Oct 242018
Prime Minister Imran Khan to address the nation at 7:15pm

Prime Minister Imran Khan will address the nation today evening at 7:15pm, the official Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Twitter account announced. During his address, the premier is expected to take the people into confidence on the country’s economic status, DawnNewsTV reported. The address follows his return from Saudia Arabia, a trip he undertook on the invitation of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud to attend the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference. Late Tuesday the government announced that Saudi Arabia has agreed to provide Pakistan $3 billion in foreign currency support for a year to address its balance-of-payments crisis. The Kingdom has also agreed to provide Islamabad with a one-year deferred payment facility for import of oil, worth up to another $3 billion.

Oct 232018
Sana Mir becomes first Pakistani woman to top ICC ODI ranking for bowlers

Sana Mir has become the first Pakistani women’s cricketer to top ICC’s ODI Bowling Rankings, it emerged on Tuesday. The veteran all-rounder has been in scintillating form with the ball in the ongoing 2017–20 ICC Women’s Championship, where she has so far bagged 24 wickets in just nine matches at a remarkable average of 12.75. As a result of her performances, she has ascended to the summit of ICC’s new ODI rankings with 663 points to her name — three more than the second-placed Megan Schutt of Australia. The honour earned Sana widespread acclaim, including that from the Government of Pakistan. Former Pakistan captain Azhar Ali was among the first ones to felicitate Sana for her accomplishment. Despite Sana’s 24-wicket haul in the ICC Women’s Championship, Pakistan still only occupy a lowly sixth spot in the eight-team tournament.

Oct 162018
Zainab's rapist, murderer Imran Ali hanged at Kot Lakhpat Jail

Imran Ali, who was convicted for the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Amin in Kasur earlier this year, was hanged to death in the early hours of Wednesday in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Central Jail. Ali was executed in the presence of both Magistrate Adil Sarwar and the deceased’s father, Muhammad Amin, both of whom arrived early morning at the Kot Lakhpat Jail. Zainab’s uncle was also present at Kot Lakhpat. An ambulance had also arrived at the scene, accompanied by a brother of the convict as well as two of his friends. A medical officer as well as Kot Lakhpat’s superintendent were in the jail as well. Contingents of police and anti-riot forces surrounded Kot Lakhpat jail at the time of Ali’s hanging. Talking to the media after the execution, Ansari regretted that the authorities did not allow the live telecast of the hanging. “Zainab would have been seven years, two months old today,” he said. “Her mother is devastated from grief.” Ansari also thanked the chief justice of Pakistan and said that the “murderer had met his fate today”. After the execution, Ali’s family — accompanied by police contingents — took his body to Kasur. Late on Tuesday evening, jail authorities had arranged a last meeting of some 57 relatives with the death row prisoner. Zainab’s rape and murder ─ the 12th such incident to occur within a 10 kilometre radius in Kasur in one year ─ had sparked outrage and protests across the country following the recovery [Read More…]

Oct 162018
Government to carry out an audit of power plants established by previous govt

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday that the government has decided to carry out an audit of power plants established by the previous government in order to fix responsibility of “wrongdoings” in them, Radio Pakistan reported. During a press conference in Islamabad, Chaudhry said that power plants that were set up by the PML-N government are generating electricity at a high cost. He added that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had already initiated an investigation into Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) power plants established in Punjab. According to Radio Pakistan, the minister said that the current average price per unit of power was Rs15.53 while consumers were being provided electricity for Rs 11.71 which caused the national exchequer a loss of Rs 2.63 per unit. He added that a deficit of Rs1.2 billion was being incurred daily in the winter months and Rs1.8 billion in the summer months. “As a result of these losses, circular debt is ballooning by thirty-four to thirty-six billion rupees every month.” The Radio Pakistan report added that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) recommended an increase in the power tariff. The minister said the issue would be taken up in the next meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC). During the press conference, the minister also said that a framework to check money laundering had been prepared. According to Chaudhry, “corrupt elements” would be brought to justice and a new Pakistan would emerge as a result of the vision of the [Read More…]

Oct 122018
FM Qureshi says SCO 'more than just a regional platform'

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi delivered a statement at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) 17th Council of Heads of Government in Dushanbe on Friday, in which he recalled Pakistan’s “largest and most effective counter-terrorism operations” in recent years and offered to share the country’s expertise in combatting terrorism through the ‘SCO Regional Anti Terrorist Structure’. Speaking during the meeting, attended by representatives of the permanent members of the organisation, FM Qureshi expressed Pakistan’s support for the SCO charter. He said that more than just a regional platform, the SCO was a “fulcrum representing the hopes, the aspirations, the dreams and the expectations of nearly half of humanity”. Qureshi said that the world was in a “state of flux” and a “global architecture for peace, security and development, that treats all sovereign states on the footings of equality and respect” was required. “By subscribing to these principles, [the] SCO presages such an architecture,” he said. The foreign minister also reiterated Pakistan’s previous proposal for the establishment of SCO-Pakistan corridors for trade, transit and energy. During the Council’s meeting, FM Qureshi said that peace and security in Afghanistan were essential for stability in the region and said Pakistan supported the organisation’s contact group on Afghanistan, hoping to see them contribute “more effectively” for peace and stability in the country. Qureshi also thanked the SCO secretariat for facilitating Pakistan’s induction into the organisation’s programmes and processes. “We are happy to note that in addition to finalising financial arrangements, this meeting will conclude significant [Read More…]

Oct 122018
Govt to announce special package of incentives for overseas Pakistanis to send remittances

