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Political stability, tough decisions needed to arrest rupee decline, says 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 Monday said without political stability and tough decisions it is impossible to stop the fall of the rupee.

All attempts to stabilize the rupee without making unpopular decisions will prove self-deception and a waste of time, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the rupee has depreciated by 32% against the US dollar in the last one year and this trend is unlikely to stop because of inaction.

Talking to the business community the veteran business leader said that the balance of payments has deteriorated because of the devaluation of the rupee while a huge increase in import bill, current account deficit, the unsatisfactory situation of foreign exchange reserves, delay in agreement with IMF and political instability is taking a toll on the economy.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that petroleum subsidy is also a cause behind the weak rupee while inaction is tantamount to stabbing the economy in the back.

All the steps taken by the central bank and other stakeholders to stabilize the rupee were a waste of time and money, as policies would have to be improved instead of changing the rules and raiding currency dealers to improve the economy.

Imposing a ban on the dollar would increase its hoarding and would make it more profitable for buyers and sellers than usual.

The value of the dollar is directly related to the IMF talks in Doha, the main point of which is the elimination of energy subsidies while the government is not ready to take a decision in view of the current political situation as it will have to pay a heavy political price.

If the talks fail, it will be very difficult to stop Pakistan from becoming another Sri Lanka, he said, adding that in these circumstances, it will be a challenge to make the next budget while there are only 15 days left for it.

He observed that all the political parties should try to reduce the instability in the greater interest of the country instead of increasing it and sit together and work out issues and other details related to the forthcoming elections, otherwise the situation will be out of their hands.

Air university holds 2nd international conference on physics

Air University, has organized 2nd ‘Two Days International Conference on Physics’, during which renowned scholars and professors from Canada, Italy, Sweden, Australia, China, Iraq and other international countries expressed their views with a focus on renewable energy sources, nano-technology, magnetic, thermoelectric and ferroelectric materials. Theoretical, modelling, simulation and medical applications of Physics. The conference’s keynote talk, according to the organizer Dr. Mozaffar Hussain, Chair of the ICP 2022 and Chair Department of Physics, focused on contemporary needs on physics research.

Renowned scientist Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, who was the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony, lauded the Air University’s initiative to organise the international conference providing a remarkable opportunity of knowledge sharing among scholars in the fields of Physics. Sharing his life experiences with participants, he said that knowledge of Physics is essential to every field; may it be education, healthcare or defense. In his address, he further said that Pakistan has immense reserves of a large number of minerals and natural resources that include coal, gold, copper, chromites, iron ore, and many others. “However, 95percent of minerals are still unexplored in Pakistan,” he stated, while urging the need to give due importance to the mining industry for boosting the national economy.

Earlier, Vice Chancellor Air University Air Marshal (Retd) Javaid Ahmed, in his welcoming address, acknowledged the contributions of the Department of Physics for promoting the research culture. While calling the Chief Guest Dr. Mubarakmand a national icon, he said that: “We are honoured to have such a legendary and veteran scientist among us.” According to him, there is much to learn from his outstanding achievements, professionally as well as leadership qualities. “We are highly grateful for his contributions for making the defence of our beloved homeland unconquerable,” the VC said.

The Vice Chancellor, while urging students to explore new avenues in the context of the digital era, has advised that Physics opens doors to most exciting, cutting-edge, rewarding career opportunities across the globe. According to him, one of the major lessons Air University learned during the pandemic Covid-19 is the importance of online education and distance learning. “The theme of the conference is very close to our hearts,” he said, hoping that several issues related to renewable energy, climate change and global warming would be addressed during the two-day conference. He also announced that all the campuses of varsity are going to be solar in near future.

The Vice Chancellor further said that Air University is collaborating with the Government of Pakistan for a project of water conservation and distribution management based on modern techniques of satellite imaginary and artificial intelligence. “Air University is always supportive in research and innovation through our modest efforts,” he further said, adding that “We have consequently improved our rankings as we are currently ranked 15th in the QS Ranking and 6th in the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking.”

Dr. Mozaffar Hussain, Chairman Department of Physics, said that the conference’s keynote talk would be focused on contemporary needs on physics research. According to him, the most interesting applications are in electronic circuits, resistive random-access memories, high-frequency systems, power generating devices, environmental remediation, drug delivery, diagnostics, hyperthermia treatment, biotechnology, and data storage.

