Thanks to all who gave me such wonderful appreciation and to the mods who gave me platinum, I don't deserve your praise, I just love our country. I want it to succeed. Now let's get riiiiiiiiigt into the neeeeeeewwws. -PM Khan makes it to Foreign Policy magazine's 2019 Global Thinkers list Prime Minister Imran Khan has been named among Foreign Policy magazine's 2019 list of 'Global Thinkers'. The short writeup on the premier states that Khan, "a former cricket star, finally got the job he had long coveted ─ prime minister"."His reward was an incredibly difficult to-do list, starting with Pakistan's looming fiscal and debt crises," it added. Prime Minister Khan shares the spotlight with other world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former US president Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and US lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. -Atletico shoot for football future in Pakistan Spain´s Atletico Madrid are taking on a challenge tougher than winning La Liga — developing football in cricket-mad Pakistan, where bat and ball are king, pitches come with stumps not goalposts, and even the prime minister is a former World Cup winner. During a recent session at the club´s new facility in Lahore — the country´s first European football academy — a cabal of Spanish coaches watched as a new class of young Pakistani hopefuls fired off penalty kicks. -National Job Programme to be launched for providing jobs to youth The National Job Programme will be launched under the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme for providing job opportunities to the educated youth. In this connection Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs Muhammad Usman Dar held a meeting with Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit in Islamabad on Monday to explore avenues of collaboration for the development of an effective National Job Programme. The special assistant to the prime minister appreciated GIZ for its role in the development of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector in Pakistan. He expressed hope to leverage their expertise in the field for creating better employment opportunities for the youth. The National Job Programme would include vocational training of youth in best Technical and Vocational Training Institutes and their placements in relevant industries to spur national economic growth. -You Can Even Sleep in This New Luxury Bus Service from Karachi to Quetta The 9-hour journey between Karachi and Quetta has now been made easier thanks to a newly launched luxury service. ‘Super International’ is aiming to make the experience of traveling on a bus as comfortable as possible. For that, apart from the usual amenities, it offers an onboard sleeping facility. Hence, the company’s slogan ‘Sleep Well, Live Well.” According to details, the bus will depart from Sadar area of Karachi on alternate days throughout the week. The ticket price is still to be confirmed but it will be around Rs. 3,000 per person. -KSE 100 picks 237 points on foreign inflow news The benchmark KSE 100 index of Pakistan Stock Exchange surged by 237.27 points or (+0.60%) closed at 39,543 on Monday. Analysts at Arif Habib Limited said that the Market moved upwards on the back of positive news flow on financial support from friendly countries in Gulf, as well as anticipation of China’s support in the offing. Higher international crude prices helped E&P sector to perform better, with OGDC and PPL scoring 4M and 3.1M shares respectively. Besides, expectation of improvement in Core Delta for EPCL, helped stock reach new highs and last half hour’s trading pulled the price back above 41. -Federal government released Rs 233 billion under PSDP The federal government has released Rs233.4 billion against the total allocation of Rs675 billion under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2018-19 for various ongoing and new schemes. The released funds include Rs86.5 billion for federal ministries, Rs111 billion for corporations, and Rs25.6 billion for special areas, according to a data released by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform on Monday. Out of these allocations, the government released Rs101.46 billion for National Highway Authority out of total allocation of Rs185.2 billion, whereas Rs9.6 billion have been released for NTDC and PEPCO for which an amount of Rs33.36 billion was allocated under PSDP 2018-19. Similarly, Rs4.6 billion have been released for Communication Division (other than National Highway Authority) for which the government has earmarked Rs13.97 billion under PSDP 2018-19. Railways Division received Rs8.07 billion out of its total allocation of Rs28.06 billion whereas Aviation Division received Rs443.5 million out of total allocation of Rs3.65 billion. The government also released an amount of Rs11.8 billion for various development projects of Higher Education Commission out of total allocation of Rs30.9 billion. The government also released Rs2.2 billion for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division, for which an amount of Rs10.9 billion have been allocated. An amount of Rs1.44 billion has been released for Finance Division out of its total allocations of Rs12.34 billion and Rs540.68 million have been