Prime Minister Imran Khan, via Twitter on Friday, announced that the government will announce a “special package of incentives” for overseas Pakistanis to encourage them to send remittances through banking channels. PM Khan said that by “removing hindrances and procedural issues”, the government will be able to increase the inflow of remittances from $20bn to “at least $30bn and perhaps even $40bn”. “The Philippines did this successfully,” he added. PM Khan also vowed to remove problems faced by overseas Pakistanis during the immigration process when they come to Pakistan. He added that Pakistani missions abroad had also been ordered by the government to “look after and deal effectively with the concerns” of overseas Pakistanis. He assured that his administration will take steps to protect overseas Pakistanis’ property and assets in the country, “especially from land mafias”. Overseas Pakistanis form a significant part of PM Khan’s administration. Weeks after his party won the July 25 election, Finance Minister Asad Umar declared that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government will focus on growing home remittances to supplement foreign exchange inflows.

Oct 102018
'I will steer you out of this difficult time': PM Khan addresses economic uncertainty

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday sought to allay concerns regarding an impending economic meltdown in the country, saying he will take the country out of this “difficult time”. Addressing a ceremony in connection with the launch of the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme, Khan said he will present a roadmap before the nation listing steps the government will take to stabilise the economy. “Have courage, there is nothing to worry about,” the prime minister told the audience, assuring the nation that the turbulence in the economy won’t last long. Read: Economy cries for instant healing The premier said he will “guide” the nation every week on his government’s economic plans. PM Imran Khan addresses the launching ceremony of ‘Naya Pakistan Housing Programme’. — APP Khan said an impression had been created in the last 48 hours “as if the sky is going to fall [or] the day of judgement is upon us”, but instead sought to explain the issues faced by the economy. He said the previous governments had taken loans recklessly, which has resulted in the country’s debt ballooning from Rs6 trillion to Rs30 trillion in the past 10 years alone. He said the previous PML-N government had started its term with a $3 billion current account deficit, but the 40-day-old Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government inherited an $18bn current account deficit. Pakistan today faces a shortfall of $10-12 billion to pay its loans and purchase imports in the short term, he said, adding that his government has been debating [Read More…]

Oct 082018
MeToo: Hindustan Times political editor Prashant Jha steps down over harassment claims

Prashant Jha of the Hindustan Times has stepped down as political editor and bureau chief after a former colleague accused him of harassment, NDTV reported on Monday. In a letter to his editor, Jha said: “There have been specific allegations against me – and my personal conduct – recently, which have raised moral questions about my conduct. In this backdrop, I believe it would be best for me to step down…” Jha’s name had surfaced in a Twitter thread — kicked off by Indian journalist Sandhya Menon — which had encouraged women to name people who had sexually harassed them. According to The Wire, former Hindustan Times correspondent Avantika Mehta had accused Jha of harassment. She had also posted screenshots of Whatsapp conversations between her and Jha on Twitter. “I was as nice as I could be because my little experience in Delhi has taught me pissing off a man who’s considered a darling journalist will have shit repercussions for my career and/or I’ll be at the receiving end of his friend’s wrath or laughter,” Mehta was quoted as saying. Mehta later clarified on Twitter that the conversations were from 2017, when she was no longer employed at the Hindustan Times. The #MeToo movement had taken the — mostly Western — world by a storm last year as women and men went public with gory details of systemic sex abuse by those in positions of power in the film industry and beyond. The movement took stride in India when Tanushree [Read More…]

Oct 082018
Pakistan conducts training launch of nuclear-capable Ghauri Missile System

Pakistan on Monday successfully conducted the training launch of Ghauri Missile System having a range of up to 1,300 kilometres, Radio Pakistan reported. According to Inter-Services Public Relations, the launch was conducted by Army Strategic Forces Command and was aimed at testing the operational and technical readiness of the command. Ghauri Ballistic Missile can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. The commander of Army Strategic Forces Command, Lt Gen Hilal Hussain, appreciated the standard of training and operational preparedness of the military’s strategic division. “The launch consolidates Pakistan’s nuclear capability which is aimed at peace and stability through a credible deterrence regime,” read a statement issued by the military’s media wing.

Oct 082018
PML-N demands Shahbaz be allowed to attend NA session, warns of protests otherwise

PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah on Monday demanded that Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, who is currently in the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) custody, should be brought to parliament so he can present his case before the people of the country. Sharif has been arrested on the charge that he tried to influence the transfer of a contract for the Ashiana Housing Scheme from one contractor to another. “The truth is that the said contract was cancelled on the recommendation of the then provincial finance secretary,” Sanaullah claimed. “The actual reason behind Shahbaz’s arrest was to carry out ‘political victimisation’ to affect the outcome of the October 14 by-polls,” claimed Sanaullah. Talking to media following the PML-N’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting in Lahore, Sanaullah announced the PML-N will submit requisitions for sessions of the National Assembly and the Punjab Assembly on Tuesday (tomorrow). “If our demand is not met, then from Wednesday we will stage protests outside the respective assemblies,” he said. The PML-N leader accused the PTI government of implementing “anti-people policies” since coming into power. He warned the incumbent government that if it doesn’t take their protest seriously, the PML-N will extend its agitation. The decision to hold the CEC meeting had been taken by the party leadership a day after an accountability court in Lahore remanded PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif to 10-day custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for an investigation into the Rs14 billion Ashiyana-i-Iqbal housing project ‘scam’. Nawaz Sharif chaired [Read More…]