Dr. Asghari Maqsood, and other distinguished speakers also emphasized the importance of quality education, urging students to focus on research in their respective fields of interest. The ceremony was attended by scholars, delegates, students, deans and directors of the Air University. A lively Q & A session was also held in which participants asked different questions related to the topics covered.

MMBL partners with webdoc to accelerate e-healthcare solutions

Pakistan’s largest digital bank, Mobilink Microfinance Bank Limited (MMBL) has partnered with WebDoc, Pakistan’s leading digital doctors advisory & insurance service. MMBL customers can now enjoy the convenience of accessing health services on their mobile phones, utilizing affordable plans. Ghazanfar Azzam, President & CEO of MMBL, and Asim Zia Alam, CEO WebDoc signed a Partnership Agreement, in presence of senior officials from both organizations.

Through this strategic collaboration, MMBL strives to improve the quality of life by combining information and communications technology and opening new doors to e-health solutions for all its clientele while focusing on connecting them to experienced Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PMDC) certified Doctors. Customers will benefit from online and offline consultation for non-emergency cases including real-time monitoring, 100% reimbursement at non-panel hospitals, double coverage for loss of income, and unlimited all-day teleconsultation for the whole family via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and WhatsApp channels. Soon, the services will also be available on the MMBL Dost app.

Sharing his thoughts on the development, Ghazanfar Azzam, President and CEO MMBL said: “As MMBL looks to diversify its offerings into e-health solutions, the Bank sees a great opportunity to provide its customers with a platform that can meet their healthcare needs digitally, with convenience and affordability. We at MMBL are always on the lookout for innovative opportunities that can break the digital divide and improve our customers’ quality of life and this cooperative effort with WebDoc is a step forward in the same direction.”

Also, speaking at the occasion, CEO WebDoc, Asim Zia Alam said: “WebDoc is thrilled to partner with MMBL to empower the bank’s customers for their healthcare advisory and insurance services, consequently promoting financial inclusion. WebDoc is the leading health-tech, insure-tech, and agri-tech company, serving over 23 million subscribers and counting. I see this partnership expanding swiftly and strongly in the years to come which will benefit the customers, especially in remote areas.”

As a people-focused organization, MMBL is dedicated to improving its products and services portfolio with a growing focus on developing better digital financial solutions. In line with MMBL’s unwavering commitment to financially include all, the Bank focuses all its energies on enhancing the digital infrastructure for new and improved experiences.

Fly Emirates to Dubai and avail a complimentary stay

Passengers travelling to Dubai with Emirates can now enjoy a 1 night complimentary stay when flying in Economy Class & 2 nights complimentary stay when flying Business or First class. Not only this, passengers can also avail additional 10kg baggage allowance on their flights to and from Dubai, without any further costs. This offer is valid for sale until 30 May 2022 for travel starting from 20 May to 30 September 2022. Emirates continues to offer incredibly safe travel experiences for its valued customers to Dubai.

Travellers who book return Economy Class tickets to Dubai from 17 to 30 May 2022 for travel between 20 May and 30 September 2022 are eligible for a complimentary one-night stay at Hilton Garden Inn; while Business Class and First Class passengers who book flights during the same period can enjoy two complimentary nights’ stay at the JW Marriot Marquis from the day of arrival*. As one of the world’s tallest 5-star hotels, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai features award-winning dine-in options, its own shopping galleria, and a world-renowned spa. For leisure travellers, the hotel is ideally placed between the Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, next to Business Bay Metro Station and enjoys a spectacular location directly beside the new Dubai Water Canal extension.

Since it resumed tourism activity, Dubai remains one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations, especially during the festive season. It was one of the world’s first cities to obtain Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – which endorses Dubai’s comprehensive and effective measures to ensure guest health and safety. Pakistani passengers traveling to UAE are exempted from taking a COVID PCR test if the passenger presents a valid vaccination certificate(s) reflecting their status of being fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved by the WHO or the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and includes a QR code.

