Pakistani students show solidarity with Gazan children with exhibition of paintings and poems 

Special Pakistani students show solidarity with Gazan children with exhibition of paintings and poems 
Diplomats and visitors view artwork by Pakistani students to express their solidarity with the children of Gaza in Islamabad, Pakistan on February 22, 2024. (AN photo)
Short Url
Updated 23 February 2024
Follow

Pakistani students show solidarity with Gazan children with exhibition of paintings and poems 

Pakistani students show solidarity with Gazan children with exhibition of paintings and poems 
  • Event organized by Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad with over 120 children participating 
  • Foreign diplomats, academics and dignitaries appreciate Pakistani students for taking a stand 

ISLAMABAD: Diplomats and envoys from various countries on Thursday condemned Israel for its “blatant and bold” war against Palestinians, as they attended an exhibition of poems and paintings by Pakistani students in support of children in Gaza.

The Institute of Strategic Studies, an Islamabad-based think tank, organized the event in which over 120 children aged between 5-12 from five schools in Islamabad took part. 

Almost 30,000 people have been killed in Palestine since Israel launched an aerial bombing and ground offensive campaign after Oct. 7 following a Hamas attack on Israel. About 70 percent of those who have been killed are women, 7,900, and children, 12,450. The head of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that medical teams in the Gaza Strip have come up with a new acronym, WCNSF, wounded child, no surviving family.

Despite calls from foreign governments and peace activists worldwide, Israel has vowed not to stop its bombing of the densely populated territory until it destroys the Palestinian group Hamas.

“This message given by Pakistani children should show the world that no one will forget Gaza and will not accept their dual standards,” Brian Witbooi, a counselor at the South African High Commission in Pakistan, told Arab News.

“The atrocities in Gaza are blatant and bold and for the entire world to see,“

Palestine’s ambassador to Pakistan, Ahmed Jawad A.A. Rabei, said the message of support from Pakistani children to the Palestinian people “means a lot to them.”

“They [Pakistani children] draw and write many important things that came from the heart, conveying that you [Palestinians] are not alone, we stand with you, and, God willing, we will witness your freedom,” he told Arab News. 

“I am very proud to see the hope for Palestinians, its children, students here [in Pakistan], and I am very proud of you in what you drew and wrote for children in Gaza.”

Ambassador of Morocco to Pakistan, Mohamed Karmoune, said Pakistanis’ support for Palestinians transcended generations.

“They [Pakistani children] are the future of the Muslim world and their support means a lot for the Palestinian children who are suffering inhuman violence,” he told Arab News.

 Zainab Mohmand, a grade five student, said she had written a poem for children in Gaza, who were on the brink of starvation. 

“The children of Gaza are living in such a hard situation,” she said. “They don’t have enough water to drink, they don’t have enough food. So, I wrote about this so that they can somehow get out of this situation.”


Death toll from heavy rains in northwestern Pakistan rises to 46

Death toll from heavy rains in northwestern Pakistan rises to 46
Updated 20 sec ago
Follow

Death toll from heavy rains in northwestern Pakistan rises to 46

Death toll from heavy rains in northwestern Pakistan rises to 46
  • Forty-six casualties include 25 children, 12 men and nine women, says Provincial Disaster Management Authority
  • Heavy rains and lightning strikes have killed at least 36 people in Pakistan’s Punjab and Balochistan provinces since April 12

Peshawar: The death toll from rain-related incidents in northwestern Pakistan rose to 46 on Saturday, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) said on Saturday, while the number of injured climbed to 60. 

“As many as 25 children, 12 men and nine women are among those who died in rain-related incidents during the last eight days,” the report said about heavy rains that began in the province last Friday, April 12. 

The number of injured has risen to 60, which includes 33 men, 16 children and 11 women, the PDMA said. 

