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First ever SAI Conference ends with aim of regaining lost glory of Aviation sector

The first ever aviation conference organized by Shaheen Air International (SAI) concluded successfully today with the aim of regaining the lost glory of aviation sector and working together to take the airline business in Pakistan to new heights. Muhammad Talha Mahmood, Chairman Standing Committee of Senate of Pakistan for Cabinet Secretariat and Establishment Division was chief guest on the occasion.

Mr. Farooq Rehmatullah (retd), Ex Director General, Civil Aviation Authority, Air Marshal Shahid Latif (retd), Ex Vice Chief Of Air Staff, Pakistan Airforce, Lt. General Munir Hafeez (retd), Ex-Chairman, National Accountability Bureau and Ex Corps Commander, Major General Javed Aslam Tahir (retd), Ex Director General Army Aviation and Commander Pakistan Army Aviation Command along with representatives from other domestic airlines attended the conference and appreciated the initiative taken by SAI to provide a platform for all the stakeholders to discuss about the future of aviation industry.

Speaking at the conference, Kashif Sehbai, Chairman, Shaheen Air said “Due to various reasons, our aviation sector has taken a hit due to which many international airlines have closed their operations in Pakistan in the last 10 years and our Pakistani based airlines didn’t get the chance to expandtheir operations much outside the country. We are here today to discuss the opportunities the lie in front of us, how we can capitalize on them for the betterment of our industry and take it to new heights. It is high time that we move from terrorism to tourism and use what nature has bestowed upon us in benefit of our country to attract tourists which is not only good in terms of business but will also help in building a positive global image of Pakistan”.

Shaheen Air being the largest private and second national carrier of Pakistan has continuously been working for the betterment of aviation industry in Pakistan. The airline has been increasing it routes both domestically and internationally by bringing in new investment and adding new aircraft to its fleet. Kashif Sehbai, chairman, SAI also requested representatives of the CAA to support the airline by giving them permissions to fly on more routes which would not only expand the airline’s operations but would also provide more flying options to its customers.

Representatives from Pakistan Army, Navy and Airforce commited on improving the security situation in the country for the betterment of aviation industry which will further stabilize the economy. Representatives from CAA, Shaheen Air and airline partners assured of keeping their differences aside and work together for a better future of the aviation sector in Pakistan.

Shaheen Air:

Shaheen Air International Limited (SAI) is established as a public limited company under the Companies Ordinance, 1984. It is mandated to performthe business of air transportation of passengers and cargo. Shaheen Air commenced its operations as the first private airline in Pakistan in December, 1993. It operates on various domestic and international routes and in 2015, it became the only private airline from Pakistan to fly east with non-stop flights from Lahore to Guangzhou, China.

PSO’s state-of-the-art retail outlet opens in Lahore

Secretary Petroleum, Ministry of Energy, Government of Pakistan, Mr Sikandar Sultan Raja, inaugurated today PSO’s New Vision retail fuel station in Lahore. MD & CEO, Pakistan State Oil, Sheikh Imranul Haque, senior officials from the company and key business partners were present at the occasion.

PSO’s ’New Vision’ retail outlet, Gastec Petroleum Services, is located on Northern Lahore’s historic GT Road. It will serve the fuel and non-fuel needs of customers in area having more than 30% population of the city. Leading educational institutions, local businesses, historic landmarks, restaurants and recreational spots are located in surroundings of this particular PSO retail outlet.

Secretary Petroleum, Mr Sikandar Sultan Raja, said in his remarks at the ceremony:

“For 40 years, Pakistan State Oil is the largest oil marketing company that also represents our national brand identity. It is the only company with retail footprint of 3500 outlets spread all over the country and serving 3.0 million Pakistanis on day to day basis.”

“I am glad to see PSO continuing to fulfil energy needs of the nation with commitment and dedication not only in urban cities but also in the far flung areas of the country.”

“Opening of this ’New Vision’ PSO retail outlet in northern part of the historic city of Lahore has a great significance. This is first of its kind state-of-the-art structure on this side of the G.T. Road that will aim to serve PSO customers round the clock in all seasons with quality petroleum products and services.”

MD & CEO PSO, Sheikh Imranul Haque, said:

“We are grateful to the honourable Secretary Petroleum, Mr Sikandar Sultan Raja, for taking time out and opening this retail facility of PSO in the heart of Lahore. We also welcome our business partner, Gastec Petroleum Services, to the PSO family.

“The structure of this fuel station reflects our customer centric approach that will facilitate PSO customers to begin their journeys with us. Our New Vision Retail Outlet will not only sell quality petroleum products but will also offer branchless banking, retail, food and value added services through our Shop-Stop convenience store.”

