DUBAI: When Raja Wajahat was about to cut his birthday cake in Dubai, a relative called him to share the news that changed his life: a 1 million dirham ($272,000) win in a UAE lucky draw.
A former account manager at a logistics company in Dubai, Wajahat lost his job two months earlier and was desperately looking for work until the Aug. 28 win in the weekly Mahzooz lottery.
“I was partying with my friends, and I kept disconnecting a call I had been receiving from a relative but when he didn’t stop calling, I answered and he said five out of the six numbers of a ticket we had bought together had matched,” the 31-year-old told Arab News on Saturday.
With the five lucky numbers, Mahzooz announced him the 14th millionaire of its 40th weekly draw, in which he has been participating for the past two years.
“I participate in Mahzooz every week and never miss the live draw,” Wajahat said. “I got goosebumps when I saw the winning numbers on the screen,” Wajahat said. “I cross checked them with my numbers, but I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
This was his first ever lotto win.
“You never know when fortune is going to smile at you,” Wajahat said, as he has already received the money and spilt it with the relative with whom he had bought the ticket
He said he is planning to build a house in Islamabad and open a supermarket in his hometown Bagh in Azad Kashmir.
“Much of them money will go there,” he said, adding that the remaining amount will help him set up a restaurant in Dubai, where he has been living for the past seven years.
“I was anxious about my future and desperately searching for a job,” he said. “But look at me now. I turned into a fortunate man in a matter of minutes.”
Pakistan eye easier ride on World Cup rollercoaster
The green shirts will tackle outsiders Netherlands in their opening match of the World Cup on Friday
Babar Azam says the first tournament match is always important and the team wanted a winning start
Updated 5 sec ago
HYDERABAD: Pakistan tackle outsiders Netherlands in their opening match of the World Cup on Friday desperate to avoid a repeat of the disastrous start of four years ago which undermined their campaign.
In 2019, Pakistan lost to the West Indies first up in Nottingham.
Shot out for a paltry 105 in 21.4 overs, Pakistan went down by seven wickets. They eventually missed out on a semifinal spot on net run-rate.
Four years on and Pakistan are already riding a familiar tournament rollercoaster.
They crashed out of last month’s Asia Cup after a big defeat against arch-rivals India before being ousted by Sri Lanka in the Super Four stage.
They also lost both their recent World Cup warm-ups against New Zealand and Australia.
Despite the sketchy form, captain Babar Azam insists his team are ready for the World Cup in a country which only two of the squad have ever visited.
Pakistan last played in India in 2016 at the Twenty20 World Cup.
“We had good practice in the last week since our arrival and two useful workouts in the warm-up games,” said Azam.
The captain is the top-ranked batsman in ODI cricket and reinforced his credentials with knocks of 80 and 90 in the two warm-ups, returning to form after a dismal Asia Cup.
“The first match of a tournament is always very important so we are definitely looking forward to a winning start,” he said.
Babar insisted 1992 champions Pakistan will not underestimate the Dutch, a team they have defeated six times in six meetings.
The Netherlands, ranked 14 in the world, had to come through the qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe earlier this year and made it to the World Cup alongside Sri Lanka.
“I want to congratulate the Netherlands for playing in this World Cup. They played some good cricket in the qualifiers and that is why they are here,” added Babar.
“There is no room for complacency and we will be on the ball from the first match.”
Pakistan will hope their spin trio of Shadab Khan, Usama Mir and Mohammad Nawaz, backed by part-timers Iftikhar Ahmed and Agha Salman, expose opponents’ weaknesses against slow bowling at the tournament.
Although they are without the injured Naseem Shah, spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf will pose a formidable new ball threat.
The Netherlands have only ever won two matches at the World Cup since their maiden appearance in 1996.
Spinners Colin Ackermann and Roelof van der Merwe, and pacer Paul van Meekeren are back after missing the qualifiers.
Wesley Barresi, the only surviving member of the 2011 World Cup on the sub-continent, lends experience to the batting which also boasts prime run-getters Max O’Dowd, Vikramjit Singh, Teja Nidamanuru and skipper Scott Edwards.
But their hopes will rest largely on all-rounders Bas de Leede and Logan van Beek, key performers at the qualifiers.
