Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi on Tuesday accused Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah of using the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to “trace the location” of legislators with the intent to influence them ahead of the chief minister’s election on July 22. The Supreme Court had on July 1 ruled that a new Punjab chief minister election would take place on July 22 and said incumbent Hamza Shehbaz would remain in office till then as it heard the PTI and the PML-Q’s pleas against Hamza’s election and oath-taking. Addressing a press conference alongside PTI and PML-Q leaders in Lahore, Elahi, who is himself is a candidate for top slot, said IB Director General Fawad Asadullah “must refrain from such acts as he was monitoring the locations of PML-Q and PTI lawmakers at the behest of Shehbaz Sharif and Sanaullah”. “It is my warning to the IB head that he must stop doing this.” He went on to allege that PM Shehbaz had “formed a cell” specifically for the purpose to keep watch on rival MPAs as the chief minister’s election approaches. “They lost the public trust and now they are resorting to such cheap tactics,” Elahi added. In response to a question on whether any “other forces” were backing the IB, the PML-Q leader said “only the prime minister is backing it”. He also claimed that a man associated with the PML-Q who had businesses overseas was also recently picked by the IB from the Lahore airport “for no reason”. Elahi endorsed as CM nominee by PTI PTI leader Mian Mehmood-ur-Rasheed, who was seated next to Elahi, informed reporters that the party had endorsed Elahi as its nominee for the Punjab chief minister. “A letter has been dispatched to all lawmakers at the directives of party chief Imran Khan and the party members will reach Lahore tonight for a meeting which will be held tomorrow.” He said Imran will also reach Lahore tomorrow and stay in the provincial capital for the next two days. He was of the view that PTI had the support of 188 MPAs while the PML-N had 173 to 174 lawmakers, emphasising the gap could never be filled. Rasheed said free and fair polls were the only solution and warned that the political situation would deteriorate further if any “intervention” was made in the elections.
‘Misuse of police authority won’t be forgiven’ Speaking on the occasion, PML-Q leader Amir Saeed Rawn said it the manner in which the IB was being used was “shocking”. He said the man detained by the IB from the Lahore airport on June 19 “was forced to give a statement that Parvez Elahi is involved in money laundering”. Rawn also warned the police to desist from misusing their authority, saying “a list will be prepared after July 22 and no one will be forgiven
The rupee fell to an all-time low against the dollar for the second day in a row on Tuesday, closing at Rs222 in the interbank market. According to the Forex Association of Pakistan (FAP), the greenback was up Rs8.8, or 4 per cent, against the previous day's close of Rs215.20 to reach Rs224 around 2:30pm. However, it closed at Rs221.99, appreciating 3.1pc, according to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). Mettis Global Director Saad Bin Naseer said the rupee was seeing a decline due to "panic buying [of the dollar] by banks in the interbank market". He said that "panic is setting in the financial markets following fears of change in [the] government in Punjab and Centre" after the by-polls on the province's 20 seats. The by-elections saw the PTI register a thumping victory against the PML-N, which leads the ruling coalition. Following the win, the PTI has demanded early elections. Naseer went on to say that the downgrading of Pakistan's outlook from stable to negative by the Fitch rating agency further increased panic in the market. Moreover, he said, the demand for dollar among importers had also "spiked" as the future of inflows from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), friendly countries and bilateral sources remained a concern. The chief executive officer of investment firm Alpha Beta Core, Khurram Schehzad, also attributed the rupee's rapid decline to Fitch's downgrading and the global trend. "The dollar is getting stronger in the global market against almost all the world currencies. The Pakistani rupee is not an exception," he said. "In addition, Pakistan's external account issues are not settled as yet. The IMF is yet to be on-boarded and the flows are yet to materialise. Global rating agencies have put a negative outlook on the economy so that is an additional burden that is weighing on the financial markets in general, the foreign exchange market in particular." Schehzad called on all stakeholders to come together and devise a strategy to arrest the rupee's fall.