PMEX Facilitates Pakistan’s First Electronic Murabaha Transaction

Pakistan Mercantile Exchange Limited (PMEX), country’s only multi-commodity futures exchange, has achieved yet another breakthrough by facilitating the country’s first electronic Murabaha transaction, which in essence will pave the way for an Islamic Money Market. Meezan Bank was the Shariah Technical Services Provider for development of this Shariah-compliant trading platform at PMEX.

State Bank of Pakistan of Pakistan (SBP) had earlier allowed banks to conduct transaction on PMEX Sharia Compliant Trading Platform (SCTP) in a limited capacity for the pilot period of three months. The first electronic commodity Murabaha transaction was conducted between Meezan Bank Limited (MBL) and Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan Limited (DIBPL) on December 26, 2017.

This is a revolutionary and landmark achievement in the history of Pakistan, which has the potential of bringing Islamic banks at par with their conventional counterparts in terms of managing excess liquidity in a convenient, transparent and Shariah-compliant manner. Islamic Financial Institution’s (IFI’s) can utilize this facility to deploy liquidity to all potential segments, including the government. The Exchange has ensured, in consultation with its Sharia Advisor, Dr. Imran Usmani, that the product is completely Shariah-compliant. The product has been vetted by Sharia Board of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Chaired by Respected Justice (R) Muhammad Taqi Usmani, Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and Islamic Banking Sub Committee of Pakistan Banks’ Association.

Commenting on the momentous occasion, Managing Director of PMEX, Mr. Ejaz Ali Shah, said, “Today is a historic day as we have embarked upon a journey which will revolutionize the landscape of Pakistan’s Islamic Financial Industry. PMEX’s Sharia Compliant Trading Platform, developed to facilitate Electronic Commodity Murabaha, is a prime example where all stakeholders, i.e. Regulators (both SECP & SBP), Financial Industry Players, Sharia Scholars and Private Sector Institutions have come together, with the Exchange at the core, for this landmark achievement. Over three and a half years of perseverance by the Exchange has translated into an ecosystem which will keep bearing fruits for years to come.”

PMEX Sharia Advisor, Dr. Imran Usmani, said, “This product will not only allow the country’s Islamic Financial Industry to manage their liquidity needs but would also provide opportunity to Banks as well as the Government to meet their financial needs in a Shariah-compliant manner and would enable SBP to offer Shariah-compliant liquidity management solutions to banks”.

Meezan Bank’s President and CEO, Mr. Irfan Siddiqui said “Management of excess liquidity has always been a key challenge for Islamic banks. This product provides an avenue through which not only banks, but also the Government will be able to raise liquidity, with ease, in a completely Shariah-compliant manner”.

The country’s Islamic Financial sector is growing at a rapid pace of over 20% over the last 5 years with an asset & deposit base of over Rs. 2 Trillion & Rs. 1.7 Trillion respectively. PMEX believes that the evolution of this product would not have been possible without the guidance and support of SECP, SBP, PMEX Board, Meezan Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank Pakistan Limited and Hascol Petroleum Limited. The Exchange is confident that, based on the keen interest and enthusiasm of the IFI’s, Commodity Murabaha would strengthen the Islamic financial sector of the country, eventually serving as an industry benchmark and first choice for the IFI’s.

NBP opens first Islamic banking branch in Chitral valley

The President National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Mr. Saeed Ahmad visited the Chitral valley and its adjoining areas where he inaugurated the first Islamic Banking Branch of the area. The graceful ceremony was attended by various local dignitaries, notably Mr. Irshad Ahmed Sodhar, Deputy Commissioner (DC), Mr. Shahzada Iftikhar Uddin, Member National Assembly (MNA), Mr. Saleem Khan and Mr. Saeed Sardar Hussain Shah, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA), Col.Mueen Uddin and Commandant Chitral scoutsamong others. NBP’s senior executives present at the occasion included, Mr. Muhammad Aasim Akhtar, Group Head – CRBG, Syed Waseem Akhtar, Regional Head-Peshawar and Ms. Saima Rahim, Regional Head Aitemaad Islamic Banking Group (AIBG). The dignitaries acknowledged NBP’s valuable efforts to promote local businesses. This was the first such visit by the President of the bank since its inception almost 70 years ago. The local business community expressed their gratitude to the President for taking personal interest in the area. Mr. Shahzada Iftikhar Uddin, MNA said that Chitral is a far flung area and remains neglected in many ways for want of development and basic infrastructure requirements. The President’s visit was aimed to understand first-hand the problems faced by the customers as well as the NBP staff and to take corrective measures to alleviate these problems.

