Tag Archives: Hajj ، عرب نيوز

The most popular foreign leader at SBM in Pakistan: Minister | Instant News


ISLAMABAD: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the most popular foreign leader in Pakistan because he has raised bilateral relations to a new level, Pakistan’s Minister of Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

“Since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took over, he has brought bilateral relations to a completely different level,” the minister said.

During his visit to Pakistan in February 2019, the crown prince told Prime Minister Imran Khan: “Suppose I am a Pakistani ambassador in Saudi Arabia.”

Chaudhry said the visit was “truly extraordinary and impressive. Prime Minister Imran Khan did not visit any country other than Saudi Arabia, and so too the crown prince himself visited Pakistan with a large delegation.”

The two countries have always enjoyed historic and diverse relations despite repeated changes in Pakistan’s political landscape.

Every Pakistani government has enjoyed close relations with the Kingdom, Chaudhry said, adding, “This is a person-to-person relationship, and Pakistan respects Saudi Arabia.”

He said Saudi Arabia had stood with Pakistan through the thick and thin, adding: “In all our challenges, the first country we went to was Saudi Arabia, and the Kingdom was always there to help us. You can imagine from this the respect of the two countries towards one each other. “

Praising the vision of the crown prince in 2030, Chaudhry said the plan was not only beneficial for the Kingdom but for the entire Muslim world.

“Vision 2030 has two dimensions. One of them is Saudi Arabia’s domestic policy and another dimension is the Muslim world, about how we can avoid perceptions of extremism, “the minister said, adding that the concept of Vision 2030 is based on education, knowledge, innovation, technology and science.

“It’s about the cultural change that the crown prince wants to bring not only in Saudi Arabia but for the entire Muslim population, which is indeed the way forward,” Chaudhry said.

“Pakistan highly respects Vision 2030, and I believe this is actually a forward-looking agenda for Muslims around the world,” he added.

“In Pakistan, we have been through a torturous war against extremism, where we have suffered greatly. No one can understand better than us about the importance of getting rid of extremism. We need cultural change and adaptation from the modern world, especially in science and technology. This is clearly a fundamental element for progress and it is demonstrated in Vision 2030. “

During Chaudhry’s visit to Saudi Arabia last year, he met the crown prince and discussed cooperation in science and technology.

Chaudhry said in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were huge opportunities for the two countries to partner with each other.

“Pakistan has done wonders in the manufacturing of medical and protective equipment. “We want Saudi investment and cooperation in this matter to expand our capacity to produce medical equipment,” he added.

Chaudhry expressed his hope to increase bilateral cooperation in science and technology after the pandemic, especially precision agriculture, which uses satellites and drones to manage crops.

“We are far ahead of most other countries in precision agriculture, so we want to share our experience with Saudi Arabia,” he said.

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The virus attacked the Karachi Central Prison so that a quarter of prisoners were infected | Instant News


NEW DELHI: Harinder Bhati’s anger knows no bounds when he starts talking about China.

Since news reports Monday – 20 Indian troops have been killed in clashes with China along the disputed Himalayan border in Ladakh – Bhati have led “Chinese boycott campaigns.”

On Thursday, he held a protest in Greater Noida, a suburb of New Delhi, where the group called for a boycott of Chinese cellphones and urged traders not to sell Chinese goods.

“We are nervous about Chinese aggression and brutal killings of our soldiers,” Bhati, a social activist, told Arab News on Saturday.

However, he seems unaware that the cellphones used by him and other protesters in the group are manufactured by China or have Chinese components in them.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said, adding that sooner or later, “India will start producing its own cellphones.”

“Was India fed by China? India will match Chinese technological knowledge sooner or later. We will sacrifice some of our indulgences to teach Chinese lessons, “he said.

That is the thoughts and emotions echoed by Vivek Yadav from Jabalpur in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

Under the banner of the Popular Resistance Group, Yadav organized a “boycott of China” demonstration in Jabalpur on Thursday and called on all sections of society “to live without Chinese products,” on the grounds that Indian money “helped China grow.”

“China is getting stronger and stronger with billions of dollars of Indian money coming into their economies. This affects our economy and our local industry. This must be stopped now, “Yadav told Arab News.

“One day will come when China will start dictating requirements for the Indian economy, and we will be ready and call on the Chinese economy,” he said.

