First-ever career fair paves the way for women in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province

A group photo of the organizers of the Women’s Employability Summit and Career Fair, shared by the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University.
Updated 01 February 2018

First-ever career fair paves the way for women in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province

PESHAWAR: A two-day career fair that ended on Thursday will encourage women to expand their work horizons in traditionally male-dominated Pushtun society, organizers believe.

The Women’s Employability Summit and Career Fair, organized by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University in Peshawar, was the first of its kind in Pakistan’s conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

Students and graduates from 21 women’s colleges of KP and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) attended the fair, where they met more than 30 employers who offered jobs to graduates and internships to students, said Sehrish Zafar, assistant director university advancement and media.

She said that the university had signed an agreement with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) that will allow it to take over the Women Business Development Center of SMEDA, which helps students and graduates launch startups.

About 30 stalls offered promotions at the fair. Sana Ikram, of Fazaia College of Education for Women, who was managing a Montessori education stall, said: “Our institution offers one-year diploma and also short courses in the Montessori method of education. We are here to raise awareness among people about this method of education because we offer training for teachers.”

Items on display in the stall had been brought from Australia and included numerical rods to teach numeracy to children and geometrical insets that help pupils learn how to hold pencils.

Ikram said that women in KP mostly prefer teaching jobs and face problems in other fields.

Zahwa Khan, a 22-year-old student at the university, runs a business from home cutting and polishing gemstones with help from her brother. She said online videos had taught her techniques to improve her work.

Women had been given the role of housewife in society, but events such as the career fair sent a message that they could do many other things, including jobs and businesses, she said.

Fariha Jaffar Bajwa, a member of the National Commission on the Status of Women, told Arab News that the event was unique in KP because it was exclusively for women. She said there was a time when women would be barred from education but now their education rate was improving.

“It’s the same in the case of jobs,” she said. “Although jobs and businesses at one time were not considered appropriate for women, now society is changing — but change doesn’t come overnight,” she said.

“According to law, women also have a 10 percent quota in jobs, in addition to open merit, but the implementation of the law is an issue,” said Bajwa, a lawyer based in Islamabad.

The university’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr. Razia Sultana, said that the province would have a strong job market in future and that the region would be a business hub under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

“The special economic zones being developed in KP require people with professional and other skills and hopefully these will employ a good number of women,” she said.

Sultana said several companies had offered jobs and internships to graduates and students at the event, including Jubilee Insurance, with 100 positions, and Pearl Continental, with three positions.

“Boys often have networks and job opportunities. Today’s career fair for female graduates and students is like a network to raise awareness among both employers and students, and to bridge the gap between the academic and applied sides,” she said.

Students often married during or shortly after their studies, and the career fair also provided graduates with "soft" jobs they could do at home to support their families, Sultana said.

Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

Updated 19 July 2019

Pakistan ex-PM in custody of anti-graft body amid Qatar LNG case

  • Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds
  • Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was remanded in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for 13 days, a day after he was arrested in a case involving a multibillion-rupee liquefied natural gas (LNG) import contract to Qatar.
Abbasi, who is also the vice president of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz (PML-N) party, was presented before Judge Bashir Ahmed of an accountability court on Friday morning. The case has been adjourned until Aug. 1.
Speaking to journalists before his appearance at the court, Abbasi called his arrest “an attack on democracy.”
Last year, the NAB ordered an inquiry into Abbasi over the alleged misappropriation of funds in the import of LNG that the agency says caused a loss of about $2 billion to the national exchequer. He is also being investigated for allegedly granting a 15-year contract for an LNG terminal to a “favored” company. Abbasi rejects the allegations.
PML-N Sen. Mushahid Ullah Khan said Pakistan was facing “the worst energy crisis of its kind” when his party came to power after the 2013 general election, and the LNG deal was quickly finalized with Qatar to overcome it.
“The industry was shutting down with thousands of people getting unemployed, but this LNG supply helped us reverse the tide,” he told Arab News.
Khan said Pakistan’s LNG contract with Qatar was “the cheapest possible deal” the country could have gotten, and rubbished allegations of corruption and kickbacks.
“If there is something wrong in the contract, why is this government not reviewing it?” Khan asked.
Pakistan is currently receiving a supply of 500 million cubic feet per day of LNG from Qatar under a 15-year agreement at 13.37 percent of Brent crude price. It is a government-to-government agreement and the price can only be reviewed after 10 years of the contract.
“It is the worst example of political victimization by Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government,” PML-N Chairman Raja Zafrul Haq said on Friday after the accountability court remanded Abbasi in NAB custody. “Shahid Khaqan served the nation with dignity and did not commit any wrongdoings,” Haq added.
Abbasi was arrested on his way to Lahore to address a news conference along with PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday.
He served as federal minister for petroleum in the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when he finalized an LNG import deal with Qatar. Abbasi then served for less than a year as prime minister following the resignation of Sharif in 2017.
On Thursday, Pakistan opened technical bids of four international companies for the supply of 400 million cubic feet per day of LNG for a period of 10 years to fulfil the country’s rising energy requirements.
Officials told Arab News that a Qatari delegation, led by Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in June, resented that Islamabad had ignored its lowest offer of 11.05 percent of Brent for the fresh deal, and instead floated tenders seeking provision of LNG for 10 years from international companies.
The secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Energy said: “Yes, this is true. Qatar expressed its annoyance, but we are following our rules. Qatar has not submitted its bid to participate in the process.”
Khan won power last year vowing to root out corruption among what he describes as a venal political elite, and views the probes into veteran politicians — including Sharif and former President Asif Ali Zardari — as long overdue.
The NAB’s campaign has become a topic of fierce political debate in Pakistan, and its focus on the new government’s political foes has prompted accusations of a one-sided purge. The government denies targeting political opponents.
Commenting on Abbasi’s case, former NAB prosecutor Munir Sadiq said the anti-corruption watchdog would file a reference against Abbasi in an accountability court for prosecution, but only if it found irrefutable evidence against him.
“This case is now at the evidence-collection stage, and the NAB will file a reference in the court if it finds irrefutable corruption evidence against Abbasi during the investigation,” Sadiq said.
He added that any inquiry against Abbasi would be shelved after 90 days if corroborating evidence of corruption was not found.
“If a weak case will be filed against the accused, then he will surely receive support from the court,” Sadiq said.