Pakistan approves $8 million to pay severance packages of PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York

Pakistan approves $8 million to pay severance packages of PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York
The entrance of the Roosevelt Hotel, a historic luxury hotel in Midtown Manhattan, is seen in New York on October 12, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 24 May 2024
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Pakistan approves $8 million to pay severance packages of PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York

Pakistan approves $8 million to pay severance packages of PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York
  • Pakistan’s national airline bought the Roosevelt Hotel in 1999 for $36.5 million 
  • Islamabad is pushing for privatization of state entities for a fresh IMF bailout

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government on Thursday approved $8 million to pay severance packages of the Pakistan International Airlines-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York, Pakistani state media reported, amid the South Asian country’s push for privatization of state entities.
The development came at an ECC meeting presided over by Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb, during which the Ministry of Aviation presented a summary to allow the utilization of $8 million available with National Bank of Pakistan to pay severance packages of the establishment.
Roosevelt Hotel, a 19-story building located at a prime location in New York, was inaugurated in Manhattan on September 22, 1924. Named after the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, Pakistan’s national airline leased it in 1979 through the Pakistan International Airlines Investments Limited (PIA-IL). 
Saudi Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud was also one of the investors in the 1979 investment deal, though the PIA decided to buy the hotel for $36.5 million in 1999 and later struck a deal with its Saudi partner in 2005 to buy his share in the property as well. 
“The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet on Thursday approved $8 million to pay severance packages and operational expenses of the Roosevelt Hotel,” the state-run APP news agency reported.
In 2021, the government of then prime minister Imran Khan had allowed the release of $27.3 million for the payment of liabilities accumulated by the hotel, which permanently closed its door on October 31, 2020, after remaining operational since 1924.
A year earlier, it had also approved $142 million for the PIA-IL last year to meet the hotel’s financial challenges.
The $8 million severance grant comes amid Pakistan’s push for privatization and reforms in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as it negotiates with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a fresh bailout program, for which Islamabad must implement an ambitious reforms agenda, including the privatization of debt-ridden SOEs.
Among the main entities Pakistan is pushing to privatize is its national flag carrier, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), while the government is putting on the block a stake ranging from 51 percent to 100 percent.
The South Asian country, which has been facing low foreign exchange reserves, currency devaluation and high inflation, last month completed a short-term $3 billion IMF program that helped stave off a sovereign default, but the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has stressed the need for a fresh, longer-term program to keep the $350 billion economy afloat.


Pakistan’s Muhammad Yasir bags silver medal in Asian Throwing Championship

Pakistan’s Muhammad Yasir bags silver medal in Asian Throwing Championship
Updated 9 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Muhammad Yasir bags silver medal in Asian Throwing Championship

Pakistan’s Muhammad Yasir bags silver medal in Asian Throwing Championship
  • Yasir threw javelin at impressive distance of 78.10 meters to finish second behind Sri Lanka’s Rumesh Tharanga 
  • Tharanga threw his javelin at distance of 85.45 meters to win the competition, reports Associated Press of Pakistan 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani athlete Muhammad Yasir bagged a silver medal in the second Asian Throwing Championship competition held in South Korea on Saturday, state-run media reported. 

The Asian Throwing Championships is an annual competition featuring participants from Asian countries in track and field competitions such as javelin throw, discus throw, shot put and hammer throw. 

Yasir finished second behind Sri Lana’s Rumesh Tharanga, who threw an impressive 85.45 meters while Yasir managed to throw the javelin at a distance of 78.10 meters. 

“Talented Pakistani athlete Muhammad Yasir has secured a silver medal in the 2nd Asian Throwing Championship held in Korea,” the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said. 

The Pakistan Athletics Federation (PAF) congratulated Yasir and his coach, Syed Fayaz Hussain Bukhari, for their outstanding achievement.

“PAF President Brig (R) Wajahat Hussain and Secretary General Col (R) Shahjahan Mir praised the duo’s dedication and hard work,” APP said. 
It added that Yasir and Bukhari are both scheduled to return home on June 18 and will be accorded a warm welcome at the airport.


Police arrest five in southern Pakistan for chopping off camel’s leg

Police arrest five in southern Pakistan for chopping off camel’s leg
Updated 50 min 11 sec ago
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Police arrest five in southern Pakistan for chopping off camel’s leg

Police arrest five in southern Pakistan for chopping off camel’s leg
  • Local media widely reported landlord chopped off camel’s leg after it trespassed into his field
  • Proper medical treatment being provided to the camel, says Sanghar lawmaker Shazia Ata Marri 

ISLAMABAD: Police in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province this week arrested five persons for their involvement in chopping off a camel’s leg, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported. 

