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Sindh education foundation celebrates its silver jubilee

The Sindh Education Foundation (SEF), Government of Sindh celebrated its Silver Jubilee with the theme “Hope on; Journey on” depicting the Foundation’s voyage over the last twenty-five years. The Program witnessed the participation from luminaries from various walks of life, including; Members from National and Provincial Assemblies, bureaucracy, academia, members from civil society & Donor Agencies. The Chief Minister Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah was the Chief guest of the evening and Mr. Jam Mahtab Dahar, Minister for Education & Literacy Sindh was the host of the evening.

The Program started with the National Anthem that was sung by Students’ choir followed by a welcoming address by Ms. Naheed Shah Durrani, Managing Director SEF. She in her address reaffirmed to strengthen education outcomes in accordance with Government of Sindh’s vision.

Further the journey of SEF was screened through SEF’s documentary. The SEF School Partners spoke on the occasion about their journey in the next session especially the efforts taken in last many years for the provision of quality education. Each of the initial, middle and modern eras of the Foundation’s struggle was represented by a Partner who shared his journey with the audience.

Following the Partners’ talk, the groundbreaking launch of the Foundation’s android based e-learning software INSTAL (Introducing Smart Teaching and Learning) took place. The initiative was launched by the honorable Chief Minister. INSTAL envisions deployment of software at school level through the provision of 21,000 tablet computers at 700 SEF supported schools (@30 tablets per school).The event also marked the launch of Biography of Prof. Anita Ghulam Ali who was the Founder of SEF and served the Foundation for 22 years.

Speaking on the occasion Syed Murad Ali Shah, Chief Minister Sindh commended SEF’s role for strengthening the cause of quality education among the marginalized strata through building sustainable partnerships with the private sector in the province. Further; he expressed that in coming days the Foundation is expected to play a robust role in post primary education. It is envisaged that the Foundation would have at least 1000 post primary schools providing quality education across the province especially in remote areas in coming few years. He reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to overcome all impediments and improve access as well as quality of education across the province.

Mr. Jam Mahtab Dahar, Minister for Education & Literacy Sindh, expressed his appreciation and congratulated the Foundation on completing 25 years of its Journey. Counting on the strength of the Foundation, he added, the governmentis giving viable closed schools in Thatta, Badin, Jamshoro, Sujjawal and Daduto SEFfor functionalizing the se through Public Private Partnerships.

The Program concluded with a lively performance by the children on the theme of “Heal the World”.

NBP, JS Bank and Islamabad Traffic Police sign Agreement for E-Challan & Payments

In a grand ceremony in IG Office Islamabad, National Bank of Pakistan, JS Bank and Islamabad Traffic Police (ITP), signed an agreement for E-Challan and payments system in Islamabad Capital precinct. This partnership will enable the issuance of paperless challan to the driver through a hand held smart phone mobile application along with electronic receipt to driver via SMS.

This state of the art solution being deployed by NBP will digitize the issuance mechanism as well as the payment collection at JCash (JS Bank’s Branchless Banking) outlets along with its Mobile Wallets.

The agreement was signed by Mr. Saeed Ahmed – CEO/President National Bank of Pakistan and IG Islamabad Mr. Sultan-e-Azam Temuri, in the presence of senior officials including Mr. Mudassir H. Khan – SEVP/Group Chief Payment Services & Digital Banking Group from NBP, Mr. Khurram Shaikh, SEVP/Group Head Digital Banking from JS Bank, Mr. Malik Matloob- SSP Traffic, and other delegates. This initiative of NBP and ITP, will bring transparency as well as convenience for both the general public of Islamabad and the ITP officials; to receive real time confirmation of e-challan along with opening of thousands of outlets for challan payments for the ease of public, as they would not have to look for a bank to pay challan after waiting in long ques. This solution was originally conceived by Mr Azfar Jamal – EVP/Head of Innovation & E-Banking for NBP, Mr. Malik Matloob – SSP Traffic Islamabad and Noman Azhar – SVP/Country Head Branchless Banking & Digital Implementation for JS Bank, who along with their teams made tremendous efforts to bring this initiative to fruition.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr. Saeed Ahmed said “This service offers simplification of work, which leads to time saving, and minimizes book entry errors as everything will be done digitally. Leveraging the bank’s financial expertise coupled with the extensive network of J-Cash and our other partner organizations; we are continuously striving to provide digital solutions to meet financial needs of the general public of Pakistan. NBP will also add more payments channels to create further ease to general public including M-Wallet, Plastic, ATMs etc.” He emphasized on continuous training needs to ensure that the solutions creates the real benefit, although NBP has already conducted 3 training sessions for ITP officials but regular trainings and public awareness will bring the real outcome of this digitization. He further said “This solution will also help ITP in building a database that can be analyzed to further improve their systems, for enforcement and safety, and for performance evaluation of their officers”

Expressing his views on this great achievement, Mr. Khurram Shaikh, Group Head Digital Banking for JS Bank said “Our partnership with NBP and Islamabad Police is a very interesting opportunity and we are really looking forward to bring a positive change for the people of Pakistan. Digitization of Person to Government payments will prove to be one of the most effective ways to include people financially and build the required eco-system in Pakistan.”

