Pakistani pilgrims can buy sacrificial animals during Hajj from nine authorized entities — ministry

Pakistani pilgrims can buy sacrificial animals during Hajj from nine authorized entities — ministry
This representational photo shows a Saudi man inspecting a sheep at a livestock market in the southwestern province of Jazan on August 8, 2019. (SPA/File)
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Updated 13 June 2023
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Pakistani pilgrims can buy sacrificial animals during Hajj from nine authorized entities — ministry

Pakistani pilgrims can buy sacrificial animals during Hajj from nine authorized entities — ministry
  • Sacrificing an animal, typically a goat or sheep, is part of Hajj and incumbent on all pilgrims
  • Over 50,000 Pakistanis have arrived in the kingdom so far to perform this year’s Hajj

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s religious affairs ministry said on Tuesday pilgrims who had traveled to Saudi Arabia for Hajj this year could purchase sacrificial animals through coupons from nine authorized entities, state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported.

Purchasing and sacrificing an animal, typically a goat or a sheep, is a part of Hajj and incumbent on all pilgrims. Once slaughtered, at least two-thirds of the meat of the sacrificial animal is donated to the poor.  

This year, Saudi authorities reinstated Pakistan’s pre-pandemic Hajj quota, allowing 179,210 Pakistani pilgrims to participate in the pilgrimage while removing the upper age limit of 65 years. Around 80,000 Pakistanis will perform Hajj under the government scheme, while the rest will be facilitated by private tour operators.

According to the religious affairs ministry, over 50,000 Pakistanis have arrived in the kingdom so far for the annual Islamic pilgrimage since the government launched a special flight operation on May 21.

“The Saudi government has authorized nine entities for the sale of sacrificial coupons, with each Hajj pilgrim required to purchase one coupon at a total price of 720 Riyals ($192),” APP reported, citing Muhammad Umer Butt, the religious ministry spokesperson.

“This initiative aims to facilitate Pakistani pilgrims who desire to perform their sacrifice with the assistance of the Pakistani government.”

The designated entities for the sale of coupons include Saudi Post, Ehsan, Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Al Bir Society, Hidayah, Saudi National Bank (SNB), Al Rajhi Bank, Bank Albilad, and Tabrah. Butt said the entities had already set up counters within the vicinity of the Great Mosque of Makkah or Masjid al-Haram, from where pilgrims could directly purchase the coupons.

“In addition to the counters set up in the vicinity of the Haram Sharif, pilgrims can also purchase coupons from mobile vans operated by Saudi Post and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), located in various buildings,” Butt added.

“The coupon allows individuals to travel to Mina on foot and collect their portion of meat. Nevertheless, it is recommended to avoid going to Mina due to the high volume of people and the potential risk of getting lost.”


Islamabad United face rejuvenated Quetta Gladiators in PSL 9 clash today

Islamabad United face rejuvenated Quetta Gladiators in PSL 9 clash today
Updated 15 sec ago
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Islamabad United face rejuvenated Quetta Gladiators in PSL 9 clash today

Islamabad United face rejuvenated Quetta Gladiators in PSL 9 clash today
  • Under new skipper Rilee Rossouw, Quetta Gladiators have won both of their PSL 2024 matches so far
  • Islamabad will look to their right-arm pacers Naseem Shah, Ubaid Shah to keep Quetta batters at bay

ISLAMABAD: Former two-time Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Islamabad United will face a rejuvenated Quetta Gladiators squad in Lahore’s Qaddafi Stadium on Thursday, as the PSL 2024 tournament continues. 

Under new skipper Rilee Rossouw, the Gladiators have shown promise by winning the two matches they have played in this year’s PSL tournament. The Gladiators sit at the number two spot in the PSL points table after beating Peshawar Zalmi and defending champions Lahore Qalandars in their opening two fixtures of the tournament. 

United won the opening match of the PSL 9 tournament by beating Qalandars but lost their last match against the Multan Sultans after a tough fight. With a win and a loss, they are placed at number three on the PSL points table. 

“#WeTheGladiators take the field against Islamabad United today,” the Gladiators wrote on social media platform X. 

The Gladiators will be looking toward 22-year-old Karachi batter Khawaja Nafay, who stunned the Qalandars on Monday after taking stellar pacers Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi and others to the cleaners in his unbeaten knock of 60 runs from 31 balls. 

They also have a strong bowling line-up in the form of Muhammad Hasnain, Mohammad Amir and Akeal Hosein. 

United, on the other hand, will look to their explosive batters Alex Hales, Azam Khan, Shadab Khan and Salman Ali Agha to put up a stellar batting display tonight. 

