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Updated: 16 hours 43 min ago

Pakistan responds to India’s UN delegate: ‘This too, shall fail’

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 19:35

NEW YORK: Pakistan has gracefully responded to the comments made by Indian delegate Eenam Gambhir in which she criticised Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s forceful address to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.

PM Abbasi had urged the world body to fulfill its promises and grant the struggling people of Kashmir their due right to self-determination in his speech to the UN.

Maiden UN address: Stop fuelling terror in Pakistan, PM tells India

Taking exception to the accusations Gambhir had leveled against Pakistan in her commentary on the premier’s speech, Pakistani delegate Tipu Usman said that PM Abbasi was only reflecting the sentiments and aspirations of the oppressed and suffering people of Kashmir, who had been living under India’s brutal occupation since decades.

Earlier, Eenam Gambhir had said that Pakistan regularly indulged in cross-border terrorism. She also claimed that Kashmir was an “integral part” of India.

“The root cause of all the ills plaguing South Asia is the unresolved Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” the Pakistani delegate told the 193-member Assembly.

PM Abbasi heads to New York to represent Pakistan at UN

He pointed out that Indian troops had indulged in cross-border shelling across the Line of Control on the Pakistani side of Jammu and Kashmir, just before Abbasi was about to address the UN, killing 10 civilians.

“A sad reminder of Indian intransigence and stubbornness. This too, shall fail,” Usman said, referring to the incident.

Usman also stressed that Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval’s strategy of “offensive defence and double squeeze”, aspiring towards regional hegemony, would never succeed.

Meeting with Pence: Abbasi to convey Pakistan’s concerns over Afghan policy

The Pakistani delegate said that Kulbhushan Jadhav, “the Indian operator of mayhem and terrorism,” was caught red-handed in Pakistan while spying for the enemy. Jadhav had pleaded guilty to the charges of sabotage, terrorism and espionage brought against him.

“The Indian dream of dominating the region will remain just that – a dream,” Usman told the assembly.

Responding to an Afghan delegate who had accused Pakistan of failing to eliminate terrorist safe havens in the country, Tipu Usman urged the Kabul government to stop blaming others for its own problems and instead work towards eliminating the threat of terrorism on both sides of the border.

The post Pakistan responds to India’s UN delegate: ‘This too, shall fail’ appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Trump poised to drop limits on drone strikes and raids

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 16:00

The Trump administration is considering removing the restrictions placed on drone strikes and commando raids conducted outside conflict zones, according to officials familiar with internal discussions.

The restrictions relating to the conduct of drone operations were put in place by former US President Barack Obama.

The changes, if enacted, would possibly give the US security apparatus the authority to target militants in countries where the US is not officially engaged as a party to the war.

According to officials, the national security team of President Trump has already suggested two changes to the protocol surrounding drone operations.

Trump seen hardening line toward Pakistan after Afghan war review

One of the proposed change recommends the expansion of the drone campaign to target militants that are not defined as ‘high priority targets’ for the US. Previously, drone strikes have been limited to hitting ‘high-priority’ figures who pose a direct and continuous threat to the American citizens.

Another change seeks to dismantle the elaborate vetting process which surrounds the ordering of a drone strike.

Despite the proposals, key figures within the US government have assured that drone strikes which are given the final go-ahead will still be required to demonstrate “near-certainty” that no civilian by-stander is killed or injured. The reforms now await the signature of US President Donald Trump.

Trump to meet with top executives on wireless tech, drones

The suggestions will draw severe criticism from human rights groups all over the world if they are approved, even as the US government scrambles to allay fears that civilians will be protected from harm under new regulations.

The policy aims to broaden the field of operations against Al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other militant groups the US is currently targetting in the Middle East and South Asia.

New rules could allow the US to hit countries like Yemen, Libya and Somalia, as well as regions of Africa and Asia, more frequently. These countries lie outside the traditional conflict zones which United States usually targets.

Trump-era’s first drone strike kills 2 in Kurram

Trump had earlier vowed to undo restrictions aimed at hitting terror targets in a speech outlining his new policy towards Afghanistan and South Asia.

“The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms,” Trump said. “Retribution will be fast and powerful.”

The move comes as the CIA is looking to expand the covert drone strike programme, which has until now been mostly limited to the tribal region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

One inside official described the new plan as aimed at making Obama-era ‘bureaucratic hurdles’ disappear.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Textbook recalled in Saudi Arabia over Star Wars character with King Faisal image

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 15:09

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia scrambled on Friday to withdraw a school textbook that accidentally included a doctored photograph of a former ruler sitting next to a Star Wars character, prompting ridicule on social media.

The black-and-white image shows King Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s third monarch, signing the United Nations Charter in 1945, with the diminutive Jedi master Yoda perched next to him.

The image was created by 26-year-old Saudi artist Abdullah al Shehri, who has gained renown for mixing pop culture icons into historic photographs.

