World Bank projects 5.4 per cent growth rate for Pakistan in 2018

World Bank projects 5.4 per cent growth rate for Pakistan in 2018

Pakistan’s economy is set to grow by a robust 5.4 per cent by 2018 as Chinese investment from a multi-billion dollar infrastructure project flows into the country, the World Bank predicted in a new report Thursday.

Pakistan, South Asia’s second-biggest economy, is growing with security improving and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) claiming in October that it has emerged from economic crisis after completing a bailout programme, though it still faces major challenges.

Pakistan recorded a 4.7pc growth in gross domestic product (GDP) for the fiscal year ended June 2016, the highest rate in eight years, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has set an ambitious target of 5.7pc for the current year.

Nawaz is banking on structural reforms, the improved energy sector, taxation — and China’s ambitious $46 billion infrastructure project, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), linking its western province of Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea via Pakistan.

The World Bank report appeared optimistic about Nawaz’s plans, predicting even further growth in 2018.

“The pace of Pakistan’s economic growth will accelerate to 5.4pc in fiscal 2018,” the Bank report said, observing that a moderate increase in investment mainly related to CPEC projects is expected to contribute to an acceleration of growth.

The bank also noted Pakistan’s efforts to address grinding poverty, including with revised ways to measure it.

“Based on the revised poverty line, the percentage of people living below the poverty line decreased from 64.3pc in 2002 to 29.5pc in 2014,” the report said.

Illango Patchamutu, World Bank country director for Pakistan, said the country needs to push forward with deeper structural reforms, and that the World Bank stood ready to support such an agenda.

Currency market remains calm

Currency market remains calm

KARACHI: The dollar felt the jitters of the US presidential election outcome on Wednesday, which helped the pound and the euro gain against the greenback.

Dealers said major currencies in the international market remained vulnerable during the US presidential election. “The fate of the dollar may not be grim in the long run, but the pound and the euro found space to gain against the US currency as Donald Trump won the election,” said Forex Association of Pakistan President Malik Bostan.

The business community, which had been watching the US election keenly, found its outcome to be unexpected and shocking. They perceive the president-elect as a hardliner who can pursue the radical policy of protectionism.

“The euro and the pound gained 1 per cent to 1.5pc against the dollar at the early signs of a Trump victory as soon as voting started. The dollar bounced back when the likely result seemed to favour Hillary Clinton, but lost ground again after the race finished in Mr Trump’s victory,” said Bostan.

However, the local currency market did not respond to the unexpected result. “The currency market remained cool and calm. There was no panic buying or selling. The dollar was traded with a slight fluctuation, which was normal,” said Anwar Jamal, another currency dealer in the open market. He said the pound and the euro gained about 0.25pc to 0.5pc in the local market.

Another important development in the currency market was the announcement of the Indian government to do away with the banknotes of 500 and 1,000 Indian rupees. The Indian government has asked people to deposit these currency notes in banks before December 30.

Currency dealers said they have been receiving queries from the holders of Indian currency notes in Pakistan.

“We are not trading Indian banknotes. But we are being approached by people who wish to sell them,” said Mr Bostan. He added that the currency market is in touch with the Dubai international currency market for the future of these banknotes.

“Top currency dealers like Wall Street will provide us with the rates for the said currency notes on Thursday. This will be the line of action for us. We will trade the Indian banknotes that will cease to be legal tender by the end of 2016,” he said.

The total worth of Indian banknotes in Pakistan is not known, but currency dealers said Pakistanis who visit India tend to keep some Indian currency.

Published in Dawn November 10th, 2016

Cotton prices steady

Cotton prices steady

KARACHI: Prices stayed firm on the cotton market on Tuesday as spinners intensified buying of quality lint available in abundance thanks to higher phutti arrivals into ginneries.

There was a strong feeling that the quality of cotton would deteriorate after the completion of first phutti picking operations. Hence, spinners rushed to build up their stocks at the prevailing rates, brokers said.

The world markets remained mixed with slow demand for Indian cotton kept prices under pressure. The Pakistani spinners were marking time and want to see cotton prices in India to fall below 70 cents per lb, brokers said.

Meanwhile, textile industry was demanding an incentive package to help increase exports which had recorded over 7 per cent decline during first quarter of this fiscal year, brokers said.

The Karachi Cotton Association (KCA) maintained its spot rates at the overnight level.