In right-arm pacers Naseem Shah and Ubaid Shah, both brothers, Imad Wasim and Tymal Mills, United also boast a strong bowling attack that can upset any franchise in the world on a given day. 

The match between the two sides kicks off at 7:30 p.m. (Pakistan Standard Time). 


Pakistan’s Punjab province gears up for inaugural legislative session following governor’s order

Pakistan’s Punjab province gears up for inaugural legislative session following governor’s order
Updated 31 min 3 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Punjab province gears up for inaugural legislative session following governor’s order

Pakistan’s Punjab province gears up for inaugural legislative session following governor’s order
  • PML-N candidate Maryam Nawaz Sharif is expected to take over as the first female chief minister of the province
  • The inaugural session has been called by the governor after Sharif’s first parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday

ISLAMABAD: The post-election wheeling-dealing in Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province reached its culmination on Thursday after Governor Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman summoned the inaugural session of the legislative assembly for the oath-taking ceremony tomorrow.

The governor called the session only a day after the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) held a parliamentary party meeting under the leadership of Maryam Nawaz Sharif who is expected to take charge as the first female chief minister of the province soon.

The PML-N emerged as the largest party in the Punjab Assembly in the wake of the last general elections held earlier this month. According to media analyzes, the party is in a comfortable position to form the next provincial administration after its parliamentary party meeting was attended by well over 200 newly elected lawmakers.

“In exercise of the powers conferred under Article 109 read with Article 130(2) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, I, Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman, Governor of the Punjab, hereby summon the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab to meet on 23rd February 2024 (Friday) at 10:00 am, in the Provincial Assembly Chambers Lahore,” said the short order circulated by the Governor’s House.

A party requires 186 members to form the government in Punjab. The PML-N that won 137 seats has been joined by about two dozen independent members and is likely to bag a significant number of reserved seats.

Punjab holds a pivotal position in Pakistan’s politics due to its population density that gives it 141 out of 266 general seats in the National Assembly.

Historically, the party that secures a stronghold in Punjab often manages to form the government at the center.

The PML-N’s candidate for the position of chief minister, Sharif plans to set new governance benchmarks and shared her vision for the province during the parliamentary party meeting only a day earlier.
 


Pakistan’s finance ministry outlines fiscal challenges in annual risk report

Pakistan’s finance ministry outlines fiscal challenges in annual risk report
Updated 22 February 2024
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Pakistan’s finance ministry outlines fiscal challenges in annual risk report

Pakistan’s finance ministry outlines fiscal challenges in annual risk report
  • Inflation, climate change and increasing debt burden are some of the challenges to the country’s fiscal position
  • The ministry says moderation in international commodity prices is likely to contribute to a reduction in inflation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s finance ministry released the Fiscal Risk Statement FY2023-24 on Wednesday, providing an overview of potential risks and uncertainties that could impact the country’s fiscal outlook in the coming years.
The ministry is legally bound to prepare the statement under the Public Finance Management Act, 2019, which requires the annual budget to mention fiscal risks.
Pakistan’s economy has faced multiple challenges in recent years, affecting the economic growth and fiscal deficit.
The government has implemented several economic reforms to contain fiscal deficit and make the key sectors more efficient to attract more investment in the country.
However, this has also increased the inflationary pressure in the economy, with food prices touching record high levels in recent months.
“The inflation outlook has deteriorated, and there is heightened risk to external stability,” the ministry while specifying a key macroeconomic challenge. “The uncertainty surrounding the future adjustment path in energy prices is the main upside risk to the inflation outlook.”
However, the ministry said a potential moderation in international commodity prices was expected to contribute to a reduction in inflation in the country.
It also mentioned Pakistan’s debt problem as yet another risk factor.
“External debt constitutes 40.8 percent of total public debt, which may make the Government’s fiscal position vulnerable in the face of high current account deficits, low foreign exchange reserves, and a weakening exchange rate,” it said.
“Ongoing fiscal deficits require refinancing of the Government’s maturing debt while raising additional debt to fulfill the fiscal shortfall. A high level of short-term debt creates potentially significant refinancing challenges during periods of slower economic growth, higher fiscal deficits, and/or lower investor confidence,” it added.
The report warned that climate and natural hazard events could pose challenges to the government’s fiscal risk position.
The ministry recommended a restrictive monetary policy through higher interest rates, both to reduce inflation and help address external imbalances.
It also advocated for measures to improve the business environment by creating a fair and level playing field for the organizations to increase investment and trade.