“The Ministry of Education regrets the inadvertent error,” Saudi Education Minister Ahmed al Eissa said on Twitter.

Saudi cleric suspended over ‘quarter-brain’ women drivers quip

He said the ministry had begun recalling the textbook and printing a corrected version, adding that a legal committee would be formed to determine the source of the error.

Al Sheri told The New York Times that he was surprised to see the photograph end up in the school textbook.

He said he paired the king and Yoda as they were both intelligent and because Yoda’s green skin and light saber matched the green of the Saudi flag.

Saudi to allow women into stadium for national day

He stressed he had meant no offence to the king, seen widely as the architect of Saudi Arabia’s modernisation. But the error prompted light-hearted banter on social media.

One Saudi schoolteacher jested that this error symbolised “payback” after the education ministry introduced an extra hour of classes in schools earlier this year.

The post Textbook recalled in Saudi Arabia over Star Wars character with King Faisal image appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Kurdish referendum matter of Turkey’s national security, PM Yildirim says

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 14:36

ISTANBUL: Turkey made a direct appeal to the president of the Iraqi Kurdish region on Friday, urging him to cancel an independence referendum planned for Monday and saying that Ankara viewed the vote as illegal and unacceptable.

In a statement, Turkey’s National Security Council called on Massoud Barzani to stop the referendum, saying it retained the rights defined in bilateral and international agreements if the vote were held. It did not elaborate on the nature of those rights.

Iraq VP warns against ‘second Israel’ in Kurdistan

The statement followed a meeting of the council, which was chaired by President Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan is also due to hold a cabinet meeting later on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the referendum was a matter of national security for Turkey and Ankara would never accept a change of status in Iraq or Syria.

“An action that will change the status in Syria and Iraq is an unacceptable result for Turkey, and we will do what is necessary,” Yildirim said.

Turkey says Kurdish Iraq’s referendum could worsen situation, lead to civil war

Erdogan has threatened to impose sanctions against Kurdish northern Iraq, saying the government would consider counter-measures against the vote at a cabinet meeting later on Friday.

The parliament will convene for an extraordinary meeting on Saturday in order to discuss policy on Iraq.

Turkey, home to the largest Kurdish population in the region and fighting a Kurdish insurgency, has warned that any breakup of neighbouring Iraq or Syria could lead to a global conflict.

Israel endorses independent Kurdish state

On Monday, the Turkish army launched a highly visible military drill near the Habur border crossing, which military sources said was due to last until Sept. 26, a day after the planned referendum.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

UK envoy, army chief discuss regional security: ISPR

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 14:18

British High Commissioner Thomas Drew called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Friday.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), matters of mutual interest and regional security were discussed.

The visiting dignitary acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan’s continuous efforts for peace and stability in the region.

The post UK envoy, army chief discuss regional security: ISPR appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

‘Eternal youth’: German actress injects herself with 3.5 million-year-old bacteria from Siberia

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 12:20

An actress is risking her life for ‘eternal youth’ by injecting herself with doses of a 3.5 million year-old bacteria discovered in Siberia, Mail Online reported.

The 45-year-old from Munich, Germany, who goes by the moniker Manoush, has been pumping an extract of Bacillus F into her blood stream for the past three months and says it has made her look and feel younger.

The ancient bacteria was discovered in the permafrost of north-west Russia by scientists in 2009 and some have hailed it a ‘scientific sensation’.

Offbeat: What’s ugly, has a tail and holds the secret to eternal youth?

The team, who unlocked its DNA code in 2015, say that unlike most cells in nature, Bacillus F shows no signs of aging and believe it could hold the key to unlocking improved human health and longevity.

PHOTO COURTESY: Mail Online

Samples containing extracts of the bacteria have been given to Manoush by Doctor Anatoli Brouchkov, head of the Geocryology Department at Moscow State University.

The injections are just the latest in a longline of procedures for mother-of-one Manoush who has already spent £36,800 (€41,700) on plastic surgery over the last 20 years.

“My skin is as soft as a baby’s bottom,” she said. “You can’t really see it in the photos but if you see me in person you can see there are no marks or blemishes.

“I have never felt better. I have never slept better, deeper or longer. When I work out I can workout longer. I can run three miles instead of the usual two miles.

“I think my skin looks good. These are just the little things that have got better.”

She added: ‘This summer we had huge temperature changes and normally I would get a cold. I didn’t this time.

‘I can’t prove that it is because I have been injecting this bacteria. It could be other reasons but I do believe that it is the effects of using the bacteria on myself.’

Manoush, had blood tests taken before she started injecting Bacillus F on July 22, so that they can be analysed along with blood samples she’s having each month.

The sample was given to her by Doctor Anatoli Brouchkov, head of the Geocryology Department at Moscow State University, at a meeting in London.

As the procedure is experimental, no doctor would inject her, and would most likely lose their license.

