COP28 ‘great opportunity’ for Pakistan to discuss ideas on climate change — UAE envoy

Special COP28 ‘great opportunity’ for Pakistan to discuss ideas on climate change — UAE envoy
UAE Ambassador Hamad Obaid Al-Zaabi (center) gestures for a group photo with students and diplomats during the 'Green Impact Cleanup Drive' in Islamabad on September 23, 2023. (AN Photo)
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Updated 23 September 2023
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COP28 ‘great opportunity’ for Pakistan to discuss ideas on climate change — UAE envoy

COP28 ‘great opportunity’ for Pakistan to discuss ideas on climate change — UAE envoy
  • UAE embassy co-organizes cleanliness drive in Pakistan’s capital city 
  • UAE envoy says Abu Dhabi ‘working closely’ with Pakistan on climate change

ISLAMABAD: The upcoming 28th Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP) would be a “great opportunity” for Pakistan to discuss ideas on how to support countries most affected by climate change, UAE’s Ambassador to Pakistan Hamad Obaid Al-Zaabi said on Saturday.
The UAE will be the second Arab state to host the climate conference after Egypt hosted COP27 last year. The Gulf country will host the COP28 from Nov.30 to Dec. 12, with the global conference expected to attract about 70,000 people, including heads of state, government officials, international industry leaders, private sector representatives, academics, experts, youngsters, and non-state players.
Pakistan is recognized among the countries most affected by climate change around the world. In June 2022, raging floods triggered by unusually heavy monsoon rains and melting glaciers killed over 1,700 and swept away large swathes of crops and damaged critical infrastructure. Pakistan estimated damages and economic losses from the floods to be over $30 billion.
The South Asian country has been at the forefront of efforts to extract compensation from wealthy countries for nations impacted the most by climate change. During the COP27 in Egypt last year, Pakistan led a group of 134 states to push for the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund to compensate countries affected the most by climate change.
“Pakistan is one of the top five countries affected by climate change,” Al-Zaabi told Arab News at the sidelines of the ‘Green Impact Cleanup Drive,’ an event held at Islamabad’s F-9 Park. The drive was co-organized by the UAE embassy, the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Serena Hotels and Ismaili Civic Pakistan.
“The Pakistani delegation who is going to participate in COP28 at Dubai Expo, it is a great opportunity for them to discuss more the ideas on how to support countries affected by climate change,” he added.
The event was aimed at promoting environmental protection, and sustainable practices, raising awareness against littering and the use of single-use plastic. Members of the diplomatic corps, civil society, students, and the public participated in the drive. 
“We are working closely with the government of Pakistan with regard to climate change and we have a lot of projects, a lot of responsibilities in this regard,” Al-Zaabi said.
He said COP28 would be a chance for the international community to gather in Dubai for “more engagement and more negotiations” to tackle climate-related challenges.
“It’s a commitment from the United Arab Emirates to continue working with the international community for the challenges of climate change and the environment,” he said.
Speaking about COP28, the UAE envoy said it would also involve a review of the Paris Agreement, adding that the international community needed to assume greater responsibilities and generate more ideas to address the impacts of climate change.
Kuwait’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Nassar Abdulrahman Al-Mutairi, expressed happiness at seeing children participate in the drive to clean Pakistan’s capital.
“A big thanks goes to you, your teachers, and your family for taking the time to participate in the cleaning of your capital. You are the future and I am sure this initiative you will pass to your own children in the future,” he told students present at the event.
Noor ul Huda Shah, a student and member of the students’ voluntary group, the Golden Jubilee Girls Guide, said she took part in the drive as it was everyone’s collective responsibility to look after the environment.
“It’s our responsibility to take care of our Earth today because, for the next generation, we are creating a safe environment,” Shah told Arab News.
“And if we do not take care of our environment today, we will suffer tomorrow.”
 


Pakistan Army rescues three foreign mountaineers stranded at K2 mountain 

Pakistan Army rescues three foreign mountaineers stranded at K2 mountain 
Updated 10 sec ago
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Pakistan Army rescues three foreign mountaineers stranded at K2 mountain 

Pakistan Army rescues three foreign mountaineers stranded at K2 mountain 
  • Foreign climbers from Singapore, Netherlands and Ecuador rescued in Pakistan Army helicopter
  • Two mountaineers fell on glacier while the third suffered from flu and severe cough

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army on Wednesday rescued three foreign mountaineers after they encountered difficulties while attempting to summit the towering K2 mountain in the country’s northern region, the army’s media wing said. 

