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Pakistan wants Facebook’s parent company to establish local office

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  • FM Bilawal Bhutto Zardari meets Meta’s Nick Clegg on sidelines of UNGA.
  • Meta affirms interest in continued engagement with Pakistan.
  • Clegg says Meta’s Pakistan team comprises entirely of Pakistani professionals.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has asked a high-ranking Meta official to open their company’s office in Pakistan in a bid to facilitate communication between the local authorities and the social media giant.

Facebook is now called Meta, the company announced last year, in a rebrand that focuses on building the “metaverse,” a shared virtual environment that it bets will be the successor to the mobile internet.

The foreign minister met Meta’s Global Affairs President Nick Clegg on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 77th session, where he is part of the delegation representing Pakistan.

The foreign minister, talking about the opportunities available in Pakistan, said that the country has a tech-savvy young population (64% below the age of 30), high teledensity, massive digitisation of the economy, and a business-friendly regulatory regime.

“Pakistan’s IT sector has registered strong growth in the recent past opening new opportunities for platforms like Meta to expand its operations in Pakistan”, the foreign minister told the social media company’s official.

Clegg said that Meta’s Pakistan team comprises entirely of Pakistani professionals. He briefed the foreign minister on Meta’s ongoing connectivity and capacity-building programmes in Pakistan.

Clegg reaffirmed Meta’s interest in continued engagement with Pakistan to explore modalities of further strengthening collaboration in digital space.

In October last year, the government introduced Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguards) Rules, 2021, directing social media platforms to register themselves with the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). However, it has borne no fruit so far.

Flood help

FM Bilawal also thanked Meta for donating Rs125 million for humanitarian assistance to Pakistan in the wake of the deadly floods.

“These are testing times for Pakistan and this donation would be helpful for our flood relief operations,” FM Bilawal noted.

The foreign minister said after the floods, the task of full recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction cannot be accomplished without the support of the private sector.

In response, Clegg expressed his solidarity and sympathy with Pakistan on the devastation caused by unprecedented floods.

Record monsoon rains and glacial melt in northern Pakistan triggered the flooding that has impacted nearly 33 million people in the South Asian nation of 220 million, sweeping away homes, crops, bridges, roads and livestock in damages estimated at $30 billion. Scientists say the disaster was exacerbated by climate change.

Hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the floods are living in the open and as flood waters spread over hundreds of kilometres (miles) start to recede — which officials say may take two to six months — stagnant waters have led to diseases like malaria, dengue fever, skin and eye infections and acute diarrhoea.

In what UNICEF described as a situation “beyond bleak,” it said an estimated 16 million children have been impacted by the floods, and at least 3.4 million girls and boys remain in need of immediate, lifesaving support.

The government says GDP growth will likely drop to 3% from a previous estimate of 5% for the 2022-23 financial year.

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The captain of the Pakistan Shaheens’ white-ball team has been announced for the upcoming trip to Darwin.

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Mohammad Haris, a wicket-keeper batsman, has been chosen as the captain of Pakistan Shaheens for the two 50-over matches and nine-team Top End T20 series in Darwin, Australia. The matches will take place from 4-18 August.

Haris recently led Pakistan Shaheens in the ACC Men’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup 2023 in Colombo. In this tournament, Pakistan successfully defended their championship by defeating India with a margin of 128 runs.

The Pakistan Shaheens have already arrived in Darwin to play two four-day matches against Bangladesh ‘A’ on July 19-22 and July 26-29. Sahibzada Farhan is currently captaining the team in the longer format of the game.

Following the two four-day matches, the Shaheens will engage in 50-over matches against Northern Territory (NT) and Bangladesh ‘A’ on 4 and 6 August, respectively, prior to the start of the T20 series on 9 August.

The T20 competition includes additional teams such as ACT Comets, Bangladesh ‘A’, Melbourne Renegades, Melbourne Stars, Perth Scorchers, Northern Territory Strike, Adelaide Strikers, and Tasmania.