Instead she performed the procedure herself, with friends and a local doctor there for support in case of an emergency.

Gigi Hadid opens up on how she copes with Hashimoto disease

Manoush, who has appeared in niche horror movies such as Cannibal and Seed 2, said: “Dr Brouchkov has been taking this for years now and he has fabulous skin, like a young man. He is doing me a big favour, he is doing science a favour. I am happy to be a part of this.

‘My family is absolutely against this. They are going up and down the wall about this. They refuse to have anything to do with it.

“Sometimes I look in the mirror and think I am a freak – but I know what I am doing to myself. This is all planned and I am not planning on stopping.

“Some people can’t accept that for me when it comes to anti-aging there are no limits.

“This is not going to make me 20 years younger. But I think it will help me live to 80 or 90 and age as disgracefully as I can in artificial health and beauty.

“I want to die in a fully functional body and if this helps then it would have all been worth it.”

With no adverse reaction during the initial injection, she has been ‘shooting up’ every two weeks and is hoping to up the dosage and frequency soon.

PHOTO COURTESY: Mail Online

She said: “There is no knowing what effects this may have in the long-term – but no risk, no success.

“I want to see what happens when you use more of the material. How does it work?”

But Dr Brouchkov himself has also taken the bacteria extract, albeit orally, and reported positive results.

He also says he advised Manoush not to inject the sample.

He added: “These microorganisms have some kind of amazing mechanism of survival which keeps them alive for millions of years. Just imagine if we were able to use it and prolong our lives for thousands of years.

“We have something here alive on earth which lives millions of years, in our own hands. We shouldn’t miss that opportunity, that’s my strong belief.”

Manoush doesn’t believe the injections will give her eternal life but hopes it will help her achieve her of “dropping dead at 90 looking half that age or younger”.

Over the last 20 years she has had more than 40 cosmetic procedures, including breast implants, face lifts and nose jobs.

She still plans on having more work done including repairs to two surgeries on her face and nose she says were botched.

Encouraged by her use of the bacteria, Manoush, who lived in New York from 2006-2013, is looking to other new forms for extreme ant-aging.

“Aging is a disease. It is a genetic flaw to me. Even as a teenager I could never accept the concept of getting older one day,” she said.

“I don’t care what people think. I will stop at nothing to look and feel younger. Nothing.”

The post ‘Eternal youth’: German actress injects herself with 3.5 million-year-old bacteria from Siberia appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Muharram security: Sindh govt mutes 161 firebrand clerics for 60 days

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:40

KARACHI: Sindh government has imposed a 60-day ban on 161 religious scholars and clerics under the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) to maintain peace during the month of Muharram.

“The inter-city movement of 161 religious scholars and clerics has been banned, while restrictions will also be imposed on their speech at any forum for the next 60 days,” read a notification issued by provincial home department.

“The ban has been imposed to prevent such scholars from delivering inflammatory speech and to maintain the law and order situation during the month,” it added.

Firebrand clerics banned from entering capital during Muharram

The clerics who have been slapped the ban hail from various parts of the country and are affiliated with different religious organisations.

According to the notification, the majority of the scholars and clerics belong to Sukkar, Khairpur, Ghotki, Jacobabad, Larkana and Shikarpur.

On Thursday, Islamabad Capital Territory Administration (ICTA) barred 11 firebrand clerics from making speech during Muharram, while banning 14 others from entering the capital for two months.

The post Muharram security: Sindh govt mutes 161 firebrand clerics for 60 days appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Ukraine envoy loses iPhone to snatcher in broad daylight on Delhi street

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:29

Losing smartphones to snatchers is a common practice on the streets of Delhi. The latest victim is none other than the Ukraine ambassador to India.

According to Hindustan Times, Dr Igor Polikha was trying to get a good shot of the Red Fort when a man snatched his iPhone and ran off.

The envoy left his official car and driver in a parking lot at Daryaganj and wandered alone towards Red Fort around 9am on Wednesday. An enthusiastic photographer, the ambassador took out his iPhone while standing on a road in Angoori Bagh.

The Red Fort in Delhi. PHOTO COURTESY: RAZA RUMI

But he had barely taken a photo or two when an unidentified man dashed towards him, snatched his phone and ran away.

The snatcher was so quick that the ambassador couldn’t even think of chasing him. He did, however, note some details of the thief and has provided the description to the police.

According to sources, the stolen iPhone was found switched off immediately after the crime. The phone contained mostly personal data and information of the ambassador.

“The ambassador said he must have used his iPhone to take photos of thousands of places and people in Delhi, but this was the first time he found himself in such a situation,” said a senior investigator.

The post Ukraine envoy loses iPhone to snatcher in broad daylight on Delhi street appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Pillion-riding banned in Islamabad from Sept 27 to Oct 1 for Muharram

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:11

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Capital Territory Administration has decided to ban pillion-riding as part of security measures for Muharram processions and gatherings.

