Pakistan PM expresses sorrow over loss of hundreds of lives in India train crash 

Pakistan PM expresses sorrow over loss of hundreds of lives in India train crash 
Rescue workers stand near a damaged carriage at the accident site of a three-train collision near Balasore, about 200 km (125 miles) from the state capital Bhubaneswar in the eastern state of Odisha, on June 3, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2023
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Pakistan PM expresses sorrow over loss of hundreds of lives in India train crash 

Pakistan PM expresses sorrow over loss of hundreds of lives in India train crash 
  • A deadly train crash in the Indian state of Odisha has so far killed nearly 300 people, injured 900 others 
  • Rescuers were cutting through destroyed carriages on Saturday to find people who may still be trapped 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday expressed grief over the loss of nearly 300 lives in one of the deadliest train crashes in India, as rescue workers searched through piles of debris and wreckage for bodies and survivors in the Indian state of Odisha. 

Nearly a dozen coaches of one train derailed late Friday and debris from some of them fell onto a nearby track, according to railroad ministry spokesperson Amitabh Sharma. The debris was hit by another passenger train, causing up to three coaches of the second train to derail as well. 

More than 288 dead bodies were recovered overnight and around 900 people were injured in the accident in Balasore district, while rescuers were cutting through the destroyed carriages to find people who may still be trapped under the debris. 

In his reaction to the tragedy, Pakistan PM Sharif extended his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and said he was praying for recover of the wounded. 

“Deeply saddened by the loss of hundreds of lives in a train accident in India,” the Pakistan premier said on Twitter. “I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. Prayers for speedy recovery of the injured.” 

Train accidents have not been uncommon in India and Pakistan, where a majority of railway tracks date back to the pre-partition British colonial era and there has been little improvement in the department since their independence in 1947. 

A speeding train ran over revellers watching fireworks during a Hindu festival in northern India on October 19, 2018, killing at least 60 people. 

In 2016, at least 146 people died when an Indore-Patna Express train with around 2,000 people on board derailed in Uttar Pradesh, sending carriages crashing into each other. 

In June 2021, more than 60 people died when a train hurtling through farmland derailed and collided with another passenger service in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. 


Clinical Rizwan guides Multan Sultans to five-wicket win over Lahore Qalandars 

Clinical Rizwan guides Multan Sultans to five-wicket win over Lahore Qalandars 
Updated 21 February 2024
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Clinical Rizwan guides Multan Sultans to five-wicket win over Lahore Qalandars 

Clinical Rizwan guides Multan Sultans to five-wicket win over Lahore Qalandars 
  • Muhammad Rizwan scores 82 runs off 59 balls to hand Multan Sultans third PSL 2024 win 
  • Sultans bowler Mohammad Ali returns figures of 2/28, Abbas Afridi, Usama Mir take one wicket each

ISLAMABAD: A quickfire half-century by Multan Sultans skipper Muhammad Rizwan helped his side secure a five-wicket win over defending champions Lahore Qalandars on Wednesday night, as the two sides locked horns in the seventh match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 clash in Multan. 
“Captain’s knock once again by Muhammad Rizwan,” the Sultans wrote on social media platform X. “3/3 wins in the bag.”

The Qalandars batted first, scoring 166-5 at the end of their 20 overs. A half-century by Rassie van der Dussen (54 off 37 balls) and a quick 41 runs from 36 balls by left-handed batter Fakhar Zaman gave the defending champions some support. 
However, Sultans bowler Mohammad Ali impressed yet again, returning figures of 2/28 while Abbas Afridi and spinner Usama Mir picked up a wicket each. The Qalandars could only manage 166-5 at the end of their 20 overs. 
The Sultans suffered early setbacks when they came out to bat, losing opening batter Dawid Malan for 0 and Reeza Hendricks for 9 while Rizwan stood his ground to score a half-century. Yasir Khan and David Willey departed after scoring 8 and 25 runs, respectively, before a valiant knock from Iftikhar Ahmed (34 runs from 11 balls) sealed the Qalandars’ fate.
Rizwan’s 82 runs from 59 balls featured three sixes and nine fours. He was awarded the Player of the Match award after the Sultans finished successfully at 170-5 at the end of 19 overs. 
Qalandars’ pacers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Zaman Khan grabbed the lion’s share of the wickets, returning figures of 2/25 and 2/52 respectively. 
With three consecutive wins in this year’s PSL, the Sultans sit pretty at the top of the table while the Qalandars are at the bottom after suffering three defeats.