Local media reports said a landlord in Sanghar district’s Mund Jamrao village allegedly had a camel’s leg chopped off on Friday after the animal trespassed into his field for fodder. 

The owner of the camel, a poor peasant named Soomar Behan, was contacted by police after the episode went viral on social media. However, Behan refused to file charges against the landlord following which police took action. 

Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon said on Saturday that a case had been registered against the accused for amputating the camel on the state’s behalf, describing it as a “humanely unacceptable” act. 

“He said that the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah had taken notice of the incident,” APP said. “Sharjeel said that the five accused had been arrested.”

Sanghar lawmaker Shazia Ata Marri wrote on social media platform X police took action as soon as she learned about the “horrible and painful” incident. 

“While the police is still doing its work, proper medical treatment is being provided to the poor animal,” she wrote on X. 

Section 429 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) states that anyone who kills, poisons, maims, or renders useless any animal of the value of ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either a term of up to two years or be fined for the offense, or both. 


Eid Al-Adha 2024: Pakistani TV channels to air special programming during three-day holiday

Eid Al-Adha 2024: Pakistani TV channels to air special programming during three-day holiday
Updated 16 June 2024
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Eid Al-Adha 2024: Pakistani TV channels to air special programming during three-day holiday

Eid Al-Adha 2024: Pakistani TV channels to air special programming during three-day holiday
  • Television remains a major source of entertainment despite increase in the number of film productions
  • TV channels will air telefilms on Eid featuring artists like Ahsan Khan, Feroze Khan and Arsalan Naseer

KARACHI: As Muslims around the world prepare to celebrate Eid Al-Adha, marking the culmination of the Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, Pakistani television channels are planning to air some fun content for viewers’ consumption during the three-day holiday announced by the government beginning next week.
Television remains a major source of entertainment for most Pakistanis, especially during Eid and other national holidays, with drama serials and game shows being far more accessible than film productions. This holds true despite the recent increase in the number and special launches of film productions.
Arab News has compiled a list of at least six new telefilms making their way to the small screen to entertain people celebrating Eid.

Tere Naam Ka Tattoo

A poster of the TV show "Tere Naam Ka Tattoo" scheduled for transmission on Pakistani TV channel ARY Digital on Eid Al-Adha 2024 holidays.(Photo courtesy: ARY Digital/Instagram)

Content creator turned actor Arslan Naseer, who is making waves with his character in the ongoing drama ‘Radd,’ and new-age actress Sahar Hashmi will be starring in the Eid special telefilm ‘Tere Naam Ka Tattoo.’
It’s a romantic comedy, according to Naseer, who plays the role of the male protagonist Ahsan.
“He is a hopeless romantic who is in denial of his breakup,” Naseer told Arab News while explaining his character in the production.
Written by Hasan Inam, the telefilm is directed by Muhammad Iftikhar Iffi.
Naseer said it was a story of two individuals going through a rough patch who eventually find comfort in each other after being betrayed by their former love interests.
“Tere Naam Ka Tattoo is a fresh story,” he added. “It’s not our typical Bakra Eid content. It features a fresh onscreen couple and should be fun to watch.”

Pyaar Tou Warh Gaya
The Ahsan Khan and Amar Khan-starrer ‘Pyaar Tou Warh Gaya’ is described as a “very fun, Eid entertainer,” according to Amar.
Amar plays the female lead opposite Khan, who has a double role in the telefilm. He is the husband of the female lead while also disguising as a woman as his second avatar.
Amar plays the role of Khan’s naive wife who wants to know everything. However, she said, she gets puzzled when she learns the truth.
“The audience’s response to the first teaser of the telefilm has been really interesting,” she told Arab News. “Some people are comparing it to ‘dream girl.’“
“Viewers must watch it for fits of laughter this Eid Al-Adha,” she continued, adding the cast included Sidra Niazi, Behroze Sabzwari, and Adnan Jaffer, in addition to herself and Khan.
Written by debutant Shakeel Arsalan, it has been directed by Ali Faizan.

Jodi Ban Gayi

A screengrab from the TV show "Jodi Ban Gayi" scheduled for transmission on Pakistani TV channel Geo TV on Eid Al-Adha 2024 holidays.(Photo courtesy: Har Pal Geo/Instagram)

The Feroze Khan and Sehar Khan-starrer telefilm ‘Jodi Ban Gayi’ will also hit the small screen this Eid Al-Adha. Airing on the first day of Eid, the telefilm offers a fresh pair in never-seen-before characters.
“This is the most exciting aspect of the telefilm,” director Syed Ramish Rizvi said in a conversation with Arab News.
“It’s a romantic comedy that highlights there is no right age for marriage as long the mindset of two individuals align,” he added.
The cast includes Saba Faisal and Mehmood Akhtar in key roles.
“The storytelling and cast are the highlight of the project,” Rizvi said. “Feroze Khan hasn’t done a light-hearted character like this before.”