The ban will come into effect from September 27 and end on October 1, according to an order issued by a district magistrate on Thursday.

“Certain pillion riders are likely to resort to violence and acts of sabotage aimed at disrupting peace and tranquility causing damage to public life and property during Muharram-ul-Harram,” it read.

Over the past few years, the district administration has imposed a ban on pillion-riding on Ashura in the capital.

While pillion-riding will remain prohibited for five days, the authorities have not yet taken a decision as to whether cellular services will be suspended or not.

Moon sighted: Muharram from today, Ashura on October 1

The authorities have also banned the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) including drone cameras, terming them a security threat.

“These UAVs can be used by miscreants to conduct terrorist acts in areas that have been secured and safeguarded against ground attacks. Any possible terrorist attack would jeopardise security of the processions and religious gathering like ongoing Muharram and Safar Majalis/Processions besides posing threat to residents of ICT,” the magistrate’s order said.

The use of UAVs by the law-enforcement agencies, however, is exempted from the ban, which will be effective for two months.

The district magistrate has also imposed a ban on the sale of toy guns in Islamabad on the recommendation of the police.

The order stated that the toy guns which were being sold in some shopping malls could be a security risk for important personalities and diplomats in the capital.

The post Pillion-riding banned in Islamabad from Sept 27 to Oct 1 for Muharram appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Saudi cleric suspended over ‘quarter-brain’ women drivers quip

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 11:07

DUBAI: A Saudi cleric who said women should not drive because their brains shrink to a quarter the size of a man’s when they go shopping has been banned from preaching, state television said.

Saad al-Hijri was suspended from all religious activity after advising against allowing women to drive in a speech that contained comments “diminishing human value”, the broadcaster quoted a spokesperson for the governor of Asir province as saying.

Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving, despite ambitious government targets to increase their public role, especially in the workforce.

Women in the kingdom are also bound by law to wear long robes and a headscarf and require the consent of a male guardian for most legal actions.

In a video identifying him as the head of the religious edicts department in the southern province, Hijri asked what the traffic department would do it if it discovered a man with only half a brain. “Would it give him a license or not? It would not. So how can it give it to a woman when she has only half?” he said. “If she goes to the market she loses another half. What is left? A quarter…We demand the traffic department check because she is not suitable to drive and she has only a quarter.”

Saudi police arrest woman for wearing miniskirt in video

The comments sparked anger on social media, which is hugely popular in the kingdom.

Twitter users shared the video, many criticising it and making jokes about his remarks, under the Arabic hashtag “Al-Hijri_women_quarter_brain”.

Some users posted pictures of Saudi female scientists and academics in response and questioned Hijri’s own intellectual capacities. His suspension, ordered by the provincial governor, was aimed at preventing the spread of views that spark controversy and do not serve the national interest, the provincial spokesperson said, according to Ekhbariya TV‘s official Twitter account.

Any others who used religious platforms to preach such views would also be banned. The government’s modernising reforms, backed by Saudi Arabia’s business class, have sparked tensions with influential clerics upon whose support the ruling family relies. Some clerics have millions of followers on social media.

The post Saudi cleric suspended over ‘quarter-brain’ women drivers quip appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Currency: Rupee stable against dollar

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:14

KARACHI: The rupee remained stable against the dollar at 105.4/105.6 in the inter-bank market on Monday compared to Friday’s close of 105.4/105.6.

The currency market has fluctuated regularly in recent months with hefty rises and falls on some occasions. In the long run, however, the rupee has stood firm after experiencing extensive volatility, when it weakened from around Rs98 to a dollar to above Rs103 in the wake of political impasse over alleged election rigging.

Currency: Rupee stable against dollar

The central bank has imposed 100% cash margin on the import of certain consumer goods to restrict the demand for US dollars. The rupee has been one of the best performing currencies in Asia for over three years despite the dollar’s sharp appreciation against other currencies.

However, the International Monetary Fund has repeatedly said that Pakistan’s rupee is overvalued by 5-20%. According to analysts, the artificial support for the rupee has adversely affected Pakistan’s exports.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Horoscope: September 19, 2017

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:13

Your Stars Today

Aries | March 20 – April 18

It’s not that you were being dishonest, as some suggest. One particular situation was getting more complicated by the day, so you decided to simplify matters by focusing only on the most crucial facts. Those you left out are regarded, at least by certain individuals, as essential. It’s a mere difference of opinion.

Taurus | April 19 – May 19

Having explored all sorts of ways of dealing with certain persistent problems, you’re ready to rethink existing arrangements. But others are sure there are better options, and want to focus on those. Don’t argue. Instead, encourage them to explore, with the knowledge you’ll be eagerly awaiting information about what they discover.

Gemini | May 20 – June 20

For most Geminis, debating the pros and cons of both ideas and existing arrangements acts as a sort of an intellectual workout. You enjoy the resulting lively exchange and learn a lot as well. Be cautious, however, since certain individuals are feeling vulnerable, enough they could take your words far too seriously.

