Umar Stresses Upon Vaccinations To Stem The Spread Of The Delta Variant

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The chief of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), Asad Umar, stated on Friday that the people who have not yet even received the first dose of the coronavirus, are more than seven times at risk of getting infected. Moreover, these are the people who could potentially suffer from the very severe effects of the deadly disease. 

While addressing a news conference, Umar said that he was concerned regarding the potential risk that the Delta variant poses to the people of Pakistan, especially those who have not yet even received the first jab. 

He maintained that the people getting infected after inoculation are safe from the more severe effects of the virus. The chief warned that the mutation that has recently entered Pakistan, could become a potential catastrophe if people did not exercise caution. 

According to Umar, efforts from the citizens of Pakistan would greatly help and would ensure the safety of families, society, and consequently the country. He asserted that once a large chunk of the population is vaccinated, Pakistan will function as per the norm, without any restrictions and lockdowns. 

The Federal Minister for Planning went on to inform that unvaccinated people will not be allowed to enter or visit any tourist spots. He stated that they should not even bother visiting any, especially during Eid vacations, as they will not be allowed in. In his words, the staff at these spots has been given strict directives to stop unvaccinated people from gaining entry. 

While talking about vaccinations in the country, the NCOC chief claimed that up until now, 6.2 million people had been given both doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Thus, they are fully inoculated. 

On each of the past four days, he added, Pakistan successfully administered the vaccine to more than 0.5 million people. However, Umar maintained that this rate and the current number of people inoculated is not enough, as there are doses still left in stock. 

In the conclusion of his address, the federal minister stated how Pakistan has been lucky so far and has managed to escape a severe situation. He talked about how the economy has been getting back on its feet and the healthcare system did not collapse. In order to continue with this situation and make it better, he urged compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs), as well as vaccinations.

Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health (SAPM), also spoke on the occasion, saying that the country has been registering no less than 2,500 cases on a daily basis. He claimed that the positivity ratio in Pakistan, as of now, stands at almost 6%. 

He went on to reveal that Muzaffarabad has recorded a positivity ratio of 21%, whereas 22% has been reported by Gilgit. Karachi has shown a positivity ratio of 20%. He further revealed that around 2,400 patients are currently receiving critical care in hospitals across the country.


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Highest Positivity Ratio Reported In Karachi Amidst Surge In Coronavirus Cases

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On Thursday, Asad Umar, a federal minister and head of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), warned that coronavirus patients are rapidly increasing in hospitals. He urged the people of Pakistan to strictly adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and get vaccinated at the earliest. 

The country went on to record around 2,545 cases in the last 24 hours, during which no less than 47 people lost their lives to the deadly disease. 

Umar took to the microblogging website, Twitter, to reveal that hospitals are readily being filled up with infected patients. He added that the number of people receiving critical care has also significantly risen. 

The minister informed that the Indian variant has led to much devastation in various countries across the region. As per WHO, this strain will soon become the most dominant one in the world up until now. The NCOC chief also advised the people to follow all the guidelines laid out by the relevant authorities and appealed to them to not risk their lives or the lives of others. 

Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on matters of health, asserted that the positivity ratio of the disease has now reached a total of 19% in the City of Lights. It went up from 15%, which was recorded just two days ago. 

The SAPM announced that the rates of infection are readily rising, and the national positivity ratio has now moved beyond 5.2%. In his words, Karachi has registered the highest positivity ratio, followed by Peshawar, which stands at 9.4%. The rate reported by the federal capital was 6.2%, whereas Lahore updated that its positivity ratio is 3.8%. 

Dr. Sultan urged the people of the country to strictly wear masks and avoid crowded places and events. He also informed that over 580,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine had been administered just yesterday. 

On the 9th of July, Umar stated that there were clear and emerging signs that the country was entering into the fourth wave of the deadly disease. He blamed the rise in infections on poor SOPs compliance, as well as the spread of the Indian variant. 

The head of NCOC recalled that just two weeks ago, he had posted that artificial intelligence models in Pakistan had indicated towards a possible fourth wave. But now the models are showing clear signs that the wave has already begun. 

He had stressed the importance of complying with SOPs back then, using the evidence from the AI-based disease modeling analysis of a rise in infections in the upcoming days.


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Usman Mirza Placed In Physical Remand For An Extended Period

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In recent news, a district and sessions court located in Islamabad has decided to extend the physical remand of a man accused in a case of sexual assault. Usman Mirza was previously arrested for his involvement in the torture and assault of a couple. Along with him, the remand of the people who helped him in this crime was also prolonged. 

All the men accused were taken into custody, soon after a video went viral online. It showed them torturing and then stripping a couple.

Waqar Gondal, Judicial Magistrate, was the one who presided over the case. At the hearing, Mirza, as well as his accomplices, Farhan Shaheen Awaz, Madras Butt, and Hafiz Ataur Rehman, were presented in court. The hearing took place after the two-day physical remand that the four had been placed under, ended. 

Initially, the culprits had been picked up by the authorities on the 7th of July. The incident, however, had occurred a couple of months ago. As per the video, the prime suspect could be seen breaking into the couple’s apartment and assaulting them. 

In the most recent proceedings, the police put in a request with the judicial magistrate to extend the physical remand of all those involved, given that their mobile phones have not been recovered. Thus, officials requested Mirza and his accomplices be held until they gave them up. 

