Brazil gets green light to export live cattle to Pakistan

Brazil gets green light to export live cattle to Pakistan
In this file photo, taken on September 20, 2021, Brazilian farmer drives cattle inside his farm located at the city of Sao Felix do Xingu, Para state, Brazil. (AFP/File)
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Updated 25 January 2024
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Brazil gets green light to export live cattle to Pakistan

Brazil gets green light to export live cattle to Pakistan
  • Pakistan’s imports from Brazil amounted to $298 million last year
  • South American country will also export embryos, cow semen to Pakistan 

SAO PAULO: Brazil said on Wednesday it received an approval this week from Pakistan to export live cattle to the South Asian country, as well as the embryos and semen of cows. 
Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that it also received the green light to export young tilapia fish to the Philippines. 
Brazil exported a total of nearly $489 million in live cattle last year, 154 percent more than in 2022. 
Pakistan’s imports from Brazil last year amounted to $298 million, largely from products such as fibers and textiles, the ministry said, while Philippines imported $918 million worth, with meat proteins representing more than three-quarters. 
Overall, the South America nation exported almost $340 billion of products in 2023, mainly to China, which bought nearly $106 billion worth, according to government data earlier this month.


26,711 Pakistani pilgrims reach Saudi Arabia ahead of this year’s Hajj

26,711 Pakistani pilgrims reach Saudi Arabia ahead of this year’s Hajj
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26,711 Pakistani pilgrims reach Saudi Arabia ahead of this year’s Hajj

26,711 Pakistani pilgrims reach Saudi Arabia ahead of this year’s Hajj
  • Around 179,210 Pakistanis will perform Hajj under both government and private schemes 
  • Over 1,000 Pakistani Hajj pilgrims have arrived in Kingdom through private tour operators

ISLAMABAD: A spokesperson for Pakistan’s religion ministry said on Tuesday 26,711 Pakistani pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia ahead of next month’s Hajj, less than two weeks after the country kicked off its pre-Hajj flight operations to the Kingdom. 

This year, around 179,210 Pakistanis will perform Hajj under both the government and private schemes, for which a month-long flight operation started on May 9. This year’s pilgrimage is expected to run from June 14-19.

“Through 109 flights, 26,711 Pakistani Hajj pilgrims have reached Saudi Arabia,” a spokesperson of the Religious Affairs (MoRA) said in a statement. “After an eight-day stay in Madinah, the first convoy of 6,011 Hajj pilgrims has left for Makkah.”

The spokesperson said over 1,000 Hajj pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia through the private scheme, adding that 336 assistants or “Hajj Moavineen” have been deployed to help Pakistani pilgrims, and ensure their pilgrimage remains a hassle-free one. 

He said Pakistan’s Religious Affairs Minister Chaudhry Salik Hussain visited the residences of Pakistani Hajj pilgrims in Makkah recently and also reviewed arrangements for their food and travel in the holy city. 

“Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Chaudhry Salik Hussain is expected to hold an important meeting with his Saudi counterpart today,” the spokesperson said. 

Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and requires every adult Muslim to undertake the journey to the holy Islamic sites in Makkah at least once in their lifetime, provided they are financially and physically able to do so.

Pilgrims from Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi are availing the Makkah Route Initiative facility for the first time. Launched in 2019, the initiative allows for the completion of immigration procedures at the pilgrims’ country of departure. 

This makes it possible to bypass long immigration and customs checks upon reaching Saudi Arabia, which significantly reduces the waiting time and makes the entry process smoother and faster. 


Pakistan seeks regional connectivity, integration as FM Dar meets SCO counterparts in Kazakhstan

Pakistan seeks regional connectivity, integration as FM Dar meets SCO counterparts in Kazakhstan
Updated 47 min 32 sec ago
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Pakistan seeks regional connectivity, integration as FM Dar meets SCO counterparts in Kazakhstan

Pakistan seeks regional connectivity, integration as FM Dar meets SCO counterparts in Kazakhstan
  • Ishaq Dar meets foreign ministers of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan at sidelines of SCO Foreign Ministers Council meeting
  • SCO member states collectively represent nearly half of world’s population, quarter of global economic output 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar met his counterparts from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) this week in Kazakhstan as Islamabad seeks regional connectivity and integration through various projects, the foreign office said.