In addition, seven modifications have been implemented for the white-ball contests compared to the red-ball side.

Abdul Faseeh, Arafat Minhas, Arif Yaqoob, Jahandad Khan, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Imran Jnr, and Usman Khan are the replacements for Kamran Ghulam, Khurram Shahzad, Mehran Mumtaz, Mohammad Ali, Mubasir Khan, Tayyab Tahir, and Umar Amin.

The Pakistan Shaheens will participate in the Darwin series for the second consecutive year. In the previous year, NT Strike emerged victorious over Shaheens in the final of the Top End T20 Series with a margin of 46 runs. Subsequently, Pakistan Shaheens achieved a resounding victory over PNG by 224 runs and Northern Strike by 84 runs in the two One-day matches.

The white-ball squad of Pakistan Shaheens
Mohammad Haris is the captain of the team, and the other players in the squad are Abdul Faseeh, Arafat Minhas, Arif Yaqoob, Faisal Akram, Haseebullah (who is both a wicketkeeper and a batter), Muhammad Irfan Khan, Jahandad Khan, Kashif Ali, Mohammad Huraira, Mohammad Imran Jnr, Omair bin Yousuf, Sahibzada Farhan, Shahnawaz Dahani, and Usman Khan.

The personnel providing support to the players include Abdul Rehman as the head coach, Mohammad Masroor as the assistant coach-cum-manager, Mohammad Asad as the physiotherapist, Imranullah as the trainer, and Usman Hashmi as the analyst.

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Explanation: The increase in inflation in the United States would cause electricity costs in Pakistan to rise.

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Electricity contracts between Independent Power Plants (IPPs) and the federal government not only involve capacity costs, but also have a significant impact on the economy and the financial well-being of the population. These contracts are closely linked to the inflation rate and the value of the US dollar.

Startling disclosures have emerged regarding the exorbitant electricity tariffs in Pakistan. The Council of Economic and Energy Journalists Sage, representing the institute, provided a briefing to leading journalists in Karachi.

According to the information provided, the electricity rate component in Pakistan experienced a 253 percent increase from 2019 to 2024 as a result of inflation in America.

The data presented in the briefing indicates that the capacity charges in Pakistan were Rs3.26 per unit in 2019 and climbed to Rs10.34 per unit in 2024.

The capacity charges imposed on the public incorporate the effects of both US inflation and domestic inflation.

Due to the rise in the country’s interest rate, the interest payment for energy has climbed by 343% during a span of four years. Over the course of four years, the working capital of IPPs caused a 716 percent increase in the cost of power per unit.

The electricity rate has increased by 12 to 20 percent, with 70 percent of the charges being capacity charges.

SDPI experts recommended the government to adopt a centralised tariff policy rather than a universal electricity tariff strategy.

The power generation capacity amounts to 23,000 megawatts.

As a result of the increase in solar power generation in the country, the capacity charges will have an additional adverse impact on the residents.

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Business

Significant surge in the price of gold in Pakistan

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On Friday, the price of gold in Pakistan continued to increase.

According to the All-Pakistan Gems and Jewellers Sarafa Association, the price of 24-karat gold per tola has risen by Rs2,200, reaching Rs249,000.

The price of 10-gram 24-karat gold increased by Rs1,886, reaching a total of Rs213,477. On Thursday, the cost of 10 grammes of 22-karat gold was Rs195,687.

The global gold market likewise had a rising trajectory. As per APGJSA, the worldwide rate was $2,404 per ounce, showing a decline of $24 during the course of the trading day.

The local market witnessed constant silver prices at Rs2,900 per tola.

Market observers attribute the increase in gold prices to other variables, such as volatility in the global market, currency exchange rates, and economic conditions. The ongoing surge in gold prices is likely to impact investment choices and consumer behaviour in the near future.

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