Pakistan has pitched ‘epic menu’ of $30 billion investment projects to Riyadh — foreign minister

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan (L) and his Pakistan’s counterpart Ishaq Dar arrive to address a joint press conference at the foreign ministry in Islamabad on April 16, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 18 April 2024
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Pakistan has pitched ‘epic menu’ of $30 billion investment projects to Riyadh — foreign minister

  • Ishaq Dar says Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will visit Pakistan for three days from April 22-25
  • Says Saudi crown prince has accepted PM’s invitation to visit Pakistan, timing being discussed 

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar said on Thursday Pakistan had pitched an “epic menu” of investment projects worth $30 billion to Saudi Arabia during a visit this week by the Kingdom’s foreign chief, adding that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi would visit Islamabad from April 22-25.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud was in Islamabad earlier this week where he said Riyadh would be “moving ahead significantly” to invest in projects in the South Asian nation. His visit followed a meeting in Makkah between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in which the Kingdom had pledged to expedite $5 billion in investments.
Speaking to journalists at an informal meet-and-greet on Thursday afternoon, Dar said Pakistan had pitched projects worth $30 billion to the Saudi delegation, which would “take time” to materialize. 
“It’s a process, it doesn’t happen overnight,” the foreign minister said. “We have given them a big epic menu to select [from]. After that their expression of interest has been indicated. On that, we will get details on [April] 28, so it takes time. But all vibes are very positive.”
Dar said PM Sharif had invited the Saudi crown prince to visit Pakistan during their meeting in Makkah earlier this month:
“He has very kindly accepted the invitation. The timing of the visit will obviously be sorted out between diplomatic channels of the two countries.”
Responding to a question about a planned visit by Iran’s Raisi to Pakistan, Dar said it had been in the works for “weeks and months.”
“He is coming. The visit is on the cards on 22, 23, 24 [April] and we are preparing fully for this.”
Dar also said Afghan Interim Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi had invited him to visit Afghan when the two leaders spoke on the telephone last month.
No country has recognized Taliban rule since they seized power in August 2021, after the Western-backed government collapsed as the last US-led international troops departed following two decades of war.
When asked if he would accept Muttaqi’s invitation to visit Kabul, Dar responded: 
“By not interacting we will achieve nothing … so my own fundamental thinking is this, but obviously it [visit] is subject to clearance by the prime minister and MOFA [ministry of foreign affairs] advice that at the appropriate time we will definitely visit.”
Dar also spoke about tensions in the Middle East as the Israeli military has pledged a response to Iran’s retaliatory strikes last week for a suspected Israeli airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus on April 1. 
Israel and its allies mostly shot down all missiles and drones and there were no deaths, but Israel says it must retaliate to preserve the credibility of its deterrents. Iran says it views the matter as closed but will retaliate again if Israel does.
“Our policy guidelines are about peace, we don’t want any confrontation, we want a peaceful resolution, we want a Gaza solution as soon as possible,” Dar said when asked about the possibility of escalation. 
“We want a ceasefire in Gaza, we want a Palestinian permanent state.”


Legendary Pakistani actor Talat Hussain passes away after prolonged illness

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Legendary Pakistani actor Talat Hussain passes away after prolonged illness

  • Talat Hussain, whose career spanned six decades, featured in prominent TV dramas, stage plays and films 
  • Hussain received several awards during his lifetime, including Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Pride of Performance awards

ISLAMABAD: Legendary Pakistani actor Talat Hussain passed away in Karachi on Sunday at the age of 83 after a prolonged illness, his daughter confirmed, as tributes from prominent journalists and actors poured in from all over the country. 

The actor, whose career spanned several decades from the 1960s and saw him perform in critically acclaimed TV dramas, movies and stage plays over the years, passed away at a private hospital in Karachi. Hussain is survived by a wife, two daughters and a son. 

He starred in prominent projects such as Chiragh Jalta Raha, Ishaara, Gumnaam, Qurbani, Jinnah— The Movie, Actor in Law, Chupan Chupai and Project Ghazi. ​

“It is with profound grief and a very heavy heart that we announce that our dearest Talat Hussain passed to his eternal abode this morning,” his daughter Tazeen Hussain wrote on Instagram. 

“Details of funeral and otherwise to follow later.”

Hussain studied at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. His stellar performances earned him prestigious awards throughout his career, including the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) award in 2021 and the Pride of Performance Award in 1982 by the Pakistani government. 

He was also awarded the Amanda Award in 2006 for Best Supporting Actor in the Norwegian film “Import Eksport” and the Nigar Award in 1986 for Best Supporting Actor in the film “Miss Bangkok.”

