Pakistan unlikely to buy spot LNG in summer despite simmering heat

An aerial view of the Haveli Bahadur Shah LNG power plant in Jhang, Pakistan July 7, 2017. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 12 June 2024

Pakistan unlikely to buy spot LNG in summer despite simmering heat

  • Pakistan unlikely to buy LNG cargoes until November due to oversupply, high prices
  • Countries seek more LNG cargoes due to extreme heat, driving spot prices to high levels

KARACHI: Pakistan is unlikely to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes on the spot market until at least the beginning of winter in November due to oversupply and high prices, its petroleum minister told Reuters.

Extreme temperatures across Asia have pushed countries to seek more cargoes of LNG to address higher power demand, driving spot prices to their highest since mid-December. Asia spot LNG last traded at $12.00 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) on Friday.

However, LNG demand in the second largest South Asian LNG buyer was “subordinate to supplies,” the minister told Reuters, despite heatwaves baking the country of 300 million people with temperatures surging to a near-record.

“The question of getting more LNG when we can’t sell the amount of LNG that we already are obtaining from our long-term contracts, it does not apply,” Musadik Masood Malik, Pakistan’s petroleum minister, told Reuters in an interview.

Annual power use in Pakistan, which gets over a third of its electricity from natural gas, is expected to fall consecutively for the first time in 16 years, due to higher tariffs curbing household consumption.

Poor and middle-class households are still feeling the impact of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) bailout of Pakistan last year, which contributed to higher retail prices. A series of power tariff hikes over 12 months was a key part of the IMF program which ended in April.

Industrial demand has also remained tepid due to a cloudy economic outlook.

Pakistan, which last bought a spot LNG cargo in late 2023, canceled its spot LNG tender for delivery in January. Malik attributed the cancelation to oversupply, adding that there were “not a lot of customers” at current LNG spot prices.

Malik said Pakistan was keen to adopt more renewable energy to cut its import bill and exposure to geopolitical shocks. The country suffered widespread power outages due to its inability to buy expensive LNG after prices surged due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Any country that is importing $15-18 billion of fuel, how can it be sustainable when the total exports are south of $30 billion? So we have to move away from the imported elements such as LNG,” he said.

Pakistan was also trying to access less expensive natural gas by building a pipeline with Iran, but was wary of sanctions, he said.

“We basically are trying to work out the solution whereby we can have access to less expensive gas, but in a manner which does not invoke any sanctions on Pakistan. It all depends on legal interpretations,” he said.

“From our perspective, we don’t want to get into litigation and we don’t want to get sanctioned.” 

Pakistan’s national airline announces direct Umrah flights from Quetta, Faisalabad to Jeddah

Updated 10 sec ago

Pakistan’s national airline announces direct Umrah flights from Quetta, Faisalabad to Jeddah

  • Flights from Quetta and Faisalabad to Jeddah to operate twice a week, says Pakistan International Airlines
  • Every year, thousands of Pakistanis travel to Islamic places of worship in Saudi Arabia for Umrah pilgrimage 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s national flag carrier announced on Thursday it would operate direct Umrah flights from the country’s Quetta and Faisalabad cities to Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah in a bid to facilitate pilgrims in the two cities. 
Thousands of Pakistanis travel to Saudi Arabia each month to visit the holy sites in Makkah and Madinah for the Umrah pilgrimage. Umrah is a voluntary Islamic pilgrimage to the Islamic sites in Saudi Arabia. A shorter version of the Hajj, it is voluntary and can be performed throughout the year. 
“PIA has announced direct flights from Quetta and Faisalabad to Jeddah on the strong insistence of pilgrims,” a spokesperson of the airline said in a statement. 
“Direct flights from Faisalabad and Quetta will be operated from August 6.”
The national airline’s spokesperson said two flights each from Quetta and Faisalabad to Jeddah would be operated per week. 
Balochistan Governor Sheikh Jafar Khan Mandokhail thanked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for backing the initiative. 
He said people in Balochistan previously had to travel to Karachi two days in advance to avail a direct Umrah flight to Saudi Arabia. Mandokhail said direct flights from Quetta to Jeddah will facilitate Baloch pilgrims in their travel. 
“And when they [passengers from Balochistan] returned they had to stay for a couple of days in Karachi to wait for a flight or another mode of transportation to return [to Balochistan],” he said.

