Saudi Arabia to invest $5 billion to boost Pakistan’s economy – planning minister

This handout photograph taken on April 16, 2024 and released by Pakistan's Press Information Department (PID) shows Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (R) speaking with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan (L) during a bilateral meeting at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. (Pakistan Press Information Department/File)
Short Url
Updated 23 April 2024
Follow

Saudi Arabia to invest $5 billion to boost Pakistan’s economy – planning minister

  • Ahsan Iqbal says the national economy can reach a $3 trillion mark by 2047 with 9% growth rate
  • He informs a summit the government plans to maximize investment from UAE, Kuwait and Qatar

KARACHI: Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal announced on Tuesday Saudi Arabia was expected to invest $5 billion in Pakistan, adding the administration in Islamabad was also trying to secure investment from other Gulf states to strengthen the national economy.

Amid economic challenges, Pakistan has been actively trying to attract foreign investment and established the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a civil-military hybrid body, last year for the purpose.

The SIFC was created to serve as a single window for all foreign investment activities, offering a simplified and more direct route for international investors interested in various sectors such as mining, agriculture, energy, information technology and defense manufacturing.

The body was tasked to address procedural bottlenecks, accelerate policy reforms and create a more favorable investment climate, with a special focus on Gulf economies.

“Saudi Arabia will soon invest $5 billion in Pakistan and in this regard, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will soon visit Saudi Arabia, followed by an expected visit of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan,” the Planning Commission of Pakistan quoted the minister as saying in an official statement.

Iqbal issued the statement while speaking at a business summit in Islamabad.

He mentioned that discussions were ongoing with the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar to maximize investment in Pakistan.

The planning minister said if Pakistan managed to increase its exports to $100 billion in the next seven to eight years, it would achieve a significant economic takeoff.

He maintained that Pakistan could become a $2 trillion economy by 2047 with 7 percent growth, adding it could also reach a $3 trillion mark by maintaining 9 percent growth.
 


Pakistan considers modifying passport policy for married and divorced women — official

Updated 24 May 2024
Follow

Pakistan considers modifying passport policy for married and divorced women — official

  • The matter relates to the condition that a married woman’s passport will bear name of her husband and not her father
  • The move has highlighted contradictions between policies of national database registration and passports authorities

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government is considering modification of its passport policy regarding married and divorced women, a senior official said on Thursday, after a woman lawyer brought the issue to light this week.
The matter relates to the condition that a married woman’s passport would bear the name of her husband instead of her father. The move has highlighted contradictions between the policies of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and Directorate General Immigration & Passports (DGIP) that possess data of citizens across the country.
Khadija Bukhari, a lawyer whose petition in this regard is being heard by the Lahore High Court, this week told a private news channel the issue could cause inconvenience and distress for women who wanted to retain their father’s name on their identification documents, regardless of whether they were married or divorced.
However, Immigration and Passports Director-General Mustafa Jamal Kazi said it was a “legal requirement” for a married woman to have her husband’s name on her passport as the document was used internationally and must comply with international agreements, unlike NADRA-issued computerized national identity cards (CNICs) that were used only in Pakistan.
“These rules are driven through the act of parliament and secretary interior has constituted a committee under his chairmanship to solve this issue. The committee will look into the passport policy concerning the condition of a married woman’s passport bearing her husband’s name instead of her father’s name,” Kazi told Arab News.
“The committee was tasked with addressing discrepancies between the policies of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and the passport issuing authority regarding married women.”
Bukhari said she had her husband’s name included to her CNIC for their marriage to be registered with NADRA, but later decided to retain her father’s name in the second column of her CNIC.
“So, there was no problem with that. Once I went to the passport office when my passport expired, they said ‘we cannot renew your passport because your CNIC has not been updated’,” she told Arab News.
“By that it was meant that ‘you’re supposed to be wife of you cannot remain daughter of, if you want to get a passport. So first go back to NADRA, get your CNIC changed and reflect that you are wife of and then we will process your application’.”
Bukhari argued that if NADRA didn’t have a problem referring to her as “daughter of,” then why the passport authorities could not do it.
Immigration and Passports DG Kazi said the solution to this problem, which he also intended to present to the government committee, was to add another column to the passport to include the name of a woman’s ex-husband, who is the father of their children, in case of a divorce.
“We need all the detail in our database because for international verifications different countries send the data of Pakistani citizens to us and we need to verify from every aspect,” he said.
“Therefore, we need all the information and concealing facts can cause problems for them [women] at later stage.”


IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says

Updated 24 May 2024
Follow

IMF, Pakistan make significant progress on new loan, IMF mission says

  • The IMF has opened discussions with Pakistan on a new loan program after Islamabad last month completed a short-term $3 billion program
  • An IMF team, led by mission chief Nathan Porter, concluded discussions with the authorities on Thursday after arriving in Pakistan on May 13

ISLAMABAD: An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission and Pakistan have made significant progress toward reaching a staff-level agreement for an extended fund facility, the global lender said on Friday.
The IMF has opened discussions with Pakistan on a new loan program after Islamabad last month completed a short-term $3 billion program, which helped stave off a sovereign debt default.
An IMF team, led by mission chief Nathan Porter, concluded discussions with the authorities on Thursday after arriving in Pakistan on May 13, the lender said in a statement.
“The mission and the authorities will continue policy discussions virtually over the coming days aiming to finalize discussions, including the financial support needed to underpin the authorities’ reform efforts from the IMF and Pakistan’s bilateral and multilateral partners,” Porter said.
Pakistan is likely to seek at least $6 billion under the new program and request additional financing from the IMF under the Resilience and Sustainability Trust.
Ahead of the discussions, the IMF had warned that downside risks for the Pakistani economy
remained exceptionally high.
“The authorities’ reform program aims to move Pakistan from economic stabilization to strong, inclusive, and resilient growth,” Porter added.


Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club

Updated 24 May 2024
Follow

Pakistani retiree, 59, defies age to dominate the mat at Islamabad Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club

  • Saqib Lateef retired, from army in 2012, had various jobs before embracing life of physical fitness and martial arts
  • BJJ revolves around smaller, weaker person defending against stronger opponent through leverage, weight distribution

ISLAMABAD: Saqib Lateef stood out at Islamabad’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) training club this week, moving on the black mat with a grace and precision that defied his 59 years of age, and which have turned him into an inspiration for the younger athletes who train at the facility. 
After retiring from the Pakistan army as a colonel in 2012 and transitioning through various jobs, Saqib Lateef discovered his passion for physical fitness and martial arts, particularly BJJ, a hybrid self-defense system based on traditional Japanese Jujitsu and Kodokan Judo and involving grappling, ground fighting, and submission holds.
“I have turned 59 and my own weight is 74 kg and I am 5 feet 10 inches in height,” Lateef told Arab News between fights. “So, I have sparred [fought] with all of them [younger athletes], people who are on the mat. They have got a lot of different weights, and I can take on anyone of them.”
BJJ revolves around the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger, heavier opponent by using leverage and weight distribution, taking the fight to the ground and using a number of holds and submissions to defeat them.
“I always test my limits, that how can I engage with younger people on the mat,” Lateeq said, explaining the fundamentals of BJJ.
“So, they are faster than me, and they are more resilient than me, and they have got more physical power. So it was a challenge for me to have a submission [defeat opponent] but in this old age, I can do submissions on them.”
“You don’t end up knocking someone off his face or drawing blood or causing a brain contusion,” added Osama Ahmed Aitzaz, who owns the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club, the only one in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, which he opened last year after returning from Australia. 
“With this [BJJ], you just take the person to the ground. So we learn that stuff, how to take down a person and then there’s not much damage done.”
“ALL AGES, ALL SIZES”
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was first developed in 1925 by Brazilian brothers Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., and Hélio Gracie, after Carlos was taught a hybrid of traditional Japanese Jujitsu and Kodokan judo by a traveling Japanese judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda, in 1917. Later on, the Gracie family developed their own self-defense system Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, changing the face of unarmed combat by turning the confused chaos of ground fighting into a dynamic science of joint locks, chokes and strangles.
“Matter of fact, the person who developed this, what we call now Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, they were of the stature of being old and being skinny and fighting against a bigger and a stronger opponent,” Aitzaz, a blue belt, four-stripe practitioner of the discipline, told Arab News. 
“So Jiu-Jitsu welcomes all ages, all sizes … It does not just give you physical strength but also mental strength.”
The trainer applauded Lateef’s commitment and skill, saying his presence in the fighting arena had a positive impact on others.
“We love him, he puts us all to shame, especially the young ones,” Aitzaz said, smiling. “He gives me a bit of a reason to say [to younger participants], ‘Hang on, look at this fella, he’s 59. You have no excuse.’ So yeah, it’s perfect. We love him.”
For Lateef, the sport is not just about self-defense or combat but also about learning patience and bringing positivity into his life, which he also advises others to do. 
“People [who are] redundant, doing nothing, and sitting and watching TV, and eating, and with a bad lifestyle, [these] people should change their lifestyle, do some physical activities,” Lateef said as he prepared to tackle an opponent. 
“The more physical activity there is, the less ailments there will be … You should focus on how much you give physically to your body, because once you physically engage your body, then positiveness comes out of your body.”


