Pakistan raises petroleum prices citing ‘increasing trend’ in international market

An employee fills petrol in a motorcycle at a fuel station in Lahore on August 1, 2023. (AFP/File)
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Updated 16 April 2024

Pakistan raises petroleum prices citing ‘increasing trend’ in international market

  • Pakistan has increased the prices of petrol by 4.53 rupees ($0.016) to 293.94 rupees
  • Government also increases price of high speed diesel by 8.14 rupees to 290.38 rupees

KARACHI: Pakistan has increased the price of petrol by 4.53 rupees ($0.016) to 293.94 rupees with effect from today, Tuesday, the finance ministry said in a statement, citing rising petroleum prices internationally. 

The government also increased the price of high speed diesel by 8.14 rupees to 290.38 rupees, the post said.

The price hikes come as Pakistan has initiated discussions with the IMF over a new multi-billion-dollar loan agreement as its current nine-month, $3 billion loan program expires with the disbursement of a final $1.1 billion tranche likely to be approved later this month.

Reforms linked to that bailout, including an easing of import restrictions and a demand that subsidies be removed, fueled record inflation, with the rupee hitting all-time lows. Authorities also raised petrol and diesel prices to record highs to meet conditionalities. 

“The prices of Petroleum products have seen an increasing trend in the international market during the last fortnight,” the finance ministry said as it announced the new prices. 

“The Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has worked out the consumer prices, based on the price variations in the international market.”

Under the last IMF bailout, Pakistan was told to prevent further accumulation of circular debt in its power sector, arising from subsidies and unpaid bills. For a new program, the South Asian nation will need to implement reforms to reduce costs by improving electricity transmission and distribution, moving captive power into the grid, improving governance, and combating theft. 

It will also have to maintain power and gas tariffs at levels that ensure cost recovery, with adjustments made to safeguard the financially vulnerable, through existing progressive tariff structures.

In a report released in January, the IMF noted Pakistan missed its target for power sector arrears, largely due to lower-than-expected recoveries and tariffs.

ICC includes Pakistani legends Wasim, Waqar and Ramiz in World Cup commentary panel

Updated 7 sec ago

ICC includes Pakistani legends Wasim, Waqar and Ramiz in World Cup commentary panel

  • Wasim Akram and Ramiz Raja are former World Cup winners who will share expert analysis during T20 World Cup 2024
  • Veterans Ravi Shastri, Nasser Hussain, Ian Smith, Mel Jones, Harsha Bhogle and Ian Bishop to lead commentary team

ISLAMABAD: The International Cricket Council (ICC) recently announced it has roped in Pakistani cricket legends Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Ramiz Raja as members of a star-studded commentary panel for next month’s T20 World Cup to share their insights and expert analysis during matches. 

The ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, scheduled to kick off from June 1-29, will feature 20 teams across the world compete for the trophy. The tournament will be hosted for the first time partly in the United States while the West Indies will also host some matches of the tournament.

In a post on Sunday, the ICC said the commentary panel would be led by veterans such as Ravi Shastri, Nasser Hussain, Ian Smith, Mel Jones, Harsha Bhogle and Ian Bishop. Former men’s and women’s T20 World Cup champions Dinesh Karthik, Ebony Rainford-Brent, Samuel Badree, Carlos Brathwaite, Steve Smith, Aaron Finch and Lisa Sthalekar will also add insights to the game during the matches. 

“Former 50-over World Cup winners Ricky Ponting, Sunil Gavaskar, Matthew Hayden, Ramiz Raja, Eoin Morgan, Tom Moody and Wasim Akram will also be lending their expert analysis to the upcoming tournament,” the ICC said. 

The global cricket body said other big names part of the commentary team are Pakistan’s Younis, Dale Steyn, Graeme Smith, Michael Atherton, Simon Doull, Shaun Pollock and Katey Martin. Renowned names in broadcasting such as Mpumelelo Mbangwa, Natalie Germanos, Danny Morrison, Alison Mitchell, Alan Wilkins, Brian Murgatroyd, Mike Haysman, Ian Ward, Athar Ali Khan, Russel Arnold, Niall O’Brien, Kass Naidoo and former West Indies skipper Daren Ganga will also be part of the commentary team.

