Arab News brings Hajj pilgrimage to the people with painting exhibition in Islamabad

Artist Rabia Zakir walks Federal Minister of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony Noor-Ul-Haq Qadri through her exhibition, "The Spiritual Journey," held at Centaurus Mall in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 12, 2021 (AN Photo)
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Updated 13 July 2021

Arab News brings Hajj pilgrimage to the people with painting exhibition in Islamabad

  • Arab News Pakistan sponsors exhibition entitled “The Spiritual Journey” by Rabia Zakir which captures the journey of performing Hajj
  • Chief guest Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi says exhibition “stirred” people’s emotions, “birthed” anticipation to go for Hajj after pandemic

ISLAMABAD: As the world prepares for yet another year of the annual Hajj restricted only to Saudi citizens and residents in response to the coronavirus pandemic, one Pakistani artist is bringing the pilgrimage to the people through a series of paintings.
An exhibition of the collection, entitled “The Spiritual Journey,” was sponsored by Arab News Pakistan and held in the lobby of the Centaurus Mall in the federal capital. All the paintings are the creations of Rabia Zakir, who in Islamabad’s circles has come to be known as the artist who painted a portrait of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman when he visited Pakistan in February 2019. Zakir is also president of the sports and culture wing of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party.
Zakir has painted portraits of members of royal families across the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Her portraits and landscapes hang in 50 embassies in Pakistan, most prominently of Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman.
The paintings in Zakir’s latest collection capture the journey of performing Hajj from arrival to praying at the Kaaba and traveling among fellow pilgrims. It also includes intricately detailed pieces that show recognizable features of the Kaaba.




Rabia Zakir's paintings from her collection, "The Spiritual Journey," on display in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 12, 2021 (AN Photo)

“I would like to thank Arab News for giving me such a great opportunity to present my paintings of Hajj,” Zakir said at the launch of her exhibition in Islamabad on Monday. “My main focus and point of this exhibition is for people to feel the essence of Hajj. After performing Hajj [in 2018], I painted these images from memory to express my own feelings on the amazing experience.”
Zakir called the exhibition her “best received collection” in the past three years, which she believes is because the theme is Hajj: “It is the most heavily appreciated because of the theme … The theme unifies so many of us.”
The event was inaugurated by chief guest Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, the Pakistani prime minister’s adviser on religious harmony and the Middle East.
Ashrafi told Arab News he was moved by the collection.

“Today, in Islamabad, I can say after this exhibition many people’s emotions have been stirred,” Ashrafi said. “In their hearts, it [exhibition] has birthed an excitement, anticipation, to go again. God willing this pandemic will be over soon and we hope next year Muslims will be able to return to perform Hajj.”




Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, PM's aide on religious harmony and the Middle East addresses the launch ceremony of "The Spiritual Journey" art exhibition at Centaurus Mall in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 12, 2021 (AN Photo)

“Looking at these photos one wishes they could just fly away right now and land in Madina and Makkah,” Noor-Ul-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s Minister of Religious Affairs, told Arab News at the exhibition. “We need to encourage such events in Pakistan ... encourage our emerging talents to take part in such events that encourage our culture, our values and our religion.”
Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan Ahmed Rabei also attended the event.


Pakistan’s religion ministry holds annual conference with focus on ‘promotion of unity’

Updated 18 October 2021

Pakistan’s religion ministry holds annual conference with focus on ‘promotion of unity’

  • Conference is part of celebrations for Mawlid Al-Nabi, the birth day of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
  • The conference has been held annually by Ministry of Religious Affairs since 1976

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s 46th National Rehmatul Lil Aalameen Conference kicked off in the federal capital today, Monday, as part of celebrations for the upcoming Mawlid Al-Nabi, the birth day of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Rabi Al-Awwal is the third month in the Islamic calendar. The month holds special significance for Muslims around the world as they observe the 12th of the month as Mawlid Al-Nabi, the birth day of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Last week, Prime Minister urged the nation to celebrate next week’s birth anniversary in an “unprecedented manner” this year.
“The two-day conference titled ‘Role of Masjid, Madaris, Khanqas and Imambargahs for the promotion of unity and harmony in the light of teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),’ would conclude on Tuesday,” state-run APP news agency said on Monday. “National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser would be the chief guest on the inaugural day of the conference.”
The second day, Tuesday, would have sessions presided over by President Dr Arif Alvi and PM Khan.
The conference has been held as the annual event of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony since 1976.
“The conference aimed at highlighting the soft image of Islam would disseminate the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) and also encourage the [Muslim] authors by giving them awards on outstanding books and research papers written on the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),” APP said.
“People from all walks of life, including Parliamentarians, ambassadors, Ulema, scholars, students of religious seminaries, universities, deans of universities and representatives of chambers of commerce and industry will attend the moot.”


