Pakistan PM expresses sorrow over loss of hundreds of lives in India train crash
Pakistan PM expresses sorrow over loss of hundreds of lives in India train crash /node/2315086/pakistan
Pakistan PM expresses sorrow over loss of hundreds of lives in India train crash
Rescue workers stand near a damaged carriage at the accident site of a three-train collision near Balasore, about 200 km (125 miles) from the state capital Bhubaneswar in the eastern state of Odisha, on June 3, 2023. (AFP)
Pakistan PM expresses sorrow over loss of hundreds of lives in India train crash
A deadly train crash in the Indian state of Odisha has so far killed nearly 300 people, injured 900 others
Rescuers were cutting through destroyed carriages on Saturday to find people who may still be trapped
Updated 03 June 2023
ARAB NEWS PAKISTAN
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday expressed grief over the loss of nearly 300 lives in one of the deadliest train crashes in India, as rescue workers searched through piles of debris and wreckage for bodies and survivors in the Indian state of Odisha.
Nearly a dozen coaches of one train derailed late Friday and debris from some of them fell onto a nearby track, according to railroad ministry spokesperson Amitabh Sharma. The debris was hit by another passenger train, causing up to three coaches of the second train to derail as well.
More than 288 dead bodies were recovered overnight and around 900 people were injured in the accident in Balasore district, while rescuers were cutting through the destroyed carriages to find people who may still be trapped under the debris.
In his reaction to the tragedy, Pakistan PM Sharif extended his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and said he was praying for recover of the wounded.
“Deeply saddened by the loss of hundreds of lives in a train accident in India,” the Pakistan premier said on Twitter. “I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. Prayers for speedy recovery of the injured.”
Deeply saddened by the loss of hundreds of lives in a train accident in India. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. Prayers for speedy recovery of the injured.
Train accidents have not been uncommon in India and Pakistan, where a majority of railway tracks date back to the pre-partition British colonial era and there has been little improvement in the department since their independence in 1947.
A speeding train ran over revellers watching fireworks during a Hindu festival in northern India on October 19, 2018, killing at least 60 people.
In 2016, at least 146 people died when an Indore-Patna Express train with around 2,000 people on board derailed in Uttar Pradesh, sending carriages crashing into each other.
In June 2021, more than 60 people died when a train hurtling through farmland derailed and collided with another passenger service in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province.
KARACHI: Pakistan’s interim commerce minister Dr. Gohar Ejaz announced his decision on Friday to invite 100 top global brands to attend a conference with the aim of increasing exports from the country to $100 billion within the next five years.
Addressing the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the minister did not divulge when he was planning to hold the conference. However, he assured everyone it would take place within the tenure of the caretaker government.
“We are going to hold the conference within 90 days and approach the top 100 brands and request them to come to Pakistan as our state guest,” he said.
Ejaz said the government would provide these companies space to set up their offices free of cost and declare the area an “export zone” with complete protocol. He noted the country had more remittance inflows than export revenue, which was only limited to about $27 billion.
The minister said the government’s decision to launch a crackdown against the smugglers of dollars had led to the appreciation of the Pakistani rupee.
“The rupee that was trading at around Rs350 has come down to Rs290,” he said, adding that the real effective rate should be Rs260 and, according to inflation figures, it should be somewhere around Rs200.
Ejaz said the government had also decided to act against gas thieves since that raised the production costs of many industries.
“UFG [Unaccounted for Gas] is much higher than the benchmark,” he added. “Therefore, the cabinet has granted approval in principle for action against gas thieves, and a grand operation against them will be conducted by next week.”
The minister said the government imposed some import restrictions in the past to reduce pressure on the external account, but it had proved counterproductive.
“By imposing restrictions, imports were curtailed but smuggling from Afghanistan and Iran surged by $5 billion,” he informed.
The minister said it was not possible to offer subsidies to local industries, though an alternative proposal to provide them cheaper electricity was under consideration that would allow industrialists in Sindh and Punjab provinces to purchase power directly from producers at regionally competitive rates.
Responding to a question about the closure of markets earlier than usual, he said the deadline for that had been extended. The government had asked stakeholders to submit proposals along with hourly sales trends to make an informed decision on the matter.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s central bank launched a new ‘Diamond’ category in its remittance program for overseas Pakistanis on Friday, promising additional benefits to category holders such as preferential treatment at embassies and airports, and gratis passports.
The Sohni Dharti Remittance Program (SDRP) is a point-based loyalty scheme for remitters who work abroad and send money to their relatives in Pakistan through banking channels or exchange companies.