Role of govt, banks FAP Chairperson Malik Bostan was more reproachful of banks when asked about the rupee's freefall. He alleged that banks were using the political situation in the country as an "excuse" and were involved in "satta bazi" (speculation) in the currency market. "The central bank should take notice of this and immediately impose restrictions on forward booking of dollars to put an end to the unnecessary rise in the value of the greenback in the market, as well as banks' monopoly," he said. This, he added, would bring the "panic" in the market to an end. Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan General secretary Zafar Paracha, however, disagreed with Naseer and said there was "no demand" for dollars in the open and interbank market. "It seems that it is one of the IMF's conditions that we devalue the rupee," he said, adding that he expected the government to intervene when the rupee fell to 225 against the dollar. Fitch's report would also further affect the rupee's slide, Paracha said. He lamented that the government and state institutions were "making no efforts" to stop the rupee's decline. "Political parties are only concerned with forming or saving governments. Nobody is concerned with the country or the nation. All political parties should be sitting together and making a one-point agenda considering the conditions. Sri Lanka's condition is in front of us." The government would have to take steps to bring about economic stability, including providing facilities to overseas Pakistanis to boost remittances and not facilitating elites and parliamentarians, he said. "Otherwise, it may be too late," he warned. Komal Mansoor, head of research at Tresmark, said: "The floor for the rupee has vanished. This is senseless." She said that the central bank should intervene to stabilise abnormal movements, "otherwise [it] risks contagion in all other aspects of the economy". Rupee's fall After reaching a peak of Rs211.93 on June 22, the dollar started declining for a brief period and fell to a low of Rs204.56 on July 4. However, the strength gained by the rupee after $2.3 billion Chinese inflows evaporated within a couple of weeks, as the dollar snapped the rupee’s rising streak and gained Rs2.38 in the interbank market on July 5, the first appreciation in the new fiscal year. Since then, the greenback has continued to rise with a slight reversal of the trend on July 15 — the day the IMF announced it had reached a staff-level agreement with the government. However, the rupee reversed its gains the very next day with analysts attributing it to low inflows and import payments. On Monday, the dollar had reported a record single-day appreciation in the interbank market to reach Rs215.20 from Rs210.95. In the first session, the greenback shot up to Rs217 but gradually came down to the level reported by the SBP. However, exchange companies reported that it closed at Rs216.20.
WASHINGTON: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that its agreement with Pakistan would lead to a “straight away” disbursement of $1.17 billion to the country. “It’s an agreement on a combined seventh and eighth review of the programme... that will translate into about $1.17 million being disbursed to Pakistan. Pretty much, straight away,” IMF’s Communication Director Gerry Rice said at a Thursday afternoon news briefing in Washington. He said this brought the total disbursements from the IMF to Pakistan under the ongoing program to about $4.2 billion. Answering a question about the timeframe for releasing the tranche, the IMF official said the executive board is likely to meet anywhere between three to six weeks from now. The IMF and Pakistan reached a staff-level agreement on Wednesday that they hoped would stabilise the country’s economy and depreciating currency. The IMF also hoped that it would bring down high inflation and end Pakistan’s political instability. The agreement “could also unlock more funding for Pakistan, which in recent weeks has neared the brink of a balance of payments crisis,” Mr Rice said. The IMF official noted that this was an agreement on a combined seventh and eighth review of the programme that the Fund has with Pakistan. ”And we’re hoping this will help to stabilise the economy and amongst other things help expand the social safety net to protect the most vulnerable; accelerate structural reforms; and help stabilise the macroeconomic situation in Pakistan,” he added. ”The announcement by the IMF will prove to be a much-needed shot in the arm for Pakistan’s ailing economy,” Aqdas Afzal, a Karachi-based analyst and assistant professor of economics at Habib University, told The New York Times. He noted that the sharp increase in energy prices after the invasion of Ukraine and rising commodity prices more generally had hurt the country. The newspaper noted that reviving the loan programme and getting the economy back on track “have been a political litmus test for Pakistan’s new prime minister.” The report also highlighted the government’s fear that the IMF-induced reforms could trigger “public backlash that could hurt PML-N’s chance of success in the next general elections.”
According to a recent liquefied natural gas (LNG) report (2020-21) published by the State Bank of Pakistan, Pakistan has a 15-year take-or-pay contract with Qatar as well as some private suppliers in Italy.
This contractual purchase makes up 87 per cent of Pakistan’s LNG imports while the remaining 13pc are spot purchases. Hence, Pakistan is bound to purchase 87pc due to the contract or else pay the penalty; the government can find good deals for the remaining 13pc only.
According to the Ministry of Energy and the Oil & Gas Regulatory Authority projections, Pakistan’s natural gas supply will only meet 22.3pc of market demand by 2030. The import of LNG has managed to decrease the country’s overall power generation costs by approximately Rs234 billion between 2016-17 and 2019-20.
Amid the Russian-Ukraine war, Europe has planned to ban Russian oil and gas. Banning Russian petroleum means the supply of LNG in the EU, the UK and the US became restricted. This isn’t the first time the term “energy security” has been tossed around.