On the other hand, the physical remand was opposed by the counsel of the accused. He requested that the court place the criminals under judicial remand. The court went on to extend the physical remand, ordering the relevant police officials to complete and close the investigation in a time span of four days. 

Just a day earlier, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, also talked about the incident. He instructed Qazi Jamilur Rehman, the Inspector General of Police, to ensure that the accused is brought to justice. 

Due to the occurrence of this incident, there was widespread outrage online. People called out the longstanding problems that the country has had with sexual violence, which led to a prompt response from authorities. IGP Rehman immediately directed Dr. Syed Mustafa Tanveer, SSP Operations, to arrest Mirza, as well as his accomplices, at the earliest. 

The viral Facebook video proved to be instrumental in helping the police officials on the case identify the people involved. They also carried out an investigation to gather as much information as possible related to the real estate office, belonging to Mirza, located right in front of the apartment, where the alleged incident took place. 

Through the investigation, a guest house belonging to Mirza was also uncovered. It is at this location that sexual assault was routinely carried out, filmed, and then later on used to blackmail the victims.


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More Than 20% Of Citizens Aged 50 And Above Given The First Jab

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Asad Umar, the Minister for Planning, revealed on Sunday that around 20.6% of the citizens of Pakistan, who are aged 50 and above, have been given at least the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. 

The head of the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) went on to elaborate that the country is home to no less than 20.7 million people, who are either 50 years of age or even older. Out of this figure, 5.6 million have had the first jab administered. 

He urged the people to ask their relatives and other senior citizens around them to get vaccinated at the earliest. He added that it is vital for the people in this age group to receive the vaccination because they are the most vulnerable to the side effects and symptoms of the deadly coronavirus. 

As of now, the relevant authorities of the government are thinking about implementing a number of measures in light of the fourth wave of the coronavirus. This will include placing an air travel ban on all those who have not yet been vaccinated, in order to curb the rise in the number of infections. 

The NCOC also previously informed that the Delta variant is even more dangerous than other mutations of the novel coronavirus, even the Indian variant. It said that various cases of the Delta variant had been reported in the country, triggering the fourth wave. The center encouraged people to strictly abide by the standard operating procedures (SOPs), set forth to protect against the virus. According to it, any laxity could lead to a myriad of serious consequences. 

In addition, the process of vaccination was also expedited by the NCOC. For this reason, the government is acquiring more doses of the vaccine from different sources, which also includes the COVAX facility, provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Most of the vaccines that arrived in the country this month were from its trusted ally, China. The neighboring country had previously delivered several million jabs of Sinopharm, Sinovac, and CanSinoBio vaccines. Furthermore, Pakistan has received three batches of the Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca vaccines. 

The first batch of vaccines that the country received through COVAX consisted mainly of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The second batch that arrived later comprised 106,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Just recently, 2.5 million jabs of the Moderna vaccine were shipped to Pakistan, which was donated by the US, as part of the COVAX facility. 

In other news, Asad Umar also announced that the country needs to prioritize a reduction in the growth of population, in order to have a meaningful impact on some of the important development areas. 

He explained that if Pakistan possessed the ability to ensure quality education to half the kids in the country, then it could accommodate each and every child admitted to primary school in 10 years. However, this could only be possible if the population growth rate falls and aligns with that of Bangladesh. The country could potentially pay for the education of secondary school children as well in 15 years with a decline in population.


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Police Positively Identify Cleric Aziz As Individual In Video

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In recent news, cleric Mufti Aziz-ur-Rehman has been positively identified as the individual, who appears in a video of a seminary student being sexually molested. This was revealed by the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Investigations of Lahore Police, Shariq Jamal, early on Monday. 

On the 21st of June, the accused cleric had accepted that he had committed the crime. He added that he is the one present in the video and the action was a mistake from his side. According to him, he was very embarrassed about it. The police in Lahore utilized digital forensic techniques to match the cleric’s face with that of the person present in the video. The forensic analysis further revealed that the video clip had not been edited. 

Jamal added that the DNA report, on the other hand, came out negative. This was because the incident had occurred a couple of days before the investigation was carried out. But the physical features of the alleged molester at the time, Mufti Aziz, as well as the victim, were a perfect match after the forensic analysis was conducted. 

On the 16th of June, a First Information Report (FIR) was registered by the police, on the complaint of the survivor, against the 70-year-old. Earlier, Mufti Aziz, who is also the Lahore vice Ameer of the party of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), had threatened that he would kill the survivor. 

Moreover, a statement was given by the survivor, in which he maintained that he had been admitted to the madrassa in the year 2013 and had been attending it ever since. He revealed that the cleric had blamed him for having another student take his exam, as a result of which, the survivor had been banned from taking exams with Wafaqul Madrassa for the next three years. 

In his FIR, Shah recalled that Mufti Aziz had told him that he would pass him in all exams if he agreed to keep immoral relations with the cleric. 

The complainant also announced that the 70-year-old, as well as his sons, Lateef, Atique, and Altaf, and three other individuals have made threats to murder him because he released the video. 

A video message of the teary-eyed survivor was leaked along with the footage of him being molested. In the message, he claimed that the sons of his attackers have made countless threats to end his life for exposing the man who was sexually abusing him. 

While in distress, the survivor revealed that he is currently in hiding. According to him, it is better for him to die because he does not want to be killed for posting the video online. He did not expect that he would be threatened like this for revealing the truth. 

