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The Fight for Peace

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  • Over the years what we have done to our subcontinent?

In this era of enhanced communication, integration and rapid economic development, the world is evolving into more peaceful, prosperous and affluent place. Over the last few decades, we have witnessed how mediocre economic structures have transformed and ascended into elite global economies.

Being at heart of South Asia, if we look at our backyard, Asia Pacific states have grown into booming economies of the world with China acting as engine of growth for the entire world. China remains the largest contributor to the world’s economy. With a GDP totaling $13.28 trillion in 2018, China is the second world economy after United States of America. China’s per capita consumer spending has increased by 6.2 percent year on year in real terms to reach $ 2,877 in 2018.

Despite suffering badly in World War-II, Japan is also rising on the world economic front. With a GDP worth $4872.14 billion in 2017, Japan is transcending into a huge economic powerhouse. Korea is not behind too. The quantum leap forward of South Korea over the past few decades could be gauged by the fact that its GDP was recorded $1.655 trillion last year. This phenomenal growth reflects the will and resolve of South Korean nation despite security threats from North Korea.

Now let’s turn to the affluent western world. After centuries of infighting and wars, Latin and South American states decided to depart from their past disputes and conflicts and joined hands to form regional and trans-regional economic amalgamation.

North American states signed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and created world’s largest free trade area of 450 million people. Through NAFTA, the economies of the United States, Canada, and Mexico were integrated.

As of 2017, the US economy stood at $19.49 trillion; Canada at $1.77 trillion; and Mexico at $2.46 trillion. NAFTA’s trade area produces more than the 28 countries in the European Union. It brought to life an economic powerhouse of $23.72 trillion in gross domestic product.

My mother lost her entire family in racism-provoked violence during partition

A few decades back, European states, who had seen centuries of inter-state and border conflicts, also decided to form a political and economic union of 28 member-states called European Union (EU). The EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished and a monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

But over the years what we have done to our subcontinent? Once a center of world trade, the subcontinent was known as goldmine of the world – due to its riches and geostrategic location. With a civilisation of over 5,000 years and a population of around 1.5 billion people, South Asia lags far behind in terms of Human Development Index (HDI) and per capita income.

With maximum number of children out of school and poor sanitation and health facilities, South Asia is suffering due to border disputes left unresolved by the colonial rulers and our leaders have failed to resolve issues.

However, things were changing over the past decade. While International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its report last year ranked India as number-one emerging market among world’s top 25 economies. India is the world’s fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). With $2.948 trillion GDP, India is set to challenge China.

There are positive signals for Pakistan too. IMF report also designated Pakistan as number-three emerging economy of the world. With a GDP of $305 billion dollars in Year 2017, Pakistan is set to emerge on the global economic map.

However, it seems during past few weeks, India and Pakistan are drifting away from their respective economic agendas in wake of the events taking place following Pulwama incident in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Today, both the neighbours are at daggers drawn and any miscalculation or misunderstanding may trigger another war between the two emerging economies and nuclear-capable neighbours. Events are fast taking place amid border skirmishes and downing of two Indian air force jets by Pakistan air force.

I am writing this piece as a concerned citizen of South Asia. I better know how humanity suffers at hands of violence. My mother lost her entire family in racism-provoked violence during during partition of India and Pakistan and hence I know the pain she has gone through her entire life.

I can understand how much it pains when you lose any loved one. I get into tears whenever I see blood. I have seen bloodbath in India Occupied Kashmir (IOK) and I also went through the same agony when I saw coffins taken to India after Pulwama attack. I fail to comprehend what makes people kill and maim fellow human beings in the name of caste, creed and religion.

Recent events have pushed the two countries to a war-like situation which may plunge the entire region to a nuclear clash. US experts recently opined that any clash between the two nuclear-armed nations may lead the entire world to total annihilation through direct and indirect impact of any nuclear strike.

Leaders emerge out of crisis situations. Prime Minister Imran Khan has ascended on global arena as a peacemaker. From day-one, Prime Minister Khan’s handling of the situation and steps taken to diffuse tensions reflected his vision, wisdom and yearning for peace. The unconditional and swift release of captured Indian pilot, Abhinandan, reflects the compassion and humane nature of Imran Khan.

However, it seems Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is more focused on the upcoming elections and he plans to play hate card against Pakistan to win the polls. Elections are normally fought on peace, development and government’s performance. It, however, seems as if hatred against Pakistan is being pushed to win polls.