The following major deals were reported to have transpired on the ready counter: 3,000 bales, Khairpur, at Rs5,975 to Rs5,985, 2,600 bales, Rohri, at Rs5,950 to Rs6,000, 2,400 bales, Saleh Pat, at Rs5,950 to Rs6,000, 1,000 bales, Mirpur Mathilo, at Rs6,175 to Rs6,200, 3,000 bales, Mianwali, at Rs5,900 to Rs5,950, 1,000 bales, Hasilpur, at Rs6,100 to Rs6,175, 3,000 bales, Sadiqabad, at Rs6,150 to Rs6,200, 4,000 bales, Rahimyar Khan, at Rs6,175 to Rs6,200 and 1,000 bales, Bahawalpur, at Rs6,175 to Rs6,200.

Published in Dawn November 9th, 2016

1,200 Pakistanis killed Heatwaves

1,200 Pakistanis killed Heatwaves

The recently published Global Climate Risk Index 2017 holds some rare good news and the usual dose of bad news for Pakistan. Encouragingly, it states that Pakistan is no longer one of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change. While this may be cause for some relief, the country still appears at the 11th spot, losing $907 million and 0.0974 per cent to the GDP. The report also brings forward worrying stats about natural disasters in the country.

Pakistan’s vulnerability is increasing in the long run. This year, Pakistan is ranked 7th in the Long-Term Climate Risk Index (1996-2015); the country’s position last year was no. 8.

In the Long-Term Climate Risk Index, Honduras, Myanmar and Haiti are the top three countries, most affected from extreme weather events. The Global Climate Risk Index 2017 highlights that Africa was hit hardest by extreme weather events in 2015, with four out of the 10 most impacted countries in the list, Mozambique (1st), Malawi (3rd), Ghana and Madagascar (both 8th), being African.

Sönke Kreft, the main author of the Index, said, “In our 20 year analysis of weather extremes, nine out of the ten most affected countries are developing countries in the ‘low’ or ‘lower-middle’ income category. These are mostly countries with very low emissions, which are least responsible for climate change.”

The report states that heatwaves claimed most lives last year.

With more than 4,300 deaths in India and more than 3,300 deaths in France, it was seen that both developing and developed countries are impacted by extraordinary temperatures. Pakistan lost more than 1200 lives due to heatwaves in 2015.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2017, “Most of the affected countries in the bottom 10 of the long-term index have a high ranking due to exceptional catastrophes. Over the last few years another category of countries has been gaining relevance: Countries like the Philippines and Pakistan that are recurrently affected by catastrophes continuously rank among the most affected countries both in the short and long-term index for the last five years.”

Malik Amin Aslam, IUCN’s regional councillor for Asia, and head of KP’s Green Growth Initiative, said:

“Pakistan remains a country which is highly vulnerable to the growing effects of climate change. This is evident from the fact that Pakistan is amongst the top 10 countries affected by climate change, over a 20 year time horizon (1996-2015), as the 7th most climate impacted country.”

“What is most disturbing and evidently clear is that climate change, for Pakistan, is not just an environmental issue but an issue directly affecting the country’s development and economy, as the report points out that US $3.8bnhas been the economic loss suffered by Pakistan, which amounts to a hit of at least 0.6pc of its GDP every year,” Amin said.

He further warned that the most significant threats for Pakistan, affecting the most vulnerable population in the country are:

• Floods
• Glacial lake outbursts
• Impacts on agriculture

“The year 2015 has been a year of rare and relative climate calm in Pakistan, as the flood situation remained in controllable limits,” he said.

“This, however, is a valuable interlude to a string of climate disasters as over 133 natural disasters have hit Pakistan over the 20 year period and the topography and geography of the country make it unavoidably vulnerable,” he added.

Malik Amin suggested the country to keep a focus on practically implementing the plans for climate resilient development and climate proofing its infrastructure, as well as keeping disaster management plans in place for adapting to future climate triggered events.

While commenting on the report, Dr Adil Najam, dean at the Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, and former VC, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) said, “The news is not that Pakistan is vulnerable to climate change. We Pakistanis recognise vulnerability in our guts. The real news is that despite being so, we keep ignoring the reality of this fact. Whether at the government level or at the individual lifestyle level, we act as if we have a lot of time. In fact, we do not.”

Dr Adil suggested useful measures for building capacity to climate change.

“The priority for the government should be to build its capacity to capture the climate financing that has now become available but which Pakistan is missing out on. The priority for environmental activists should be to move from simple awareness raising to advocating for lifestyle change in society. The priority for individuals and households should be to focus on areas of energy waste in their own life to capture the low-hanging fruit of win-win climate action.”

