PM urges SCO countries to approach new reality in Afghanistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged international community to approach the new reality in Afghanistan with a new perspective, based on a realistic assessment and pragmatic approach.

Addressing the joint session of SCO and Collective Security Treaty Organization on Afghanistan, in Dushanbe today, he said our core collective interest must be to help stabilize the security situation and prevent renewed conflict and mass exodus.

Imran Khan warned that abandoning Afghanistan can take us back to an unstable situation, resulting in civil strife, negative spill over effect on neighboring countries, outflow of refugees, rise in terror incidents, drug trafficking and transnational orgnanized crimes. He said engagement is the only way forward to avoid such situation.

The Prime Minister also asked Taliban to honor their commitments and fulfill their promise of an inclusive political structure.

He, however, said at the same time that attempts to demonize the Taliban and fuel internal tensions should be rejected. He said such a myopic and unwise approach will only compound the challenges instead of resolving them.

The Prime Minister said the international community must reach out to reaffirm their support and solidarity with the Afghan people at this critical juncture.

He said sustained humanitarian assistance and economic support will save lives and underpin stability. Imran Khan said allowing Afghanistan's frozen assets, to be used for welfare of Afghan people, will also be a step in the right direction.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan has kept its borders open to facilitate regular movement and let bilateral as well as transit trade flow.

We have dispatched several plane loads of food and medicines to help address the humanitarian needs of Afghans.

Imran Khan said Pakistan remains firmly committed to a stable, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan, at peace with itself and its neighbors.

He said the regional countries should work in tandem to assist Afghanistan on its way to peace, stability and prosperity.

Earlier, addressing the 20th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Council of Heads of State meeting in Dushanbe today, Prime Minister Imran Khan called upon the regional countries to pursue the approach of peaceful coexistence and resist any drift towards bloc politics.

He said the fight against terror would not be won if the threats and challenges to international peace and security were ignored.

Imran Khan said state-terrorism is the biggest threat, perpetrated against people living under foreign occupation in disputed territories.

He said in some cases, such extremist and bigoted ideologies have ascended to capture the state power in so-called democracies.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan believes that faithfully implementing UN Security Council resolutions for peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes is a necessary condition for peace, and indispensible for creating an environment of cooperation.

Source: Radio Pakistan

Pakistan, China, Russia, Iran reaffirm pledge to promote peace

Pakistan, China, Russia and Iran have reaffirmed their intention to promote peace, security and stability in Afghanistan and in the region as a whole.

The affirmation came at a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran on the margins of the SCO and Collective Security Treaty Organization Summits in Dushanbe.

The Ministers emphasized that the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Afghanistan should be respected, the basic principle of "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" should be implemented, and the rights to pursue peace, stability, development and prosperity by the Afghan people should be maintained.

They stressed the importance of engaging with those states, which should bear primary responsibility for post-conflict socio-economic reconstruction in Afghanistan and should provide Afghanistan with urgently needed economic, livelihood and humanitarian assistance.

They noted the need to conclude national reconciliation in Afghanistan, resulting in an inclusive government that takes into account the interests of all ethno-political forces of the country.

Given the security challenges emanating from the territory of Afghanistan, they stressed the need to coordinate efforts to counter threats, especially the spread of terrorism and drug trafficking, in order to ensure regional stability and address legitimate concerns and interests of neighbouring states.

The Ministers expressed their concern over the precarious humanitarian and socio-economic situation in Afghanistan, as well as the risks of a possible refugee influx in the region.

They stressed the need for restoring peaceful life and economic recovery of the country. They called on the international community to continue providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan on urgent basis.

The Ministers decided to continue coordination between Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran on Afghanistan and hold meetings at the ministerial, special envoy and the ambassadorial levels in due course.

Source: Radio Pakistan

New Regulatory Body to be Set Up for Punjab’s Private Schools

The government of Punjab has decided to establish a regulatory body for all private schools across the province.

Punjab Minister for School Education, Dr. Murad Raas, said that the single controlling authority would regulate private schools’ fees and other matters.

“We are going to form an authority for private schools that will regulate fees, other issues pertaining to the syllabus, licenses for new ones, etcetera,” said Raas while talking to media on Thursday.

He also hinted at setting up Insaaf Academy, which will impart free online lectures, quizzes by best teachers for students who cannot afford private tuitions.

The idea was floated by the provincial minister last year but it didn’t materialize back then.

Announcing the program in October 2020, Murad had said that the Insaaf Academy would include free lectures for classes 9 to 12.

