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NATIONAL HIGHWAY COUNCIL MEETS BUDGET ESTIMATES DEVELOPMENT PLAN APPROVED

The Federal Minister for Communications Hafiz Abdul Karim last week presided over the meeting of National Highway Council (NHC) at the Ministry of Communications. Federal Minister of State for Communications Muhammad Junaid Chaudhry, Secretary Communications, Chairman National Highway Authority and other members of the council participated in the meeting.

The meeting gave approval for budget estimates for 2017-18 and the Five Year Development plan (2018-23). The meeting was informed that under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) around Rs. 320 bn were allocated for the year 2017-18. The total number of projects were 85 which were currently under various phases of execution and included 72 on-going and 13 news projects. In addition, Rs. 2.46 bn were allocated as maintenance grant for the annual maintenance of national highways including Rs. 0.25 bn for KKH Thakot-Kunjerab road and Rs. 0.075 bn for KKH Skardu road. Chairman NHA Shahid Ashraf Tarar informed the meeting that the organization had been able to steadily increase its revenue share to around Rs. 25 billion over the last three years thanks to the introduction of financial and administrative reforms. He said the PSDP allocation of NHA had increased tremendously over the last few years which can be assessed easily from the fact that it stood at Rs. 63 billion in 2013-14 but rose to Rs. 320 bn in 2017-18. He said this reflected the increasing confidence of the Federal government in NHA’a ability regarding the most appropriate utilization of the allocated funds. He said NHA was currently executing projects worth over Rs. 1400 billion scattered in all parts of the country. He said a vast network of motorways was being established under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor that upon completion in next two years, will take the overall motorway length in Pakistan to over 2400 km.

The council also approved the process of reform and restructuring initiated at National Highway Authority under which power has been decentralized from the head quarter to the four main zones of Central (Punjab), North (KPK & ), West (Balochistan) and South (Sindh), each headed by a Member (Engr). The Chairman NHA informed the meeting that the prime objective of the restructuring process was to enhance the institutional capacity to ensure the efficient implementation and monitoring of the development projects.

The council also discussed in detail the problem of overloading and the resulting damage it was doing to the road network. The Chairman informed the meeting that major part of the development activity will be completed in the next five years with the completion of all the on-going and planned projects. It was, therefore, necessary to take immediate steps to overcome the problem of overloading to keep the highways and motorways in safe condition. The council decided to form a steering committee at the Ministry to review the efforts already made in this regard and to chalk out a future course of action. The committee would include representatives from Ministry of Communications, National Highway Authority, Motorway Police and private sector experts to hold negotiations with all the stakeholders and ensure the implementation of National Highway Safety Ordinance-2000.

The council also approved the proposal for the time-scale promotion of NHA employees, enhancement in rental ceiling for low paid employees to up to Rs. 10000 and admissibility of utility allowance.

The Highway Council, unanimously, acknowledged the services of the outgoing Chairman and his role in the successful and in time completion of mega road projects initiated in the last four years. The Federal Minister, in his concluding remarks, said that without Chairman NHA’s dynamic leadership, management skills, honesty and hard work, the giant task of successfully executing the historic motorway network could not have been possible.

AGP ACKNOWLEDGES COLOSSAL SAVINGS IN AWARD OF ROAD CONTRACTS: CHAIRMAN NHA

The Auditor General of Pakistan, in its annual audit report for year 2016-17 has acknowledged that savings worth billions of rupees were made in the award of highway and motorway contracts through an open and transparent process. This was stated by Chairman Shahid Ashraf Tarar during the meeting of the sub-committee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held at the parliament house last week.

According to the report “Management of NHA has carried out an independent review of cost effective procurement of major projects undertaken by NHA during the period 1st of July 2013 to 31st December 2016. according to the report NHA entered into contracts for 104 works for Rs. 761.90 billion against the bid price /engineer’s estimate of Rs. 978.29 billion, resulting into saving of Rs. 261.39 billion. In addition, another saving of Rs. 134.889 billion was observed by undertaking certain important and imperative projects on BOT basis without any financing from or through Government Exchequer”.

Such an acknowledgement in the Auditor General’s Report by itself was unprecedented, said the chairman.