Keeping global politics in view, we need to consider multiple options to prepare for higher gas prices in winter as well as negotiate long-term contracts In 2004, Russia invaded Georgia. Then again in 2014, Russia invaded and annexed the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. The idea of banning cheap Russian petro products was tabled but was not acted upon. Possibly, the price of Russian energy supplies was considered too competitive for them to act upon the scope of energy security then. But not this time because Russia entered Europe’s backyard.
In response to rising demand, Qatar recently announced plans to raise its LNG generation capacity by 64pc by 2024 in order to capitalise on newly found gas supplies. Other natural gas producing countries, notably Canada, Mozambique, and other West African countries, also have declared similar development ambitions.
It seems the magnitude of potential LNG consumption will keep rising in the relatively close to near term (assuming natural gas production volumes and price policies stay stable). So far this year, Europe’s import volumes have increased by about 50pc compared to the same period last year, with no signs of a steady decline. Germany and the Netherlands are speeding up the development of floating import docks, with the first ones expected to open within the next six months.
Once LNG was a cheap alternative source of power for Pakistan. But now, given the EU’s, UK’s and USA’s newfound love for LNG compared to cheap Russian petro products, it is no longer the case. Recently, for continuous power supply during the Eid holidays, the state spent roughly $100 million for a single LNG cargo from the spot market.
“The government is considering using Residual Fuel Oil (RFO)-based and coal-based power generation as alternatives,” said Syed Zakria Ali Shah, Joint Secretary and focal person to the Ministry of Energy (Petroleum Division). “Some developments have taken place regarding importing coal from Afghanistan and the Cabinet has also given approvals recently.”
Among alternate options, Pakistan is in talks with Iran to import gas. The EU is also considering purchasing gas from Iran instead of Russia, making Iran a viable option for Pakistan.
Keeping the political and global implications aside, if Europe becomes an importer of Iranian Gas, its price will see a drastic increase. Hence, Pakistan should seek to enter a contract for a longer duration (ie 5-10 years) for the import of gas from Iran and strategically play its cards keeping in view the geopolitics.
“LNG is only going to get more expensive, but that’s largely in the spot market,” said Ammar Habib Khan, Chief Risk Officer at Karandaaz Pakistan. “We should try to get as many long-term contracts we can, they are still in the range of 11-13pc of crude price.”
Renewable energy, though the talk of the town, has always had a problem with its unpredictability. Only when enough sunlight is available, or when the wind blows hard enough to move turbine blades, can power be generated.
The technology for storing energy generated by renewable energy has developed over the years. This has been fueled by the rapid expansion of mostly wind and solar producing capacity, which has driven renewable energy prices down to the point where they are now competitive with coal and natural gas, making them viable options for utilities.
In the short run, Pakistan has no other choice but to bear inflation. However, we need to plan ahead for winter as well, as demand for gas increases in winter due to higher heating requirements in the EU and the US, thereby resulting in increased prices. Summers is generally a slow season, but not this year. We need to plan in advance for the winter, and for the next 5 years.
At least two people were killed as relentless rainfall battered Karachi on Monday, submerging several areas of the city and leaving many without power on the second day of Eidul Azha.
Despite the Sindh government’s claims of cleaning out the city’s storm drains, overnight showers caused rainwater to accumulate on roads and in neighbourhoods in scenes reminiscent of the disastrous torrential downpour witnessed in August 2020.
Citizens on social media complained of prolonged power outages and roads turning into rivers as #Karachirain trended on Twitter. According to data released by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), PAF Masroor Base received the highest amount of rainfall (119.5mm) in the past 24 hours followed by DHA Phase 2 (106.6mm), Quaidabad (76mm), PAF Faisal Base (65mm), Orangi Town (56.2mm), old airport area (49.8mm), Gulshan-i-Hadeed (46.5mm), Nazimabad (31.8mm), Jinnah Terminal (29.6mm), University Road (14.8mm), Surjani Town (14.4mm), Gadap Town (9.2mm), North Karachi (2.3mm) and Saadi Town (1.1mm).
The heavy downpour also claimed the lives of two citizens. According to a police statement, two people died after being electrocuted in the city’s Garden area. The deceased were identified as 28-year-old Atif and 25-year-old Hassan. The bodies were shifted to Civil Hospital Karachi while further investigation is under way, the statement said.
Separately, the traffic police said that the Submarine Chowk underpass, KPT underpass, and the one near the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi were closed due to the accumulation of rainwater.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he was “deeply saddened” by the damage wrought by the torrential rains and that he had had spoken to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.
