Pakistan to approve new textile policy to increase exports to $21 billion

A Pakistan textile labourer fixes broken threads at a power loom in Karachi, on January 25, 2019, the financial capital and the largest industrial city of Pakistan. (AFP)
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Updated 28 December 2020

Pakistan to approve new textile policy to increase exports to $21 billion

  • Economic Coordination Committee to finalize five-year policy this week with incentives worth over $5.6 billion
  • Textiles seeing “unprecedented” revival as international orders diverted to Pakistan after it lifted its comprehensive lockdown in May

KARACHI: Pakistan’s top economic decision-making body, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), is expected to approve a new five-year textile policy this week, with incentives worth more than Rs900 billion ($5.6 billion) for the industry and an aim to increase exports to $21 billion in five years, officials have said.
Textiles make up more than half of Pakistan’s exports, but have lost ground to South Asian neighbors in recent years, hurt by chronic energy shortages and underinvestment in machinery.
But this year, after Pakistan lifted its comprehensive coronavirus lockdown in May while other countries in the neighborhood kept their economies closed, international textile orders have been diverted to Pakistan, leading to a nine-year record in exports. The South Asian nation has now drafted a new policy to augment the gains, officials say.
“The textile policy has already been approved by the prime minister, which will be presented in the ECC next week,” Aliya Hamza Malik, parliamentary secretary for commerce, told Arab News. “After ECC approval, the policy would be a pubic document,” she added, saying the government of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had granted Rs900 billion ($5.6 billion) in incentives to the textile sector in the new policy, the country’s third.
The textile industry, which comprises 46 percent of the total manufacturing sector and provides employment to around 25 million Pakistanis, contributes 8.5 percent to the GDP, according to the Pakistan Board of Investment. It also contributes 60 percent to overall exports and is one of the major earners of foreign exchange for Pakistan.
Despite a global economic slowdown due to COVID-19, Pakistan’s textile sector reached $6 billion exports in the first five months of current fiscal year (July-November 2020), which is 62 percent of total exports (worth $9.7 billion) and almost 5 percent higher compared to the same period last year, official data shows.
“Incentives and export facilitations have played a big role in making Pakistan a competitive exporting country,” Malik said.
The new measures aim to increase textile exports from $12.86 billion to $21 billion in the next five years, with a major focus on value addition, a draft of the policy seen by Arab News said. The document said electricity would be provided to the industry at the rate of US cents 7.5/kWh, RLNG at $6.5/MMBtu and system gas at Rs 786/MMBtu under the new policy.
The last two textile policies, for 2009-14 and 2014-19, had aimed to up exports to $25 billion and $26 billion respectively but the targets were not achieved. The third policy was approved in March this year but still awaits official announcement. 
“Approval of the new policy will give clarity to entrepreneurs and the industry to attract further investment,” said Khurram Mukhtar, patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA). “Pakistan needs minimum investment of $7 billion to enhance production capacity in the next 5 years and double our textile exports.”
He added: “Currently investment of more than Rs100 billion ($623 million) is in the pipeline in spinning, weaving, finishing, knitting and garments. Many companies are enhancing their capacities.”
Made in Pakistan textiles, woven and knitted apparel, socks and towels are currently being supplied to major brands around the world, including Puma , Nike, Ralph Lauren, Dorma, Warner Bros, Next, M&S , Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, Zara , Mango, Levies and Hugo Boss.

Court orders issuance of Pakistan Origin Cards to over 100 Afghan spouses of Pakistanis

Updated 7 sec ago

Court orders issuance of Pakistan Origin Cards to over 100 Afghan spouses of Pakistanis

  • POC provides all rights to foreigners married in Pakistan, except to vote, contest polls or to get a passport
  • Around 109 Afghans nationals had approached the Peshawar High Court seeking the Pakistan Origin Cards

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has approved applications of more than a hundred Afghan nationals, who are married to Pakistanis, seeking Pakistan Origin Cards (POCs) and ordered authorities to process their applications once they fulfill legal formalities and rules, lawyers said on Saturday. 

Based on their marriages with Pakistanis, around 109 Afghan nationals had filed petitions in the court seeking POCs, which are issued by Pakistan's National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to foreigners married to Pakistani citizens and allows them all rights except the rights to vote, contest election or to get a passport. 

A two-member bench of the PHC, headed by Justice Waqar Ahmad and Justice Sayed Arshad Ali, gave the order on Friday after hearing arguments of lawyers representing the petitioners, the federal government and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA). 