He informed the committee that the entire process of bidding was made open and competitive as a result of which 56 highway construction projects that were initiated between January 2013 and September 2017, were awarded at 21.56% below the original bid or engineer’s estimates. Similarly, 129 maintenance projects were awarded at 22.51% below the original bid or engineer’s estimate for the same period.

Chairman informed the meeting that work on several sick projects was initiated during the last four years. These projects were not only revived but also successfully completed. He gave the example of Lowari Tunnel which he said, was completed and opened for traffic in July. Similarly, in Balochistan around 650 km road network was added with connectivity with Gwadar. Lyari Expressway, another sick project, was in the final stages of completion and would hopefully be inaugurated next month, he said.

The sub-committee reviewed NHA’s replies against audit observations on Khanewal-Multan Motorway (M-4), Indus Highway (N-55) and Hazara Motorway projects, and recommended for their settlement after accepting the department’s reply.

AL MEEZAN INVESTMENT AND MAISON CONSULTING PARTNER FOR ERP/CRM IMPLEMENTATION

Al Meezan Investment Management Limited has signed an agreement with Maison Consulting & Solutions (www.MaisonConsulting.com) for license and implementation of Dynamics 365 to streamline major business functions and adopt best practices.

As the largest asset management company in Pakistan with assets under management of over 101 billion (as on September 30, 2017), Al Meezan offers a comprehensive range of Shariah compliant investment solutions. With a track record of 22 years, Al Meezan is the only company in Pakistan with the sole mandate of making Shariah compliant investing the first choice of every Pakistani.

With Dynamics 365, Al Meezan Investments will optimize its existing strengths to drive growth and make real-time, data-driven decisions. Al Meezan also emphasizes the importance of applying the latest technology platform to support employees in enhancing their working efficiencies, enabling augmented management activities and providing a platform for betterment of service quality.

Maison Consulting is a leading global Microsoft Gold Partner delivering Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP, CRM, Business Intelligence, Analytics, and Collaboration solutions on premise and cloud. With a single, global team of Microsoft consultants, Maison has helped over 200 customers achieve successful digital transformation projects using the full suite of Microsoft technologies and applications.

Maison feels proud to be associated with Al Meezan Investments as a trusted technology partner and feels honored to have been chosen for Al Meezan’s ERP and CRM initiative.

KARANDAAZ LAUNCHES FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND STUDY ON WAREHOUSE RECEIPT FINANCING

Karandaaz Pakistan, a Section 42 company working to promote access to finance for small businesses and financial inclusion in the country has launched a study on Warehouse Receipt (WHR) financing in Pakistan. WHR financing is a form of institutional credit that is extended by banks to farmers and traders against physical commodities stored in licensed warehouses.

The study assesses the current status of uptake of WHR financing in Pakistan through in-depth interviews with current and potential users, suppliers and regulators of the scheme including the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), provincial food departments in Sindh and Punjab, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Habib Bank Ltd. (HBL) and Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd. (ZTBL). In addition, the study provides important insights on how WHR financing, through a well-developed ecosystem and strong institutional linkages between borrowers, banks, warehouses, and service providers, reduces post-harvest losses of agricultural commodities and enables growers to command better prices for their produce by avoiding distress sales immediately after harvest.

A comprehensive analysis of the price trend of major agricultural commodities over the last five years reveals that WHR financing could be a viable source of credit for wheat, rice, cotton and maize farmers in Pakistan. These commodities are storable and their post-harvest price trends over the last four to five years justify delayed marketing. It is worth noting that the majority of farmers in Pakistan have small landholdings – over 72 percent hold less than 8 acres of land. Once the system is strongly established, small farmers will also be able to benefit from WHR financing.

Sharing his thoughts, CEO Karandaaz Pakistan, Mr. Ali Sarfraz said, “WHR financing ecosystem is still a new concept. Pakistan has no licensed warehouse currently and there are no proper procedures in place for licensing and operating warehouses. In absence of proper information and data about the existing warehouses, the uptake of WHR financing will not be possible. Recent regulations by the SECP will enable the formation of collateral management companies and this will in turn have positive impact on this this mode of financing.”