ICC will provide extensive coverage of the tournament across the 28 days of action with a pre-match show, an innings interval program and a post-match wrap-up.

The T20 World Cup is being seen by the ICC as a launch pad toward the sport’s return to the Olympics for Los Angeles 2028. The ninth edition of the tournament, in the fastest and most explosive form of the game, will be the biggest ever after the decision of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to expand the field from 16 nations to 20.

Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Oman are among nations relatively new to the big stage who will be looking to make their mark and grab attention with an upset win or two during the tournament.

Groups for T20 World Cup 2024

Group A: India, Pakistan, Ireland, Canada, United States

Group B: England, Australia, Namibia, Scotland, Oman

Group C: New Zealand, West Indies, Afghanistan, Uganda, Papua New Guinea

Group D: South Africa, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Netherlands, Nepal

Police in Pakistan’s Sargodha finalize ‘hyper security’ arrangements for churches following mob attack 

Updated 37 min 22 sec ago

Police in Pakistan’s Sargodha finalize ‘hyper security’ arrangements for churches following mob attack 

  • Angry mob attacked Christians in Pakistan’s eastern Sargodha district over blasphemy allegations 
  • Over 1,000 police officers and youths performing duties at key churches in Sargodha district, say police

ISLAMABAD: Police in Pakistan’s eastern Sargodha district said recently it has finalized “hyper security” arrangements at churches following last week’s mob attack against the Christian community that left one person critically injured. 

Violence erupted in Sargodha city on Saturday when a furious mob targeted members of the Christian community after some people accused their Christian neighbor of desecrating the Holy Qur’an. The house and a small shoemaking factory owned and operated by the man were burned down in the ensuing rampage, which was followed by police action that led to clashes with angry protesters.

The incident came within a year after another attack on the Christian community in August 2023, when a mob in Jaranwala city burned churches and targeted several houses in a similar incident involving blasphemy allegations.

“Sargodha police have completed arrangements for the hyper security of churches across the district,” Sargodha Police wrote on social media platform X. It added that over 1,000 police officers and youths were performing duties at important churches in the district. 

Saturday’s attack was condemned by rights activists and Pakistan’s leading human rights body, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). Pakistani Christian rights activists protested against the attack on Saturday in Karachi, raising alarm over the safety of minorities in the South Asian country. 

“As a 27-year-old Pakistani Christian who has never been abroad since the day I was born to the moment I’m standing here, I and every Christian who calls themselves Pakistani live under fear, under pressure and under the constant threat of being, God forbid, accused of committing blasphemy,” Luke Victor, a rights activist and one of the organizers of the Karachi demonstration, said. 

Blasphemy is an incendiary charge in deeply conservative, Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam have provoked deadly vigilantism.

Christians, who make up around two percent of Pakistan’s population, occupy one of the lowest rungs in society and are frequently targeted with spurious blasphemy allegations.
Politicians have also been assassinated, lawyers murdered and students lynched over such accusations.

38,150 Pakistani pilgrims under government scheme reach Saudi Arabia for Hajj 

Updated 27 May 2024

38,150 Pakistani pilgrims under government scheme reach Saudi Arabia for Hajj 

  • Around 179,210 Pakistani pilgrims are expected to perform the annual Islamic pilgrimage 
  • Pakistan began a month-long pre-Hajj flight operation to transport pilgrims to Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: Around 38,150 Pakistani pilgrims under the government’s Hajj scheme have arrived in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah ahead of this year’s annual Islamic pilgrimage, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported this week. 

This year, around 179,210 Pakistanis will perform Hajj under both the government and private schemes, for which a month-long flight operation started on May 9. This year’s pilgrimage is expected to run from June 14-19.

“By Sunday, collectively as many as 38,150 Pakistani pilgrims, which constitutes almost 54.35 percent of the total, have reached Madinah and Makkah,” the APP report said on Sunday, citing sources in the Pakistan Hajj Mission. 