“I am confident that Sindh government will rise to the occasion and bring life back to normal under the able leadership of CM Sindh. Have offered to extend every possible support.”
‘Don’t leave home unnecessarily’ Commissioner Karachi Muhammad Iqbal Memon urged Karachiites to not leave their homes unnecessarily and stay away from electricity poles. “Stay away from utility lines poles, wires and nullahs.” In a statement, he also cautioned people to keep their distance from drains and manholes.
Heavy rain predicted Meanwhile, the Met department predicted heavy rainfall and thunderstorms in Karachi, Thatta, Badin and Hyderabad. Chief meteorologist Sardar Sarfaraz said the new weather system headed towards the city would last until July 18-19. Sarfaraz also said that intermittent rain with thunder was also expected in Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Tando Mohammad Khan. He also warned of a risk of flooding in low-lying areas in Karachi, Badin, Thatta, Mirpurkhas and Umerkot. In an update shared on Twitter around 2:30am, the K-Electric spokesperson claimed that the power supply system within its territory was stable. “Most areas of the city continue to receive power from more than 1,770 feeders out of 1,900,” he said. He added that around 130 feeders were closed as a precautionary measure due to reports of power theft or accumulation of rainwater. The week-long monsoon spell has already claimed the lives of several citizens. Six people were killed in rain-related incidents on Friday while seven were electrocuted to death on Saturday.
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said on Sunday that PTI supporters, who had heckled him at a restaurant in Sargodha's Bhera earlier this week, had come to meet him and apologised for their actions.
Iqbal was jeered at and heckled by PTI supporters at the restaurant on Friday night. Viral videos of the incident circulating online showed women and teenagers chanting anti-government slogans and hurling abuses at the minister, loudly calling him "chor".
In a press conference the next day, Iqbal said he would not seek criminal charges against the supporters. He said he had left the matter in the "people's court" but lamented the "culture of hatred" that he said was introduced by PTI Chairman Imran Khan. In a tweet today, the minister shared that the family involved in the incident had expressed remorse and shame over their actions and apologised to him. "I had already announced to forgo legal action against them. We are all Pakistanis and [should] not convert the right to disagree into hate. We have to maintain mutual respect," Iqbal tweeted.
Iqbal blames Imran for 'instilling hate' A day earlier, Iqbal said that the incident did not affect his popularity but highlighted the culture Imran was teaching his followers.
Iqbal stressed that the "disease of polarisation and hatred" in society was hollowing out Pakistan like "cancer". "I say this with disappointment that we expected Imran Niazi, who was a sportsman, to teach his supporters sportsmanship in the country's politics.
"But he did the opposite. His politics just spread hatred in society. This poison is spreading so rapidly that if we don't counter it, the society will be steps away from anarchy and civil war — like Libya," he warned.
Addressing PTI supporters, he urged them to carefully consider if their leader was as sincere to them as they were to him. "Imran Niazi has a track record of using people and throwing them away like tissue paper," he claimed. Iqbal requested people to think if "you want your children to become victims of this hatred or want to pull them out of it". Meanwhile, PTI leaders negated Iqbal's claims regarding the PTI chairman. Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry suggested that the PML-N leader should "wear a burqa" and go out in public. He also said that PML-N leaders were unaware of the ground realities. "People are against you because you came to power by stealing their political mandate. Social stability is possible only with political stability in the country," Chaudhry added, demanding immediate elections. On the other hand, senior PTI leader Shireen Mazari, in response to a tweet by a journalist condemning the incident, said that ordinary citizens were fed up and angry.
Former special assistant to the prime minister Shahbaz Gill, in a rebuttal to Iqbal, said that protesting and raising their voice against something wrong was every citizen's right. "The law doesn't give you the permission to physically attack someone but there is nothing wrong in expressing your views. That is your right as per the law." The former federal minister said that a thief would be called a thief. "If you don't like the word, suggest a better word for chor, we would call you that."
Karachi and other areas of Sindh witnessed heavy rainfall coupled with strong winds and thunderstorms on Saturday increasing fears of urban flooding as the monsoon system across the country has intensified.
According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), heavy showers lashed DHA, Clifton, II Chundrigar Road, Ibrahim Hyderi, Korangi, Saddar, Sharae Faisal, Malir, and Stargate after 10am today. The monsoon rains flooded the Korangi nullah after which the EBM Causeway was closed for traffic.
Urban flooding was also reported in several localities. In Lyari, streets were inundated with rainwater coming up to the waist stranding people inside their houses. In northern parts of the city, water entered houses creating immense difficulties for residents.
