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Workshop on biosafety in biomedical laboratories held

Keeping in view the evolving research demands and practices, CECOS University in collaboration with Pakistan Biosafety Association (PBSA) conducted a one-day workshop titled ‘Biosafety in Biomedical Laboratories’ for students, last week.

The workshop involved orienting the participants on the technical aspects of keeping safe and promoting safety in the biomedical laboratory, along with providing hands-on training to help the trainees develop expertise on biosafety and biosecurity protocols.

Dr. Hafsah Muhammad, Head of KP Chapter of PBSA conducted the workshop as a Master Trainer, training the participants on various aspects including but not limited to containment of hazardous materials, donning and doffing Personal Protective Equipment, waste management, and lab injuries, thus equipping them with necessary knowledge for guaranteeing self and lab safety.

“As part of the wider population currently going through a pandemic, it is of primal importance that we as scientists are familiar with and mindful of all measures that should ensure safety in the confines of a laboratory. I am pleased that my trainees today agree with me which was evident from their enthusiasm and participation”, said Dr. Hafsah Muhammad, Master trainer.

The participants reported the training to be vastly productive at increasing their understanding of and skill at following the biosafety protocols, and reducing and mitigating risk in the closed and controlled setting of biomedical laboratories. They were confident that the training will particularly prove useful during their research studies, which is an integral part of their degrees.

The workshop concluded with the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Dr. Sohail Asif Qureshi, offering a vote of thanks to the trainer for sharing her time and knowledge with the students, who he encouraged to attend and participate in such useful trainings and activities.

“The concept and proper practice of biosafety is usually taken for granted when it tends to be a determinant of a good scientist and their laboratory conduct. We recognize that the protocols of Biosafety and Biosecurity need to be taught and taught again, to keep pace with the advances in the field of Applied Sciences and therefore, keep on conducting similar trainings for our students and all curious minds out there”, said Prof. Dr. Sohail Asif Qureshi, Vice Chancellor, CECOS University Peshawar.

CECOS University is a leading University in Peshawar that offers graduate and undergraduate programmes in Computer Science, Management Sciences, Architecture, Electrical, Civil and Mechanical Engineering as well as in Biotechnology, Pharmacy, English and Allied Health Sciences.

Container xchange opens first office in Karachi
  • Reinforces commitment to expand and grow the increasing demand of container operations infrastructure in Pakistan

Container xChange, one of the world’s largest logistics technology companies, has opened its first office in Pakistan in the cosmopolitan city of Karachi, the transport hub of Pakistan. The new office, located at Machiyara Springfield, Clifton, Karachi will offer a global and neutral online platform for trading and leasing of shipping containers.

The announcement comes on the back of the company’s endeavour to revolutionise digital adoption for Pakistan’s container logistics industry so the customers can grow their business to become truly global organisations and achieve operational efficiency and transparency at every step of container operations.

Commenting on the launch, Dr. Johannes Schlingmeier, co-founder and CEO, Container xChange said, “We are excited about our expansion in Pakistan which is a hub for NVOCCs and an important market in South Asia for Container xChange. With an excellent on ground team here in Pakistan, we aim to support our growing customer base in their journey towards digital adoption for container operations. Therefore, it only makes business sense to develop our services further in the country.”

Container xChange is a technology company that works towards developing a one-stop shop for digital container operations infrastructure. The company enables container logistic players to reduce idle container times and find business partners, plan one-way moves, handle the process of container movement end-to-end and overall, contribute in reducing the carbon emissions of the shipping industry.

“With the opening of this new facility, our aim is to cater to the growing demand of our business amongst the container logistic players in Pakistan. The great disruptions in the supply chain have led companies to rethink their logistics strategy and Container xChange has been at the forefront of transforming the face of container logistics globally. We are confident that having a physical entity in Pakistan will greatly benefit the NVOCCs, shipping lines and freight forwarders to build agility and resilience for their business, which is key to business sustenance especially during these times”, said Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO, Container xChange.

Abdul Aziz Khan, Manager, Container Trade division, Oceanic Star Line (OSL) Ltd one of the leading shipping lines in Pakistan shared their excitement on the launch of the xChange facility, “We are pleased to see xChange’s new office opening in Karachi and I trust that it will be beneficial for the existing and the potential customers of xChange. Having local presence will help immensely in introducing xChange to the local players and building strong partnerships thereof.”