De Leede scored 285 runs and picked up 15 wickets in Zimbabwe while Van Beek smashed 30 runs and took two wickets in the knife-edge Super Over win against the West Indies.
“The opportunity to play in a World Cup is something that a lot of these guys have dreamt of,” said Tonga-born Edwards.
Despite their status as rank outsiders, the Dutch do not lack confidence.
“We hold high hopes going into this World Cup that we can put in a couple of really big performances and those can result in wins,” coach Ryan Cook told AFP.
“We’ll be putting everything that we can in to getting five or six wins to take us into the semifinals.”
GILGIT: A group of young programmers developed an online consumer app three years ago to serve the local community members in Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) region, more famous for its stunning landscapes than technological prowess.
Yet, the app garnered surprising attention and business from major urban centers across Pakistan after a successful test run in Karachi last year in January, challenging the norm of tech start-ups typically emerging from big cities. Gilgit App, having expanded its reach in recent months, now finds more of its business originating outside its native region than within it.
Originally a part of uConnect Technologies, a local firm offering software solutions since 2016, the app emerged from a pre-marketing strategy on Facebook where it assisted locals in buying and selling vehicles.
Its debut not only shook the local market but also made ripples in cities far removed from GB, a beautiful but resource-limited area not commonly associated with Pakistan’s burgeoning tech sector.
“We started a service on Facebook under the name of Gilgit App where we used to technologically assist people with the buying and selling of bikes and other vehicles,” Ejaz Karim, one of the founders and CEO of Gilgit App, told Arab News in a recent conversation.
He informed the digital service was trending among the top app soon after its launch, adding that it was downloaded between 10,000 and 20,000 times within a brief span of 24 hours.
With an easy-to-use interface, the users of the online tool can buy and sell products, including cars, motorbikes, cellphones, laptops, home appliances, furniture, fashion products, property and pets, to meet their basic consumer needs.
“This app was initially designed and launched for the people of Gilgit,” Karim said. “But then our test run in Karachi got us a positive response. That’s when we released it in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and across Pakistan.”
“It now has more users in other cities compared to Gilgit,” he added.
Asked how his app was different from other mainstream platforms like OLX, he said that most online marketplace programs were “sellers-centric,” adding that his application also provided a comfortable experience to buyers since there were safety features in the app that protected them from fraudsters.
The Gilgit App CEO described frequent power breakdowns in his native region as one of the biggest problems faced by his company.
“This is especially true for the winter season when there is little to no electricity,” he said.
Additionally, he flagged the paucity of technical prowess around him as yet another issue while also mentioning the challenge of Internet connectivity.
“Nowadays, the Internet [issue] has almost resolved after the offices started to get fiber optics,” he said. “But many of our users [in GB] complain about the connectivity at their end. When the app runs slowly, the pace of downloading reduces as well.”
Discussing the expansion plans, Karim said the app was performing quite well, though his company wanted to strengthen itself further in the local market before making a move to the Middle East.
Shazia, who only goes by a single name, told Arab News she was the frontend developer.
“At Gilgit App, as a female, we get a favorable work environment to learn and hone our skills,” she said. “Our team leads deal with us respectfully and provide timely assistance to enhance our programming abilities.”
With the online consumer tool beginning to gain traction in local market, many of its users have started recommending it to others.
“I have been using Gilgit App for a year now, and my experience has been excellent,” Adnan Ali, whose job requires him to buy and sell sophisticated gadgets, told Arab News. “I’ve sold more than 10 products in the last year using this platform. Recently, I even sold a drone worth Rs120k.”
Ali called the app “user-friendly,” saying whenever he encountered an issue, the support team responded promptly and effectively.
“I highly recommend this app to anyone who’s looking to sell their products,” he continued. “I find it very reliable for finding the required items as well.”
Karamat Ali, another user, told Arab News he had been using the app for nearly three years.
“It has many good features to sell products,” he said. “But I would recommend the company to introduce inbox chatting and activate comments under photographs and images.”
ISLAMABAD: A senior official in Kabul on Wednesday criticized Pakistan’s decision to start expelling illegal immigrants, mostly Afghans, from next month amid mounting security concerns, saying that refugees from his country were not responsible for causing militant violence in Pakistani cities.