IMF, Pakistan resume talks today for release of $1 billion loan tranche

Updated 44 min 20 sec ago

IMF, Pakistan resume talks today for release of $1 billion loan tranche

  • Finance ministry says negotiations ‘moving forward positively’
  • Denies media reports that talks had concluded last week in ‘failure’

ISLAMABAD: Talks between Pakistani officials and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are “moving forward positively” and will form the basis for the completion of the 6th review of a $6 billion loan program, the Pakistan ministry of finance has said, adding that talks would resume today, Monday.
In 2019, Pakistan reached an accord with the International Monetary Fund for a three-year, $6 billion bailout package aimed at shoring up fragile public finances and strengthening a slowing economy. Pakistani and IMF officials are currently engaged in a fresh round of talks for the release of a $1 billion tranche of the loan.
Five reviews of the program had been completed by March. The sixth is pending since June this year, which, if completed, will enable Pakistan to receive around $1 billion from the fund.
“Fund and Pakistani authorities will resume the talks on Monday [October 18, 2021] from where they were left on Friday,” Muzzamil Aslam, spokesperson for the finance ministry, said in a statement on Sunday. “There is no truth in the news of talks’ failure.”
Negotiations between Pakistan and the IMF are being led by secretary finance division, Yusuf Khan, in Washington, and are “moving forward positively,” the statement said: “No timeframe was set at any stage for conclusion of the talks. The negotiations with the IMF will continue till the successful conclusion.”

Pakistan's Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin (L) arrives in New York ahead of meeting with IMF on October 16, 2021. (Ministry of Finance)

The clarifications from the finance ministry came after local media reported that talks between the fund and Pakistan had concluded on Friday and failed.
Experts said talks may have stalled due to the government’s resistance to the IMF’s demand to increase energy prices even further. A hike of Rs 1.39 per unit was announced last week.
Pakistani Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has been a staunch opponent of power tariff hikes and personal taxes but has showed some flexibility in recent weeks.
“The other stumbling block is the IMF’s insistence to increase the revenue generation target close to Rs 500 billion in addition to the revenue collection target of Rs 5.8 trillion,” Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, joint executive director at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), told Arab News. “This would not be an easy decision to take by the political government under current circumstances.”


Pakistan records lowest daily coronavirus infections since June 

Updated 53 min 47 sec ago

Pakistan records lowest daily coronavirus infections since June 

  • Pakistan has administered total of 93,551,193 doses of COVID vaccines so far
  • That’s enough to have vaccinated about 21.6 percent of the country’s population

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reported 663 new coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, the lowest number of COVID-19 cases recorded in a single day since June, health ministry data showed on Monday.
The South Asian country has reported 1,265,047 infections and 28,280 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began. The government has administered a total of at least 93,551,193 doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs two doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 21.6 percent of the country’s population.
Official data shows 1,913 patient are admitted in critical care across the country.


On Sunday, Pakistan’s pandemic response body rejected as ‘fake’ a video on social media showing children were reacting adversely to vaccines.



In the last week of September, Pakistan announced it would begin to vaccinate children aged 12 or above.

 


Father suspected of killing two daughters, four grandchildren in Pakistan marriage feud

Updated 18 October 2021

Father suspected of killing two daughters, four grandchildren in Pakistan marriage feud

  • Manzoor Hussain hunted by police after allegedly setting fire to home of sisters Fauzia Bibi and Khurshid Mai in Muzaffargargh district
  • Bibi married Mehboob Ahmad against her father's will in a so-called love marriage, Mai's husband also died in blaze

LAHORE: A father in Pakistan is suspected of killing his two daughters and their four children by setting their house ablaze because one of the women married against his wishes, police said.
Manzoor Hussain is being hunted by police after allegedly setting fire to the home that sisters Fauzia Bibi and Khurshid Mai shared in a village in the Muzaffargargh district of central Pakistan, police official Abdul Majeed told Reuters by phone.
Mai’s husband also died in the blaze, Majeed said.
Bibi had married Mehboob Ahmad about 18 months ago against her father’s will in a so-called love marriage, according to the official, as opposed to an arranged marriage.
“The incident is outcome of the rivalry between the two families over the love marriage,” Majeed said.
Hussain, the father being searched for, lives in a nearby village, he added.
Bibi’s husband Ahmad told police he was not at home at the time of the fire and had found the house ablaze when he returned from work early in the morning, according to his statement to officers, which was seen by Reuters.
Ahmad said his four-month-old son had died, along with Mai’s three children aged two, six and 13.
Hundreds of women in Pakistan are killed by relatives every year for marrying without consent, or against their family’s wishes, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.


Pakistan fails to strike agreement with IMF for release of $1 billion loan tranche

Updated 17 October 2021

Pakistan fails to strike agreement with IMF for release of $1 billion loan tranche

  • Pakistan reached an accord with IMF for three-year, $6 billion bailout package in 2019
  • Pakistani and IMF officials are currently engaged in fresh around of staff-level talks in Washington

ISLAMABAD: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistan have failed to strike a staff-level agreement under a $6 billion Extended Fund Facility, or bailout package, Pakistani media reported on Sunday. 
In 2019, Pakistan reached an accord with the International Monetary Fund for a three-year, $6 billion bailout package aimed at shoring up fragile public finances and strengthening a slowing economy.
Pakistani and IMF officials are currently engaged in a fresh round of talks from October 4 to 15 for the release of a $1 billion tranche of the loan.
“The talks failed despite Pakistan having implemented a prior condition of increasing electricity and petroleum products prices,” the Express Tribune newspaper reported. “However, both sides have shown resolve to remain engaged.”
“The IMF team remains engaged with our Pakistani counterparts on moving forward our work agenda and we are looking forward to our continued discussions with the Pakistani authorities on the set of policies and reforms that could form the basis for the completion of the 6th review under the EFF,” Teresa Dabán Sanchez, the outgoing resident representative of the IMF, told The Express Tribune.
This is the second time Pakistan and the IMF could not find “basis for the completion of the 6th review.,” The first attempt was made in June.