In terms of recommendations, key areas that need further development for the implementation of a successful and effective system of WHR financing are establishment of collateral management companies that will license and ensure quality control of warehouses; establishment of a warehouse and storage network for agricultural produce; creation of a database on storage facilities; development of a commodity exchange market; and raising awareness of farmers. The complete study can be accessed on the Karandaaz website: www.karandaaz.com.pk

Karandaaz Pakistan is a not-for-profit development finance company established in 2014 and registered with the SECP. The organization promotes access to finance for small businesses through commercially directed investments, and financial inclusion for individuals by employing technology-enabled digital solutions. Karandaaz Pakistan has financial and institutional support from leading international development finance institutions; principally the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

JS GLOBAL HOSTS PAKISTAN INVESTMENT CONFERENCE IN NEW YORK

JS Global Capital Limited (JSGCL), Pakistan’s largest and premier brokerage and investment banking firm is hosting Pakistan Investment Conference in New York, United States of America. This follows JSGCL’s successful investment conference held earlier this year in London, which supported Pakistan in achieving the Emerging Market status by Morgan Stanley Capital International.

The objective of the Pakistan Investment Conference is to pitch Pakistan as one of the most attractive investment destinations amongst the Emerging Markets class. JS Global has made arrangements for the Chief Executives/Chief Financial Officers of 15 leading listed companies to attend the Pakistan Investment Conference and showcase their companies’ profile, performance and future plans to major US Investors for both Foreign Portfolio and Direct Investment by the US Investors.

A high powered delegation led by Mr. Mohammad Zubair, H.E. Governor of Sind which includes Mr. Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on CPEC alongside Mr. Muneer Kamal, Chairman Pakistan Stock Exchange and Mr. Kamran Nasir, CEO JS Global Capital Limited has arrived in New York. They will inaugurate the Pakistan Investment Conference on October 31, 2017 in the heart of Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange.

These Pakistani corporations make up most of the MSCI Emerging Markets cluster while representing about 90% of the market capitalization of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). Foreign investors currently hold interest in about 30% of the free float of PSX.

JS Global with its US partners has arranged an excellent line up of meetings for these companies with some of the largest investors in the US to help portray the investment potential of Pakistan to them. These investors include global top asset managers with trillions of dollars under management. JS Global along with its US partner Rosenblatt Securities Inc, one of the top Institutional brokerage and advisory firms in the US will jointly host this conference. The conference will be a four day event with two days in New York followed by events in Boston, Chicago and Washington.

The list of Pakistani corporations attending the conference are Oil & Gas Development Company (OGDC), Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), Pakistan State Oil (PSO), United Bank Limited (UBL), MCB Bank Limited (MCB), Engro Corporation (ENGRO), Engro Fertilizers (EFERT), Hub Power Company Limited (HUBC), Lucky Cement Limited (LUCK), DG Khan Cement (DGKC), Honda Cars Limited (HCAR), Searle Pharmaceutical (SEARLE) and AGP Limited (AGP) amongst a few others.

JS BANK & WEMSOL PVT LTD JOIN HANDS TO PROMOTE E-COMMERCE VIA KEENU NETCONNECT

JS Bank and Wemsol Pvt Ltd have signed an agreement for Keenu NetConnect to promote e-commerce in the industry by digitizing payments and provide an unmatched digital experience for its valuable customers. This collaboration is an extension of multiple recent strategic partnerships formed regarding the future of payments and to help evolve into providing an effective e-commerce platform.

Speaking at the occasion, Kamran Jafar, Group Head CRBG JS Bank, said “This partnership with Wemsol will lay a foundation of digital payments for e-commerce to flourish in Pakistan, which we firmly believe to be the future of payments industry”.

Imran Soomro, Chief Information Officer JS Bank, further added “Technology that brings convenience has a very high adoption rate in today’s world, and our partnership with Wemsol will provide an extremely seamless solution to our clients”.

Syed Ejaz Hassan, CEO of Wemsol Pvt Ltd., said “Through simple payment and delivery options, innovative e-commerce solutions have the potential to transform the overall consumer shopping experience, which creates a very positive environment for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to expand into the digital space.”