 


Pakistan in for ‘roller coaster’ ride after parties strike deal

Pakistan in for ‘roller coaster’ ride after parties strike deal
Updated 21 February 2024
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Pakistan in for ‘roller coaster’ ride after parties strike deal

Pakistan in for ‘roller coaster’ ride after parties strike deal
  • Pakistan’s next government needs to take tough decisions to steer country out of a financial crisis
  • Another big move is the expected privatization of loss-making state-owned enterprises

ISLAMABAD: The deal between two Pakistani parties to form a coalition government will be based on conditional support from one of them, the Pakistan People’s Party, that will review decisions on a case-by-case basis, a top PPP official said on Wednesday.
Such an arrangement could make life difficult for the government, which needs to take tough decisions to steer the country out of financial crisis facing a strong opposition bloc led by supporters of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan.
“It will be, of course, a roller coaster,” said political commentator and author Ayesha Siddiqa of the road ahead for the next government.
The agreement between Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of three-time Premier Nawaz Sharif late Tuesday night ended days of uncertainty and negotiations after an inconclusive Feb. 8 election.
But the PPP is not taking cabinet positions, its secretary of information, Faisal Karim Kundi, told Reuters, and its support in parliament would depend on the party’s stance.
“We will support policy decisions on an issue-to-issue basis,” Kundi said, adding that PPP would vote for the PML-N’s prime minister candidate, Shehbaz Sharif, younger brother of party chief Nawaz Sharif.
The most challenging task is to agree on critical fiscal tightening conditions under a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) program.
The current IMF program expires in March.
Other big moves include the privatization of loss-making state-owned enterprises such as the flagship carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
Kundi said the PPP would not support the privatization of the airline, while the PML-N would want to fast-track it.
In return for supporting the formation of government by PML-N, PPP will seek the offices of the president, chairman of the upper house of the parliament, and governors in two of the four provinces, he said.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb did not respond to a request for a comment.
Markets on Wednesday reacted positively to the news of an alliance, which removed days of uncertainty. Pakistan’s benchmark share index rose 1.81 percent.
The index had fallen more than 5 percent since the elections.
Pakistan bonds recovered after three straight day of falls. The December 2027 bond was the biggest gainer, rising 2.58 cents, closely followed by the April 2031 bond which rose 2.54 cents.
PML-N’s 79 and the PPP’s 54 seats together make a simple majority in parliament to form a government, which, however, will also rope in smaller parties in the coalition.
Candidates backed by Imran Khan won 93 seats, but do not have the numbers to form a government. He and his party have rejected the results of the elections, alleging widespread rigging.


Rising energy costs may decrease exports, trigger industrial closures, warn Pakistani industrialists

Rising energy costs may decrease exports, trigger industrial closures, warn Pakistani industrialists
Updated 21 February 2024
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Rising energy costs may decrease exports, trigger industrial closures, warn Pakistani industrialists

Rising energy costs may decrease exports, trigger industrial closures, warn Pakistani industrialists
  • Pakistani industrialists demand reduction in electricity prices by 43 percent to compete with regional countries 
  • Pakistan has increased electricity, gas prices to comply with key conditions of an International Monetary Fund program

KARACHI: Pakistani industrialists warned on Wednesday that if energy prices are not slashed by approximately 43 percent, various industries may not survive as high input costs would lead to the loss of export markets, and eventually trigger industrial closures.
Pakistan, already reeling from skyrocketing inflation, has increased gas prices twice since November 2023. The latest increase was notified on Feb. 15, 2023, to meet the conditions of a $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout program. 
The IMF has pointed out that liquidity conditions in Pakistan’s power sector were acute, with a buildup of arrears and frequent power outages. The arrears, a form of public debt that builds up due to subsidies and unpaid bills, were a major issue in the eight months of negotiations between the lender and Islamabad before a deal was reached last year for the bailout package.
However, Pakistani industrialists say the international competitiveness of Pakistan’s textiles and apparel exports is being continuously eroded by ever-increasing energy prices that, on average, are over twice than those of competing countries.
“Energy, electricity or gas is the raw material of the product and it makes about 20 percent to 25 percent, and up till now, within two years, it has almost increased to double,” Saquib Fayyaz Magoon, acting president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said at a press conference in Karachi.
He said the price hikes have made Pakistani exporters “uncompetitive” in the export markets by a large margin.
Magoon said electricity prices for consumers are hovering at 16.7 cents per kilowatt, adding that the prices of gas for industries have been jacked by over 222 percent from Rs.852 ($3.05) per mmBtu to Rs. 2,750 ($9.83) per mmBtu.
The acting FPCCI head reiterated that this month, Pakistan’s cabinet approved a significant increase in gas prices, hiking them up to 67 percent for residential users and by 700 percent for fertilizer plants.
 “At the current energy rates, the survival of the industries is at stake,” Magoon said. “We are demanding an immediate reduction of the electricity rate from the current 16.7 cents to 9 cents (43 percent) because our regional competitors are getting electricity at half of that price.”
Asif Inam, chairman of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), said the industry is paying cross-subsidy, which means that industries are paying for losses of other industries that are non-productive.
“If the government is not coming up with the right set of policies to keep the industrial wheel in motion, a large chunk of the country’s industries would eventually fall victim to high input cost and close down,” Inam said. 
“So cross-subsidization must end to protect trade and industry.”
Pakistan’s exports have increased by 7.8 percent to $17.8 billion during the seven months of the current fiscal year, FY24. The textile sector contributed $9.7 billion or 54.4 percent to the overall exports of the country, as per official data.
However, FPCCI officials warned that the country’s exports will decline after the rise in the energy rates due to the factor of regional competitors, where power tariffs were still lower. In Vietnam, Bangladesh, and India, the power tariff stands at 7.2 US cents, 6 US cents, and 8.6 US cents per kilowatt.
The APTMA head noted that while the country has a 47,000 megawatt-installed generation capacity, its transmission and distribution capacity is only 28,000 megawatts.
“Independent power producers (IPPs) on take-or-pay basis are causing enormous financial burden on consumers across the board, be it households, commercial or industrial [users],” Inam said.


