Indonesia advances early closure of coal plant under ADB’s energy transition effort involving Pakistan

Indonesia advances early closure of coal plant under ADB’s energy transition effort involving Pakistan
This picture taken on October 31, 2023 shows a fisherman looking at the Suralaya coal-fired power plant in Cilegon, Indonesia's Banten province. (AFP)
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Updated 04 December 2023
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Indonesia advances early closure of coal plant under ADB’s energy transition effort involving Pakistan

Indonesia advances early closure of coal plant under ADB’s energy transition effort involving Pakistan
  • The deal, announced during the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, aims to cut global carbon emissions
  • ADB says it wants to support two other countries with energy transition under the same plan soon

DUBAI: Indonesia and the Asian Development Bank have agreed a provisional deal with the owners of the Cirebon-1 coal-fired power plant to shutter it almost seven years earlier than planned, a principal energy specialist for climate change at the ADB told Reuters.

The deal, announced during the COP28 climate talks in Dubai on Sunday, is the first under the ADB’s Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM) program, which aims to help countries cut their climate-damaging carbon emissions.

Supporting a $20 billion Just Energy Transition Partnership agreed last year that aims to bring forward the sector’s peak emissions date to 2030, the ADB hopes to replicate it across other countries in the region.

“If we don’t address these coal plants, we’re not going to meet our climate goals,” David Elzinga, ETM team leader, said on the sidelines of the conference.

“By doing this pilot transaction, we are learning what it takes to make this happen,” Elzinga said. “We’re very much shaping this as something we want to take to other countries.”

ADB also has active ETM programs in Kazakhstan, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, and is considering transactions in two other countries, it said.

Under the non-binding framework deal, signed by ADB, Indonesian state-owned power utility company PT PLN, independent power producer PT Cirebon Electric Power (CEP) and the Indonesia Investment Authority (INA), a power purchase agreement for the 660 megawatt plant — a key supplier to the capital Jakarta — will be ended in December 2035 instead of a planned date of July 2042.

As it only opened in 2012, the plant, operated by CEP, could have been expected to run for 40 or more years, so retiring it in 2035 would avoid over 15 years of greenhouse gas emissions from the site, the ADB said.

The deal is subject to due diligence, including assessing its impact on the environment, the company’s workers and society more broadly, and the broader electricity system, but is expected to close in the first half of 2024.


Pakistan, Egypt agree to increase cooperation in religious education 

Pakistan, Egypt agree to increase cooperation in religious education 
Updated 21 sec ago
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Pakistan, Egypt agree to increase cooperation in religious education 

Pakistan, Egypt agree to increase cooperation in religious education 
  • Egyptian Ambassador discusses setting up educational institute in Punjab affiliated with Al-Azhar University
  • Pakistani minister, Egyptian envoy discuss enhancing role of mosques as centers of religious, social guidance

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s religious affairs minister and Egyptian Ambassador Dr. Ihab Mohamed Abdelhamid Hassan on Tuesday agreed to enhance cooperation between the two countries in religious education and other areas of mutual interest, the religion ministry said. 

Pakistan and Egypt, both Muslim-majority nations, enjoy cordial ties with one another. The two have resolved to enhance bilateral trade in recent years by facilitating businessmen from their countries through visas, exchanging trade-related information and promoting private sector contacts. 

Friendly ties between the two countries can be traced back to 1947 when Pakistan gained independence and its founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, visited Egypt at the special invitation of King Fuad II.

Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Chaudhry Salik Hussain met Hassan at his office in Islamabad to discuss bilateral ties and various areas of cooperation between the two countries. 

“Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Chaudhry Salik Hussain here on Tuesday said that Pakistan wants to strengthen its relationship with Egypt in various areas of mutual interest, including religious education,” the ministry said. 

The ministry said both discussed exchanging mutual studies in enhancing the role of mosques as centers of religious, spiritual and social guidance. Hassan informed the Pakistani minister about his plans to establish an institution in Punjab which would be affiliated with the iconic Al-Azhar University to impart religious education to Pakistani students. 

Al-Azhar University is a public university in Cairo. Associated with Al-Azhar Al-Sharif body in Cairo, it is Egypt’s oldest degree-granting university and is regarded as arguably the most prestigious university for Islamic learning. 

“The ambassador said 11 professors of Egypt are already teaching in different faculties in International Islamic University Islamabad,” Pakistan’s religion ministry said. 
 


Pakistan coalition party petitions top court to suspend reserved seats’ order

Pakistan coalition party petitions top court to suspend reserved seats’ order
Updated 8 min 47 sec ago
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Pakistan coalition party petitions top court to suspend reserved seats’ order

Pakistan coalition party petitions top court to suspend reserved seats’ order
  • After Feb. 8 polls, Khan’s PTI party was denied its share of reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies
  • On July 12, Supreme Court ruled PTI was a political party for purposes of general election and entitled to reserved seats 

ISLAMABAD: A main coalition party in Pakistan’s federal government, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), on Tuesday petitioned the Supreme Court against its earlier judgment that jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party was eligible for extra reserved seats in parliament.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party candidates contested the Feb. 8 general elections as independents after the party was barred from the polls and though these independents won the most seats, the election commission ruled they were not entitled to their share of reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies for women and minorities since these were meant for political parties only. The seats were then allotted to other parties, mostly from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s ruling coalition. 