The leaked video of the boy being molested spread like wildfire on social media in Pakistan. Netizens took to Twitter to call for immediate action against the culprit, as well as his sons who were threatening the boy. Moreover, people went on to demand that pedophiles in the country are cleared out and investigations to be conducted into religious seminaries.


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Ministry Representatives Called For A Meeting Related To Opening Of Schools

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A panel of the parliament recently issued a summons for representatives of the Education Ministry. The officials have been asked to join the meeting so that the parliament may figure out why schools are still being reopened in the federal capital after a committee of the upper house instructed that summer vacations will be held in Islamabad. The vacations began on the 1st of July. 

The Senate Standing Committee on Education met with Irfan Siddiqui, the Chairperson, and addressed a letter to the Ministry of Education, summoning its representatives for clarification on the matter. 

With the temperature in the city readily rising, the parliamentary panel encouraged the Education Ministry to inform schools to start their summer vacations in the educational institutions in Islamabad from the 1st of July. The date that had been previously decided was the 18th of July. 

Siddiqui expressed concerns regarding the reopening of schools amidst the rising temperatures and scorching heat. He called out the Education Ministry for not abiding by the unanimous and clear instructions of the panel of the parliament. According to him, it has neglected the directives of the committee by keeping educational institutions open in the capital. 

The Chairperson also recalled the last meeting held with the Education Ministry, saying that the secretary had personally assured the committee that it would abide by the instructions given. Reports have further revealed that the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) issued a notice earlier, saying that summer vacations will only be given from the 18th of July, ending on the 1st of August. The FDE is responsible for overseeing the matters of around 423 educational institutions in the public sector. 

The letter written by the secretary of the upper house committee to the Education Ministry added that the directives of the Senate Standing Committee had been neglected, and the panel had been kept in the dark about it. In addition, no explanation or reason had been given regarding the matter either. 

Siddiqui asserted that such an action taken by the Education Ministry is an insult to the decision made by the committee. According to him, the members of the Senate Standing Committee had been deeply offended. He said that the panel has seriously observed the opening of schools and is expecting the representatives of the Ministry of Education to give an explanation at its next meeting.


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Tiktok Spokesperson Claims Action Being Taken Against Violations Of Community Guidelines

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On Thursday, a spokesperson for TikTok revealed that the social media platform has been working on expanding its moderation capacity, with respect to the local language in Pakistan. They stated that the company has been working hard to review and consequently, take action on any content violations of its community guidelines. 

The spokesperson gave a statement revealing that TikTok has been working with various regulators to ensure that no community guidelines are being violated. Moreover, they expressed that the company is looking forward to serving millions of users on the social media platform, as well as its creators from Pakistan. The statement applauded the efforts being made by content creators on the app, who have found a platform for vital economic opportunities, creativity, and fun. 

According to the spokesperson, TikTok has brought out the passion harbored by the citizens of Pakistan. It stated that the app has been successful in bringing joy to many households across the country while providing a home for all those looking to showcase their talent and creativity. 

The statement from the spokesperson for TikTok came after the Sindh High Court (SHC) banned the social media platform in Pakistan due to its ‘immoral content’. On June 28th, a ruling from the court deemed the app to be promoting inappropriate content, as it celebrated LGBTQ-Pride Month. 

The latest ban is the third one that has been placed in the last two years. It will remain in place until the 8th of July, which is the date of the next hearing in the case brought against the social media platform. 

A bench of the SHC was responsible for issuing this order, while it heard a suit of declaration and injunctions. In it, the petitioner nominated the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the Federal Government, as well as TikTok, as the respondents in the case. 

In the month of March, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) gave an order to PTA to ban TikTok in the country, accusing the social media platform of producing and marketing immoral content. 

However, the ban was lifted by the PHC on the 1st of April, after PTA revealed to the court that the issue was personally raised with the administration of TikTok. 

On the 30th of June, it was further reported that the worldwide platform for sharing and creating short videos, just released its quarterly transparency report. As per this report, Pakistan is currently the second-largest market across the globe to have videos taken down that violate the community guidelines of TikTok, as well as Terms of Service. Moreover, these videos were also promoting misinformation related to the novel coronavirus. 

During the months of January, February, and March of this year, 61,951,327 videos were removed across the globe, which sums up to less than 1% of the overall videos posted to the social media platform. From these videos, TikTok discovered and removed around 91% even before they were reported by a user.


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Pakistan Receives A Loan Of $800 Million From World Bank

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In recent news, the World Bank has given its approval for a total loan of $800 million to Pakistan. These funds acquired will be used to finance the country’s budget deficit, and was given after the government accepted certain conditions, such as a rise in electricity prices to bring about a reduction in circular debt, as well as give out target subsidies. The lender made it clear that such measures are likely to lead to an increase in poverty in the country. 

The board of directors of the bank gave their permission to finance two programs in the country. One is the Securing Human Investments to Foster Transformation (SHIFT-II), and the other one being the Pakistan Program for Affordable and Clean Energy (PACE). The total funding for these two programs was going to be $800 million. 

The board of the World Bank allowed the $400 million loans to be given out to PACE, only after the government agreed to accept at least six conditions. These included the reduction in the cost of power generation, shift to clean energy, competitive bidding whenever new power generation projects are started, a decline in circular debt, increasing tariffs by Rs. 1.95 per unit, and the appointment of independent boards in power distribution corporations. This was all revealed through documents released by the World Bank after the approval of the loan to Pakistan.