“Moreover, it will help the container logistics players in Karachi to open new frontiers of global business opportunities that the platform presents along with offering services like container trading and leasing, presenting actionable data for its customers, simplifying container operations and financial services. I wish them all the best for this great progress.” Mr. Khan added.

Ali Paracha, Director, Allied Container Line commented, “We are looking forward to working with a local team at xChange in Karachi. Adding a local presence, always helps in bringing a comfort level to local players, adding more trust in the business and will help us as to get to know many more value-added services by xChange which could potentially drive more value from the platform. We wish them all the best.”

Container xChange has developed a global market standing over these years as a truly transparent and trustworthy neutral platform for container trading and leasing. Container xChange has grown its customer base rapidly in Pakistan, specially over the past 2 years. Many reputed shipping logistics companies like M&J Shipping Line (Pvt) Ltd, Allied Container Lines, SuperTerra Container Lines & Shipping (Pvt) Ltd, Oceanic Star Line Limited Pvt Ltd, Ravian Shipping Lines, etc are benefiting from Container xChange and the company plans to rapidly grow the customer base in Pakistan within the next two years.

Standard Chartered expands KU youth league to Islamabad
  • 352 boys and girls across Islamabad, Rawalpindi
  • 73 matches over three months

After the success of the SC KU Youth League in Karachi, Standard Chartered announced the launch of Standard Chartered Karachi United Youth League in Islamabad. The league is scheduled over three months, from December 2021 to March 2022. This is the first time Standard Chartered is taking this league to a different city. The objective of taking the Standard Chartered – Karachi United Youth League to the twin-cities, is to provide a new platform and opportunities for young football enthusiasts in and around Pakistan’s capital city, to perform well, prove their competence and win recognition and rewards, sponsored by a globally leading bank.

More than 350 talented boys and girls, living in diverse communities of the region will come together to play more than 70 matches while nurturing their competitive spirits. Over the past four years, the Standard Chartered Karachi United Youth League has successfully engaged over 2800 participants – boys and girls, from Karachi. It has helped develop talent and there are multiple case studies and examples which highlight the teamwork, leadership and volunteerism nurtured among the diverse communities.

The Islamabad league will feature two competitions for Boys; in the Under-14 and Under-16 categories. The format has a group system to qualify for the semi-finals. The Girls’ tournament will be played on a single league basis, with seven girls in each team. These girls are selected from Standard Chartered Bank’s flagship education programme, Goal, which focuses on enhancing girl empowerment, as well as other football clubs and academies. Official Referees and Match-Commissioners have been appointed to elevate the League’s standard. A total of 73 matches will be played in different locations of Islamabad/Rawalpindi.

Ms. Khadija Hashimi, Head, CABM, AME & Country Head, Pakistan, commented “We at Standard Chartered are excited to fulfil our promise to nurture sustainable socio-economic development and healthy sporting activities for the underserved communities in Pakistan. We believe the league will have a positive cultural impact and support reduction of anti-social tendencies among youth in Islamabad, along with life skills coaching for progressive mindsets.”

Mr. Imran Ali, CEO, Karachi United said: “We are extremely excited about expanding the Standard Chartered Karachi United Youth League to the Islamabad region. It will establish the league as a national competition, recognising and training Pakistan’s football stars of the future, while generating tremendous excitement for the players, spectators and fans. We express our gratitude for Standard Chartered for supporting and believing in the talents of our youth and partnering with us to create this resourceful platform and invest on the community at the grassroots level.”

Jazz concludes its data science training programme

Jazz, Pakistan’s number one 4G operator and the largest internet and broadband services provider, has successfully concluded its Data Science Central (DSC) training programme. After six months of training, four trainees have been offered permanent positions within the company’s Data Science team and the Analytics & Insights team.

The training programme on-boarded twelve candidates in total, putting them through a rigorous mix of theoretical and practical training modules essential in the technological field, for the first three months. The trainees attended a set of courses conducted by foreign trainers from world-reputed universities, equipping them for practical projects in the second stage of the programme. The next three months focused on critical thinking, problem resolution, and practical business skills using Jazz’s live data.