However, the Supreme Court ruled on July 12 that the PTI was entitled to its share of reserved seats, ramping up pressure on weak coalition. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party subsequently filed a review petition against the Supreme Court’s verdict. 

“It is respectfully prayed that the review petition may kindly be accepted [...] and the short order by the court may graciously be reviewed and recalled,” the PPP’s petition read. “Further in the interim it is respectfully prayed that operation of the short order [...] passed by the court may be graciously stayed or suspended.”

In the National Assembly of Pakistan, political parties are allocated 70 reserved seats — 60 for women, 10 for non-Muslims — in proportion to the number of seats won in general elections. This completes the National Assembly’s total 336 seats. A simple majority in Pakistan’s parliament is 169 out of 336 seats. Likewise, there are reserved seats in all four provincial assemblies that are distributed on proportional basis among the winning parties.

In a statement sent to media after the July 12 SC ruling, the PTI said 86 PTI-backed returned candidates in the National Assembly and 107 in the Punjab Assembly, 91 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and 9 in the Sindh Assembly were now “entitled to be counted for the purpose of election to the reserved seats on the basis of proportional representation.”

It is expected that the PTI could get up to 23 reserved seats if the SC judgment is implemented. While announcing the July 12 verdict, the court gave the PTI 15 days to submit its list of candidates entitled for reserved seats to the election commission.

Last week, the election commission said it would enforce the Supreme Court’s verdict on reserved seats but had asked its lawyers to determine if there were areas where it needed the court’s further guidance.
 


Pakistan, Turkmenistan finalize transit trade agreement, introduce liberal visa regime

Pakistan, Turkmenistan finalize transit trade agreement, introduce liberal visa regime
Updated 12 min 53 sec ago
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Pakistan, Turkmenistan finalize transit trade agreement, introduce liberal visa regime

Pakistan, Turkmenistan finalize transit trade agreement, introduce liberal visa regime
  • Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Meredow is currently in Islamabad on a three-day visit with his delegation
  • Ishaq Dar invites businesses in Turkmenistan to invest through SIFC, benefit from Gwadar and Karachi ports

ISLAMABAD: Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar said on Tuesday Pakistan and Turkmenistan have agreed to expand bilateral investment in the fields of energy, connectivity and information technology (IT) while finalizing a transit trade agreement and introducing a liberal visa regime.
Turkmenistan’s Foreign Minister Rasit Meredow is currently visiting Islamabad for three days with his delegation where he held wide-ranging discussions with the deputy prime minister who also holds his country’s portfolio for external affairs. The two leaders spearheaded their delegations at the third round of bilateral political consultations wherein they focused on various global and regional developments.
There has been a flurry of recent visits, investment talks and economic activity between Pakistan and Central Asian states, including meetings of top Pakistani officials with the leaders from Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
Located in a landlocked but resource-rich region, Central Asian countries need better access to regional markets including Pakistan, China, India and the countries of West Asia. Meanwhile, Islamabad is seeking to bolster trade and investment ties with allies to stabilize its fragile $350 billion economy as it faces an acute balance of payment crisis amid soaring inflation and rising external debt.
“We have agreed to intensify our joint efforts to further expand and deepen bilateral investment, especially in energy, connectivity and information technology,” Dar said during a joint news conference with Meredow after the talks at the foreign office in Islamabad.
“We agreed to work together on trade diversification, early finalization of the transit trade agreement and instituting a liberal visa policy to facilitate greater contacts between businessmen of the two countries,” he continued, adding that both sides reiterated commitment to enhancing the volume of bilateral trade and to making it commensurate with its true potential of the existing ties between the two countries.
According to the foreign office, Pakistan’s bilateral trade with Turkmenistan stands at $8.41 million, with Pakistan exporting $2.234 million and importing $6.17 million.
Dar invited Turkmen companies to benefit from the investment environment created by the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and the regional connectivity opportunities provided by Pakistan’s southern port cities of Gwadar and Karachi.
Last year, the country established the SIFC, a civil-military hybrid body designed to oversee foreign financing, to help overcome its prolonged economic turmoil that has forced successive administrations to seek financial assistance from global lenders and close allies.
Pakistan has recently offered Central Asian states to become part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) 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 Central Asian states to transport their goods with greater ease to regional and global markets.
Pakistani foreign minister also emphasized the importance of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and electricity transmission line, saying, “These projects offer enormous opportunities for our region and our two countries.”
The pipeline will link the energy-rich Central Asian country of Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, supplying nearly 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas each year along a route stretching about 1,800 kilometers from Galkynysh, the world’s second-biggest gas field, to the Indian city of Fazilka near the Pakistan border.
Work on the project has been stalled due to differences over price review and delivery points.
Meredow endorsed Dar’s emphasis on the mega projects, stating that both sides agreed to make joint efforts to implement these large-scale initiatives, which are the cornerstone of Turkmen-Pakistani trade and economic cooperation.
“Our discussions reaffirmed our shared commitment and unwavering resolve to collaborate on the practical implementation of these initiatives,” he said, adding that transport emerged as another key area for enhanced Turkmen-Pakistani cooperation.
“Leveraging our respective strengths, can jointly develop modern infrastructure along east, west and north, south corridors,” he continued. “In this context, we agreed to maintain an active dialogue on creating international transport rules that capitalize on the transit potential of both Turkmenistan and Pakistan.”
Addressing the media, Meredow said both sides engaged in detailed discussions on fostering closer ties in the fields of science, education and culture.
“Our collaboration with Pakistan is firmly set on a future-oriented cause with a steady growth envisioned across all dimensions,” he added.