Dar, who is also Pakistan’s deputy prime minister, arrived in Astana on Monday to attend the two-day meeting of the SCO’s Foreign Ministers Council. Founded in 2001, the SCO is a major trans-regional organization spanning South and Central Asia, with China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan as its permanent members. The SCO member states collectively represent nearly half of the world’s population and a quarter of global economic output. 

Pakistan has aimed to enhance its role as a pivotal trade and transit hub connecting the Central Asian republics with the rest of the world, leveraging its strategic geographical position.

Dar met Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin on Tuesday at the sidelines of the CFM meeting where they committed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation and high-level dialogue. 

“They underlined the early implementation of CASA-1000 project and other connectivity and regional integration projects for mutual benefit of the two countries and the wider region,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said. 

The CASA-1000 project aims to allow Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, former Soviet republics with an extensive network of hydroelectric power plants, to sell excess energy to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the summer months.

The development took place a day after Dar met Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister Jeenbek Kulubaev. The two discussed last week’s violent clashes in Bishkek that forced Pakistan to repatriate over 600 students from Kyrgyzstan within days. 

During the meeting, Dar shared the feelings of insecurity and fear among Pakistani students with Kulubaev and requested the foreign minister to ensure their safety and security. He also requested for holding to account those responsible for the attacks on Pakistani students, the foreign office said. 

“Bilateral relations between Pakistan and Kyrgyz Republic especially in the domains of energy, connectivity, trade and people-to-people contacts also came under discussion,” the foreign office said. “And both dignitaries expressed satisfaction at the progress of established bilateral institutional mechanisms.”

Pakistan has recently undertaken measures to enhance bilateral trade and ramped up efforts to attract foreign investment to stave off a chronic balance of payments and macroeconomic crisis. 

Since April, the South Asian country has seen a flurry of high-level engagements. These included visits by the Iranian president, Saudi foreign minister, a delegation of top Saudi companies as well as officials from Qatar, China, Japan and Central Asian countries, among others.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has vowed to rid Pakistan of its economic crisis by attracting foreign investment, efficiently utilizing its state-owned enterprises and ensuring sustainable development of its priority sectors.


Pakistan’s leading rights body expresses ‘grave concern’ as Punjab passes defamation law

Pakistan’s leading rights body expresses ‘grave concern’ as Punjab passes defamation law
Updated 21 May 2024
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Pakistan’s leading rights body expresses ‘grave concern’ as Punjab passes defamation law

Pakistan’s leading rights body expresses ‘grave concern’ as Punjab passes defamation law
  • Bill proposes special tribunals to decide cases within six months, issue hefty fines to persons for spreading “fake news”
  • Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says bill would serve as a “huge blow to freedom of expression and dissent”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s leading rights body this week expressed “grave concern” over a defamation bill passed by the Punjab Assembly that empowers special tribunals to impose hefty fines on persons found guilty of peddling fake news, saying it would lead to a clampdown on freedom of speech and expression in the country. 

The bill empowers the government to establish a special tribunal to try those involved in drafting, publishing and/or airing “fake news.” The tribunal shall decide the case within six months and may impose a fine of up to Rs3 million ($10,770). However, when cases against individuals who hold constitutional posts are heard, the high court will hear them.

The bill also states that the government will provide legal assistance to women and transgender individuals in defamation cases through a legal team. The bill was tabled by Punjab Finance Minister Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman in the assembly on Monday, ignoring calls from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and other media bodies to delay voting on it. 

A ruckus ensued in the assembly with opposition lawmakers tearing copies of it and shouting slogans after the house passed it through a voice vote. Journalists present in the press gallery staged a walkout, saying the bill attempts to silence dissent. 

“The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concern over the draft defamation bill tabled in the Punjab Assembly,” the HRCP said in a statement on Monday. 

The HRCP pointed out that the bill proposes a parallel structure to adjudicate defamation claims, adding that it has always opposed the same on the grounds that such measures “invariably violate fundamental rights and other universally accepted norms governing the fair functioning of the judiciary.”