Sharing his views IG Islamabad Mr. Temuri said “This is a very special day for Islamabad Traffic Police, as it takes lead in providing the digital solution that is the first initiative. In our Safe City initiatives, we shall strive to make extensive use of digital facilities. We are extremely proud and happy to partner with NBP, which has resulted in this solution, designed to facilitate not only our traffic officials but also the general public at large. Convenience has become a necessity of time and we are glad that NBP along with their strategic partners, is taking the lead in ensuring not only ITP, but the general public experiences the ease of technology”.

Distinguished Lecture on “Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Issues” delivered by Ms. Tehmina Janjua

The IBA Karachi hosted a Distinguished Lecture on Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Issues, delivered by the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Ms. Tehmina Janjua at the JS Auditorium, IBA City Campus. The event was attended by foreign delegates, prominent personalities from the corporate world, the IBA graduates, faculty and students.

Dean & Director IBA, Dr. Farrukh Iqbal welcomed the audience and highlighted that the IBA is more than just a business school. For the past 20 years the IBA has a strong Computer Science department and recently the IBA has diversified through establishing departments of Social Sciences and Journalism.

Ms. Tehmina Janjua started her presentation by highlighting the objectives of the Pakistan’s Foreign Policy, which involves pursing mutually beneficial relations with other countries, safeguarding national security and geo-strategic vital interests and strengthening Pakistan’s economic potential investment.

Ms. Janjua elaborated that Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives are achieved through regular monitoring of changing geopolitical environment and providing recommendations to leadership for necessary adjustments.

The Foreign Secretary mentioned that despite the recent hostile and antagonistic statements by the US leadership, Pakistan believes in engagement with United States. She asserted that Haqqani network is not working inside Pakistan. However, on the contrary, the enemies of Pakistan are gaining foothold in Afghanistan. Ms. Janjua said that Pakistan is ensuring an honourable return of Afghan refugees and is working on their rehabilitation.

Ms. Janjua informed the audience that Pakistan needs to engage and build relationships with other countries than US and is maintaining a flourishing relationship with Russia. Pakistan’s focus lies in strengthening of exchanges with Iran in the field of trade, commerce and border management and maintaining our principled position for a comprehensive dialogue with India without any preconditions.

The Foreign Secretary expressed her desire to develop a working relationship of the IBA with Ministry of Foreign Affairs in four areas involving methodology of developing case studies, developing Result Based Management System for the Foreign Office, Innovation and Promoting Pakistan as a brand.

The presentation was followed by a Question and Answer session. A shield was presented as a vote of thanks by the Dean & Director IBA, Dr. Farrukh Iqbal and Associate Dean, IBA, Dr. Huma Baqai.

Workshop on CVE through Media Product Development held

Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, National History & Literary Heritage held a seven day training workshop aimed at providing frontline professional media product development training with a deeper understanding of the violent extremism & terrorism and the role of media in countering it. This workshop held at Information Service Academy here in Islamabad.

Mr. Shafqat Jaleel, Additional Secretary for Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, National History & Literary Heritage also graced the closing session of the workshop, she stated that “Government of Pakistan is working on esteemed national policies on de-radicalization, and on combating violent extremism in all its forms. This project “Pakistan Peace Collective” under which we all are here is initiated years back to address these issues though research and communication strategies.”

Through this highly interactive and practical workshop, more than thirty students of media studies from a range of universities had not only got the opportunity to learn about but also to share and reflect on what tools and strategies can be most effective to make media products on the subject of CVE (Counter Violent Extremism).

Participants to the training were representatives of a wide range of universities from all over the Pakistan respective to their regions, including Quetta, Karachi, Gilgit Baltistan, Bahawalpur, Lahore, Malakand, Peshawar, Islamabad & Rawalpindi.

Throughout the different sessions, the trainers’ approach consistently relied on different case studies and developed a platform for sharing good practices for supporting the creation of CVE media products. Some case studies including Faizabad Issue, Short Interview with Inayat ullah Tiger (Constable in Bomb Disposal Unit KP Police), were used to apply theory to existing and diversified contexts.

The different phases of the workshop focused on Media, Social & religious narratives on terrorism and extremism, Media perception on terrorism, story visualization & development, script production and practical project on short profile production. On the other hand, participants also contributed their experiences in interactive session with regard to their regional diversities and issues.

APBF wants strong reforms for external stability as budget deficit reaches 2.3pc of GDP

As the country’s budget deficit has reached 2.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product during July-November of fiscal year 2017-18, the All Pakistan Business Forum has stated that the government is deviating from the path of fiscal discipline mainly due to heavy cost of domestic and foreign debt servicing.

APBF President Ibrahim Qureshi said the figures negate the federal government’s claim of reversing the trend of the last fiscal year when the budget deficit peaked to a record high of Rs. 1.86 trillion.