K2, the world’s second-highest peak which stands at 8,611 meters, lies in Pakistan’s Karakorum Range. It is nicknamed “the savage mountain” by high-altitude climbers who often encounter great difficulty in summiting it. 

The mountaineers, who hailed from Singapore, the Netherlands and Ecuador, were rescued by a Pakistan Army helicopter after they fell ill while climbing the mountain. 

“I’m Kim and I am from Holland. I had a big fall from a glacier and now the Pakistan Army is rescuing me from the glacier,” she said while sitting in the army’s helicopter. 

Another climber from Singapore, who did not mention her name, said she suffered from flu while attempting to summit the mountain. 

“I got really, really sick,” she said. “Thank you to the Pakistan Army for rescuing me.”

The third foreign climber from Ecuador had his arm in a sling, saying that he had fractured it while climbing the mountain. 

Home to some of the tallest peaks and stunning landscapes, Pakistan attracts foreign climbers and tourists from around the world in every mountaineering season, making it a premier destination for adventure enthusiasts.

According to official figures, over 8,900 foreigners visited the remote Gilgit-Baltistan region in 2023 where the summer climbing season runs from early June to late August.


Pakistan to complete road network to China, Central Asia to promote trade— minister

Pakistan to complete road network to China, Central Asia to promote trade— minister
Updated 24 July 2024
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Pakistan to complete road network to China, Central Asia to promote trade— minister

Pakistan to complete road network to China, Central Asia to promote trade— minister
  • Pakistan recently offered Central Asian countries to become part of its $65 billion energy and infrastructure corridor with China 
  • Islamabad has increasingly sought to position itself as a trade and transit hub connecting landlocked Central Asian states with the world 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will complete a large road network connecting it to Central Asian countries and China with the object of promoting trade and investment, the country’s privatization minister said on Wednesday, as Islamabad eyes regional connectivity to ensure economic growth. 

Pakistan has increasingly sought cooperation in terms of trade and investment with regional allies and financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in recent months to recover from a macroeconomic crisis. 

Pakistan recently offered Central Asian states to become part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, under which Beijing has pledged around $65 billion in energy, infrastructure and other projects in Pakistan. Islamabad believes the corridor presents a strategic opportunity for landlocked Central Asian states to transport their goods more easily to regional and global markets. 

Privatization Minister Abdul Aleem Khan met French Ambassador Nicolas Galle in Islamabad on Wednesday to discuss trade and bilateral ties between the two countries. 

“He [Khan] said the road network to China and Central Asian countries will be completed to promote trade in the region,” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan reported. 

Khan said Pakistan was privatizing its loss-making public entities to strengthen its economy, adding that these institutions have the potential to perform better and earn profit. 

“The French envoy expressed his country’s interest in investing and business activities across various sectors in Pakistan,” the state broadcaster said. 

“They also discussed various proposals for enhancing bilateral trade between the two countries.”

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has repeatedly said Pakistan aims to seek regional alliances and mutually rewarding financial partnerships with allies, rather than loans, to steer its economy toward recovery. 

The South Asian country narrowly avoided a sovereign default last year when it secured a last-gasp $3 billion financial assistance package from the IMF. Pakistan’s economic crisis has seen its inflation reach double digit figures, foreign exchange reserves plummet to historic lows and its currency weaken significantly against the US dollar over the past two years. 


Over 100,000 schools in Pakistan remain closed due to heat

Over 100,000 schools in Pakistan remain closed due to heat
Updated 24 July 2024
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Over 100,000 schools in Pakistan remain closed due to heat

Over 100,000 schools in Pakistan remain closed due to heat
  • Pakistan is increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change, including hotter heat waves
  • Pakistan’s southern Sindh province decides to close schools for additional two weeks to ensure children’s well-being

KARACHI: School summer holidays will be extended by two weeks in southern Pakistan because of high temperatures, affecting more than 100,000 schools, an education official said Tuesday.

Pakistan is increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change, including heatwaves that are hotter and more frequent and monsoons that are heavier and longer.

“We decided to close schools for an additional 14 days for the children’s well-being,” Atif Vighio, a spokesperson at the education department in Sindh province, told AFP.

Planned power cuts, also known as load-shedding, happen frequently in Pakistan due to an ongoing power supply crisis.

The load-shedding varies from city to city, but in rural areas of Sindh they can last for more than 12 hours a day, leaving schools without fans.

“As a teacher, I am worried about how I will complete the curriculum, but as a mother, I am concerned about kids going to school in this heat,” a public school teacher told AFP, asking for her name not to be used.

“It is the load-shedding we are worried about, not just the heat.”