For five months starting 01 May to 30 Sept, Emirates has unlocked, even more offers for Pakistani passengers arriving in or stopping over in Dubai with its ‘My Emirates Summer Pass’. Emirates’ customers can simply show their boarding pass and a valid form of identification to hundreds of retail, leisure, and dining outlets to enjoy fantastic discounts throughout Dubai. In addition, during May, those landing in Dubai can enjoy a complimentary Dubai Marina Cruise, which gives unrivalled panoramic views of one of the city’s most iconic skylines from the Arabian Gulf.

With Emirates your health and safety comes first, all the way to your destination. You can plan with confidence when booking your flight with Emirates. The safety precautions and hygiene measures by Emirates including disinfection and advanced HEPA filters on board the aircraft provide added peace of mind while travelling.

Shell Pakistan inaugurates trainees hostel

The Commandant Police Training College DIG Mahboob Aslam and the Chief Executive & Managing Director of Shell Pakistan Limited, Waqar Siddiqui, inaugurated a trainees hostel at National Highways and Motorway Police (NHMP) Training College Sheikhupura with the capacity of 100 drivers. Shell Pakistan constructs the hostel under the supervision of Commandant Training College, DIG Mahboob Aslam.

The Commandant Police Training College DIG Mahboob Aslam, Deputy Commandant Taimoor Khan, CPO Training Nasim Shah, Shell Pakistan officials and NHMP officers were present at the ceremony. Over the past 12 years, the training facility has trained more than 2000 Shell Pakistan drivers in 212 batches. The institute offers Defensive Driving Course that Shell accredits. The NH&MP training college has a trainee’s hostel that accommodates drivers for the duration of the training program.

While speaking with participants, DIG Mahboob Aslam said there was a pressing need for additional accommodation for trainees’ drivers. This hostel will allow more trainees to benefit from the state-of-the-art training at NHMP training college. DIG Mahboob Aslam said the generous contribution of Shell Pakistan marks a step forward for institutional commitment to road safety in Pakistan. We are grateful for this continuous support of NHMP by Shell Pakistan.

At the ceremony, the Chief Executive & Managing Director of Shell Pakistan Limited, Waqar Siddiqui, stated, “We are honoured and proud to play a part in this integral project with NHMP that positively impacts safety on roads in our country. Transportation of hydrocarbons by road forms the backbone of the oil industry in Pakistan. Shell Pakistan continues to work with local authorities to improve industry standards for transportation safety. National Highways and Motorway Police is a strategic partner of Shell Pakistan Limited in the overall driver training framework.”

He also appreciated the efforts of Commandant Training College DIG Mehboob Aslam for the support, coordination, and facilitation in a befitting manner in the completion of the project. The Commandant Police Training College DIG Mahboob Aslam said the building is designed on sustainability, green building technology, and hazard risk reduction. He also pays gratitude to Shell Pakistan for these generous gestures.

Daraz wow women week celebrated

Over 50 women raced their two-wheelers and rolled out in an all-women biker’s rally organised by Daraz, the leading e-commerce platform in Pakistan, in partnership with Pink Riders as part of Daraz WOW Women Week celebrations.

The Women’s Bike Rally started from Sea View McDonald’s and went to Emaar Towers and back, where they took over the roads on bikes, celebrating their shopping week. The rally was also a sign of breaking the bias, ruling the streets, riding their dreams, and WOWing the world with confidence and style.

The rally delivered a message of women empowerment, women taking charge of their lives, showcasing their existence in social spaces, exercising their simple right to commute however they want or breaking gender roles. The organisers emphasised providing equal opportunities for women in all walks of life and said there should be a continuous struggle to provide equal rights for female entrepreneurs and online female shoppers in Pakistan.

Urooj Ahmed, The Head of Marketing, Daraz, said, “There is a common belief that women do not tend to shop or sell their products or services online, whereas the facts state otherwise. We see a shift in women’s shopping and selling behaviour in Pakistan, and e-commerce has redefined the shopping and business culture for women in Pakistan. The new trend of online women entrepreneurs selling their products on Facebook groups proves their ability to work online.”

Daraz WOW Women Week kicked off on May 18, dedicated to all the women in Pakistan crushing every day despite all the odds.

In addition to this, Daraz is also making its parcels delivered by their women riders, who are the newfound Daraz Express (DEX) Hero during WOW Women Week. Daraz plans to give employment to female riders who’re willing to become their riders.