Arab Monetary Fund, Pakistan central bank in talks to integrate cross-border remittance platforms

Arab Monetary Fund, Pakistan central bank in talks to integrate cross-border remittance platforms
Updated 22 February 2024
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Arab Monetary Fund, Pakistan central bank in talks to integrate cross-border remittance platforms

Arab Monetary Fund, Pakistan central bank in talks to integrate cross-border remittance platforms
  • Buna is a cross-border payment system supported by Arab central banks and fully owned by Arab Monetary Fund
  • AMF and Pakistan’s central bank signed agreement last year to integrate Buna and Pakistani platform Raast

KARACHI: The Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) are engaged in technical level talks to integrate their payment systems and facilitate cross-border remittances between the Arab region and Pakistan, the deputy governor of the SBP said.
The chairman of AMF and the governor of Pakistan’s central bank signed an agreement last year to establish a framework of cooperation between Buna, a cross-border payment system operated by Arab Regional Payments Clearing and Settlement Organization (ARPCSO) and owned by AMF, and Raast, a Pakistani instant payment system for real-time settlement of small-value retail payments, including inter-bank peer-to-peer and person-to-merchant transactions.
Technical talks are now on to integrate the two systems and facilitate millions of Pakistanis living in the Gulf region by enabling them to send remittances in real time at a lower cost. The integration will also benefit businesses through instant, safe and cost-effective cross border payments and aims to strengthen economic, financial, and investment ties between Arab countries and Pakistan.
“After signing the MoU, the negotiations are on with the technical teams, and at the technical level, the modalities and the developments needed at the end of Buna and at the end of Raast, they are being worked out,” Saleem Ullah, the deputy governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, told Arab News on Wednesday.
After the completion of the technical level talks, details would be shared with the vendor for execution, he added.
“Fortunately, the vendor is same for Buna and Raast. Once we are able to finalize the requirements, then those would be shared with the vendor, and then the vendor would be able to give us the timeline within which that development would be possible,” he added.
He said the execution of the project would take at least a year “but it would depend on the vendor estimates with respect to the developments that are to be developed for the purpose of developing this interface.”
Financial experts believe the initiative would benefit about five million Pakistanis living in the Gulf region and help Pakistan boost its remittance inflows through legal channels.
“The benefit for 5 million plus Pakistanis living in the Gulf would be lesser hassle in remitting money to Pakistan because the dependency on other international similar platforms see longer transaction turnaround time as these platforms either exist in the US or other markets,” Danish Kazi, financial and political analyst based in UAE, told Arab News.
Kazi said both affordability and access for common Pakistanis to encourage remitting through legal channels would increase with the new initiative.
“This would also help business transactions which means more export opportunities for Pakistani goods and services in the region,” he added.
 The aim was to regulate remittances through SBP instead of them moving via non documented sectors.
“Further, these remittances through Buna to Pakistan may also assist SBP to raise funds from Gulf markets using these as collateral or toward payments of such financing via commercial or government banks,” Kazi said.


Pakistan constitutes team to investigate social media campaign against officials post-election rigging claims

Pakistan constitutes team to investigate social media campaign against officials post-election rigging claims
Updated 22 February 2024
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Pakistan constitutes team to investigate social media campaign against officials post-election rigging claims

Pakistan constitutes team to investigate social media campaign against officials post-election rigging claims
  • The JIT has been formed after PM Kakar announced to defend civil servants against ‘violent trolls’ this week
  • The investigation team has been asked to identify and prosecute people behind the social media campaign

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s outgoing caretaker administration has set up a joint investigation team (JIT) to identify and prosecute individuals behind a social media campaign targeting government functionaries and election officials following widespread rigging allegations in the wake of the February 8 polls.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar announced his interim administration would defend civil servants against “violent trolls” in the wake of the political contest marred by delays in vote count that led to the speculation of election manipulation.
The interior ministry announced the formation of the JIT in a notification on Wednesday, saying it had been established under Section 30 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016.
Discussing its terms of reference, the notification said it would “investigate the malicious social media campaign attempting to malign the image of Civil Servants/Government Officials in connection with elections 2024.”
It added the JIT would also “identify and prosecute the culprits in accordance with applicable laws.” Additionally, it will propose measures to prevent such campaigns from occurring in the future.
The team comprises seven members from the Federal Investigation Agency, Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority and National Database Registration Authority.
It will submit its preliminary report to the ministry within two weeks.
Prior to this development, a senior Pakistani bureaucrat made a public confession of changing the election outcome in 13 national and 26 provincial constituencies.
This led to a heated social media debate and subsequent closure of platform X in Pakistan.
Kakar said in his statement this week some people were trying to blackmail and pressurize civil servants to switch their loyalties from the state.
“The State of Pakistan shall defend the civil servants in discharging their constitutional duties, act against these violent trolls and ensure exemplary punishment to them,” he said. “There should be no doubt about our commitment to these noble civil servants serving the State and the people of Pakistan.”