Dr Adil said, “We as a nation take perverse pleasure in indices such as this telling us how dire things are. As if victimhood is a matter of pride. And yet, there is little change in our behaviour. What is needed is not more reports or inventing new bureaucracy. What is needed is real innovation in policy and action at every level.”

The Global Climate Risk Index 2017 by think tank Germanwatch may serve as a red flag for the nations whose vulnerability continues to increase, as extreme weather events become more frequent and exacerbated by climate change.

The Dawn News source

Lahore – Three workers burnt alive in garment factory fire

Lahore – Three workers burnt alive in garment factory fire

LAHORE: In yet another case of a fire in Lahore, three workers were burnt alive inside a garment factory in Shafiqabad on Thursday.

The fatal accident once again exposes the authorities’ failure to implement building and safety protocols in the provincial capital.

The blaze erupted due to short-circuit early in the morning when the factory workers had just arrived at Ashraf Garments, a manufacturing unit set up in a double-storey building spread over a three-marla plot in Kareem Park.

At least 20 workers were on duty at the unit, which is situated in a congested residential area. The factory had no proper emergency exit or any attention paid to building bylaws or safety procedures.

The owner had set up his office on the ground floor while the cotton manufacturing units were set up on the second and third floors, police said.

At around 8.30am, Rescue 1122 received the call about the fire. Ten teams of rescuers and fire-fighters arrived at the spot to evacuate the people stranded inside the building. The fire was controlled after at least three hours.

All the workers had managed to flee when the fire broke out except for the three labourers, whose way out was blocked by some fallen cotton bales, according to preliminary investigations. Two of the three victims had already expired while the third man died on the way to hospital. The deceased were identified as Ashraf, 45, Javed, 22, and Shahid 20.

A rescue official said dense smoke, congested area, dangling wires and presence of flammable material inside the factory were the main hurdles in the rescue operation.

Previous accidents

This is not the first fire in which labourers have died due to poor working conditions in factories. Recurrent incidents in the provincial capital owing to corporate greed and negligence of government departments have claimed numerous lives.

Two months ago in September, three labourers had died when a boiler exploded in a manufacturing unit of a bakery in Kahna. In June, a worker was burnt to death in a steel factory in Bhaghbanpura.

In November last year, five workers were burnt alive when an oil tanker exploded in Haidri Steel Mill in Batapur.

Four workers had died when a roof of a factory collapsed in Kahna in September last year. At least 45 workers had died when a three-storey factory collapsed in Sunder Industrial Estate last year.

Unfit workplaces

The place where the latest incident took place is not fit for work at all, said Niaz Khan, the general secretary of Powerlooms and Garments Workers Union. The government has no system of checks as people have setup factories in residential areas.

“The industrial units are growing like wild bushes and there is no system of inspection by the labour department,” he said. “There are no emergency exits or clear ways to respond to emergencies.”

Rescue 1122 spokesperson Jam Sajjad Hussain said no regard for building bylaws or safety codes was the main reason behind the unfortunate accidents. He said the building owners must adhere to the bylaws as it would help save their property as well as the lives on the labourers.

City District Government Lahore spokesperson Imran Maqbool said they were moving factories that were manufacturing chemicals outside the city and a crackdown against such factories was underway. Afterwards, the CDGL would take action against such industrial units, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2016.

Pakistani fishermen risk lives to hunt rare fish known as ‘sher mahi’

Pakistani fishermen risk lives to hunt rare fish known as ‘sher mahi

HAJI ZAI: Abbas Khan feeds a hot wire from a rickety generator into a river, a fishing technique he argues is more environmentally friendly than others used in northwest Pakistan — though he also admits it has killed several of his friends.

Hundreds of fishermen risk their lives daily to hunt the rare fish known as “sher mahi”, found in the Kabul River which flows from the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan into neighbouring Pakistan, before merging with the Indus.

Some swim for hours on inner tubes, dragging nets behind them. Others use more brutal — and illegal — techniques: spraying pesticides directly into the river or, like Khan, using the electric current from generators to stun the river’s inhabitants into submission.

And, for those in a hurry, there is always the brutal but effective “Khatin bomb” — dynamite.

These imprecise techniques are a threat to the river’s population, say dismayed conventional fishermen who have made their living selling sher mahi, considered the best for eating in Pakistan’s northwest.

“Fishing with dynamite and generators kills the entire population,” says Ghaniur Rehman.

