In Pakistan’s Balochistan, one woman grows her ice cream business, scoop by creamy scoop

Ice cream business owner Lubna Farooq checks ice cream at her factory in Quetta, Pakistan on August 13, 2021. (AN photo)
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Updated 21 August 2021

In Pakistan’s Balochistan, one woman grows her ice cream business, scoop by creamy scoop

  • Lubna Farooq set up pushcart selling ice cream in 2001, today she owns one of the most successful ice cream businesses in Balochistan
  • Lubna’s ice cream plant employes 25 people, can produce up to 850 liters a day, delivered and sold in Quetta and other provincial towns

QUETTA: When her husband lost his job in 2001 and Lubna Farooq set up a pushcart selling ice cream churned out from an old-fashioned, hand-cranked machine, little did she know she would one day run one of the most successful ice cream businesses in Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

This is no small achievement in the impoverished region, where less than 10 percent women currently own their own businesses, according to the Balochistan Women Business Association.

“We are competing with Quetta’s top ice cream businesses now, and we are financially strong,” Lubna told Arab News in an interview.

Her journey has not been easy.




Farooq Ahmed, the husband of ice cream business owner, Lubna Farooq, seen at the couple's ice cream factory in Quetta, Pakistan, on August 13, 2021. (AN Photo)

Two decades ago, Lubna’s husband, a private contractor with state television and the sole breadwinner of the family, lost his job and the “worst financial crisis” befell the family, the businesswoman said. She had few marketable skills — except making ice cream, which she had learnt as a young girl at her mother’s home. Her husband was supportive and encouraged her to start a home-based business. 

“So, we took the first step and with the help of Allah Almighty, today we have become a brand across Balochistan,” Lubna’s husband Farooq Ahmed said.




Lubna Farooq poses with her laborers at her ice cream factory in Quetta, Pakistan, on August 13, 2021. (AN Photo)

The couple began by selling ice cream on a pushcart parked on a corner of Quetta’s Toghi Road, a busy thoroughfare famous for its food joints. Soon, Lubna’s husband started selling their brand, Haq Ice Cream, at schools and colleges twice a week.

“I still remember that my first income was 70 rupees,” Lubha said, recalling a time when she earned less than a dollar a day. But once the business slowly expanded and became popular around the city, production and revenue have both steadily increased.

There was a time when Lubna said she made one 10-liter container of ice cream a day at home. Today, at her factory on Quetta’s busiest Alamdar Road where she employs 25 people, up to 85 containers a day can be produced per day. The flavours include mango, chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, blue berry, strawberry, guava, pineapple and fig. A 10-liter container ranges in price between Rs2,000 to Rs4,000, depending on the flavour.

Lubna’s son Hasnain Farooq, 32, who runs her stall said on good days — especially in the summer months and if there were orders for special events like weddings — Haq Ice Cream could earn up to Rs25,000 a day from sales. Three days a week, Hasnain said, the company also delivered to other cities in Balochistan.

“We have started taking wedding and party orders which has helped introduce our taste to thousands of people,” he said, adding that he was proud to be supervising a business “my parents struggled to establish over two decades ago.”

Lubna still sells her ice cream at a mobile stall on Quetta’s busy Alamdar Road, preferring not to rent a proper shop it would push up the price of her ice cream, which she is loath to do. But she does plan to expand her business to other cities like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, and hopes she will get government support.




Ice cream flavors ready to be served at business owner Lubna Farooq’s stall in Quetta, Pakistan, on August 13, 2021. (AN Photo)

Sana Durrani, an activist and the chairperson of the Balochistan Women Business Association, said it was “unfortunate” that Balochistan’s women were not encouraged to own financial assets or penetrate business sectors, and that woman like Lubna were a rarity. 

“More than 68 percent women in Balochistan are home-based workers and less than 10 percent have their own businesses ... women have to think a thousand time before launching a business in Balochistan,” Durrani said. 

“But what is more ironic is that the government in the province has failed to introduce new legislation and policies to embolden women seeking assistance in starting their own business.” 




Ice cream business owner Lubna Farooq’s son Hussain Farooq at the family's ice cream stall in Quetta, Pakistan, on August 13, 2021. (AN Photo)

Liaquat Shahwani, a spokesperson for the Balochistan government, disagreed, saying the administration was keen to support businesswomen.

“The current government has been establishing Women Bazaars in four districts of the province, which would be an opportunity for women,” he told Arab News. “Women will be allowed to display their work at these bazaars, and the government has also allocated sufficient funds for women development in the Budget 2021-22 to create more business opportunities.”

Lubna said she wanted to send a message to women across Pakistan “to come out from their home and step into the business sector.”

“There was a time when I had a dozen customers but now, I have thousands due to my hard work and support of my family,” she said. “I hope I can become an inspiration for other women.”


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.