Analysts call Pakistan’s currency, stocks international ‘top performers’ in August

A Pakistani currency dealer counts rupees and US dollars at a currency exchange in Karachi on December 17, 2015. (AFP/File)
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Updated 15 August 2022

Analysts call Pakistan’s currency, stocks international ‘top performers’ in August

  • Stocks surge by 22 percent while rupee appreciated by 11 percent since the beginning of this month
  • The change in market sentiment owes to expected revival of IMF program, financing from other nations

KARACHI: Local traders and analysts on Monday described Pakistan’s currency and stocks as global ‘top performers,’ saying they had recovered much of their value since the beginning of August after months of depressed trading against the backdrop of political and economic uncertainty in the country.

Pakistan’s main stock index rose by 764.25 points to close at 43,621 while the currency appreciated by 0.71 percent to close at Rs 213.98 against the US dollar in the interbank market on Monday.

The stocks and the Pakistani rupee have appreciated by 22 and 11 percent, respectively, during the ongoing month in a consistently bullish spell.

“After months of economic and political uncertainty, the rupee and stock market have emerged as top performers in August so far, beating all other countries,” Muhammad Sohail, chief executive officer of Topline Securities, a Karachi-based brokerage firm, said while referring to Bloomberg data. “The rupee is up 11 percent while KSE100 Index has surged by 22 percent in dollar terms.”

The rupee has appreciated by 11.58 percent, or Rs25.97, against the greenback in the last ten trading sessions that remained bullish.

Prior to that, Pakistan’s national currency lost its value by 17.51 percent since January due to economic concerns related to the revival of the support program of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the political situation that led to the ouster of former prime Minister Imran Khan in April.

The recent appreciation of the rupee is mainly due to the revival of the IMF program after Pakistani authorities and officials of the global lending agency reached a staff-level agreement for the seventh and eighth review of the loan program on July 13.

The agreement has paved the way for the disbursement of $1.2 billion by the IMF at the end of August after the approval of its executive board.

Pakistan is also expected to get some financial assistance from friendly countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is desperately required to bridge the financing gap recently mentioned by senior IMF officials.

These developments have also had a positive impact on the country’s equity market which had a bullish close on Monday, said analysts.

“The bullish market sentiment owes to the strengthening of the national currency along with the IMF’s letter of intent for the revival of the bailout program,” Ahsan Mehanti, chief executive officer of Arif Habib Corporation, said. “Reports of additional financial support from Saudi Arabia after the finance minister hinted at $1 billion UAE investment through Pakistan Stock Exchange [PSX] have also helped the situation.”

He added that other factors that benefitted the market included a positive sentiment in global equities and renewed foreign interest in PSX ahead of the IMF bailout receipt expected this month.

Pakistani analysts expect the rupee to stabilize between Rs200 and Rs210 against the US dollar.

“The Pakistani rupee was undervalued against the greenback which is expected to stabilize at around Rs210 after recent prospects of inflows from the IMF and friendly countries,” Samiullah Tariq, director research at the Pakistan-Kuwait Investment Company, told Arab News.

However, currency dealers said the rupee was likely to find support somewhere around Rs200 after the revival of the IMF program and expected import cuts.

“The rupee was depreciating due to the uncertainties surrounding the IMF program, though the fundamentals were sound and now the national currency is appreciating on mere promises since we have not received the funds so far,” Zafar Sultan Paracha, general secretary of the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP), said.

“The pressure on the Pak rupee will further ease off in the coming days due to the reduction in global commodity prices, including oil and other energy products along with freight cost cuts,” he added.

Fitch Ratings in its latest Economics Dashboard released on Monday said global supply chain disruptions were beginning to unwind as shipping rates were gradually declining while the time taken to deliver goods was also falling quickly.

It added that port congestion had eased and the backlog of orders was getting cleared, raising the prospect of lower core goods inflation ahead.

“The cost of shipping freight has declined by as much as 70 percent on some routes since September 2021 while transporting cargo now takes around 90 days instead of 122 days in April 2022,” the international rating agency said. “Congestion at US ports has dropped significantly, falling by close to 80 percent since last November.”

10 militants killed in operation to clear hideout in southwest Pakistan — army

Updated 29 November 2022

10 militants killed in operation to clear hideout in southwest Pakistan — army

  • The military did not say which group the militants belonged to
  • Balochistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan army said on Tuesday ten militants had been killed and one arrested in an operation to clear a hideout in Hoshab in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province. 

A military statement said security forces conducted a raid on a hideout where “terrorists” linked to attacks targeting security forces and civilians were hiding. 

“As security forces were in process of establishing blocking positions after identification of 12-14 terrorists location, terrorists opened fire onto the security forces,” the army said. 

“During ensuing heavy exchange of fire, 10 terrorists have been killed while 1 terrorist has been apprehended in injured condition; while two terrorists managed to escape — the operation to trace them continues in the area. A heavy cache of arms and ammunition including improvised explosive devices has also been recovered.”

The military did not say which group the militants belonged to.

