Tanzeela Qambrani becomes first from tiny African-Pakistani community to become cabinet member

Tanzeela Qambrani, a resident of Matli in Badin district, who is also known as Tanzeela Sheedi, is the first Pakistani with African roots to become a lawmaker in Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: Tanzeela Qambrani)
Tanzeela Qambrani, a resident of Matli in Badin district, who is also known as Tanzeela Sheedi, is the first Pakistani with African roots to become a lawmaker in Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: Tanzeela Qambrani)
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Updated 05 August 2021

Tanzeela Qambrani becomes first from tiny African-Pakistani community to become cabinet member

Tanzeela Qambrani becomes first from tiny African-Pakistani community to become cabinet member
  • Tanzeela Qambrani belongs to Sheedi community and joined Sindh Assembly on women's reserved seat in 2018
  • She specializes in computer sciences and will head the ministry of information technology

KARACHI: Pakistan’s southern Sindh province on Thursday appointed Tanzeela Qambrani, a female lawmaker of African descent, to its cabinet, making her the first member of the country s tiny African-Pakistani community to hold a government portfolio.

A resident of Matli in Badin district, Qambrani belongs to the Sheedi community and joined Sindh’s ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) after securing a master’s degree in computer sciences from a local university in 2010.

She was elected as a provincial legislator in Sindh on women's reserved seat in August 2018.

Qambrani on Thursday was notified as special assistant to the province’s chief minister, a post equal in status to a provincial minister. She will head the important information technology department.

“[Pakistan’s founding father] Muhammad Ali Jinnah said all citizens of this country are equal. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto gave the country a constitution, which provides everyone equal rights. My [PPP] chairman [Bilawal Bhutto Zardari] practically showed it [by appointing me to the provincial cabinet],” Qambrani told Arab News, adding that she wanted to empower Pakistani women and youth with the opportunities created by information technology.

“Information technology is my subject which is used in almost every field,” she said. “I want to use it to ensure the progress of our women and youth, including those belonging to my own community.”

While there are various accounts of the arrival of the Sheedi community in the region, it is widely believed that its members have their roots in Africa and their forefathers accompanied famous Arab military commander Muhammad bin Qasim to South Asia.

Estimates suggest that the total size of the community is about 250,000 people.


IMF satisfied with Pakistan’s utilization of COVID-19 fund – finance ministry

IMF satisfied with Pakistan’s utilization of COVID-19 fund – finance ministry
Updated 28 November 2021

IMF satisfied with Pakistan’s utilization of COVID-19 fund – finance ministry

IMF satisfied with Pakistan’s utilization of COVID-19 fund – finance ministry
  • The global lending agency provided $1.4 billion to Pakistan last year to mitigate the negative economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak
  • The ministry says the IMF acknowledged there was no embezzlement in the utilization of the COVID-19 fund

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s finance ministry said on Saturday the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had expressed satisfaction over the country’s utilization of COVID-19 fund after an audit report of the urgently procured supplies related to the disease was shared with it.

Last year, the international financial institution provided $1.4 billion to Islamabad to meet its balance of payment requirements stemming from the coronavirus outbreak, though it also required the government to conduct an ex-post audit of its utilization.

The ministry published the audit report on its website on Friday to fulfil an IMF condition, making the local media say some Rs40 billion of irregularities had been found in the COVID-19 budget.

Responding to the claim, the ministry said the auditor general of Pakistan had discussed the report “in detail” with the IMF in June and during the recently concluded sixth review for a multibillion-dollar bailout package.

“The IMF was fully satisfied that there was no case of fraud and embezzlement,” it said in a statement.

The ministry informed a majority of paragraphs and observations included in the report related to procedural shortcomings due to emergency procurements.

“The IMF was further informed that divisions/organisations have noted those shortcomings and taken remedial measures,” it added.

The ministry admitted it had published the report on the website as a “prior action under the recently completed 6th review” of the IMF extended fund facility.

It said the report had already been presented to parliament and was therefore in public knowledge.

“The government strongly believes in and is committed to transparency and accountability,” it continued.


Karachi launches drive-in cinema to provide affordable entertainment

Karachi launches drive-in cinema to provide affordable entertainment
Updated 27 November 2021

Karachi launches drive-in cinema to provide affordable entertainment

Karachi launches drive-in cinema to provide affordable entertainment

ISLAMABAD: The city administrator of Karachi said on Friday the country's seaside metropolis needed entertainment while asking its residents to enjoy the experience of a new drive-in cinema that was launched later in the day.

