Pakistan weekly inflation rises to 42.6 percent year on year 

This picture taken on January 30, 2023 shows residents buying vegetable at a market in Pakistan's port city of Karachi. (AFP/File)
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Updated 09 December 2023
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Pakistan weekly inflation rises to 42.6 percent year on year 

  • The weekly inflation is computed to assess price movement of essential commodities at a shorter interval 
  • The sensitive price indicator comprises 51 essential items collected from 50 markets in cities across country 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's weekly inflation increased to 42.68 percent on a year-on year basis in the week ending on Dec. 7, the country's statistics bureau reported on Friday. 

The weekly inflation, or the sensitive price indicator (SPI), is computed to assess the price movement of essential commodities at a shorter interval of time so as to review the price situation in the country.  

The SPI comprises 51 essential items collected from 50 markets in 17 cities of the country.  

"During the week, out of 51 items, prices of 15 (29.41%) items increased, 14 (27.45%) items decreased and 22 (43.14%) items remained stable," the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics said in its summary. 

"The year-on-year trend depicts increase of 42.68%." 

The SPI for the current week increased by 1.16 percent, according to the PBS.  

A major increase was observed in prices of onions (8.42%), eggs (2.52%), electricity charges for Q1 (2.03%), pulse moong (0.88%), sugar (0.84%), bananas (0.67%), firewood (0.55%), LPG (0.42%), tea prepared (0.37%), pulse masoor (0.10%), mustard oil (0.09%) and curd (0.02%).  

The commodities whose prices decreased included tomatoes (9.82%), potatoes (4.34%), chicken (2.99%), tea Lipton (2.58%), diesel (2.31%), rice basmati broken (2.00%), vegetable ghee 2.5 KG (0.43%), cooking oil 5 liter (0.38%), wheat flour (0.35%), pulse gram (0.27%) and vegetable ghee 1 KG (0.16%).   


X platform disrupted in Pakistan for full week after disputed election

Updated 24 February 2024
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X platform disrupted in Pakistan for full week after disputed election

  • NetBlocks calls Pakistan’s use of network shutdowns and restrictions to overtly target political parties unprecedented
  • Internet monitors say the situation is restricting citizens’ ability to engage in online discourse, express dissenting opinions

ISLAMABAD: Nationwide disruption to social media platform X passed the one-week mark in Pakistan on Saturday, with digital rights monitors warning outages were quashing dissent after an election marred by rigging claims.
The platform, formerly known as Twitter, was downed last Saturday after a senior government official made a public admission of vote manipulation in the February 8 poll.
Over the past week, it has been operational only intermittently, with access varying depending on the Internet service provider.
“Pakistan’s directed use of network shutdowns and restrictions to overtly target political parties and the reporting of election irregularities is unprecedented,” Alp Toker of the NetBlocks web watchdog told AFP.
AFP staff reported that X remained disrupted in the capital Islamabad as well as the megacities of Lahore and Karachi on Saturday.
Pakistan’s telecommunication authority declined to comment while the interior ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party called for nationwide protests after the admission of vote-rigging last week.
“Protesting political parties have actively been using X for freedom of expression, access to information, to assemble online and for other associated rights,” said web monitor Bytes for All.
The disruption “restricts citizens’ ability to engage in online discourse, share information, and express dissenting opinions,” the organization wrote in a report published Friday.
In the months leading to the polling day, PTI suffered a crackdown restricting canvassing and forcing candidates to run as independents.
Its campaign moved mostly online where social media events were censored by numerous nationwide blackouts of X as well as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube.
Outages were blamed on “technical difficulties” by the government.
Despite the restrictions, PTI-backed candidates gained more seats than any other party. But it has been unwilling to ally with rivals, paving the way for the military-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to form a government.
Mobile Internet services were cut across the country on the election day, with the interior ministry citing security reasons.
The blackout, coupled with a long delay in issuing voting results, gave rise to allegations of rigging.