In effort to combat narcotics, Pakistan to conduct National Drug Survey after 11 years

Updated 49 min 33 sec ago

In effort to combat narcotics, Pakistan to conduct National Drug Survey after 11 years

  • Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi directs authorities to finalize matters related to drug survey within 15 days
  • Survey to include data from homes, educational institutions and slums, says narcotics control ministry 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Thursday approved holding a fresh National Drug Survey after a gap of 11 years, the Ministry of Narcotics Control confirmed, vowing that the exercise would help effectively combat the menace of narcotics across the country. 
Pakistan’s government conducted the last drug survey in 2012-13 which revealed that approximately six percent of the population – or 6.7 million people – had used a substance other than alcohol and tobacco in the preceding year.
The fresh survey will gather reliable information on the extent to which the Pakistani population is using drugs and facing related disorders.
“The National Drug Survey will be conducted in the country after 11 years,” Federal Minister for Narcotics Control and Interior Minister Naqvi was quoted as saying in a statement by the narcotics control ministry.
“It is very important that the drug survey should be comprehensive and accurate.”
The minister tasked authorities to finalize matters related to the survey within 15 days, stressing that data on drug users should be collected from homes, educational institutions and also slums.
Naqvi directed the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) to jointly formulate a strategy, including the nature of the data required, the sample format and also the timeline for conducting the survey.
The minister vowed that authorities will not compromise on the issue of drugs as it concerns the nation’s future, adding that comprehensive decision-making related to narcotics would only be possible if the survey results were authentic.
“International development organizations should also be contacted for their cooperation in conducting the survey,” Naqvi was quoted as saying. 
Earlier in March, Pakistan’s Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) said it achieved a “monumental victory” in the battle against drug trafficking by intercepting the largest consignment of methamphetamine, popularly called “ice” in the South Asian country’s history.
ANF and Pakistan Coast Guard personnel have also lost their lives in land and sea operations against narcotics traffickers in numerous operations over the years.

Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol

Updated 18 July 2024

Pakistan arrests nine murder suspects from UAE in joint operation with Interpol

  • FIA has dispatched a local team to the Gulf state to bring back the accused individuals to Pakistan
  • Pakistan’s premier investigation agency says suspects were arrested from different areas of the UAE

ISLAMABAD: Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) have arrested nine Pakistani murder suspects from the United Arab Emirates in a joint operation, said an official statement on Thursday.

Interpol, an inter-governmental organization with 196 member countries, facilitates the sharing and accessing of data on crimes and criminals, offering a range of technical and operational support. Each member country hosts an Interpol National Central Bureau, which connects their national law enforcement with other countries and the general secretariat through a secure global police communications network called I-24/7, according to the Interpol website.

“During the special operation, nine suspects wanted in serious crimes were arrested from the UAE,” the FIA said. “The accused persons were arrested due to a joint strategy of Interpol Islamabad and Interpol Abu Dhabi.”

The statement said the suspects wanted by the police in Pakistan’s central Punjab province had cases registered against them under the provisions of attempted murder and murder.

Of these suspects, one was wanted by the Punjab police for 14 years while another was already dead and the rest were living abroad after committing murders, it added.

The FIA said all the murder suspects were arrested from different areas in the UAE, adding a local team had been dispatched to bring back the accused persons to Pakistan where they will be handed to the local Punjab police.

Pakistan’s national investigation agency and Interpol have also collaborated in the past to bring back criminals who had fled the South Asian state to evade arrest.

