Daily The Patriot edition of 14-07-22

Lahore: Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal, Commissioner Lahore, Deputy Commissioner Lahore and other officials are meeting Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

“The flame of freedom from the Indian yoke has been kept alive by the generations of Kashmiris in the face of Indian tyranny and oppression”

Kashmir Martyrs Day reminder of sacrifices rendered for RSD: PM

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has said Kashmir Martyrs' Day is a reminder of sacrifices which Kashmiris have rendered for their inalienable and UN-sanctioned right to self-determination. In a tweet on Kashmir Martyrs’ Day, the Prime Minister said flame of freedom from the Indian yoke has been kept alive by the generations of Kashmiris in the face of Indian tyranny and oppression. “The flame of freedom from the Indian yoke has been kept alive by the generations of Kashmiris in the face of Indian tyranny and oppression,” he tweeted. The prime minister said the Kashmir Martyrs’ Day was a reminder of the sacrifices Kashmiris had rendered for their inalienable and the United Nations’ sanctioned right to self-determination.

Prof Ahsan Iqbal met the secretary General of Un department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) Liu Zhenmin here 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Planning, Development and Special initiatives Prof Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday met the Under Secretary General of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) Liu Zhenmin here on the sidelines of High level political forum 2022 session at the United Nations and discussed matters of mutual interests. Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN NewYork also accompanied him. The Planning Minister thanked USG DESA for its support to the Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) presenting countries for the ongoing HLPF session. HLPF is the core United Nations platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for SDGs on: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; decent work and economic growth; reduced inequalities; responsible consumption and production climate action; peace, justice and strong institutions, and partnerships in depth. In a separate meeting, Ahsan Iqbal also met Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohammed on the sidelines of HLPF 2022 here at the UN.

Security forces gun down six terrorists in Datta Khel operation, soldier martyred 

By Staff Reporter

RAWALPINDI: Security forces on Wednesday gunned down six terrorists during an operation in North Waziristan. According to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), security forces conducted an Intelligence Based Operation in general area Datta Khel, North Waziristan District, on reported presence of terrorists. The troops executed a successful operation and killed 6 terrorists. Weapons and ammunition was also recovered from the killed terrorists. The killed terrorists remained actively involved in terrorist activities against security forces. However, during intense ex-change of fire, Lance Naik Islam ud Din (age 34 years, resident of Khyber District), having fought gallantly, embraced shahadat. Sanitization of the area is being carried out to eliminate any other terrorists found in the area. Earlier today, Pakistan Army troops observed and engaged terrorists movement in general area of Datta Khel, North Waziristan District.

OGDCL injects 305,804 BBL oil, 3,677 MMCF gas in its production gathering system

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) has injected eight operated wells, producing 305,804 barrel (BBL) crude oil and 3,677 metric million cubic feet (MMCF) gas, in its production gathering system during the first nine months of the last fiscal year. “The injected wells include Tando Alam-21, Sial-1, Pasakhi-12, Mangrio-2, Togh Bala2, Gundunwari-1, Pandhi-1 and Siab-1 which cumulatively yielded gross crude oil and gas production of 305,804 barrels and 3,677 MMcf respectively,” according to a financial report for the third quarter of year 2021-22 available with a state run news agency. Besides, the company made four hydrocarbon discoveries, having expected cumulative daily production potential of 39 MMCF gas and 2,850 BBL of oil, during the period under review. The discoveries include Wali-1 (Kawagarh), Wali-1 (Hangu) and Wali-1 (Lockhart) in district FR Lakki, KP province and Jandran West-1 in district Kohlu, Balochistan province. “Preliminary 2P reserves estimates attributable to these discoveries are 236 billion cubic feet of gas and 13 million barrels of oil, combined 58 million barrels of oil equivalent.” The Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) also carried out 70 work-over jobs comprising 12 with rig and 58 rig-less to arrest natural decline and sustain production from mature wells. Moreover, it completed pressure build-up survey jobs at various wells of producing fields including Mela, Pasahki, Nashpa, Qadirpur, Maru-Reti, Uch and Kunnar to induce improvement in the current well flow parameters. The Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) contributed around 48 percent, 30 percent and 38 percent towards the country’s total oil, natural gas and LPG production respectively. The company’s average daily net oil and gas production clocked in at 36,173 BBL and 828 MMCF, which was 36,836 BBL and 865 MMCF in the corresponding period of the last year, respectively. The lower production was recorded on account of annual turn around (ATA) at six production fields including Qadirpur, Mela, Nashpa, Sinjhoro and Uch-I & II. Likewise, decline in production share from NJV fields also contributed towards lower output.

Imran's allegations of rigging in bye elections, a confession of defeat: Marriyum 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD:Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Wednesday that PTI leadership's allegations of rigging were in fact a confession of Imran Khan's defeat in upcoming bye elections. In a statement, she said as prime minister, Imran Khan continued to flout the laws, orders and rules of the Election Commission of Pakistan. Imran Khan and his ministers not only openly violated ECP rules while in power, but also threatened it, she said. The minister said that when PTI was in power, it threatened the ECP and even today those who stole the 2018 elections were threatening the ECP. She said on the one hand the PML-N, which bowed to the law, election rules and orders of the ECP and PML-N ministers resigned from their posts to abide by the ECP rules. She said on the other side was Imran Khan and his party which was threatening and abusing the ECP even today. The minister said that Imran was not ready to bow before the law and rules in an attempt to become "blue eyed boy" as he considered himself as law.

DG NAB Lahore Shahzad Saleem moves IHC against PAC decision to summon him following Tayyaba Gul's harassment allegations

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Director General (DG) Major (retd) Shahzad Saleem approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday against the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) decision to summon him following Tayyaba Gul's harassment allegations. The National Assembly Secretary, PAC Wing and others were made party to the petition filed by Shahzad Saleem, which states that the notice issued by the PAC was beyond its jurisdiction and therefore, sought for it to be declared null and void by the court. The petition further requests the court to issue a stay order on the PAC notice, contending that the woman already has applications pending before a Lahore accountability court and another related one before the Federal Shariat Court (FSC). The PAC has parallel action an exercise in excess of authority. Shehzad Saleem further alleged that the PAC Chairman Noor Alam Khan “the possibility of the petition being filed for personal gains could not be ruled out” and argued that the woman in question has other “relevant forums available”. The PAC has gone beyond its powers to initiate this inquiry, the NAB official stated in the petition.

Delay in 7th census to disable ECP to carry out constitutional responsibility: Taj Haider 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, Senator Taj Haider has expressed his serious concern on the reports that the Bureau of Statistics shall not be able to complete the 7th census before the fixed date of 31st December 2022. In a press statement issued Wednesday, he said that this delay would disable the Election Commission of Pakistan to carry out their constitutional responsibility of allocation of seats in the National Assembly to each province on the basis of its actual population and to carry out delimitation of National and Provincial Assembly constituencies in all provinces. Senator Taj Haider pointed out that the CCI majority decision to validate the faulty figures of the 6th census was conditional to holding a fresh and accurate census in the country. A time line for completing the fresh census was also specified in the CCI decision. It was unacceptable that only the controversial and harmful part of the CCI decision should be implemented and the agreed and the beneficial part be ignored and bypassed. Such unjust and discriminatory actions cut at the root of our Federal system and weaken the Federation by creating mistrust. One fails to understand the reason for not including any representative from Sindh in the Advisory group made by Bureau of Statistics for making a working paper for the 7th Census. While most of the persons responsible for the controversial 6th census were included in the Advisory group, Dr. Mehtab Karim's name from Sindh was only included after the working paper had been finalized and after strong protest from Sindh on his exclusion. There certainly is method behind this madness.

Bani Gala became "Money Gala" during Imran Khan's rule: Maryam Nawaz

By Staff Reporter

LAYYAH: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz has said that Bani Gala had become “Money Gala” during the rule of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan. Addressing a rally in Layyah on Wednesday ahead of July 17 by-elections in Punjab, she said that her party will defeat incompetence, inflation and corruption and the PML-N has already won. On July 17, there will be a competition with Punjab s enemy Imran Khan and “Fitna Khan” is another name of anarchy. She also claimed that the petrol and diesel prices will come down in the next 24 to 48 hours. On Tuesday addressing the PML-N election rally in Athara Hazari, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will announce to reduce petrol and diesel prices in next two days. She said that the people of Jhang had won her heart by showering their love. “Everyone knows why Shehbaz Sharif had to take difficult decisions,” she said and added the prices had to be increased due to agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The PML-N vice president claimed that difficult decisions have been made and now good news will come every day, whereas, today, Shehbaz Sharif summoned a summary for reduction in petrol prices. She went on say that former PM Nawaz Sharif started CPEC while Imran Khan started GPEC and plundered money from Punjab to Bani Gala. Earlier, addressing a rally at Chiniot Moor, Maryam Nawaz said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that if the people want inflation to decrease then they should vote for PML-N. PML-N’s competition is not with Imran Khan but with inflation and incompetence,” she said while making a case for the people of Jhang to vote for her party in the July 17 by-polls. She asked the people to make a promise to her that they will throw out the people against Punjab’s development. The PML-N vice president said that today the whole Jhang has come out in love with Nawaz Sharif. We have come to carry out development work including building schools and colleges in the country and to reduce the prices of potatoes and onions. She promised that she won’t sit idly until the development of the city, adding that Imran Khan does not digest the development of Punjab and is trying to impose a woman on Punjab again which we will not allow.

ISLAMABAD: Motorway police officer is challaning a bus on overloading.

MQM leader Babar Ghauri released

By Staff Reporter

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) senior leader Babar Ghauri has been released on Wednesday. In this regard, police sources said that there is incomplete evidence against Babar Ghauri. If evidence is gathered, Babar Ghauri can be taken into custody again. Sources further said that the health of the MQM leader is not good and he has to undergo a check-up at the hospital. It is pertinent to mention that on July 4 Babar Ghauri was arrested by the security agencies upon his return to Pakistan. He was taken into custody over his alleged involvement in a corruption and terrorism case.

MWMC completes treatment process after Eid clean up operation

By Staff Reporter

MULTAN: Multan Waste Management Company (MWMC) has completed the treatment process after Eid’s cleanliness operation. Significantly eco-friendly measures have been taken at the company’s temporary storage points and landfill site. The treatment and disinfection process remained to continue till last night. Multan Waste Management Company CEO Ameer Hassan visited various points and reviewed the treatment measures. Talking on the occasion, he said that all SOPs were being implemented for treatment and disinfection. He said that a huge amount of phenyl and lime had been poured at 16 temporary storage points set up in the city for the collection of sacrificial animal offals. Ameer Hassan said that all measures had been taken to control the pollution at the landfill sites and the trenches dug for the remains of sacrificial animals have been covered with lime and a thick layer of soil has been laid upon by the bulldozers and in this way, all the waste will be dissolved through a chemical process.

Legendary Sindhi singer Rubina Qureshi passes away

By Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD: The legendary classical Sindhi singer, Rubina Qureshi, has passed away in her Karachi’s residence on Wednesday morning. She was 81. The singer, popularly known as “Nightingale of Sindh”, has been suffering from cancer for the last two years. The singer, who rose to prominence in Sindhi music from Radio Pakistan in the 1960s, had remained under treatment in Agha Khan Hospital since last two years, but could not survived. She breathed her last at her residence in Karachi, where she had been in a coma for the last two months, family sources confirmed. Rubina Qureshi has survived her husband film star Mustafa Qureshi, a son, film actor Aamir Qureshi and daughter to mourn her death. She will be laid to rest in the compound of Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s tomb after “Asr prayer” on Wednesday. Due to her deteriorated health condition, Rubina Qureshi could not even go to the Governor’s House on March 23 to receive her Presidential Pride of Performance Award which was received by her husband, well-known actor Mustafa Qureshi.