“The first phase will include lectures on Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Computer Science, and Mathematics for class 9. The students will be able to self-assess their abilities as well through quizzes. The whole program will be free of cost as well,” he had said.

Among other key developments, the provincial education department has upgraded 8,500 schools to the elementary level.

“Almost 70% of children used to quit schools after studying in fifth class as there were no elementary schools nearby,” he said, hoping that the trend would start to change.

Raas said that the up-gradation of schools would help bring 107,000 children back to school within three weeks.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Pakistan Players Respond to New Zealand’s Decision to Call Off the Tour

Pakistan national team players have voiced their opinions after the New Zealand cricket team decided to call off their tour citing security reasons. Pakistan players took to social media to share their disappointment on the decision and also share with the world that Pakistan is a safe country.

New Zealand Cricket (NZC) decided to end their tour abruptly, just a few minutes before the start of the first ODI, as they received a security alert from their government. Despite reassurances from Pakistan’s intelligence services that the threats were a hoax, New Zealand Cricket decided that it will be in their best interests to fly back home.

Pakistan’s all-format captain, Babar Azam took to Twitter to express his frustration on the unfortunate event.

Babar tweeted, “Extremely disappointed on the abrupt postponement of the series, which could have brought the smiles back for millions of Pakistan Cricket Fans. I’ve full trust in the capabilities and credibility of our security agencies. They are our pride and always will be! Pakistan Zindabad!”

More national team players stepped up and shared their points of view.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Asad Umar Rubbishes Claims of Delay in CPEC Projects

Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar has dispelled the impression that the pace of work on the CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] projects has been slowed down, reaffirming that major work of the projects has been completed by the current government.

Addressing a hurriedly called news conference on Friday, the Minister said two major sectors — power and infrastructure — in the first phase of CPEC were the main focus.

“Power projects with an installed capacity of 3,340-MW were completed during the previous government, while 5,864-MW power projects have been completed during the current government’s tenure,” he said. Apart from it, he added, work on another 1,824 MW project was also recently started and would complete after the tenure of this government.

Speaking about the infrastructure and road sector, the Minister informed the media persons that the PML-N [Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz] government completed 394-KM long motorways and highways under CPEC, while the current government had so far completed 413 kilometers of the motorways and highways.

Asad Umar said the PML-N government totally ignored the ‘Western Corridor’ that was the heart of CPEC. He underlined that the Gwadar-Hoshab road was completed by the previous government, while the Hakla-Dera Ismail Khan Motorway, which was initiated by the PML-N government, was completed by the current government, and it would be operational in the next month. Apart from these two projects, he maintained, the previous government could not reach even the initial approval stage of any of the road projects on the Western Alignment.

The Minister said the Zhob-D. I. Khan road (210-KM) was approved and a loan application was submitted, while negotiations for the loan were in process. Similarly, he added, the contractor of the Zhob-Queta project had been mobilized and the PC-1 of the Quetta-Khuzdar road was approved. He underlined that funding for this project had already been allocated under the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) 2021-22.

Dilating on the CPEC projects, he highlighted that the current government completed 67% work of the 110-KM Khuzdar-Basima road and the rest of it will be completed soon. He said the 146-KM Hoshab-Awaran road project had also been approved and a contractor had been mobilized. He underlined that the Hoshab-Awaran project was an integral part of the CPEC central alignment that connected the port city of Gwadar with Sindh. “In fact, real work on Western Corridor of CPEC was started during PTI government,” said Asad Umar, adding that it did not wait for the Chinese investment and started work on the projects with its own resources under PSDP.

Asad Umar said the government was also starting work on connecting roads to the Western Alignment. The Peshawar-D. I. Khan Motorway project was one such project which was recently approved, he informed. He held that the 460-KM Karachi-Quetta-Chaman road was also approved. One of its portions, he explained, will be completed by the government itself, while the other sections of this project will be constructed under a public-private partnership. The Minister asserted that these connecting roads and the Western Alignment were being built to take maximum benefit of the opportunities in Afghanistan as peace and stability will hopefully prevail in the country.

He said, “after completion of the first phase, we were entering in the second and very important phase of CPEC, under which the investment would come to a range of sectors including industrialization, agriculture, livestock, science and technology, and other social development sectors.”

He remarked that before the current government, there was not a single operational Special Economic Zone (SEZ) under CPEC. However, he maintained, two SEZs namely Allama Iqbal Industrial Zone in Faisalabad and Rashakai in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were so far made operational in this government, while another SEZ named Dhabeji will soon be functional once the Sindh government select a contractor for it.