Cancer | June 21 – July 21

After an informative but unsettling past month or so, understandably, calm and reliable information have been in short supply. While things are going more smoothly, be prepared to rethink recently made plans, overnight if not within hours. Unsettling as this may be, these changes are forward-looking, as you’ll soon realise.

Leo | July 22 – August 21

Tempting as it is to make one single, long term, plan and be done with it, your instincts are saying you’d soon regret it. Not only is that true, within days seemingly solid arrangements will come unstuck, opening up options that, only recently, you’d have regarded as unrealistic, if not impossible.

Virgo | August 22 – September 21

Certain arrangements have been a struggle for ages. While your vision is clear, the details just haven’t fit the way you imagined. Actually, with the coming Virgo New Moon triggering a fresh perspective anyway, there’s no better time than now to conduct a top to bottom review. You’ll be glad you did.

Libra | September 22 – October 22

You’ve been talking about potential changes in elements of your working life or day to day routine for so long that you began to wonder whether you’d ever do anything. Now, however, suddenly things are coming together, and so swiftly that you’re somewhat overwhelmed. While that’s understandable, it’s easier this way.

Scorpio | October 23 – November 21

More than once you’ve complained that, in already burdensome situations, certain individuals aren’t making the effort they could. On the other hand, you’re aware they’re either ill-equipped to deal with these matters or anxious about making mistakes. Give them a hand, and they’ll be more confident and, therefore, more helpful.

Sagittarius | November 22 – December 20

It would be wise to declutter your life, your diary and even your mind. There’s a lot going on, so much that you’re on the verge of being overwhelmed. Even more important, it’s time for you to say farewell to certain once-rewarding arrangements. These are devouring your time and giving very little in return.

Capricorn | December 21 – January 18

When potential changes in elements of your way of living, working or even thinking were first mentioned, your reaction wasn’t exactly enthusiastic. But as the events, especially intriguing opportunities, have appeared, you’re viewing these in a far more positive light. Enough you’re intrigued enough to ask a few questions and explore a bit.

Aquarius | January 19 – February 17

Making minor changes is one thing. But those being discussed now would lead to rethinking your way of living, working or both. Unsettling as these seem, this has been in the air for ages. The current New Moon is bringing these into focus, and in a way as exciting as it is dramatic.

Pisces | February 18 – March 19

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that, just because you’ve discussed one particular matter in depth with others, they recall what was said. While these issues are of great importance to you, they’re less clear cut to the individuals in question. To the extent you’d be wise to review these, and soon.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Pakistan’s energy efficiency is not encouraging: Aziz

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:08

ISLAMABAD: An integrated energy planning regime is important to provide and update a road map for Pakistan’s energy sector in order to achieve greater self-sufficiency, suggested Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Sartaj Aziz on Monday.

Chairing first meeting of a steering committee, Aziz said its implementation could be ensured by pursuing policies and plans that were affordable and sustainable.

Pakistan’s solution to the energy crisis

The preliminary session of the steering committee was also attended by US Ambassador David Hale.

Aziz emphasised that support for the integrated energy planning was one of the components of the ongoing collaboration between Pakistan and the US in the energy sector.

To streamline the integrated energy planning, the government has constituted the steering committee under the chairmanship of the Planning Commission deputy chairman. Secretaries of the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Power, Petroleum and Natural Resources, and Economic Affairs Divisions are its members.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Aziz stated that Pakistan’s current access to electricity and clean fuel (gas) was estimated at 62% and 25% respectively while the energy efficiency ratio was not encouraging.

The energy efficiency potential in the power sector alone, however, is estimated at around 3,500 megawatts. “In order to provide 100% energy access to the growing population and meet the country’s economic development targets, a long-term integrated energy planning approach is required,” he said.

Pakistan has ‘2.9 million MW solar energy potential’

“This warrants an energy mix plan which covers both energy supply and increased efficiency in meeting the demand,” he said, adding Pakistan’s current primary energy supply mix was heavily dependent on imported oil (43%), followed by fast depleting locally produced natural gas (36%) and hydroelectric power (13%).

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Corporate result: Mughal Iron’s earnings strengthen 11% in FY17

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:04

KARACHI: Mughal Iron & Steel Industries Limited has announced that it made a net profit of Rs991 million in fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, up 11% compared with Rs893 million in the previous year, according to a company notice sent to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) on Monday.

The result was in line with market expectations, said a report prepared by Taurus Securities. Earnings per share (EPS) stood at Rs3.94 in FY17 compared with Rs3.55 in the preceding year.

The iron and steel producer announced a final cash dividend of Rs0.60 per share, pushing the entire FY17 pay-out to Rs2.60 per share.