South Punjab Police Office is active for holding foolproof and transparent security in the by-elections in South Punjab

By Staff Reporter

MULTAN:Additional Inspector General of Police South Punjab Dr. Ehsan Sadiq accompanied by RPO DG Khan visited Layyah and Muzaffargarh districts to review the plan for preparation and deployment of police for the upcoming elections. The Additional IG expressed satisfaction over the plan submitted by the concerned DPOs. The Additional IG stressed that the police have a constitutional duty to remain impartial and use all available resources to ensure a smooth conduct of the by-elections 2022. The Additional IG directed the DPOs to deploy honest, dedicated and impartial employees on election duties and be fully aware of their responsibilities. The Additional IG made it clear that polling materials should be transported in CCTV cameras, and CCTV vans should be used for transportation and elite escort vehicles with cameras installed. He further directed that a biased and impartial approach should be maintained throughout the election process and adequate police reserves should be ensured for timely response to any incident during the polling process.

Karachi rains: Khawaja holds Sindh CM responsible for negligence

By Staff Reporter

KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) senior leader Khawaja Izhar Ul Hassan on Wednesday while criticizing the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said that Karachi has become a ‘Banana Republic’ and Sindh Chief Minister is responsible for all the recent rain-related incidents. Addressing a press conference, Khawaja said that Muttahida Qaumi Movement is asking for a proper system, not a mayor seat but the Sindh government is not ready to improve the flawed system, adding that PTI and Jamat-e-Islami are upset with MQM and PPP agreement but during PTI government Imran Khan never took any significant steps to improve the Karachi’s situation. “The President belongs to Karachi but why he is silent over current Karachi’s situation,” Khawaja asked. Taking a swipe at Sindh CM, he said that Murad Ali Shah may have released crores of rupees but the question is where the expenses were incurred. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader added that Infrastructure should be built for the interests of Karachi city. if no one accepts, we do not need such agreements, Khawaja said.

Higher education top priority of PMLN govt: Governor Baligh

By Staff Reporter

BAHAWALPUR: Governor Punjab Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman has said that the promotion of higher education was the top priority of the government and all resources were being utilized to provide facilities for higher education. He expressed these views in a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor of the Islamia University of Bahawalpur Engr. Prof. Dr. Athar Mahboob at Camp Office Bahawalpur. Governor Punjab said that the Inter-University Consortium of the Islamia University of Bahawalpur was a welcome initiative for research activities on climate change and this consortium would be taken forward under the auspices and support of the Governor’s Secretariat. He directed the VC of the Islamia University of Bahawalpur to convene a Vice Chancellor’s Conference and complete the working paper by including the three topics of Climate Change and Environment, Ultimate of Education, and Financial Management in the agenda. Governor Punjab emphasized that full attention should be paid to the education as well as character building of the students so that they could use their leadership abilities for the betterment and development of society in practical life. Vice-Chancellor of the Islamia University of Bahawalpur Engr. Prof. Dr. Athar Mahboob while giving a briefing said that the Islamia University of Bahawalpur’s cotton seed research, soybean, and maize intercropping techniques were being successfully implemented.

Punjab by elections: ECP sending election material to ROs

By Staff Reporter

LAHORE: The preparations for by elections in 20 constituencies of Punjab Assembly have entered in final stage with provision of electoral material to returning officers. The election commission has started sending ballot papers and forms to returning officers, sources at the electoral body said. “The election commission has printed 4.7306 million ballot papers for election in 20 constituencies,” according to sources. The commission has printed 1,53,657 surplus ballot papers, sources said. The election commission has summoned authorized representatives of returning officers to receive ballot papers. “Ballot papers have been printed in Islamabad for elections in 20 constituencies. All ballot papers will be delivered in concerned constituencies under stringent security measures,” sources added. It is to be mentioned here that polling for by elections has been scheduled on Sunday, July 17. The ECP had announced by election on 20 provincial seats vacated after defecting MPAs of the PTI were de-seated. The ECP de-seated 25 dissident members of the PTI, who had voted for PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz Sharif in Punjab chief minister’s election. Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had sent reference against 25 members including five members on reserved seats, to the election commission.

QUETTA: Pakistan Army Medical Corp giving treatment to a little girl in flood effective area.

Anti-Corruption Unit nominates Farah Gogi in illegal land allotment FIR

By Staff Reporter

LAHORE: Punjab Anti-Corruption Unit on Wednesday registered a first information report (FIR) against Farah Shahzadi alias Farah Gogi – a close friend of Imran Khan’s wife Bushra Bibi – in an illegal land allotment case in Faisalabad’s industrial zone. During the inquiry into Faisalabad Industrial Estate Management Company (FIEDMC), the investigation team found illegalities committed by the company’s officials and beneficiaries. The FIR read Farhat Shahzadi and her mother Bushra Khan established a company registered with the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) with the name “Al-Muez Dairy & Foods (Private) Limited” on November 26, 2020. It added that the company submitted its first manual application through its director Farhat Shahzadi to FIEDMC chief executive on November 30, 2020, for allotment of a plot measuring 10.5 acres in M3 Faisalabad Industrial Zone (SEZ). The acknowledgment of the application was issued by FIEDMC on December 9, 2020, and the company was asked to provide certain documents to process the allotment. However, in the due time, the process was shifted to the online method following which Farah Gogi once again applied online which was returned with the observation that necessary documents were not annexed with the application. Gogi’s company then applied for the third time in October 2021 and the application was examined by Muhammad Yousaf - who was the acting SEZ committee chairman. FIR read, “The SEZ land of FIEDMEC was entrusted to the SEZ committee for allotment to the investors for commercial/ economic activities in said zone in accordance with the criteria laid down in Rules and Regulation but in the instant matter the members of SEZ committee of FIEDMC in violation of law and rules allotted precious land / plot to the company namely Al-Muez Dairy & Foods (Private) Limited of Mst. Farhat Shehzadi and committed criminal breach of trust and caused loss to the Gout Exchequer.” The competent authority has approved the registration of the case against committee chairman Yousaf, committee secretary Maqsood Ahmad, Farah Gogi and her mother Bushra Khan. However, the role of Ahsan Jameel Gujjar - who gave the undertaking in favor of Gogi for the provision of funds and others including the member of SEZ committee who were signatories of the minutes of the 25th meeting of SEZ committee - is to be determined during the investigation.

Punjab CM for expediting relief activities in flood damage areas of Rwp

By Staff Reporter

RAWALPINDI: Chief Minister Punjab, Hamza Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday expressed grief and sorrow over the damage caused in Rawalpindi during heavy rains. He directed the administration to take immediate action to provide relief to the residents of the rain-affected areas. Station Commander, Cantonment Board Rawalpindi, Brig Salman, Cantonment Executive Officer, Chaklala Cantonment Board and Member Provincial Assembly, PP-13, Haji Amjad visited the affected areas including Dhoke Juma, Lalazar, Valley Housing Scheme Chaklala and inspected the relief and rescue operation. The residents registered their complaints against the owners of the housing society and the local administration. According to the residents, the owners of the housing society encroached the land along the nullah and narrowed the drain which caused a lot of damage in the locality. The residents of Dhoke Juma and Valley Housing Scheme demanded removal of all encroachments and stern action against the owners of the society.

Chairman TJP expresses sorrow over loss of lives, property due to rains

By Staff Reporter

RAWALPINDI: Chairman Tehreek-e-Juawanan Pakistan (TJP) Mohammad Abdullah Gul has expressed deep sorrow over the loss of life and property due to recent monsoon Turential rains across Pakistan and especially in Karachi. He said that despite the forecast of heavy rains by the Meteorological Department, the Sindh government had not taken any steps for the protection of the people due to which precious lives were lost and billions of properties were submerged. He expressed these views to the delegations visiting the Eid-ul-Adha party. He said that the PPP, which had ruled Sindh for 14 years, had left the people of Karachi alone. Karachi, Pakistan's largest business hub and the highest tax-paying city, is being mistreated, he added. He said Army and Navel force involved to save the lives of citizen which is very admirable. He said that Karachi administrator and his staff did not provide any proof of administrative matters.

MMBL signs agreement with IBP to upskill its employees

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's largest digital bank - Mobilink Microfinance Bank Limited (MMBL), has joined hands with the Institute of Bankers Pakistan (IBP), the country's leading premier banking training institute, to upskill and develop the capacities of its valued workforce and help strengthen banking experience of its customers and delivery standards. Through this collaboration, more than 1500 frontline MMBL employees will be enrolled at IBP in its specialized banking education and training programs, IBP Superior Qualification, and IBP Microfinance Diploma. President and CEO, MMBL, Ghazanfar Azzam, and Khawlah Usman, Director of Marketing and Sales, IBP, signed the agreement earlier this week in the presence of senior officials from both organizations, expressing their commitment to ensure quality banking services to the customers through meaningful collaborations. the quality of services in the banking industry through meaningful collaborations. Speaking at the occasion, President and CEO, MMBL, Ghazanfar Azzam said, "We are excited to join hands with Pakistan's most prestigious banking education institute, IBP.

Sarsabz fertilizer marks significance of cotton through nostalgic journey of 'Khaki Desan'

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The nostalgic memories of our mothers opening rustic family trunks and taking out hand-knitted khaees and dariyan made from indigenous cotton and proudly setting them for the frequent guests have faded away. However, to try and revive this lost cultural heritage and tradition, Sarsabz Fertilizer released the second episode of its Sarsabz Kahani web series titled "Khaki Desan" which focused on the true story of Jugnu Mohsin, a well-recognized entrepreneur and public figure, who quickly realized the dearth of good quality local cotton and its dying breed called Khaki Desan which nobody was striving to preserve. This latest film is part of a strategic initiative called 'Sarsabz Kahani', which highlights true inspirational stories of farmers passionately fond of their motherland and its cultural heritage and was released on the momentous occasion of Eid ul-Azha as a short film on July 10, 2022, across its social media platforms. Seeking technical assistance from Sarsabz Fertilizer, which is a brand of Fatima Fertilizer, the protagonist went on to successfully harvest the finest crop of Khaki Desan cotton to create an exceptional quality of khaddar, which is a hand-spun and hand-woven cotton cloth being used in the sub-continent since many centuries. Sarsabz Fertilizer extended their unravelling contribution and support to Jugnu Mohsin to implement this community support program as a sustainable initiative which can re-engage and empower a community of thousands of rural women in the centuries-old craft of cotton spinning and weaving and earn a decent livelihood for their families. Sarsabz also supported Jugnu Mohsin in setting up a workshop under the name "Haveli Crafts" to market the final products. The story of this unique collaboration is multifaceted in many ways. Most importantly, it refers to the recent decline of cotton production in Pakistan which is detrimental to our economic stability. As per the Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, the cotton crop holds a 0.8 percent share in GDP and contributes 5.2% to the agriculture value addition. Cotton also holds a 51 percent share in the country's total foreign exchange earnings. Despite this economic significance, the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics has reported that in the past 10 years cotton production has almost halved from 13.6 million bales in 2011/12 to about 7 million in 2020/21.

RAWALPINDI: President RCCI Nadeem Rauf along with his delegation in a meeting with Miftah Ismail, Federal Minister Finance & Revenue.

PMBL provides House-Loans worth Rs.10.9 Billion to 17,800 customers

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD:Khushhali Microfinance Bank Limited (KMBL) is a winner of Pakistan's 'Best Microfinance Bank Award', with a vision for sustainable development, through professional excellence. In 2018, it pioneered the 'Khushhali Home Plus loans facility, offering up to 01 Million Rupees for the low-income individuals, who need affordable housing finance for the renovation and improvement of existing houses. This facility has already provided loans worth 08 billion Rupees, to more than 15,900 low-income individuals, to date, to accelerate socio-economic growth all over Pakistan. The Government's Markup- Subsidy Scheme introduced in July 2021, has further enriched KMBL's high-ticket house-loan scheme to expand and enrich the bank's portfolio. The Khushhali Apna Makaan (KAM) under the Government's Subsidized Scheme has approved a total amount of over 3 Billion Rupees. It has serviced 1,400 rural-area individuals, by disbursing a cumulative amount of over 01.8 billion Rupees, while the total approved amount for this segment is 2.2 billion Rupees. Among these, more than 294 were female clients, who have been granted cumulative loans of 409 million Rupees, while the total amount approved for the female segment to date is 510 million Rupees.