He said that the budget deficit and the current account deficit have become the biggest challenge for the economy, overshadowing the government’s economic performance in other areas. Because of these twin deficits, there are apprehensions that Pakistan might go back to the IMF for yet another bailout package, APBF leader warned.

He said that government should undertake strong reforms to maintain external stability, ensuring debt sustainability and supporting higher economic growth by containing the budget deficit.

He said the present trend shows that the annual budget deficit target of 4.1% of GDP approved by the parliament in June last year has now become unrealistic in just five months due to rising spending on debt servicing, forcing the country to go for more borrowing from the international market.

According to State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the country’s total external debt servicing stood at $2.09 billion during the first quarter of FY18. On principal side, external debt servicing under public debt stood at over $900 million, some $32 million on Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) guaranteed debt, $53 million on PSEs non-guaranteed debt and around $50 million on private non-guaranteed debt. Around $670 million were paid on account of short-term debt servicing. Debt servicing on account of interest includes over $30 million to the IMF, $8 million to Paris Club and $90 million of multilaterals.

Ibrahim Qureshi said that country’s total external debt servicing exceeded $2 billion mark during the first quarter of current fiscal year. The decline in the SBP reserves also reflects lower inflows and higher foreign payments. The overall gap between expenditures and incomes has widened to Rs. 826 billion during the July-Nov despite the fact that all provinces showed Rs. 150 billion as cash surplus during this period.

He said that the main reason behind this budget deficit is ballooning debt servicing repayments. The domestic and foreign debt servicing has increased to around Rs. 627 billion during July through November of the current fiscal year.

APBF chief said that the government’s growing reliance on short-term domestic and foreign borrowings has significantly increased the debt servicing cost. The 7 percent rupee devaluation during last one year would also increase the government’s cost of external debt servicing.–PR

SaudiGulf Airlines starts services to Pakistan’s four destinations

SaudiGulf Airlines – The new full-service national carrier of Saudi Arabia owned by Abdulhadi Al Qahtani and Sons Holding Company (Tareq Al Qahtani and Brothers) – is pleased to announce the start of its operations to four destinations in Pakistan as part of its international route expansion program.

Emphasizing on the pivotal role of travel trade in maintaining the relationship between The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, SaudiGulf Airlines is initiating operations to four major cities in Pakistan being Lahore, Islamabad, Sialkot and Peshawar.

‘We are pleased to announce our 2018 international routes expansion starting with four destinations in Pakistan from Dammam, SaudiGulf Airline’s main base in Saudia Arabia. This route will connect passengers from Pakistan across the kingdom of Saudi Arabia through King Fahd International Airport in Dammam’ stated Mr. Karim Makhlouf, Chief Commercial Officer, in a statement at a press conference in Islamabad.

The airline will operate its Airbus A320 aircrafts to Pakistan offering leather seats in both compartments, Business and Economy Class. It will commence direct flights from Dammam to Lahore & Islamabad with a frequency of 4 flights per week as well as 3 flights per week connecting Dammam with Sialkot & Peshawar. Utilizing King Fahd International Airport in Dammam as the hub of its operations, SaudiGulf airlines will be the first Saudi carrier to operate direct flights between the Eastern Providence of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

This strategic decision was taken by SaudiGulf Airlines aligned with the Saudi Vision 2030 to support the expanding growth in infrastructure projects in the kingdom which will ultimately contribute to ease of travel to passengers between Saudi Arabia & Pakistan. Furthermore, the routes shall be utilized to carry passengers from the mentioned destinations in Pakistan across the kingdom of Saudi Arabia though the Dammam hub. Connections mainly include Jeddah & Medina dedicated to carry Hajj & Umrah passengers. The decision made by SaudiGulf Airlines to provide convenience of travel from and to the holy sites in Mecca and Medina as part of its religious contribution as a new national carrier. “We are pleased to add new flights to cater to the growing demand of Umrah and Hajj traffic out of Pakistan, while also providing passengers with convenient connections via Dammam” Said Mr. Karim Makhlouf, Chief Commercial Officer, SaudiGulf Airlines.

Starting operations on the 1st of March 2018, the fares are to start from 12,000 PKR and include free seat selection, hot meals, in-flight entertainment services as well as personalized customer service. SaudiGulf Airlines will be represented by the largest GSA network in Pakistan, Gerry’s Group. This partnership is a testament of SaudiGulf Airlines’ intensions to capture a significant market share in Pakistan

‘We have decided to partner and cooperate with Gerry’s Group for its well-known efforts as a General Sales Agent with more than 50 years of experience in this field’ Said Karim Makhlouf, Chief Commercial Officer, SaudiGulf Airlines. “The induction of SaudiGulf Airlines as a direct Saudi Carrier initiating operations to Pakistan will significantly add value to the travel trade industry of Pakistan and testifies to growing travel demand across the Country” said Mr. Arshad Wali Muhammad, Gerry’s Group Director.

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