After a month of tension along the disputed border in Ladakh, deadly clashes broke out between the two Asian giants, resulting in the loss of 20 Indian troops.

That is a rare increase in tension that hasn’t occurred since 1975.

News of the death of the army created a wave of emotion throughout the country, which led to protests, with several calling for a total boycott of Chinese products.

Under pressure, the government appears to be rethinking its agreement with China, with the government-run Indian Railways reportedly canceling a $ 61.8 million contract with Chinese companies.

Meanwhile, the government-owned India Special Freight Corridor Ltd. has stopped tenders given to companies based in China.

However, views on economic relations between the two countries tell a different story, with experienced economists and politicians warning against spontaneous reactions.

China has a large investment in the Indian economy – accounting for $ 5.5 billion as of last year – and New Delhi trades more with Beijing than vice versa.

In addition, China’s smart phone company has a share of around 75 percent of the Indian market.

Bilateral trade also benefits China, with Beijing’s exports of $ 57.86 billion in 2019 compared to imports which reached $ 16.32 billion.

This means that India has a trade deficit of more than $ 50 billion.

“We must reduce the rhetoric of nationalism which tends to eliminate other relevant problems,” a senior Congressional opposition party leader and former finance minister, P. Chidambaram, told the media on Saturday.

“I support independence, but that doesn’t mean we have to part with the world. As far as trade relations are concerned, India must be part of the global supply chain. If you boycott Chinese goods, which part of China’s trade with India is part of world trade? That’s a small portion. So boycotting Chinese goods will not harm the Chinese economy but may or may not harm Indian consumers, “he said.

Economists feel the boycott campaign is impractical and not rooted in reality.

“If we boycott, China will not be hurt much, but we will be affected because we import a lot of manufactured products from them,” economist Arun Kumar of New Delhi-based Jawaharlal Nehru University told Arab News, adding that India needs to have a “long-term plan” long “to deal with the consequences.

“If India wants to match China, it must have a long-term plan and invest heavily in education, technology, skills development. New Delhi must strengthen its bargaining power to put pressure on Beijing. So the calibrated strategy needs to be formulated, “Kumar said.

Delhi-based political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay agreed, wondering how “his country can carry out this spontaneous reaction.”

“The boycott campaign will not serve any purpose. We are very dependent on China for our economy, “Mukhopadhyay told Arab News.

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Operations are underway against the militants near the Pakistan-Iran border | Instant News


DUBAI / KARACHI: A large intelligence-based operation is underway against militants hiding near Pakistan’s border with Iran in southwestern Balochistan province, Pakistani intelligence officials and local witnesses say, in the latest effort to combat violence on the 900 km joint border.

Over the years, Iran and Pakistan have accused each other of not making enough efforts to evict militants suspected of sheltering across the border.

In the latest attack which caused a dispute between the two countries, six Pakistani security personnel were killed in a bomb attack on a paramilitary Border Corps vehicle, the army media wing said on May 19. Six Pakistani soldiers were also killed in a roadside bomb. the attack on Balochistan on May 8.

Some militant groups are active in Balochistan, the largest but poorest province in Pakistan. Most of the violence in the past has been blamed, or claimed by, Baloch ethnic separatists.

Baloch Khan, a spokesman for Baloch Raaji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), an umbrella group of the Baloch rebel group, was confirmed in a media statement last month that “Pakistani military operations” were underway and the army was surrounding and attacking remote villages. However, he said no BRAS commander or fighter had been killed in the attack.

An intelligence official who declined to be named told Arab News that it was called Operation Ground Zero Clearance.

Two additional intelligence officials confirmed that the operation was ongoing. Two local witnesses in the Mand area in the Kech district also confirmed “action” in their area.

In a Twitter post on May 23, a pro-government politician from Balochistan, Nawabzada Jamal Khan Raisani, said the Pakistani military had launched a “cleanup operation” against the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) along the border with Iran .

The two groups are part of BRAS, together with the Republican Army of Baloch and the Republican Guard of the Baloch.

“The action began (on May 21) with a series of terrorists neutralized and their hiding damaged,” Raisani said.

He told Arab News that a senior BLF commander, Abdul Hameed (aka Ghazin Baloch), was among the two dozen militants killed in the ongoing operation, which he said was led by Pakistani army and intelligence officers.

The Pakistani military media wing and the Foreign Office refused a request by Arab News for comment.