Following the release of the Indian pilot and a failure of the Indian government to reciprocate Pakistan’s goodwill gesture, I am happy to see that the social media is rife with calls for peace from the people of both India and Pakistan. It is heartening to note that after the failure of Indian regime to respond to the peace overture from Pakistan, Indians themselves have decided to bat for peace. They have rejected the hate mongering Indian media and extremist leaders for peace and tranquility and this is a good news for peace in the region and beyond.

It is now upto the people of India to take their fate into their own hands. They have to decide whether they would keep igniting this fire with hate and extremism which can eat away the entire region and may also negatively impact the world populace. As Prime Minister Imran Khan said, wars are started with a plan but once started, war decides its dimensions itself. War itself is an issue, so it can’t resolve any issue at all. Since dialogue is the only way forward, let’s join the yearn for peace envisoned by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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Miami’s top architect Kobi Karp enters Pakistani market

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ISLAMABAD: Miami’s leading architect Kobi Karp the name behind some of Miami’s most iconic developments including the Four Seasons Private Residences and the Legacy Tower, South Beach has completed the designs for the $30 Million luxury residential tower One Canal Road by Diyar Homes.

One Canal Road, Lahore, Diyar Homes designed by Kobi Karp architects

The design includes in excess of 25,000 square feet of amenity space finished with the finest VERSACE ceramics by the leading Italian design house and includes a sky pool which will be amongst Lahore’s highest above the penthouse floor of the building.

Commenting on the design of the project from an exclusive press conference in London’s plush Grosvenor House, Hotel on Park Lane, Kobi said “I have designed One Canal Road to the highest of international standards, the development rivals any of the best buildings I have designed in Miami or the Middle-East. One Canal Road will be an icon in Lahore’s skyline”.

Kobi Karp addressing Diyár Press Conference at Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London.

Kobi Karp architects are Miami’s leading design studio, a multi award winning practice that have been involved in projects across the world including some of the most iconic developments in Miami including Astor & Edison Hotels, Palazzo Del Sol, Four Seasons Private Residences and private luxury homes for the likes of NBA start Juwan Howard and landmark developments in the Middle-East in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Kobi Karp offices in Miami

Further adding Kobi said “It’s an honour to work on our first project in Pakistan and in a location of this kind at the heart of Lahore, I don’t think we could have had a better project and developer (Diyar Homes) to start with in Pakistan. For me great architecture is the crossover over between design and art. At Kobi Karp Architects we create timeless landmark architecture that stands the test of time. One Canal Road will be a landmark in Lahore”.

One Canal Road looking on to Gaddafi Stadium and Gulberg, Lahore.

On his vision for One Canal Road Kobi added, “Every part of One Canal Road has been planned with exceptional attention to detail, from capitalising on the 360 degree views a location of this kind boasts, to the hotel style 6500 square foot lobby with 28 feet high ceilings, to the fitness centre, spa, and sky pool every inch of this development has been planned to create the penultimate luxury residential address in Lahore”.

Sky Villa at One Canal Road priced at over $2 Million poised to be the most expensive apartment in Lahore

Discussing the amenities Kobi said “Our amenities are en-par with the most luxury hospitality sector 5* hotel projects I have done across the world. With over 25,000 square feet of amenities and only 111 luxury residences One Canal Road presents the pinnacle of luxury living”.

Sky pool at One Canal Road by Diyar Homes.
Luxury residents’ private fitness suite


Luxury residents private fitness suite.

Residents private theatre
Four Seasons Private Residences, Fort Lauderdale designed by Kobi Karp architects

One Canal Road, Lahore is a $30 Million project by UAE based Diyar Homes. Diyar recently announced a collaboration with VERSACE ceramics as Lahore’s first project where finishing of floors and walls will be by the leading Italian design house.

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Pakistan records 70 per cent rise in exports to China

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Pakistan enjoys zero duties on exports of hundreds of products to China under free trade deal

ISLAMABAD – In a major development, Pakistan has recorded nearly 70% increase in exports to China in the first quarter of 2021, an official has told media.

“Impressive figures of Pakistan’s exports to China in 1st quarter of year 2021. $888 million as compared to 2020′ Q1 $526 million. An increase of 69%,” Moin ul Haque, Pakistan’s ambassador to China, said on Twitter.

Haque praised his team for, encouraging for more: “Let us keep this momentum to achieve a historic record in 2021.”

Last year, phase two of the much-touted China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement came into effect, which now allows Pakistani manufacturers and traders to export around 313 new products to the Chinese market with zero duties.

Pakistan is already enjoying zero duties on exports of 724 products to China under the first free trade pact signed between the two countries in 2006. After implementation of the second pact, Pakistan has been now allowed to export more than 1,000 products to China with zero duties. The new facility is particularly benefiting the agriculture, leather, confectionary items, and biscuits product sectors as well.