It also raised alarm over the fact that the bill empowers the government to set up defamation tribunals and appoint judges at higher allowances and benefits than what are available to the existing provincial judiciary functioning at the district level. 

The HRCP said the bill states that defamation claims have to be resolved within 180 days and proposes authorizing tribunals to issue preliminary decrees up to Rs3 million without trial on receiving a defamation claim. 

“This will be a huge blow to freedom of expression and dissent,” the rights body said. “Such orders are likely to be passed without following due process and ensuring fair trials.”

The HRCP highlighted that the bill creates a “special category” of constitutional officeholders such as the prime minister, chief justices and military chiefs, among others. Defamation claims against these members would be heard by a one-member tribunal comprising a judge of the Lahore High Court. 

“This provision violates the principle of equality of citizens and equality before the law,” it said. 

Meanwhile, Punjab Information Minister Azma Bokhari last week defended the bill, saying its main purpose was to stop the spread of lies and defamation. 

“A person who lies under the guise of a journalist with a specific agenda will face the music under this proposed law,” Bokhari told journalists during a news conference on Wednesday. 

Bokhari said some articles peddling fake news which were published in Pakistan could not be published in other countries due to the stringent laws there that hamper such practices. 

“After this law, no one can be blackmailed,” she said. “Freedom of expression can neither be restricted, nor will be allowed to commit wrongdoing.”

Media bodies have often cited Pakistan as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) on May 3 released its country report on Pakistan in which it said over 300 journalists and bloggers this year were affected by state coercion. 

The report said dozens of journalists were arrested this year for durations between several hours to four weeks and nearly 60 were served legal notices or summons for their journalism work or personal dissent online. 
 


Met Office warns of glacial floods in Pakistan’s north amid rising temperatures

Met Office warns of glacial floods in Pakistan’s north amid rising temperatures
Updated 21 May 2024
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Met Office warns of glacial floods in Pakistan’s north amid rising temperatures

Met Office warns of glacial floods in Pakistan’s north amid rising temperatures
  • A heatwave is expected to hit Pakistan this week, with temperatures in certain areas surging past 40 degrees Celsius
  • Pakistan this year experienced its ‘wettest April since 1961,’ with at least 144 people killed in rain-related incidents

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) on Monday warned of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) in Pakistan’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, citing higher temperatures due to an expected heatwave from May 21 onwards.

A heatwave is expected to hit parts of Pakistan this week and temperatures in certain areas of the southern Sindh and eastern Punjab provinces may surge past 40 degrees Celsius, according to the country’s disaster management authorities.

Heatwaves, which occur in summer, are caused by slow-moving high-pressure systems leading to prolonged high temperatures. The World Meteorological Organization defines a heatwave as five or more consecutive days during which the daily maximum temperature surpasses the average maximum temperature by 5 °C (9 °F) or more.

“The daytime temperatures in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) are expected to remain 4-6°C higher than normal from May 21 to 27 with chances of gusty wind/thunderstorm,” the PMD said in its GLOF alert.

“This atmospheric condition [will be] potentially increasing the likelihood of triggering a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) event or flash floods in the vulnerable snow-covered and glaciated areas of GB and Chitral.”

The Met Office advised the district administrations as well as local organizations and communities to remain vigilant during this period and take precautionary measures to avoid any untoward situation.

Labourers are silhouetted as they stand on scaffoldings at a construction site during a hot and humid day in Karachi, Pakistan on May 20, 2024. (REUTERS)

Pakistan experienced its first severe heat wave in June 2015 when temperatures as high as 49 degrees Celsius struck the country’s south, causing the deaths of about 2,000 people from dehydration and heatstroke. A heat wave in Sindh’s provincial capital of Karachi that year alone claimed 120 lives.

Increased exposure to heat, and more heat waves, have been identified as one of the key impacts of climate change in Pakistan, with people experiencing extreme heat and seeing some of the highest temperatures in the world in recent years. The South Asian country of more than 241 million, one of the ten most vulnerable nations to climate change impacts, this year experienced its “wettest April since 1961,” with at least 144 people killed in thunderstorms and house collapses.