Mughal Iron & Steel profit increases 49%

Mughal Iron’s stock fell 0.70% at Rs61.55 at the PSX. Overall, the KSE 100-share Index closed up 54 points or 0.13% at 42,841 points.

Sales revenue for the company came in at Rs18.8 billion in FY17, down a meagre 1% from Rs19 billion in the previous year despite increase of 5,400 tons in steel production.

The drop in topline was the result of 1.5% year-on-year fall in average sale prices in FY17. Profit margins dipped slightly by 52 basis points to 10.33% because of the lower average sale prices and 12% higher scrap prices year-on-year.

Mughal Steel to invest Rs1 billion for expansion

Mughal Iron’s revenues rose 21% quarter-on-quarter following 5% increase in average selling prices quarter-on-quarter and higher steel production as the fourth (April-June) quarter fell in a construction-friendly period.

This translated into net earnings of Rs264 million (EPS Rs1.05) in the fourth quarter, up 4% from the previous quarter.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

China signs MoUs worth $375m for investment in Pakistan

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 00:00

LAHORE: Chinese companies from different cities and provinces have expressed their interest in relocating their textile, garment and accessory production units to Punjab, with an expected investment of at least $25 million estimated for each unit.

This was stated by Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA) Central Chairman Ijaz Khokhar at the three-day 18th International Textile Asia Exhibition. Besides marking the participation of over 500 foreign delegates, the exhibition also witnessed signing of MoUs worth $375 million for investment in Pakistan through joint ventures with local companies

A tale of two textile cities — one in China and one in Pakistan

Speaking on the occasion, Khokhar said that foreign companies are also committed to transfer their technologies, besides buying back Pakistani products after value-addition here, which would enhance export and lower Pakistan’s trade deficit with China.

Quoting the Chinese, he said, “We will make joint ventures with local companies from Gujranwala, Lahore, Sialkot and Faisalabad, and provide training to engineers from these cities and buy back products to export to China.”

The event was jointly organised by PRGMEA and Ecommerce Gateway Pakistan, who also signed an agreement to continue to jointly conduct this mega textile event in the future on an annual basis.

The PRGMEA chairman announced this on the last day of the exhibition. In his concluding remarks, he said that around 52,000 trade visitors registered their presence in the textile fair in three days.

Also present on the occasion, PRGMEA Vice Chairman Jawwad Chaudhry said that machinery and equipment displayed at the exhibition were of immense use to manufacturers producing value-added products for increasing volume of exports.

He hoped that local businessmen would benefit from this technology by adding value to their products.

He said that the Textile Asia Expo also featured businessmen to businessmen (B2B) meetings, a lot of important industry-related presentations and seminars on textile sector.

Chaudhry observed that the entire chain of the local textile sector was invited to attend the country’s largest textile show. The exhibiting countries included Austria, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, UK and USA among others.

Ecommerce Gateway Pakistan CEO Dr Khurshid Nizam said that such textile machinery fairs in Pakistan would increase productivity, resulting into better competitiveness.

Chinese textile units interested in relocating to Pakistan

The exhibition is aimed at focusing the Punjab potential of textile and garment machinery, accessories, raw material supplies, chemicals and allied services under one roof, as around 80% of textile industry is located in this province, Nizam added.

The exhibition also provided an effective platform for joint ventures and collaborations to the textile sector’s SMEs, he remarked.

The CEO observed that the three-day mega fair provided the local small textile industry a good opportunity where more than 315 international brands from around 27 countries displayed their products in more than 515 stalls.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

As exports start rising, businessmen oppose end to incentives

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:56

FAISALABAD: Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) President Muhammad Saeed Sheikh has expressed satisfaction over an increase in textile exports, saying it is the natural outcome of implementation of the textile package.

He suggested that the government should continue to offer the package in addition to extending the period of incentives from July 2017 onwards. Quoting figures of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, he said a 14.41% increase was recorded in exports in August 2017 compared to July 2017.

FCCI calls on private sector to contribute

Similarly, during July-August 2017, exports rose 11.80% compared to the same period of previous year.

“We all know that the textile sector had been facing a deep crisis for the past many years and despite the GSP Plus status, our exports were declining,” said Sheikh, according to a statement. “However, on our persistent demand, the government announced the textile package in order to arrest the decline and revive the sector.”

Initially, he said, the implementation of the package was very slow. However, its positive results were becoming obvious, proving that the decline had been arrested.

The FCCI chief voiced concern that the government had not yet issued a notification for continuing the package beyond July 2017, which was worrying for textile exporters.

He demanded that the government take them on board while making policy decisions as Faisalabad was a major stakeholder in textile exports.

FCCI to revamp its R&D cell

He also welcomed the establishment of a committee comprising representatives of the Finance and Commerce Divisions as well as the Federal Board of Revenue for reviewing the package and hoped that the government would give due representation to Faisalabad in the committee.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

China leads as foreign direct investment soars 147%

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:51

KARACHI: Pakistan received foreign direct investment (FDI) worth $235 million in August 2017, up 147% compared with $95 million in the same month of last year, according to data released by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Monday.