From May 17, the Pakistan Hajj Mission started sending bus caravans of pilgrims to Makkah from Madinah after they completed their eight-day stay in Madinah. Over 23,464 Pakistani pilgrims have reached Makkah from Madinah under a real-time GPS tracking system, APP said, adding that it is for the first time that the service is being utilized to track the movement of Hajj caravans. 

“This innovative approach aims to ensure a seamless and timely journey for the pilgrims,” Shahid Ur Rehman Marth, who is in-charge of the Madinah Departure Cell, told APP. 

Meanwhile, pilgrims from all over the world including Pakistan, visited the sacred cave of Hira at the mountain of Al-Noor in Makkah. 
The site is a revered one for Muslims around the world as it is the place where Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received the first verses of the Holy Qur’an from God. 
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and requires every adult Muslim to undertake the journey to the holy Islamic sites in Makkah at least once in their lifetime, provided they are financially and physically able to do so.
Pilgrims from Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi are availing the Makkah Route Initiative facility for the first time. Launched in 2019, the initiative allows for the completion of immigration procedures at the pilgrims’ country of departure. 
This makes it possible to bypass long immigration and customs checks upon reaching Saudi Arabia, which significantly reduces the waiting time and makes the entry process smoother and faster. 

Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35

Updated 27 May 2024

Palestinian medics say Israeli airstrikes on refugee camp in Rafah kills 35

  • The attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah
  • Israel’s army confirmed the strike and said it hit a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas militants

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip: Palestinian health workers said Israeli airstrikes killed at least 35 people Sunday and hit tents for displaced people in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, and “numerous” others were trapped in flaming debris. Gaza’s Health Ministry said women and children made up most of the dead and dozens of wounded.

The attacks came two days after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to end its military offensive in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population had sought shelter before Israel’s incursion earlier this month. Tens of thousands of people remain in the area while many others have fled.
Footage from the scene of the largest airstrike showed heavy destruction. Israel’s army confirmed the strike and said it hit a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas militants. It said it was investigating reports that civilians were harmed. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was in Rafah on Sunday and was briefed on the “deepening of operations” there, his office said.

A Palestinian wounded in an Israeli bombardment on the Gaza Strip is brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, central Gaza Strip, on May 26, 2024. (AP) 

A spokesperson with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said the death toll was likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continued in Rafah’s Tal Al-Sultan neighborhood about two kilometers (1.2 miles) northwest of the city center.
The society asserted that the location had been designated by Israel as a “humanitarian area.” The neighborhood is not included in areas that Israel’s military ordered evacuated earlier this month.
The airstrike was reported hours after Hamas fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months in a show of resilience more than seven months into Israel’s massive air, sea and ground offensive.
There were no reports of casualties in what appeared to be the first long-range rocket attack from Gaza since January. Hamas’ military wing claimed responsibility. Israel’s military said eight projectiles crossed into Israel after being launched from Rafah and “a number” were intercepted, and the launcher was destroyed.
Earlier Sunday, dozens of aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel under a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month. Israel’s military said 126 aid trucks entered via the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing.
But it was not immediately clear if humanitarian groups could access the aid — including medical supplies — because of fighting. The crossing has been largely inaccessible because of Israel’s offensive in Rafah. United Nations agencies say it is usually too dangerous to retrieve the aid. The World Health Organization last week said an expanded Israeli incursion in Rafah would have “disastrous” impact.”
“With the humanitarian operation near collapse, the secretary-general emphasizes that the Israeli authorities must facilitate the safe pickup and delivery of humanitarian supplies from Egypt entering Kerem Shalom,” the spokesperson for UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
Egypt refuses to reopen its side of the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side is handed back to Palestinians. It agreed to temporarily divert traffic through Kerem Shalom, Gaza’s main cargo terminal, after a call between US President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
The war between Israel and Hamas has killed nearly 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and fighters in its count. Israel blames civilian deaths on Hamas because the militants operate in dense, residential areas.
Around 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and UN officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine.
Hamas triggered the war with its Oct. 7 attack into Israel, in which Palestinian militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seized some 250 hostages. Hamas still holds some 100 hostages and the remains of around 30 others after most of the rest were released during a ceasefire last year.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel must take over Rafah to eliminate Hamas’ remaining battalions and achieve “total victory” over the militants, who recently regrouped in other parts of Gaza.
The war has also heightened tensions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Palestinian authorities on Sunday said Israeli forces shot dead a 14-year-old boy near the southern West Bank town of Saeer. The Israeli army said the Palestinian male was shot dead after trying to stab Israeli forces at Beit Einun Junction.
Southern Gaza largely cut off from aid
Southern Gaza has been largely cut off from aid since Israel launched what it called a limited incursion into Rafah on May 6. Since then over 1 million Palestinians, many already displaced, have fled the city.
Northern Gaza receives aid through two land routes that Israel opened during global outrage after Israeli strikes killed seven aid workers in April.
A few dozen trucks enter Gaza daily through a US-built floating pier, far below the 150 trucks a day that officials hoped for. Aid groups say 600 trucks a day are needed.
Israeli man detained over mutiny threat
Israel’s military said it had detained a suspect over a widely circulated video in which a man dressed as a soldier threatens mutiny. The man says tens of thousands of soldiers were ready to disobey the defense minister over his suggestion that Palestinians should govern Gaza after the war, and pledged loyalty to Netanyahu alone.
Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said the man has been removed from reserve duty. It was not clear when or where the video was made. The prime minister’s office released a brief statement condemning all forms of military insubordination.

