At least 39 people were killed after a passenger coach fell into a ravine in Balochistan’s Lasbela on Sunday morning, according to officials.
Lasbela Assistant Commissioner Hamza Anjum, while confirming the incident, told that the vehicle, with nearly 48 passengers on board, was travelling from Quetta to Karachi.
“Due to speeding, the coach crashed into the pillar of a bridge while taking a U-turn near Lasbela. The vehicle subsequently careened into a ravine and then caught fire,” he said.
Anjum added that three people, including a child and a woman, have been rescued alive. However, he feared that the number of casualties could increase.
Meanwhile, Saad Edhi of Edhi Foundation told Dawn.com that 17 bodies have been recovered from the accident site so far, adding that they have been moved to the hospital.
Eni said on Wednesday that the delivery of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargo to Pakistan LNG Limited that was scheduled for February has been disrupted due to an event of force majeure.
The Italian major has a 15-year deal to supply Pakistan LNG with one cargo a month from 2017 to 2032.
“February LNG delivery disruption is beyond the reasonable control of ENI and due to an event of force majeure. ENI does not benefit in any way from the situation,” said the company in a statement to Reuters.
“All the previous disruptions in LNG delivery suffered by ENI have been caused by the LNG supplier who didn’t fulfill the agreed obligations. Also in these cases, ENI did not take advantage or benefit in any way from these defaults and applied all contractual provisions to manage such disruptions.”
Pakistan has struggled to procure spot cargoes of LNG amid elevated global gas prices, which spiked to record highs last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
LNG shipments to Pakistan under long-term deals are insufficient to match the country’s rising fuel demand.
Pakistan LNG, a government subsidiary that procures LNG from the international market, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pakistan imported nine billion cubic metres (bcm) of LNG last year, according to Refinitiv data, down nearly 20 per cent from 11.2 bcm in 2021.
WASHINGTON: The United States has reiterated that Pakistan can purchase oil from Russia at a discounted price even though it has not signed a Washington-backed price-cap on Russian petroleum products.
US State Department’s spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a Tuesday afternoon news briefing that Pakistan can also take advantage of the concessions Washington has given to other countries for buying oil from Russia.
“So, we have encouraged countries to take advantage of that, even those countries that have not formally signed on to the price cap, so that they can acquire oil in some cases at a steep discount from what they would otherwise acquire from, in this case, Russia,” Mr Price said.
On December 3, 2022, G7 and EU countries set a price-cap of $60 per barrel on Russian oil to prevent Moscow from using the revenues to finance its war against Ukraine.
Since, Europe and the United States no longer import crude oil from Russia, the controlled purchase would only affect third countries, like Pakistan. Islamabad has not yet signed the accord, mainly because Pakistan does not import oil from Russia.
Mr Price said the US approach to the purchase of oil from Russia has been laid out in the price-cap mechanism that it worked out with other countries around the world, including the G7.
“And the virtue of the price cap is that it allows energy markets to continue to be resourced while depriving Moscow of the revenue it would need to continue to propagate and fuel its brutal war against Ukraine,” the US official said.
“We have made the point that we have very intentionally not sanctioned Russian oil. Instead, it’s now subject to the price cap.” The US, he said, has been very clear that now was not the time to increase economic activity with Russia.
“But we understand the imperative of keeping global energy markets well resourced, well supplied, and the price-cap, we believe, provides a mechanism to do that,” he added.
On Friday, Minister for Economic Affairs Ayaz Sadiq, and Russia’s Energy Minister Nikolay Shulginov said at a joint news conference in Islamabad that they hope to sign an oil deal by late March, enabling Pakistan to buy Russian oil at discounted rates.
A joint statement issued after their talks said that the two sides reached an in-principle agreement on the supply of Russian crude oil and oil products to Pakistan, with technical details to be finalised in March at the latest.
“We have decided that it would be a good idea for Pakistan to approach Gazprom and Novatek, two largest LNG-producing companies, in late 2023 to discuss the conditions” for buying LNG, the Russian minister said.
