Omani consul general, Pakistani businessmen discuss diversifying exports, enhancing bilateral trade

Omani consul general, Pakistani businessmen discuss diversifying exports, enhancing bilateral trade
Oman’s Consul General Sami Abdullah Salim Al Khanjari (5L) and officials of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) pose for a picture in Karachi, Pakistan on May 29, 2024. (KCCI)
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Updated 29 May 2024
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Omani consul general, Pakistani businessmen discuss diversifying exports, enhancing bilateral trade

Omani consul general, Pakistani businessmen discuss diversifying exports, enhancing bilateral trade
  • Omani consul general leads delegation to Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Volume of trade between Oman and Pakistan needs to be enhanced, says KCCI president 

ISLAMABAD: Oman’s Consul General Sami Abdullah Salim Al Khanjari on Wednesday held discussions with Pakistani businessmen focused on diversifying exports from the South Asian country to the Gulf nation and increasing bilateral trade, a statement from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said. 

Like all Gulf countries, Pakistan enjoys cordial relations rooted in shared faith, culture and history with Oman. The South Asian country also has strong defense and economic ties with Oman. 

Khanjari led a delegation comprising the vice consul general of Oman’s consulate, Abdullah Jumah Al Harbi, and other Omani government officials from various ministries in a meeting with Pakistani businessmen and traders at the KCCI’s office on Wednesday. 

“Oman has been importing rice from Pakistan since 1982 and we highly appreciate Pakistan for providing best quality rice,” Khanjari was quoted as saying by the KCCI.

“But we would like to see more Pakistani products including several other agricultural products, sugar, textiles, towels and other good quality products being exported to Oman,” he added. 

He urged Karachi’s business community to look into exporting agricultural products to Oman such as onions, lentils, mangoes and potatoes to the Gulf country. 

Khanjari urged Karachi’s business community to highlight any obstacles that hinder smooth trade with Oman so that they could be removed. He called for holding more exhibitions in the two countries so that their business communities could interact more and explore possibilities for expanding trade.

“Keeping in view the trade potential, the Omani officials expressed the interest of regularly visiting Pakistan every year so that potential products being manufactured here could be exported to Oman,” the KCCI said. 

KCCI President Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh noted that Pakistan’s exports to Oman totaled around $166 million during the first nine months of the current financial year while last year, Pakistan exported $193 million worth of goods to the Gulf country. 

“Despite brotherly relationships and immense bilateral trade potential, the volume of trade is low which needs to be enhanced to a reasonable level,” Sheikh said.

He said both countries need to reduce trade barriers, diversify their range of products, simplify customs procedures, promote small and medium enterprises, and foster business collaboration to give a much-needed trade boost for “economic integration.”

The KCCI president noted how the oil and gas sector was the driving force of Oman’s economy while Pakistan faces significant energy sector challenges that impact its economy adversely. 

“Importing LNG & petroleum products from Oman at discounted rates or through deferred payments, via government-to-government arrangement, could assist Pakistan in resolving its energy and industrial needs & help in reviving economic growth,” Sheikh said. 


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

Pakistan needs major change after reaching ‘lowest point’ says Imad Wasim
Updated 21 sec ago
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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 over major ally’s support on budget

Amid differences, Pakistan’s ruling party vows to win over major ally’s support on budget
Updated 4 min 55 sec ago
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Amid differences, Pakistan’s ruling party vows to win over major ally’s support on budget

Amid differences, Pakistan’s ruling party vows to win over 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. 


Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide

Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide
Updated 14 min 52 sec ago
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Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide

Arafat sermon projected to reach 1 billion listeners worldwide
  • Sermon delivered on Saturday at Namira Mosque was translated live into 20 languages 
  • Translated sermons promote peace, coexistence, and deeper understanding of Islam

ARAFAT, Makkah: The Arafat sermon delivered on Saturday at Namira Mosque in Makkah was projected to reach a staggering one billion listeners worldwide, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The sermon was translated live into 20 languages as part of the groundbreaking initiative launched by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman's in 2018. Non-simultaneous translations into 17 languages were further made.