In 2019, Pakistan also signed an agreement with China to use Chinese currency for bilateral trade to get rid of the dollar burden in $15 billion bilateral trade.

According to official data, Pakistan and China’s bilateral trade volume grew to some $15.6 billion in the 2019 fiscal year, up from $2.2 billion in 2005.

The two longtime allies are also partners in the multi-million-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious project to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks to boost trade and stimulate economic growth.

The $64 billion mega-project signed in 2014 aims to connect China’s strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to the Gwadar port in southern Pakistan through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.

The economic corridor will not only provide China with cheaper access to Africa and Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.

Exports to other countries

Despite rise in exports to China, Pakistan has witnessed fall in exports to its western neighbour Afghanistan and other regional countries apparently due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic during past year.

The country’s exports to Afghanistan fell 5.57% to $746.3 million over the last nine month of fiscal year 2021, compared to $790.3 million during the same period of last year, according to leading daily Dawn.

A few years ago, Afghanistan was the second-major export destination for Pakistan after the US.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s exports to India also plunged 90.5% to $2.2 million this year from $23.1 a year earlier, according to the report.

Islamabad’s exports in 2020 dropped by over 90% to $28 million from $311 million in 2019, following suspended trade and diplomatic ties with India after New Delhi’s move to scrap the special status of Indian-administered Kashmir.

However, Pakistan’s exports to Japan and some central Asian countries witnessed an increase.

Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to Pakistani premier on commerce and investment, said in a statement that Islamabad’s exports to Japan grew by 47% to $86.4 million in the third quarter of fiscal year 2021.

“The exports of seafood, petroleum, dry fruits, spices, minerals, woven fabric, knitted garments, sports goods, cutlery & dates increased,” he said.

The official also said that Pakistan’s exports in April also stood at $2.19 million.

“This is the first time since 2011 that our monthly exports have crossed the 2-billion mark for seven consecutive months,” Dawood stated.

However, he said, “the export growth of 129% over Apr-2020 cannot be taken into account due to lockdown last year.”

The country’s exports from July 2020 to April 2021 rose by 13% to $20.8 billion compared to $18.4 billion year-on-year, Dawood noted.

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Another 0.5 Million SinoVac doses arrive from China   

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Vaccine arrives as Pakistan gears up to provide vaccine jabs to people at large

ISLAMABAD – A special plane of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) carrying 0.5 Million consignment of SinoVac Vaccine arrived here at NurKhan Airbase Islamabad from China on Thursday. The consignment is procured on payment from China.

The consignment arrives as Pakistan gears up to provide vaccine jabs to all its people across country after Eid-ul-Fitr. SinoVac vaccine has been tested in Pakistan’s three major cities including Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore and has proved its worth.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has summoned an emergent meeting of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for COVID-19 on Friday as key decisions are expected from the meeting in the wake of rising coronavirus cases and deaths across country.

Sources have told DiploMag that the meeting chaired by Prime Minister will be attended by federal ministers, chief ministers and chief secretaries of the four provinces. The meeting will review the situation in Coronavirus Pandemic across the country.

Sources in the federal government have informed this correspondent that the meeting chaired by the Prime Minister would evaluate its options to counter the recent spike in infections of Covid-19. Over the past week or so, the average cases across country stand at 11 percent and the numbers are not dropping down from five thousand new infections on a daily-basis.

The sources said that the meeting led by prime minister would discuss the possibility of imposition of lockdown in major cities of the country with a rate of more than ten percent, while business activities in major cities and areas could be suspended and offices closed.

It is said that the decision of lockdown is likely in the cities of Corona with a rate of more than ten percent. Businesses are likely to be suspended and offices closed in the lockdown cities and areas.

The NCC will give final approval to the lockdown decision in the most affected cities. On the other hand, according to the data released by the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), 57,591 Coronavirus tests were conducted during the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of code 19 tests to 1137,742. A further 5,857 positive cases have been reported.

Thus, the number of certified corona patients in Pakistan has reached 778,238. So far, 275,081 in Sindh, 279,437 in Punjab, 19,704 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 71,533 in Islamabad, 21,242 in Balochistan, 16,026 in Azad Kashmir and 16,026 in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Coronavirus Pandemic has been diagnosed in 5,215 people. Similarly, Federal Minister for Planning Asad Umar has already warned that big cities are not being closed yet but caution has not been observed during the third wave of the pandemic.

“If SOPs are not followed by the people, then big cities will have to be shutdown under lockdown,” Asad Umar warned.

 

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