A massive influx of data is being generated at Jazz at all times, and it has led to rising demand for data scientists. Currently, the country faces a dearth of experts; and the Jazz DSC programme has attempted to bridge this gap by training a new generation of data scientists with industry experts and using practical business cases.

“As more organizations are learning to put their data to work, the demand for data scientists is becoming much higher than the supply. In line with Jazz’s ambitions of becoming a pioneering digital company, we designed and executed our Data Science academy, to train and select the top talent to satisfy the growing dependency on analytics,” added Kazim Mujtaba, Chief Data and Strategy Officer, Jazz.

The reliance on data and analytics is transforming businesses around the world, and Jazz is making strategic investments in processes, platforms, and people to gear itself for this next step of evolution. Jazz houses one of the largest data stores in Pakistan and is working proactively towards ushering a new era of digitization and refining the customer experience for more than 71 million subscribers.

British Council’s Climate Connection programme
Over 74pc of Pakistan youth eager to do better on climate change challenges

The Youth in Climate Action Summit in Islamabad brought together young people, youth, government, civil society, media, climate action experts for dialogue and conversations around climate action, celebrate the work done by young climate leaders, and discuss research evidence around how young people can effectively contribute to climate action priorities set out by the Government of Pakistan, UK and COP26.

This research is part of the British Council’s Climate Connection programme, which aims to bring people around the world together to address the challenges of climate change. It focuses in particular on the next generation of climate leaders and gives practical support to young people and communities.

As one of the youngest and most populous countries in the world, Pakistan’s young people are at the biggest risk of the effects of climate change and related challenges.

The Perceptions of Young People on Climate Change and Action: Pakistan report gathered survey data from 1,215 youth, 14 group discussions and 32 interviews to understand the perceptions of young people in Pakistan on climate change.

61 per cent of the young people surveyed for the report came from rural areas. More than 90 per cent have never participated in any climate change awareness activity. 70 per cent expressed their eagerness to learn more about climate issues.

The report found a consistent call for young people to be included in policy decisions. The findings emphasised a clear need for policymakers to channel enthusiasm of young people in more practical and structured ways.

This is demonstrated through various climate related social action projects implemented by young people as part of British Council’s youth leadership programme – some of which were exhibited and presented at the Youth in Climate Action Summit. A panel discussion on the role of educational institutions to promote youth-led climate action emphasised the importance of climate change awareness and action.

British Council Pakistan Country Director, Amir Ramzan, speaking at the inaugural session said: I’ve had the privilege of meeting many passionate and determined young Pakistanis through our youth leadership programme – some of whom are here today. As the Perceptions of Young People on Climate Change report we are launching today clearly shows, the youth are aware and interested to be involved in tackling climate change and other key issues. It is good to see the Government paying attention to this through initiatives that focus on youth engagement. I’m glad to share that British Council is a key partner collaborating with Kamyab Jawan programme on this exciting and much-needed initiative.”

Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul Wazir distributed certificates to grantees of the British Council Challenge Fund at the closing ceremony and shared: “I’m very proud to see that Pakistan’s youth exhibit such strong leadership and enthusiasm to work for the betterment of this country. We are eager to connect and work together with young people through the Government’s climate programmes like the Billion Trees Tsunami and Clean and Green Pakistan. They are the future of Pakistan.”

UBL partners with U Microfinance to promote financial inclusion in Pakistan

United Bank Limited (UBL) and U Microfinance Bank Limited (Ubank) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote financial inclusion in Pakistan and to open up multiple avenues for collaboration, including Medium to Long Term Debt Funding, Retail TFC, Islamic Microfinance Funding, Commercial Paper and synergizing their respective business to scale. The ceremony was held in UBL Head Office in Karachi.

The signing ceremony was presided by Mr. Shazad G. Dada, President & CEO UBL and Mr. Kabeer Naqvi, President & CEO U Microfinance Bank Limited along with senior executives of both banks including Mr. Farooq A Khan, Group Head CIBG & FI, Mr. Muhammad Tayyab Khurshid, Unit Head FI and other executives from UBL and Ms. Mariam Pervaiz, Chief Commercial Officer & Chief of Staff, Mr. Muhammad Farooq Kamran, Head of CB&I and Mr. Mohsin Aslam, Head Budgeting Planning and Corporate Finance from U Microfinance Bank Limited.