“Talat Hussain was one of the very few actors in Pakistan whom every generation knows about,” prominent Pakistani actor Behroze Sabzwari told Geo News. 

Sabzwari said Hussain was a very “unique” actor and had his own sense of style. 

“I always received love and affection from him,” he said. “He was my friend and was a great man.”


Pakistan PM expresses sorrow as deadly accident kills 11 of a family

Updated 57 min 20 sec ago
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Pakistan PM expresses sorrow as deadly accident kills 11 of a family

  • Deadly accident occurred on Saturday when passenger van collided with truck on Muzaffargarh-Mianwali Highway 
  • PM wishes speedy recovery for injured, directs authorities to provide “immediate medical treatment” to them

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed deep sorrow and grief over an accident this week that killed 11 of a family and injured 10 others, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported on Sunday. 

The incident took place on the Muzaffargarh-Mianwali Highway on Saturday when a passenger van en route to Multan from Bhakkar collided with a truck. The accident resulted in the deaths of five men, three women and three children. 

All 11 deceased were members of the same family, rescue officials confirmed, adding that they were traveling to visit relatives when the accident occurred. 

“Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has expressed his deep grief and sorrow over the deaths of eleven members of a family in a traffic mishap on Muzaffargarh-Mianwali Highway,” APP said. 

“The prime minister also wished speedy recovery of the injured and directed for the provision of immediate medical treatment to them.”

Road accidents are common in Pakistan, where traffic rules are rarely followed and roads, particularly in many rural areas, are in poor condition. In the mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan region, road tragedies are daily news. 


Ten fan parks to broadcast iconic India-Pakistan T20 World Cup clash— ICC 

Updated 26 May 2024
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Ten fan parks to broadcast iconic India-Pakistan T20 World Cup clash— ICC 

  • Fan parks in New York, Birmingham, Rawalpindi, New Delhi and South Africa to broadcast India-Pakistan match on June 9
  • Political tensions between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan make their cricket rivalry one of sports’ fiercest ones 

ISLAMABAD: Cricket fans in India, Pakistan, the United States and South Africa would be able to enjoy the iconic India-Pakistan T20 World Cup clash on June 9 in ten different fan parks in their countries, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said this week. 

The ICC has announced that this year’s World Cup matches will be broadcast in fan parks where people will watch the action live on huge screens with live entertainment including DJs, food and drink outlets, cricket ambassadors and family activities. In total, 23 matches will be shown across 16 fan parks in five countries next month. 

Political tensions between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan make their cricket matches a spectacle to watch for millions of fans across the globe. Diplomatic rows between the two countries mean they only play each other in other countries and only at international tournaments. Both haven’t played each other in a bilateral series since several years. 

Pakistan captain Babar Azam will lead his side against Rohit Sharma’s India on June 9 in New York as both Group A teams lock horns in the ICC T20 World Cup fixture. The match will be broadcast in several fan parks across the world, the ICC said. 

“Ten different fan parks will show the Group A game between India and Pakistan, including Cedar Creek Park, Seaford, New York hosted by Nassau County, the Indira Gandhi Indoor Arena in New Delhi, India and Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Pakistan,” the ICC said in a statement on Saturday. 

In New York City, the Oculus World Trade Center is one of the standout venues, with the fan park showing 18 matches on 10 different dates, including the highly anticipated final on June 29.

“We are thrilled to be able to bring communities together through broadcasting the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 in a record number of fan parks,” ICC Head of Events Chris Tetley said in a statement. 

“These parks are designed to make the sport more accessible and enjoyable, allowing fans of all ages to experience a T20 World Cup like never before,” Tetley added.

Pakistan beat India by 10 wickets during their T20 World Cup clash in 2021 but the blue shirts exacted revenge on their traditional rivals next year, beating Pakistan by four wickets courtesy of a fighting half-century by former Indian skipper Virat Kohli. 


Pakistan reports third polio case of 2024 from southwestern Balochistan province

Updated 26 May 2024
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Pakistan reports third polio case of 2024 from southwestern Balochistan province

  • Virus detected in stool samples from child in southwestern Killa Abdullah district, says state media 
  • Pakistan and Afghanistan remain only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities reported the third poliovirus case of the current year on Saturday, state-run media reported, as Islamabad struggles to contain the crippling disease despite nationwide vaccination and awareness campaigns. 

The latest polio case was reported from Pakistan’s southwestern Killa Abdullah district on Saturday, the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said in a report. The virus was detected in stool samples collected from a child in the Darozai union council of Killa Abdullah district, the report said, adding that he had developed symptoms of paralysis on April 20.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries in the world where the poliovirus, which causes paralysis and can be a life-threatening disease, is endemic.

