Saudi ambassador, Pakistani power minister discuss ‘investment potential’

Saudi ambassador, Pakistani power minister discuss ‘investment potential’
Pakistani Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari (2R) presents shield to Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Malki (L) in Islamabad, Pakistan on March 25, 2024. (@MoWP15/X)
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Updated 26 March 2024
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Saudi ambassador, Pakistani power minister discuss ‘investment potential’

Saudi ambassador, Pakistani power minister discuss ‘investment potential’
  • Leghari highlights investment opportunities in Pakistan, especially in transmission sector
  • Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have deep commercial, cultural, religious, political, strategic ties

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Malki called on Pakistani Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari on Monday and discussed investment potential and opportunities, state-run Radio Pakistan reported on Tuesday.

Relations have been historically close and friendly between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, with the two nations having deep commercial, cultural, religious, political, and strategic ties. Saudi Arabia is the largest source of petroleum for Pakistan and also supplies extensive financial aid to Pakistan. Remittances from Pakistani migrants in Saudi Arabia are a major source of foreign currency.

In recent years, both countries have exchanged high-level delegations and developed plans to expand bilateral cooperation in trade, education, real estate, tourism, information technology, communications and agriculture.

“During the meeting, the Minister acknowledged the firm support of the brotherly country in all difficult situations,” Radio Pakistan said about the meeting between the Saudi ambassador and Minister Leghari. 

“He highlighted different investment opportunities in Pakistan, especially in the transmission sector … assured investor-friendly policies under current government.”

The statement said the Saudi envoy “pledged support for Saudi businesses to explore Pakistan’s investment potential.”

In February 2019, Saudi Arabia’s Saudi Aramco and SABIC announced to set up a $10 billion oil refinery and petrochemical industry in Pakistan’s deepwater port of Gwadar, Balochistan.

Riyadh is also in talks with Pakistan to buy a stake in a multi-billion-dollar mine project at Reko Diq, one of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper-gold areas, in which Canadian Miner Barrick Gold Corporation is investing $10 billion.


Over 3,000 Indian Sikhs arrive in Pakistan for Baisakhi harvest festival

Over 3,000 Indian Sikhs arrive in Pakistan for Baisakhi harvest festival
Updated 37 sec ago
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Over 3,000 Indian Sikhs arrive in Pakistan for Baisakhi harvest festival

Over 3,000 Indian Sikhs arrive in Pakistan for Baisakhi harvest festival
  • Sikhs are small minority based in Punjab region divided between Muslim-majority Pakistan, Hindu-majority India
  • The Baisakhi festival marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year and symbolizes renewal and spiritual rejuvenation

ISLAMABAD: More than 3,000 Sikh pilgrims arrived in Pakistan from India on Saturday to celebrate the Baisakhi harvest festival, Pakistani state media reported.
Sikhs are a small minority based in the Punjab region that is divided between Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-majority India, but several Sikh holy sites ended up being in Pakistan after the partition of the Subcontinent in 1947.
Baisakhi, the spring harvest festival primarily celebrated in Punjab and northern India, marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year and symbolizes spiritual rejuvenation, with celebrations centered around Gurdwara Panja Sahib in Hasan Abdal, some 45 kilometers northwest of Islamabad.
“Over three thousand Sikh yatrees [pilgrims] from India arrived [in] Pakistan through Wagha border today,” the state-run Radio Pakistan broadcaster reported. “The officials of Evacuee Trust Property Board received the yatrees.”

Sikh pilgrims chant slogans before leaving for Pakistan to celebrate ‘Baisakhi’, a spring harvest festival, in Amritsar on April 13, 2024. (AFP)

The shrine in Hasan Abdal is one of Sikhism’s holiest sites and it is believed that the handprint of the founder of the religion, Guru Nanak, is imprinted on a boulder there.
Vaisakhi is also meant to mark the day when Gobind Singh, the 10th and final guru of Sikhism, established the discipline of Khalsa, through which the faithful can aspire to the ultimate state of purity.
During their stay in Pakistan, Sikh pilgrims will be visit their religious places in Hasan Abdal, Nankana Sahib, Narowal, Eminabad and Badami Bagh in Lahore, according to the report.
The EPTB has finalized all arrangements for the pilgrims, including accommodation, security and transport.