Mr. Shazad G Dada, President & CEO UBL, at the event, said “As the ‘Best Digital Bank’ of Pakistan, we are looking forward to our strategic alliance with Ubank, with the aim of expanding the scope of financial inclusion across the country. It presents an exciting opportunity to further strengthen our digital prowess to bring state of the art financial solutions to our combined customer bases.”

Mr. Kabeer Naqvi, President & CEO Ubank said “We are delighted to establish this partnership, which is aimed at exploring avenues to collaborate, design innovative products and work together in moving the banking sector forward. This alliance will help us serve more customers and bring more Pakistanis in to the banking net.”

Banking Tech Awards in London
Ammara secures global accolade in tech leadership

Ammara Masood, CEO of NdcTech is the winner for ‘Women in Tech’ leadership category at the 2021 Global Banking Tech Awards hosted in London by Fintech Futures. This is truly a valuable recognition competing globally with the top tech leadership in the financial industry among other contenders. The award is an accolade for a leader making a significant impact in the banking/financial services industry and contributing towards the industry’s betterment.

Now in its 22nd year, the Banking Tech Awards recognises excellence and innovation in the use of IT in financial services worldwide, and the people who make it happen. The Woman in Technology Leadership Award category lauds an outstanding woman for her distinguished leadership and inspiring work in her organisation, and for making a positive impact on the wider banking/financial services industry.

Ammara, CEO of NdcTech commented: “I am delighted and truly humbled to receive such valuable recognition and acknowledgment by a prestigious global organisation. I am grateful to Fintech Futures, to the judging panel, to my colleagues at NdcTech, and most of all to the clients who provided me the opportunity to make an impact in the industry. This award is for all women leaders who venture to make breakthroughs by showing their exceptional talent and vision. We don’t have enough women in leadership roles and I urge all organizations to advocate for women in such roles.”

NdcTech was nominated in two categories at the Banking Tech Awards, one being the “Tech Team of the Year” recognising a team working in the banking/financial services space that has stood out for its teamwork, efficiency, collaborative spirit, and going above and beyond in achieving the goals and delivering value to the project/organisation. In this category, NdcTech was recognised with Bank of Khyber as the finalist and won in the other award category for “Women in Tech” leadership Award.

Ammara is very well respected for her experience and impact in leading banks and developing digital strategies for Financial Institutions. She sits on several National, Industry, and Corporate Boards and in several steering and governing councils alongside board members and the top leadership of Banks and FI’s to progress their digitization strategy. Her success in almost all programs undertaken by Banks and FI’s makes her contribution very worthy and has been a factor in her personal as well as company’s success. This award is a prized acknowledgment of her skills, leadership, vision, inspiration, and dedication to the IT industry’s betterment.

Hands Pakistan celebrates international day for person with disability at Port Grand

HANDS Pakistan – Independent Living Centers ILC celebrated International Day for the Persons with Disabilities on December 02, 2021, at the Port Grand Karachi. The event was organised under the annual observance of the International Day of Person with Disabilities (IDPD) proclaimed in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 47/3.

The event was graced by the Chief Executive HANDS Pakistan, Dr. Tanveer Ahmad Shaikh, Minister for IT, Mr. Amin Ul Haq, Minister for Local Government Sindh, Mr. Sadiq Memon MPA, and Ms. Kishwar Zehra.

HANDS DWA ILC team presented a video in honour of Dr. Tanveer Ahmed Shaikh, CE HANDS Pakistan, appreciating his effort for humanity.

Dr Tanveer thanked the participants and HANDS ILC team and appreciated organizing the event. HANDS ILC is working in Hyderabad, Karachi, Islamabad, and Multan. The HANDS ILC is a vast network and has been working in uplifting the disabled communities in Pakistan. HANDS ILC has been independent since the day it started and has been working as the voice for the rights of persons with disabilities.

Dr. Tanveer appreciated the efforts of Mr. Javed Rais and the team’s efforts for organizing such a successful event entirely on his own.