The government has said more than 26 million children are out of school due to poverty.

Pakistan struggled through a series of heatwaves in May and June, with temperatures peaking at more than 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of rural Sindh.

Authorities in Punjab province, the country’s most populous, started summer vacations in May one week early to protect children from the searing heat.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said more than three-quarters of children in South Asia — or 460 million — are exposed to temperatures above 35C (95F) for at least 83 days per year.

Despite contributing less than one percent to global greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistan has experienced severe weather-related disasters in recent years due to changing weather patterns.


Punjab’s disaster management authority sets up relief camps in flood-prone areas

Punjab’s disaster management authority sets up relief camps in flood-prone areas
Updated 24 July 2024
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Punjab’s disaster management authority sets up relief camps in flood-prone areas

Punjab’s disaster management authority sets up relief camps in flood-prone areas
  • Current spell of monsoon rains in Punjab expected to continue till July 25, says disaster management authority 
  • Pakistan’s disaster management authorities have warned monsoon rains could trigger “emergency” situation in Punjab

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) announced on Wednesday that it has set up relief camps in the province’s flood-prone areas, as monsoon rains continue to lash various cities in eastern Pakistan. 

The PDMA spokesperson said rainfall was recorded in Punjab’s Bahawalpur, Rawalpindi, Sheikhupura, Lahore, Joharabad, Attock, Chakwal, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Okara districts of during the last 24 hours.

“PDMA has established flood relief camps in the respective areas given possible flood risk,” Director General PDMA Irfan Ali Kathia said, adding that the current spell of monsoon rains in Punjab is expected to continue till July 25.

“Arrangements are complete because of flood risk in vulnerable districts.”

Heavy monsoon rains have lashed Punjab and Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces this week. At least 24 people were killed and 80 injured in Punjab this month as heavy rains lashed many parts of the province, according to official figures.

Highlighting that heavy rains could trigger flash floods that could pass through the Sulaiman Mountains in Pakistan, Kathia said the PDMA’s control room and district emergency operation centers were monitoring the situation 24/7.

He warned people against touching electric wires and poles and advised them against traveling unnecessarily in bad weather. He requested them to undertake preventive measures during the monsoon season.

Kathia said the water flow in all rivers and barrages of Punjab was at the normal level, highlighting that the level of water in Mangla Dam remains at 56 percent and Tarbela at 68 percent. The water levels in the Indian dams on rivers Sutlej and Ravi were up to 37 percent.

Pakistan is recognized as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change effects. Unusually heavy rains in June 2022 triggered flash floods in many parts of the country, killing over 1,700 people, inflicting losses of around $30 billion, and affecting at least 30 million people.


Pakistan approves free visas for 126 countries to boost business, tourism

Pakistan approves free visas for 126 countries to boost business, tourism
Updated 36 min 14 sec ago
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Pakistan approves free visas for 126 countries to boost business, tourism

Pakistan approves free visas for 126 countries to boost business, tourism
  • Shehbaz Sharif says the government has taken the number of countries exempt from visa fees to 126
  • He says the decision will make Pakistan an attractive destination, further boost its forex reserves

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday Pakistan had made positive changes to its visa policy to enhance ease of doing business as the country strives to strengthen its economy by attracting foreign investment and exploring more trade opportunities.
Pakistan has faced a prolonged economic crisis that led the country to seek financial assistance from friendly nations and global lenders like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Earlier this month, Pakistan secured a staff-level agreement with the IMF for a $7 billion bailout facility to strengthen macroeconomic gains made over the last year, during which the country bolstered its forex reserves and brought down inflation from 38 percent to a little over 12 percent.
However, the government has also actively pursued economic diplomacy in the region by seeking more investment and enhancing trade and regional connectivity.
Addressing the cabinet meeting, the prime minister mentioned consultations with his team about two weeks ago, during which the visa policy came up for discussion.
“We have brought a major change in the visa regime, taking the number of countries exempt from visa fees to 126,” he said. “Tourists, businessmen, and other travelers from these 126 countries will not be charged visa fees.”
He pointed out this would lead to a loss of few million dollars, but would be instrumental in promoting investment in the country.
“It was mutually agreed that we should take this quantum jump to ensure ease of doing business in Pakistan,” he added.
The prime minister expressed hope the new visa policy would make Pakistan an attractive destination for foreigners.
He announced that visas would be issued within 24 hours to visitors planning to come to Pakistan.
Sharif noted this step would lead to a significant increase in large-scale economic activities in the country and further boost Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves.
While acknowledging the security challenges faced by the country, he added the coalition government was making concerted efforts to address the situation.