Remitters earn reward points based on a certain percentage of every remittance they send. The SDRP program already has three categories: Green (annual remittances of up to $10,000), Gold (annual remittances from $10,001 to $30,000) and Platinum (annual remittances of more than $30,000). The statement did not specify the amount for the Diamond category.
“Effective from September 22, 2023, a new ‘Diamond’ category has been added in the Sohni Dharti Remittance Program (SDRP),” the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said in a statement.
Remitters can track their remittances and reward points through the SDRP app on their smartphones.
The SBP recalled former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s statement in which he said the Diamond category would include enhanced reward points and benefits such as arms license of non-prohibited bore, preferential treatment at Pakistan embassies/airports, and gratis passports.
It said reward points can be redeemed by the remitter and their beneficiary by availing free of cost products and services such as the payment of the Emigrant Registration fee, payment of duty for imported mobile sets and vehicles to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), and the payment of renewal fee for passports.
“Moreover, benefits on redeeming reward points can also be availed on International air tickets and extra luggage charges by Pakistan International Airlines; life insurance/takaful premium payment at State Life Insurance Corporation; and purchases made at Utility Stores Corporation of Pakistan,” the SBP added.
Pakistan relies heavily on remittances to keep its cash-starved economy afloat. According to official data by the SBP, the South Asian country received $27 billion in remittances during the outgoing fiscal year, FY23.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE remained the top contributors of money sent home by Pakistani workers during FY23.
ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Friday called for action against militant attacks from neighboring Afghanistan, endorsed Saudi Arabia and Iran’s diplomatic rapprochement, and advocated a two-state solution as the path to enduring peace in Palestine.
Kakar achieved a historic milestone as the first caretaker prime minister of his country to address the annual United Nations General Assembly session in New York, where he tackled various global issues, spanning from extremist violence and relations with India to the escalating challenges of climate change and Islamophobia.
“Pakistan’s first priority is to prevent and counter all terrorism from and within Afghanistan,” he told representatives of United Nations member states. “Pakistan condemns the cross-border attacks … by the TTP [Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan], Daesh and other groups operating from Afghanistan.”
The prime minister’s statement comes against the backdrop of a dramatic spike in militant attacks in Pakistan, mainly in border regions abutting Afghanistan since the return of Afghan Taliban to power in Kabul in August 2021.
The first half of this year saw about 80 percent increase in attacks compared to the last year, according to statistics compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies.
“We have sought Kabul’s support and cooperation to prevent these attacks,” the prime minister continued. “We are also taking necessary measures to end this externally encouraged terrorism.”
Kakar reiterated his country’s position that peace in Afghanistan was a “strategic imperative” for Pakistan while sharing concerns of the international community with respect to Afghanistan, particularly those related to the rights of women and girls.
“We advocate continued humanitarian assistance for destitute Afghan population in which Afghan girls and women are the most vulnerable as well as the revival of Afghan economy and implementation of the connectivity projects with Central Asia,” he said.
Speaking about Pakistan’s relations with its nuclear-armed neighbor, the prime minister said his country desired “peaceful and productive” relations with all neighbors including India.
“Global powers should convince New Delhi to accept Pakistan’s offer of mutual restraint on strategic and conventional weapons,” he said, adding that Kashmir provided the key to peace between the two neighboring states.
Pakistan and India both rule parts of the disputed Himalayan region while claiming it in full. They have fought two wars over the mountainous territory and their forces regularly trade fire across a 740-kilometer (466 mile) Line of Control, which is the de facto border separating the two parts of Kashmir.
“We must counter all terrorists without discrimination including the rising threat posed by far-right extremist and fascist groups such as Hindutva inspired extremists threatening genocide against Indian Muslims and Christians alike,” he maintained.
“We also need to oppose state terrorism, address the root cause of terrorism such as poverty, injustice and foreign occupation, and distinguish genuine freedom struggles from terrorism,” he added.
The prime minister also proposed the creation of a committee of the general assembly to oversee the balanced implementation of all “four pillars of the global counter terrorism strategy.”
He also applauded the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran while commenting on the overall strategic situation in the Middle East.
“Pakistan welcomes the progress made toward ending the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, in particular we warmly welcome the normalization of relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.
Focusing on the Palestine issue, he mentioned continued “Israeli military raids, air strikes, expansion of settlements and eviction of Palestinians.”
“Durable peace can be established only through a two-state solution and establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state within the pre-June 1967 borders with Al-Quds as its capital,” he said.
Kakar also mentioned the “age-old phenomenon” of Islamophobia, saying it had acquired endemic proportion in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States and was manifested in the negative profiling of Muslims and public burnings of the Holy Qur’an.