In a statement, the World Bank added that the PACE loan will be focused on measures that improve and promote the financial viability of the power sector of the country, as well as support its conversion to low-carbon energy. 

PACE focuses on actions that are needed to initiate critical reforms in the power sector, which are targeted towards reducing the costs of power generation and better targeting of tariffs and subsidies for consumers. It also prioritizes the improvement of efficiencies in the distribution of electricity with participation from the private sector. 

Of the six conditions outlined, the first one related to the reduction in costs of power generation in government generation corporations. It also outlined the contribution towards reduced consumer tariffs and pointed to the commitment of the government to equitable treatment across all the categories of power generation. 

The second condition was regarding the competitive bidding for all projects of power generation developed after the loan was received. This would ensure lower electricity costs for consumers in the future, via the National Electricity Policy. Just last week, the Council of Common Interests gave its approval for National Electricity Policy, as it was one of the conditions laid down by the World Bank. 

The third condition related to the transition to renewable energy by 66% by the year 2030. This would be done by adopting a least-cost generation plan (IGCEP). Two of these conditions were accepted by the government, which related to minimizing subsidies and rationalizing electricity prices. The documents released by the World Bank also stated that the Pakistani government will break free from poorly targeted subsidies as well, which only constrain fiscal space.


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Intern Teachers To Be Hired By The Government Of Punjab

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The government of Punjab recently issued details regarding the appointment of intern teachers. This change will be made for a single academic year only and contractual or permanent teachers will not be appointed on the 13,736 vacant seats. The estimated total expenditure of these appointments is likely to be Rs. 130.4 million. 

As per the outline given, six phases will be carried out to recruit people from six districts. These individuals have already been short-listed as part of the first phase of the recruitment. Every phase after that will include six more districts, which is part of the project. The applications are open till the 15th of July and the list of all the applicants will be displayed on the 19th of July. 

The teaching interns will begin their teaching sessions after the summer vacations end and the new term begins. The term will be completed in the year 2022 by the annual examinations. 

Schools will recruit these interns only on the level of union councils (UCs). The eligibility criteria extend to unemployed candidates of the Panchayat Council and UC. The hired educators will also not be allowed to avail any transfer facility. 

The salaries of the primary class teachers have been decided at Rs. 720 in a day, which will result in Rs. 18,000 per month. Interns assigned to middle classes will be given Rs. 800 per day, taking the monthly salary to Rs. 20,000. Similarly, educators teaching matric level students will receive Rs. 1,000 in a day, and their monthly salary will be Rs. 30,000 every month. 

The age of the male interns will be between 20 and 50 years old, whereas the female interns will be aged between 20 to 55. Age leniency will also be allowed by the government given that the recruitment period extends to only a single year. Moreover, the education authority revealed that the teaching interns will be assigned to teach in schools located near their residences. 

The recruitment committee delegated to choose these interns will comprise of five members and school heads will be assigned to be the conveners of the committee. The recruitment procedure will involve a general member, a teacher who teaches the relevant subject, and a member of the school council. 

The interns hired to teach primary classes will have to have passed matriculation with a second division, middle classes hires should have passed FSC or FA with a second division, and the requirement for senior classes will entail a BSc or BA with second division. 

A total of 100 marks will be allocated towards the interview and the academic degree or certificate will have additional marks.


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NCOC Talks About Plan To Roll Out 3 Million Doses Of Sinovac Vaccine

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On Tuesday, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) talked about the plan to roll out no less than three million doses of the Sinovac vaccine. The doses were sent to Pakistan from China today, as per the procurement plan developed for the month of June. 

The session was chaired by Lt. Gen Hamood-uz-Zaman Khan, the National Coordinator. The Special Assistant to Prime Minister on matters related to health, Dr. Faisal Sultan, was also in attendance, as well as Lt. Gen Akhtar Nawaz Satti, the Chairman of NDMA. Various other concerned officers were also a part of the meeting. 

All the members of the meeting were brought up to date regarding the current purchase and inflow of vaccine doses. Up until now, the country has received around 21.13 million doses of various kinds of vaccines. 17 million doses of these jabs were purchased, whereas the rest were donated to Pakistan. 

The Chairman of the NDMA also informed the participants of the meeting about the efforts being made to procure the vaccines, from the budget allotted of a total of $1.2 billion. 

The forum was quite impressed with the availability of the different types of vaccines in the country. It also expressed satisfaction at the successful procurement of additional doses. In addition, all federating units were granted permission to buy vaccines at their own ends. 

The participants at the meeting went on to add that they were concerned regarding the rising number of cases in the area of Gilgit-Baltistan. They emphasized that it was important to strictly implement standard operating procedures (SOPs) related to tourism, specifically in the northern region of the country. 

Moreover, relevant federating units were also granted permission to plan summer holidays on their own. It was said that the units are better equipped to make these decisions and do right by education institutions since they are well-aware of the situation in their respective regions. 

On the 24th of June, the government of the country stressed how important it is for all countries across the world to come up with a joint global strategy, as well as a response to fight the coronavirus pandemic. It also called for an even and uninterrupted supply of jabs worldwide to eradicate the deadly disease completely. 

Just recently, the NCOC also held a briefing session for all members of international organizations, along with the diplomatic corps, in Islamabad. This meeting was called to bring attention to the successful efforts made by the government to fight the coronavirus. 