Three criminal gangs busted; Bikes, mobile phones and weapon recovered

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad Capital Territory police teams apprehended seven members of three criminal gangs involved in a series of gun point snatchings and motorbike theft incidents, a police public relations officer said. He said that, DIG Operations Sohail Zafar Chatha had categorically ordered all zonal officers to curb the crime in their respective areas and arrest those involved in looting innocent people. Following these directives, a Tarnol police team arrested two members of a dacoit gang involved in numerous crime incidents. The accused were identified as Akash alias Kashi and Janras Khan. Police recovered one bike and weapon with ammunition from their possession. Cases against the accused have been registered at Tarnol police station and further investigation is underway, while in another action Tarnol police team arrested three member of a dacoit gang identified as Shahid Ur Rehman, Naveed Ur Rehman and Abid Ur Rehman and recovered one motorbike and two pistols along with ammunition from their possession and further investigation is underway. Likewise, a Tarnol police team has busted two members of a dacoit gang. The accused have been identified as Noor Rehman and Rehmat Ullah and recovered two motorbikes and mobile phones from their possession.

Rawalpindi: A view of increasing water level at Sawan Bridge due to current heavy rain spell.

13 NAB officers transferred including those probing PML-N leaders: sources

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairperson Zahir Shah on Wednesday approved the transfer of 13 directors, including those who were probing senior PML-N leaders in corruption cases, sources privy to the matter said. According to a statement issued by NAB, the names of the officers on the list include NAB Lahore Director Intelligence Muhammad Asghar, Aftab Ahmed, Khawar Ilyas, and National Accountability Bureau Lahore Director Administration Nadeem Shah. NAB Director Intelligence Asghar, who arrested Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has been transferred from Lahore to Sukkur, said the sources. Sources added that Aftab Ahmed and Khawar Ilyas, who were included in the list, were investigating Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Railway Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique as well as Nisar Ahmed Cheema and former principal secretary to the prime minister Fawad Hassan.

Emirates, Air Canada form strategic partnership

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Emirates and Air Canada Wednesday announced the signing of a strategic partnership agreement that will create more options for customers when travelling on the carriers' networks while also enhancing the customer experience throughout the journey. Emirates and Air Canada intend to establish a codeshare relationship later in 2022 that will offer enhanced consumer travel choices for Air Canada customers to travel to the United Arab Emirates and to destinations beyond Dubai. Emirates customers will also enjoy an enhanced travel experience when travelling to Toronto or to key destinations across the Air Canada network. Customers will have the ability to book connecting travel between both airlines' networks with the ease of a single ticket, seamless connectivity at the carriers' respective global hubs and baggage transfers to their final destinations. Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said: "This is a significant partnership that will enable our customers access to even more destinations in Canada and the Americas, via our Toronto and US gateways. It also opens up many new route combinations for travelers across Emirates' and Air Canada's extensive networks in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. We are pleased to partner with Air Canada, one of North America's most established airlines and Canada's flag carrier and we look forward to jointly progressing on various areas to provide even better customer flight choices and experiences." "As we continue pursuing our strategy of expanding our global reach in response to growing opportunities in VFR markets (Visit Friends and Relatives) that serve Canada's large multicultural communities, we are very pleased to form a strategic partnership with Emirates, a highly respected flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates with a hub in the vibrant city of Dubai. This strategic agreement will create network synergies, and Air Canada customers will have additional, convenient options when travelling between Canada and the United Arab Emirates as well as destinations beyond Dubai" said Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer at Air Canada. "We look forward to introducing Air Canada codeshare service on key Emirates flights, as well as adding the EK code on select Air Canada flights, and welcoming Emirates customers on our services later this year." To further enhance the customer experience, the carriers will also establish reciprocal frequent flyer benefits and reciprocal lounge access for qualifying customers.

Pakistan, IMF likely to finalize agreement soon

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is expected to finalize an agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) soon. Finance Ministry sources privy to the development said that the agreement with IMF will be finalized soon, adding that the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) is also being sent to the IMF soon. In case of agreement, Pakistan will receive $1.2 billion through the 6th and 7th review instalments, sources said. As per reports, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has completed the seventh and eighth reviews of Pakistan’s performance which has brightened the chances of the next tranche getting disbursed later this month. After completion of review, the chances of disbursement of the next tranche by the global lender have become bright. The staff-level agreement between Pakistan and IMF could be signed soon following which the country would receive $1.10 billion in two installments this month. Earlier on June 28, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail had tweeted about the progress on the reviews for release of much-sought IMF loan. On June 20, the finance minister told media, after attending the meeting of the Senate Committee on Finance, that the agreement with IMF would be revived in a few days.

Benefits of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

By Kamran Raja

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is currently facing many social, economic and environmental problems. Prominent problems are social poverty, inadequate education, poor infrastructure, security threats and high unemployment. Pakistani officials say Pakistan will solve its own problems after the CPEC project is completed. The mega project, CPEC, is a combination of several initiatives for healthy economic and social growth in different sectors of Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a multi-dimensional economic project aimed at improving links between Pakistan, China and Europe. Transportation, power, manufacturing, industrial and other development plans are part of the mix. Chinese leaders have focused their efforts on boosting the economy, setting new goals, exploring new markets around the world and finding investment opportunities. To achieve this goal, the Chinese government has put forward the Belt and Road Initiative. The initiative includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is seen as a "Game Changer" for Pakistan's economy. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has launched a number of projects, which have promoted China-Pakistan cooperation and boosted the economic development of the two countries through the construction of the Free Trade Area. Although CPEC is still a work in progress, leaders and relevant ministries firmly believe it will be a "Game Changer" for the economic development of both countries. Under the CPEC project, countless business and job opportunities have been created for local communities and residents. The best way to boost economic growth in South Asia is to propose regional infrastructure projects, which need to be closely linked to the economic development of emerging countries and global markets in a resource-poor region. Socioeconomic and people's well-being is a two-way win-win process, and both countries hope to achieve mutual benefits by reducing payments. With the support of the CPEC project, local residents believe the CPEC development plan is conducive to improving the social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits of the region. In this case, they will actively support project development. Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMES), the backbone of Pakistan's economy, are also widely benefiting from the construction and development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. With the benefit of the project, rural residents who were unable to start their own businesses due to lack of funds will have the opportunity to set up small and micro enterprises, which will promote the economic growth of rural Pakistan in the flow of funds. Multiple studies in Pakistan have demonstrated that CPEC has a number of benefits for Pakistani society, including expanded market access, education networks and social development that bridges social divisions and prejudices and, most importantly, alleviates social tensions. At present, the development of CPEC can be viewed from two perspectives. First, the social goals include good living standards, job opportunities, poverty reduction, education improvement and environmental protection. Second, from the economic perspective, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will not only develop the local economy, but also improve the local ecological environment, residents' living standards and the possibility of education.

IRC launches relief activities for Balochistan flood affected people

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: As the torrential rains and flash floods in Balochistan areas have played wreak killing dozens of people, including women and children, and over 150,000 population in need of humanitarian assistance, 30,000 badly affected, an emergency has been declared in the provincial metropolitan city followed by relief operations at all levels. According to the assistant commissioner, the wards and emergency room of Muslim Bagh Civil Hospital were flooded, while rain in the hilly areas of Muslim Bagh damaged more than 100 houses. Most of the access roads to remote areas of Qila Saifullah, Zhob, and Harnai have been affected, hampering rescue operations in several areas. A Pishin administration official said hundreds of mud-houses were washed away or badly damaged in Malikyar, Don Khanozai and Sheikhmalzai areas of Pishin as floodwater coming from hilly areas of Burshor lashed the area. Given the rapidly deteriorating situation, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has initiated response activities in Pishin and Quetta districts. With the financial aid of German Federal Foreign Office, the IRC's internal funds and support of its on-ground partner, the People's Primary Healthcare Initiative (PPHI), the IRC has launched a rapid emergency response within 24 hours of the declaration of emergency, which is being implemented in close coordination with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Balochsitan.

GIKI students secure 1st position in Britain’s engineering contest

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The students from the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology bagged first position in the “Formula Student” engineering competition held in the United Kingdom. The Formula Student is Europe’s most established educational engineering competition. Backed by industry and high-profile engineers, the competition aims at developing enterprising and innovative young engineers and encouraging more young people to take up a career in engineering. The GIKI Team Infinity won Concept Class LTS (Lap Time Simulation) for the virtual software they created, by defeating students from 34 countries. Ashir Junaid, the team leader for Formula GIK, told media that their 24-member society developed the software within two months. “We are proud of making Pakistan famous all over the world,” said Junaid.

Monsoon sadness 

THIS year’s monsoon rains have taken a heavy human toll across the country due to flash floods and urban flooding. Around 150 people have been killed in rain-related incidents over the last month, with Balochistan hit particularly hard. Over 60 rain-related fatalities have been reported since June in the province. Sindh has not fared much better, with the Provincial Disaster Management Authority saying at least 26 people have been killed in rain-related incidents across the province, with most fatalities reported from Karachi. Unfortunately, flooded roads and homes, the fear of electrocution and life coming to a standstill are the usual outcomes of even moderate rainfall in Pakistan’s largest city. This year’s monsoon, with consistent rainfall recorded in the city over the last week or so, has lived up to the pattern. The city's Keamari and East districts, which received the heaviest rain over the weekend and into Monday, as well as Clifton and Defense in the south as well as its northern outskirts, all experienced urban flooding as a result of the rain. The annual monsoon tragedy in Karachi is blamed on a number of factors. These include encroachments, a lack of planning, heavy rains that are unusually heavy, and climate change. Maybe it wouldn't be incorrect to suggest that a number of variables contributed to the chaos. All government agencies were forced to look into finding a solution to this major issue in the country's commercial centre as a result of the excessive rains in 2020. A Rs. 1.1 trillion programme was announced by the then-prime minister to "transform" the city;The provincial administration also acted when the Supreme Court ordered the removal of encroachments along drainage systems. Two years later, not much has changed, and it is evident that the civilian administration, those in charge of DHA, and those in charge of the cantonment regions have not learned many lessons from previous catastrophes. While it is true that Karachi has endured years of federal, provincial, and local government neglect, a concerted effort from the highest levels of government is required to properly address the urban flooding problem. There is a claim that even more advanced cities experience urban floods. Despite the fact that it may be true, this does not provide justification for leaving Karachi and allowing the dreadful annual ritual of rain-related mortality, dislocation, and damage to continue. The state should contact local or international topographical experts and urban planners to develop a strategy to reduce the likelihood of flooding, and their recommendations should be put into practise as soon as possible. In the coming days, further heavy rain has been predicted by the Met department. Without proper drainage and an urban disaster response structure, Karachi's residents would be forced to deal with the gushing floodwaters on their own in the long run. The administration must have backup plans in place to better handle the upcoming wet weather.