Asad Umar said that agriculture was an important sector in Pakistan, adding that China had vast experience in this sector and it could potentially help Pakistan strengthen the sector. So far, eight important initiatives in the agriculture sector have been approved through CPEC under which the Chinese will help Pakistanis to develop, he concluded.

Source: Pro Pakistani

NADRA is Now Bound to Share Data With FBR for Tax Purposes

President has promulgated Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021 to legally bound the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to share Pakistani citizens’ data with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for broadening of the tax base.

The government has given ample powers to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to disable mobile phones/SIMS, disconnect electricity and gas of non-filers of income tax returns under the new set of enforcement measures taken to expand the tax base.

The President has promulgated the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021 to also given powers to the FBR to discontinue gas and electricity connections of persons, including tier-1 retailers who are either not registered, or if registered, not integrated in terms of section 3(9A) of the Sales Tax Act 1990.

The FBR has been empowered to issue an Income Tax General Order in respect of persons who are not appearing on ATL but are liable to file a return under the provisions of this Ordinance. The Income Tax general order may entail any or all of the following consequences for the persons mentioned therein: Disabling of Mobile Phones or Mobile Phone Sims; discontinuance of electricity connection; and the discontinuance of gas connection.

Under the new Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021, the National Database and Registration Authority shall, on its motion or upon application by the Board, share its records and any information available or held by it, with the Board, for broadening of the tax base or carrying out the purposes of this Ordinance.

The NADRA may submit proposals and information to the Board to broaden the tax base and identify in relation to any person, whether a taxpayer or not. The Board may use and utilize any information communicated to it by the NADRA and forward such information to an Income Tax authority having jurisdiction in relation to the subject matter regarding the information, who may utilize the information.

The penalty for non-filers has been increased to Rs. 1,000/- per day of default. The government has increased the amount of penalty for tier-1 retailers who are not integrated with the FBR. The government has also imposed an additional advance tax on the rates ranging from 5 percent to 35 percent on professionals using domestic electricity connections. The professionals covered accountants, lawyers, doctors, dentists, health professionals, engineers, architects, IT professionals, tutors, trainers, and other persons engaged in the provision of services.

The government has also enhanced Extra Tax rates on industrial and commercial gas and electricity connections to unregistered persons. The government has granted sales tax zero-rating to fat-filled milk, including those sold in retail packing under a brand name or a trademark, and also withdrawn exemption on import of fruit from Afghanistan. Any expenditure in excess of Rs. 0.25 million by the corporate sector to be inadmissible if not paid through digital mode. The salaries in excess of Rs. 25,000/- per month if paid through digital mode to be admissible expense along with paid through other banking channels.

Under the Ordinance, the reduced rate of 16 percent sales tax would be applicable on supplies made by POS integrated outlets where payment is made through digital mode; reduced rate of 14 percent on remeltable scrap imported by steel melters; reduced rate of 5 percent on import of electric vehicles on CBU condition and reduced rate of 16.9 percent sales tax on business to business transactions, where payment is made through digital mode. Moreover, the government has excluded steel and edible oil sectors from the charge of Further Tax u/s 3(1A) of the Sales Tax Act, 1990.

The government has introduced an enabling provision for making facilitator of the online marketplace as a withholding agent under Eleventh Schedule to the Sales Tax Act, 1990, and the requirement of integration for specified persons to integrate the invoice issuing machines with the Board’s Computerized System.

Through the Tax Laws (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021, the government has introduced a mechanism of appeal against the order of Director General Valuation by amending section 25D. An appeal may be filed with Member (Customs Policy). Further appeal may be filed with the High court against the order of Member (Customs Policy). Consequential changes in sections 194A and 196 are also proposed. The mechanism of reassessment of already assessed GD is proposed to be streamlined. The corporate guarantee is to be included in the definition of security instrument for provisional clearance. This will facilitate and avoid high financial costs for industrial importers.

The Ordinance has granted an exemption to certain raw materials for auto-disabled syringes and exemption on import of POS machines granted to all persons.

The government has also clarified that the remittance through Money Service Bureaus (MCBs), Exchange Companies (ECs), and Money Transfer Operators (MTOs) such as Western Union, Money Gram, and Ria Finance or other like entities shall be deemed to constitute foreign exchange remitted from outside Pakistan through normal banking channels, Ordinance added.

Source: Pro Pakistani