News Buzz

September 2023

Pakistani students receive highest number of Indonesian scholarships

Pakistani students are the highest recipients of scholarships from Indonesia, said the country’s ambassador, Adam Tugio.

He was speaking at an event at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, which had organised a gathering for the recipients of Indonesian scholarships, including the cultural exchange non-degree programme of Dharmasiswa scholarships.

The event served as a platform to honour academic excellence and facilitate students as they embarked on their academic journey to Indonesia.

Congratulating the scholarship awardees, Ambassador Adam Tugio said Pakistan received the highest number of Indonesian scholarships in various categories, adding that more than 140 Pakistani students were granted fully-funded scholarships in many of the world’s leading universities in Indonesia.

“The keen interest of applicants from Pakistan in continuing their higher studies in Indonesia testify to the growing bilateral academic linkages and spirit of friendship between Indonesia and Pakistan,” Adam Tugio said.

The Indonesian government and some of its best-known universities offer fully-funded scholarships on an annual basis to Pakistani students to pursue higher education in science and social sciences. Interested applicants were encouraged to check the embassy’s website and on social media.

SICPA Pakistan celebrates Sadia Junaid’s victory at Special Olympics

Sadia Junaid, a talented athlete representing Special Olympics Pakistan (SOP), participated in the World Games in Berlin. Demonstrating exceptional skills in tennis, her outstanding performance secured her a silver medal in Women’s Singles, a 4th place in the unified doubles. As part of its commitment to the UN SDGs and giving back to the community, SICPA Pakistan, a leading provider of advanced authentication, identification, and secure traceability solutions, was the proud sponsor of Sadia Junaid at the Special Olympics World Games 2023.

Asif Ikram, Managing Director of SICPA Pakistan, commented on her remarkable achievement and said, “We are proud of Sadia Junaid’s achievements and the exceptional performance of Special Olympics Pakistan athletes at the 2023 World Games.”

To recognize Sadia’s achievements and show appreciation for her determination, the SICPA team visited the SOP office to present Sadia with a bouquet and thoughtful souvenirs. SICPA Pakistan has always been committed to raising awareness about the importance of promoting inclusivity in sports and the power of supporting athletes with intellectual disabilities. This initiative aligns with SICPA’s commitment to contribute to society and positively promote the UN SDGs.

PIA gets permanent CEO after a year

Amir Hayat has reportedly been appointed for one year. He had been serving as acting CEO since April 2022, after the retirement of the former CEO, retired air marshal Arshad Malik.

According to the airline’s website, Amir Hayat was commissioned in the engineering branch of the Pakistan Air Force in 1990. He graduated as an aerospace engineer from PAF Academy, Risalpur, and holds a Master’s in Business Administration and National Security and War Studies. He served in the PAF for over three decades and was subsequently deputed to PIA.

Telenor Pakistan Organizes Climate Change Dialogue

To confront the pressing issue of climate change, Telenor Pakistan organized a cross-industry dialogue in Karachi, furthering the company’s commitment to advance sustainability efforts and promote collaborative approaches towards addressing climate change. The panel, comprising representatives from Reon Energy, Sapphire Group’s Renewable Energy & Infrastructure Business, Linked Things and S. Mehboob & Company, shared their insights on climate change, its far-reaching consequences, and the evolving roles of businesses.

On this occasion, Tone Elisabeth Aastveit, Head of GRC (Governance, Risk and Compliance), HSS & Sustainability at Telenor Asia, said, “Telenor has embarked on corporate power purchase agreements in many markets we operate in and believe that by creating demand and rewarding renewable energy generation, it will support a greener energy eco-system. Good policy frameworks will encourage more companies to play their part.”

Khurrum Ashfaque, COO, Telenor Pakistan, said, “Today’s deliberations have unveiled the stark urgency of addressing climate change, encompassing not only businesses but society as a whole. Pakistan’s abundant renewable energy potential, including wind, sunlight, and hydropower, is a beacon of opportunity to address its vulnerabilities.”

This dialogue exemplified Telenor Pakistan’s continued dedication to fostering collaboration across diverse sectors, addressing shared safety, health, and environmental concerns.