Pakistan’s Hajj mission enforces ‘zero tolerance policy’ for negligence by assistants

Updated 27 May 2024

Pakistan’s Hajj mission enforces ‘zero tolerance policy’ for negligence by assistants

  • Hajj is one of five pillars of Islam, required to be undertaken by every able Muslim at least once
  • Pakistan is due to send as many as 550 Hajj assistants to Saudi Arabia by the end of this month

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Hajj mission has enforced a “zero tolerance policy” for negligence on the part of hundreds of assistants appointed to facilitate local pilgrims during the annual pilgrimage, Pakistani state media reported on Sunday, citing a senior official.
Pakistan has a Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims this year. Of them, 63,805 pilgrims will be performing the pilgrimage under the government scheme, while the rest would be accommodated by private tour operators, according to the Pakistani religious affairs ministry.
This year, Pakistan is due to send 550 Hajj assistants and 400 doctors and paramedical staff to Saudi Arabia to make sure the whole process, including their food, transportation and accommodation in the Kingdom, is managed efficiently.
“Zero tolerance policy is being observed for supporting staff (Mouvineen) in their duties to serve the intending pilgrims,” the Radio Pakistan broadcaster quoted Asghar Ali Yusufzai, the Pakistan Hajj mission director for accommodation and transport of pilgrims, as saying at a press conference in Makkah.
“An effective system has been put in place to evaluate the performance of Hajj supporting staff and service providers, who are duty-bound to serve intending Pakistani Hajj pilgrims.”
Yusufzai emphasized that the policy applied to both Pakistan-based assistants or contractors, who were hired to provide accommodation, food and transportation to Pakistani pilgrims.
The Hajj mission has rented 141 residential buildings in three localities, including Al-Azizia, Batha Quraish and Al-Naseem neighborhoods, according to the official.
More than 270 latest buses have been arranged for the movement of Pakistani pilgrims from the airport to their accommodations, for five-time prayer in the Grand Mosque and for other Hajj-related travel between Mina, Arafat, and Muzdalifah.
Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage that has been in practice for over 1,400 years. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, and requires every adult Muslim to undertake the journey to the holy Islamic sites in Makkah at least once in their lifetime, if they are financially and physically able. This year’s pilgrimage is expected to run from June 14 till June 19.
In the first phase of Pakistan’s pre-Hajj flight operation, a total of 34,316 Pakistanis reached Madinah by May 23 through 146 flights, according to Pakistani authorities.
As many as 114 flights will be transporting another 34,422 Pakistanis to Jeddah till June 9.