JS Bank is one of the fastest growing banks in Pakistan, with 323 branches in 161 cities including one international branch, and is a leading player in the digital banking space. JS Bank is also a recipient of the prestigious award for Best Environmental and Social Governance Bank at the Pakistan Banking Awards 2017. JS Bank is part of JS Group, one of the Pakistan’s most diversified and progressive financial services group. For more information, please visit http://www.jsbl.com.

Keenu aims at setting the right stage for your business with its complete end to end payment services. Pakistan’s first end to end payment solutions brand to offer a complete package to manage customer needs. Considering enhanced use of online and retail shopping, Keenu provides a hybrid of physical (retail payments) and digital (Keenu NetConnect) payment methods, topped with various value additions in the form of loyalty programs and digital wallet, intended to facilitate financial institution, merchants and end consumers. For detail, please visit www.keenu.pk.

JS BANK & JAZZ CASH AGREE FIRST DIRECT DEBIT SERVICING SOLUTION IN PAKISTAN

JS Bank & Jazz cash has entered into an agreement whereby Jazz customers will have access to Direct Debit functionality. Developed on JazzCash Payment Gateway, Direct Debit will also bring convenience and ease to JS Bank customers, by enabling them to use their JS Bank account for purchasing goods and other services online. Customers will be redirected from JazzCash Payment Gateway to JS Bank Internet Banking interface to complete the transaction, thereby removing the need to enter Credit / Debit card details and authorizing the transactions.

Speaking on the occasion, Kamran Jafar, Group Head Corporate Retail Banking Group JS Bank said “This strategic alliance with JazzCash reinforces our commitment to the digitization of consumer experiences”. He further said “Our journey towards a cash-optimized universe requires forward looking partners like Jazz to revolutionize consumer behavior and evolve towards an efficient future.”

Aniqa Afzal Sandhu, VP Digital & Mobile Financial Services – Jazz, said, “Direct Debit is the simplest, safest and most convenient way to make regular or recurring payments; that’s why it’s used for various utility payments online. As a leading digital company, our customer’s financial services needs take top priority and we continue to strive hard in providing them with the best services.” She further added “JazzCash remains committed to the digitization of financial services and the launch of this first of its kind service with JS Bank enhances our digital payments ecosystem,”

JazzCash Payment Gateway is state of the art Payment Gateway in Pakistan. It currently supports payments through JazzCash Mobile Account, JazzCash Voucher & Credit / Debit Cards.

JazzCash, a mobile financial service offering under Jazz’s ecosystem has over 70,000 retail outlets across Pakistan. JazzCash offers a broad portfolio of Branchless Banking services for customers including money transfer, bill payments, bank transfers, mobile accounts services, ATM cards, insurance, savings, payment gateway and payments for a variety of services.

JS Bank is considered amongst the fastest growing banks within Pakistan’s banking landscape with 323 branches in 161 cities and one international branch. JS Bank is part of JS Group, one of Pakistan’s most diversified and progressive financial services groups. For more information, visit http://www.jsbl.com

JCR-VIS ASSIGNS RATING TO PAKISTAN’S FIRST BASEL 3 TIER 1 INSTRUMENT BY BANK ALFALAH LIMITED

JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company Limited (JCR-VIS) has assigned preliminary rating of ’AA-’ (Double A Minus) to Bank Alfalah Limited’s proposed Basel 3 Tier-1 debt instrument. Outlook on the assigned rating is ’Stable’. Rating will be finalized upon review of signed legal documents.

Bank Alfalah is in the process of issuing a listed, perpetual, unsecured, subordinated, non-cumulative and contingent convertible debt instruments amounting up to Rs. 7.0b (inclusive of Green Shoe Option of Rs. 2.0b). The issue proceeds will contribute towards the bank’s additional Tier-1 capital and will be utilized towards enhancement of the bank’s business operations. Bank Alfalah’s tier-1 instrument will rank ahead of claims of ordinary shareholders but below the bank’s senior creditors, including depositors and holders of Tier 2 TFC.