Ms. Kishwer Zehra, MNA – MQM Pakistan, also graced the event and shared her thoughts about how HANDS Pakistan is playing a vital role in the life of many PWDs.

Mr. Sadiq Memon, Minister for Persons with Disabilities, Sindh Government, thanked HANDS and appreciated the efforts in setting up the massive event on the occasion of International Day for Persons with Disabilities.

Mr. Amin ul Haq, Federal Minister for IT, GOP, applauds the team members of the HANDS ILC, who are working day and night for the rights of persons with disabilities. Also announced a grant for persons with disabilities at the HANDS ILC.

HANDS Pakistan – ILC is also achieving its rights by working on the employment quota of persons with disabilities, Sindh Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities act 2018. HANDS-Pakistan played an active and worthy role in the disability movement in Pakistan.

Edible oil, fertilizer, steel prices rising again, says Mian Zahid

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said a new wave of price hike is hitting the masses as prices of edible oil, pulses, fertilizer, steel and other items are witnessing a sharp increase.

Edible oil is a necessity for everyone and its increased price will only aggravate the problem of food security in Pakistan, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that increased price and the artificial shortage is making fertilizer more expensive, it will badly affect agricultural production and increase the prices of agricultural commodities.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that rising prices of pulses are also affecting the people while rising steel prices are hurting industrial and construction activities.

He said that an effective mechanism should be set up to control the prices of ghee in the local market and instead of relying on imports from the two countries, other means should be explored and efforts should be made to increase its local production.

He called upon urgent steps to prevent the Food Security Index from falling further as a good number of populations is already compromising on food due to its skyrocketing prices.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the profiteers are destroying the agricultural sector for their profit and that fertilizer hoarding is not difficult to control as it requires huge warehouses which are impossible to hide but the government will have to be serious in this regard.

If the stockpiling of fertilizers was not controlled, food shortages will increase in the country and billions of dollars will have to be spent on imports, he warned.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said that the prices of pulses are also increasing which should be controlled while the price of flour is increasing in some areas which should be dealt with immediately.

He said that the price of steel bars has recently been increased by Rs2,000 per tonne and now it is being sold at the rate of Rs197,500 which is a record.

The same bars were priced at Rs110,000 per tonne in the month of November 2020 after which prices continued their upward journey.

Consistent and higher than expected inflation has not only broken the backs of the people but has also affected the GDP but the authorities are relying on tall claims and hollow slogans instead of practical measures, he said.

Khushhali Microfinance Bank supercharges Digital Banking with Temenos and NdcTech

Khushhali Microfinance Bank Limited, Pakistan’s leading microfinance bank providing financial services to SMEs and low income households across Pakistan, has recently signed an agreement with NdcTech to implement Temenos Infinity, the digital banking platform.

This implementation will enable Khushhali Microfinance Bank to accelerate growth through digital onboarding and origination as well as provide customers access to crucial financial services elevating their digital experiences. With this digital transformation, Khushhali Microfinance Bank will have product agility to quickly market their offerings in this dynamic economy.

Temenos Infinity with its open API architecture will support the delivery of hyper-personalized, omni channel customer experiences and allow Khushhali Microfinance Bank to provide faster, seamless customer service. NdcTech’s expertise in various digital banking journeys, including regulatory products and processes, will help the bank to make these services available to customers in a timely fashion.

On this occasion, Mr. Ghalib Nishtar, CEO & President of Khushhali Microfinance Bank said: “We are happy to sign up with NdcTech for the Temenos Digital Banking platform. This is an important step towards our digital transformation. We believe this commitment with our long-term partner NdcTech will provide the leap forward and put Khushhali Bank at the cutting edge of technology to deliver better services and products through multiple channels.”

Ms. Ammara Masood, CEO and President NdcTech, commented: “As banks rise to meet the increasing demand for online and mobile banking from their customers, they are also opening up new possibilities to work with innovative Fintechs and adopt new technologies. We are excited to embark on this digitalization journey with Khushhali bank, the largest Microfinance Banks in Pakistan, which is leading innovation and financial inclusion efforts in the country’s financial sector as it looks to implement a digital-first approach for its core strategy.”

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