The current spell of showers is likely to continue till April 21, the PDMA said this week. The provincial government has released Rs110 million to be distributed among the affected families and dispatched aid, including tents, kitchen kits, blankets, hygiene kits, mosquito nets and mattresses, to the affected areas, according to the authority.

As the rains are expected to continue intermittently until April 21, the PDMA said it had already a letter to all district administrations to remain alert and take precautionary measures.

In the southwestern Balochistan province, heavy rains have killed 15 people since Friday and triggered flash floods in several areas, according to provincial authorities.

Balochistan Chief Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said climate change had become a “challenge” for the provincial government.

“Current rains are unusual which were never reported in a thousand years,” he told reporters on Friday. “The government has been helping the masses with available resources and our teams have reached all districts to help the people affected by rains and floods.”

Pakistan has received heavy rains in the last three weeks that have triggered landslides and flash floods in several parts of the South Asian country.

The eastern province of Punjab has reported 21 lighting- and roof collapse-related deaths, while Balochistan, in the country’s southwest, reported 10 deaths as authorities declared a state of emergency following flash floods.

In 2022, downpours swelled rivers and at one point flooded a third of Pakistan, killing 1,739 people. The floods also caused $30 billion in damages, from which Pakistan is still trying to rebuild.


US sanctions four international companies for aiding Pakistan’s missile program

US sanctions four international companies for aiding Pakistan’s missile program
Updated 50 min 48 sec ago
Follow

US sanctions four international companies for aiding Pakistan’s missile program

US sanctions four international companies for aiding Pakistan’s missile program
  • US State Department announces sanctions against three Chinese companies and one based in Belarus
  • State Department says companies supplied missile-applicable items to Pakistan’s ballistic, long-range missile programs

ISLAMABAD: The US State Department announced this week it has imposed sanctions on three Chinese companies and one Belarus-based company for supplying items to Pakistan’s ballistic missile program. 

As per a press release, the State Department announced sanctions against China-based companies Xi’an Longde Technology Development Company Limited, Tianjin Creative Source International Trade Co. Ltd, Granpect Company Limited and the Belarus-based Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant. 

“These entities have supplied missile‐applicable items to Pakistan’s ballistic missile program, including its long-range missile program,” a press release issued late Friday stated. 

The State Department said Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant had worked to supply special vehicle chassis to Pakistan’s long-range ballistic missile program. 

“Such chassis are used as launch support equipment for ballistic missiles by Pakistan’s National Development Complex (NDC), which is responsible for the development of Missile Technology Control Regime Category (MTCR) I ballistic missiles,” it said. 

Washington alleged Xi’an Longde Technology Development Company Limited supplied missile-related equipment, including a filament winding machine, to Pakistan’s long-range ballistic missile program that was also destined for NDC. 

“Filament winding machines can be used to produce rocket motor cases,” the State Department said. 

It said the Tianjin Creative Source International Trade Co. Ltd. supplied missile-related equipment to Pakistan’s long-range ballistic missile program, including stir welding equipment. 

It said the company’s supplies were likely destined for Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), which develops and produces Pakistan’s MTCR Category I ballistic missiles.

It further said Granpect Company Limited worked with SUPARCO to supply equipment for the testing of large-diameter rocket motors. 

“In addition, Granpect Co. Ltd. also worked to supply equipment for testing large-diameter rocket motors to Pakistan’s NDC,” it added. 

The sanctions mean all property and interests in property of the companies in the US or in possession or control of American citizens are blocked and must be reported to the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the State Department said. 

They also mean that all transactions by American citizens, or those within (or transiting) the US that involve any property or interests in property of the companies, are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or exempt.

Pakistan has so far not responded to the US State Department’s action. 


Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir sets sights on T20 World Cup after comeback

Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir sets sights on T20 World Cup after comeback
Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir sets sights on T20 World Cup after comeback

Pakistani pacer Mohammad Amir sets sights on T20 World Cup after comeback
  • Amir played his first T20 international match for Pakistan on Thursday after a nearly four-year hiatus
  • Pacer says he feels his body is fitter compared to 2019 when he last played for Pakistan in a World Cup 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani fast bowler Mohammad Amir said this week he has set his sights on the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024, as he gears up to mark his return to international cricket after a nearly four-year hiatus. 