Karachi Administrator Murtaza Wahab tweeted that the "major thrust" of the rain was in city's District South. He also said teams were on the roads "to handle the situation".
In a subsequent tweet, Wahab said water had gathered on II Chundrigar Road, "the side of Jang Press and on the other side of CPO and Tower, area around HBL is clear because the City Naala is running well".
Meanwhile, traffic jams were reported on PICT Gate Keamari, Causeway Nadi, Korangi Nadi, Safoora Chowrangi, Hassan Square, Sharae Faisal Drigh Road, and University Road due to water accumulation.
A report issued by the PMD said that the highest rainfall, in the last 24 hours, was recorded in Gulshan-e-Hadeed (94.7mm) followed by the Old Airport area (53.0mm), PAF Faisal Base (46.0mm), Jinnah Terminal Airport (38.6mm), Landhi (25.5mm), Gadap Town (13.6mm) and DHA Phase II (10.5mm).
Separately, a Dawn report said that six people were killed in rain-related incidents in Karachi on Friday. The police said three people died after they were electrocuted, while several others got stuck in flooding in nullahs.
Sardar Sarfaraz, chief meteorologist, told Dawn that the rains were likely to persist in Karachi and other parts of Sindh as there was a strong monsoon system and its currents were penetrating from the Arabia Sea.
A man walks on a footpath near a waterlogged road on Saturday. —DawnNewsTV “Different Karachi areas, including the northern and eastern parts, received moderate to heavy showers and some areas witnessed some very heavy falls. Gulshan-i-Hadeed for instance received the highest 94.7 millimeters of rainfall in a few hours of the spell. The trend is likely to continue tomorrow [Saturday] and may start weakening by Saturday night but it would be there,” he told Dawn.
Meanwhile, in a tweet on Saturday, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said that Sindh and Balochistan were going through very high levels of rainfall on a 30-year average.
Monsoon wreaks havoc in Balochistan The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) revealed today that monsoon rains in Balochistan, which started on June 1, have so far killed 57 people in the province and injured 48.
Heavy rains have damaged 670 houses in the province while 436 livestock have also been affected by the rains. The most-affected areas include Quetta district, Lasbela, Sibi, Harnai, Dakki, Kohlu, Barkhan, Zhob and Dera Bugti.
According to PDMA officials, rains affected 12 dams across the province, of which three burst due to flooding. In Loralai, six people were swept away by the dam water after which a rescue operation was initiated. Separately, the floods in Pishin and Turbat have entered populated areas, but fortunately, no casualties have been reported so far.
Meanwhile, multiple areas of Quetta have been without electricity for the past four days due to heavy rains. The residents complained that despite several calls, the authorities have failed to restore power.
Earlier today, Balochistan Chief Minister Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo directed the PDMA, district administrations and other concerned agencies to stay alert as the PMD have forecast more rain in the upcoming days.
All the agencies should be ready to deal with any kind of situation while remaining diligent and active, he directed, instructing departments to assure the availability of resources for the protection of life and property of residents.
The chief minister ordered the relocation of people living in low-lying areas to safer places and also requested locals to cooperate with the authorities on the occasion of monsoon and Eidul Azha.
More rain during Eid Meanwhile, the Met Office has forecast more rains during Eidul Azha, which will be celebrated across Pakistan tomorrow (Sunday), and alerted authorities to exercise caution.
It said that the monsoon rains entering the country will intensify over the weekend (July 9 and 10). Under the influence, heavy rains with thunder and wind storm have been forecast in Islamabad, Kashmir, Swat, Mansehra, Kohat, Mianwali, Sargodha, Abbottabad, Haripur, Peshawar, Nowshera, Kurram, Jacobabad, Jhelum, Sialkot, Lahore, Murree, Rawalpindi, Attock, Okara, Sahiwal, Jhang, Chakwal, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Kohistan, Galiyat and Mardan.
The showers will last from July 9 to 12. Rain and thunderstorms with isolated heavy showers have also been predicted in several areas of Sindh and Balochistan such as Mirpurkhas, Dadu, Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta, Badin, Zhob, Ziarat, Barkhan, Bolan, Loralai, Kohlu, Quetta, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbela, Awaran, Naseerabad, Sibbi, Panjgur, and Turbat.
The department further highlighted that the showers can cause urban and flash flooding in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot and Peshawar. Separately, rainfall may trigger landslides in Murree, Swat, Chilas, Diamer, Gilgit, Hunza, Astore and Skardu. Travelers and tourists have been advised to remain extra cautious during the forecast period, it added.