Ijaz Ahmed Shah, the federal interior minister, said his team would respond to questions sent by email, but no response was received until the time of the press.

Balochistan Interior Minister Mir Zia Ullah Langove did not respond to specific questions about the operation “for security reasons,” but said: “We have taken effective action.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media about the issue, an intelligence officer based in the city of Turbat said “target banks” had been gathered by officials for weeks, and raids were now underway. out in several areas, especially against militants hiding in the border areas of Kecch, Panjgur and Gwadar.

Pakistan began to fence off the 900 km border with Iran in May last year, which has been a source of “frustration” for the insurgents, the intelligence official said, making them plan more attacks.

Last month, Pakistani military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa spoke with his Iranian counterpart Maj. Gen. Mohammed Bagheri by telephone.

They discussed border fences, improved border terminals, increased security and the recent attacks on Pakistani forces near the border, among other problems, according to statements from the Pakistani Army media wing.

On April 20 last year, just days after militants killed 14 bus passengers in an attack along the border with Iran, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the militants behind the attack were based in Iran, calling on Tehran to take action. The attack was claimed by BRAS.

“This new alliance (BRAS) training camp and logistics camp … are inside the Iranian border region,” Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad. Iran denies state involvement.

Just days after Qureshi’s comments, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised press conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who visited Tehran, that the two countries would form a joint rapid response force to combat militant activity on their shared border.

“We agreed to increase security cooperation between the two countries, our border forces, our intelligence forces, and also to form a joint rapid reaction force on the borders of the two countries for fighting terrorism,” Rouhani said.

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Diplomatic Power: Pakistani officials in Saudi Arabia have accelerated the repatriation process | Instant News


JEDDAH: The city of Riyadh announced on Wednesday that 8,787 commercial businesses had been banned from practicing their usual activities until June 20, including barber shops, beauty salons, fitness centers, cinemas and shisha cafes.

The Saudi authorities exclude all activities where social distance cannot be applied from a three-phase plan launched on May 25 to return to normal life. Other activities that remain suspended include sports and health clubs, recreation centers and cinemas.

Because curfew restrictions are easing in the Kingdom, the Ministry of Health reminds people who have returned to work this week not to share eating utensils with coworkers. The Kingdom recorded 30 new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, increasing the total to 579. There were 2,171 new cases reported in the Kingdom, which means 91,182 people have now contracted the disease. There are 22,444 active cases, 1,321 of which are in critical condition.

The Ministry of Health also announced that 2,369 more patients had recovered from coronavirus, bringing the total recovery in the Kingdom to 68,159. Saudi Arabia has so far carried out 870,963 tests for COVID-19.

The ministry calls on people to continue washing their hands using soap and water, basic preventive measures against the virus, and covering their nose and mouth with face masks, medical or cloth, except those in confined spaces.

Anyone with viral symptoms – high fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing – it is recommended to use the “Mawid” application for self-evaluation, or call 937 for questions
and consultation. The ministry has allowed callers to get reliable information through interactive chat with the medical team via WhatsApp at 920005937.

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Pakistan condemns the expulsion of two Indian embassy officials over ‘espionage’ | Instant News


KARACHI: Government employees in Pakistan will see an increase in their salaries in the coming fiscal budget, the chair of the national standing committee in finance, income and economic affairs, Faiz Ullah Kamoka, told Arab News on Sunday.
On Saturday, local media reported that government employees would see salary increases of up to 20 percent in the new fiscal budget expected in the second week of June. Kamoka did not confirm the amount of the increase.

“Certainly the salaries of government employees will increase in the coming budget,” Kamoka said. “The focus of the government is on economic stabilization in the COVID-19 crisis. Our priority is to keep jobs intact, meet defense requirements, and stabilize exports, “he said.
A similar request has been submitted by the country’s defense ministry seeking an increase in salaries of armed forces personnel by 20 percent, according to a memorandum of the Ministry of Defense dated May 8.

Following the closure related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan has experienced a steady economic downturn, and announced last week that a highly awaited budget for the next fiscal year will not be subject to new taxes.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Pakistan’s economic growth will be negative 1.5 percent in the current fiscal year, and 2 percent for the next fiscal year, 2020-21.