Islamic Banking is taking the centre stage at NBP and its growth continues to be the focus of the Board and the Senior Management. The President attaches great importance and special personal attention to this area of business. Mr. Saeed Ahmad said, “The people of Chitral have expressed their preference for the Islamic mode of financing and it was this desire of the local population that motivated NBP to open its first branch in Chitral”. The branch was inaugurated by the Mr. Irshad Ahmed Sodhar, DC, Chitral and the President NBP. The august gathering at this event included the local elected representatives of National and Provincial Assemblies, senior government officials and customers. At this occasion, the speakers appreciated the services which NBP is providing for the last many years to the people of Chitral and its adjoining and far flung areas. They were especially appreciative of the services provided by the bank and its staff under difficult and inhospitable conditions. The President in his speech once again reiterated his commitment towards providing better banking services to the people by introducing new products and further enhancing the Islamic Banking network in the area.

During his trip to the Chitral valley, the President NBP visited the under construction Hydel power station which after completion of the first phase will provide electricity to the entire area, while upon completion of the project, electricity will be added to the national grid. This project has a special significance due to the upcoming CPEC project, as Chitral is located on the main crossroad of the CPEC. NBP is actively looking at expanding its reach and supporting various business opportunities in the area. The President also visited the site of the proposed Marble City in the outskirts of Chitral, where he assured the local investors of the bank’s full support in providing financing facilities to augment their business initiatives. “This project is the harbinger of change for the area and its people, and NBP attaches great importance to this project.” said Mr. Saeed Ahmad.

In the evening Mr. Saeed Ahmad, President & CEO, NBP attended a dinner which was graced with the presenceby NBP customers as well as various notables of the area. At this occasion the speakers highlighted the role played by NBP in promoting the local economy and providing banking services at the doorstep in areas where no other bank provides such services. They welcomed the first ever visit by any President of NBP and declared it as a good omen for the people of Chitral.

The President also met the respective Deputy Commissioners of Chitral, Upper Dir and Lower Dir, and discussed the role which NBP could play in the development of the local areas.

DWP Group and LUMS Signed MoU for National Outreach Program

DWP Group and Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the sponsorship of 100% scholarships to the needy students, through the LUMS – National Outreach Program Session 2018. A formal ceremony was organized at LUMS, where the agreement was signed by Mr. Muhammad Farooq Naseem – CEO of DWP Group and Professor DR. S. Sohail H. Naqvi – Vice Chancellor of LUMS in presence of other officials from DWP and LUMS.

DWP has committed to support this program, through which LUMS offers a scholarship endowment to those brilliant students, who are determined to enhance their knowledge and further develop their skills for a successful and brighter future.

DWP Group, a leading provider of consumer electronics products and LUMS – a top ranking educational institute of the country, have collaborated to contribute and promote this valuable academic initiative on a national basis. The company remains committed to contribute towards enriching the educational programs, which allow competent and enthusiastic youngsters to attain good quality education in Pakistan.

The Chief Executive Officer of DWP – Muhammad Farooq Naseem stated that, “Education is one of the keys to socio-economic development. We encourage and support such valuable educational programs for bright students, who have the potential to excel and achieve their dreams through higher education. This agreement shall support all the talented youngsters, giving them a chance to study at a prestigious institution like LUMS, on full scholarship. DWP remains committed to help deserving students, who excel academically but have financial constraints. The company believes in persuading youngsters to develop a passion for learning through education.”

JS Bank and Careem create 1,000 Entrepreneurs!

JS Bank and Careem have notched up a remarkable achievement by creating over one thousand entrepreneurs in the short span of 6 months. Under the scheme of Prime Minister Youth Business Loan (PMYBL), Careem & JS Bank have successfully managed to turn 1,000 Careem Captains into entrepreneurs through PMYBL loans disbursed through JS Bank.

Regarding this achievement Junaid Iqbal, MD Careem Pakistan said, “Pakistan needs entrepreneurs and creating 1,000 new jobs is just one of the contributions Careem is making to Pakistan’s economy. We strive to ensure our Captains are able to start their journey towards financial sustainability and our goal is to continue to ensure opportunities for the maximum number of people. We are very proud of the scheme and how far we have come in such a short amount of time.”

Basir Shamsie, Deputy CEO JS Bank, said, “JS Bank launched this scheme in an effort to provide a fair opportunity to run their own business and be entrepreneurs. We strongly believe that public-private partnerships, backed by technology solutions, create a strong shared economy that helps spread the benefits of entrepreneurship to all its people. In order to further strengthen our proposition for the deserving Captains of Careem, JS Bank has also collaborated with the Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation to provide them with an additional equity support.”