BARD Foundation, GIKI establish Descon endowment fund

Bilquis & Abdul Razak Dawood (BARD) Foundation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology (GIKI) to establish a DESCON Endowment Fund.

This fund will be available to both male and female students from underprivileged backgrounds enrolling in GIK Institute from September 2022.

The MoU signing ceremony was graced by Chairman, Board of Governors BARD Foundation Abdul Razak Dawood, along with other BoG Members Faisal Dawood and Farooq Nazir. GIK Institute was represented by its Rector Professor Dr. Fazal Ahmad Khalid (SI), Pro-Rector (Academic) Prof. Dr. Wasim Ahmed Khan, the Dean of Mechanical Engineering Faculty Dr. Khalid Rahman and Director Finance Shahid Farooq.

“At BARD and Descon, we firmly believe that industry-academia collaboration enhances knowledge, innovation and plays an integral part in the economic growth of developing countries. The objective of our endowment funds is to empower students from underprivileged backgrounds to acquire the right set of technical skills and knowledge so their talent is channelized in the right direction,” said Abdul Razak Dawood.

Experts believe that universities create knowledge and unless that knowledge is not based on the industrial need, it is of no use. This is why BARD Foundation and Descon’s philanthropic initiatives and their efforts toward academic enrichment have been appreciated by key stakeholders.

BARD Foundation is a human-development initiative, founded by the renowned industrialist, Abdul Razak Dawood and his philanthropist wife, Ms. Bilquis Dawood. The foundation seeks to utilize its resources to support the talented but less-fortunate individuals, helping them achieve their true potential. This initiative is also supported by Descon Engineering Limited – a leading Pakistani enterprise which has successfully built several large-scale, infrastructure-projects in many countries.

Only an IMF loan can save a country from default: Mian Zahid Hussain

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 the deadly combination of political and economic instability is destroying the economy.

Successful negotiations are necessary as the country will go bankrupt if the IMF loan was not received immediately, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that a government which is in power for a few months cannot save the economy as an absence of political stability is very dangerous.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that political stability is necessary to save the country, for which the ruling coalition must be provided with an environment for difficult decisions.

He said that elimination of wastage of resources, abolishing tax concessions, sale of loss-making enterprises, reforms in the power sector, reduction in non-development expenditure.

He said that controlling imports and obtaining loans from the IMF are very important issues that need to be addressed. At present, Pakistan is the only oil-importing country which is giving subsidies of Rs45 on petrol and Rs80 on diesel, the total volume of which is equal to the defence budget which is not sustainable.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the stock market has been steadily declining, the rupee has depreciated sharply while the appreciation of the dollar may significantly increase remittances and exports from Pakistanis.

In the case of sales tax and customs duty, an additional tax of about Rs300 billion will be collected which should be used to provide targeted subsidies to the vulnerable.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said the government should consider increasing allocations to the BISP to save the poor from price shocks.

He said that the previous government had caused irreparable damage to the economy by delaying the IMF program in 2018 and bad governance despite political stability in the country.

The previous government was called inexperienced by the opposition and economists, now we have experienced leaders in the government but it is not being allowed to function and its immediate election is being demanded.

The ruling circles need to understand why a government that is in power for a few months will tarnish its image by making tough decisions.

CECOS holds annual awards ceremony to acknowledge the team

To recognize the services and performance of its faculty and staff members, the Annual Awards ceremony of CECOS University held on Friday, May 20, 2022 at its Main Campus, followed by formal handing-takings over of the charge to the newly appointed Vice Chancellor. Engr. Muhammad Tanveer Javed President CECOS University, Dr. Naseer Ahmed, Vice Chancellor CECOS University and Dr. Sohail A. Qureshi, Former Vice Chancellor CECOS University and all faculty & staff members were present on the occasion.

The event included length of service awards, best employee awards and best researcher awards. Under the length of service category, a total number of 67 awards were given to faculty and staff on completion of 25, 20, 15 and 10 years of service at CECOS. Apart from that 04 employees were awarded with organizational sponsored Pilgrimage (Hajj) upon completion of 25 years, whereas 03 employees were selected for organizational sponsored Umrah on the basis of Lucky Draw.

After length of service awards, 30 awards were distributed among faculty and staff on the basis of their performance during the year 2021 which was further sub categorized as Best Support Staff, Best Administrative Staff, Best Lab Staff, Best Faculty Member, Best Section Head and Best Researcher.