Sikh pilgrims chant slogans before leaving for Pakistan to celebrate ‘Baisakhi’, a spring harvest festival, in Amritsar on April 13, 2024. (AFP)

 


Pakistan repays $1 billion in Eurobonds, says central bank

Pakistan repays $1 billion in Eurobonds, says central bank
Updated 13 April 2024
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Pakistan repays $1 billion in Eurobonds, says central bank

Pakistan repays $1 billion in Eurobonds, says central bank
  • The bond, which was launched in 2014 and repaid on Friday, was maturing this month
  • It comes as Islamabad struggles with balance of payments crisis, currency devaluation
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s central bank has repaid $1 billion in Eurobonds, it said on Saturday, a scheduled payment ahead of the South Asian nation seeking a long-term bailout from the International Monetary Fund. The bond, launched in 2014 and repaid on Friday, was maturing this month. “The payment was made to the agent bank for onward distribution to the bond holders,” the central bank said in a statement. Islamabad has been struggling with a balance of payments crisis, record inflation and steep currency devaluation since an IMF standby arrangement averted a sovereign default. Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb is due to leave on Sunday for Washington to attend the IMF-World Bank spring meeting, where he will start negotiations for Pakistan’s 24th long-term IMF bailout. Aurangzeb briefed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif about the new IMF program on Friday, the government said in a statement. The IMF standby arrangement of $3 billion Islamabad secured last summer expired on Thursday. Its final tranche of $1.1 billion is expected to be released after the multilateral lender’s board meets later this month. The two sides have spoken in recent weeks about negotiating the longer-term bailout to continue with necessary policy reforms to rein in deficits, build up reserves and manage soaring debt servicing. Pakistan is in discussions with the IMF for a potential follow-up program, the IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday.

Karachi couple dedicates engagement ceremony to solidarity with Palestine

Karachi couple dedicates engagement ceremony to solidarity with Palestine
Updated 13 April 2024
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Karachi couple dedicates engagement ceremony to solidarity with Palestine

Karachi couple dedicates engagement ceremony to solidarity with Palestine
  • Ismail Talha and Hamna Hamayun set aside their carefully laid plans for the ceremony, making keffiyehs the dress code
  • Rather than accepting the traditional ‘salami’ cash gift, they requested the guests to put the money into Gaza donation box

KARACHI: Like most couple, Ismail Talha and Hamna Hamayun had made numerous plans to make their engagement memorable, though they decided to abandon them in the wake of Israel’s war in Gaza to express solidarity with the people of Palestine in a unique way.
As the guests started arriving at the Tulip Banquet Hall in Karachi on Friday night, they adorned Palestinian keffiyehs in keeping with the new plan. The hosts served them carefully cooked food and delectable desserts.
Instead of adhering to the tradition of presenting “salami,” a cash gift for the couple, however, the guests put the money into a Gaza fund donation box, symbolizing solidarity with the victims of Israel’s ongoing military campaign in the Palestinian territory.

A donations box for Gaza placed at the engagement ceremony of couple who who dedicated their engagement ceremony to solidarity with Palestine in Karachi, Pakistan on April 12, 2024. (AN Photo)

“We also had our desires,” Talha told Arab News, remembering how he and his fiancée discussed ideas of how to make their engagement ceremony memorable. “But when we saw the injustices being done to our Muslim brothers and sisters, mothers, and children in Palestine, we said how could we [implement all those plans].”
“We thought why not create awareness about Palestine,” he continued, explaining the decision of incorporating the Palestinian cause into the engagement ceremony.
While the idea was unconventional for all guests, it left a lasting impression on some, Junaid Tariq being one of them.
“Usually, when we attend such ceremonies, we witness music and new themes being planned,” he told Arab News. “But what I saw at this ceremony felt very good. They remembered the Muslims of Palestine.”
“I found the concept very impressive,” he added.
Talha’s father, Shaikh Muhammad, captured the sentiment of the ceremony, pointing out it was not possible to overlook the plight of Palestinians even in moments of joy.
“This is an occasion of joy, everyone [we know] is gathered here, food and drinks are being served, but our sorrow [over the situation in Gaza] on this occasion of happiness is overwhelming,” he said.
A successful entrepreneur in the travel industry, he emphasized his desire to convey the message of solidarity to the Palestinian people, assuring them that Pakistan would continue to firmly stand with them in their struggle.
“Our hearts can’t rejoice because of the situation in Palestine, the oppression and atrocities committed by Israel, the way they bombarded women and children and the way they are committing crimes against humanity,” Talha’s father said.
“Our hearts beat with them,” he said, before presenting a keffiyeh to a guest in an expression of solidarity and support for Palestine.