Karachi Kings clinch thrilling victory over Lahore Qalandars in PSL nail-biter

Updated 24 February 2024
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Karachi Kings clinch thrilling victory over Lahore Qalandars in PSL nail-biter

  • Qalandars gave 176-run target to the Kings, but it seemed slightly low for a batting track
  • Karachi struggled against Lahore’s pace attack, yet they reached the target in the last over

ISLAMABAD: The storied rivalry between Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars culminated in an electrifying Pakistan Super League (PSL) showdown at Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore, with the former’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss playing a crucial role in their two-wicket victory in the match.
The Qalandars faced an early setback when opener Fakhar Zaman was caught by Shan Masood with the team’s total at just 9. However, Sahibzada Farhan rose to the occasion with an unbeaten 72-run knock off 45 deliveries, including four 6s and four 4s.
Despite consistently losing wickets, Lahore managed to post 175/6 by the end of the first 20 overs. Contributions came from Rassie van der Dussen (26), Shai Hope (21) and George Linde (26), but the 176-run target seemed slightly low for the batting track.
Lahore’s pacers, however, put up a strong defense of the total, with all seasoned bowlers taking at least one wicket.
Zaman Khan stood out, dismissing two batters and finishing his four overs with an economy rate of 6.25.
The Kings faced challenges from Qalandar’s bowling but ultimately reached the 176-run target, clinching the match by two wickets.
Kieron Pollard was the standout batter for the Kings, scoring 58 runs off 33 balls.
“Pulled out a thriller,” Karachi exclaimed in a post on platform X. “Another win in the bag.”


Punjab Assembly elects speaker from majority party amid opposition clamor

Updated 24 February 2024
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Punjab Assembly elects speaker from majority party amid opposition clamor

  • PML-N’s Malik Ahmed Khan secures 224 votes while his PTI-backed opponent gets 96 in 371-member house
  • The assembly is the largest elected house in the country and is scheduled to elect new chief minister on Sunday

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Punjab provincial assembly on Saturday elected Malik Ahmed Khan as speaker to run the legislature for the next five years with a thumping majority amid ruckus and sloganeering by the opposition.
Khan is a member of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party that secured the majority in the general elections in the country’s most populous province. The Punjab Assembly became the first house a day earlier to convene its opening session, out of five assemblies that went to the polls on Feb. 8.
The PML-N nominated Khan as its candidate for the speaker to contest against the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) candidate Malik Ahmad Khan Bhachar in the 371-member house. The Punjab Assembly is the largest elected house in the country comprising 297 general seats and 74 reserved seats.
“Malik Ahmed Khan has secured 224 votes and elected to the position of the speaker,” Sibtain Khan, the custodian of the outgoing assembly, announced after the vote count.
Bhachar, the candidate backed by former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, bagged 96 votes while two votes were rejected out of a total of 322. The PTI-backed winners had joined the SIC to claim their share of the reserved seats in the assembly, but the issue is pending before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which is yet to make a decision.
The process for the election of the deputy speaker in the house is currently underway. The election of the speaker and deputy speaker is held through secret ballot in the house.
The Punjab Assembly is scheduled to elect its chief minister tomorrow, Sunday, wherein the PML-N nominee, Maryam Nawaz, will contest against the SIC candidate, Mian Aslam Iqbal, who is yet to take oath as the assembly member. Iqbal is wanted by the Punjab police in multiple cases. He recently secured bail from the Peshawar High Court to take care of legal matters in Punjab.
“Tomorrow an election is going to be held and our nominated leader of the house could not come to the house to take the oath,” SIC legislator Bhachar said while speaking on the floor of the house and urging the speaker to let Iqbal take oath as member of the assembly.
“It will be your first good gesture for us,” he urged the newly elected speaker.
The speaker assured Bachar he would take a decision on the matter as per law.
“Don’t you worry about it,” he said. “I will ensure it as per law and traditions of the parliament.”
Earlier, the assembly session began with a delay of more than an hour and a half. The SIC members chanted slogans against the rival PML-N legislators who responded in kind.
The SIC lawmaker Rana Aftab termed the Punjab Assembly “incomplete” and vowed to challenge any move made by the house in the court.
He noted that 27 reserved seats for women and minorities were yet to be decided by the election commission.
The outgoing speaker Sibtain Khan said it was not his mandate to direct the election regulator to notify members on the reserved seats and suggested the aggrieved party to move courts if they were not given their share.
A heavy police contingent along with prison vans was also present outside the assembly to ensure the maintenance of law and order during the session.
 