The assigned instrument rating draws comfort from the sound risk profile of Bank Alfalah. JCR-VIS has assigned entity ratings of AA+/A-1+ (Double A Plus/A-One Plus) to Bank Alfalah indicating high credit quality and adequate protection factors. The assigned ratings reflect the Bank’s diversified operations, healthy financial risk profile, strong sponsors and existing market presence. Bank Alfalah has exhibited sustained improvement across key performance areas including asset quality, liquidity, capitalization and profitability. At the end of September 2017, Bank Alfalah had an asset base of Rs. 969.8 billion. Tier-1 and overall CAR on a consolidated basis stood at 11.11% and 13.5%, respectively at end-September’2017.

The assigned rating portrays the relative risk of the Tier-1 instrument wherein the issuer has full discretion on coupon payments, interest servicing from only profits for the year and conversion feature in the event of pre-specified trigger events, lock-in clause and point of non-viability in terms of regulatory requirements. While the regulatory framework may not consider a missed coupon payment as a default; the credit rating methodology employed by JCR-VIS would treat such missed payments as an event of default. In normal course of business, JCR-VIS believes that chances of non-performance risk are considered remote.

HUAWEI MATE 10 SERIES AVAILABLE IN PAKISTAN

HUAWEI has introduced its HUAWEI Mate 10 Series in Pakistan – thereby heralding a Superphone era in the country. The new HUAWEI Mate 10 lite, HUAWEI Mate 10 and HUAWEI Mate 10 Proare a game changer in smartphone innovation and photography. The HUAWEI Mate 10 Series continues its legacy of superior product performance and long-lasting battery life, while integrating new Leica Dual-Camera technology.

The HUAWEI Mate 10 and HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro go beyond smart with its AI application ecosystem. Powered by the Kirin 970 System-on-a-Chip (SoC) processor, it has an 8-core CPU, a next-gen 12-core GPU, and a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) to power AI computing tasks. Not only does it make the smartphone intelligent with personalized AI applications, but delivers a faster, stronger and seamless smartphone experience to users. It also features a Leica SUMMILUX-H dual camera with f/1.6 aperture, combining 12MP RGB sensor and a 20MP Monochrome sensor. An intelligent AI helps recognize objects and adjusts the settings accordingly to take the best image.

Speaking at the launch event, Mr. Blueking, General Manager, Huawei Consumer Business Group Pakistan said: “With the launch of HUAWEI Mate 10 Series, we are initiating an era of intelligent smartphones in Pakistan. These devices are trendsetters in the industry through their innovation, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and remarkable photographic capabilities. The AI in HUAWEI Mate 10 Series enhances user experience, provides valuable services and improves product performance. Whereas, the four cameras on HUAWEI Mate 10 lite redefine photography as we know it, and take spectacular photos.”

The HUAWEI Mate 10 lite is available in Graphite Black, Prestige Gold and Aurora Black for PKR 29,999/- while people can get their hands on the HUAWEI Mate 10 for PKR 69,999/- in Black and Mocha Brown. The Mate 10 Pro comes in Midnight Blue and Mocha Brown for PKR 87,999/-.

DWP GROUP, PHILIPS AUTHORIZED SALES & SERVICE PROVIDER PARTICIPATED IN THE 33RD ANNUAL RADIOLOGY CONFERENCE

DWP Group, Philips authorized Sales & Service provider participated in the 33rd Annual Radiology Conference held at the local Hotel in Karachi recently. DWP shared innovative tools and technologies to help the audience perform clinical consults and recommended best imaging solutions.

Country Manager DWP Healthcare Pakistan, Mr. Sanam Hameed Mirza and Business Manager Philips Healthcare Pakistan, Mr. Haris Baig promised to flourish the healthcare business in the country by providing the best medical equipment and solutions to the industry, promoting the motto “Safe and Healthy Pakistan”. The main purpose was to provide radiologists and doctors new and effective ways to drive clinical performance, enhance the patient experience and deliver economic value for their institution.

Philips is the world’s leading Healthcare solutions provider and is recognized globally as a symbol of innovation in the areas of health care informatics, diagnostic imaging, ultrasound diagnostics, cardiac care and home healthcare where as DWP is a leading business entity in Pakistan with core focus in Consumer Electronics (GREE ACs and EcoStar TVs), Power (UPS, Batteries, Solar), System Integration (EMC and Lenovo), Networks (CISCO and Huawei), Document Technology (XEROX) and HVAC (GREE).