This takes the first two months of FDI in fiscal year 2017-18 to $457 million, up 155% compared with $179.4 million in the same period of last year.

Countries that brought highest FDI in August 2017 were China ($187 million), Malaysia ($19 million) and France ($9.5 million). These are the same countries that were leading investors in the first two months (July and August 2017) in fiscal year 2017-18.

China dominates as FDI increases 154% in May

China brought $259 million in first two months of fiscal year 2017-18 compared with $48 million in the same period of last year, up 440%. Malaysia invested $111 million in the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18 compared with just $1.3 million in the same period of last year.

FDI from France stood flat at $19 million in the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18 compared with $19.1 million in the same period of last year.

Sector-wise investment

Power sector has received the highest FDI so far. In the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18, Pakistan received $211 million in power sector compared to $83 million mainly from China in coal-based power generation.

Communications sector attracted the second highest FDI of $95 million in the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18 compared with $26 million in the same period of last year.

This was followed by the construction sector which drew $56 million in the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18 compared with just $1.6 million in the period under review.

While oil and gas exploration sector received $31 million in the first two months of fiscal year 2017-18 compared with $14 million in the same period of last year. Most of the FDI that Pakistan is receiving these days is due to mega projects that are under construction under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Analysts say while Chinese investment is crucial, other countries (the US and western European countries) are increasingly shying away from Pakistan since the financial crisis of 2008 which should be a cause of concern for the policymakers of the country.

China leads the pack as FDI increases 39%

Pakistan received $2.41 billion in FDI in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, up 5% from $2.3 billion in the previous year. It received $5.4 billion in fiscal year 2007-08, which was the highest amount in the country’s history, according to the Board of Investment.

However, the country has been recording low levels of foreign investment since 2008. Many foreign investors, especially from western countries, have pulled out due to a persistent energy crisis, poor governance and security challenges.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

China-nominated managing director for PSX ‘faces opposition’

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 23:48

KARACHI: The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) is facing opposition from some brokers and members over China’s nomination of Richard Morin, a Canadian citizen, as the managing director, suggesting early cracks in the relationship that saw a 40% takeover.

The PSX was sold to a Chinese consortium that now holds a 40% stake with 20% offered to the public through an initial public offering with brokerage houses controlling the remaining 40%.

However, the relationship seems to have hit its first real stumbling block with some brokers and members of the PSX opposing China’s nomination of Morin.

Chinese investors likely interested in taking majority stake in PSX

While the PSX is yet to formally announce his appointment as the latest MD, officials confirmed that the board of directors has finalised it in principle.

However, a couple brokers, showing their concern over the unofficial appointment, said the Canadian national would unnecessarily cost more to the company – the PSX – as he is being appointed at a huge salary and is also being given special perks, including residential allowance and international traveling expenditures.

Market talk suggests Morin’s monthly salary has been fixed at Rs3 million.

In addition, a broker said that the foreign national would not be aware of “our national culture and particularly, the stock market culture” and this may prove to be a hindrance in his performance.

“The stock market mostly operates on personal repo and relationship and he (Morin) lacks that on both fronts,” a broker told The Express Tribune.

A PSX official, confirming his appointment, however, said they have not received any formal opposition from the brokers. Members have the right to have their personal opinions.

“Only the shareholders of the company (PSX) have the right to accept and reject his appointment and approve and disapprove his monthly package

“They may do this at the forthcoming Annual General Meeting likely to be held at the end of this month or at the beginning of the next month,” he said.

He said Morin is a professional and experienced official. He has served at Canadian stock markets and the Stock Exchange of Mauritius. He has worked at several brokerage houses and asset management companies.

The official added that the PSX has given the right to Chinese shareholders of PSX to nominate candidates for the top three positions of the market i.e. managing director, chief financial officer and chief regulator officer.

However, the full board of directors is still has the power to finalise appointment of candidates. “We have given them (Chinese) the right to nominate candidates after the PSX sold its 40% stake to the Chinese consortium early this year,” he said.

PSX welcomes four board directors from China

The official said it may take one to two weeks to make the formal announcement of the appointment.

Earlier, Nadeem Naqvi served as the managing director for six years. The PSX board of directors appointed him for the post in April 2011. Following the completion of Naqvi’s tenure, Haroon Askri was made acting managing director in June 2017.

The new managing director’s appointment is being made at a time when the PSX’s benchmark KSE-100 Index is struggling to recover from a steep correction.

Despite a slim recovery to 42,841 points till September 18, the index is still close to 23% lower from its peak of 52,876.46 hit on May 24, 2017.