Arab countries in a strong position ahead of Biden’s visit


Joe Biden is mistaken if he thinks that he is coming to the Middle East this month to meet with the leaders of the Gulf states and the Arab region only to make demands, ask for their help in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis, slow down oil price rises, pump more oil into the market or seek new US-sponsored regional arrangements. The US president is also mistaken if he or his administration thinks that the region’s political and economic calculations are similar to those from before the pandemic and Ukraine war. Biden will come to the region from July 13 to 16 and will be the main focus of observers and the media in the Arab world. We will hear all kinds of analyses and points of view, some of which will be logical, while others will go beyond the limits of mind, logic and changing circumstances. In the following lines, we will try to calmly analyze the awaited visit of the Democratic president to the region, his demands of the Arab leaders and their demands of him. It is now established that Arab-US relations are no longer like they were before. The Arab side has been able to find a space that allows it to use many cards to obtain previously out-of-reach gains from its strategic ally. Or, in other terms, the said ally was previously reluctant to offer any such gains to the Arabs. This always created a sense of unequal relations, whereby the Arab side would give much more than it would receive. Biden, who has been president since January 2021, has refrained from visiting the region until now. He now affirms that Arabs are an important element in the international equation, especially after many Arab and Gulf leaders expressed the desire to forge new and diverse partnerships with other major powers. I believe that the way the Arabs dealt with the recent crisis with Washington is highly regarded. Their search for international allies, to go along with their traditional ally, was based on their desire to preserve the security and stability of their nations. They did not perceive it as a punitive measure against America. What is established is that the Arab stance on the Russian-Ukrainian war — especially the Gulf states’ refusal to compensate for the absence of Russian oil from international markets — is a clear message for the Americans to reconsider their position toward the Arabs. This is especially vis-a-vis the repercussions of the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, which unleashed the power of the Iranians and their allies on the region. The Arab-Israeli conflict might also have been an issue that upset the Arabs. Arabs, but mainly the Gulf states, need to enjoy a phase of political tranquility and stability and economic prosperity. They need to enjoy this and reap the rewards of their efforts during the decades following the Gulf War. Just as the Gulf War was an opportunity for Washington to establish unbalanced relations with Arabs, the Ukrainian war may be the opportunity for Arabs to secure balanced relations with America. Biden will face a different position when visiting the region. This position stems from two things. The first is the different Arab tactics, which are based on the necessity of establishing balanced relations with the US, while admitting that they are a fixed strategic ally, as well as the possibility of forging partnerships with other international powers. The second is the recent changes in the international arena, which have put the Arab countries in a strong position. The friendly Egyptian-American relations, which were clearly manifested during Donald Trump’s presidency, have been marred by worry and concern since Biden’s arrival to the White House. His stances seem similar to Barack Obama’s positions on the post-June 30 revolution state, which began with apprehension and ended with recognition and unconditional support. I see that Biden should be faced with the negative repercussions of the Obama administration’s support for the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group during the so-called Arab Spring period. With this position, the US adopted a logic that was devoid of any restrictions or other considerations, whether objective or related to the nature of the Egyptian people, who reject this kind of thinking and direction. I also believe that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis should be tackled, as Ethiopia continues to act unilaterally. For instance, Trump had a clear stance regarding this issue. He even stood by Egypt’s right to preserve its water resources in whichever way it deemed convenient. I believe that it is also important to tackle and discuss with Biden other files, such as understanding the nature of human rights, aid and mutual cooperation, especially if this is supported by a strong Arab stance. It is no secret that Biden’s visit to the region confirms the depth of the historical relationship between Egypt and the US, as the decades-old list of interests between them is long and cannot be easily canceled or ignored. However, this relationship might undergo some changes, as Egypt — similar to the Arabs generally — holds important cards, meaning that the logic of interests will be fundamental for both sides, with a margin of flexibility for sure. Undoubtedly, the results of the visit will clarify the future features of Egypt-US relations. If Biden wants to cooperate on different bases, he is more than welcome. However, if he relies only on the previously fixed grounds, he is surely mistaken. In these times, there are no exclusive alliances and no considerations will be made for anyone no matter their power. The world is changing and powers change and vary rapidly. Life goes on, as it should. Dr. Abdellatif El-Menawy is a critically acclaimed multimedia journalist, writer and columnist who has covered war zones and conflicts worldwide.

The Ukrainian war may be the opportunity for Arabs to secure balanced relations with America.

How Biden’s visit could affect Israel-Palestine ties


For the first time in decades, an American president will this week visit the Middle East with no initiative for Israel-Palestine. In the past, it was almost what was expected of them. George H.W. Bush had Madrid, Bill Clinton had Oslo and Camp David, and George W. Bush had his road map, while Barack Obama left it largely to John Kerry to lead his initiative. Donald Trump had his own peace plan but, as yet, there is no sign of even a rough outline of how Joe Biden might cajole Israeli and Palestinian leaders in this direction. So how will Palestinians see this? Yes, Biden will have a bilateral meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas, but he comes with no serious proposal to address their rights or end the occupation and systemic oppression. The Palestinian leadership is realistic. They know that, for Biden, meeting Abbas for a couple of hours is a sideshow to the main tour. Their expectations are suitably low. And remember Abbas is the chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a body that, due to congressional pressure, the US government still designates a terrorist organization. It has done so ever since 1987, even though Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, have been guests at the White House on numerous occasions. Is it wise for Biden to have no strategy? No doubt many in his camp have argued that it is not worth the presidential effort. Biden has tried to focus on domestic issues and, until Ukraine, had limited his exposure internationally. His visit to the region has far more to do with the Saudi leg of the tour than the Israeli. His more pressing discussions with Israeli leaders will no doubt focus on Iran and the wider impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But Biden is also purportedly pushing for more countries to normalize relations with Israel — a process that might prove easier if the US was pushing a genuine peace process with the Palestinians. However, the behind-the-scenes preparations have still been comprehensive and detailed. No president wants to get caught out and even minor details can derail a visit. It has involved 37 preliminary meetings so far. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Abbas about two weeks ago. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf has been in pole position executing the arrangements. What can Biden offer? It is a mark of American weakness that he can do so little. The only thing thus far is to pressure the Israeli side not to do anything to embarrass the president until after his visit is over. This includes advancing major settlement and eviction plans. This is hardly impressive. He also pushed for the Israeli prime minister and his Palestinian counterpart to talk on the phone — the first time this has happened for five years. Palestinians have seen time and time again how senior American visits trigger calm from Israel, followed by post-visit aggression. Biden himself was livid when, as vice president, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a major settlement move during his visit. This soured their relationship. What makes Palestinians furious is the lack of a similar response if Israel adopts a more diplomatic timetable. As one Palestinian official told me: “It is crazy. On a Monday, the US considers a settlement move wrong, but by Tuesday it is ‘please, go ahead.’” Abbas wants to know if the more centrist Israeli PM Lapid is prepared to offer confidence-building measures New Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid is unlikely to embarrass Biden in such a fashion, but settlement expansion continues and major projects to remove Palestinians in areas of Jerusalem and the southern West Bank are progressing. For the first time, Israel is close to crossing the red line set by every US president since Clinton of going forward with the doomsday E1 settlement that would carve up the West Bank and sever it from Jerusalem. A decision was scheduled for July 18, just after the president’s visit, but has now been delayed until September. It will be another minimal Palestinian expectation that Biden blocks any such move. Abbas will also want Biden to reopen the PLO office in Washington, though this will not happen. Congress will be obstinate. And Abbas will seek additional US funding and pressure on Israel to hand over Palestinian customs revenues that it illegally holds. Palestinian officials claim this to be as much as $500 million. The repercussions of the Ukraine war have hit the Palestinian economy hard, so this matters more than ever. Already, for the last three months, the PA has only been able to pay 80 percent of its salaries. Then there is the vexed issue of an independent investigation into the killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The Palestinians await answers on this. The other action Biden can possibly take is being held up as he needlessly allowed Israel a veto. Trump closed the US Consulate in East Jerusalem in 2019. The Palestinians want it reopened, not least to show that Washington acknowledges their equity in the city and has a diplomatic presence specifically for Palestinian affairs. But even though Biden had pledged to do this, he has baulked and will not now go ahead without Israeli consent. Israeli leaders like to deal with the Palestinians bilaterally. They prefer to make their own decisions on easing restrictions or returning funds owed to the Palestinians, not doing something because they have been forced to by a third party. This is a process of de-internationalizing the conflict, whereby Israel limits even the influence of its primary ally and security guarantor.

Biden to walk political tightrope through Israel, Palestine trip


On the first leg of his trip to the Middle East this week, US President Joe Biden will meet with Israeli leaders and then make a gratuitous stop in the Israeli-occupied West Bank to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, before heading off to Saudi Arabia for the second leg to lobby regional countries on oil and “normalization.” Biden’s path will be rough, as it comes in the wake of Israel’s May killing of American-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Normally, the US makes powerful statements in response to the killings of Americans abroad, but not in this case as the killer was Israeli. To help smooth Biden’s path, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued a carefully worded statement in English that asserted Israel was not to blame for the Abu Akleh killing. Biden has waffled on the topic, trying to make both sides happy, although mostly the Israelis. Despite the overwhelming support Israel enjoys among Americans, Biden knows the killing of a US journalist puts him at odds with the normally pro-Israel news media and creates an awkward atmosphere when he travels to the region. Outlets such as CNN and The Washington Post have reported in near unanimity that Israel was responsible for Abu Akleh’s death. It raises the question, what will Biden do about it? The answer is likely to be nothing. Biden hopes to walk through the fog created by Gantz’s statement to focus on other goals, such as strengthening ties with Israel and preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon. The US president also wants to help Tel Aviv’s attempts to expand its normalization policy with other regional countries. But he cannot do any of that if the Abu Akleh murder continues to hang over his political agenda like the sword of Damocles. Abu Akleh’s family — American citizens living in the West Bank — sent Biden a letter demanding a meeting, criticizing his “betrayal” for refusing to condemn Israel. Biden has not responded to the family, but his spokespeople have blamed Abu Akleh’s killing during a military raid in Jenin on “an Israeli bullet,” not an Israeli sniper. Recent polling shows Americans are slowly but steadily shifting attitudes and supporting the Palestinians. Ray Hanania Biden and Israel know they must deflect from this issue if the trip is to be successful. The president’s credibility is at stake. to hold Israel’s government accountable for Abu Akleh’s killing will only further weaken Biden politically as he and the Democratic Party round the corner to the midterm elections on Nov. 8. Traditionally, the political party that holds the White House loses congressional seats during midterm elections. Recent polling shows Americans are slowly but steadily shifting attitudes and supporting the Palestinians. Biden needs to be able to respond to questions that he tried and continues to try to pin down responsibility for the Abu Akleh killing, but cannot come to a conclusion yet, at least not during this trip. Election politics weigh heavily on him. Biden also cannot forget the criticism President Barack Obama received from the powerful pro-Israel movement for not visiting Israel until his second term in office. Instead, Obama visited Cairo less than six months after his election, promising “a new beginning” in relations. Biden, who was vice president in the Obama administration, does not want to make the same mistake or see support from the pro-Israel community soften. To balance his perceived strong support for Israel, Biden announced during his presidential election campaign a “partnership” with Arab Americans. He said he would appoint Arab Americans to key positions in his government and address their concerns, emphasizing fighting racism while championing “democracy and human rights globally.” The reality of Biden’s administration is much more sobering, however. Biden did appoint dozens of Arab Americans to support positions in the White House and State Department, but they seem to have been muzzled and are hesitant to publicly speak out on issues relating to the Middle East, especially Palestine. Biden’s stroll through the political minefield of the Israel-Palestine conflict will be like walking a tightrope while holding a balancing pole with unfulfilled promises to the Israelis and Palestinians on either end. Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at www.Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania

Recent polling shows Americans are slowly but steadily shifting attitudes and supporting the Palestinians.