Pakistan Navy takes command of multinational task force securing southeastern Middle East waters

Pakistan Navy takes command of multinational task force securing southeastern Middle East waters
Updated 23 July 2024
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Pakistan Navy takes command of multinational task force securing southeastern Middle East waters

Pakistan Navy takes command of multinational task force securing southeastern Middle East waters
  • Senior naval official says Task Force 150 focuses on some of the world’s most challenging and important sea lanes
  • He highlights Pakistan’s commitment to working with coalition navies for peace within the force’s area of responsibility

KARACHI: The Pakistan Navy announced on Tuesday it has assumed command of a multinational task force responsible for ensuring maritime security in the southeastern waters of the Middle East, operating in the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and Gulf of Aden.

Combined Task Force 150 (CTF-150) is part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), a 34-nation coalition aimed at promoting security and stability in some of the world’s most important shipping lanes, focusing on counter-terrorism, anti-smuggling and enhancing navigational security.

The CMF’s efforts are crucial for safeguarding the global maritime commons, particularly in regions that are widely viewed to be prone to piracy and militancy.

Pakistan’s Commodore Asim Sohail Malik assumed the command from Captain Colin Mathews of Royal Canadian Navy in Bahrain.

“Commodore Asim Sohail Malik underlined that CTF-150 area of responsibility consists of some of the world’s most challenging and important international waters,” said the Directorate General Public Relations of the Pakistan Navy.

“He assured that his team will strive to further strengthen efforts of the multinational task force to provide a robust security in the vital maritime region,” it added.

The Pakistan Navy has commanded the task force 12 times before.

The statement said the handing over of command to Pakistan the 13th time reflected “the trust and respect reposed in Pakistan Navy by the coalition partners.”

Commander Malik assured at the change of command ceremony of the Pakistan Navy’s commitment to work with coalition navies to maintain peace and stability within the task force’s area of responsibility.


Pakistani PM sets sights on annual exports of $60 billion in 3 years

Pakistani PM sets sights on annual exports of $60 billion in 3 years
Updated 23 July 2024
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Pakistani PM sets sights on annual exports of $60 billion in 3 years

Pakistani PM sets sights on annual exports of $60 billion in 3 years
  • Pakistan’s exports in previous fiscal year crossed $30 billion, says Shehbaz Sharif
  • Directs power ministry to develop plan to provide low-cost electricity to industries

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday tasked authorities to increase Pakistan’s annual exports to $60 billion within three years, stressing the need to resolve exporters’ complaints as Islamabad seeks to enhance its foreign exchange reserves while grappling with a macroeconomic crisis. 

Pakistan is trying to navigate a tricky path to recovery from a prolonged economic crisis that has seen the South Asian country’s national currency weaken, its reserves plummet and inflation rise to a record high over the last two years. To stabilize its fragile $350 billion economy, Islamabad has increasingly sought to establish trade and investment relations with regional allies in recent months. 

Sharif chaired a meeting of Pakistan’s National Export Development Board on Tuesday to take stock of the country’s exports and discuss ways to enhance them. 

“The Ministry of Commerce and other institutions should take practical steps to achieve the target of taking exports to $60 billion in the next three years,” the prime minister was quoted as saying by his office. 

Sharif noted that Pakistan’s annual exports had crossed the $30 billion mark during the previous fiscal year, adding that the government’s policies took the country’s IT exports to over $3.2 billion. He directed authorities to resolve exporters’ complaints and submit a report to him within two weeks. 

“We salute the businesspersons and investors who have played their role in increasing Pakistan’s exports despite difficult conditions,” Sharif said, according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The prime minister called for reducing the delivery time Pakistani goods take to reach Europe and America, saying that this could be achieved by solving problems related to shipping. He emphasized increasing the quality of Pakistani exports through research and development, innovation and brand development. He directed Pakistan’s power ministry to present a comprehensive plan through which low-cost electricity is provided to industries.

Sharif warned Pakistan’s tax authority, the Federal Board of Revenue, (FBR) against delaying refunds to exporters, urging trade officers in Pakistan’s missions abroad to promote the country’s exports and guide exporters on increasing their sales.