Omani nationals behind Muscat mosque attack that killed four Pakistanis, police say

Updated 33 min 44 sec ago

Omani nationals behind Muscat mosque attack that killed four Pakistanis, police say

  • Police say the three gunmen, who targeted the mosque, were killed after they offered resistance to security personnel
  • Attack claimed by Daesh is viewed as an attempt by the militant group to make a comeback after being crushed by the US

DUBAI: The three gunmen who shot and killed six people at a Shi’ite Muslim mosque in Oman in an attack claimed by Daesh this week were all Omani nationals, police said on Thursday.
The assault began on Monday evening at the Ali bin Abi Talib Mosque in the Wadi Al-Kabir neighborhood of Oman’s capital Muscat as Shi’ite Muslims gathered.
The Royal Oman Police said the three gunmen were brothers and “were killed due to their insistence on resisting security personnel.” It said that police investigations had indicated the three gunmen were “influenced by misguided ideas.”
The six people killed by the gunmen were four Pakistani nationals, an Indian, and a police officer responding to the attack, which Daesh later claimed responsibility for.
Pakistan has labelled the assault a terror attack.
Daesh on Tuesday said that three of its “suicide attackers” fired on worshippers at the mosque on Monday evening and exchanged gunfire with Omani security forces until morning.
The Sunni militant group also published what it said was a video of the attack on its Telegram site. It has claimed responsibility this year for high-profile attacks in Russia and Iran which inflicted mass casualties and is active in Afghanistan. It had not claimed an assault on the Arabian Peninsula for several years until the attack in Oman.
Its operations have indicated the group is attempting a comeback after it was crushed by a US-led coalition following its occupation of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate.
It also inspired lone-wolf attacks in the West.
Any inroads in Gulf Arab oil producers such as Oman would raise fears in Washington and the region which has long viewed militant Islamist groups as a major threat.
Dozens of people at the mosque in Oman were wounded with around 30 people treated at local hospitals, including for gunshot wounds.
Monday evening marked the beginning of Ashura, an annual period of mourning, which many Shi’ite Muslims mark publicly, to commemorate the 7th century death of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The observation of Ashura has sometimes triggered sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in some Middle East countries.
The attack was largely unprecedented in Oman, where most of its citizens follow the Ibadi Muslim faith that shares many similarities with mainstream Sunni Islam. Oman has a small but influential Omani Shi’ite population. Like other Gulf countries, there is a large and significant foreign workforce in Oman too.

Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes

Updated 18 July 2024

Pakistan criticizes UN for inaction on Palestine and Kashmir, seeks resolution of global disputes

  • Ambassador Jadoon tells UNSC Pakistan opposes a global order dominated by a few powerful states
  • He calls for a more just and democratic world through adherence to the principles of the UN Charter

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan criticized the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) this week for failing to apply its core principles to regions like Palestine and Kashmir, highlighting the non-implementation of its own resolutions to address protracted disputes around the world, during an open debate on multilateral cooperation.

Both regions have striking similarities, particularly regarding themes of foreign occupation and the right to self-determination. The UN has passed several resolutions in the past, advocating for peaceful solutions to the two protracted disputes, though geopolitical interests and regional dynamics have complicated these efforts.

Additionally, both regions have reportedly been focal points for human rights violations, including allegations of excessive use of force, restrictions on movement and suppression of political rights.

Presenting Pakistan’s perspective, Ambassador Usman Jadoon described the multilateral cooperation as “indispensable” for addressing global challenges.

“He expressed regret that the UN Security Council has failed to ensure universal implementation of the core principles of the UN Charter and its own resolutions, such as those related to Palestine and Jammu and Kashmir,” said an official statement shared by the country’s permanent mission to the UN on the social media on Wednesday.

He rejected any world order, whether unipolar, bipolar or multipolar, which was dominated by a few powerful states, saying such arrangements contradicted the principle of sovereign equality among nations.

“A just, democratic and sustainable world is achievable only through consistent adherence to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter,” he added.

Reiterating his own country’s commitment to comprehensive multilateral cooperation, he said such approach “must be comprehensive, inclusive, and equitable.”

He also called for reforms to the global financial, trade and technology architecture, saying they would ease “the suffering of a billion people in the Global South and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”