Cyberwarfare brings new element to Israel-Iran confrontation


In one of his last public appearances as prime minister, outgoing Israeli Premier Naftali Bennett was unequivocal in his warning to Tehran — immediately after Iran’s state-owned Khuzestan Steel Co. found itself the victim of a major cyberattack — that “if you mess with Israel, you will pay a price.” Messing with Israel was a reference to Iranian hackers last month conducting a spear phishing operation aimed at taking over the email accounts of former politicians and diplomats. On another occasion, a suspected Iranian cyberattack triggered public sirens in various Israeli cities. Such digital hostilities between these two nemeses have been accelerating in recent years and, according to Bennett, “It is inevitable that cyber is going to become one, if not the most, prominent dimension of future warfare.” There is something paradoxical in going public and taking credit for cyberattacks, mainly because plausible deniability is one of the inherent advantages of such warfare. It allows the attacker to inflict the desired damage and avoid leaving obvious traces that would force the victim to retaliate, while establishing a level of deterrence by demonstrating the attacker’s capability to harm their opponent. Cyberattacks are by their very nature unsettling and, even when they leave little doubt about who has carried them out, they leave enough uncertainty about the identity of the attacker, about where any follow-up attack might take place and about how to defend against different variants of it to rattle those on the receiving end. Nevertheless, in recent years both Israel and to some extent Iran have been discarding the shroud of secrecy over their attacks on the high-level strategic assets of their opponent — and not only in the cyber sphere, but also in other areas of confrontation. While Israel’s aim is to establish military superiority and with it deterrence, its actions could easily prompt the regime in Tehran to step up a gear by retaliating in different areas of confrontation, with Israel being forced to retaliate in turn. Iran and Israel are squaring up to each other in different parts of the Middle East while diversifying their methods of damaging each other’s interests. Cyberwarfare is a more recent tier of this multidimensional confrontation and one that might prove to escalate quickly, with devastating consequences. The more that cyberspace becomes a domain where many of our activities take place, the more it makes vulnerable those who operate in it, which is basically everyone and everything, as it is filled with data that is essential to our very functioning and existence as nations and societies. A great deal of essential infrastructure, such as defense systems, transport, healthcare, businesses, financial services, education and power plants, uses cyberspace for data storage and communication. Hence, because of the crucial part cyberspace plays in our daily lives — and at the same time due to its vulnerability to attacks — it makes it indispensable to invest in data protection from attacks by hackers, especially if orchestrated by states. Otherwise, there is the danger of havoc being wreaked on public, civilian and private infrastructures that might end in severe disruption of essential services and even loss of life. Shifting their conflict to cyberspace is tempting, not least because it is perceived as being low cost and with low risk of loss of life for the attacker. In the 21st century, such a scenario is no longer the stuff of science fiction, but a daily occurrence worldwide. For two countries with a long history of deep animosity such as Israel and Iran, especially as they possess considerable technological capabilities, shifting their conflict to cyberspace is tempting, not least because it is perceived as being low cost and with low risk of loss of life for the attacker. Late last month, Israel’s cybersecurity chief Gaby Portnoy admitted that Iran — along with its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah and Palestinian militant organization Hamas — is Israel’s principal rival in the sphere of cyberwarfare, in terms of the number of attacks, the quality of the targets and the attempts at publicizing these actions, which make their escalation dangerously inevitable. Portnoy added that Israel needs an Iron Dome-like system of cyber defense, drawing a parallel with the threat of incoming missiles. Few countries are as technologically savvy as Israel and, when it comes to cyberwarfare, it is at the forefront of every aspect. Israel is a cybersecurity powerhouse, not only by regional standards but globally too, accounting for a third of worldwide cybersecurity “unicorns” and 41 percent of investment in the sector. This gives Israel an advantage both in offensive and defensive terms, but Tehran is also improving its cyber capabilities and, in the last two years, has exposed vulnerabilities, especially in the Israeli private sector, which have enabled it to interrupt, even if for only a short time, economic activities and some public utilities, as well as to collect the private information of Israeli citizens. Israel has thus far had the upper hand and is using cyberspace to harm Iran’s military capabilities, slow down its nuclear program, make it feel insecure and also win the cognitive battle. The more both countries come to rely on advanced technology, the more they become exposed to mutual attacks and are likely to engage in an escalating cyberwar that could have devastating consequences for their infrastructure and cause fatalities. It would also enhance the perception, especially among Israelis, that their opponent is an existential threat. Consequently, we can expect a type of hybrid warfare between Israel and Iran, in which cyberspace plays an increasingly important role without replacing more conventional methods. Much more attention and resources will be devoted to cyberattacks and building resilience against them. In this relatively new form of warfare, although it might appear less gruesome than traditional versions, the consequences could be just as horrific and, depending on what systems are attacked, more destructive. Cyberwarfare will not alter the underlying causes of the enmity between Israel and Iran, but it hands them another tool to compete with one another. The trajectory as it emerges is of an intensification of resorting to its use and, with political systems that are inherently unstable, it adds another layer of threat not only to Iran and Israel, but also to the region. Yossi Mekelberg is professor of international relations and an associate fellow of the MENA Program at Chatham House. He is a regular contributor to the international written and electronic media. Twitter: @YMekelberg

Shifting their conflict to cyberspace is tempting, not least because it is perceived as being low cost and with low risk of loss of life for the attacker.

Water scarcity

Residents of Sector 7D/3 North Karachi are facing an acute water shortage for a long time. The residents are forced to get water tankers, and each household has to pay Rs3,000 per month. This shortage seems an artificial method to increase business for water tanker providers. Over the years, there have been several crackdowns on illegal hydrants – but to no avail. Moreover, before such crackdowns are launched, the government should ensure proper supply of line water to residents. This situation has created great inconvenience for the people of this sector. Moreover, long transmission routes also cause problems as water is wasted in the form of leakages and theft. It is the duty of the department concerned to maintain regular water supply in equitable and balanced manners. Many complaints have been lodged with the authorities concerned but all were in vain. It is pertinent to mention that water is being supplied on a regular basis to other adjoining areas. Water supply should be the same for all areas of the city. Otherwise the residents of the area will be entitled to claim a refund of the dues they have paid.

Nisar Ahmed, Karachi

Stay in your lane

It has been observed that fewer personnel of the Motorway Police are on patrol these days. Although it has been given hybrid cars, they are seen mostly at well-known speed traps, which are easily avoided by regular travellers. There is little or no lane discipline, speeding buses are seen overtaking in lane-3 that is supposed to be out of bound for heavy vehicles. Lane-3 is the acceleration lane for overtaking but now one sees people driving continuously in Lane-3, not giving way for others to overtake them. The motorway police should revisit its role and duties so that it once again becomes an efficient tool to regulate and control traffic, as it was doing in the not-too-distant past.

Ayub Malik, Rawalpindi

Due dignity

Recently, I came upon a disabled peddler and offered to help him. He refused my help, saying he was proud of his hard work. However, this experience brings to light the important issue of the problems faced by differently-abled people in Pakistan. Earlier this year, provincial departments were told to observe three percent job quota for persons with disabilities. Not only is the quota too small, but also jobs are yet to be actually given. As a result of few lack of employment opportunities, such people are often forced to beg.

Mujeeb Ali Samo, Larkana

Spreading silently

According to the WHO, most people infected with HIV/AIDS are living in developing countries, which are already suffering from poverty, hunger, diseases and a lack of medical facilities. Unfortunately, in Pakistan the number of people infected with HIV has been increasing. According to the National Institute of Health, it is the second largest county in South Asia in terms of the HIV epidemic. According to the UNAIDS, an organisation working to help save the lives of people with HIV/AIDS, mortality rates for the disease have also increased in Pakistan. Since AIDS is an incurable disease, the best cure is prevention. The government should use communication tools to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS, especially since the most vulnerable groups are not likely to be well-educated in the matter.

Imran Sattar, Makran

Under siege

While the citizens of Pakistan have the right to protest against what they do not agree with, they have no right to kill anyone or destroy public and private property. What this country has witnessed recently has led to the deaths of unarmed policemen and a severe disruption in daily lives of people. All this, unfortunately, in the name of a religion that forbids violence. Those who dare to stand up and protest or demand that Jinnah’s Pakistan be restored are branded as ‘liberals’ – a term reduced to the status of an abuse. Our enemies don’t need to spend billions to inflict harm to this country as the state is already under siege by militants and extremists.

Malik Tariq Ali, Lahore

Merely a pawn

One fears that as a result of the mediocrity of our leaders, Pakistan will continue to play in the hands of superpowers. Only nations that are committed to the wellbeing of their people and do not adopt proxy gimmicks for others are respected in the int’l community. One is disturbed by the blunders that Pakistan is making by holding secret talks with the TTP – while our security challenges stare us in our faces. It’s time to create a national consensus on vital issues and not let Pakistan become a pawn in games it has no stakes in.

Ali Ashraf Khan, Karachi

Biden’s Saudi visit is a return to the norm, not a ‘reorientation’


US President Biden Joe Biden arrives in Saudi Arabia this week at the invitation of King Salman. In Jeddah on Friday he will meet the king and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and attend an extraordinary meeting of the six GCC states plus Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. While it is obvious here in the Kingdom why this visit is of great mutual importance, some of the president’s critics may not be as clear eyed as he or his team. Perhaps that is why Biden wrote a carefully worded column published in The Washington Post last week, entitled “Why I’m going to Saudi Arabia,” in which he made clear that as US president his aim was never to “rupture” but to “reorient” the relationship between our two countries. The column’s tone was far more balanced, eloquent and reflective of Biden’s long career as a seasoned politician than some of his previous rhetoric — for example, his election campaign vow to turn Saudi Arabia into “a pariah.” Such a statement is why the legendary former Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, used to describe US election periods as the “silly season,” and there is no need to dwell on it. After all, who in their right mind would want to rupture a strategic relationship with a country of the size and importance of Saudi Arabia — the cradle of Islam, home to the holy sites of 2 billion people and the world’s most significant oil producing state? However, it is the “reorient” part of Biden’s column with which I must respectfully disagree. He argues that he is coming to Jeddah because the Kingdom has helped restore Gulf unity, supported the truce in Yemen, is working to stabilize oil markets, and has had an impact in keeping America strong and secure. But none of that is a “reorientation” — it is the norm: indeed, it is the very basis of our bilateral relationship. You could add to it cooperation to end the Soviet invasion of Afganistan, fighting side by side to liberate Kuwait, continued cooperation to combat terrorism, collaboration in space exploration, and the formation of joint businesses to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for both Saudis and Americans. Who in their right mind would want to rupture a strategic relationship with a country of the size and importance of Saudi Arabia? In fact, any deviation from this norm has been — regrettably — by the US. On Yemen, for example, the current administration’s initial policy was to disengage, delist the Iran-backed Houthis as terrorists and withdraw Patriot missile batteries from the Kingdom while Saudi civilians and oil infrastructure were being attacked — civilians, let us not forget, in a country that Biden in his own column describes as a “strategic partner for 80 years,” and oil facilities that were targeted at a time when global energy prices were at an all time high.