Pakistan is expected to reach around Rs3.8 trillion this year in revenue collection against the revised tax collection target of Rs 5,238 trillion. The country’s fiscal deficit is expected to surge to 9 percent against the 7 percent target. In this situation, with the budget getting closer, experts and economists have pointed to the difficulty of implementing drastic salary increases.

“The biggest challenge is where to meet costs like salary increases. At this point, the government needs to reduce non-development spending and provide tax relief for businesses to survive and revive, “Dr. Ikram ul Haq, an economist based in Lahore, told Arab News.
“Revenue generation is made possible by lowering taxes, especially sales tax. The current 17 percent rate is on paper. The effective level is no more than 8 percent, “he said.

“The efforts of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) alone only generate Rs84 billion and from arrears, Rs18.6 billion. This confirms the neglected part [of tax collection] in the FBR section, “he said, and added:” Under these circumstances, a raise and a pension is not the right step. ”

However, Dr. Khaqan Najeeb, who has served as an adviser to the Ministry of Finance, said spending could be reduced to make room for expected salary increases.

“Savings are possible in interest payments, operating costs cut non-targeted subsidies and away from state-funded pensions,” said Dr. Najeeb told Arab News.
“Increasing the salaries of people who reach Rs 50,000 may be needed along with those who risk their lives in hospitals,” he said and stressed that multi-rounds of money for vulnerable groups and businesses were needed along with a new growth support program to avoid a recession.

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Arabic-speaking Pakistanis meet online to bridge cultural gaps | Instant News


ISLAMABAD: For one and a half hours every two weeks, a group of Pakistanis enters Zoom, a video conference platform, to enter the digital space “Halqa-e-Aldardsha Al-Arabia” or Arabic Language Circle.

The group of 20 joined by 50 other linguists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan and even India – Pakistan’s nuclear-armed neighbors, and archrival since the 1947 partition.

However, because of the group’s apolitical nature, the conversation is exclusive and revolves around their experiences and love with Arabic – a language that goes beyond their digital limits.

“At present, there are 70 members in the group, 20 Pakistan and 50 from other countries. Pakistanis and two Indians are not native speakers of Arabic, they learned it in the 1970s (as overseas workers), while members of Middle Eastern countries are native speakers, so this is a good mix, “Dr. Inamul Haq Ghazi, founder of the group and chair of the Arabic translation department at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, told Arab News on Tuesday.

The group held its first meeting on May 15 with the aim “to promote language and exchange cultural experiences.”

That idea, said Dr. Ghazi, comes from the fact that many foreign workers and expats are fluent in Arabic but “don’t have a platform to connect to a larger audience.”

“Our governments (Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) have a strong historical relationship, but we want to promote interpersonal contact through our platform. “Millions of our citizens are employed in various fields in several Middle Eastern countries, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE),” he said.

Prime among them was Ambassador Javed Hafeez, another founding member, who said that it began as an informal “group of friends” who were fluent in classical Arabic and “wanted to share their social and cultural experiences.”

“Being fluent in languages, I appear on various Arab news channels as an analyst where I promote a positive image of Pakistan,” Hafeez, who has served in many Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia as ambassador, told Arab News.

He added that Arabic is a rich language, before urging Pakistani youth to learn it “to develop their careers in the Middle East and know more about their social and cultural values.


Screenshot showing participants in the Arabic Language Circle meeting through Zoom held on May 15. (Provided by Ambassador Javed Hafeez)

All welcomed, Dr. Ghazi added, because there are no restrictions on nationality.

“We, in fact, include people from various nationalities in our group to make it a multinational platform,” he said.

Topics range from talking about personal experiences to curated subjects.

“In our next meeting, we plan to discuss ‘Arab travelers to the sub-continent, and how they describe the area in their travelogues.’ We have circulated this topic among the participants, and each member will be ready to talk about it and ask different questions, “Hafeez said, adding that in the previous session he shared his language learning experience and how it helped him” climb the ladder of success as a diplomat. “

Furthermore, the group has plans to establish a “Regional Arabic Language Center” in Pakistan, with the assistance of Saudi Arabia, to promote Arabic and cultural exchange between the two countries.

“This platform can also be used to dub classic dramas and films in Urdu and Arabic to promote it in Pakistan and Middle Eastern countries. This is an apolitical platform, and its only aim is to promote Arabic and strengthen our relations with Middle Eastern countries, “Dr. Ghazi.