Everyone who attended this session was provided with detailed updates that showcased the country’s response to the novel coronavirus. The NCOC released a statement revealing that various strands of Pakistan’s strategy to tackle the deadly contagion were also highlighted. 

The participants of this briefing session made sure to appreciate the efforts that the country has been making to mitigate the negative effects of this infection. They praised Pakistan for how proactive it had been in the fight against coronavirus, as well as its vaccination against it.


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Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Government Amends Pension Policy

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The government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has recently decided to make changes to the pension policy. These amendments will be made for the third time, ever since the current government came into power. The reason behind the change is to alleviate the financial burden on the province. 

Thus, relevant authorities have come up with a 17-point policy. As per this policy, the salaries of newly appointed government employees will be reduced. The amount deducted will automatically be transferred to the Contributory Pension Fund. The workers of the Pakistan Administrative Services, as well as PMS officers, have given their consent to have 20% of their salaries deducted and donated towards the pension fund. 

Taimur Saleem Jhagra, the Minister for Finance, took to the micro-blogging website, Twitter, to reveal that in the last 17 years, the pension in K-P has risen by 95 times its size. In 2003, he revealed, the total size of this pension was around Rs. 870 million but has gone up to Rs. 83 billion in this fiscal year. 

Previously, the pension fund was only 1.13% of the overall budget but has significantly grown to 13.4% in the current year. Jhagra claimed that if measures are not taken to bring this figure down, it will exceed the financial resources assigned to the province in the next six years. 

He added that in the years 2030, the predicted amount of the pension is Rs, 460 billion, given that there has been an increase of 22% in the people employed in the public sector in the last five years. Jhagra went on to clarify that pensions before reforms were given out on 13 levels, which included sons, widows, daughter in law, unmarried daughters, granddaughter, orphan grandson, brother, widowed sisters, mother, and father. 

According to him, every year at least 5,000 employees retire when they hit 45 and are granted complete pension benefits. Moreover, these people also begin working in the private sector and that adds to the burden on the provincial exchequer. 

The Finance Minister also claimed that a sum of Rs. 1,000 billion will be required in the future to pay off all such pensions. He added that the number of children, who are eligible to receive pension, will also be reduced after taking into account the best international practices. He stated that any amount saved will be contributed towards increasing the pension allotted to widows by 75 to 100%. 


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Government Withdraws Flour Taxes After Rigorous Protests

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Just recently, the federal government of Pakistan decided that it was going to be withdrawing the proposed sales tax of 17% to be levied on wheat bran. In addition, it announced that a 1% rebate on the yearly sales of flour mills will also be abolished. These two decisions were made against the backdrop of flour mills protesting against the increase in taxes. 

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) issued a statement to clarify that the taxes had been prescribed for a minimum tax on a turnover basis. It added that the table has been included in the Finance Bill of 2021, in order to provide relief to those retailers who supply fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). This also includes refineries, as well as flour mills. 

FBR also revealed that the world ‘flour mills’ had accidentally been omitted from the table and that this error would be corrected in the amended bill. Thus, the minimum tax that flour mills would have to pay would stay at 0.25% of the turnover, rather than 1.25%. The latter figure was the one that was being interpreted by people. 

The Bureau maintained that to boost the aim of the government to control inflation and provide maximum relief to businesses, the general sales tax (GST), placed on wheat bran will also be taken back. The Finance Bill had proposed that the figure be enhanced to 17% now but the suggestion was withdrawn. 

The flour mills all over the country began protesting against the increase in taxes and stopped washing wheat. They had planned to also stop the process of grinding wheat, starting today, as part of the second phase of their protest. 

As per the office-bearers of the Pakistan Flour Mills Association (PFMA), the mills had planned on shutting down operations completely on the 30th of June. They were also going to stop the supply of wheat to open markets, as well as Sahulat and Sunday Bazars. Moreover, they announced that if the government did not take back the proposed rise in taxes before the month is out, they will cut off supply completely.


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Punjab Police Makes Headway In Identifying Culprits Involved In Johar Town Blast

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On Thursday, Sheikh Rashid, the Interior Minister, stated that the law enforcement authorities in Punjab have significantly progressed in identifying the culprits behind the blast that occurred in Johar Town. The officials in charge added that they are very close to finding the people responsible. 

In a video statement, the Interior Minister asserted that the police in Punjab will soon be giving good news to the people of the country. He added that arrests will also be made in a couple of days. He remarked that people seeking to spread unrest in the country and want to see it under pressure, will not be successful in their malicious plans. 

Rashid went on to add that Pakistan is not the kind of country to come under pressure. He maintained that economic and political stability has spread across the country during the tenure of the current Prime Minister, Imran Khan. He claimed that this fact is something that enemies of Pakistan do not appreciate at all.

The Interior Minister was of the opinion that the enemies of the country, disliking the progress that it is making, have resorted to acts of terrorism. However, he added that their efforts will be in vain because Pakistan is as strong as ever. He called them out, saying that the country will not be weakened by their acts and instead, will continue to thrive despite unfortunate events.

He further revealed that 86% of fencing has been successfully completed on the Afghan border, whereas 46% of fencing has been done on the Iranian border. 

Just a day ago, three people lost their lives, and 21 people, inclusive of children and women, sustained serious injuries. This happened due to the explosion of a vehicle, which was laden with explosives. The incident occurred in close proximity of the house of Hafiz Saeed, the man who leads the banned party of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), in Johar Town of Lahore.