Gulf Oil forges ‘breakthrough’ local partnership to enter Pakistan’s oil market

Updated 24 February 2024
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Gulf Oil forges ‘breakthrough’ local partnership to enter Pakistan’s oil market

  • The partnership with OTO Pakistan will provide the global lubricants giant access to some eight million vehicles
  • The deal is also expected to attract other global petrochemical conglomerates to tap into the local market

KARACHI: A global lubricants giant, Gulf Oil, has entered the local market through a partnership agreement with OTO Pakistan, which the latter described as a “breakthrough development” for the country’s oil market in a Saturday statement.
Gulf Oil was established in the United States in 1901 and supplies lubricants to 1,400 ports around the world.
Tariq Mehmood, the CEO of OTO Pakistan, signed the deal with Mike Jones, his counterpart at Gulf Oil in the United Kingdom, hoping it would attract the interest of global petrochemical companies into the Pakistani oil market as a safe trade, investment and joint ventures destination.
“Tariq Mehmood explained that Pakistan is a huge market for lubricants and retail fuels, with a population of 245 million and at least 8 million vehicles,” the statement said.
Mehmood noted Gulf Oil was a huge company with presence in 100 countries across the globe, adding its decision to enter into business with Pakistan would set an example for other global petrochemical conglomerates to tap into the local market.
He maintained the availability of Gulf Oil products would not only raise the standards of Pakistani lubricants market but also promote healthy competition among existing and potential players in the business.
The CEO of OTO Pakistan said his country had the potential to become the region’s transshipment due to the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, hoping the demand for lubricants would significantly increase within a span of few years.


Opposition parties in Sindh announce ‘black day’ following clashes during provincial lawmakers’ oath ceremony

Updated 24 February 2024
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Opposition parties in Sindh announce ‘black day’ following clashes during provincial lawmakers’ oath ceremony

  • Political workers of different parties staged hours-long blockade of a central thoroughfare despite tear gas shelling
  • Jamaat-e-Islami, Grand Democratic Alliance and Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam raised rigging allegations after Feb. 8 polls

KARACHI: Several Pakistani parties on Saturday announced they would observe February 27 as “black day” in response to Sindh police firing tear gas at political workers protesting suspected rigging in the general elections earlier this month, as the newly elected lawmakers joined the inaugural session of the provincial legislature.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) bagged the highest 84 seats in the southern Sindh province, followed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) which secured 28 seats, while 14 seats went to independents. The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) religious party and the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) won two seats each.
Supporters of the JI, GDA, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), and other nationalist parties gathered near the provincial assembly in Karachi’s South zone to protest the alleged manipulation of the Feb. 8 election, which was marred by a mobile network outage and delays in the release of constituency results.
Hundreds of police personnel were deployed to prevent opposition supporters from advancing toward the Sindh Assembly building. The GDA and JUI-F were en route to the Karachi Press Club when clashes broke out between their workers and the police, resulting in stone-pelting and tear gas shelling.
“I strongly condemn the police shelling over the JUI-F workers,” Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rehman, the JI chief, said at a joint protest with the GDA. “We will observe February 27 as black day against election rigging and police torture on political workers.”
Rashid Soomro, a JUI-F leader, also confirmed development.
“Our peaceful workers were beaten and subjected to shelling as we attempted to reach the press club,” he said.
Political workers belonging to the protesting parties also blocked a main thoroughfare, Shahrah-e-Faisal, for several hours during the day.
Earlier, the outgoing speaker of the Sindh Assembly, Agha Siraj Durrani, administered oath to the newly elected lawmakers amid heavy security around the building.
“I do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to Pakistan, that as a member of the provincial assembly of Sindh, I will perform my functions honestly, to the best of my ability, faithfully, in accordance with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the law and the rules of the assembly, and always in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and solidarity, well-being and prosperity of Pakistan,” Durrani said as he read out the oath to the lawmakers.
“May Allah Almighty help me and guide me.”
In view of the protest calls, the Sindh caretaker government on Friday imposed a ban under Section 144 on public assembly, gatherings, protests, processions, and demonstrations in Karachi’s South zone, where the provincial legislature is located, for a period of 30 days, according to the provincial home department.
Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers the administration to issue orders in public interest and place a ban on any activity for a specific period of time.
The oath-taking ceremony came a day after the PPP nominated Murad Ali Shah, former Sindh chief minister, for the top provincial office once again, Syed Owais Shah for the role of speaker, and Anthony Naveed for the post of deputy speaker of the Sindh provincial assembly.
“We will not only compete with the governments of other provinces but also with the Center in performance,” Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, a former foreign minister and the PPP chairman, said at a meeting of newly elected party lawmakers in Karachi.
The PPP chairman announced that his party would forge a working relationship with all opposition parties in Sindh and address their legitimate grievances, according to a PPP statement. He urged the newly elected lawmakers to play their role in resolving the people’s problems in their respective constituencies.
“Be my eyes and ears,” Bhutto-Zardari was quoted as saying. “You play the role of a bridge between the people of your constituency and me; you are my ambassador to the people.”