Like dozens of his fellow fishermen, the 58-year-old spends hours each day swimming the river on an inner tube, dragging his net behind him, catching only a few kilos at a time. He has done so for 25 years.

 

“Now, the fish’s population has decreased and the main reason is an increase in fish hunting,” he says, emptying his net on to the shore.

A fisherman uses a net to fish on the Kabul River, near Hajji Zai village in Charsadda District. PHOTO: AFP

Along the banks of the Kabul River hundreds of visitors can be seen enjoying family days of boating and wading, topped off with a hearty meal of fresh sher mahi and other river fish at dozens of huts and restaurants.

Sher mahi, with few bones and found in Pakistan only in the Kabul River, is similar to catfish, growing to a maximum of 30 centimetres (12 inches).

Some fishermen say its name come from the Persian word “sheer”, or “milk”, due to its rich oily taste.

Rehman says he makes on average 600 to 1,000 rupees a day — but on days when the fish are plentiful his income can soar to 10,000 rupees.

Speaking with AFP along the river, Khan admitted using a generator in the water was “scary” — but said that, despite his lack of safety gear, he has learned to correct the technique.

“Some of my friends had died because of electrofishing but now we have learnt it, now we know how to hunt in the best way,” he explained, before demonstrating how to attach wires to a metal rod then place the rod in a net in the water.

“It stuns the fish and brings it to surface. Then we collect the fish and put it a cooler,” Khan said.

“Some people use pesticides for fishing but that destroys the entire population of fish. It also poisons the water and kills everything in the river, wherever it flows,” he argued.

‘Scary’

Rehman and Khan’s anxiety is echoed by other fishermen in Haji Zai, in the suburbs of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial capital Peshawar.

Fishing by dynamite was banned by authorities in 1982, but there was not a serious decrease until after the launch of a military operation in the adjacent tribal areas in 2009 made the explosives slightly — but only slightly — more difficult to get a hold of.

Fishing with generators and chemicals remains common, despite also being banned.

Khair Gul — known as “Larram”, or “Scorpion”, an old childhood nickname that stuck — is mayor of Haji Zai village and himself an avid fishermen. Authorities, he says, are not serious about stopping poaching.

A fisherman collects a fish from a net after using a ‘hot-wire’ to stun his prey with an electric current in the Kabul River. PHOTO: AFP

“We have taken action against such groups but the local officials used to set them free after taking (a bribe) of 400 to 500 rupees ($5),” he tells AFP.

“Use of dynamite, generator shocks and poisonous chemicals is not only a crime but also dangerous for health and causes disease. We ask the government to ban it completely,” he adds.

But the problems with a ban become obvious after speaking with officials.

A team of nine people covers the entire district of Peshawar — a more than 70-kilometre stretch along the Kabul River — with no vehicles, no boats, and no equipment, says senior government official Hidayat Shah, who works in government’s fisheries department.

Somehow Shah’s team managed to lodge cases against more than 60 illegal hunters from 2015 to 2016, confiscating some 23 generators — but, thanks to the molasses-like courts system, not a single case has yet reached a resolution.

In Charsadda and Nowshera the teams are less than half the size of that in Peshawar, another government official told AFP.

But time is running out, the fishermen say.

“It will eliminate the entire fish population if this illegal hunting is not stopped,” fishermen Khad Gul told AFP.

WhatsApp enables two-step verification for Android

WhatsApp enables two-step verification for Android

In an effort to improve security, WhatsApp has introduced a two-step verification process on beta version of its Android app.

The feature adds a six-digit password to your account when setting up WhatsApp on a new device.

Normally, WhatsApp sends a text to the device to confirm your phone number but the passcode adds an extra layer of security to make sure it’s not an imposter.

Although you won’t require entering the passcode every time you open the app, WhatsApp says it would ask users periodically to re-enter the password. However, it did not mention how often it would ask you to do that.

However, there’s a catch. According to WhatsApp’s support documents, “If you have two-step verification enabled, your number will not be permitted to reverify on WhatsApp within 7 days of last using WhatsApp without your passcode.”

Your WhatsApp messages are not being deleted from your iPhone

So, if you forget the passcode and did not provide an email id to disable the two-step verification, you will not be able to reverify on WhatsApp within 7 days of last using the app.

“After these 7 days, your number will be permitted to reverify on WhatsApp without your passcode, but you will lose all pending messages upon reverifying – they will be deleted. If your number is reverified on WhatsApp after 30 days of last using WhatsApp, and without your passcode, your account will be deleted and a new one will be created upon successfully reverifying,” it further read.