“This is a partial judgment and a written verdict will be released in the next few days,” Advocate Sanaullah Khan, an additional attorney general who represented the federal government, told Arab News. 

"The judgment directed the federal government to proceed with their (Afghan spouses) cases to issue them POCs provided that the petitioners fulfill established rules." 

The development amid a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following Islamabad’s directive for all undocumented foreigners to leave the country by November 1. Many of the Afghans have since gone underground, fearing for their lives upon return to a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. 

Pakistan has long been home to more than 4 million Afghan migrants and refugees and around 1.7 million of them were undocumented, according to official estimates. Hundreds of thousands more arrived after the Taliban retook Afghanistan in 2021, joining the large number living in Pakistan since the Soviet invasion of the neighboring country in 1979. 

Advocate Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel, who appeared before the court on behalf of the petitioners, said most of his clients neither had passports nor other documents as they were born in Pakistan. 

“After hearing arguments from all the sides, the august court allowed these cases of issuing POCs to Afghan spouses, making them entitled to enjoy all benefits except Pakistani passport and right to vote,” Kakakhel said. "It was a short verdict and the detailed judgement will come later." 

He said that NADRA Rules (POC) 2002 provided for the grant of residence permits to spouses of Pakistani citizens and denying it would be a "clear violation of their basic rights." 

Advocate Shahid Imran Gigyani, who represented NADRA, said one of the conditions for a foreigner to get the POC was that they must have a passport of their country of origin, but in this particular case, most of the petitioners had no documents at all.  

He said he had argued before the court that these petitioners did not fall under the category of foreigners. 

“Our main contention before the court was that there is a huge difference between refugees and foreigners. A refugee can’t claim that right (POC) because they’re already given refugees’ rights, which is defined in Geneva Convention 1951,” Gigyani said.  

"But a foreigner is an individual who has a valid passport, visa and entry and exit rights." 

More than 370,000 Afghans have left Pakistan since Islamabad ordered them to leave in early October and said many of them had been involved in militant attacks and other offences. 

Khan Muhammad Babar, an Afghan national and a focal person at Peshawar's Afghan Commissionerate that provides humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees, welcomed the judgement, saying the move would facilitate thousands of Afghan spouses and their children, who have been living in Pakistan for decades. 

“Though the petition mentions 109 spouses only, but as per my information there are over 1,400 such cases,” he said. "This decision is a ray of hope for many Afghan spouses that their children will ultimately get some sort of recognition, identity and homeland at least." 

Babar said the move by Pakistan to expel undocumented foreigners had put millions of Afghans in trouble, alleging that they were being "harassed" by Pakistani authorities. 

“As per our assessment, Pakistani authorities have so far expelled almost 470,000 Afghan refugees via Torkham and Chaman, the two main border crossings in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwestern Balochistan provinces,” he said. 

“Those residing illegally or without valid documents should be expelled, but in a dignified manner. Secondly, Pakistan should facilitate those refugees who have valid documents.”

Pakistan PM calls for financial, technical aid to climate-vulnerable nations at UN conference in Dubai

Updated 02 December 2023

Pakistan PM calls for financial, technical aid to climate-vulnerable nations at UN conference in Dubai

  • Kakar raised the issue at the Global Stock Take event to assess the world’s collective climate progress
  • The PM is scheduled to discuss Indus Basin restoration at yet another event at the Pakistan Pavilion

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar urged the developed world on Saturday to help nations most vulnerable to the impact of erratic weather patterns by extending financial and technical assistance while addressing a gathering at the United Nations climate conference in Dubai.

Kakar is on a week-long visit to the Middle East where he is currently spearheading his country’s delegation at the 28th UN Conference of Parties (COP28) that began on Nov. 30.

Pakistan is among the most vulnerable nations in the world to climate change and has set up its own pavilion at the conference venue to highlight some of the most-pressing issues related to a rapidly accelerating climate crisis.

Kakar participated in the Global Stock Take event to assess the progress made by the world to collectively deal with the issue of climate change.

“In his remarks at this roundtable discussion, the Prime Minister highlighted the acuteness of the climate crisis and laid emphasis on providing adequate means of implementation including climate finance, capacity-building and technology, to developing countries to tackle this growing challenge,” said a brief statement issued by his office in Islamabad.

He pointed out that climate finance would always be the enabler for climate action, adding that the needs of developing countries far exceeded the unfulfilled $100 billion pledge made in Paris during the 2015 conference to ensure climate adaptability.