South Africa's ODI World Cup hopes hang by a thread as Australia series cancelled 

South Africa: South Africa have withdrawn from their ODI series in Australia scheduled for January 2023 and the hosts set to be awarded the ODI Super League points from the three matches. With South Africa effectively losing the series 3-0, it pushes them closer to missing direct qualification for the 2023 World Cup in India. They were already languishing at No. 11 in the table with just four wins from 13 matches. The top eight teams in the ODI Super League as of the cut-off date of May next year will qualify directly for the World Cup. The remaining five teams will compete with five Associate teams in a qualifying tournament for the final two spots. Last month CSA had made a request to CA to move the series, which was to take place after the three Tests, following the announcement of their new T20 league due to begin in January. However, in a crowded calendar no window has been found so the matches are cancelled. "Given these games will not be played before the qualification cut-off date in May, CSA has agreed that Australia will be awarded the competition points pending ICC approval," a Cricket Australia statement said. One big knock-on effect of the series being scrubbed is that it means Australian players will be available for the BBL which will be a boost for that competition. The fixtures for the BBL are due to be released on Thursday. While Australia's Test stars will still be absent for the first part of the tournament, those who would normally also play ODIs will now have greater availability and white-ball players, such as Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa, will not be pulled out of the BBL for a 10-day period. CA has also made adjustments to the international schedule elsewhere to compensate Hobart - whose only international game of the season was due to be during the visit of South Africa - and Perth. The second men's T20I against West Indies on October 7 will now be played at the Gabba instead of at the Metricon Stadium, with the first T20I against England on October 9 moved to Perth instead of Brisbane. Hobart will now stage the second women's T20I against Pakistan on January 26 which had originally been scheduled for Canberra. "It's disappointing to have another men's international game removed from the schedule in Tasmania, it highlights the lack of international content that the state receives," Dominic Baker, the Cricket Tasmania CEO, said. "However, we are working closely with Cricket Australia on our International fixtures calendar to see what opportunities can be pursued for our Tasmanian cricket fans in order to make up for this loss. "We're looking forward to having such a high calibre of female players joining us here in Hobart, giving our fans the opportunity to experience and enjoy some international cricket this summer." Nick Hockley, the CA chief executive, said: "It is disappointing that Cricket South Africa will be unable to contest the ODI series in January. That said, we are delighted to be hosting South Africa for the three Test series which includes the Boxing Day and New Year's Tests and with the comprehensive schedule of international cricket that will take place across Australia throughout the summer."-ESPN

British Open organisers will not ban LIV rebels but could make qualifying tougher

ST ANDREWS : British Open organisers have ruled out banning players who defect to the breakaway LIV Golf series from next year's event but hinted that it could become harder for rebels to qualify in future. R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said in a press conference in St Andrews on the eve of this year's Open that banning members of the LIV series was "not on our agenda" despite stinging criticism of the Saudi-backed tour, which he said was "not in the long-term interests of the sport" and "driven by money". "We have been asked quite frequently about banning players," Slumbers said with an eye on next year's championship at Royal Liverpool. "Let me be very clear. That is not on our agenda, but we will review our exemptions and qualifications criteria for the Open. "We absolutely reserve the right to make changes as our Open Championships committee deems appropriate. "Players have to earn their place in the Open and that is fundamental to its ethos and its unique global appeal." The R&A followed the lead of the US Open by allowing rebel players to compete in the 150th Open at St Andrews, despite the PGA Tour and DP World Tour moving to ban them. As a result, LIV series members make up over 10 percent of the field this week, their number including the likes of four-time major winner Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and former Open champion Phil Mickelson. With the new tour only launching last month, Slumbers said there was no prospect of the R&A changing their conditions for entry in this year's Open, even though LIV series chief Greg Norman was not invited to St Andrews for an event this week. “We published the conditions of competition for the Open back in January and February," he said. "Everyone knew how you were going to get in the field for this week and we stick by that." -AFP

Another scintillating Simon Harmer display sees Essex to emphatic win over Gloucestershire

CHELMSFORD: Essex 310 (Cook 145, Westley 90, Zafar 5-84) and 79 for 1 (Browne 43*, Westley 21*) beat Gloucestershire 136 (Harmer 5-44) and 252 (Zafar 81, Harmer 8-112) by nine wickets Simon Harmer produced another scintillating demonstration of spin bowling in Gloucestershire's second innings returning 8 for 112 and match figures of 13 for 156 as Essex beat Gloucestershire by nine wickets in just over seven sessions of play at Chelmsford. The victory earned the victors 22 points with the bottom-of-the-table and still winless Gloucestershire collecting just two points. Thanks to Zafar Gohar, Gloucestershire achieved some respectability reaching 252 in their second innings before being bowled out. The 27-year-old Pakistani, by virtue of disciplined clean hitting, posted 81 from 75 balls that included 13 boundaries, three of them maximums. That left Essex requiring 78 runs to win and although they lost Sir Alastair Cook for 9, Nick Browne and Tom Westley saw their side safely across the line with an undefeated 64-run stand. Harmer's performance was again the talking point. It was the fifth time for the county since joining in 2017 that he has captured eight wickets in an innings - he also has two nine-wickets hauls in an innings - and his tally for the season has now swelled to 40 in seven matches. Gloucestershire began the day on 140 for 6, still trailing by 34 runs, and with only four second-innings wickets intact after Harmer had captured five the previous evening. Ollie Price, who had played the South African Test bowler with panache including a number of bountiful reverse sweeps to reach 42 from 33 balls overnight, resumed with Zafar but the partnership failed to last beyond the ninth ball of the day. Six runs had been scored when Jamie Porter castled Price, who was on 43, with his third delivery of the morning. Brother Tom Price continued the aggressive approach against Harmer to briefly prosper. He struck two sixes and two other boundaries in an over, the second of which erased his side's overall deficit but Harmer always has the last word. With his next delivery, he persuaded Price, on 23, to attempt to go large once more, a terminal move for the batter as Matt Critchley took the catch at deep long-on. ESPN

Djokovic to open tennis courts at Bosnian 'pyramids'

VISOKO: Recently-crowned Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic arrived in Bosnia on Wednesday to inaugurate tennis courts at a 'pyramid park' that he regularly visits to recharge his batteries. The tennis star, known for his new-age spiritual interests, is fond of a hill town of Visoko, where thousands flock every year to what some believe are an ancient man-made pyramid complex with healing powers -- a claim rejected by scientists. The 35-year-old Serb, who claimed his 21st Grand Slam title on Sunday, visited the site for the first time in 2020 and called it a "paradise on earth". He has returned to the "Bosnian Pyramids of the Sun" complex at least four times, either alone or with his family, to be always warmly welcomed by its founder Semir Osmanagic. Bosnian businessman and ancient civilisation afficionado Osmanagic said the idea to construct a regional tennis training centre was born during Djokovic's last visit in March. "We have agreed to build in our park two courts for training of the top level players, one hard-court and another one with clay surface" Osmanagic told reporters recently. The idea is to offer players and Djokovic's friends the chance to train and have free accomodation, he explained. "We also want to organise here a Pyramid Cup for players from the region and want notably to motivate youngsters to play tennis and other sports". The inauguration will be marked by all-day events with several exhibition matches, notably by Djokovic and Croatian Ivan Dodig, world number 17. Upon the arrival, Djokovic visited the new courts and went for a walk into a pine forest, which is a part of the park, with his host, according to an AFP journalist. Osmanagic, a self-styled archaeologist, has been claiming for the past two decades that he has discovered several pyramides built by a mysterious civilisation close to Visoko. For the past few years his teams have been also clearing underground tunnels near the "Pyramids of the Sun" and he boasts of its beneficial effects on the health of visitors. Djokovic has meditated at the site and during each visit walked kilometres of "energy" tunnels, which are according to archaeologists, an ancient gold mine. In 2020, Djokovic told AFP he felt "regenerated" after the visit. "I know there are many doubts and dilemmas about the authenticity" of the place, he said. But "in order to fully understand what is going on here... you have to come". Djokovic said on Monday it was unlikely he will feature in this year's US Open as he continues to refuse to be vaccinated against coronavirus. -AFP

CSA forfeits Australia ODIs to secure 'long-term sustainability of the game' in S Africa

AUSTRALIA: CSA has taken a risk with an eye on "securing the long-term sustainability of the game" by forfeiting three ODIs in Australia, which form part of the direct-qualification pathway for the 50-over World Cup in India next year. The reason for the forfeiture is to launch its own T20 franchise league, but there is acknowledgement that not qualifying for the World Cup will be "a disaster"."The players are disappointed that the ODIs in Australia will not happen but they understood the reasons," Pholetsi Moseki, CSA's chief executive, told. "A lot of people are investing a lot of money in the T20 league, and we have to give it the best chance of success." Moseki spoke to head coach Mark Boucher and white-ball captain Temba Bavuma first, and also had a 45-minute meeting with the entire squad, including Test captain Dean Elgar. "They were not exactly happy but they understood the long-term importance of the decision," Moseki said. South Africa are currently 11th in the World Cup Super League points table and have eight matches left to play. These are against India [three, away] and Netherlands [two, at home - the first game of the series was washed out, and the remaining games were postponed because of Covid-19]. - ESPN

Liverpool fans' group calls for French government apology

LIVERPOOL: A leading Liverpool fans' group has called for a "full apology from the French Government" after a French senate enquiry found organisational failings were to blame for the chaos that surrounded the Champions League final. The kick-off for the match on May 28 was delayed as supporters struggled to get through bottlenecks accessing the ground and were repelled by teargas fired by French police. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had pointed the finger of blame at Liverpool fans, claiming that up to 40,000 of them travelled to the stadium either with no tickets or fake ones. However, a fact-finding mission led by two senators instead found the problems were caused by a "string of dysfunctions" including a lack of preparation by French authorities and poorly executed security arrangements. For many Liverpool fans, the scenes in Paris were reminiscent of the Hillsborough disaster when 97 fans were killed by a crush ahead of their FA Cup semi-final in 1989. Liverpool supporters group, the Spirit of Shankly, thanked the French Senate for its findings, but said it will continue to push for a full government apology and parliamentary enquiry. "There remains the issue of lies being persistently repeated," Spirit of Shankly said in a statement. "We want a full apology from the French Govt with a complete retraction of the lies purported on their behalf on and since 28 May 2022, and will continue to lobby to achieve it. –AFP

Son and Kane lead 6-3 Spurs romp to delight South Korean fans

Seoul: Local hero Son Heung-min delighted his South Korean fans by scoring twice as Tottenham Hotspur beat a K-League select team 6-3 in a wildly entertaining pre-season friendly in Seoul on Wednesday. The English Premier League Golden Boot winner Son and Harry Kane, who bagged two goals, both appeared just for the second half as manager Antonio Conte gave his full squad a run out in their first preseason match. "Despite the fact that many players only started their preseason three days ago, others have had only 10 days, it was a good game," said Conte. "The most important thing is to bring on all the players to get fit." Both Son and Kane had every move cheered raucously by a 64,000 sellout crowd at Seoul's World Cup Stadium, even when just warming up on the touchline during the first half. -AFP

Underdogs Queensland stun NSW 22-12 to win Origin thriller

Brisbane: Underdogs Queensland stunned New South Wales 22-12 in a thrilling State of Origin decider to clinch the series 2-1 against the odds in Brisbane on Wednesday. An emotional Queensland Maroons, reduced to just 15 fit men after a brutal start to the game that saw them lose two players to concussion in the opening minutes, celebrated wildly at the end in front of 50,000 fans packed into Suncorp Stadium. A flurry of mistakes from the NSW Blues allowed depleted Queensland to find reserves of energy and dominate possession in the second half, keeping an exhausted New South Wales from further scoring after they led 12-10 at the break. "It is what Queensland is all about. Hard work and really digging in when backs are against the wall. We did it again tonight," said Queensland hooker Ben Hunt, who scored the match-winning try with less than two minutes remaining. The Maroons had won the first game in Sydney, while New South Wales fought back on neutral territory in Perth to force a winner-takes-all showdown. Before kickoff Queensland lost five-eighth Cameron Munster and wing Murray Taulagi to Covid, leaving New South Wales as strong favourites. A torrid opening four minutes saw Blues second row Cameron Murray forced off after being concussed in tackle with Queensland's Selwyn Cobbo and Lindsay Collins suffering the same fate in quick succession.-AFP