released for Climate Change Division out of its total allocations of Rs802.7 million for the current year, Rs20.3 million for Human Rights Division, and Rs408.5 million for National Food Security and Research Division. -Discussions Continue on Economic Bailout Package for Pakistan: IMF International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Pakistan are continuing discussions for a bailout package. Fitch Solutions stated in its latest report that the latest round of Chinese largesse has given Islamabad the confidence to snub the IMF’s more stringent requirements for obtaining funds. However, should Pakistan experience acute signs of a currency crisis over the coming months, we would not be surprised to see talks between Pakistan and the IMF resume, it added. -PM Imran Khan holds important meeting with Qatari PM, followed by official dinner Prime Minister Imran Khan met Prime Minister of Qatar Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani at his residence in Doha on Monday. Bilateral relations, with a focus on economic cooperation between the two countries, were discussed during the meeting. The Qatari Prime Minister also hosted a dinner in the honour of Prime Minister and his delegation. -USD likely to trade in Rs138 and 139 range, positive news expected from Qatar: Malik Bostan President Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), Malik Bostan Khan has said that at positive news is expected from the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit of Qatar, adding that if Pakistan is able to get deferred payment facility on imported gas from Qatar, the country will sail out of economic crisis in three years. He said Pakistan’s delegation visiting Qatar would also discuss human resource and security exports to Qatar, which will give a boost to remittances. -Over 3.9 crore children under age of five to undergo polio immunization across Pakistan The first nationwide polio vaccination campaign of 2019 started across the country on Monday to immunize over 39 million children despite harsh cold weather with continuous rainfall and snowfall on hilly areas. According to an official of National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), as many as 260,000 front line workers started going door to door across all provinces and towns to ensure more than 39 million children under the age of five receive two drops of the vaccine to protect them against the polio virus. -Pakistan sees increase in IT exports, government targets $7 billion The Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunication industry of the country has contributed US $ 540 million foreign exchange to national kitty through exports during first two quarters of this fiscal year 2018-2019. The telecommunication, computer and information services managed to export IT and IT-enabled services worth US $ 540 million, seeing an increase of US $ 20 million as compared to exports figures of same period last year, statistics of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) revealed. It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan's IT industry achieved a benchmark of US $ 1.065 billion of exports in last financial year 2017-18. Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui Monday said that IT sector would bring a change in the country in future, so it is need of the hour time to digitalize the country. Talking to the media persons during his visit to the Virtual University (VU) here, he said that Pakistan was earning one billion dollars per annum through software development and its volume could be increased up to seven billion dollars per annum in the next five years Similarly: IT exports fetch $540m in six months According to Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), Pakistan’s IT & ITES-BPO industry comprises more than 2,500 companies, and this number is growing each year. The industry employs over 300,000 English-speaking professionals with many world-class experts in current and emerging IT products and technologies. -UNGA president acknowledges Pakistan's peace-keeping history President of the United Nations General Assembly(UNGA), Ms Maria Fernanda Espinosa Monday acknowledged Pakistan’s meritorious contributions to the United Nation peacekeeping missions and termed it one of the largest countries to have contributed to bringing peace in areas marred by insecurity and unrest. Ms Fernanda stated this while interacting with faculty members and students of National University of Science and Technology (NUST) during her visit to the university. Ms Fernanda, accompanied by Ms Maleeha Lodhi, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, paid a visit to Centre for International Peace and Stability (CIPS) at NUST. Lt Gen Naweed Zaman, HI (M), (Retd), Rector NUST, along with NUST senior management and faculty received the esteemed guests upon arrival at the main campus. She also lauded NUST for providing peacekeeping training both to local and foreign troops. -More than 40 World Nations to participate in Pakistan Navy International Exercise Pakistan Navy will host AMAN 19 exercise in February this year under the slogan of 'Together for Peace'. According to Pakistan Navy , more than forty countries will participate in the exercise. It is aimed at fostering maritime