“Prime Minister also called for scaling-up development and transfer of proven climate technologies, as well as better delivery of capacity building for developing countries,” the statement added. “The need for greater coherence and coordination across the United Nations system was also underscored.”

Pakistan's Caretaker Prime Minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar (center), is being received by the President of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (right), and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, upon his arrival at Dubai Expo City to attend the High-Level Segment of the United Nations' 28th Conference of Parties on December 1, 2023. (Photo courtesy: PMO)

Kakar is also scheduled to attend a discussion session on the ecological restoration of the Indus Basin at the UN conference.

The event is organized at the Pakistan Pavilion by Living Indus, the country’s biggest climate initiative that is estimated to cost $11-17 billion and was launched with UN support last year in September.

The initiative aims to protect and restore the health of the Indus River, which is crucial for the economy, environment and well-being of millions of people in Pakistan.

The Living Indus project focuses on addressing the challenges faced by the Indus River system, including water scarcity, pollution and habitat degradation, through various conservation and sustainable management strategies.

According to the information available on its website, 90 percent of Pakistan’s people and more than three-quarters of its economy resides in the Indus Basin. More than 80 percent of Pakistan’s arable land is irrigated by its waters, and nine out of the ten largest cities in the country are situated within 50 kilometers or less of the waters of Indus.

The Indus River has served as the vibrant core of the social, cultural and economic life of what is now Pakistan for well over 5,000 years. According to the country’s former climate change minister, Senator Sherry Rehman, however, it is the world’s second most polluted river today.

Pakistani school wins $100,000 Zayed Prize for Sustainability at UAE's COP28 conference

Updated 02 December 2023

Pakistani school wins $100,000 Zayed Prize for Sustainability at UAE's COP28 conference

  • Located in Azad Kashmir, the school was recognized for water conservation and organic farming
  • Competing with finalists from India and Bangladesh, it was declared the best school in South Asia

DUBAI: A Pakistani school won the prestigious Zayed Sustainability Prize of $100,000 after being declared the best Global School in South Asia for its innovative project on water conservation and organic farming at the UN climate conference in Dubai on Friday.
The school is operated by the Kashmir Orphan Relief Trust (KORT) and was competing for the prize against two other finalists from India and Bangladesh.
Two young representatives of the trust were present at the gathering at the Expo City in Dubai where United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed presented the award.
The Zayed Sustainability Prize honors the legacy of UAE’s founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan by rewarding small and medium enterprises, non-profit organizations, and high schools addressing health, food, energy, water and climate-related challenges.
The prize has been awarded to 106 recipients in the last 15 years to positively impact the lives of 384 million people worldwide.
“Our project is on water conservation because, in 2025, clean drinking water will finish in Pakistan,” Sumaiya Bibi, 19, told Arab News after receiving the award on behalf of the trust.
After losing her parents in the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan’s Kashmir region, she found a sense of direction by focusing on climate-related projects.
“We want to set up water filtration plants and sensor taps in our school to minimize water wastage,” she said. “We also want to set up a kitchen garden in our school through organic farming so that the children can get nutrition from the organically grown food.”
KORT School and College of Excellence is based in Azad Kashmir and was set up in 2016 for children who were orphaned in the devastating earthquake. The facility is serving over 500 students.
The trust also opened another school in Swabi this October which can house 450 children. For the past several years, KORT has been supporting and providing orphaned children with education, boarding facilities, food, clothing and medical care.
Kinza Bibi, another 19-year-old student at the education institute in Kashmir who also represented the trust at the event said: “We want the children at the school to learn how to preserve clean water.”
According to the founding chairman of the organization, Chaudhry Mohammed Akhtar, the prize money would be used to undertake projects related to clean water and organic farming in rural areas.
The 11 winners of the prize this year were elected in September by a panel of jury members, who evaluated each submission for its contribution and commitment to delivering impactful, innovative, and inspiring solutions across the six categories of health, food, energy, water, climate action and global high schools.
This year, the 11 winners across all these categories shared a total prize fund of $3.6 million for their pioneering solutions to transform lives and accelerate environmental change around the world.