Sri Lankan PM declared state of emergency, cutfew

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has declared a state of emergency in his role as the acting president, after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives on Wednesday, leading to more protests amid an economic crisis. "The prime minister as acting president has declared a state of emergency (countrywide) and imposed a curfew in the western province," Wickremesinghe's media secretary, Dinouk Colombage, told Reuters. The curfew comes into effect immediately. As news of the president's flight spread, thousands of people gathered at the main protest site in Colombo chanting “Gota thief, Gota thief”, referring to him by a nickname. Hundreds of others stormed the prime minister's office, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The president's flight brings an end to the rule of the powerful Rajapaksa clan that has dominated politics in the South Asian country for the last two decades. Protests against the economic crisis have simmered for months and came to a head last weekend when hundreds of thousands of people took over key government buildings in Colombo, blaming the Rajapaksas and their allies for runaway inflation, corruption and a severe lack of fuel and medicines. Government sources and aides said the president's brothers, former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa, were still in Sri Lanka. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his wife and two bodyguards left the main international airport near Colombo aboard a Sri Lankan Air Force plane early on Wednesday, the air force said in a statement. A government source and a person close to Rajapaksa said he was in Male, the capital of the Maldives. The president would most likely proceed to another Asian country from there, the government source said. Rajapaksa was due to step down as president on Wednesday to make way for a unity government after protesters stormed his and the prime minister's official residences. Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, the speaker of Sri Lanka's parliament, told Reuters partner ANI he was yet to receive any communication from Rajapaksa. A source in the ruling party said the president would send in a letter of resignation later on Wednesday. That would make Wickremesinghe the acting president, although he has also offered to resign. If he does, the speaker will be the acting president until a new president is elected, as per the constitution. Protest leaders, however, say the prime minister is allied to the Rajapaksas and have warned of a “decisive fight” if he does not resign by Wednesday afternoon. “If we don't hear of the resignation of the president and the prime minister by the evening, we may have to gather back and take over parliament or another government building,” said Buddhi Prabodha Karunaratne, one of the organisers of recent protests. “We are strongly against the Gota-Ranil government. Both have to go.” Amid the economic and political chaos, Sri Lanka's sovereign bond prices hit fresh record lows on Wednesday. -Reuters


Shanghai fears new lockdown as millions test for Covid amid sweltering heat

SHANGHAI: Millions of Shanghai residents braved sweltering heat Tuesday to wait in line for compulsory Covid tests, as growing case numbers and the emergence of a highly infectious Omicron subvariant spurred new fears of a return to mass lockdown. Shanghai authorities have ordered the majority of the city's 16 districts to undergo two rounds of testing from Tuesday to Thursday, after a case of the new BA.5.2.1 subvariant was detected in the community on July 8. The highly transmissible BA.5 variant is spreading rapidly worldwide and is seen as a great threat by authorities in China -- the last major country adhering to a stringent zero-Covid strategy. New Omicron subvariants have been reported in several Chinese cities, including the capital Beijing, the northeastern port city of Dalian, and the central city of Xi'an, which was shut down for seven days over the outbreak. The rising cases -- and accompanying restrictions -- come as a scorching heatwave sweeps the country. In Shanghai, authorities raised the highest-level red alert Sunday as temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The stifling heat has made mass testing all the more excruciating for residents -- some of whom have to queue for hours -- and for Covid workers, who are covered head to toe in airtight PPE equipment. On Chinese social media, photos went viral of workers in hazmat suits lying on ice blocks, while health experts warned of heatstroke among Covid workers who spend long hours outdoors in thick protective clothing. Shanghai saw a jump in infections earlier this month, due to an outbreak linked to a karaoke bar. Over the past 10 days, it has reported more than 400 cases. The growing outbreak has fueled fears the commercial hub is headed back into a mass lockdown, just weeks after its residents emerged from two months of grueling home confinement. -CNN

Eight candidates in race to become next UK prime minister

LONDON: Eight Conservative MPs will vie to become UK prime minister, the party announced Tuesday, with frontrunner Rishi Sunak launching his campaign by saying he would not "demonise" the outgoing Boris Johnson, despite triggering his demise. Former finance minister Sunak, his successor Nadhim Zahawi, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, former defence minister Penny Mordaunt and ex-health minister Jeremy Hunt all received the support of more than 20 MPs, the threshold required to enter the race. They are joined by outsiders Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, and Tom Tugendhat in Wednesday s first round of voting, where at least one will be eliminated. Sunak, 42, and health minister Sajid Javid quit last week in protest at Johnson s scandal-hit administration, setting off a wave of government resignations that forced him to step down as Conservative leader. Javid announced he was running, but pulled out on Tuesday having not gained enough support. Johnson is staying on in Downing Street as prime minister until the internal party contest finds his successor. The result is due on September 5. But the main opposition Labour party said it would try to force a vote of no confidence in the government to try to get him out of office sooner. Labour leader Keir Starmer said that by their actions last week, the Tories had "concluded that the prime minister is unfit for office". Labour wanted the vote on Wednesday, but the Daily Telegraph reported that the government has refused time to debate the motion. "As the Prime Minister has already resigned and a leadership process is underway we do not feel this is a valuable use of parliamentary time," the paper cited a government source as saying. "Should Labour amend their motion appropriately, they can have the next business day for it to be debated." Sunak, who was appointed chancellor of the exchequer in early 2020 just as the Covid pandemic hit, is the early favourite with bookmakers. But he refused to distance himself from Johnson s administration, in which he played a key role supporting businesses and workers during the pandemic. He called Johnson "one of the most remarkable people I ve met". "Whatever some commentators may say, he has a good heart," he told cheering supporters, after one Johnson ally accused Sunak of being a treacherous "snake". "I will have no part in a rewriting of history that seeks to demonise Boris, exaggerate his faults or deny his efforts," he added. Johnson s departure was a spectacular fall from grace for a politician who secured a landslide election win in December 2019 and took the country out of the European Union just a month later. Sunak said he would not shy away from praising that or recognising Johnson s stewardship of the fightback against Covid or his hawkish support for Ukraine. He has secured the backing of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab. Home Secretary Priti Patel -- who like Truss is a favourite of the Tory right -- was rumoured to be about to join the fray but ruled out a bid. After days of sniping among leading contenders, Patel expressed hope "the contest will be conducted in a good spirit that brings our party together". Those failing to get 30 votes in Wednesday s vote will be eliminated. A series of votes will be held into next week until there are just two left in the race. Grassroots party members will then be balloted.-AFP

Western Europe wilts under heatwave

Bordeaux: France and Britain suffered soaring temperatures Wednesday, edging closer to the blistering heat already engulfing Spain and Portugal as wildfires destroyed vast stretches of Western European forestland. Large parts of the Iberian Peninsula have seen temperatures surpassing 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) this week. In southwestern France a wildfire raging since Tuesday had ripped through 1,000 hectares of pine trees just south of Bordeaux by Wednesday, prompting the evacuation of 150 residents from their homes. Near the Dune of Pilat -- Europe's tallest sand dune -- another fire consumed about 700 hectares of old pine trees, authorities said, with the blaze still not contained. Regional prefect Fabienne Buccio told reporters that fires were spread out over five kilometres (three miles), fuelled by dried-out vegetation. About 6,000 campers near the dune were evacuated as firefighters worked through the night on the sandy terrain. Further inland, 500 people were evacuated around the village of Guillos as their homes came under threat from advancing fire. -AFP

Lawsuit filed in US over Beirut blast for $250 mn

Beirut: Victims of Lebanon's deadly 2020 port blast have filed a quarter-billion-dollar lawsuit against a US firm for its suspected links to the tragedy, a Swiss foundation assisting the plaintiffs said Wednesday. Accountability Now said in a statement that the claim was filed this week in Texas against US-Norwegian geophysical services group TGS. The company owns British firm Spectrum Geo, which a decade ago chartered the Rhosus ship, which was carrying the ammonium nitrate that was subsequently unloaded at Beirut port and exploded on August 4, 2020. The blast -- described as one of the largest non-nuclear explosion in recent history -- killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and ravaged entire neighbourhoods. Accountability Now said Spectrum had "entered into a series of highly profitable but suspicious contracts with the ministry of energy of Lebanon" to transport seismic survey equipment from Lebanon allegedly to Jordan aboard the Rhosus. -AFP

WHO warns COVID-19 pandemic 'nowhere near over'

GENEVA: Fresh surges of COVID infections show the pandemic is nowhere near over, the World Health Organisation's chief lamented Tuesday, warning that the virus is running free. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was worried that case numbers were shooting up, putting more strain on health systems and workers. The number of COVID cases reported to the WHO increased 30% in the past two weeks, driven by sub-variants of the Omicron strain and the lifting of control measures. "New waves of the virus demonstrate again that COVID-19 is nowhere near over. As the virus pushes at us, we must push back," he insisted. He told a news conference that as transmission increases, governments must also deploy tried-and-tested measures like mask-wearing and improving ventilation. "Sub-variants of Omicron, like BA.4 and BA.5, continue to drive waves of cases, hospitalisation and death around the world," Tedros said. "Surveillance has reduced significantly — including testing and sequencing — making it increasingly difficult to assess the impact of variants on transmission, disease characteristics, and the effectiveness of counter-measures." Furthermore, tests, treatments, and vaccines are not being deployed effectively. "The virus is running freely and countries are not effectively managing the disease burden based on their capacity," he said, both in terms of hospitalisation of acute cases and the expanding number of people with Long COVID.-AFP

ESA fully cuts Mars mission ties with Russia, angering Moscow

Paris : The European Space Agency has officially terminated cooperation with Russia on a mission to put a rover on Mars, with Russia's space chief furiously responding by banning cosmonauts on the ISS from using a Europe-made robotic arm. The ESA had previously suspended ties on the joint ExoMars mission, which had planned to use Russian rockets to put Europe's Rosalind Franklin rover on the red planet to drill for signs of life, due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. ESA Director-General Josef Aschbacher tweeted on Tuesday that because the war and resulting sanctions "continue to prevail", the agency would "officially terminate" ties with Russia on ExoMars and its landing platform. The firebrand head of Russian space agency Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin issued an angry response. "Has the head of the European Space Agency thought about the work of thousands of scientists and engineers in Europe and Russia which has been ended by this decision? Is he prepared to answer for sabotaging a joint Mars mission?" Rogozin said on Telegram. "I, in turn, order our crew on the ISS to stop working with the European manipulator ERA," he added. Installed just a few months ago, the European Robotic Arm (ERA) is one of three such robots on the International Space Station, but it is the only one that can reach the Russian segment. The 11-metre long robot, which looks like a pair of compasses, helps by moving payloads inside and outside the ISS, and can also transport spacewalkers "like a cherry-picker crane," according to the ESA website. The ExoMars launch had already been suspended once in 2020 due to the pandemic, then plans for a launch in September this year were called off due to the war in March. Aschbacher said last month he is in "intense discussion" with US space agency NASA to get the rover to Mars, adding that he was "very confident that we find a good partnership".- AFP

Russia and Ukraine try to solve grain crisis in Turkey

Istanbul : Russia and Ukraine met UN and Turkish officials on Wednesday in a bid to break a months-long impasse over grain exports that has seen food prices soar and millions face hunger. The high-stakes meeting in Istanbul came with Russia's invasion of Ukraine showing no signs of abating and the sides locked in a furious long-range shooting battle that is destroying towns and leaving people with nothing. Ukrainian officials said at least five people were killed in Russian shelling on the region surrounding the Black Sea port city of Mykolaiv. "You can't run away from war and you never know where it will find you," 60-year-old agronomist Lyubov Mozhayeva said, while picking up a humanitarian food package in the partially destroyed frontline city of Bakhmut. The first face-to-face talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations since another meeting in Istanbul on March 29 comes with the threat of food shortages spreading across the poorest parts of the world. Ukraine is a vital exporter of wheat and grains such as barley and maize. It has also supplied nearly half of all the sunflower oil traded on global markets. But shipments across the Black Sea have been blocked by Russian warships and mines Kyiv has laid to avert a feared amphibious assault. The Istanbul negotiations are being complicated by growing suspicions that Russia is trying to export grain it has stolen from Ukrainian farmers in regions under its control. US space agency data released last week showed 22 percent of Ukraine's farmland falling under Russian control since the February 24 invasion.- AFP

Indian forces’ oppression not be able to suppress Kashmiris’ freedom movement: Alvi 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi on Wednesday said that the aggression and the cheap tactics of the Indian Occupation Forces had neither succeeded in the past, nor would be able in the future to suppress the indigenous movement of the Kashmiri people. The president, in his message on Kashmir Martyrs’ Day, paid rich tribute to the martyrs and brave people of Kashmir for their continuous freedom struggle. He said only the resolution of Kashmir dispute in accordance with the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council could guarantee the regional peace. He saluted the the resolve of the Kashmiri people who embraced martyrdom on July 13, 1931 by the Dogra rule. He said the Kashmir Martyrs’ Day was also a reminder of the decades-old struggle of the Kashmiri people for their right to self determination. He said the people of Kashmir had been sacrificing their lives since generations to keep the passion for freedom alive. The president demanded the Indian Occupation Forces to immediately stop the human rights abuses in IIOJK and take measures for holding an impartial plebiscite. He reiterated that the resolution of Kashmir dispute as per aspirations of the Kashmiri people as well as the UNSC resolutions was inevitable for peace in the region. He said on Kashmir Martyrs’ Day, the nation should reiterate a pledge to continue its diplomatic, moral and political support to the Kashmiri people till they get their right to self determination.