cooperation, promoting safe and security maritime environment for regional and global stability and for preserving oceans which is the common heritage of mankind. -Gwadar to be made a modern port city The Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar chaired a meeting to review progress on Gwadar City Master Plan project here on Monday. The meeting was attended by Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Commander Southern Command, Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, Balochistan Provincial Minister for Information Zahoor Ahmed Buledi, Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan and other officials, said in statement issued by Ministry for Planning, Development and Reform. Director General Gwadar Development Authority, Dr. Sajjad Hussain and Project Director China Pakistan Economic Corridor Hasaan Duad briefed the participants regarding the master plan. It was agreed to develop Gwadar as a modern smart port city, keeping in view the international standards being followed across the globe. -Top Pakistani company announces completion of mega construction project in Iraq Attock Cement on Monday announced it had finished civil, mechanical and electrical work on its Iraq project and the cement grinding unit was at commissioning stage. In a notification sent to the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), Attock Cement said it was in the process of obtaining permission for the import of clinker. It added once it got the approval, the company would start the process of import of clinker and thereafter commence trial production. -European Union to provide 40 Million Euros for Balochistan Water Conservation Projects European Union and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have agreed to work in Balochistan in Water Conservation projects. This was told by EU Ambassador to Pakistan Jean-Francois Cautaian and IUCN Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema who called on Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam. Under the agreement European Union will provide forty million Euros and IUCN will provide technical and human resource assistance.The Advisor briefed the delegation about the Ministry of Climate Change performance in environmental protection and conservation and apprised them the" Recharge Pakistan Project " which aims at raising the under water table by conserving flood water in the right and left bank of Indus River reservoirs, that water could be utilised for domestic as well as horticulture purposes. -Pakistan, Turkey could increase bilateral trade between through FTA Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Turkey could potentially increase bilateral trade with direct impact in the emerging geo-political scenario, said Secretary General of The Businessmen Panel (BMP-Federal) and former chairman of FPCCI standing committee Ahmad Jawad on Monday. -Punjab government to construct tunnel at Baba Guru Nanak birthplace for Sikh Pilgrims Provincial Minister Human Rights & Minority Affairs Aijaz Alam Augustine Monday said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had planned the construction of a tunnel from the railway station Nankana Sahib to the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak to facilitate the Sikh pilgrims. The minister was talking to a delegation of minorities, led by MPA Mahendra Pal Singh, here. He said that after completion of the project, the Sikh pedestrian pilgrims would be able to reach the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak more comfortably. He said that under the PTI government, equal opportunities were being provided to the minorities in each sector besides protecting them. He said that provision of special funds for upgradation of the minority communities' worship places, upkeep and protection of their graveyards and their residential areas would be ensured. MPA Mahendra Pal Singh acknowledged the efforts made by the PTI government for the Sikh community. -$1 billion export opportunity for Pakistan Chief Executive Officer Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Mian Kashif Ashfaq has said Pakistan has great potential to export at least one billion dollars handmade wood furniture annually if the government properly patronizes furniture industry. In a statement, he urged the government to introduce a skill development programme for the export-oriented furniture industry with a view to promoting the country’s value-added sector. He said that a tax exempted furniture sector in Pakistan will enliven the economy in general, create new jobs and increase production level -Bakhtiar calls for investor-friendly regulations in Gwadar Planning, Development and Reform Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar on Monday called for the provision of basic facilities to uplift Gwadar. He was chairing a meeting in the federal capital to review progress made on the Gwadar Master Plan project. The Gwadar Development Authority director general briefed the meeting about the master plan. It was decided that Gwadar would be made a green, clean and environment-friendly city. The minister instructed the authorities to initiate the process of preparing investor-friendly regulations in order to attract maximum investment in the port city. -‘Govt