Consumer inflation eases in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s consumer price inflation slowed to 4.6% year-on-year in July from 10.8% in June, helped by easing food prices.

The National Consumer Price Index (NCPI) captures broader retail price inflation and is released with a lag of 21 days every month.

Food prices contracted to negative 2.5% in July from 2.5% in June, the Department of Census and Statistics said in a statement.

Prices for non-food items also eased to 10.9% in July from 18.3% year-on-year in June. Since June, Sri Lanka’s inflation has come down sharply from the runaway levels seen earlier, partly due to the statistical base effect but also helped by a stronger rupee currency, which has lowered the costs of fuel, power, and imported food.

A $2.9-billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) secured in March has topped up foreign reserves, which had dwindled to record lows in early 2022, plunging the island into its worst financial crisis in more than seven decades.

Gadar beats Pathaan

Sunny Deol’s film ‘Gadar 2’ is having a historic run in theatres. It has now managed to beat the box office record of Shah Rukh Khan’s film, ‘Pathaan.’

The mania for Sunny Deol’s film, ‘Gadar 2’, also continued in the second week of its release. After creating a record for the biggest second Saturday with Rs 31.07 crore, the film minted about Rs 41 crore in India on Sunday, August 20. ‘Gadar 2’, also starring Ameesha Patel, has now beaten the box office record of Shah Rukh Khan’s film, ‘Pathaan,’ released in January.

India becomes the first nation to land near Moon’s south pole

India has become the first nation to land a craft near the Moon’s south pole, a historic triumph for the world’s most populous nation and its ambitious, cut-price space programme.

The unmanned Chandrayaan-3, which means “Mooncraft” in Sanskrit, touched down at 6:04 pm India time (1234 GMT) as mission control technicians cheered wildly and embraced their colleagues.

Its landing comes days after a Russian probe crashed in the same region and four years since the previous Indian attempt failed at the last moment.

Only Russia, the United States, and China have previously achieved controlled landings on the Moon.

In 2014, India became the first Asian nation to put a craft into orbit around Mars and is slated to launch a three-day crewed mission into Earth’s orbit by next year.

ISRO had eagerly awaited August’s landing after the frustrating failure of its previous mission at the last hurdle in 2019.

Wahab Riaz retires from international cricket

Pakistan speedster Wahab Riaz announced his retirement from international cricket. The left-armer shared the development in a post on his official X, formerly known as Twitter, account.

The 38-year-old will continue to play in T20 leagues around the world.

“Stepping off the international pitch. After an incredible journey, I’ve decided to retire from international cricket. Big thank you to PCB, my family, coaches, mentors, teammates, fans, and everyone who supported me,” Riaz said.

Sonya Hussyn continues to mesmerize her fans

Sonya Hussayn, renowned Pakistani actor and model, continues to capture the hearts of thousands with her impeccable fashion choices and chic lifestyle. With her bold and transparent personality, the Tich Button star fearlessly embraces her individuality, earning admiration and love from fans worldwide.

Known as a style icon, Sonya’s pictures serve as a constant source of inspiration for many. In her recent beach photos, the 31-year-old exuded sheer glamour as she effortlessly showcased her vibrant personality. Dressed in a stunning lilac top paired with a stylish skirt, Sonya stroked poses that captured the essence of her beachside flamboyance.

Sonya Hussayn has established herself as one of the prominent actors in Pakistan. Starting her career as a model, she seamlessly transitioned into acting with her debut in the 2011 series Dareecha. Since then, she has taken on lead roles in various successful soap operas such as Marasim, Kisay Chahoon, and Haasil. Her exceptional performance in the 2017 series Aisi Hai Tanhai earned her a nomination for Best TV Actress at the Lux Style Awards.

SPO condemns Jaranwala tragedy

Strengthening Participatory Organization (SPO), a volunteer-led, staff-operated public service entity established in Pakistan in 1994, recently issued its Position Statement on the Jaranwala incident.

The statement was issued by Senator (R) Javed Jabbar, along with the organisation’s Company Secretary and volunteer members from across the country.