PTI moves ECP for permanent disqualification of 19 former MPAs

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) approached the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday seeking lifetime disqualification of 19 former PTI lawmakers, now contesting the upcoming Punjab Assembly by-elections on Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) tickets. The petition before the electoral watchdog stated that the defection of the former PTI members had caused “immense loss” to the PTI-led majority in the provincial assembly and subsequently “gave rise to a contentious dispute” between Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Hamza Shahbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi. It maintained that the respondents of the petition had voted for Hamza Shahbaz, against party orders to support Elahi, thus allowing THE PTI to become an “ostensible minority” and allowing Hamza to “assert success in a disputed election”. The petition highlighted that the ECP on May 20 had declared the respondents to “be guilty of defection” and was declared to no longer be members of the Punjab Assembly, with their seats “accordingly held vacant under the referred provision of the Constitution”. It further stated that the Supreme Court of Pakistan judgment of May 17 had confirmed that the defectors’ votes were not to be counted in the assembly, causing a “severe setback to” Hamza Shahbaz with reference to his election in the PA. The petition said that in the upcoming Punjab by-elections with 20 remaining constituencies, the “defectors of PTI have been directly incentivised/rewarded with party tickets by PML(N) which now claims to hold majority” in Punjab. “The party tickets by PML (N) have been given to these defectors as a reward/incentive for their participation in a conspiracy which succeeded due to their unholy/immoral and unlawful defection and thereby thus deposed a democratically elected government in Punjab,” the petition stated. Keeping in view that the “defectors” had not challenged nor appealed the decision of the commission rendering them guilty of violating their party affiliation, the PTI pleaded that the respondents be disqualified from partaking in the upcoming by-elections. “As per the mandatory requirement of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, the respondents are not eligible to contest or to be elected a member of the Punjab Assembly in the scheduled elections to be held on July 17, 2022. They are most certainly disqualified for the same,” it stated. It further said that the ECP had to ensure that people who did not meet the criteria of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution were not allowed to contest elections and that their disqualification was “enforced”. The petition prayed that “the respondents be forthwith debarred and restrained to participate/contest the referred by-elections by the Commission; directions be graciously issued to all state functionaries/officials to act in accordance with the direction of the Commission”. Meanwhile the PTI on Wednesday filed a petition in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against "pre-poll rigging" ahead of the by-elections on 20 Punjab Assembly seats scheduled for July 17. The petition was filed by PTI's Omar Ayub Khan. The petitioner stated that he was actively participating in campaigning for the upcoming polls when he observed "numerous irregularities and things that are impeding fair and impartial elections". He highlighted that the electoral watchdog was bound to conduct free, fair and transparent election in accordance with the law. Highlighting 19 constituencies where by-elections are to be conducted, he alleged that voter lists had been altered while voters had been "reshuffled" in violation of the Election Commission Act, 2017. "One of the most egregious examples of their illegality is electoral roll/voters list of PP-140 Sheikhupura. In this constituency, final electoral roll/voters list issued, dated May 20, was after the announcement of [the] election schedule, which again is a violation of the law." The petition stated that the total number of voters as per the lists issued in 2018 and 2020 was 2,239 and 2,875, respectively, which rose to 5,573 in May 2022. "This sudden increase is ambiguous and casts serious doubts on the transparency of [the] upcoming by-elections." The petitioner said that the way things stood in the province, "no free, fair, transparent or impartial elections" could be held. He alleged that officials, on the directives of the "acting government", were "taking notes and interfering" with the upcoming by-polls. "A prime example is of DC Rajanpur, who can be seen campaigning with PML-N candidates which is a clear violation of both ethics and Section 187 of the Election Commission Act, 2017." He also alleged that the Jhang district police officer had clearly been posted to commit "pre-poll rigging" while the government's candidate for PP-07 was offering bribes to voters in an effort to influence them.

Lahore: Pti leader fawad chudhary, Umer sarfaraz and Musrat Jamshed Cheema are talking to media.

Constituents have to protect Pakistan from ‘slaves of US’ 

By Staff Reporter

JHANG: Former prime minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that they are attempting to protect the state against ‘slaves of the US’, as he urged voters and supporters in the constituency to stand guard against alleged poll rigging in the upcoming Punjab byelections. He said this while addressing a political rally in Jhang on Wednesday evening. He started off his speech by telling his supporters that they had to go back to the polls because their candidate from this constituency had sold his conscience and become a turncoat. He reiterated his rhetoric that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had been planning to rig the upcoming polls and that they had co-opted the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and a ‘Mr. X’ in Lahore and his accomplice, ‘Mr. Y’, in Multan who are allegedly attempting to rig the elections. The former prime minister said that during his tenure, he had tried to introduce electronic voting systems in the country to eradicate rigging. “The chief election commissioner also did not allow us to introduce electronic voting machines,” he said, alleging collusion. He added that the powers that be wanted to retain a system of electoral rigging in the country. However, the ex-premier said they would win the bypolls in Punjab – scheduled on Sunday – despite that all forces have gathered against his party. He told the people, especially youngsters, to come out on the election day for casting their votes as it would mar all plans of rigging.

Int’l community should take notice of atrocities being committed by Indian occupation forces in IIOJK: Sadiq Sanjrani

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate Mir Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani has said lasting peace in South Asia is impossible without resolving the Kashmir issue. In his message on Kashmir Martyrs' Day, Sadiq Sanjrani said the day is not far away when Kashmiris’ dream of independence will be materialized through their struggle for their right to self-determination. The Chairman said the international community should take notice of the atrocities being committed by the Indian occupation forces in IIOJK and play its role in ending the ongoing human rights violations in occupied valley. On the occasion, Deputy Chairman Senate Mirza Muhammad Afridi, in his message, said atrocities and barbarism of the Indian occupying forces deserve severe condemnation. Leader of the House Chaudhry Azam Nazeer Tarar and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Dr. Shehzad Waseem have also expressed solidarity with the people of Occupied Kashmir and said that atrocities against Kashmiris would not stifle their voice for independence.

Kashmiris remember state-sponsored genocide by occupant forces

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The Kashmiris all over the world on Wednesday remembered the state-sponsored genocide of innocent Kashmiris on Kashmir Martyrs’ Day to shake the conscience of the so-called world community on massive human rights violations and atrocities of Indian occupant forces. The Kashmir Martyrs’ Day is celebrated on July 13 every year for the past 91 years where on this historic day the people of Kashmir and Pakistan around the world commemorate the martyrdom of 22 Kashmiri muezzins who were killed outside the Srinagar Jail on July 13, 1931 by the soldiers of the then Maharaja of Kashmir while giving the call to prayer and numerous Muslims were also arrested. It was the adhan (call for prayer) which was completed by 22 muezzins and the echo of this call to prayer was still rippling in the hearts of Kashmiris. The story of the July 13 sacrifices still keeps the Kashmiris’ spirit of independence fresh and alive. This incident actually laid the foundation of the independence movement and this is the unforgettable day when Kashmiris pledged that they would achieve independence at all costs. Even after this brutal incident, the Kashmiri people have been the victims of state-controlled oppression of Hindu Rashtra for the past nine decades but have not given up their just cause for right to self-determination. Every year on July 13, the martyrs of Kashmir are paid homage all over the world and the Kashmiris also reiterate their commitment to freedom from Indian oppression. July 13 is undoubtedly a symbol of Kashmiris’ determination and struggle where despite state terrorism, India has consistently failed to stifle the voice of Kashmiris. The blood of one lakh Kashmiri martyrs is proof of the survival of the Kashmir Independence Movement. Since August 5, 2019, unprovoked killings, fake encounters, arrests and house raids of Kashmiris have become a daily routine. The Indian illegal move of August 5, 2019 has not been recognized by the Kashmiris nor by the world. In 2019, the Modi government insulted the history of Kashmiris by announcing the end of Martyrs’ Day holiday in occupied Kashmir and the Indian government announced a public holiday on October 26 to mark the so-called ‘Accession Day’. With each passing day, hatred for the Indian state is growing in the occupied valley where the Kashmiris are fighting for their rights in accordance with the UN Charter and Security Council resolutions. As per the official statistics, one million Indian troops are stationed in occupied Kashmir, out of which 300,000 troops occupy Srinagar alone. There were numerous extrajudicial killings by Indian occupant forces and the rapes of more than 11,255 women have shaken the global conscience. During the ongoing month, brutal killings continued in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and 35 people have been martyred without any reason. Moreover, nine people were caught and killed, 104 people were arrested without any crime and detained, six buildings were demolished, two women were widowed and six children were orphaned during the month of July, 2022. In many incidents of extrajudicial killing the Kashmiri youth was martyred in fake police encounters. The blood of martyrs will not go in vain and Kashmiris’ dream of independence will one day come true. India is bent on converting the disputed territory from a Muslim-majority state to a Hindu-majority one, in violation of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention 4. Due to this conflict, there is a serious humanitarian crisis in IIOJK at the present which has to be addressed by the international community. Despite all these nefarious tactics, India has always failed to distort the identity and history of Kashmiris. Today, human rights organizations around the world are protesting against Indian oppression in IIOJK. The bitter facts of India’s illegal occupation claimed that since 1989, 96,089 people were brutally martyred, 7,244 people were arrested and killed in custody,164,931 people were arrested and detained, 110,484 houses, buildings and offices were unjustifiably demolished whereas in those 33 years, 22,946 women became widows, 107,866 children were orphaned and 1,255 women were sexually abused by the Indian occupant forces.

PSX gains 518 points, closing at 41,862 points 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The KSE 100-index of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) witnessed bullish trend on Wednesday, gaining 518.76 points, a positive change of 1.25 percent, closing at 41,862.77 points against 41,344.01 points on the last working day. A total of 164,827,449 shares were traded during the day compared to the trade of 99,088,707 shares the previous day, whereas the price of shares stood at Rs 6.488 billion against Rs 4.041 billion on last trading day.

Sindh, Balochistan to receive above normal precipitation: Sherry 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD:Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Sherry Rehman on Wednesday said the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan were receiving above normal monsoon rainfall which would scale up further in the coming day. The Federal Minister for Climate Change took to Twitter to share the abnormal rainfall situation in Sindh and Balochistan causing serious urban flooding and risk to human life and property. She wrote, "Sindh &Balochistan still under heavy monsoon pressure for the last 13 days. Sindh is 625 % above the 30 year average, Balochistan 501". Sherry further wrote that the Pakistan Meteorological Department reports claimed a further rise in heavy rainfall starting tomorrow (July 14th). She urged that the quarters concerned across the board were asked to ensure better preparedness and response measures during the inclement weather. The weather cycle again would focus on Sindh and Balochistan for high precipitation, she added. The Minister also shared an info-graphic highlighting the monsoon rainfall situation across the country. In a separate tweet, the Minsiter said climate change was sweeping through the world with its existential impacts. She also posted the images of urban flooding in Sydney that submerged the major thoroughfares under water. "This is Sydney last week, Australia’s biggest city, lashed by torrential rains, leading to flash urban flooding". She added that over 30,000 residents had to be evacuated from Sydney's flooded areas. The Minister went on to mention that South Asia.

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