taking all possible measures to facilitate private sector’ President Dr Arif Alvi said on Monday that revival of the economy was among his top priorities, adding that the government was committed to taking all possible measures to facilitate businesses. “The government is committed to developing the private sector through investment promotion, improvement in the ease of doing business, employment generation and fast growth of manufacturing sector,” he stated while talking to Amreli Steels Chairman Abbas Akberali. The president underscored that investment in value-added products, where the country enjoyed a comparative advantage, was vital for economic revival. He said despite all challenges, the incumbent government was striving hard to develop an ecosystem which could attract investment in the country. -FBR resolved 20% of total tax evasion and fraud cases involving billion of rupees in 2018, unearthed tax evasion worth Rs170 billion throughout Pakistan last year Around 20% of the overall tax evasion and fraud cases involving billions of rupees have been resolved by the tax department during 2018. The Director-General Intelligence and Investigation-Inland Revenue department has unearthed tax evasion worth Rs170 billion throughout Pakistan. Moreover, official data regarding these cases shows around 50,000 real estate transactions worth around Rs600 billion at deputy commissioner (DC) rate have been unearthed. However, the market value of these transactions unearthed is possibly going to be higher than the stated amount. Out of these, around 7,500 transactions included people who were not present in tax rolls. Likewise, cases of people not on the tax rolls who purchased vehicles more than Rs10 million were also unearthed. According to an official, the number of these kinds of people numbers in the thousands in Islamabad alone. And all case reports were forwarded to the Federal Board of Revenue’s regional tax offices (RTOs) and large taxpayers’ units (LTUs) for recovery and execution. -Govt to install 0.1m digital meters by Feb-end Federal Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan has directed electricity distribution companies to immediately undertake GIS (geographic information system) mapping of all 11-kilovolt feeders and replace 100,000 electromagnetic meters with digital meters by the end of February 2019 in order to reduce line losses. The directives were issued in a meeting with chief executive officers of all the power distribution companies at the committee room of the Power Division on Monday. The minister directed the CEOs to personally inspect the power transformers of various capacities on a random basis to ascertain their mechanical fitness. He also called for launching a clean-up operation in the highly populated areas and removing hazardous wires and other such things. -Peshawar airport to commence night-time flight operations after five years After a gap of five years, Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar will start night-time flight operations from January 22. The first flight, after the resumption of 24-hour flight operations, will be to Sharjah. Night flight operations were ceased in 2014 after gunmen fired at a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft while it was landing. One passenger was reported dead in the incident while a member of the cabin crew was injured. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Mahmood Khan was apprised about the plan and has been requested to appear for the inaugural flight. On January 3, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) installed a state-of-the-art full body scanner at the terminal to check for smuggling and money laundering. -Weekly review: KSE-100 index posts gains for third successive week The stock market had a somewhat decent performance during the outgoing week as the KSE-100 index advanced 258 points or 0.66% to settle at 39,307. It was the third successive weekly rise, indicating that the cloud of uncertainty that hovered over the market was finally vanishing. The renewed interest was seen ahead of the upcoming mini-budget announcement, hinting that the new finance bill may bring good news for the investors. Expectations of a possible reduction or abolition of advance tax of 0.02% on brokers fuelled positive sentiments at the bourse. The positivity was evident on first trading day of the week as the benchmark index rallied, following Finance Minister Asad Umar’s reassurances to the business community during his visit to Karachi at the weekend. Additionally, anticipation of measures to improve ease of doing business and reduction in input cost for the export-oriented sector also helped boost sentiments. -Mazari underscores need for restructuring in Sindh, Punjab police Underscoring the need for restructuring in Sindh and Punjab police, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari on Monday accused Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government of politicizing police. Mazari said that time has come to end the decades of tolerance for killing through encounters. She said that cops involved in Sahiwal shootout should be given exemplary punishment. The minister clarified that Prime Minister Imran Khan had not appreciated the counter terrorism department.