Climate change-induced extreme heat can cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and hyperthermia. It can make certain chronic conditions worse, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular disease and diabetes-related conditions, and can also result in acute incidents, such as hospitalizations due to strokes or renal disease.

Keeping the weather predictions in view, the government in Pakistan’s Punjab province on Monday announced the closure of public and private schools from May 25 till May 31.

“In view of the surge in temperature and heat wave in the province, all public and private schools shall remain closed for seven days with effect from 25th May 2024 to 31st May 2024,” the Punjab education department said in a notification, adding that exams could be conducted during these days with necessary precautions in place.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index, nearly 10,000 Pakistanis have died while the country has suffered economic losses worth $3.8 billion due to climate change impacts between 1999 and 2018.

In 2022, torrential monsoon rains triggered the most devastating floods in Pakistan’s history, killing around 1,700 people and affecting over 33 million, a staggering number close to the population of Canada. Millions of homes, tens of thousands of schools and thousands of kilometers of roads and railways are yet to be rebuilt.


Perpetrators of Bishkek mob violence will be punished, Kyrgyz FM assures Pakistani counterpart

Perpetrators of Bishkek mob violence will be punished, Kyrgyz FM assures Pakistani counterpart
Updated 21 May 2024
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Perpetrators of Bishkek mob violence will be punished, Kyrgyz FM assures Pakistani counterpart

Perpetrators of Bishkek mob violence will be punished, Kyrgyz FM assures Pakistani counterpart
  • Frenzied mobs targeted hostels of medical universities and private lodgings of international students, including Pakistanis, in Bishkek last week
  • FM Ishaq Dar told his Kyrgyz counterpart Pakistan’s main concern was the safety of its nationals, especially students, affected by Friday’s violence

ISLAMABAD: Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister Jeenbek Kulubaev on Monday met Pakistan’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Ishaq Dar, in Astana and assured him the Kyrgyz government would bring to justice perpetrators of last week’s mob attacks on foreign students in Bishkek, Pakistani state media reported.

Frenzied mobs targeted hostels of medical universities and private lodgings of international students, including Pakistanis, in Bishkek last week after videos of a brawl between Kyrgyz and Egyptian students went viral on social media.

Pakistan has since then ramped efforts to repatriate its students from the city and more than 600 Pakistani students have returned home via three different flights. According to official statistics, around 10,000 Pakistani students are enrolled in various educational institutions in Kyrgyzstan, with nearly 6,000 residing and studying in Bishkek.

The meeting between Dar and his Kyrgyz counterpart was held in Astana, Kazakhstan on the sidelines of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) Council of Foreign Ministers, the state-run Radio Pakistan broadcaster reported.

“Kyrgyz government has taken swift action to restore law and order in the country, and the perpetrators of the mob riots would be punished under the Kyrgyz law,” the report quoted FM Kulubaev as telling his Pakistani counterpart.

During the meeting, Dar shared concerns about Pakistani students in Kyrgyzstan and requested Foreign Minister Kulubaev to ensure their security, according to the report.

He underlined that Pakistan’s main concern was the well-being of its nationals, especially the students who were primarily affected by last week’s violence.

“Bilateral relations between Pakistan and Kyrgyz Republic, especially in the domains of energy, connectivity, trade and people-to-people contacts also came under discussion,” the report read.

“Both the dignitaries expressed satisfaction at the progress of established bilateral institutional mechanisms.”

Dar arrived in Kazakhstan on Monday to represent Pakistan at the two-day meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers. He will also hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of the summit.

Founded in 2001, the SCO is a major trans-regional organization spanning South and Central Asia, with China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan as its permanent members. The SCO member states collectively represent nearly half of the world’s population and a quarter of global economic output.

The organization’s agenda of promoting peace and stability, and seeking enhanced linkages in infrastructure, economic, trade and cultural spheres, is aligned with Pakistan’s own vision of enhancing economic connectivity as well as peace and stability in the region.

Since becoming a full member of the SCO in 2017, Pakistan has been actively contributing toward advancing the organization’s core objectives through its participation in various SCO mechanisms.