Top police officials came to investigate but were uncertain regarding the nature of the blast. The medics on the scene revealed that the people injured were hit mainly by ball-bearing shrapnel. Inam Ghani, the chief of Punjab police, described the incident as an ‘unfortunate terrorist act’. He also said that the nature of the explosion will soon come to light, once the scene is fully analyzed by experts. 

Several vehicles and buildings, located in close proximity of the explosion, were extremely damaged. Witnesses stated that many victims had been lying in pools of blood and the cries for help echoed throughout the area. There was a lot of dust in the area, in the aftermath of the blast, which caused a delay in help to reach the victims. 

After conducting a preliminary investigation, the investigators suggested that nearly 25 to 30 kilograms of explosives were used in the incident. This was concluded considering the five feet wide and three feet deep crater left at the spot. The shrapnel had flown around 500 meters from the location of the blast.


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Nearly 2 Million Additional Doses Of Coronavirus Vaccine Arrive In Pakistan

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On Wednesday, China sent over a fresh batch of around two million doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Pakistan. 

Reports revealed that an aircraft of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), PK6852, flew into Islamabad airport from Beijing carrying the jabs of the vaccine. They were received by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), as soon as they arrived on the airport in Islamabad. 

On the 20th of June, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) announced that a special shipment of no less than 1.55 million doses of the Sinovac vaccines arrived at the Islamabad airport, brought in by yet another flight of the PIA.

The consignment had been a part of the urgent orders that the federal government placed to solve the issue of countrywide shortage of the vaccine. The NCOC released a statement at the time, stating how China has always been a time-tested friend to Pakistan. In that spirit, the neighboring country took special measures to make sure that the citizens of Pakistan would have access to an uninterrupted supply of the jabs. 

Moreover, the NCOC had informed that China would soon be sending over an additional shipment of around two to three million doses of the vaccine manufactured there. These were to arrive in Pakistan within the time span of a week, followed shortly by a continued supply. 

Sources had revealed that measures had been taken by the relevant authorities in Pakistan to ensure that these vaccines reached the federating units, as per their requirements. 

On the 19th of June, Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister regarding matters of health, added that the government had taken to placing emergency orders for fresh supplies of the vaccines of the coronavirus. He had also said that these jabs would start to reach the country from the 20th of June. 

Dr. Sultan went on to add that in the next ten days, Pakistan will be receiving no less than seven million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, most of these supplied from China.


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Maryam Slams The Prime Minister For Remarks Regarding Sexual Violence

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The Vice President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Maryam Nawaz, recently slammed the remarks made by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. According to her, the statement by the premier in which he blamed women’s clothing for sexual violence, is only a glimpse into his true mentality. 

She criticized him, saying that his words are only going to encourage criminals to carry on with these heinous acts. Maryam went on to call out the leader of the country, asking if the reason why young children are molested and sexually abused is their clothes.

These remarks were made by the leader of PML-N when she came for a hearing, to be held at the High Court in Islamabad (IHC). Her appearance in court was scheduled due to the sentences made against her father, Nawaz Sharif, who is the supremo of PML-N, as well as herself.

Earlier in the week, Jonathan Swan had been interviewing the Prime Minister on HBO, when he decided to question the latter about whether or not women’s clothing had an impact on men. The response from the leader had been that if women were to wear few clothes, men would be tempted, and thus, acts of sexual violence would become inevitable. 

Followed by the statement made by Khan, thousands of netizens took to social media to express their anger over his remarks. Swan directly questioned whether these clothes tempt men enough to rape women, and the premier stated that men are not robots. According to him, it is justified for men to be tempted if women start to show skin. 

Even after Swan rephrased his question to ask if a woman’s dressing is enough to provoke a man to carry out acts of sexual violence, the leader continued with his stance. Elaborating, he added that it all depended on the society these men and women are living in. In his words, society as restricted as the one that exists in Pakistan, men are going to be tempted. However, a woman’s clothing may not have an impact on men in Western society, he said. 

While giving her statement outside the IHC, Maryam also talked about the death of Senator Usman Kakar, the leader of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP). She said that many have raised questions regarding his death and therefore, a thorough investigation must be conducted into it. 

She remembered the deceased leader, adding that she believed he had been a knowledgeable person and had always been present at the meetings of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). She went on to add that she suspected that Kakar’s death had only been to silence him. According to her, forceful measures, such as murder, would only motivate people to speak up, rather than scare them into staying quiet. 

The senior leader of the PMAP, who was also a former senator, passed away on the 21st of June in Karachi. He had been admitted to a private hospital, located in the provincial capital of Sindh, for the past three days to receive treatment. He had been 60 years old at the time of his death.


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1.5 Million Jabs of Sinovac Vaccine Reach Islamabad Airport

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In recent news, Pakistan received a special consignment of coronavirus doses. Around 1.55 million doses of the Sinovac anti-coronavirus vaccine reached the Islamabad airport on Sunday, through a PIA flight. This good news was announced by the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC). 


Earlier, the federal government had placed emergency orders due to a shortage of doses across the country. Thus, this consignment had been sent over by China, which took special measures to make sure that the jabs were supplied as soon as possible to Pakistan. 


The NCOC is the principal body in the country, which governs the implementation of national coronavirus efforts, as well as policies related to the deadly disease. In a recently released statement, it added that one more shipment of the Chinese vaccine will soon be arriving in Pakistan and will be followed by continuous supply. The next delivery is expected to contain no less than two to three million jabs of the vaccine. 