“The narratives advocating a clash of civilizations have done considerable harm to humanity’s progress,” he noted. “Such ideas have bred extremism, hatred and religious intolerance, including Islamophobia.”
The prime minister welcomed the legislation initiated by Denmark and contemplated by Sweden to ban the desecration of the Islamic scripture.
“Pakistan and the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation] countries will propose further steps to combat Islamophobia, including the appointment of a special envoy, creation of an Islamophobia data center, legal assistance to victims and an accountability process to punish Islamophobic crimes,” he continued.
Discussing the climate change issue, Kakar said Pakistan looked forward to fulfilling the climate commitments made at COP28 by developed countries to provide over $100 billion in annual climate finance, allocate at least half of it for adaptation in developing countries, operationalize the loss and damage fund, and reduce global carbon emission.
“Pakistan’s triple food finance fuel challenge is a prime illustration of the impact of COVID conflict and climate on developing countries,” he said, adding Pakistan was one of the worst affected countries from the adverse impacts of climate change.
Kakar said the last year’s flood in Pakistan submerged one-third of the country, killed 1,700 people, displaced over eight million people, destroyed vital infrastructure and caused over $30 billion damage to the economy.
“We are gratified by the commitment of over $10.5 billion for Pakistan’s comprehensive plan for recovery, rehabilitation, reconstruction with resilience,” he said.
“Specific projects are being submitted to ensure timely funding … I hope our development partners will accord priority to the allocation of funds for our recovery plan which costs $13 billion,” he added.
Pakistani authorities arrest journalist for allegedly spreading false news about state institutions
Khalid Jamil was arrested by the FIA and an Islamabad court allowed it to hold him for questioning for two days
The arrest has drawn condemnation from the journalist community in a country that is viewed as unsafe for reporters
Updated 22 September 2023
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani security agents have arrested a senior Islamabad-based TV anchor known for his criticism of the authorities on charges of spreading false content about state institutions on social media, his news channel and family said Friday.
Khalid Jamil was taken into custody by the Federal Investigation Agency late on Thursday, his ABN television posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Jamil’s family confirmed the arrest, saying he was detained in a late-night raid at his home in the capital, Islamabad. A photograph of Jamil circulating on social media shows him holding up a sign with his case number, apparently in police custody.
Later Friday, an Islamabad court gave the green light for the agency to hold Jamil for questioning for two days.
The arrest has drawn condemnation from the country’s journalist community. Pakistan has long been an unsafe country for reporters. In 2020, it ranked ninth on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual Global Impunity Index, which assesses countries where journalists are regularly harassed and killed and the assailants usually go free.
In recent years, activists and journalists have increasingly come under attack by the government and the security establishment, restricting the space for criticism and dissent. The criticism of the military can result in threats, intimidation, sedition charges and in some cases, being arrested with no warning.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s interim finance minister Dr. Shamshad Akhtar inaugurated a centralized gateway portal (CGP) on Friday, saying it would help develop debt market in the country by listing government securities to promote retail participation, transparency, savings channelization, and overall market growth.
Debt or bond markets constitute financial arenas in which people buy and sell various types of debt securities representing loans made by investors to entities such as governments, corporations, or other organizations.
These securities are typically issued with the promise of periodic interest payments to bondholders and the repayment of the principal amount at maturity.
According to a statement released by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the CGP is a novel financial initiative to facilitate simultaneous onboarding of investors and customers across the securities market, the nonbank financial companies’ sector, and the insurance industry.
The platform features standardized, one-time know-your-customer requirements across diverse asset classes.
“Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, the Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue, said that the securities market can play a vital role in the development of debt market through the listing of government debt securities on PSX [Pakistan Stock Exchange],” said the SECP statement.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony, Akhtar said the issuance of securities through public auctions at PSX would facilitate greater transparency.
“One of the key issues undermining the growth of capital markets is the lack of liquidity which is directly attributable to the small number of investors,” she was quoted as saying.
The minister said the CGP would provide immense opportunities to investors and great convenience to market intermediaries by removing duplications and streamlining the customer onboarding process.
However, she noted the successful CGP launch should not be deemed the end of the project.
“Having developed this promising digital platform, we are now faced with the critical part of realizing the potential it offers,” she continued. “This requires focused marketing efforts and promotion on the part of the PSX and other stakeholders like brokers, insurance companies, and AMCs [asset management companies].”
The minister pointed out that attracting new investors in the capital market should be one of the primary objectives, adding it would require coordinated efforts from all capital market infrastructure institutions, market intermediaries and brokerage houses under the SECP guidance.