Tamanna Ki Aarzu

A poster of the TV show "Tamanna Ki Aarzu" scheduled for transmission on Pakistani TV channel ARY Digital on Eid Al-Adha 2024 holidays.(Photo courtesy: ARY Digital/Instagram)

Muneeb Butt and Madiha Imam are coming together for an Eid Al-Adha telefilm, titled ‘Tamanna Ki Aarzu.’
“It’s a 40-minute comedy tele-play that revolves around the theme of property,” Imam told Arab News.
The story, according to her, highlights how women feel insecure in financial terms after their marriage.
Imam plays the role of an unconventional woman who is straightforward and vocal against injustices.
“She is more of a tomboy,” she said.
“It’s a comic, light-hearted play that will make viewers reflect on many things,” Imam continued. “It has a very subliminal, quiet message in it. It also promises a good time with friends and family this Eid Al-Adha.”

Wo Saat Din

A poster of the TV show "Wo Saat Din" scheduled for transmission on Pakistani TV channel Hum TV Pakistan on Eid Al-Adha 2024 holidays.(Photo courtesy: Hum TV Pakistan/Instagram)

The telefilm titled ‘Wo Saat Din,’ starring Usama Khan and Alizeh Shah in lead roles, will hit television screens on the third day of Eid.
It has an ensemble cast including Samina Ahmed and Fazila Qazi while it is written by Saima Akram Chaudhry of ‘Suno Chanda’ fame.
Chaudhry described the story as one in which a woman tries to keep relationships intact.
“There is a budding love story amidst the situation that becomes life-changing for the families involved,” Chaudhry told Arab News.
Khan, who plays the male protagonist in the telefilm, shared it was signature Saima Akram Chaudhry’s family-oriented play.
“Still, it has a unique story which will be entertaining to watch for viewers on Eid Al-Adha,” he said.

Love Hai Mushkil

A poster of the TV show "Love Hai Mushkil" scheduled for transmission on Pakistani TV channel ARY Digital on Eid Al-Adha 2024 holidays.(Photo courtesy: ARY Digital/Instagram)

‘Love Hai Mushkil’ is described as a “fun, Eid special telefilm,” according to the official Instagram handle of the channel airing it on Eid.
It features Ali Rehman Khan and Mah-e-Nur Haider in lead roles, alongside Hina Bayat and Javed Sheikh. Written by Misbah Ali Syed, Love Hai Mushkil is directed by Kashif Saleem.
Going by the teaser, it seems to be a conventional romantic comedy in which hate between the guy and the girl turns into lasting love. The two individuals who constantly fight and express dislike toward one another eventually fall in love.


Pakistan needs major change after reaching ‘lowest point’ says Imad Wasim

Pakistan needs major change after reaching ‘lowest point’ says Imad Wasim
Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan needs major change after reaching ‘lowest point’ says Imad Wasim

Pakistan needs major change after reaching ‘lowest point’ says Imad Wasim
  • Pakistan, champions in 2009, crashed out of World Cup in group stage after losing to USA, India 
  • Their final game is against Ireland on Sunday with both teams already out of the World Cup 

LAUDERHILL, United States: Pakistan cricket is at its lowest point and needs to make radical changes, all-rounder Imad Wasim said after the team failed to get out of the group stage of the T20 World Cup.

The 2009 champions, beaten finalists two years ago, lost to the USA and India with their sole victory coming against Canada.

Pakistan’s final game is on Sunday against Ireland, which is now a dead rubber with both teams already eliminated.

Asked about the exit, with the USA beating Pakistan to Super Eight qualification, along with India, Wasim said there was no doubt about the level of disappointment.

“This is the lowest point. You can’t go any lower than this. That’s the fact,” he told a press conference.

Asked whether there now needed to be major changes, the 35-year-old left-arm spinner, said it was clear that radical changes were needed.

“It’s not my domain but I think there should be changes and there should be a drastic change so we can move forward,” he said.

Wasim, who came out of a brief retirement for this tournament, said that the change needed to be far-reaching.

“In everything and every aspect. How to take the game on? How to play the game? This is what I believed in and this is why I came back and tried to do things but it didn’t happen,” he added.

After the shock loss to the USA, Pakistan put up a close fight in defeat against India in New York and Wasim said that the context needed to be understood.

“You can also say the wickets are a bit tougher than what you think and any team can beat anyone. You can see Nepal was almost through. So, things can happen but I think the approach, how we play the game, I think we will change that and all of the boys are eager to do that because this defeat hurt us really badly,” he said.