Spearheaded by the Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the project serves as a cornerstone in spreading the message of moderation and centrism espoused by the holy sites, SPA said.

"The translated sermons promote peace, coexistence, and a deeper understanding of Islam — a religion built on mercy, tolerance, and peaceful living," the report said.

When the project was first launched in 2018, translations were offered in only five languages.  Its reach has continued to grow each year. Sermons are translated into an increasing number of languages and broadcast on various platforms, including digital platforms, FM radio, and Islamic television channels.

"These efforts demonstrate the Kingdom’s unwavering commitment to serving Islam and the global Muslim community," the report said, adding that the initiative "exemplifies Saudi Arabia’s dedication to serving the Two Holy Mosques and their pilgrims. It further reflects the leadership’s commitment to promoting global peace and the values of tolerance and moderation," said the report.

"Having surpassed 200 million listeners in 2020, the project fulfills the Kingdom’s sacred responsibility of caring for the Two Holy Mosques and their visitors. By translating the Arafat sermon, they effectively share the message of these holy sites with the entire Muslim world," it further said.


For some Pakistanis, camels make a bigger, better and more expensive Eid sacrifice

For some Pakistanis, camels make a bigger, better and more expensive Eid sacrifice
Updated 23 min 58 sec ago
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For some Pakistanis, camels make a bigger, better and more expensive Eid sacrifice

For some Pakistanis, camels make a bigger, better and more expensive Eid sacrifice
  • Traders from across Pakistan flock each year to Hala camel market in southern Matiari district
  • Camel sellers and buyers complain of sharp rise in prices compared to last year though Pakistan inflation has slowed 

MATIARI, Sindh: Muslims around the world often slaughter sheep and cows at the annual Eid Al-Adha “feast of the sacrifice” but some Pakistanis are thinking bigger.
Ahead of this year’s Eid holiday, traders from around the country are making their annual trip to the Hala market in the southern Matiari district, which is dedicated to animals for auction — but not sheep or cows, but camels. 
“The biggest camel market in Pakistan is in Hala. Camels are brought here for trading from different cities, districts and divisions,” said Muhammad Akhtar, a trader who had arrived from the southwestern city of Quetta nearly 700 kilometers away to purchase camels ahead of Eid. 
“This market is busy year-round. Camels are supplied here from all over Pakistan.”
Traders at the market listed some of the famous breeds, including Laari, Thari, and Saakrai, with Laari being the most expensive. 
“There are different prices for camels depending on their beauty,” Akhtar said. “The sacrificial [Eid] camels are obviously the most expensive. Laari is the most expensive breed, so its price is higher.”
A Thari breed, weighing 8-9 maunds, can cost up over $3,000 around Eid time, while the Laari and Saakri kinds can go for over $6,000. Another breed, the Sindhi, can sell for up to $4,600. 
“Camels are costlier on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha compared to before Eid,” Akhtar said. “Due to the arrival of Eid, rates are higher.”
Pakistan’s consumer price index (CPI) in May rose 11.8 percent from a year earlier, the lowest reading in 30 months and below the finance ministry’s projections, though consumers around the country still complain of exorbitant prices of food and energy. 
Pakistan has been beset by inflation above 20 percent since May 2022. Last May, inflation jumped as high as 38 percent as the country navigated reforms as part of an International Monetary Fund bailout program. However, inflation has since slowed down but customers at the Hala market weren’t happy. 
“I come to Hala every year to buy two sacrificial camels for my business. I prefer Sindhi camels, but they are quite expensive,” said Sher Muhammad Lulai, who had traveled hundreds of kilometers from a town in Punjab with a budget of around $2,100, which turned out to be much less than anything available. 
“I will purchase if I find suitable ones, or I will return without buying anything.”
Asghar Ali, another trader from Punjab and a resident of Mian Channu, said he had purchased 15 camels from Hala market to take back to Punjab but prices had been back-breaking. 
“Compared to last year, the cost has increased by Rs100,000 rupees [$350] but I have no choice but to purchase them, as this is my livelihood,” Ali said. “I will sell them back home and trust that God will provide me with sustenance,.”