Balochistan has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by the Balochistan Liberation Army and other small separatist groups demanding independence from the central government in Islamabad.

Although the Pakistan army claims it has quelled the insurgency, violence in the province has persisted.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia top list of countries with highest number of Careem rides

Updated 29 November 2022

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia top list of countries with highest number of Careem rides

  • Ride sharing app celebrates one billion rides across Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan
  • One billionth trip was completed in Qatar by Captain Razak Uppattil from Kerala

KARACHI: The ride sharing platform Careem celebrated one billion ride hailing trips across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, a statement from the company released on Tuesday said, with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt listed as the countries with the highest number of rides.

Careem Captains have driven over nine billion kilometers across more than 80 cities over ten years. Careem’s first ride took place in the UAE in September 2012 and was booked manually before the first line of code was written from Pakistan a few months later.

Careem expanded in popularity across the region as the first ride-hailing platform to offer cash payments. The percentage of Careem rides paid for digitally has grown from 31 percent in 2016 to 44 percent in 2022.

Careem’s one billionth trip was completed in Qatar by Captain Razak Uppattil from Kerala, India, who has been driving with Careem for four years and has completed over 10,500 trips on the platform. To celebrate this milestone, Careem gifted Uppattil a trip to his hometown in Kerala.

“The countries with the highest number of rides recorded are Pakistan (299 million), Saudi Arabia (242 million), and Egypt (230 million),” Careem said. “The longest single ride covered 1,113 kilometers, from Riyadh to Jazan in Saudi Arabia in 2020. The shortest single ride was a 200 meter trip in Lahore.”

The one billionth passenger was Genera Tesoro, a Careem customer from the Philippines who works as a receptionist at Padel In Aspire Zone in Doha. Genera completed more than 50 trips per month and said she chose Careem because it was a more affordable option.

“Reaching the incredible milestone of 1 billion rides is thanks to the hard work of our Captains and colleagues as well as the trust that our customers have placed in us,” Mudassir Sheikha, CEO & Co-founder of Careem, said.

“We feel blessed to have made it easier for people to move around and to have created earning opportunities for more than 2.5 million people. The opportunity ahead is large and humbling — our region is full of untapped potential and there’s so much more we must do to simplify and improve life for people in the region.”

Captain Uppattil, who completed the one billionth ride, commented:

“I thank God to have completed the 1 billionth trip. I have been at Careem for about four years and have so many favorite moments. It’s the people that I get to meet from all over the world that I really enjoy. I have three children back home in Kerala, India, and I am so excited to see them soon.”

Careem has more than 50 million registered customers, and 2.5 million registered Captains who have collectively earned over $4 billion in earnings to date. The highest number of trips recorded by a Careem Captain is 35,139 trips by a Captain in Jordan. The highest number of rides booked by a Careem customer is over 9,500 rides by a customer in Saudi Arabia.

Careem offers over a dozen services including ride-hailing, food and grocery delivery, micro-mobility, payments, and partner services including home cleaning, car rental, event bookings, and on-demand laundry services.

Anderson excited to be back in Pakistan after 17 years

Updated 29 November 2022

Anderson excited to be back in Pakistan after 17 years

  • Anderson, 40, has worked hard on fitness for years to still be spearheading England bowling attack
  • The fast bowler didn’t play in any of the three tests on that 2005 tour that Pakistan won 2-0

RAWALPINDI: The lone survivor of England’s last test tour of Pakistan 17 years ago is feeling blessed to be back.

James Anderson has worked hard on his fitness for the last five-six years to still be spearheading England’s bowling attack at the age of 40, and prolong a test career that started in 2003 against Zimbabwe at Lord’s.

“I’m very fortunate that I’m naturally quite fit,” he said on Tuesday. “I feel very fortunate that I’m still here, very fortunate to be able to be back in Pakistan after so long.”

The fast bowler didn’t play in any of the three tests on that 2005 tour that Pakistan won 2-0, but he’ll be front and center in the attack without long-time partner Stuart Broad when the latest three-match series starts on Thursday.

“We’ve had an amazing welcome,” Anderson said. “All the guys are really excited to be back here, even the guys that weren’t here 17 years ago understand how big a tour this is in terms of world cricket, not just the two teams that are here.”

Foreign teams avoided touring Pakistan after the 2009 attack on the Sri Lanka team bus and Pakistan hosted England in test series twice in the United Arab Emirates. England is now trying to figure out how the pitch will behave.

Anderson admits he has little idea after two practice sessions at Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi, venue for the first test.

In Rawalpindi over the last three years, Pakistan has beaten Bangladesh and South Africa while drawing tests against Sri Lanka and most recently Australia.

“I’m not a great pitch reader,” Anderson said. “One thing we have noticed is that there’s been a bit of dew around in the morning when we got here for practice . . . might be a little bit of moisture in the wicket early on. Well, I’ll be hoping for that as well.”

Anderson has 667 wickets from a staggering 175 test matches, but if subcontinent pitches play to stereotype then they will challenge the aggressive plans of England captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.