-Pakistan to be out of FATF's grey list by September, promises Central Bank Islamabad will strictly implement the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in order to get out of the money laundering grey list released by the Paris-based body, a senior official of Pakistan's Central Bank said on Wednesday. FATF had previously placed Pakistan on its watch list of countries that need to do more in relation to anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. "The FATF challenge has be to be addressed. Pakistan has mandated upon itself to enforce the FATF plan in letter and spirit. Whatever the requirements about the FATF plan are, they will be imposed and Pakistan will be out of grey list by September 2019. FATF is a risk but we are addressing it in the right letter and spirt," said Syed Irfan Ali, executive director for Banking Policy and Regulation Group at the State Bank of Pakistan. -NAB finds 'proof of massive money laundering' against Sharif family The Sharif family’s troubles seem set to worsen as reports suggest the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has found evidence of massive money laundering through which Shehbaz Sharif and his family members accumulated assets in the United Kingdom. According to sources privy to NAB’s investigation, the illegally accumulated assets are worth Rs85 billion to Rs100 billion and were bought during Shehbaz’s tenure as Punjab chief minister. They said the evidence found was irrefutable and showed striking similarities with the money laundering and fake accounts case against former president Asif Ali Zardari and other Pakistan Peoples Party leaders. -US debunks Indian claims of shooting down PAF F-16 Indian claims of shooting down a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16 on February 27 were debunked by US officials as all aircraft are accounted for. Pakistan invited US officials to physically count the F-16 planes after the incident. Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took US personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets, one of the officials said. The report stated that two US defence officials with direct knowledge of the matter said US personnel had done a count of Pakistan’s F-16s and found none missing. -Finance minister rules out further rupee devaluation Finance Minister Asad Umar on Friday ruled out the need for further devaluation of the Pakistani rupee as the currency stands at equilibrium. “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has made no demand for rupee devaluation,” Umar clarified categorically while addressing at Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) through online video conference. “Today, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has clarified the rupee is standing at equilibrium,” he said. Dismissing reports of further devaluation, he added: “Stop circulating rumors that Asam Umar has said rupee would depreciate to 160 or 180.” -o For the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) in Lahore, Christian children have the right to study the Bible, Hindu children have the right to study the Bhagavat Gita and Buddhist children have the right to study the Vedas. Together with the People’s Commission for Minorities Rights (PCMR), the CSJ held a conference on 29 March in which they adopted a resolution entitled ‘Right to education without discrimination’ demanding the right of minorities to teach their own religion in schools, as guaranteed by Article 22 of the Pakistani Constitution. Currently, only Islam is taught in schools. -China’s BeiDou Navigation System Will be Able to Replace GPS in Pakistan Soon Pakistani military reliance on the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS) will be reduced after the use of China’s Beidou satellite navigation system which is projected to achieve global coverage by 2020. This was the crux of background discussions between former military officials and telecom experts. Beidou is the world’s fourth space-based navigation system, following GPS by the United States, GLONASS by Russia and Galileo by the European Union. According to experts, the satellite-based system plays a vital role in the modern world, especially during wartime. -PM Imran Khan announces unprecedented 10 years development package for tribal districts Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced a ten-year special development package for tribal districts. Addressing a big public meeting at Jamrud, Khyber district this evening, he said one hundred billion rupees will be spent on the development of tribal areas each year. He said health, education and sports facilities in tribal areas will be enhanced. -SBP’s Forex Reserves Cross the $10 Billion Mark The foreign exchange reserves of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) have crossed the $10 billion mark by March-end. During the week that ended on 29 March 2019, SBP received inflows of RMB 15 billion (equivalent to US$2.2 billion) as proceeds of the loan obtained by the government of Pakistan from China. After taking into account outflows relating to external debt and other official payments, SBP reserves increased by $1.931 billion during the week. -Benami Properties: FBR takes an unprecedented step Federal Board of Revenue has established three