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Imran Khan goes on a barefoot religious trip to Saudi Arabia with wife Bushra Maneka

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Here’s what’s happening across the border: Pakistan’s transgenders to debut in election; Karachi is the hottest assembly seat.

Imran Khan travels to Saudi Arabia barefoot

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan flew to Saudi Arabia for a religious trip barefoot on Mondayreported The Tribune. His wife Bushra Maneka and close aide Zulfi Bukhari & Aleem Khan accompanied him from Rawalpindi’s Nur Khan airbase via a chartered flight.

The couple returned on 13 June after paying respects at the Holy Mosque in Madinah.

Imran told TheNews, “Yes, I arrived barefoot in Saudi Arabia in respect of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH).”

A video clip showing Imran Khan coming out of a chartered plane barefoot at a landing strip in Madinah went viral on social media.

Geo TV reported that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Khawaja Asif alleged Imran spent public money for Umrah.

2 transgender leaders to contest on PTI-G tickets, 11 others to run as independents

In the upcoming general elections in Pakistan, two transgender leaders will contest on Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Gulalai (PTI-G) tickets, from Okra and Jhelum, respectively. 11 others will run as independent candidates, said the All Pakistan Transgender Election Network (Apten) in a press conference Wednesdayreported Dawn.

In May, Apten, the transgender rights group, had announced that 13 members of the transgender community will be fighting the elections across the country.

Apten also said among the candidates, two transgender leaders were beaten up and harassed after their intentions of contesting for the election were made public. According to the newspaper, because of the incident the two leaders were unable to submit their nominations.

The group, while expressing their disappointment with the mainstream political parties in addressing their issues, hinted to form its own party after the elections. Head of the party, Farzana Jan said, “Given the power of presence, and the paucity of role models in all spheres of life, the potential influence of having transgender-identifying representatives, who can stand in the public spotlight and demonstrate the legitimacy, value, and dignity of transgender lives and political claims is huge.”

442 Pakistani prisoners pardoned by UAE government before Ramzan 

Prior to the holy month of Ramzan, as many as 442 Pakistani inmates were pardoned by the United Arab Emirates government Wednesdayreported Khaleej Times.

They were among the 2,000 prisoners who were granted the royal pardon.

The Consulate General of Pakistan in Dubai provided flight tickets, legal and financial help to 350 Pakistani prisoners. They also appreciated the efforts taken by UAE government to allow the prisoners to celebrate Eid with their loved ones.

Why Karachi is the hottest assembly seat in the upcoming elections

Both Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have their stalwart leaders, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Imran Khan, contesting in the city of Karachi for the upcoming assembly elections on 25 July. Karachi is the hot-seat in the upcoming elections because it contains “every ethnicity of the country,” explained Geo TV.

The NA-246 in Lyari is a safe constituency for PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto to contest from as the party won their only national assembly seat in the 2013 elections here. Its rival PTI’s campaign in Lyari has appeared ‘lacklustre’ due to PPP’s popularity in the region.

However, in constituency NA-243 where Imran Khan is contesting from, PTI ranked second in the 2013 elections after Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). A PTI leader told Geo TV. “We wanted to take advantage of the MQM’s inner crisis, which is why we choose NA-243,” said the PTI leader.

MQM’s spokesperson Syed Aminul Haque told Geo TV, “PTI made a bad decision to field Khan from NA-243. This area is our stronghold.” He also said that in the past, “other outsiders have tried to win from Karachi and failed badly.”

Pakistani students receive degree from South Asian University in New Delhi

Five Pakistani students graduated from the South Asian University (SAU) New Delhi Wednesdayreported The Express Tribune. The convocation was attended by the country’s High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood who personally extended congratulatory wishes to the students.

The university was established as a collaborative Saarc project after the 2007 Saarc Summit in New Delhi.

The five students were among the 161 students who received their masters degrees along with 10 who got their M Phil and four others who got their PhD degrees.

The students from Pakistan received their degrees in diverse disciplines like biotechnology, computer science, law and international relations.

World Bank approves $565 million loan for Pakistan to build water and power projects

The World Bank has approved a loan package of $565 million for building modern water and power infrastructure in Pakistan, reported Dawn.

The package will be disbursed to Pakistani government-owned power transmission company, National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC), and the Sindh government.

NTDC will receive $425 million for investing in the National Transmission Modernisation (Phase-I) Project which aims to expand and strengthen selected parts of the national transmission system.

The financing will help build new system transmission substation and rejuvenate stalled projects.

The Sindh government will pump in $140 million in its Sindh Barrages Improvement Project, aiming to improve operation and maintenance of Guddu, Sukkur and Kotri Barrages over the Indus River.

With the new funding, the government looks forward to rehabilitating and modernizing the Sukkur Barrage.

Contributors: Priyamvada Grover, Sharnaya Munsi, Alind Chauhan, Manisha Mondal, Rupanwita Bhattacharjee and Hansa Kapoor

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