DEWAN MOTORS INAUGURATES 7TH BMW CHARGENOW STATION

Pioneering the concept of public charging stations in Pakistan, Dewan Motors recently installed its 7th BMW ChargeNow station at the Packages Mall in Lahore.

The latest installation was inaugurated by Mr. Kai Windermuth, Area Manager After Sales, BMW Group Middle East, and Mr. Khalid Yaqoob, CEO, Packages Mall. Also present at the occasion was Mr. Kashif Riaz, Director Operations, Dewan Motors along with other team members from Dewan Motors and Packages Mall.

Dewan Motors had been the first in the Middle East region and twenty fifth in the world to have installed BMW ChargeNow stations.

“BMW ChargeNow is a network of charging stations that provides BMW plug-in hybrid and electric vehicle owners with easy, quick and secure charging services”, said Mr. Kai Windermuth, Area Manager After Sales, BMW Group Middle East.

“Dewan Motors’ investments in installing these BMW ChargeNow stations across the country speaks for their commitment towards the brand and their concern for the future in a long term view”, added Mr. Windemuth.

Dewan Motors is steadfast in supporting the BMW Group’s vision to provide convenient charging stations to facilitate the move towards Electro Mobility globally.

“We strongly believes in the potential growth in the plug-in hybrid and electric car market in Pakistan, hence strengthening the ground work for the future allowing pure electric driving and decreasing the dependency on fossil fuels”, said Mr. Kashif Riaz, Director Operations, Dewan Motors.

“Such innovation and technology will also translate into minimum to zero emissions, as well as tremendous fuel savings”, highlighted Mr. Riaz.

CONFLICT, COVERAGE AND CRISES COMMUNICATION COURSE FOR STUDENTS DISCUSSED

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Pakistan Peace Collective (PPC), a research and communication project of the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission (HEC), organized a day-long consultative session for developing a three credit hours’ course titled ’Conflict, Coverage & Crisis Communication’ for the Master and Graduation level students of Mass Communication and Media Studies department of various universities across Pakistan. This first consultative session held this week at Higher Education Commission Islamabad, more than 30 experts representing the academic, government and media circles attended that. The experts delivered their professional, technical and subject related input in accordance with their knowledge and experience.

Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed – Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, Mr. Ibsar Alam Chairman PEMRA and Ms. Marium Khan Director General (Counter Violence & Extremism) National Counter Terrorism Authority – Pakistan graced the consultative session as the guest of honors and presented their views on the subject.

While appreciating the initiative Mr. Mukhtar Ahmed expressed confidence that the proposed course would ensure the required support to fulfill the needs of knowledge development on critical thinking, emotional intelligence, peace building and sensitization on conflict reporting.

“It is our duty as journalists to report as accurately and responsibly as possible on this issue. We cannot use our platforms to glorify, sensationalize or traumatize, as the words we use and the images we show have an enormous impact on our viewers/readers. We do not want to further the aims of the terrorists by terrorizing the people through the images we show,” said Ibsar Alam Chairman PEMRA.

“This national consultation brought people on board from broad spectrum from the industries, This is also one of the mandated tasks of the nascent National Counter Terrorism Authority of Pakistan (NACTA) to develop course on Conflict Coverage and Crisis Communication that will eventually benefit the National Narrative to be presented to Federal Government sooner forming the policy on Counter Terrorism & Extremism,” said Ms. Marium Khan.

The representatives from Universities of Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, Peshawar, International Islamic University, University of Central Punjab, Karachi University, Federal Urdu University Karachi, University of Sargodha, and Lahore College of Women University have incorporated their recommendation for curriculum, also representation from mainstream TV channels like GEO TV, NEO TV, SAMAA TV, PTV NEWS and other senior journalists were there for their technical input as media practitioners.