Benami Zones at Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad for enforcement of Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 2017. In a press release issued today (Thursday), it was said after examination of available information FBR Benami Zones Karachi and Lahore have issued show cause notices in six cases of Companies holding shares and immovable properties as Benamidar. -Ministry of Finance proposed to amend Foreign Exchange Regulations Act in Pakistan Ministry of Finance has proposed to amend the Foreign Exchange Regulations Act 1947 to prevent illegal foreign exchange transactions. Under the proposal, the previous act will be updated with an amendment act to empower the State Bank of Pakistan to regulate foreign exchange regime in the country more effectively. It said proposed amendment has been approved by the Federal Cabinet and transmitted to Parliament for enactment. The measure is a part of government's efforts to enhance the transparency of financial transactions. -KP government launches 'Pink Bus Service' exclusively for women Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government launched on Thursday ‘Pink Bus Service’ exclusively for women in Mardan. A spokesman of the project told our Peshawar correspondent that a total of seven Pink Buses will ply in Mardan. There are fifteen bus stops each facilitated with the solar panels. -Pakistan makes a new offer to Iran, FTA in works Pakistan has invited Iran for talks on a free trade agreement (FTA). Pakistan has proposed that talks could be held on April 23-24 in Pakistan. The report added that lack of direct banking channel between the two countries is the main hurdle in finalizing the free trade agreement. -Govt Mulling to Withdraw 10% FED on 1,700cc Vehicles: Abdul Razaq The government is considering to withdraw its decision of imposing 10% federal excise duty (FED) on cars with engine capacities exceeding 1,700cc. The Senate’s Standing Committee on Industries and Production, on Wednesday, was informed that the 10 percent FED imposed on locally manufactured cars and SUVs, having engine capacity exceeding 1,700cc, would be withdrawn soon. -Govt to Crackdown Against High Medicine Prices & Launch An Online Price Portal The federal government has ordered a crackdown against pharmaceutical companies that are illegally increasing medicine prices. Minister for National Health Services (NHS), Aamer Mehmood Kiani, ordered an operation against such firms on Wednesday. “Though the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) deals with the matter, as a government representative, I consider myself responsible for providing relief to the masses and answerable to them. I am personally looking into the matter and would not tolerate an illegal and unauthorized increase in the prices of medicines,” the minister said. -Pakistan’s First Environment Friendly Food Festival to Start on 5th April To discourage single-use plastics and promote sustainable food consumption, WWF-Pakistan is organizing the country’s first environmental-friendly food festival in Karachi. The festival, ReFest, aims to reduce food waste and raise awareness about eating food in a responsible way as well as adopting sustainable practices in our daily lives such as reduced use of single-use plastics. The theme of the festival is to spread awareness about the cause and enjoy the festivals responsibly, as per WWF, festivals were one of the reasons of over-littering due to massive use of single-use plastic in food festivals. The idea is to promote a sense of responsibility among citizens about how we can enjoy and be responsible at the same time. -Gilgit is Getting a Dedicated Tourism Police Division Gilgit-Baltistan Inspector General of Police (IGP) Sanaullah Abbasi said that a special tourism force will be formed in the region to ensure the safety of national and foreign tourists. He also told that the GB government will deploy 700 personnel for the protection of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor route. The special tourism force called, “Tourism Police Division” will be set up on the model of Malaysia and Thailand. -PM takes part in Hyderabad University’s Groundbreaking Ceremony. The project is projected to complete within 3 years, with over Rs. 2 billion as the estimated cost. The land for building the university has been marked in Kohsar. A bill will be passed from the National Assembly for the construction of the university. The name of the university has been decided as “Federal Urdu University Hyderabad”. -Facebook Launches Its Innovation Lab Platform in Pakistan Facebook and Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology along with the National Technology Fund (IGNITE) launched the first Facebook Innovation Lab located in the National Incubation Centre (NIC) at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). The launch event, held on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, was attended by several thought leaders from across the world who came together and debated on issues such as women and technology; the impact that VR has on social good and impactful ways to harness technology for social good. -UN Adopts Pakistan Sponsored Resolution Against Islamophobia The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday