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Vatican City gets its second Pakistani cardinal

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Here’s what is happening across the border: Imran Khan explains his controversial sufi shrine visit; Pakistani SC restrains school fee collection during summer vacations.

Pope Francis appoints a Pakistani cardinal in Vatican

Pope Francis appointed Pakistani Archbishop Joseph Coutts from Karachi as a cardinal Thursday, reported Dawn.

The pontiff appointed 14 new cardinals belonging to diverse countries including Iraq, Pakistan, Madagascar and Japan. Coutts is the second Pakistani archbishop to get this position after cardinal Joseph Cordeiro, who passed away in 1994.

Coutts is a doctor of philosophy and is fluent in several languages including English, Italian, German, French, Urdu, Punjabi and Sindhi. He served as the National Director of Caritas Pakistan, and has been working towards promoting dialogue between Christians and Muslims. He also serves as the president of Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference.

Imran Khan explains his controversial sufi shrine visit

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan cleared the air on his visit to a sufi shrine which prompted a debate on social media platforms, reported The News.

Khan during a national television interview said, “Sajda is only for Allah, I only kissed the floor of the mazar (shrine) out of my respect for the great individual that he was, for his services to Islam. This makes you more humble and removes your ego.”

سجدہ صرف اللہ کو ہوتا ہے، چوکھٹ کے باہر بوسہ دیا تھا، سجدہ نہیں کیا۔ عمران خان

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf यांनी वर पोस्ट केले गुरुवार, २८ जून, २०१८

The former cricketer visited the Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar shrine in Punjab province with his wife Bushra Bibi Wednesday and was criticized for allegedly prostrating (sajda) at the entrance of the tomb. Prostration, the critics say, is only reserved for Allah.

However, some activists and a few others came to his defence stating it was his personal choice and opponents should refrain from commenting on Khan’s visit.

Bilawal Bhutto presents PPP’s upcoming election manifesto

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Thursday became the first political party to announce its manifesto publicly for the 2018 general election, The Express Tribune reported.

“Our manifesto is bibi ka vaada nibhana hai, Pakistan bachana hai (Honouring Benazir Bhutto’s promise to safe Pakistan),” said the son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

The 29-year-old leader promised to work towards development and youth empowerment. He proposed programmes like ‘Bhook Mitaao Programme’ and Benazir Kissan Card to alleviate hunger and poverty The Nation reported.

“We will not compromise on national integrity,” he said, adding that his party will make the rulers answerable to the masses.

Pakistan, China interested in joining International Solar Alliance

Pakistan and China are interested in joining the India-led International Solar Alliance (ISA), ARY News said, quoting an Indian report, Thursday.

The source, on request of anonymity, said it is logical that China is interested as it will “benefit them due to large solar manufacturing capacities they have developed.” Pakistan, he added, will benefit from the opportunities provided by ISA.

ISA is an initiative led by India and France for a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs. Earlier, the membership was open to 121 sunshine rich countries located between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, however, in March this year, it was decided that the membership will be thrown open to all countries irrespective of any geographical limitations. This amendment will allow Pakistan to become a member.

Pakistan Supreme Court bans school fee collection during summer break months

Chief justice Saqib Nisar declared that private schools cannot charge fee from students when the school is off during summer breaks Thursday, reported The News. Notices will be issued to parents informing them of the restriction on schools from charging school fee during summer break months.

“The child of a poor man cannot be enrolled in private schools due to exorbitant fees being charged by them,” the top judge said. “It is a matter of Article 184/3. It is also the negligence of governments which had never made education a priority.” said Nisar.

Article 184/3 allows the cardinal court to questions in reference to the enforcement of the fundamental rights.

Nisar also observed that the court might consider summoning attorney general and ask him to nationalize all private schools. Blaming the government, Nisar said the negligence has made it difficult for a poor man to access good education.

Railways preserve 100 bridges constructed before partition

Pakistan Railways restored around 100 bridges in the last five years, reported Ary News.

To ensure effective operations, the railways worked on 789.34 km tracks by removing temporary speed restrictions. “The rehabilitation work was carried out at 14 different routes in four provinces, under various Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) projects,” said the ministry of railways.

“There are 13,841 bridges including 532 major and 13,309 minor bridges over the system. Most of the bridges were constructed well before partition, when Railway System was introduced in the subcontinent and have completed their life,” the report added.

China seeks to expand Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan

The Chinese deputy head of mission Lijian Zhao, who was at a regional conference on ‘Connectivity and Geo-economics in South Asia’, said China is eager to expand and promote its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Pakistan, reported The Tribune.

Addressing the conference, Lijian said that that China wants to explore more trade opportunities with Pakistan. “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would lead to regional connectivity for the benefit of not only Pakistan and China, but all neighbouring countries,” he added. According to him, cooperation among the regional countries was important in ensuring peace.

The diplomat, however, stressed that CPEC would require further improvisations for its effective implementation.

Speaking about settling cross-border issues between India and Pakistan, he said Karakoram highway can be a significant project for linking both the sides.

Pakistani finance baron to face three year sentence over bounced cheques

Arif Naqvi, founder of The Abraaj Group might face three years sentence over dishonoured cheques of over $300 million, Samaa TV reported Thursday.

Abraaj, founded in 2002, is one of Dubai’s largest private equity firms. Naqvi was reportedly outside the country on the day of hearing when the prosecutor issued a warrant for his arrest. Lawyer of the plaintiffs said Naqvi showed “no intention of repaying the debt.” The defence lawyer told AFP negotiations for settlement were still ongoing when case was taken to the court.

Last week, court ordered reconstruction of the $14 billion assets of Abraaj Group, following allegations of the misuse of funds. The Cayman Islands court appointed liquidators after key investors including Bill and Melinda Gates and a World Bank affiliate demanded an inquiry regarding misappropriation of funds.

Pakistan’s Hambantota moment

An opinion published by Khurram Husain in Dawn Thursday, drew a parallel between China taking Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port on lease for 99 years, and the likelihood of the same with Pakistan vis-a-vis Gwadar port.

“Pakistan is walking in the footsteps of Sri Lanka in its growing engagement with China,” claimed the author. “There are genuine grounds to be concerned about what exactly we have signed up for in all the CPEC projects,” the author concluded.

Gwadar, one of Pakistan’s rapidly growing cities, is now a part of CPEC and is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in investments from China.


Contributors: Sharanya Munsi, Priyamvada Grover, Hansa Kapoor, Manisha Mondal, Alind Chauhan, Prateek Gupta, Rupanwita Bhattacharjee, Anagha Deshpande and Soniya Agrawal. 

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