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Mafia mafia ‘for unemployment benefits’ during the Italian coronavirus crisis | Instant News


ROMA: More than 100 bosses and members of the ‘Ndrangheta Mafia based in Calabria in southern Italy have mistakenly claimed the government’s basic “citizenship wage” income for poor households and job seekers, said Italian police.

Among the claimants for allowances – € 600 ($ 660) a month given by the government to those who can show that they live below the minimum wage standard – are the children of Roberto Pannunzi, a mafia mafia nicknamed “Pablo Escobar of Italy.”

“They really do not need the country’s basic income – their families are doing very well with illegal activities,” Reggio Calabria Chief Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told Arab News.

“But the mafia is never enough, they always want more. That is their nature. Even if it means taking money meant for the poorest, they only take it because they feel they can do whatever they like. “

Italian and US researchers say Pannunzi is one of the biggest cocaine dealers in the world, with a business worth billions.

He was accused of using migrant ships crossing the Mediterranean to Sicily and Calabria to smuggle cocaine and other drugs from Africa to Europe.

Pannunzi, also known as “Bebe,” likes to boast that he weighs money instead of counting it when he receives payment for cocaine sales, police said.

His eldest son, Alessandro, married the daughter of one of Colombia’s biggest cocaine producers and was found guilty of importing large quantities of drugs into Italy.

The financial police believe members of the crime syndicate raise more than € 500,000 in government assistance, which is now being confiscated.

“Apart from the extraordinary wealth they get from drug trafficking and other illegal activities, Mafia people do not show respect for poverty and what the government is trying to do to provide financial assistance to the community,” Gratteri said.

“The citizenship wage of € 600” is a nut for the mafia that makes millions and can spend half an hour of what some poor people live for a whole month.

“This will tell you quite clearly how terrible and terrible the masses are for the community. This is not only because of their criminal activities, but also because they do not show respect to those who suffer. Only the money they want, “he said.

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Diplomatic Quota: The repatriation of stranded Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia continues | Instant News


JEDDAH: The popular Saudi YouTuber has slammed several Ramadan TV shows this year for being “not creative” and “horrified” to watch.

Actor Abdul Majeed Al-Kinani told fans that he had been turned off by “a state of regret” from a number of TV offers produced for the holy month of fasting.

In one of the most recent episodes of his hit online show, “Luqaimat,” he chose two Saudi productions for particular criticism.

Describing poor acting standards in the “1 Billion” program of the Saudi Broadcasting Authority, Al-Kinani said: “The worst moment that humans can experience, is when you watch an open and horrified scene, when you have nothing to do with it. “

Playing a clip that shows the actor delivering dialogue directly to the camera, he added: “I feel offended that our official TV channels are treated like this.”

Calling for a better understanding and respect for the Saudi audience, he said: “I have great hopes for people in the authorities and ministries to take action and follow up on how this work makes it to the screen in a sorry country.”

He also denounced the Ramadan series “Exit 7,” starring the actor “Tash Ma Tash” Nasser Al-Qasabi, for being “not creative and repetitive” in his plot.

Al-Kinani had promised that 2019 would be the last season of “Luqaimat,” but because of popular demand he agreed to return. A light entertainment show was launched in 2012 on the SceenTV YouTube channel that addresses topical issues in the Kingdom and throughout the Gulf region.

HIGHLAMP

  • The shows ‘1 Billion’ and ‘Exit 7’ have been described as ‘repetitive and not creative.’

  • ‘Ureem,’ a comedy series about a young man who works at a travel company, received good responses.

  • Call for more professional resources and tools such as talent agents.

Reacting to Al-Kinani’s comments, Nora Al-Rifai, a 28-year-old TV show and film fanatic, said: “The reaction of people and hashtag trends (on Twitter) proves how aware the audience has gotten to the point where you can only present them (the event TV) with any content and calls it comedy or drama.

“Because of streaming services and reopening of films, people have to compare a lot, and if it doesn’t meet their expectations, then it has to go,” he added.

Dahlia Baeshen, a Saudi scriptwriter, said there is little that can be compared between local and international production standards. “We are a much younger industry. Some aspects of film making techniques are less visually appealing. The reopening of cinemas in the Kingdom will further change the tastes of future viewers.

“On the other hand, I am sure there has been a change in the subject matter of TV shows. Some of the topics at ‘Exit 7’ are bold and bold and would never have been discussed only a few years ago. This jump is quite impressive. “

He noted that the Kingdom had many talents that emerged with young people aspiring to be filmmakers, writers, and actors.