This consultation will resultantly help in developing a holistic view of conflicts and violence in the society and educate the students on means and methods to reflect the same through various mediums of communication including formal media. The three credit hours’ course will help to sensitize the Pakistani students on issues concerning violence and crises including those resulting out of extremist tendencies. It would expectantly provide the students with the national and international perspective on the subject. The consultative process is also aiming to foster the integration of the entitled course in the revised curriculum of discipline namely ’Mass Communication’ and ’Media Studies’ for all the universities in Pakistan.

MICROSOFT AND HEC ORGANIZE ’ACADEMIC DAY’ AT HARIPUR UNIVERSITY

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan and Microsoft Pakistan have collaborated to pursue a joint initiative for promoting the use of advanced Information Technology and Cloud computing solutions, in the education sector of Pakistan. It is a pioneering and insightful initiative that includes a mega event organized every academic year, in major universities across the country.

‘Microsoft Academic Day’ was recently organized at the University of Haripur – a remote town in the north-western region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The series of events comprises of discussions on the Education Transformation Agreement (ETA) between the two organizations – its impact and role in the education landscape of Pakistan. The ETA helps the faculty & students remain up-to-date with the latest technological advancements, through technical trainings, workshops & seminars. Furthermore, Academic Day show cases the features of Microsoft Azure and its potential role in the Education industry.

Microsoft’s Cloud solution – Office 365, is a powerful platform used by more than 250,000 consumers in Pakistan, due to its effective performance. Similarly, experts at the event highlighted its versatility and rapid adoption for educational usage. Additionally, the participants also discussed the Imagine Cup – Microsoft’s leading technology competition, its winners over the past 4 years and the next year’s engagement plan.

The event celebrates the commitment of HEC and Microsoft to deliver advanced training and boot camps, along with the free distribution of cutting-edge software packages to universities across the country. HEC – a governing body for higher education has taken numerous ICT initiatives to provide advanced services to the education and research communities in Pakistan.

Microsoft is investing $75 million globally, over three years, to increase access to computer-science education and bring the latest technologies and tools for all youth, especially the students and the deprived communities. Microsoft’s Cloud suite Office 365 plays a significant role in enhancing collaboration, creativity and critical-thinking in the classroom. HEC also announced Microsoft’s Student Advantage Program which aims to provide free access to Windows 10 for more than 750,000 university students to help them benefit from the Windows 10 S. Windows 10 S is a specific configuration of Windows 10 Pro that offers a familiar, productive Windows experience that’s streamlined for security and performance. Windows 10†S was inspired by students and teachers and it’s the best Windows ever for schools.

Prof. Dr. Fareed Abid – Vice Chancellor University of Haripur started the proceedings with a warm welcome extended to all the guests, and highlighted the role of HEC & Microsoft in Education, saying “The opportunities, this alliance opens up for students of our University are unparalleled, and I would encourage our faculty & students to make the most out of these engagements”.

Harb Bou-Harb – Senior Director, Education and Public-Sector Microsoft North Africa, East Mediterranean and Pakistan said, “Microsoft believes that social development in today’s digital era largely depends on the scale of technology awareness among the youth. The Microsoft Academic Day is a part of our pursuit to nurture a tech-savvy mindset among the Pakistani youth. Technological knowledge is the key to economic development in today’s world, that is why we are grooming and encouraging the youth to learn smart-computing skills.”

Professor Dr Mukhtar Ahmed – Chairman of Higher Education Commission (HEC) Pakistan, while dilating on the prospect of a continuing endeavor in partnership with Microsoft said, “We are striving to revolutionize Pakistan’s education system, and it is really heartening to see the enthusiastic response from all the stakeholders.” He was delighted by the Student participation in Microsoft’s Certification program, announcing 300 free certification vouchers for the Students at Haripur.

As devices and technologies become more accessible and the capabilities grow – especially when laptops (2-in-1) are being distributed by HEC under the Prime Minister’s Laptops Scheme. Microsoft’s initiative seeks to enhance the understanding of students through effective training and briefings about the latest technologies. It is closing the skills gap, to empower students in Pakistan to achieve more. Both HEC and Microsoft are partnering with more and more educators, on their journey to redefine learning. Core to their mission is the creation of immersive and inclusive learning experiences that inspire life-long learning.