Pakistan has hosted a significant number of Afghan refugees for several decades, with their influx beginning in 1979 following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and continuing through various conflicts that afflicted the war-ravaged state.
Hundreds of thousands of Afghans also traveled to Pakistan since the US-led international forces left the neighboring country and the Taliban took over Kabul in 2021. While Pakistan hosts some 1.5 million registered refugees, more than a million others are estimated to be residing in the country unregistered.
Pakistan’s interim interior minister said on Tuesday Afghan nationals were involved in 14 out of 24 suicide bombings that took place in Pakistan since the beginning of this year, asking all foreigners residing illegally in the country to leave by the end of the month.
“The behavior of Pakistan against Afghan refugees is unacceptable,” Zabiullah Mujahid, Afghan government’s official spokesman, said in a social media post. “The Pakistani side should reconsider its plan.”
“Afghan refugees are not involved in Pakistan’s security problems,” he continued. “As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, that country should tolerate them.”
The behavior of Pakistan against Afghan refugees is unacceptable. The Pakistani side should reconsider its plan. Afghan refugees are not involved in Pakistan's security problems. As long as they leave Pakistan voluntarily, that country should tolerate them.
Pakistan witnessed a surge in extremist attacks, particularly in its two western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, following the 2021 Taliban return to power in Kabul.
The recent spike in violence also owed to the breakdown of a fragile truce between the government and the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant network, whose leadership is said to be based in Afghanistan, last November.
Pakistan lost over 60 people in two suicide bombings that targeted a mosque and a religious congregation on Friday, prompting the government to ask all illegal immigrants to leave by November 1 or face forced expulsion.
ISLAMABAD: United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a phone call with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, a brief statement issued in Washington announced on Tuesday night.
The US statement did not share details of the conversation between the two officials, though their exchange comes at a time when both countries are trying to rebuild relations that came under strain during the government of former prime minister Imran Khan.
The ex-premier accused the administration in Washington of orchestrating his downfall in a no-trust vote since he was trying to pursue an independent foreign policy. The US official have, however, repeatedly denied the claim.
“Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke by phone today with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Asim Munir,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said in a brief statement. “Secretary Austin and Gen. Munir discussed areas of mutual interest as well as recent regional developments.”
Pakistan army media wing, ISPR, is yet to issue a statement about the phone call.
However, the caretaker administration gave a deadline to all illegal immigrants, mostly Afghan nationals, to leave the country by the end of the month.
The decision was announced after two militant attacks on a mosque and a religious procession left more than 60 people dead in the country’s western provinces bordering Afghanistan.
Officials in Islamabad have frequently blamed the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), whose leadership is said to be based in the neighboring state, for launching such attacks.
The country’s caretaker interior minister Sarfaraz Bugti also blamed Afghan nationals for their involvement in several militant attacks during a media briefing.
“From January till now, there have been 24 suicide bombings [in Pakistan],” he said. “Of those 24, 14 suicide bombings were carried out by Afghan nationals. They were Afghans who attacked us.
PESHAWAR: Pakistan announced on Tuesday to impose a 10 percent processing fee on several items imported from Afghanistan under a transit trade agreement in a step that has been viewed as an attempt to stop illegal entry of goods into the country from the neighboring state.
The government launched an intense crackdown against smugglers and black marketers last month to bolster the country’s weakening economy and bring down the prices of essential items in the market.
The counter smuggling operation prevented the flight of foreign currencies from Pakistan, leading to the stabilization of its value somewhat subsiding the inflationary pressure in the economy.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 18D of the Customs Act, 1969 (IV of 1969), the Federal Government is pleased to impose processing fee at the rate of 10 percent ad valorem on the following Afghan transit Commercial goods imported into Afghanistan in transit via Pakistan,” said a customs department notification while listing down the items.
These included confectionaries and chocolates, footwear, mechanical and electrical machinery, blankets and home textiles, and garments.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported customs officials “suspect that certain goods, though destined for Afghanistan, are clandestinely rerouted back into Pakistan, prompting this latest measure.”
However, the official notification said goods declarations filed prior to the decision on Tuesday would be exempt from the processing fee.
Pakistan has also announced to crack down on illegal immigrants, mostly Afghans, residing in the country, asking them to leave before the end of the month.