“It is incredibly tragic that another child has been affected by polio this year in Balochistan,” Dr. Malik Mukhtar Ahmed Bharath, coordinator to the prime minister on national health services, said. 

Dr. Bharath said polio is a terrible disease that affects not only the life of the child but their family as well. He said the government was bringing vaccines to the citizens’ doorsteps, urging them to avail the opportunity. 

“I urge families to understand the risk this disease poses to children and make sure that they vaccinate all their children under the age of five when the polio worker shows up to their homes,” he said. 

This is the third polio case of the year reported from Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province and the first reported from Killa Abdullah after three years.

Last year, six polio cases were reported in the country which included four from the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and two from the southern port city of Karachi.

Pakistan’s efforts to contain polio have often been met with opposition, especially in KP, where militants have carried out attacks against vaccinators and security teams guarding them. 

Many believe in the conspiracy theory that polio vaccines are part of a plot by Western outsiders to sterilize Pakistan’s population.

Pakistani masses’ doubts regarding polio campaigns were exacerbated in 2011 when the US Central Intelligence Agency set up a fake hepatitis vaccination program to gather intelligence on former Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. 


Pakistani students praise teachers, landlords for ‘timely’ rescue during Kyrgyzstan mob violence

Updated 26 May 2024
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Pakistani students praise teachers, landlords for ‘timely’ rescue during Kyrgyzstan mob violence

  • Teachers stayed with students in hostels to protect them from rioters while landlords took many to safety
  • Many students say they will resume their studies in Bishkek after their semester break ends in September

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani students evacuated from Kyrgyzstan after recent riots and violence against foreign nationals on Saturday lauded “tremendous and timely” support from their teachers and landlords, saying that they rescued and saved their lives.
Last week, violent riots erupted in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, following the emergence of online videos showing a brawl between local and Egyptian students of medical sciences. The mobs mostly targeted the hostels of medical universities and private lodges of international students, including Pakistanis, in the city.
Around 10,000 Pakistani students are enrolled in different institutes in Kyrgyzstan and nearly 6,000 of them were studying in Bishkek, according to Pakistan’s diplomatic mission in the Central Asian country. The Pakistan government has evacuated thousands of students stranded in Bishkek by arranging special flights following the riots.
“We are alive today due to tremendous, effective and timely support of our teachers and landlords shortly after the violence,” Bilal Ahmad, a fourth-year medical student from Vehari district in Punjab province, told Arab News on phone. “Our teachers stayed with us in the hostel the whole night to protect us from the mob.”
Ahmad said when the situation normalized in Bishkek, local elders and officials apologized to the students for the violence. “They shared their mobile numbers with us to call them in any emergency,” he added.
Social media platforms were abuzz with different videos and photos showing the mob attacks against the international students in Bishkek. The Kyrgyz miscreants barged into hostels to attack foreign students without discrimination. Five Pakistani students were injured as a result, according to the Pakistan embassy, one of them seriously.
“We locked our doors and windows and reinforced them with cupboards, tables and chairs to prevent the miscreants from entering,” Asadullah Khan, a third-year medical student from Quetta, told Arab News.
“We switched off lights of our rooms and prayed to Allah … We called our landlord and she immediately responded and rescued us from there,” he said, adding that she took around nine students to her residence in her own car on the gloomy night.
Khan said that members of local communities, teachers and other university staff had cooperated with the students in the difficult time. “They brought us food, water and biscuits and stood by us against their own people,” he continued.
He also informed the local community and teachers had widely circulated audio and video messages of apology to international students, including Pakistanis, a day after the violence, promising to do everything to hold all the criminals accountable.
Khan said his parents were worried about his safety, fearing that they may not let him resume his studies in Bishkek after the semester break ended in September.
“My parents are pushing me to migrate to a local medical college in Pakistan to complete my studies,” he added. “I have invested my three years and a lot of money, so let’s see when the education resumes.”
Some students said the situation was completely under control in Bishkek days after the violence, as the local police and paramilitary took charge of the security of hostels and private apartments where international students were residing.
“I will go back to resume my studies since I can’t waste my time,” Anjum Rasheed, a final year medical student from Peshawar, told Arab News. “The days of the violence are over now, and local Kyrgyz community has repeatedly apologized to the students for the unfortunate incident.”
“Our teachers and other staff of the university had been extremely cooperative during the mob attack, and there is no reason for us to quit the studies,” he said, adding that one of his teachers rescued him from the hostel and took him to a shelter arranged by a human rights organization in the city.
He also noted that a local family transported him with a couple of other students to the airport for their flight back to Pakistan.