“The challenge is trying to find something in unresponsive pitches,” Anderson said. “You’ve got to try and find ways of taking wickets and the introduction of Ben as captain and Brendon as coach has also helped in terms of thinking outside the box . . . we’ve got to take 20 wickets and so I’ll focus on that for the next few weeks.”

Anderson regarded Pakistan as tough opposition in its own backyard, featuring captain Babar Azam and Azhar Ali in the top order, and the pace of Naseem Shah and uncapped Haris Rauf to challenge the fast-scoring England batters.

“They’ve got all areas covered with pace, and their batting I think is really strong,” Anderson said. “We’ve got to be on top of our game to get anything out of the series. We’ve come here to win . . . we want to make sure we’ve got plans for all of them. We’ve just got to make sure we adapt to the conditions.”

Father suspected of killing wife, three daughters, then attempting suicide in Karachi — police

Updated 29 November 2022

Father suspected of killing wife, three daughters, then attempting suicide in Karachi — police

  • The deaths add to the hundreds of women and girls killed in Pakistan each year
  • Most deaths are by family members angered at perceived damage to their honor

KARACHI: A man suspected of killing his wife and three daughters with a dagger in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi and then attempting suicide with the same weapon was being treated at a local hospital, a senior police official said on Tuesday.

The suspected killer, identified only by his first name Fawad, allegedly killed his family in Karachi’s Shamsi Society. He was a sales manager at a local factory and currently admitted at Jinnah hospital.

“Fawad slaughtered his wife Huma, 30, and daughters Neha, 18, Fatima, 13 and Samra, 9, and then attempted to slit his own neck with the same dragger,” Senior Superintendent of Police Sajid Sadozai told Arab News, saying the suspect’s condition was critical.

Police said they did not as yet have a motive but the deaths add to the hundreds of women and girls killed in Pakistan each year, according to human rights groups, by family members angered at the perceived damage to their honor, which may involve eloping, fraternizing with men or any infringement of conservative values regarding women.

Sadozai said that the suspect’s mother and sister-in-law, who live in the ground portion of the same housing unit, broke the door and entered Fawad’s section.

“It’s impossible for any outsider to enter a house locked from inside with no other entry points available,” he argued, adding that initial investigation showed that Fawad had killed his own family members.

Sadozai said the suspect’s mother said the couple often fought and she also believed he was the killer. 

“It was just a single scream by the suspect’s wife that alerted his sister-in-law, which prompted the family to break the door,” he said.

The suspect has not yet been interrogated by police as he was in critical condition in hospital, Sadozai added.

Pakistani PM promises ‘full cooperation’ to new army chief General Munir

Updated 29 November 2022

Pakistani PM promises ‘full cooperation’ to new army chief General Munir

  • Key challenge facing new army chief will be how to deal with latest threats from Pakistani Taliban
  • Munir also takes over amid a deepening political rift between the government and ex-PM Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday telephoned and congratulated Pakistan’s newly appointed army chief, General Asim Munir, and promised him the government’s “full cooperation” in the areas of defense and security.

Earlier in the day, former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa retired after completing a six-year extended term, passing on the baton to Munir during a ceremony at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

“The prime minister said commanding the excellent force of Pakistan Army was a great honor and expressed confidence that General Asim Munir would further contribute toward strengthening the defense of the country,” state-run APP reported.

Sharif wished the new chief success in dealing with security and counterterrorism challenges and promised him the “full cooperation” of his government in areas relating to Pakistan’s defense and security.

One of the key challenges faced by the country’s new army chief will be how to deal with latest threats from the Pakistani Taliban, known as TTP, which on Monday called off a cease-fire with the government and ordered its fighters to resume attacks across the country.

Munir also takes over amid a deepening political rift between the government and the popular opposition leader, Imran Khan, who has been holding rallies across the country since April when he was ousted from the PM’s office through a parliamentary vote of no-confidence.

Khan has blamed his ouster on a conspiracy by the United States, the country’s military and his political opponents. American and Pakistani officials deny the accusations but they have resonated in recent months with young, social-media-savvy Pakistanis and the older generation alike, who have come out in fierce criticism of what they deem entrenched corruption and the ever-present even if the invisible hand of the army in the country’s political system.

Munir, who has held some of the top positions in the military in a career spanning over three decades, has been described as a “clear-headed” general by the media.

He grew up in the garrison city of Rawalpindi and is the son of a school principal. He received a prestigious award for officers known as the ‘sword of honor’ at the military academy.

Munir previously served as chief of Pakistan’s Military Intelligence in 2017 and the Inter-Services Intelligence in 2018. He was abruptly removed as ISI chief after just eight months on what is widely believed to be the request of then-prime minister Khan. No reason was given for his removal.

Before becoming army chief, Munir served as the army’s quartermaster general.

Domestically, his appointment could impact Pakistan’s fragile democracy at a time of street protests and amid widespread calls for early elections. He will also most certainly lead the path of Pakistan’s ties with neighbors India and Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and choreograph the delicate dance of Islamabad’s relationship with Beijing and Washington.