Last year, it grew 46% and emerged as Asia’s top-performing market and among the top five in the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

In first visit, Trump urges reform so UN can meet full potential

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 18:04

NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump criticized the United Nations for bloated bureaucracy and mismanagement on his first visit on Monday to UN headquarters, calling for “truly bold reforms” so it could be a greater force for world peace.

Ahead of his maiden speech to the annual UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump hosted a short event to boost support for changes to the United Nations.

“In recent years the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement, while the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent and its staff has more than doubled since 2000,” Trump said.

Trump pushes UN reform as world leaders gather for crisis talks

“The United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers and focus on results rather than on process,” Trump said. “I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony in the world,” Trump said in his first remarks at the UN in New York since his inauguration as president in January.

In a building where long statements are commonplace, Trump spoke for just four minutes. Some 128 countries were invited to attend Monday’s reform meeting after signing on to a US-drafted 10-point political declaration backing efforts by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “to initiate effective, meaningful reform.”

Trump says ‘bureaucracy’ holding UN back

UN Security Council veto powers Russia and China did not sign the declaration. Businessman Trump, who complained during his 2016 election campaign about the United States paying a disproportionate amount of money to the United Nations, made the point again on Monday.

“We must ensure that no one and no member state shoulders a disproportionate share of the burden and that’s militarily or financially.”

The United States is the biggest UN contributor, providing 22 percent of its $5.4 billion biennial core budget and 28.5 percent of its $7.3 billion peacekeeping budget. The contributions are agreed on by the 193-member General Assembly.

Guterres, who also took office in January, told the meeting: “To serve the people we support and the people who support us, we must be nimble and effective, flexible and efficient.”

He agreed that UN bureaucracy was a problem that kept him up at night. “Our shared objective is a 21st century UN focused more on people and less on process,” Guterres said. “Value for money while advancing shared values – that is our common goal.”

Criticised by Trump, Iran nuclear deal faces tough scrutiny in UN talks

Trump also said that all peacekeeping missions should “have clearly defined goals and metrics for evaluating success.”

The United States is reviewing each of the UN peacekeeping missions as annual mandates come up for Security Council renewal in a bid to cut costs. The United States is a veto-wielding council member, along with Britain, France, Russia and China.

On Sunday night, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. When asked if the UN refugee agency could perform its current missions if the United States cut its voluntary contributions to the budget, according to a pool report Grandi answered: “I would say no.”

“US aid is vital to what we do to support refugees around the world and to find solutions to their situations,” Grandi said.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Short numbered: Activists find fault with data on disabled

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 17:01

ISLAMABAD: Representatives of people with disabilities and social activists working for their welfare have rejected the count of the section of the population revealed in the census carried out this year by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistic (PBS) , and called the data inaccurate, misleading and shocking.

Addressing a press conference on Monday at the National Press Club, they said the census of 2017 had once again failed to accurately count the persons with disabilities, in defiance of a Supreme Court order, leaving the community shocked.

They claimed that the census teams were not properly trained and they did not ask about persons with disabilities while carrying out the process.

Believe it or not: Pakistan has only less than a million citizens with disabilities

According to the sixth national population and housing census, the population of disabled people in the country has been put at less than 0.48 per cent of the total, far less than the 1998 census, which had recorded the percentage at 2.38. This would indicate that the ratio of people with disabilities fell by 80%.

However, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, approximately 15% of Pakistan’s population is disabled.

Sharing the background, the speakers said the court issued its order in this regard on March 16 in a case brought by the Community-Based Inclusive Development Network. They said the network was one of the strongest disability networks in the country, having as its members many like-minded disabled persons’ organisations, national and international non-governmental organisations, civil society organisations and disability movement champions.

They said that Para 7 of the court order had instructed the PBS to include three more cells in the gender column for male, female and transgender people with disabilities, but this directive was not followed.

The PBS says the order came too late, arguing that to count the number of people with disabilities separately could have affected the overall headcount.

Disabled persons in K-P to enjoy basic rights soon

Talking to The Express Tribune, Atif Sheikh, an activist for the rights of persons with disabilities and President of the Special Talent Exchange Programme (STEP), said, “It was shocking to learn that since 1998 there has been a 9% drop in the number of persons with disabilities in Pakistan as revealed in the latest census. It is a fact that there has been a massive increase in the number of persons with disabilities during last 19 years.”

He said there had been numerous terrorist attacks, road accidents and natural calamities in the country during the period.

“It is unfortunate that the authorities concerned only count the number of people killed or injured in these unfortunate incidents but not the number of people who suffer from various kinds of disabilities because of them,” he said.

The activists who addressed the press conference said: “We demand a national disability survey, as per the Washington Group’s questionnaire tool which is the only appropriate solution to correctly count the persons with disabilities. We anticipate that the relevant ministries and government departments will not ignore this very genuine demand of the most vulnerable segment of society.”

According to experts, having an accurate count of the number of people with disabilities is essential for ensuring that appropriate action is taken to reduce the barriers they face.

 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News