‘EMERGING PAKISTAN’ INITIATIVE LAUNCHED BY PRIME MINISTER SHAHID KHAQAN ABBASI

‘Emerging Pakistan’ is a progressive initiative to build a positive image of the country and promote its culture internally and globally. The platform was launched last Thursday at the historic Mohatta Palace in Karachi by the Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and aims to showcase the very best of Pakistan’s arts, crafts, fashion, culture and music. It also shed light on diverse thriving sectors in Pakistan all of which contribute to Pakistan as an emerging force on the global stage.

Speaking at the launch event, the Prime Minister said, “It is a moment of immense pride for me to announce Emerging Pakistan. A timely initiative to position Pakistan at its rightful place amongst the comity of Nations. Pakistan is a land of vast potential and countless opportunities, of breathtaking landscapes and hospitable people, of rich traditions and unmatched resilience. We are heading out of our challenges stronger and heading towards a bright future. Very soon we shall be the region’s corridor for trade and energy and progress and prosperity. I would like you to join me in sharing this initiative with the rest of the world

The vision behind ’Emerging Pakistan’ is to highlight select booming sectors of Pakistan’s fast growing economy. The sectors in focus for this platform include those that have received the largest amounts of ’Foreign Direct Investment’ including Power, Construction, Oil & Gas, and Transport. In addition, the ’Finance & Business’ sector along with ’Pakistan’s Arts & Crafts’ and ’Pakistan’s Exports’; primarily Textiles, Rice, Fruits, Vegetables, Leather and Sports Goods. Furthermore, achievements in matters such as ’Women Empowerment’ and ’Philanthropy’ will also be highlighted through this platform.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Commerce, Mr. Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, said: “Pakistan is now ready to chart a new path of progress; a path of peace and prosperity. ’Emerging Pakistan narrates the story of a youthful and vibrant Pakistan; full of hope and passion; with abundant resources and opportunities; open to new ideas and ventures.”

The official launch of the platform is complemented by the International Expo being held in Pakistan from 9-12 November 2017.

Mr. Mohammad Younus Dagha, Secretary Ministry of Commerce, said “Emerging Pakistan is a precursor to the 10th edition of Expo Pakistan 2017 being organized by The Ministry of Commerce & TDAP, Government of Pakistan is 2017 from 9th to 12th of November, 2017 at the Karachi Expo Centre where over 900 buyers from 85 countries are visiting Pakistan to meet with their business counterparts and negotiate business deals in order to meet their import needs from Pakistan on competitive basis. Pakistan started the tradition of holding the Expo Pakistan back in 2005 with a view to bring buyers to Pakistan instead of simply helping exporters to display their products abroad. The Ministry of Commerce and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan continues with their resolve and commitment to organize the show despite the odds. As a result, the Expo Pakistan has now become a flagship trade event of the country, and is now part of the global trade calendar. We hope to achieve greater success this year especially with our launch event showcasing the best Pakistan has to offer.”

In attendance at the event along with the Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi were Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Mr. Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Defence Minsiter Mr. Khurram Dastagir, Chief Minister of Sindh Mr. Syed Murad Ali Shah, Governor of Sindh Mr. Muhammad Zubair, Governor State Bank Mr. Tariq Bajwa and Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Mohammad Younus Dagha, other cabinet ministers and dignitaries from over 70 countries.

The ’Emerging Pakistan’ launch event consisted of an infomercial screening; highlighting Industry, tourism and culture along with picturesque landscapes and landmarks of Pakistan. This was followed by fashion presentations by two leading names of Pakistan’s fashion industry; Nomi Ansari and Faiza Samee, musical performances by the iconic musicians and now former producers of Coke Studio, Strings and Coke Studio sensation Momina Mustehsan. The jewellery for the fashion presentation showcased was by Sherezad Jewellery. The official hair and makeup partner for the show was NABILA – N-PRO. The event was designed and produced by Mustang Productions, with Digital Branding and Web Management by ECOM and Logo design by Carnelian.

In its efforts to promote the progressive side of Pakistan to a wider audience, ’Emerging Pakistan’ further aims to extend its reach globally by taking the platform to different countries in the near future.

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