The statement said, “We strongly condemn the recent reprehensible act of violence that occurred in Jaranwala, where members of the Christian community were targeted in a heinous manner. This incident, purportedly stemming from baseless charges of blasphemy, is not only deeply distressing but also runs counter to the principles of compassion, tolerance, and respect that are integral to our shared humanity. In an age where information spreads rapidly, and emotions can be easily inflamed, it is imperative for citizens to exercise discernment and critical thinking.”

In the end, the statement called upon civil society, religious leaders, and community representatives to collaborate in creating an environment where diversity is celebrated, and differences are embraced as sources of strength. “By working collectively, we can build a society that is resilient against forces that seek to divide us and promote a vision of unity, understanding, and mutual respect,” the statement concluded.

Find Iqbal on the streets of America

Muhammad Ali Jinnah Way, Adeed Fayyaz Memorial Way, and now Allama Iqbal Avenue — the Pakistani American community is growing its roots in North America.

There are two Muhammad Ali Jinnah ways, one in Chicago and another in Brooklyn, New York. A stretch of Devon Avenue in North Chicago was named after the founder of Pakistan in the 1980s, and the other in Brooklyn was named after him in 2019.

Some places are named after cities in Pakistan, such as Lahore in Virginia, Peshawar Street in San Antonio, Texas; and Kashmir Road in Sedona, Arizona. The little town in Virginia was named Lahore in the 19th century, long before partition.

The United States has a long tradition of recognising foreign figures by naming streets after them. The latest on this list is a portion of an avenue in Queens, New York, which was named last week after Pakistan’s national poet, Allama Iqbal.

Asia Cup: Ramiz Raja, not part of commentators’ panel

Asia Cup’s official broadcaster, Star Sports, announced a 19-member commentators’ panel for the tournament.

The panel included four former cricketers from host Pakistan and ten from India.

However, legendary Pakistan cricket captain and commentator Ramiz Raja was not included in the commentators’ panel for the upcoming series.

The commentary panel from Pakistan included Bazid Khan, Aamer Sohail, Wasim Akram, and Waqar Younis. In contrast, Ravi Shastri, Andy Flower, and Matthew Hayden, among others, were prominent names that would be commentating during the Asia Cup.

It must be noted that the Asian Cricket Council has not yet published the commentators’ names on its website.

Raja has been away from the commentary box since September 2021, when he was elected chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for three years. Last month, he returned as a commentator during the Test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Raja and other PCB members were removed from the post after just one year and replaced by a 14-member management committee led by Najam Sethi.

Internet reacts to Pakistan’s first star-studded Netflix original

Recently, news broke of Pakistan’s debut Netflix original being announced. As per Variety, the series, titled Jo Bachay Hain Sang Samait Lo, will star Mahira Khan, Fawad Khan, Sanam Saeed, Ahad Raza Mir, Hamza Ali Abbasi, Bilal Ashraf, Maya Ali, Iqra Aziz, Hania Aamir, Khushaal Khan, Nadia Jamil, Omair Rana, and Samina Ahmed.

This groundbreaking show will mark Netflix’s maiden venture into Pakistan-themed content, and its star-studded ensemble promises to captivate audiences worldwide. The internet burst forth with many reactions as soon as this news broke.

Adapted from the acclaimed 2013 Urdu-language novel of the same name by Farhat Ishtiaq, Jo Bachay Hain Sang Samait Lo follows the gripping journey of Sikandar, a brilliant Harvard law student whose life takes an unforeseen turn, compelling him to create emotional barriers between himself and others. In Italy, he encounters Liza, a gifted artist brimming with vitality but haunted by a tumultuous past. Their fateful meeting intertwines their destinies in a tale of profound human connection.

Ahmer Farooq takes us to ‘A Safe Space’

A completely sold-out solo art show at Pakistan Art Forum Gallery, Lahore, Farooq takes us to a ‘A safe place’ that the marginalised communities of Pakistan have created for themselves. After participating in various group shows all over Pakistan, USA, UK, and UAE, the artist is back after a gap of 8 years for a solo presentation. The show sheds light on the concept of safe spaces within a society and their important role in the development of subcultures.