The 32-year-old pacer played his first match on Thursday against New Zealand in Rawalpindi but did not bowl a single delivery as rain suspended play during the first over of the match. 

Amir, one of Pakistan’s most prolific fast bowlers, retired in December 2020 after being dropped from the side. He changed his mind last month and decided to restart his career, which had also been stalled by a spot-fixing ban in 2010.

“The way the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) management brought me back, it is for a short-term goal, the [T20] World Cup,” Amir told PCB Digital in an interview on Friday. “And that is the biggest goal.”

The left-arm pacer pointed out that Pakistan had played in the semifinal of the T20 World Cup 2021 and competed in the final of the T20 World Cup in 2022. However, it had failed to “cross the line” and become world champions on both occasions. 

“If that happens [Pakistan win the World Cup] it would be a huge achievement for me, to be a part of that team,” he said. 

Amir said he feels he is much fitter compared to 2019 when he last represented Pakistan in a World Cup tournament.

“See, you cannot express yourself properly in the ground until you’re fit,” he said. “So I feel the way my body feels fresh right now, I can chip in more and prove beneficial to the team via my performance.”

The pacer credited his wife and children for helping him stay positive. 

“She makes sure that all my focus is on cricket,” he said. “I think that always gives me energy and helps me to face whatever I have to.”

Pakistan face New Zealand in the second T20 fixture of the five-match series in Rawalpindi today, Saturday. The two sides will lock horns in Rawalpindi on April 21 before meeting for the remaining two fixtures in Lahore on April 25 and 27. 

Teams:

Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Usman Khan, Abrar Ahmed, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Amir, Muhammad Irfan Khan, Naseem Shah, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi

New Zealand: Michael Bracewell (captain), Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Ben Lister, Jimmy Neesham, Tim Robinson, Ben Sears, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi


Pakistan’s finmin discusses energy, tax reforms with senior World Bank official

Pakistan’s finmin discusses energy, tax reforms with senior World Bank official
Updated 20 April 2024
Follow

Pakistan’s finmin discusses energy, tax reforms with senior World Bank official

Pakistan’s finmin discusses energy, tax reforms with senior World Bank official
  • Pakistan has vowed to broaden its tax base, reform energy sector and privatize loss-making state-owned entities
  • Pakistan’s finance minister is in Washington to attend spring meetings by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb underlined the government’s resolve to carry out reforms in the energy and tax sectors in his meeting with a senior World Bank official this week, the finance ministry said on Saturday, as Islamabad grapples with an economic crisis amid surging inflation and low foreign exchange reserves. 

Reeling from a macroeconomic crisis, Pakistan has assured international financial institutions and bilateral partners it would take concrete measures to broaden its tax base, carry out reforms in the energy sector and overhaul loss-making state-owned enterprises (SOEs). 

Aurangzeb has been in Washington since last week to participate in spring meetings organized by the IMF and World Bank. His tour is an important one for the South Asian country as Pakistan’s ongoing nine-month, $3 billion loan program with the International Monetary Fund designed to tackle its balance-of-payments crisis, expires this month.

Aurangzeb met Martin Raiser, the World Bank’s regional vice president for South Asia, on Friday to discuss the government’s economic reforms. 

“Underlined the reform thrust of the government in the areas of energy, tax reforms and SOEs,” the finance ministry said. “Informed that government was pursuing short and long-term goals in these sectors.”

Aurangzeb said the World Bank’s focus on climate change, digitalization and human development aligns with Islamabad’s priorities, highlighting the government’s vision to realize the country’s true potential for economic growth. 

“Agreed on the need for reforms in the agriculture sector, water management and waste-water treatment,” the ministry said. 