“Talent is important, of course, but I think more importantly, creative needs to find a platform to connect. We have a rich history and culture and lots of stories to tell. However, I think for TV to change, we need to have better construction and structure in the industry, matching different talents to each other, “Baeshen added.

Professional resources and tools, such as talent agencies representing artists and writers and director guilds, are needed, he said.

After watching the growth of the YouTube TV series, he added: “I think we are far away, but there is plenty of room to do more. A lot of content, especially on YouTube, is very male-oriented. I want to see more content written by women to express the other side of the spectrum. “

Afnan Linjawi, a Saudi screenwriter and poet, said: “With access to Hollywood productions, Bollywood films, streaming services such as Netflix, and Spanish, British and other productions, if we count them, the Saudi performer is 50 years ahead of Saudi production.

“Saudi viewers might know what a good TV is, but unfortunately most don’t know what is needed to make a good TV.”

He told Arab News that quality television requires a stable and strong production industry with unwavering infrastructure and quality personnel. “Decades of failure, good trials and errors, and success are mandatory.”

Saudi producer Jawaher Al-Mary said TV in the Kingdom deserved a second chance. “With regard to the latest works, I think the ideas in it are repeated, and some are even embarrassing. It’s not because of a particular genre, whether it’s drama or comedy, but the whole content. “

He felt that “Ureem,” a comedy series about a young man who worked at a travel company, was the only Ramadan event to be noted.

Other social media users echo Al-Kinani’s frustration about Ramadan TV content this year.

Ali Al-Saif said: “People of his generation have witnessed extraordinary media exposure and participated in many large international works which undoubtedly influenced their tastes and the public as a result. Viewers can now distinguish between the big and the unusual.”

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Exclusive: The mathematical model used by Pakistan to predict the direction of the virus | Instant News


LAHORE: In a televised address to the country on May 15, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed relief that the number of corona virus cases in Pakistan was far lower than expected.

“As per our prediction, on May 14 Pakistan will have 52,695 cases [of COVID-19] and 1,324 deaths, “he told the nation. According to government statistics, on that day the official figure was a little more than 37,000 infections, while 803 people had died.
“Thankfully, we are still under projections,” Khan said.

Estimates appointed by the prime minister are determined by a team of scientists and doctors who access and analyze state data.

One of the scientists is Ahsan Ahmed. He and his team, spread across Pakistan and abroad, used the “Susceptible-Exposed-Infectious-Recovered (SEIR)” mathematical model to predict the development of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In simpler terms, this model divides the population into four categories: those who are susceptible to viruses, these are people who are potentially affected by the disease; those exposed, people who may have a virus but show no symptoms; which is contagious, this is an active case; and recovered.

The SEIR model was used successfully in the past to understand the spread of Ebola, SARS and Zika – and most recently in Wuhan, China, to assess how the new corona virus will spread.

Scientists around the world have used various epidemiological models to help policy makers plan ahead, and determine what interventions and resources will be needed in case of a surge. Pakistan, too, has mobilized a team of experts for this purpose.

Ahmed, who is a senior technical advisor at the ministry, told Arab News by telephone from Islamabad that his team was very careful when forecasting data to ensure that there were some inaccuracies if there were any.

Every week, estimates of the infected are revised and re-evaluated compared to the actual number in the field.

This data is then presented to the state’s National Command and Control Center (NCOC), the main body in charge of developing strategies to fight the pandemic in the country.

When comparing official figures with predicted ones, Ahmed explained, “the trend we are aware of is that they are pretty much in tune.”

His team includes doctors based in London and Canada. Ahmed himself is from the University of Manitoba, Canada.

Others providing technical assistance include a personal data modeling company in Karachi, named Love For Data and officials from UNICEF.

Love for Data is not available for comment when contacted by Arab News.

When asked how many cases Pakistan is expected to record in the coming weeks, both Ahmed and Atta-ur-Rehman, additional secretaries to the Minister of National Health Services Regulation, declined to comment, stating that these figures were only disclosed to the NCOC.

But separately, the Minister of Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhry, tweeted that Pakistan is expected to receive more pressure from the virus in mid-June – a month from now.

Independent estimates predict the same thing. Jan Fiete Grosse-Oetringhaus and Zafar Yasin, affiliated with the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), in Geneva, Switzerland, have done their own modeling using the SEIR model.