10 hidden WhatsApp features you didn’t know existed

Basically, you should provide an email id while enabling the two-step verification to override the feature if you ever forget the passcode.

Earlier in April this year, Facebook bolstered the default encryption settings for more than one billion users of WhatsApp – all messages are only accessible to the sender and the recipient.

This article originally appeared on The Next Web

Apple now offers refurbished iPhones at a discount

Apple now offers refurbished iPhones at a discount

Smartphone giant Apple will now be offering refurbished versions of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus at a discounted price.

 

Refurbished devices are now available at Apple’s website with discounts ranging from $80 to $110. The tech giant previously offered refurbished versions of the Mac and iPad lineup with refurbished iPhones only available on eBay or third party re-sellers.
PHOTO: APPLE

Apple says the devices undergo a rigorous refurbishment process to make sure they are up to the company’s high standards. The refurbished iPhones also feature Apple’s standard one-year warranty with the additional option to extend coverage.

Ufone, Telenor set to offer iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

The company’s website features refurbished iPhones available with a standard 15 per cent discount on all devices. A refurbished iPhone 6S Plus with a 16Gb storage then costs $449 with a discount of $80 where as a 64Gb version is available for $589 with a discount of $110.

Qatar beat Russia in penalty-strewn friendly

Qatar beat Russia in penalty-strewn friendly

DOHA: Qatar defeated fellow future World Cup hosts Russia in Doha on Thursday, in a friendly game which featured four penalties.

A smart 72nd minute header from Karim Boudiaf was enough to secure a morale-boosting 2-1 victory for Qatar ahead of next week’s crucial World Cup qualifier in China.

They also owed their win to a superb 85th minute penalty save from goalkeeper Saad Abdulla Alsheeb, who tipped away Alecander Korokin’s forceful kick. It was Qatar’s first ever victory against Russia in four attempts.

Boudiaf’s strike was the only goal of the second half, despite chances for both sides, after the teams had gone in level at one piece after 45 minutes. Both teams had scored from the penalty spot.

Alexander Samedov gave Russia a fourth minute lead, but that was wiped out by Boualem Khouki in the 34th minute.

Qatar had missed another penalty six minutes earlier when Ibrahim Majed sidefooted wide from 12 yards.

Despite the low key nature of Thursday’s game, both team’s coaches are under pressure brought about by hosting a World Cup finals.

Stanislav Cherchesov was appointed as Russian coach in August after the country’s disastrous Euro 2016 campaign and set a target of ensuring his team reach the semi-finals in 2018.

Jorge Fossati has been given the oneruous task of getting Qatar to its first finals in Russia, ahead of hosting its own tournament in 2022.

On November 15, Qatar play China in Kunming in a match they are desperate to win to keep alive their hopes of automatically qualifying for the tournament in Russia.

Thursday’s match was watched by a crowd of 4,503, including FIFA secretary general, Fatma Samoura, who has been visiting World Cup officials in Qatar.

New UN goodwill ambassador Sharapova

New UN goodwill ambassador Sharapova

UNITED NATIONS: Maria Sharapova will once again be a United Nations (UN) goodwill ambassador when her doping ban expires in April and she returns to international tennis competition, a UN statement said on Thursday.

The UN had suspended Sharapova’s role as goodwill ambassador in March after she failed a drug test, putting a hold on a nine-year partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“UNDP was glad to learn that Maria Sharapova can return to the sport she loves sooner than expected and we will lift the suspension of her role as our goodwill ambassador once the reduced ban expires in April 2017,” said a UNDP spokesperson.

“We understand that Ms Sharapova will be focused on resuming her tennis career and we look forward to discussing her role and engagement with UNDP at an appropriate date.”

Last month, the Russian star’s 24-month ban for testing positive for meldonium was cut to 15 months by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Sharapova, 29, had admitted using meldonium for 10 years to help treat illnesses, a heart issue and a magnesium deficiency.

As a goodwill ambassador, Sharapova has been active in helping recovery efforts after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The tennis sensation has made visits to Belarus and donated $100,000 to support youth projects in rural areas that suffer from the after-affects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Sharapova’s family fled the city of Gomel in Belarus in 1987 after the Chernobyl disaster, moving to Siberia where the tennis star was born.

The family lived in Nyagan, Siberia for two years and then moved to Sochi on the Black Sea where Sharapova took her first tennis lessons.