Energy-starved Pakistan imports approximately 430,000mt of motor gasoline, 200,000mt diesel and 650,000mt crude oil at a cost of $1.3 billion per month.
Market observers earlier this month warned Pakistan may face fuel shortages in the near future as importers struggle to secure dollars to close deals. The country’s foreign exchange reserves have dwindled to their lowest levels in almost nine years.
Buying oil from Russia at a discounted price could ease the pressure.
ISLAMABAD: The genomic sequencing of the only poliovirus, detected from the sewage water in Pakistan during the current year, shows that the virus belongs to Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
The Type-1 Wild Poliovirus (WPV1) in an environmental sample was detected in Lahore district (Gulshan Ravi, ES site) during the current month.
The genomic sequencing is a process to decipher the genetic material found in an organism or virus. Sequences from specimens can be compared to help scientists track the spread of the virus, how it is changing and how those changes may affect the public health.
In first week of January environmental samples were collected from 38 cities of Pakistan. Of these samples, 37 were found negative at the National Institute of Health (NIH). The cities declared negative for presence of the virus included Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Qilla Abdullah, Quetta, Karachi and Southern KP region.
The sewage samples are important in detecting the virus’ prevalence in a country. If the virus is found in samples collected from any area, it is called positive. These samples are a basic parameter to determine the success of polio campaigns. The presence of the poliovirus in sewage also shows low immunity in children and they are at risk of catching the virus.
According to a statement issued by the NIH, the virus found in Gulshan Ravi had links to a poliovirus found in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan in November last year.
Federal Minister for Health Abdul Qadir Patel said that Pakistan and Afghanistan were together in their fight against polio virus.
“While the isolation of the virus is a cause of concern, it is excellent to note that it was detected promptly. This timely detection of the virus in the environment is crucial in protecting the children from being paralysed by the poliovirus,” he said.
“The only way to stop the virus is to vaccinate all children under the age of five. It is critically important that parents and caregivers, particularly in Lahore, ensure that their child is vaccinated in the February round,” Mr Patel said.
The nationwide immunisation campaign that concluded on Jan 20 vaccinated children in the Lahore division, while additional campaigns will also be conducted in February and March to address the outbreak.
Dr Shahzad Baig, Coordinator of the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), said that it was not unexpected since Pakistan and Afghanistan were considered as one epidemiological block in which polioviruses moved across borders because there was widespread population movement.
“In the past year, we have worked very closely with the Afghanistan programme and treat the virus in either country as our own. Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan can be free of poliovirus until both countries stop its transmission,” Dr Baig said.
The last polio case found in Lahore was in July 2020, but the virus has been periodically detected in its sewage water. Last year, four environmental samples were found positive for wild poliovirus in Lahore district.
In 2022, 20 children were paralysed by the virus in the country — all of them belong to the southern districts of KP. Of the 20 children, 17 were from North Waziristan, two from Lakki Marwat and one from South Waziristan.
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry was arrested outside his residence in Lahore in the early hours of Wednesday, according to his family.
“He was taken away from outside his house at 5:30am in four cars that did not have any number plates,” Faisal Chaudhry, the PTI leader’s brother, told Dawn.com over the phone.
He said that the family was unaware of Fawad’s location. “We are also not being given any details of the FIR (first information report) registered against him.”
Faisal termed his brother’s arrest “illegal” and asserted that he will fight this battle in court.
Fawad’s arrest comes an hour after he, along with scores of party workers, gathered outside PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore, claiming to avert the government’s alleged plan to arrest the party chief.
An official PTI Twitter account also posted a couple of videos, showing a convoy of police vehicles which the party claimed was carrying Chaudhry after his arrest.
A first information report has been registered against the PTI leader at the Kohsar police station in Islamabad on the complaint of Secretary of the Election Commission Umar Hameed.