The key change that is needed is in the mental side of the game, added Wasim.

“I’m giving my personal opinion. Don’t make these headlines — it’s all your mindset. What mindset do you want to play the game with? You either play fire with fire, or you play your way.

“So, I personally believe that you should play fire with fire. And even if you lose, you can sit down and say to yourself that on that day we were not good enough,” he said.

“The problem is our team is so good, our players are so good that we are good enough to play any kind of cricket. So you have to get rid of fear of failure mindset.

“In everything — batting, bowling, fielding, you have to get rid of fear of failure mindset. As I said earlier, personnel change doesn’t change anything, just changing the mindset can change a lot of things,” he added.

“We compete with the world’s best teams. Their mindset has changed over time. We used to rule in T20 cricket. I think we have moved back a little now. If you change the mind of the player, you can achieve things beyond your limits. I always believe in this.”

Wasim said he would not make any decision on his future until after Sunday’s game.

“As far as retirement is concerned, there’s a match tomorrow. We’ll play a match and obviously, after that, we’ll think about it and sort out whatever we need to. Because to be honest, a lot of things are going to be sorted out in the Pakistan team. The chairman and the board will sort it out.

“We have given away two games by ourselves. Losing to USA, well, losing is a part of the game, but we shouldn’t have lost to USA. Even against India — we had that game in our hands and we shouldn’t have lost. So, there is no excuse for anything. We are losing matches collectively,” he said.

“After the match against Ireland — we will sit down and talk and then decide. I don’t do anything secretly. I told everyone when I retired last time. If something happens, I will come and tell everyone.”


Amid differences, Pakistan’s ruling party vows to win major ally’s support on budget

Amid differences, Pakistan’s ruling party vows to win major ally’s support on budget
Updated 46 min 13 sec ago
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Amid differences, Pakistan’s ruling party vows to win major ally’s support on budget

Amid differences, Pakistan’s ruling party vows to win major ally’s support on budget
  • Pakistan Peoples Party, a key government ally, has accused ruling party of ignoring its budget recommendations
  • Will consider PPP’s recommendations “favorably” and try to include them in the budget before voting, says official 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s ruling party this week vowed it would win over the support of its major coalition partner, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on the federal budget before voting on it takes place, despite differences between the two over the key document. 
Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb unveiled the much-awaited Rs18.877 trillion ($67.76 billion) federal budget for the fiscal year 2024-25 on Wednesday in parliament. The tax-heavy budget is expected to play a pivotal role in Pakistan’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a fresh financial assistance program with the global lender. 
The PPP is a major coalition ally of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party. A day before the budget was presented, the PPP accused the government of ignoring its recommendations for the annual document. The party initially announced it would boycott the budget session but later, a handful of its leaders attended it. 
“We are a major coalition partner of the government but they completely ignored us in the pre-budget consultations and meetings,” PPP lawmaker Sehar Kamran told Arab News. 
“Shehbaz Sharif’s government wants to use us as a rubber stamp in parliament to pass the budget but we won’t do it if our reservations are not addressed.”
Kamran said the government has proposed a tax-heavy budget without consulting the PPP, adding that there were also disagreements between the two parties over the distribution of development funds and various projects related to Pakistan’s provinces.
The PPP, which voted Sharif into power after the contentious national election in February, is not part of the federal government but has its government in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. Sharif’s government needs PPP’s votes to pass the budget in parliament. 
“If the government needs our votes in parliament to pass the budget, then it will have to listen to us first to address our grievances,” she said. 
Aqeel Malik, a government spokesperson, admitted the “real issues” between the PPP and the PML-N were related to the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for provinces. 
However, he said the government cannot take all of the PPP’s suggestions into consideration regarding provinces where the party was not in government, such as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab. 
“In Sindh, we have consulted them there and there is absolutely no issue with regards to this,” Malik told Arab News, emphasizing that the government held meetings with the PPP leadership before finalizing the budget.
He said this was the reason why a few PPP leaders had attended the budget session symbolically. 
“We have had meaningful consultation with them,” Malik explained. “We have taken them on board and we consulted them.”
The government is committed to resolving the PPP’s issues regarding the budget, Malik said, hoping the party would “come around” once voting takes place. 
“If there is any tweaking in the budget with regards to their suggestions or recommendations, we will certainly consider them favorably and will try to include them before the voting takes place,” he said.
PM Sharif’s coordinator, Rana Ihsan Afzal, confirmed the government was ready to address the PPP’s reservations on the budget before it is voted upon. 
“We are engaging with them [the PPP] thoroughly,” Afzal told Arab News.
As per media reports, the general debate on the budget will begin on June 20 while voting on it is expected to take place on June 24.