Mudassir Sheikha, Co-Founder Careem mentioned it’s a pleasure to have collaborated with JS Bank for this great initiative. He shared the history and vision of Careem along with appreciating the collaboration mechanism developed by JS Bank to provide a viable solution to promote entrepreneurship in Pakistan.

Speaking at the occasion, the Honorable Governor Sindh Muhammad Zubair praised the efforts made by Careem in helping bring a revolution in transportation industry. He specially praised the efforts of Mr. Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder of Careem Networks, for his vision and his team’s seamless execution.

Careem Captains clearing a performance criterion are eligible to apply for loans through JS Bank to purchase their own vehicles and drive independently for Careem. The program has proved to be immensely popular with Careem Captains and has already contributed in over Rs. 1 Billion in the automotive industry through purchase of cars.

Prime Minister Youth Business Loan (PMYBL) is a program initiated by the Government of Pakistan, aimed at socio-economic development of the country’s youth. Under this agreement, JS Bank is offering subsidized loans at a 6% mark-up rate, in an effort to facilitate entrepreneurship in Pakistan.

Jazz Launches first SDN in Pakistan

Jazz, Pakistan’s leading digital company has become the country’s first organization to deploy Software Defined Networking (SDN) on its fixed & LDI network. This state-of-the-art upgrade shall allow the company to improve its service creation, performance and efficiency.

This SDN will enable Jazz to move from current manual node-level working on IP routers to a fully automated E2E dynamic adjustments in capacity, priority, routing, resilience and maintenance related shutdowns. This new SDN brain will accomplish all of this efficiently through an end-to-end high-level visibility created by connecting it to all individual routers.

Speaking about the SDN deployment, Khalid Shahzad, CTO – Jazz, said, “Digital transformation is forcing companies to be agile and move with speed, and the network needs to be equally agile and fast. Understanding this, Jazz decided to deploy SDN across its fixed & LDI network to ensure expected growth in traffic flows are managed seamlessly, while new services become easier to deploy.”

International Conference on ICT held at the IBA Karachi

The 7th International Conference on Information and Communications Technologies (ICICT), was hosted by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) at its City Campus. The event was attended by over 300 hundred participants, including delegates from around the world, policy makers, faculty members, researchers, industry leaders, and students. HEC and IEEE were the key partners for this conference.

Dr. Farrukh Iqbal, Dean and Director IBA, welcomed the audience and highlighted the long standing nature of the conference, which was initiated in 2005 and is held once every two years. Enunciating the merits of the conference, Dr. Farrukh Iqbal said, “The papers for this conference came from five different continents, which shows the recognition of this conference at an international level.” He also emphasized that only one third of the papers were accepted after a thorough review process conducted by the technical committee, comprising of senior researchers from across Pakistan and around the world.

Next, the Chief Guest Dr. Arshad Ali, Executive Director HEC, addressed the audience about the importance of ICT in everyday life, which was the theme of this year’s conference. Dr. Arshad stated that, “As a nation, we need to develop indigenous technologies, solutions and devices to solve the local problems. And the young talent and innovators that are designing new technological solutions should be recognized and rewarded on forums like this conference to encourage and motivate further advancement in technology”. Furthermore, he mentioned that the role of a teacher has shifted from leader to facilitator in an ICT based education system and that besides education, many other fields have also advanced using ICT.

The first keynote was a discussion on the power of analytical culture by Dr. Zubair Anwar, Head of Analytics, Consumer Support Google, USA. Dr. Zubair explained how breeding a culture of analytical activities in an organization should be an integral part of an analytical/big data initiative. Dr. Zubair also highlighted the 3 main principles that make Google an outstanding organization; ’Focus on the user experience’, ’Freedom to challenge each other’s ideas openly and ’To be resourceful’. He also conducted an engaging workshop to demonstrate some critical examples of this culture-breeding activity in Google. The conference hosted a workshop on identity federation, focusing on using digital identity and storage mechanism in an efficient manner.

The conference included several more keynote sessions and sessions from invited speakers. These sessions covered a variety of topics including digital intelligence, wireless sensor networks, machine learning in medicine and connected vehicle technology. The talks were conducted by academics from renowned universities in and outside Pakistan.

The paper presentations included viable work done in the fields of Speech, Image and Vision Systems, Networks and Computer Security, Software and Information Systems, Artificial Intelligence, Information Retrieval, ICT and Society. This year, other than presentation tracks, there was a Doctoral Consortium session in which students enrolled in PhD programs presented their ideas and work and received feedback from mentors in relevant areas from different universities. ICICT 2017 remained a successful platform to encourage research and collaborative efforts between the academia and industry.