Thus, measures have been put in place and arrangements have been made for the transportation of these doses to the federating units in the country, as per their requirements. 


A day earlier, Dr. Faisal Sultan, the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on matters pertaining to health, announced that the government had rushed to place urgent orders with the Chinese authorities for an uninterrupted supply of the anti-coronavirus vaccines. This happened soon after inoculation halted at various centers across the country, as the doses ran out. 


The de facto health minister of Pakistan, Dr. Sultan, stated that the country will be receiving a total of seven million doses over the time span of ten days. Most of these jabs will be coming in from its neighbor, China. 


The ongoing vaccination drive of the government hit a pause in a handful of areas in the country. Reports revealed that only a bunch of vaccination centers were operating in the province of Punjab, whereas Sindh announced that no jabs will be administered on Sunday. 


The reason behind the shortage of vaccines was not explained by Dr. Sultan. But he assured me that the situation will go back to normal from Monday, 21st June, onwards. He stated that the arrival of new supplies is bound to rectify the current situation. 


He informed that there are 1 million doses of vaccines available but, these will not be enough to inoculate all the people of the country. From a population of 207 million citizens, Pakistan has successfully administered the vaccine to at least 12 million people, as the number of cases of the disease readily declines. The government has planned to vaccinate no less than 70 million citizens before the year is out. 



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Inquiry Ordered By FTO Against Commissioner Of Inland Revenue

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In recent news, the Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has issued orders to carry out an inquiry against Fiza Batool, the Commission for Inland Revenue for the Corporate Tax Office Lahore (CTOL), a subsidiary belonging to the FBR, as well as various others. This includes another commissioner and the two are going to be investigated for the alleged abuse of their authorities, in order to achieve tax targets. 

The FBR Chairman and the Secretary of Revenue Division have both been assigned the duty to conduct an inquiry against the accused by the FTO office. They are to submit a complete investigation and response by the 5th of July. 

The FTO went on to say that the large tax offices of the FBR, as well as its corporate tax offices, are currently operating all over the country but, on a functional basis. As of now, the tax being generated by the various audit zones is being given to the Demand Enforcement Zones. 

According to this arrangement, the tax liability is to be determined on business transactions in order to charge tax. Moreover, it specifically stated that this function belongs to the audit function. 

As per the details provided, Waheed Shehzad, a tax lawyer, while representing a taxpayer, filed a plea against various officers at the CTOL. 

Later on, the FTO instructed the FBR Chairman and Secretary of the Revenue Division to take actions against the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, as well as Bilal Hassan, the Inland Revenue Additional Commissioner, and Ahmed Akmal, the Assistant Commissioner. 

The petitioner has stated that the CTOL officials in question have misused their authorities and used it to send notices to various taxpayers that pertain to sub-clause 4 of Section 170. They went on to point out that this particular section of the Income Tax Ordinance deals with audit notices and refunds. Therefore, it does not enable relevant authorities to issue notices against taxpayers. 

Sources went on to add that several officers of field formations that comprise corporate tax offices of the FBR, as well as large tax offices, have been found guilty of misusing their authorities to audit taxpayers. In addition, it was also alleged that tax was unjustly demanded from people to achieve tax targets assigned for the ongoing financial year.



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Active Cases Of The Coronavirus Fall Below 35 In Rawalpindi

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It has been reported that the third wave of the novel coronavirus in Rawalpindi is almost at an end, as the district revealed that only 35 patients of the coronavirus are now admitted in three major hospitals. In addition, the infection rate in the city has fallen to 3.22%. 

An official went on to say that the spread of the virus was considerably reduced due to the strict implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs), as well as the implementation of a smart lockdown. Moreover, they stated that the vaccination of more than 400,000 citizens has also contributed to improving the coronavirus situation in Rawalpindi. 

Due to the fall in the number of active cases, the coronavirus wards in various hospitals, such as Rawalpindi Institute of Urology and Transplantation (RIUT), Holy Family Hospital, and Benazir Bhutto General Hospital are readily emptying. 

Furthermore, health experts have predicted that if the implementation of the SOPs and a quick pace of vaccination is carried on, the third wave of the deadly contagion will soon come to an end. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Omar, the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of Rawalpindi Medical University maintained that in order to completely eliminate the infection, the government needs to implement strict SOPs and a smart lockdown for an additional time period of ten days. 

Dr. Omar also stressed upon the need of the hour to get vaccinated, saying that the first jab ensures 40% protection from contracting the virus after at least 15 days. He informed that the second dose will allow people to get immunized up to a figure of 85%, once five to six weeks have passed following the administration of the second dose. 

In the past 24 hours, the number of patients, who have tested positive for the coronavirus, admitted in public hospitals has fallen significantly. Of the 36 patients currently undergoing treatment in hospitals, 31 are on oxygen, whereas four are now on ventilators. One patient, who had previously been admitted to the Holy Family Hospital (HFH), lost the battle to coronavirus in the timespan. 

Up until now, a total number of 441,266 people have been given the jab in the district. Moreover, the health department has continuously been directing the citizens to get inoculated against the deadly disease. 

Meanwhile, the Polyclinic Hospital (PCH) was applauded for outperforming various federal government hospitals during the ongoing crisis of the coronavirus. The management was commended for taking substantial measures, in order to protect the staff and providing patients with the best healthcare facilities. 