Yasin agreed with an assessment by Chaudhry that Pakistan would likely reach the peak of daily cases in the middle of next month.

At that time, he estimated, confirmed cases could be between 200,000 and 350,000 or even more, and deaths between 4,000 and 7,000.

But he has one concern. While the SEIR model is very accurate, in the case of Pakistan, there is a mismatch.

“In Pakistan, it seems that confirmed cases (based on model predictions) should have reached 80,000 now, but we are in the range of 43,000,” Yasin told Arab News. “When the same model is used for various countries in Europe, it gives reliable results, but for Pakistan, it shows a different trend.”

One reason, Yasin added, could be that Pakistan did not test enough compared to its population. At this point, testing should be between 40-50,000 per day, he said.

As of May 20, Pakistan has conducted nearly 13,000 tests per day for a population of more than 207 million.

This uncertainty affects the model output. In other words, the fewer people tested, the less will be known about the actual number of people infected.

Earlier this month, international scientists tracking the spread of the corona virus estimated that for every known case, there were five to ten people whose infections were unknown. This study was published in Science Magazine.

In the same speech on May 15, PM Khan made another revelation.

Because the figure is lower than expected, he said, there is still room in the hospital to treat COVID-19 patients, and the pressure on the health care system is not that much.

But health officials and those on the front lines tend to be coronavirus patients, disagreeing. Even if the government figures are below those estimated, they say, the hospital is full of patients suffering from COVID-19.

Dr Nasir Azim Kakar, a pulmonologist at the Fatima Jinnah Chest Hospital in Pakistan’s poorest province, Balochistan, told Arab News that he and his colleagues received an influx of patients every day.

“If we had previously examined five patients a day, now we are triple examinations,” he said by telephone from Quetta.

“Right now, when we receive patients, we face a huge shortage of ICU beds, ventilators, and staff shortages, especially for ICUs.”

* With additional reporting by Nazar ul Islam

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Dubai luxury fashion designers make PPE | Instant News


The Saudi British Bank (SABB) recorded net profit after zakat and income tax of SR1,022 million ($ 272 million) for the three months ended March 31, 2020. This is a decrease of SR84 million or 7.6 percent compared to SR1. 106 million for the same period in 2019.

SABB and Bank Alawwal officially joined on June 16 last year and SABB’s financial results include the financial results of Bank Alawwal from the date of merger onwards. The period reported before the merger did not include the financial results of Alawwal Bank.

SR2,435 million has been reported as operating income for the first quarter of 2020, an increase of SR465 million or 23.6 percent, compared to SR1,970 million for the same period in 2019.

Loans and advances were recorded at SR157.8 billion as of March 31, 2020, an increase of SR47.4 billion or 42.9 percent, from SR110.4 billion as of March 31, 2019.

Customer deposits totaled SR188.3 billion as of March 31, 2020, an increase of SR61.1 billion or 48 percent, compared with SR127.2 billion as of March 31, 2019.

Investment stands at SR60.5 billion as of March 31, 2020, up from SR21.1 billion or 53.6 percent, from SR39.4 billion as of March 31, 2019.

Total assets reached SR265.2 billion as of March 31 this year, an increase of SR91.4 billion or 52.6 percent from SR173.8 billion as of March 31, 2019.

Net income per share was SR0.50 compared to SR0.74 for the same period the previous year.

Lubna Suliman Olayan, chairman of SABB, said: “SABB has a strong start for this year, with the first three months of 2020 representing successive second quarter loan growth, which sustains strong operating income in challenging situations. We continue to make steady progress by integrating banks after the official merger last year, with a number of milestones. Financial returns have improved, capital has remained strong, with funding and liquidity remaining abundant and stable. “

He added: “When the board and management looked beyond the first quarter, it was clear that the COVID-19 virus outbreak had posed several challenges for business and the economy as a whole, and had a very real impact on the living community. The bank had made every effort to ensure that it maintain critical banking services throughout, while protecting the safety of our customers and staff. “

“While the crisis poses a number of unique challenges, the SABB is in a healthy condition to face potential pressure in the future, with a strong capital base, a stable funding base, and sufficient liquidity reserves … The promise of the national economic growth agenda under Vision 2030 still very much alive, and is a significant opportunity ahead. “

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