Pakistani, Saudi commerce ministers agree to enhance bilateral trade, investment 

Pakistani, Saudi commerce ministers agree to enhance bilateral trade, investment 
Updated 21 February 2024
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Pakistani, Saudi commerce ministers agree to enhance bilateral trade, investment 

Pakistani, Saudi commerce ministers agree to enhance bilateral trade, investment 
  • Commerce Minister Dr. Gohar Ejaz is leading a delegation of prominent Pakistani businesspersons in Saudi Arabia 
  • Both sides agreed to increase investment in construction, digital economy sectors, says Pakistani commerce ministry

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Caretaker Commerce Minister Dr. Gohar Ejaz on Wednesday discussed enhancing bilateral trade and investment with Saudi Arabia in various sectors such as construction, infrastructure and digital economy, the commerce ministry said. 
Ejaz met Saudi Arabia’s commerce minister, Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi, as he led a delegation of prominent Pakistani businesspersons in the kingdom on Wednesday. Members of the delegation included notable Pakistani businessperson Arif Habib and the president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, (FPCCI) Atif Ikram. 
“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia agreed on enhancing bilateral trade,” Pakistan’s commerce ministry said. “The two sides agreed to enhance investment in the fields of construction, digital economy and infrastructure.”
In a message on social media platform X, Al-Qasabi said he and Ejaz discussed developing bilateral trade relations and “investing in promising opportunities” in the two countries.
Last year a delegation of 15 top Pakistani IT companies led by IT Minister Dr. Umar Saif visited Saudi Arabia and signed deals to accelerate digital transformation, foster innovation and advance digital infrastructure. 
The agreements will also boost the ecosystems for small and medium-sized enterprises and startups and encourage the transfer of businesses and the exchange of information on accelerators and incubators.
Both countries have also decided to establish a special task force to promote Saudi-Pakistan digital cooperation.
Pakistan enjoys strong economic and trade relations with Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates, serving as the top source of remittances for the cash-strapped South Asian country.
Saudi Arabia has also frequently bailed Pakistan out of its economic crisis over the years, serving as an important strategic partner for the South Asian country.


Karachi Kings thrash Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest

Karachi Kings thrash Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest
Updated 21 February 2024
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Karachi Kings thrash Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest

Karachi Kings thrash Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets in PSL 2024 contest
  • Karachi bowlers Mir Hamza, Hassan Ali return figures of 3/28, 3/30 to dismiss Zalmi for 154
  • Zalmi skipper Babar Azam’s 72-run knock comes to naught as his team suffers second PSL 9 loss

ISLAMABAD: Backed by impressive bowling performances from Mir Hamza and Hassan Ali, Karachi Kings thrashed Peshawar Zalmi by seven wickets at Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.
The Kings won the toss and elected to field first against Zalmi in the sixth match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2024 tournament. The decision proved to be the correct one as Hamza and Ali dealt severe blows to the Zalmi batters, dismissing the “Yellow Storm” for 154 runs.
Skipper Babar Azam scored 72 runs off 51 balls but could not find ample support from the middle order as Ali and Hamza kept picking wickets one by one. Rovman Powell scored 39 from 25 balls while Asif Ali scored 23 off 16 balls to lend some support to Azam.
“I think we scored less, we lost few wickets in power play,” Azam said at the post-match press conference. “You have to build partnerships and that’s what we missed today.”
Kings bowlers Hamza returned figures of 3/28 while Ali finished with 3/30. Daniel Sams returned figures of 2/28 while spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Shoaib Malik took one wicket each.
The Kings chased the target in 16.5 overs at the loss of three wickets. Skipper Shan Masood scored 16 runs while Muhammad Akhlaq made 24 runs. James Vince and Keiron Pollard remained unbeaten on 38 and 49 runs respectively to guide their team to victory.
Zalmi bowlers Luke Wood returned figures of 2/20 while Waqar Salamkheil finished with 1/54 from his four overs.
Peshawar Zalmi remain at the bottom of the table with two losses from as many games while Karachi Kings have moved up to fourth place with a win and a loss from their two matches.