The complaint — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — invokes sections 153-A (promotion of enmity between groups), 506 (criminal intimidation), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 124-A (sedition) of the Pakistan Penal Code at Islamabad’s Kohsar Police Station.
It stated that Chaudhry, in a speech outside PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s house, threatened the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and said that “those who become part of the caretaker government [in Punjab] will be pursued until they are punished”.
Later in a tweet, the Islamabad police said that Fawad tried to “incite violence against a constitutional institution” and “inflame the sentiments of the people”.
It added that the case will be processed as per the law.
Earlier today, PTI leader Farrukh Habib confirmed that Fawad was taken into custody from his residence. “This imported government has gone berserk,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, former federal minister Hammad Azhar said Fawad had been taken to the counter-terrorism department’s regional office in Lahore, as PTI leader Ali Muhammad Khan said that he is not a terrorist.
Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Fawad’s arrest was a “strong slap on the face of democracy and rule of law”.
PTI’s Ali Zaidi also strongly condemned the arrest of the senior party leader and said the government was “hell-bent on pushing this country towards anarchy!”
“Pakistan has become a lawless state at the hands of these lawbreaking lawmakers and corrupt law enforcement officers,” Zaidi tweeted.
ISLAMABAD: A major power outage due to a failure in the national grid hit Pakistan on Monday disrupting power supply across the country. The process to restore electricity is underway, with plans to restore power in the entire country by tonight, a statement by Energy Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan read.
Shopkeepers and workers wait for electric power at a market following a power breakdown across the country, in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. Much of Pakistan was left without power for several hours on Monday morning as an energy-saving measure by the government backfired. The outage spread panic and raised questions about the cash-strapped government’s handling of the crisis. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary) Power has already been restored in parts of southwestern Balochistan and the eastern Punjab province, with partial restoration in Karachi, southern Sindh province, Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan and Sukkur cities, he added.
ISLAMABAD: The government has allowed the import of 2,200 luxury vehicles in the first six months of the current fiscal year while the country was crippled with strict foreign exchange control even for imports of essential consumer items and industrial goods.
As a result of the strict foreign exchange control, the piling of containers containing different consumer and industrial products reaches almost 8,500 in the first half of this year at ports across the country, an official source told Dawn on Monday. Contrary to this, the traders put the stuck-up containers figure at 5,500.
As per customs data, over 95 per cent of 8,500 containers are held up at ports due to the non-opening of letters of credit (LCs).
These containers carry consumer goods, industrial goods, pharmaceuticals and perishable products, while imports of used luxury cars are swiftly clearing at ports.
Data showed that in the first six months, the import of new cars stood at 193 vehicles. Of these only 25 vehicles falls within the category of 1,000-1,800cc while four vehicles above 1,800cc during the period under review.
The bulk of 164 luxury electric vehicles was imported between July and December 2022. The only benefit that Pakistan has from the import of these vehicles is in the shape of duty and taxes which was nearly Rs2 billion. However, the country spent hundreds of billions of rupees on the import of these vehicles.
The real jump was seen in the import of three years old luxury vehicles in the first six months of the current fiscal year. Nearly 1,990 vehicles were imported between July and December 2022.
The import of these vehicles is allowed only for overseas Pakistanis, but this facility is being misused by importers who pay up to Rs10m in the case of SUVs to passport owners.
The bulk of 1,450 used vehicles was imported in the category up to 1,000cc. The import of vehicles between 1,000-1,800cc stood at 370 vehicles while the import of luxury electrical vehicles stood at 20 during the period under review.
The revenue collection on import of used vehicles stood at Rs7bn during the first half of the current fiscal year.
A senior customs official told Dawn that most of these vehicles were imported in the first quarter (July-September) as they had been in the pipeline. The second quarter (October-December) saw imports of a very small number of vehicles, he added.
The official said that the import of vehicles has crashed during the current fiscal year compared with the last year. The total import of vehicles was 28,000 in 1HFY22. Of these 9,000 were new and 19,000 used vehicles.