PM Sharif’s aide on climate change urges Pakistani provinces to ban plastic bags

PM Sharif’s aide on climate change urges Pakistani provinces to ban plastic bags
In this picture taken on May 17, 2019, a vendor hangs biodegradable bags for sale at a market in Chitral. (AFP/File)
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Updated 24 June 2024
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PM Sharif’s aide on climate change urges Pakistani provinces to ban plastic bags

PM Sharif’s aide on climate change urges Pakistani provinces to ban plastic bags
  • Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province, banned production, distribution and sale of plastic bags on June 5
  • Pakistan consistently ranks among countries worldwide most affected adversely by climate change 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coordinator recently urged Pakistani provinces to follow Punjab’s decision to ban the manufacturing, distribution and sale of plastic to reduce the adverse impacts of plastic waste across the country. 

Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province, banned the production, distribution and sale of plastic on June 5, a move that coincided from World Environment Day, in its bid to cut pollution and promote pro-environment steps. 

The production of plastic bags adversely affects human health, ecosystems and wildlife. Made from polyethylene, a type of non-biodegradable material, plastic bags remain in the environment for hundreds of years and never decompose fully. 

“Coordinator to Prime Minister on Climate Change, Romina Khurshid Alam has urged all provincial governments to follow the suit of Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz of enforcing plastic ban, to make Pakistan plastic-free country,” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said in a report on Sunday. 

Alam said achieving a “plastic-free Pakistan” is an extremely challenging goal but one which can be achieved through coordinated efforts by provincial governments. She noted that plastic had a disastrous impact on the environment and also contributed to respiratory ailments, and other life-threatening conditions.

“She also urged the provincial governments to promote use of eco-friendly alternatives like cotton bags to replace plastic bags, appealing to the citizens to switch to cloth and paper bags as alternatives to plastic,” Radio Pakistan said. 

Pakistan, which ranks among countries most vulnerable to climate change, has witnessed untimely downpours, deadly floods, heat waves and droughts in recent years, which experts have attributed to climate change effects.

Devastating floods in the summer of 2022 killed over 1,700 people and inflicted damages of over $33 billion in the country. Pakistani experts attributed the heavy rains and melting of glaciers to the adverse effects of climate change. 


Pakistan court orders Imran Khan, wife be freed ‘immediately’ in case over violating marriage law

Pakistan court orders Imran Khan, wife be freed ‘immediately’ in case over violating marriage law
Updated 19 sec ago
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Pakistan court orders Imran Khan, wife be freed ‘immediately’ in case over violating marriage law

Pakistan court orders Imran Khan, wife be freed ‘immediately’ in case over violating marriage law
  • Khan, wife Bushra were sentenced to seven years in prison in February by court that ruled their 2018 marriage broke Islamic law 
  • Marriage case was only one keeping Khan in prison, two convictions against him were suspended and he was acquitted in third case

ISLAMABAD: A district and sessions court on Saturday accepted appeals filed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Khan seeking the suspension of a ruling that they had violated the country’s marriage law, and ordered they be “immediately” released from prison, the ex-premier’s party said.

Khan and his wife were sentenced to seven years in prison and fined in February by a court that ruled their 2018 marriage broke the law. Bushra was accused of not completing the waiting period mandated by Islam, called “Iddat,” after divorcing her previous husband and marrying Khan.

The Khans signed their marriage contract, or “Nikkah,” in January 2018 in a secret ceremony seven months before the former cricket superstar became prime minister for the first time. There was controversy over whether they had wed before the Iddat period was complete. After initial denials of the marriage, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf confirmed it weeks later.

The Khans both deny wrongdoing in the Iddat case.

“Additional Session Judge Afzal Majoka has dismissed charges on Mr.& Mrs.Khan in Iddat case, ordering his release,” Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said in a message to reporters. “So far Mr.Khan has no case that could keep him in prison, unless of course there’s a concealed one which his legal team isn’t aware of.”

Pakistani local media also widely reported on the acquittal. 

“If they are not wanted in any other case, then PTI founder Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi should be released [from jail] immediately,” Dawn newspaper reported Judge Majoka as ordering after accepting the appeals and suspending the conviction. 

Khan has been in jail after being convicted in four cases since last August. Two of the cases have since been suspended and he was acquitted in one, so the Iddat case was the only one keeping him in prison.