Pakistani Students take second prize at Huawei Middle East ICT Skills competition in China

Huawei conducted “Huawei Middle East ICT Skills Contest – Final” in Shenzhen headquarters, 13 college student teams from 10 countries and totally 39 students participated in the finals. Pakistan was represented by two teams (six students) participating in the finals this year, after they successfully distinguished themselves from over 7,000 students from more than 50 Higher Educational Institutes all over Pakistan. They performed well in the finals, and both teams eventually finished at second position.

They are Team 1: Ayyaz Ahmed and Muhammad Zubair of University of Engineering and Technology Lahore, and Noor Muhammad Malik of National University of Science and Technology Islamabad.

Team 2: Shamim Iqbal from Virtual University, Fatima Rashid of University of Engineering and Technology Lahore and Shariq Malik from Lahore Garrison University. Ms. Chen Lifang, Vice President of Huawei, delivered the opening speech on behalf of Huawei, Mr. Fahmeed Akram, from University of Engineering Technology Lahore accompanied and mentored the students, won the Best Teacher Award. Mr. Kashif Hussein, Huawei authorized training partner in Pakistan, received the Best Partner Award for Corvit Systems. Winning students visited Huawei labs at its Headquarters and ICT Academy during their seven days sponsored tour to China.

They were also awarded free Huawei certification vouchers, certificates, Huawei Mobile phones and other giveaways as a token of appreciation for their excellent performance in the finals.

High Commision of Pakistan for Singapore pays tribute to the Quaid-e-Azam on his 142nd Birth Anniversary

The 142ndBirth Anniversary of the Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was celebrated in a simple and dignified ceremony with fervor and national spirit.

Addressing the gathering, Mr. Nasrullah Khan, High Commissioner of Pakistan to Singapore, highlighted the importance of the Quaid’s contributions and efforts for the creation of Pakistan. He also highlighted the valiant struggle of our ancestors to achieve this homeland. The High Commissioner emphasized the need to make Unity, Faith and Discipline the guiding principles of our lives. He stressed the need to work selflessly where ever we are for the betterment of our country and to make Pakistan the place, the Quaid and our ancestors had wanted and struggled for.

A cake was cut to celebrate the Birthday of the Quaid. An exhibition of historic photographs of the Movement for an independent homeland and books on Quaid e Azam was also arranged under the theme “Hamara Quaid” and “Main hun Quaid ka Pakistan” at the High Commission on the occasion.

A cross section of Pakistani community and Singaporeans attended the ceremony at the High Commission.

Cheetay Collaborating with Pepsi as an Official Partner

Cheetay.pk has established a concrete base in the domain of logistics and delivery in Lahore and is actively venturing into multiple business categories. Given our meteoric rise in the tech industry in Pakistan we have managed to acquire a large customer base and substantial goodwill. Having secured $1.1 million in Series A-1 funding we are expanding our business operations by launching diverse business categories to ensure we are the go to e-Commerce platform in Pakistan.

Being on track to branch out into multiple categories our next aim is to collaborate and partner with multinational companies to establish a brand that ensures trust, quality and reliability. Cheetay.pk has collaborated with Pepsi as its official beverage partner. Since Pepsi has entered the domain of digital retail and is now actively promoting sales through digital stores they chose to partner with us because of the market share we have acquired in Lahore and are a major player in the e-Commerce industry.

According to Ahmed Khan, CEO of Cheetay.pk, “Venturing into multiple categories has always been our business development approach and goal, similarly reaching out and affiliating with trusted multinational brands to create brand equity, recognition and awareness is what we intend to do now. By associating and joining forces with trusted names these corporate partnerships will not only help in creating a positive image but will translate into additional customers and will pave the way for greater opportunities”.

Market penetration and focusing on establishing brand identity and recognition is our current priority. According to Zeeshan Ali, Marketing Manager of Cheetay.pk, “Partnering with imminent brands opens countless avenues in terms of creating brand awareness, recognition and recall. Therefore, this alliance will enable us to make ample deals offering discounted and free beverages with not only regular orders but with specific cheetay.pk deals i.eSasti deals, Hunger Deals, Super Deals, etc. For the company to grow, steps that provide mass reach and recognition are vital”

The company since its creation has witnessed rapid expansion in terms of surging daily orders, increased logistics/delivery capacity and having launched new sub-categories. Apart from adding technology and building our logistics base the plan is to focus on unconventional marketing techniques to create a distinct brand image which sets us apart and makes us a dominant force in the industry.

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