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has set up the Sunset Cinema near the Beach View Park where it plans to screen critically acclaimed movies on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

"Our #Karachi needs familiar entertainment," said Murtaza Wahab Siddiqui, the city administrator, in a Twitter post. "Keeping #COVID19 & [Karachi] weather in mind, KMC has initiated a Drive-In Cinema experience with #sunsetcinema. Starting from tonight. Do check it out!"

 

 

Karachi is frequently described as Pakistan's commercial capital and makes significant contribution to the national economy.

However, the provincial administration of Sindh imposed strict coronavirus restrictions in the city to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in recent months.

The lockdowns particularly affected businesses and shopping centers, bringing about significant disruption in the lives of Karachi's residents.

The Sunset Cinema is likely to provide some relief to the people of the city since its management seeks to provide entertainment at affordable rates by running the place on a no-profit-no-loss basis.


Parliament allows use of EVMs in next elections, grants voting rights to overseas Pakistanis

Parliament allows use of EVMs in next elections, grants voting rights to overseas Pakistanis
Updated 17 November 2021

Parliament allows use of EVMs in next elections, grants voting rights to overseas Pakistanis

Parliament allows use of EVMs in next elections, grants voting rights to overseas Pakistanis
  • The country’s foreign minister calls it a ‘historic day’ that will help ensure transparent elections in Pakistan
  • The opposition protests the passage of the law, vows to challenge it in the country’s top court

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government called it a “historic day” after a joint session of parliament on Wednesday allowed the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general elections in 2023 and granted the right to vote to overseas nationals amid uproar and protest by opposition parties.
The government convened a joint sitting of the Senate and National Assembly to get about 29 draft bills passed through majority vote. However, the opposition members ripped the copies of the agenda along with the proposed legislations before walking out of the session in protest.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has advocated the use of EVMs in the forthcoming general elections as part of its electoral reforms despite reservations by opposition factions and the country’s election regulatory authority.
While the Election Commission of Pakistan and the opposition believe a hasty use of these devices can undermine free and fair elections, the government maintains they can put an end to repeated rigging allegations in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan along with other treasury members welcomed the passage of the bill on Wednesday by thumping desks and chanting slogans in the house. The opposition members tried to move amendments which were rejected by the government through majority vote.
“Today is a historic day,” said foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi while delivering a speech on the floor of the house. “The EVMs are being introduced to bury evil and vicious designs.”
The opposition factions, however, vowed to challenge “the controversial and black law” at every forum including the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
“Today is the black day for parliament,” Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, said. “A rigged government is imposed on us, and now they want to impose the EVMs on us.”
The opposition leader termed the electronic voting machines as “evil and vicious” while accusing the government of trying to steal the next elections by deploying them at polling stations across the country.
He also urged the speaker to defer the joint session to build consensus of all parliamentary parties on electoral reforms by holding “comprehensive and meaningful” consultations with the opposition.
Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also asked the government to develop a consensus before passing the law related to changes in the electoral system to ensure that the next electoral contest did not become controversial.
He said the opposition would not accept the next election results if the government passed the law by bulldozing the regular proceedings of the house.
“I don’t accept these election reforms,” he said. “We will challenge this law at every forum including the Supreme Court.”
Foreign minister Qureshi, however, dismissed the opposition’s claims while addressing the joint parliamentary session.
“We don’t want to bulldoze the legislation process,” he said. “We had reached out to the opposition [for consultation on electoral reforms], but they didn’t pay any heed.”
He maintained the electronic voting machines would help make the next elections “more transparent” in a country where people often doubt election results.
He also added the overseas Pakistanis were an asset to the country and the government wanted to involve them in the “policy and decision-making processes” by granting them the right to vote.
The joint parliamentary session also granted the right to appeal to Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav and passed the Banking Services Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The opposition claimed the latter piece of legislation was passed on the direction of the International Monetary Fund.


Pakistan takes Tehreek-e-Labbaik leader off terrorism list under deal to end protests

Pakistan takes Tehreek-e-Labbaik leader off terrorism list under deal to end protests
Updated 12 November 2021

Pakistan takes Tehreek-e-Labbaik leader off terrorism list under deal to end protests

Pakistan takes Tehreek-e-Labbaik leader off terrorism list under deal to end protests
  • Experts say a removal from the watchlist can be a legal prerequisite for Saad Rizvi's release from prison
  • The TLP was born in 2015 out of a protest campaign to seek the release of a police guard who assassinated a provincial governor in 2011