The healthcare facility took on the responsibility to ensure that personal protective equipment (PPEs) was provided to the staff. Isolation wards were also established for patients contracting the virus, as well as a flu clinic for added assistance. 

In addition, the management at PCH took impressive measures when the time for vaccination rolled around. It also kept the outpatient department (OPDs) functional, even when the pandemic was at its peak, to make sure that patients suffering from ailments besides the coronavirus, were receiving proper care.



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PM Imran Looking into the Issues Regarding Chinese Vaccine with Saudi Arabia

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Sheikh Rashid, the Interior Minister, recently revealed that the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, is personally looking into the matter concerning the non-acceptance of Chinese vaccine, Sinopharm, in countries in the Middle East, as well as Saudi Arabia. 


Rashid added that the Prime Minister informed the cabinet that he is currently in touch with various Middle Eastern countries, trying to find a solution to this issue. 


While addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday, the Interior Minister commended the vaccine made by China and thanked them for their cooperation. 


On the 22nd of May, the Foreign Office of Pakistan informed that it had decided to meet with the Saudi government. The FO had wanted to discuss the issue regarding the kingdom denying entry to Hajj Pilgrims from the country, who had been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus with a Chinese vaccine. 


At the meeting, the relevant officials from the FO requested the authorities in Saudi to approve Chinese vaccines, inclusive of Sinovac and Sinopharm, so that Pakistani citizens are able to perform Hajj. It also informed the kingdom that it had been difficult for the country to acquire the vaccines from any country except China. 


It further went on to say that a large chunk of the Pakistani population had already been given the jab of the Chinese vaccine. Therefore, the doctors do not recommend that another vaccine should be administered now. 


On the 3rd of June, Asad Umar, the Federal Minister for Planning, announced that the Pfizer vaccine will only be administered to citizens intending to go for Hajj, due to the limited number of doses available. 


Umar went on to inform that the relevant government authorities had already successfully established a large vaccination center, located at Park F-9 to administer vaccinations to at least 7,000 citizens on a daily basis, through 75 operational counters.


According to the Minister, around 100 trained professionals will be assigned duties to vaccinate, as well as provide standard services to the citizens coming in at the center. 


Rashid was also asked about the emerging role of the opposition against the current government of the country. He said that he does not see anyone protesting against the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Interior Minister went on to deem the opposition to be useless and ineffective.


He recalled how the same opposition had announced in December of last year that they will oust the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government by January. But he added that the incumbent government was soon going to be presenting the next budget. 


Rashid was also questioned about Nawaz Sharif, the supremo of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), to which he responded that the former Prime Minister had succeeded in deceiving the government and ran away. Though Imran Khan regrets letting that happen, according to the Interior Minister, he is happy about the fact that Shahbaz Sharif, the President of PML-N, was prevented from escaping abroad too. 


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Business Hours in Sindh Extended till 8 pm As Vaccination Becomes Mandatory for Traders

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The government of Sindh recently made an announcement saying that business hours in the province will be extended till 8pm, starting from the 7th of June, Monday. It also declared that vaccination is now mandatory for all the traders and staff. All workers in a shop or restaurant must have proof of vaccination with them during working hours. 


The announcement was made by Murad Ali Shah, the Chief Minister of Sindh, shortly after a meeting was held of the corona taskforce in the province.


The Chief Minister went on to add that starting from Sunday, the vaccination certificates of the staff of any and every business will be checked fortnightly. 


At the meeting, the members of the corona taskforce also decided that educational institutions will be reopened for grades 9 and above. In addition, outdoor gatherings, as well as wedding halls, will be permitted to resume operations two weeks later. Outdoor gatherings, as per directives, will be allowed to stay open until midnight. However, social distancing guidelines must be followed at all times. 


Saeed Ghani, the Minister for Education in Sindh, took to the micro-blogging website, Twitter, to add that it mandatory for the staff in schools to get the jab against the virus as well.


The meeting also agreed unanimously that sea view, along with other beaches, will be given permission to welcome the public. Salons, on the other hand, can operate too but with strict adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the coronavirus. 


The attendees of the meeting were given updates regarding the coronavirus positivity ratio in the province, which is currently at 8.5%. On the 1st of June, this figure was at 12.45% but, is now readily decreasing. 


Karachi East recorded a positivity ratio of 18%, West reported 11%, whereas District South and Malir said that their ratio was at 10%. Hyderabad has revealed that the positivity ratio recorded in the city was at 11.06% as of the 5th of June. 


The members of the coronavirus task force were informed that 79 patients of the deadly disease in Karachi are currently on ventilators, whereas Nawabshah reported only two. 


During the meeting, the Chief Minister instructed that Health Ministry of the province to ensure that 19 million people are vaccinated in the upcoming three months. 


On the 3rd of June, Dr. Azra Pechuho, the Health Minister of Sindh, announced that the provincial government was taking all the necessary steps required to make sure that students do not contract the virus, once they return to schools. 


While speaking at a news conference in the City of Lights, she disclosed that the relevant authorities have not yet decided whether or not schools in Sindh will be reopened. However, she added that the vaccination drive has gathered speed and started to incorporate the inoculation of school employees, as well as teachers. 


She added that the Health Ministry of the province is cooperating with the Education Ministry of Sindh to come up with a strategy that allows them to vaccinate all staff members and teachers on a priority basis.



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