Ahmer Farooq is a Lahore, Pakistan-based artist whose critically acclaimed work explores the complex nature of developing one’s sense of self within a web of societal pressures. Farooq’s paintings evoke various emotions while mirroring the sociocultural tensions felt today in Pakistan. Formally, Farooq explores the connection between language and figuration by imbuing his canvases with a self-developed script of the Urdu language; language quite literally gives form to and frames his work. Akin to the Urdu language, these relationships are rich in essence, complex in construction, and ever-changing.

Russia’s air chief sacked over links to mutiny

Russia has removed Sergei Surovikin, nicknamed “General Armageddon”, as head of the air force after he vanished from public view during a Wagner mercenary mutiny against the top army brass.

A recipient of Russia’s top military award, Surovikin is the most senior Russian military figure to lose his job over the June 23-34 mutiny, which President Vladimir Putin said could have tipped Russia into civil war.

The two men Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin had wanted to topple — Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, chief of general staff — remain in their posts.

Once commander of Russia’s overall war effort in Ukraine, when Russian and Western military experts lauded him as one of its most effective operators, Surovikin was not publicly fired.

Kashgar-Islamabad TIR route opened

In a move to enhance China-Pakistan cross-border trade, an international road transport route was opened between China’s inland city of Kashgar and Islamabad as the first shipment convoy of five trucks departed from Kashgar to Islamabad in a much-awaited inaugural ceremony.

This convoy is notable for being the inaugural TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) between China and Pakistan, highlighting a fresh mode of cross-border transport for Xinjiang and potentially setting a precedent for future trade routes within the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Established in 1949, the international customs transit system TIR is characterised by streamlined, safe, and economical procedures.

Cargo remains sealed for the entirety of the transit, reducing potential delays at border crossings and minimising the risk of cargo interference.

The TIR’s unified international guarantee can also reduce additional customs expenses during cross-border transportation.

The Kashgar-Islamabad TIR route is a collaborative endeavour involving Kashgar Customs, the Kashgar Municipal People’s Government, and spearheaded by CEVA Logistics with support from the Shenzhen Cross-Border E-commerce Association.

Nepal’s Top Spinner Ready to Play Asia Cup

The rape trial of Nepal’s cricket star Sandeep Lamichhane was postponed in August last week, allowing him to join teammates in Pakistan for the Asia Cup.

Spin bowler Lamichhane, 23, once the poster boy for the rise of cricket in Nepal, is accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in a Kathmandu hotel room in August last year. Lamichhane denies all charges.
The latest hearing was deferred until September 7, Lamichhane’s lawyer Saroj Ghimire said.

“Sandeep will now fly to Pakistan to play,” Ghimire said.

Last year, Lamichhane was suspended as national captain and arrested, but was freed on bail in January, and Nepal then lifted his ban on playing.

Under his bail conditions, Lam­ichhane has been able to travel abroad, including to Zimbabwe for the World Cup qualifiers.

The six-nation ODI Asia Cup opened on August 30 in Multan, Pakistan, where the hosts will clash with debutants Nepal.

IMF stresses MoF oversight on SOEs

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) representative in Pakistan said that the reform process to which the government had agreed required the country to keep all state-owned enterprises (SOEs) under the Ministry of Finance (MoF) oversight.

“Following through on the previously agreed 2021 triage reform process, and other governance and private sector reforms, is important to attract foreign investment durably,” the IMF’s Esther Perez Ruiz said in a statement to Reuters.

Pakistan has been discussing outsourcing operations of several state-owned assets to outside companies. In March, it kicked off outsourcing operations and land assets at three major airports to be run under a public-private partnership, a move to generate foreign exchange reserves for its ailing economy.

In June, the IMF reached a staff-level pact with Pakistan on a $3 billion stand-by arrangement (SBA), a decision long awaited by the South Asian nation, which had been teetering on the brink of default.

Meanwhile, in a first contact between the caretaker government in Pakistan and the IMF, the latter has sought more details about the interim set-up’s plan to reduce the piling circular debt in the country’s gas sector.