LAHORE: Pakistan removed Islamist leader Saad Rizvi from its terrorism watchlist on Thursday, paving the way for his release from detention under a deal to end weeks of deadly protests by his followers over an alleged blasphemy.
The move came a week after the government agreed to free 2,000 detained members of his Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) movement, lifted a ban on the group and agreed to let it contest elections.
In return, the TLP has agreed to shun the politics of violence and withdraw a demand to have France's ambassador expelled over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by a French magazine, negotiators have said.
The TLP took to the streets in mid-October, kicking off weeks of protests and clashes that killed at least seven policemen, injured scores on both sides and blocked the country's busiest highway.
At the height of the violence, Prime Minister Imran Khan's government banned the TLP, designated it a terrorist group and arrested Rizvi.
A government notification seen by Reuters said the TLP chief Saad Rizvi's name was "hereby deleted" from the terrorism watchlist after authorities lifted the ban.
It did not go into further details and the government and the interior ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But legal experts said a removal from the watchlist would be a legal prerequisite for any release.
The TLP, which can mobilize thousands of supporters, was born in 2015 out of a protest campaign to seek the release of a police guard who assassinated a provincial governor in 2011 over his calls to reform blasphemy legislation.
It entered politics in 2017 and surprised the political elite by securing more than 2 million votes in the 2018 election.
The next national election is scheduled for 2023, and analysts expect political groups to start gearing up from early next year.


Afghan FM’s visit to Pakistan ‘significant,’ says Pakistan’s Kabul envoy

Afghan FM’s visit to Pakistan ‘significant,’ says Pakistan’s Kabul envoy
Updated 10 November 2021

Afghan FM’s visit to Pakistan ‘significant,’ says Pakistan’s Kabul envoy

Afghan FM’s visit to Pakistan ‘significant,’ says Pakistan’s Kabul envoy
  • Top-level delegation to accompany Amir Khan Muttaqi to Islamabad today

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s interim Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi is scheduled to visit Pakistan on Wednesday to discuss bilateral ties, trade and economic cooperation, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
This will be the first visit of a senior Afghan official to Pakistan since the Taliban seized control on Aug. 15.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi visited Kabul last month, announcing that a Taliban delegation would soon visit his country to address bilateral issues and further strengthen relations between the two sides.
“A senior delegation led by FM Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi will travel to Pakistan on Nov 10,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, said in a Twitter post on Tuesday. “Delegation will discuss enhancing ties, economy, transit, refugees & expanding facilities for movement of people, & will include Ministers & working groups from Finance & Trade Ministries.”
While Islamabad has not formally recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s legitimate rulers, it is among a handful of countries that have retained their diplomatic presence in Kabul. Confirming the visit, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmed Khan called it extremely significant, noting that the visit comes at a time when Afghanistan is facing several economic and humanitarian issues.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan are close neighbors who cherish an important relationship which is rooted in common border, history, culture and religion,” he told Arab News.
“It is an important visit in the current scenario when Afghanistan faces serious economic issues that can lead to a major humanitarian disaster,” he continued.
Khan said Pakistan’s foreign minister had led a high-level delegation to Kabul on Oct. 21 to figure out how his country could meaningfully assist Afghanistan.
“At that occasion, we also invited the Afghan side to visit Islamabad to discuss bilateral contacts by focusing on humanitarian engagement, trade, transit and people-to-people movement between the two countries,” the Pakistani envoy said.
Salman Bashir, a former Pakistani foreign secretary, told Arab News that the visit of the Afghan foreign minister reflected a deepening engagement between the two countries.
“The Afghan side is also trying to mobilize regional efforts for its socioeconomic development,” he said, adding that the world needed to recognize that the Taliban had emerged as a dominant force and established their government in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan has dealt with everyone who established a government in Kabul in the past and will establish formal relations with this government as well,” he noted.
“In a way, Pakistan has already recognized them (unofficially) as we have an ambassador in Kabul who meets the Taliban officials,” Bashir continued. “Their foreign minister is going to be visiting us not as a member of the Taliban movement but as a senior official of his country.”
Rustam Shah Mohmand, an Afghan affairs expert who also served as Pakistan’s envoy to Kabul, said the visit of the Afghan official could pave the way to the formal recognition of the Taliban government by Pakistan.
“Pakistan has no other option than to recognize the Taliban government,” he said. “They may do it after a few months but eventually that is the only option.”
Mohmand said that the postponement of Pakistan’s decision over the issue was providing other countries with an “excuse” and creating distrust between Islamabad and Kabul.
“Other countries present it as an excuse that a neighbor (of Afghanistan) with over two million Afghan refugees has not recognized the Taliban government,” he said. “It provides them with a justification of why they should not do it either.”
Mohmand added that visa issues, border management and trade concerns were also likely to be discussed during the meeting.

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