Khan’s convictions had ruled the 71-year-old out of the February general elections as convicted felons cannot run for public office under Pakistani law. Arguably Pakistan’s most popular politician, Khan says all cases against him are motivated to keep him out of politics.

The criminal complaint against Khan and Bushra’s marriage was brought by her ex-husband, Khawar Maneka, to whom she was married for about 30 years.

Khan has often called Bushra his spiritual leader. She is known for her devotion to Sufism, a mystical form of Islam.

Born Bushra Riaz Watto, she changed her name to Khan after her marriage. Her husband and followers commonly refer to her as Bushra Bibi or Bushra Begum, titles that denote respect in the Urdu language.

Khan’s two previous marriages — to Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of tycoon James Goldsmith, and television journalist Reham Nayyar Khan — ended in divorce.


PM urges efforts to make new $7 billion loan deal Pakistan’s last IMF bailout

PM urges efforts to make new $7 billion loan deal Pakistan’s last IMF bailout
Updated 11 min 5 sec ago
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PM urges efforts to make new $7 billion loan deal Pakistan’s last IMF bailout

PM urges efforts to make new $7 billion loan deal Pakistan’s last IMF bailout
  • The new loan, spanning over 37 months, is subject to approval by the IMF executive board
  • It came on condition of reforms including hiking household bills and expanding the tax net

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday urged officials to make speedy and tireless efforts to make a newly secured $7 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Pakistan’s last bailout from the global lender.
The prime minister’s statement came during a meeting of fiscal authorities of the country he presided over in the federal capital of Islamabad.
The meeting came hours after Pakistan reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF for a new $7 billion loan, which is subject to IMF board’s approval.
Sharif congratulated Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb and other officials for their hard work in the recent budget that helped materialize the deal.
“Now is the time that we have to act and act speedily and work tirelessly, only then it would be last IMF program,” he said in televised comments.
“Taxing common people who pay tax, if you will impose further tax on them, [then] it’s a premium for those who don’t pay tax and it’s a penalty for those who are honest taxpayers.”
The deal came weeks after Sharif’s government presented its first budget, aiming to collect Rs13 trillion ($44 billion) in taxes, a 40 percent increase from the last fiscal year.
The government has said that it would ensure an increase in the number of taxpayers in the country from the existing 5 million people who paid taxes.
During the meeting, Sharif asked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman to collect even the “last penny.”
“Whatever you need in the public interest, national interest to collect the last penny, which is our due right, I will spend any amount of money to get those gadgetries which are required for this purpose,” he offered.
Islamabad wrangled for months with IMF officials to unlock the new loan announced on Friday, which will be paid out over 37 months.
It came on condition of far-reaching reforms including hiking household bills to remedy a permanently crisis-stricken energy sector and uplifting pitiful tax takings.
More unusual methods have seen the tax authority block 210,000 SIM cards of mobile users who have not filed tax returns in a bid to widen the revenue bracket.
Under the deal “revenue collections will be supported by simpler and fairer direct and indirect taxation including by bringing net income from the retail, export, and agriculture sectors properly into the tax system,” IMF Pakistan mission chief, Nathan Porter, said in a statement.
Islamabad also aims to reduce its fiscal deficit by 1.5 percent to 5.9 percent in the coming year, heeding another key IMF demand.
The IMF said the loan and its conditions should allow Pakistan to “cement macroeconomic stability and create conditions for stronger, more inclusive and resilient growth.”
But Pakistan’s public debt remains huge at $242 billion and servicing it will still swallow up half of the government’s income this fiscal year, according to the lender.


Pakistan signs agreement with UAE firm for expertise to drive foreign investment

Pakistan signs agreement with UAE firm for expertise to drive foreign investment
Updated 13 July 2024
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Pakistan signs agreement with UAE firm for expertise to drive foreign investment

Pakistan signs agreement with UAE firm for expertise to drive foreign investment
  • Islamabad established the SIFC, a civil-military hybrid forum, in June last year to attract investment
  • The UAE consultancy firm will provide expertise over a period of 18 months focusing on a number of areas

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has signed an agreement with an Emirati consultancy firm, AT Kearney Middle East Limited, for the promotion of foreign investment in the country’s diverse sectors, Pakistani state media reported on Saturday.
Islamabad established the SIFC, a civil-military hybrid forum, in June last year to attract foreign direct investment in agriculture, mining, information technology, defense production and energy sectors.
A team of AT Kearney and Pakistan’s Public-Private Partnership Authority officials held a detailed meeting with the SIFC national coordinator to discuss the roadmap for collaboration, the Radio Pakistan broadcaster reported.
“The UAE company will provide expertise over a period of eighteen months focusing on a number of key areas to drive foreign investment,” the report read.
“The agreement includes strategies for attracting investment in key sectors and conducting pre-feasibility studies for selected projects.”
The development comes amid a push for foreign investment by Pakistan, which has been facing low foreign exchange reserves, currency devaluation and high inflation.
The South Asian country is making desperate attempts to boost foreign investment and has reached a $7 billion loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support its $350 billion fragile economy.