Aurangzeb met World Bank’s President Ajay Banga on Tuesday during which he spoke about the government’s reforms in tax and energy sectors and highlighted Pakistan’s progress on privatization of government entities. 

In an interview on Monday, the Pakistani finance minister had said Islamabad would seek a fresh three-year IMF program, adding that the government plans to continue with necessary policy reforms to rein in deficits, build up reserves and manage soaring debt servicing.

In a separate statement, the finance ministry said Aurangzeb met China’s Finance Minister Lan Fo’an on Friday. During the exchange, the Pakistani finance chief thanked his Chinese counterpart for Beijing’s regular rollovers which helped plug Pakistan’s external financing gaps. 

“Informed that Pakistan was entering into a larger and extended program with IMF and looked forward to the support of China,” the ministry said, adding that he highlighted the government’s economic reforms in various sectors during his meeting with the Chinese official. 


Pakistan to train 1 million youth annually to export skilled human resource to Gulf countries

Pakistan to train 1 million youth annually to export skilled human resource to Gulf countries
Updated 10 min 1 sec ago
Follow

Pakistan to train 1 million youth annually to export skilled human resource to Gulf countries

Pakistan to train 1 million youth annually to export skilled human resource to Gulf countries
  • Islamabad is planning to roll out a new education policy next month, with a focus on vocational training and out-of-school children
  • Educationists, however, say the real challenge for the government is to ensure implementation of the policy, focus on teacher training

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s government is working on a new education policy to impart technical skills to one million youth annually to export trained human resource to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, an official said on Friday.

The cash-strapped South Asian nation of 241 million has been working on a holistic national education policy to cover technical training for the youth by enrolling over 2.5 million out-of-school children.

The Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), a federal body led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to attract investment from foreign and domestic sources, has given specific targets to the education ministry to finalize a comprehensive policy to improve the education sector.

“This new policy aims to impart vocational training to at least one million youth per annum to export skilled workforce to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries,” Rana Mujtaba, a spokesperson for the Pakistani ministry of education and professional training, told Arab News.

“It will be rolled out in May.”

There are around 9 million overseas Pakistanis living and working in different countries, including 2.8 million in Saudi Arabia, who remit around $30 billion back home annually to support the country’s fragile economy.

“Majority of our overseas workforce is unskilled labor. Therefore, the government is now focusing on enhancing vocational capacity of the youth,” Mujtaba said.

In the National Education Policy 2017-2025, Pakistan aimed to raise its literacy rate from the existing 60 percent to 90 percent by 2025, narrow down the gender gaps, reduce rural and urban imbalance, improve quality of education, promote technical and vocational education with skill development programs, and ensure good governance. But all this has yet to be achieved.

Mujtaba said Pakistan’s vocational training institutes already had a “strong affiliation” with Saudi Arabia, where all training certificates were accepted.

“The SIFC that is chaired by the PM has given a general direction to the ministry to work on a new education policy to improve the sector’s performance,” he said.

The spokesperson dispelled the notion that the education ministry was working on the new education policy without taking provincial governments on-board, since education has primarily been a provincial subject in the South Asian country.

“The federal government is in fact supporting the provinces in improving the education sector. All provincial ministers and education secretaries are on-board as the federal ministry has sought inputs from all of them,” he said.

“This will be a holistic policy that will also address the issue of out-of-school children, improving the higher education’s standards, domestic and foreign scholarships for the students.”

Educationists and public policy experts said the government had already devised numerous policies and produced documents to improve the education sector, but it would lack in implementation of these plans.

“The silver lining in the new policy is that the government is for the first time focusing on out-of-school children, but there needs to be an effective mechanism in place with clear timelines to address this issue,” Taimur Bandey, an educationist, told Arab News.

“The government needs to allocate its resources for teachers training and upgrade libraries and laboratories in the institutions to improve the education standards.”