Pakistanis say coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes — survey

  • Labor experts say a large number of workers laid off by their organizations in the name of social distancing
  • Standard Chartered Bank survey shows 87 percent respondents said they were willing to adapt to emerging environment by using more technology

KARACHI: The coronavirus pandemic has reduced incomes for at least 35 percent of Pakistanis, a survey conducted by a leading international bank said, while a large number of people had lost their livelihoods to the virus.
According to an online study carried out by Standard Chartered Bank, one-third or 35 percent of Pakistanis, including 36 percent of the country’s youth, reported a reduction in their salaries.
The study was conducted in July this year in 12 different markets, including the United States, United Kingdom, India and China. Its findings were released last week.
The study involved 12,000 individuals above the age of 18, Farhan Ahmed, the bank’s communications head in Pakistan, told Arab News on Tuesday. Among the respondents were 1,000 Pakistanis from various urban centers working in different fields, he said.
The survey showed that 88 percent people preferred to work harder for a fewer number of hours and less pay, while 72 percent were looking for a second source of earning to add to their income stream. Over 50 percent anticipated major changes in the next three to six months, with 48 percent expecting reduced pay and 49 percent fearing redundancy.
“Business owners have found a plausible excuse to cut down workforce in the name of implementing the prescribed precautionary measures that require fewer people to operate in a given space,” Nasir Mansoor, deputy general secretary of the National Trade Union Federation Pakistan, told Arab News.
“In the first place, people over 50 years of age were asked not to come to work,” he said. “These senior employees did not get their salaries and other benefits. After that, organizations relieved a majority of their workforce in the name of social distancing. In such cases, they reduced the number of employees by about 50 percent. The remaining staff was either laid off or retained without pay.”
In April, the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), a government entity, projected that the coronavirus pandemic, ensuing lockdowns, and falling growth rates were likely to drive between 12.3 million and 18.5 million people out of jobs.
“Such estimates inadvertently downplay the actual impact of the economic downturn since they usually focus on small regions or areas of economy. It should be clear that even the primary sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing and mining etc., have also suffered a lot,” Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, joint executive director of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), told Arab News. “The second wave of virus is already hitting our trade partners in the West and that will make current estimates outdated in the coming days.”
According to Farhan Ahmed of Standard Chartered Bank, 87 percent of survey respondents said they were willing to adapt to the emerging environment by using more technology. Similarly, 83 percent respondents were confident they had the necessary skills to thrive in an increasingly digital world and were willing to explore greater opportunities by working more relentlessly in the post-COVID-19 environment.
Sixty-six percent people also said they wanted to start new businesses.
“There are many opportunities emerging for our youth who are willing to adapt,” Ahmed said. “The changing business models are providing opportunities to urban and rural dwellers alike.”