Pakistan arrive in Birmingham for second T20 as deadline to announce World Cup squad looms

Updated 24 May 2024
Follow

Pakistan arrive in Birmingham for second T20 as deadline to announce World Cup squad looms

  • ICC has set May 25 as deadline to announce squads for next month’s T20 World Cup tournament
  • Pakistan remain the only team who have not announced their squad for upcoming World Cup

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan cricket team arrived in Birmingham on Thursday to play the second T20I of the four-match series against England, with only a day left before the deadline to announce the squad for next month’s World Cup ends. 
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has set a deadline of May 25 for countries participating in the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024— scheduled to take place in the USA and West Indies next month— to announce their squads for the mega tournament. 
Pakistan are the only team who have not announced their squad for the megaevent. The green shirts were hoping to test their players in the first T20I fixture against England in Leeds on Wednesday before finalizing the squad. 
Rain, however, washed away the first match of the series which would have helped selectors and Head Coach Gary Kirsten arrive at a decision. Local media widely reported the PCB would announce the World Cup squad on Friday. 
“Pakistan team will practice from 9:30 a.m. tomorrow till 12:30 p.m.,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a statement. “The second T20 international between Pakistan and England will be played on Saturday at Edgbaston.”
The other two matches of the series against Pakistan, the team England beat to win the 2022 T20 World Cup final in Melbourne, will take place in Cardiff and at the Oval on May 28 and May 30, respectively. 
The Pakistan-England T20 series could see the return to international duty of England fast bowler Jofra Archer. Injuries have blighted the quick’s career, with elbow and back problems sidelining the 29-year-old from top-level cricket for 14 months.
The 20-team ICC World Cup, scheduled to take place in the USA and West Indies from June 1-29, will see Pakistan take on the USA, India, Canada and Ireland in the group stages of the tournament. 
Schedule for England series:
22 May – v England, 1st T20I, Leeds
25 May – v England, 2nd T20I, Birmingham
28 May – v England 3rd T20I, Cardiff
30 May – v England, 4th T20I, The Oval


Pakistan to pay $2.5 million to families of Chinese nationals killed in March suicide bombing

Updated 23 May 2024
Follow

Pakistan to pay $2.5 million to families of Chinese nationals killed in March suicide bombing

  • Five Chinese workers, Pakistani driver were killed in suicide bomb attack in northwestern Pakistan on Mar. 26
  • Chinese interests have increasingly come under attack in Pakistan where Beijing has pledged $65 billion investment

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top economic body on Thursday approved $2.5 million in compensation for families of Chinese workers who were killed in March when a suicide bomber targeted their vehicle in northwestern Pakistan. 

Five Chinese workers and their Pakistani driver were killed on Mar. 26 while they were on their way to the Dasu hydropower project in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 

Pakistan has vowed to trace the masterminds of the suicide attack and increase security of Chinese personnel, projects and institutions in the South Asian country. The Pakistan army said earlier this month the suicide bomber was an Afghan national, and the attack was planned in Afghanistan. The Taliban rulers in Kabul deny the accusations. 

“The ECC considered and approved proposals for Technical Supplementary Grants, including: $2.58 million and Rs. 2.5 million to the Ministry of Water Resources as compensation packages for Chinese and local casualties at Dasu Hydropower Project,” the Finance Division said, referring to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC).

The package was approved by Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb who chaired the meeting of the ECC.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said earlier this month the South Asian country would introduce new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the security of Chinese nationals in Pakistan. 

The Dasu attack was the third major one in a little over a week on China’s interests in the South Asian nation, where Beijing has pledged over $65 billion in energy, infrastructure and other projects as part of its wider Belt and Road initiative. 

The Mar. 26 bombing followed a Mar. 20 attack on a strategic port used by China in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where Beijing has poured billions of dollars into infrastructure projects, and a Mar. 25 assault on a naval air base, also in the southwest. Both attacks were claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the most prominent of several separatist groups in Balochistan.

Dasu, the site of a major dam, has been attacked in the past, with a bus blast in 2021 killing 13 people, nine Chinese among them, although no group claimed responsibility, like the Mar. 26 bombing.
 
Pakistan is home to twin insurgencies, one mounted by religiously-motivated militants and the other by ethnic separatists who seek secession, blaming the government’s inequitable division of natural resources in southwestern Balochistan province.

Chinese interests are mostly under attack primarily by ethnic militants seeking to push Beijing out of mineral-rich Balochistan, but that area is far from the site of the Mar. 26 bombing.