Ex-PM Khan’s nominee wins party chairmanship unopposed, as critics call polls controversial

Updated 02 December 2023

Ex-PM Khan’s nominee wins party chairmanship unopposed, as critics call polls controversial

  • Barrister Gohar Ali Khan says he will work as Khan’s successor and representative till he returns from prison
  • Akbar S. Babar and Mariyum Aurangzeb have described the intra-party polls as “selection” held at secret location

ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said on Saturday it had elected Barrister Gohar Ali Khan as new chairman after he was nominated for the post by the ex-premier who has been in prison since August on charges ranging from corrupt practices to leaking state secrets.
The intra-party polls, which have been described as controversial by PTI critics, were held after Pakistan’s election commission ordered Khan’s party to hold them within 20 days to retain cricket bat as its election symbol.
This led to political quandary for PTI officials since some of its members pointed out it would not be possible for Khan, the founding leader and chairman of the party, to run for the post after being disqualified to hold public office in a case involving the illegal sale of state gifts during his tenure in power.
“Intra-party elections conducted,” the PTI said in a brief statement while announcing results.
It informed that Barrister Gohar had been elected unopposed while Omer Ayub Khan had won the contest for the party secretary-general.
The results also named the provincial PTI presidents, saying Dr. Yasmin Rashid would lead the party in Punjab, Ali Amin Gandapur in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Munir Ahmed Baloch in Balochistan and Haleem Adil Sheikh in Sindh.
“I will fulfil chairman’s responsibilities as Khan’s successor and representative,” Barrister Gohar said after the announcement of results. “There are 170 political parties in the country who have been presenting [internal] election results to the Election Commission of Pakistan since 1960. However, their intra-party polls have not be scrutinized like ours have.”
The new PTI chairman said the Pakistani people were watching these developments, hoping it would ultimately lead to an end to political “persecution.”
“This position is with me as a sacred trust until Khan is back,” he added.
One of the founding PTI members, who later fell apart from the ex-PM and other party leaders, however, dismissed the polls even before they were organized.
Akbar S. Babar described the exercise as “selection, elections,” promising to hold a news conference to share “important facts” about the intra-party polls later today.
PTI’s rival party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), also raised objections to the conduct of elections.
PML-N leader and former federal information minister, Mariyum Aurangzeb, told the media the “selection process” only took 15 minutes.
She maintained the intra-party polls were held at a secret place and lacked voters, voter lists and presiding officers.

Ex-PM Khan’s court-ordered public trial scheduled to begin today in state secrets case

Updated 02 December 2023

Ex-PM Khan’s court-ordered public trial scheduled to begin today in state secrets case

  • Case relates to cipher between Washington and Islamabad Khan says was proof that US orchestrated his ouster as PM
  • Case relates to cipher between Washington and Islamabad Khan says was proof that US orchestrated his ouster as PM

ISLAMABAD: The jail trial of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, with media and members of the public allowed access for the first time, will begin today, Saturday, at Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail in a case in which the ex-premier is accused of leaking state secrets.
A special court established to hear what has popularly come to be called the cipher case had been conducting the trial inside the Adiala prison in Rawalpindi city since Khan was indicted on the charges last month and after the government said he could not be moved to a courtroom for hearings due to security reasons. However, the Islamabad High Court ruled last week that holding Khan’s trial inside jail premises on security concerns was illegal, and ordered it restarted in an open court.
The trial began afresh on Friday, but Khan and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, a close aide who has also been indicted in the case, were not produced before the special court when the hearing began because a law ministry notification sanctioning their trial had not been submitted until well into the hearing.
The proceedings broke for recess and when they resumed, the judge said the law ministry’s notification had arrived and adjourned the hearing till Saturday.
“Another blatant attempt to slow the process when [law ministry] notification could have been issued yesterday,” a PTI media manager told reporters on Friday.
Khan, who is the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, is being held at Adiala jail where he is serving a three-year sentence in a separate case in which he was convicted in August of failing to disclose assets earned from the sale of state gifts while he was PM from 2018-2022.
Khan is also accused in a number of other cases, including the cipher case, which relates to an alleged diplomatic correspondence between Washington and Islamabad that Khan says was proof that his ouster as PM in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in April 2022 was part of a US conspiracy to remove him. Washington has repeatedly denied Khan’s accusations.
Khan, arguably the most popular politician in the country, has not been seen in public since he was arrested in August. Prior to that, he regularly addressed his millions of followers via social media and held massive public rallies and protest marches.
Khan had also been appearing in courts prior to his August arrest protected by his personal security guards. But he has also sought exemptions from personal appearances, often citing threats to his safety.
The former premier says all cases against him are “politically motivated” and aimed at keeping him and his party out of politics ahead of general elections, due in February.