At UNRWA summit, Pakistan reaffirms commitment to humanitarian aid, reconstruction efforts in Gaza

At UNRWA summit, Pakistan reaffirms commitment to humanitarian aid, reconstruction efforts in Gaza
Updated 13 July 2024
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At UNRWA summit, Pakistan reaffirms commitment to humanitarian aid, reconstruction efforts in Gaza

At UNRWA summit, Pakistan reaffirms commitment to humanitarian aid, reconstruction efforts in Gaza
  • The statement came as UN chief appealed for funding for beleaguered UN agency helping Palestinian refugees in Gaza and elsewhere
  • UNRWA’s 30,000 staff provide education, primary health care and other development activities to about 6 million Palestinian refugees

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts in Gaza during a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) pledging conference in New York, Pakistani state media reported on Saturday.
The statement came as the UN chief appealed for funding for the beleaguered UN agency helping Palestinian refugees in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East, accusing Israel of issuing evacuation orders that force Palestinians “to move like human pinballs across a landscape of destruction and death.”
UNRWA’s 30,000 staff provide education, primary health care and other development activities to about 6 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Pakistan has dispatched more than eight planeloads carrying over 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza since the outbreak of Israel’s war on Gaza in October last year, the state-run Radio Pakistan broadcaster reported.
“In New York, Second Secretary of the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations Rabia Ijaz advocated for a comprehensive reconstruction plan for Gaza and reiterated readiness to partner in the reconstruction of educational institutions,” the report read.
She also called for an urgent implementation of a peace plan for Gaza as outlined in the UN Security Council resolutions.
Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
Since the beginning of Israel’s war, Pakistan has repeatedly raised the issue at the UN and other world forums, demanding international powers and multilateral bodies stop Israeli military actions in the Palestinian territory.
Israel’s latest evacuation orders in Gaza City have come with more civilian suffering and bloodshed.
Since the Hamas attack that killed some 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7, Israeli ground offensives and bombardments have killed more than 38,300 people, mostly children, in Gaza, according to the Palestinian health ministry.


Pakistan, India Champions lock horns in World Championship of Legends final today

Pakistan, India Champions lock horns in World Championship of Legends final today
Updated 13 July 2024
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Pakistan, India Champions lock horns in World Championship of Legends final today

Pakistan, India Champions lock horns in World Championship of Legends final today
  • Pakistan Champions won the first semifinal against the West Indies Champions in Northampton
  • India Champions defeated Australia Champions by 86 runs in second semifinal of the WCL 2024

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Champions will face India Champions in a high-voltage final of the World Championship of Legends (WCL) 2024 at Edgbaston Stadium in Birmingham today, Saturday.
India Champions defeated Australia Champions by 86 runs in the second semifinal of the WCL 2024 which was played at the County Ground in Northampton on Friday.
Pakistan Champions won the first semifinal against the West Indies Champions at the County Ground, Northampton. The final is scheduled to be played at 8:30pm Pakistan time.
“The stage is set for a high-voltage clash as arch-rivals Pakistan and India Champions prepare to face off in the grand finale of the WCL T20 2024,” the WCL wrote on its official website.
Six teams competed in the tournament, including England, India, Pakistan, Australia, South Africa and the West Indies.
Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani and Indian fans are going to be on the edge of their seats worldwide, anticipating a fierce battle that will be etched in the cricketing history.
Pakistan squad:
Kamran Akmal, Misbahul Haq, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Akmal, Abdul Razzaq, Shahid Afridi, Muhammad Hafeez, Aamer Yamin, Wahab Riaz and Saeed Ajmal
India squad:
Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Yusuf Pathan, Robin Uthapa, Naman Ojha, Saurabh Tiwary, Gurkreet Mann, Yuvraj Singh, Irrfan Pathan, RP Singh, HarbHajjan Singh, Vinay Kumar and Rahul Shukla