strongly condemning acts of violence and terrorism against religious minorities.mThe resolution, titled ‘Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief’ was moved by Turkey and co-sponsored by Pakistan. Through this, the UNGA condemned the atrocious terrorist attack targeting Muslims during Friday prayers in two mosques at Christchurch, New Zealand this month, while offering deepest condolences to the victim families.The UN assembly called for the protection and promotion of freedom of religion and belief while developing a domestic environment of religious tolerance, respect, and peace. -Government announces changes for new budget With the new budget coming up, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government announced on Tuesday its first tax amnesty scheme on hidden domestic and offshore assets – in an attempt to boost the sinking tax revenue. Besides, the government announced that it would stop the unchecked outflow of dollars through foreign currency accounts, declaring its intention to amend laws to link the outflows for investment with the approval of the authorities. “An asset declaration scheme will be announced before the budget,” Finance Minister Asad Umar told journalists. -First ever Pakistani international tourism corner opens in Europe Pakistan has opened its first International Information Tourist Corner in Belgium to offer Europeans Pakistan’s unique culture, stunning scenic view of its northern areas and the traditional lifestyle of mountain people. Launched jointly in collaboration with the Embassy of Pakistan in Brussels and Tribes, a Dutch Company established in Brussels, the tourist corner is the first-ever initiative by the Pakistani mission in Belgium to promote tourism in Pakistan -Asad Umar hints at withdrawing tax exemptions for elite Finance Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday hinted at withdrawing tax exemptions being availed by the elite and also announced a drastic reduction in the number of withholding taxes from the next budget including the tax on banking transactions being paid by non-filers of tax returns. The minister expressed these views at the launching ceremony of a book, ‘Growth and Inequality in Pakistan – Agenda for Reforms’. The book has been written by Dr Hafiz A Pasha whom Umar described as Pakistan’s number one economist. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung – a German institute – has financed the book under the theme of ‘Economy of Tomorrow’. The book discusses almost every important aspect of Pakistan’s economy and carries a detailed chapter on elite capture of the state. -PM Imran Khan to perform ground breaking of two Naya Pakistan Housing Programme sites Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to perform the ground-breaking ceremony of two housing projects in Islamabad and Quetta later this month. Both projects are part of PM Khan’s ambition of Naya Pakistan Housing Program (NPHP) under which he promised to deliver 500,000 low-cost residential units to the underprivileged faction of the society. -PM Khan announces economic corridor between KP Khyber and Afghanistan PM Imran Khan has announced formation of economic corridor between KP Khyber and Afghanistan for improving trade and economic activities in the region. PM Khan announced that he has issued directives for the Torkham border with Afghanistan to be kept open 24/7 in order to facilitate business and trade for locals. -First woman principal appointed at K-P police training centre A police training centre in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) Mansehra has appointed a woman principal – a first for the province. Sonia Shamroz, an MBA in human resource management and an 18-grade officer, termed her appointment to the billet as a matter of great pride for her family and herself. -Pakistan expected to get significant export orders at Istanbul fair Pakistan Consul General in Istanbul Bilal Khan Pasha has said that the auto industry of Pakistan, especially the manufacturers of auto and tractor parts, tyres and tubes, has the potential to make inroads into the Turkish market. “Turkish automakers and Pakistani engineering companies are negotiating to form joint ventures; in the next phase small and medium enterprises of the two countries will enter into partnerships,” Pasha said while talking to The Express Tribune on the sidelines of the Automechanica exhibition, which kicked off in Istanbul on Thursday. “This year, Pakistani companies manufacturing auto and tractor parts as well as tyre tubes are expected to get significant export orders at Automechanica, which will help increase non-traditional goods export from Pakistan to Turkey,” the consul general said. -PM Imran urges lawmakers to share meal with homeless at govt shelters Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday urged lawmakers to visit the homeless at government shelters and “share a meal with the people using them”. The premier asserted that this practice will sensitise public representatives to issues faced by the bottom tier Pakistani society. “In the coming months I will personally monitor effectiveness of our poverty alleviation jihad,” the prime minister went on to add in a tweet.
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