“MARKET IS DOWN”

It’s not just buyers who are complaining. Sellers too said they were struggling to find customers this season. 
Sher Khan, a trader from Usman Shah Huri in Sindh’s Tando Allahyar district, said he had brought two camels to the market to sell but failed thus far to find buyers.
“I am demanding RS1.8 million ($6,392) for my two camels, but despite being here for the last four days, I have not found a customer,” he said. “The market is very down, perhaps due to inflation.”
Saadullah Brohi, another trader from Quetta, said he had been coming to Hala to sell for 22 years but had never seen the market “this slow” before.
“In the past, the market was good, but it’s not good anymore,” Brohi told Arab News. “However, we cannot do anything except adjust ourselves to survive as I have to feed my family.”


Pakistani pilgrims transition from Arafat to Muzdalifah, marking key rituals of Hajj journey

Pakistani pilgrims transition from Arafat to Muzdalifah, marking key rituals of Hajj journey
Updated 15 June 2024
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Pakistani pilgrims transition from Arafat to Muzdalifah, marking key rituals of Hajj journey

Pakistani pilgrims transition from Arafat to Muzdalifah, marking key rituals of Hajj journey
  • Pilgrims attended the annual Hajj sermon in Arafat where they were urged to pray for people of Palestine
  • After spending the night in Muzdalifah, pilgrims will perform symbolic stoning of the devil in the morning

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani pilgrims began moving to Muzdalifah on Saturday evening after spending the day in Arafat, where they had gathered in the morning to attend the annual Hajj sermon and engage in prayers and self-reflection, as confirmed by the country’s Ministry of Religious Affairs.
The Day of Arafat holds tremendous significance as it commemorates the moment more than 1,400 years ago when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) delivered his Farewell Sermon, calling for unity, equality and justice among Muslims.
After spending a reflective night under the starry sky in Muzdalifah, pilgrims will move to Mina in the morning to perform the symbolic stoning of the devil at Jamarat, an act signifying the rejection of evil.
“After completing the standing at Arafat, all Pakistani government Hajj pilgrims, along with other pilgrims, set off toward Muzdalifah,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Pakistani pilgrims departed for Muzdalifah under the guidance of their sector representatives.”
“The pilgrims seemed satisfied with the arrangements made by the Saudi authorities, and they continued to congratulate each other happily after completing their stay in Arafat,” the statement added.
Earlier, pilgrims from across the world attended the Hajj sermon delivered by one of the prayer leaders of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, Sheikh Maher bin Hamad Al-Muaiqly, who urged them to pray for the Palestinians who had been “harmed and hurt by their enemy.”
He noted the people of Palestine had been deprived of “food, medicine and clothing.”
Asked about their Hajj experience, Pakistani pilgrims said they were fortunate to be in Arafat to perform one of the greatest rituals in Islam.
“The experience in Mina and Arafat has remained very good,” Ilyas Kabir from DG Khan said in a video circulated by the ministry. “It is a great blessing to have the opportunity to perform Hajj. I urge the pilgrims to be patient.”
An elderly woman in a wheelchair, who said she had been performing Hajj with her son, informed that she had been praying for the entire Muslim world.
“I pray for all Muslims,” she said. “Good wishes, good intentions, especially for Palestine. May there be peace and tranquility. May Allah grant them freedom.”
The stoning ritual at Jamarat in the morning will be followed by the traditional animal sacrifice, leading to Eid Al-Adha celebrations across the world.
With input from AP