Military says two soldiers, militant leader killed in operation in Pakistan’s northwest

Military says two soldiers, militant leader killed in operation in Pakistan’s northwest
Updated 25 min 56 sec ago
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Military says two soldiers, militant leader killed in operation in Pakistan’s northwest

Military says two soldiers, militant leader killed in operation in Pakistan’s northwest
  • The operation was conducted after security forces received information on militant presence in Buner district
  • The militant killed in the operation was involved in extortion and target killings, with a bounty of Rs5 million

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s security forces lost two soldiers while carrying out an intelligence-based operation in the country’s northwestern Buner district on Saturday, during which a high-value militant target was killed and two of his accomplices were injured.
Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in militant violence for well over a year after the banned militant network, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), called off a fragile ceasefire with the government in November 2022.
Since then, there has been a resurgence of deadly suicide bombings targeting security forces, political rallies and Chinese workers, primarily in the western provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, which are situated adjacent to Afghanistan.
“On 13 April 2024, security forces conducted an intelligence based operation in Buner District, on reported presence of terrorists,” the military’s media wing, ISPR, announced in a statement.
“During the conduct of operation, after an intense fire exchange, HVT [high-value target] Terrorist ring leader Saleem [alias] Rabbani was [killed], while two other terrorists were injured,” it added.
The ISPR said the targeted militant was involved in several militant activities against the security forces as well as extortion and target killings of civilians.
It continued that he was wanted by the law enforcement agencies and the government had fixed a bounty of Rs5 million on him.
“During the operation, two brave sons of soil, Lance Havildar Mudassar Mehmood (age-36 yrs; resident of district Rawalpindi) and Lance Naik Haseeb Javed (age-27 yrs; resident of district Poonch, AJ&K), having fought gallantly, embraced Shahadat [martyrdom],” the ISPR said.
The statement informed the security forces were carrying out sanitization operation in the area to eliminate any other militants found in the area.


Pakistan’s opposition launches anti-government campaign, demands release of ex-PM Khan

Pakistan’s opposition launches anti-government campaign, demands release of ex-PM Khan
Updated 27 min 52 sec ago
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Pakistan’s opposition launches anti-government campaign, demands release of ex-PM Khan

Pakistan’s opposition launches anti-government campaign, demands release of ex-PM Khan
  • The six-party alliance asks parliament to withdraw all cases against Khan in jail by passing a resolution
  • The alliance also downplays the May 9 violence which led to a state crackdown against Khan’s PTI party

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani opposition alliance on Saturday demanded release of jailed ex-premier Imran Khan in its first anti-government rally in Pishin, Balochistan, while vowing to hold nationwide public gatherings for the supremacy of the constitution and rule of law in the country.
Khan has been in jail since August last year and has been convicted in a number of cases. The candidates supported by his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party bagged the maximum number of seats in the February 8 elections despite a state crackdown against its leaders and workers.
The PTI has frequently claimed it won 180 National Assembly seats in the national polls, adding that its mandate was undermined after the authorities changed the election results to declare its rival factions victorious. The party formed the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province after the elections but rejected the results in the central government and the other three provinces.
The PTI has joined hands with other opposition parties, including the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP), Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) and Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), to oust the government by building public pressure against it.
In its first public gathering in Pishin to inaugurate the anti-government campaign, the six-party alliance urged all sections of society, including trade unions and bar councils, to join its struggle to uphold the constitution and rule of law in the country.
“Parliament should withdraw all cases against Imran Khan and his associates through a resolution,” said alliance chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai while addressing the gathering.
He said Khan was the leader of the majority party in parliament, and all cases against him should be withdrawn. He also criticized the state’s reaction to the May 9 violence last year, when Khan’s supporters attacked military installations following his brief detention on graft charges, saying heavens did not fall on that day.
The violence was followed by the crackdown against the PTI and its leadership, with the country’s army deciding to try many suspects in military courts.
“We have to bring a revolution with the support of the public,” he said, adding that it was important to legally stop the extensions of service for judges and generals.
Achakzai said the opposition alliance had decided to rise up against “oppression,” adding the purpose of the opposition’s movement was to ensure the supremacy of the constitution.
Earlier, the provincial administration of Balochistan imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in Pishin district, prohibiting a gathering of more than five people along with closure of highways.
Addressing the public gathering, Khan’s close aide and the leader of opposition in the National Assembly, Omar Ayub, demanded that the closed-circuit television footage of the May 9 incidents must be made public to reveal the facts about the day.
“The supremacy of the constitution will help secure the release of Imran Khan, other leaders and workers arrested illegally,” he continued, adding the opposition alliance would hold public rallies across the country to mobilize various segments of society, including students, trade unions and bar councils.