Vice Chancellor CECOS University, Dr. Naseer welcomed all the participants and guests. During his talk, he expressed that under his leadership he will ensure that University will continue to grow and improve the quality of education along with a mission to produce commercially viable research projects and prepare high performing entrepreneurs. He also appreciated the efforts of organizers of the event.

Dr. Sohail A. Qureshi, Former Vice Chancellor of CECOS University congratulated the newly appointed Vice Chancellor. He expressed his glee on performance of the organization and wished good luck to the new leadership at CECOS. He formally handed over the scroll of Charter of the University to the new Vice Chancellor along with his best wishes.

At the end of the ceremony, Engr. Tanveer Javed, President CECOS University shared his immense pleasure and content. He advised the faculty and staff to keep themselves engaged in healthy competition. He emphasized on keeping the culture of merit and excellence in quality education alive at CECOS.

The ceremony ended with high remarks about the members of CECOS family and with a request to all the winners who will proceed for Hajj and Umrah to pray for the progression of organization and its employees.

DG NLC visits LCBDDA downtown and Lahore prime site

Director General National Logistic Cell (NLC), Major General Yousaf Jamal visited Lahore Prime and Downtown site at Central Business District (CBD) Punjab to review work in progress. Chief Executive Officer, Lahore Central Business District Development Authority (LCBDDA), Mr. Imran Amin, Chief Operating Officer (LCBDDA), Brig (R) Mansoor Janjua and the concerned directorate heads of LCBDDA welcomed him on the site.

DG NLC was accompanied by Brigadier (R) Umer Farooq, PD NLC (Central) and Colonel (R) Arslan, SPM NLC. The delegation was given a detailed briefing about ongoing infrastructural work and its progress. Mr. Riaz Hussain, Executive Director Technical Directorate of LCBDDA also updated on the on-going construction and excavation for parking plaza.

While sharing his views about the visit, Chief Executive Officer (LCBDDA) Mr. Imran Amin said that “NLC has always played a pivotal role in the development arena of Pakistan and having them by our side for infrastructural development at CBD Punjab is very encouraging. This working relation will definitely accelerate development work at CBD Punjab”.

DG NLC, Major General Yousaf Jamal said “The pace of the infrastructural development work at CBD Punjab is way beyond satisfactory level. After visiting the site and witnessing the ample business opportunities, it is cleared that why CBD Punjab is the center of interest for domestic and international investors”.

The infrastructure development work is gaining pace at CBD Punjab with high-end quality standards and procedures, which are a step forward of turning the dream of economically stable Pakistan into reality.

IBA Karachi and Aga Khan University to facilitate research opportunities in non-communicable diseases

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi and Department of Medicine, Aga Khan University (AKU), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to provide a fully funded, research training opportunity in Data Science and Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to four candidates. The MoU signing ceremony was held at AKU and Dr. S. Akbar Zaidi, Executive Director, IBA; and Mr. Sulaiman Shahbuddin, President, AKU, graced the event as chief guests.

Dr. Shakeel Khoja, Dean School of Mathematics and Computer Science (SMCS), IBA and Dr. Adil Haider, Dean Medical College, AKU signed the agreement on behalf of their respective institutions. The collaboration aims to enable and support aspirational Data Science students interested in the research of NCDs. Selected students will be fully funded for their Master’s in Data Science from SMCS, IBA, and will be provided with the opportunity to work as a paid Research Instructor for two years at the Department of Medicine, AKU. Furthermore, the program includes mentorship by IBA, AKU and Duke University Faculty.

The IBA team included Dr. Tariq Mahmood, Professor and Program Coordinator, MS Computer Science and MS Data science programs; Dr. Shahid Hussain, Chairperson, Computer Science department; and Dr. Sajjad Haider, Professor, Computer Science department. AKU was represented by Dr. Zainab Samad, Ibn-e-Sina Professor and Chair, Department of Medicine and Director, CITRIC Health Data Science Centre; Dr. Adil Haider, Dean Medical College, and other faculty members.

The event commenced with opening remarks by Dr. Zainab Samad and Dr. Gerald Bloomfield, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine and Global Health Institute, Duke University.

A panel discussion moderated by Dr. Sarmad ensued and included the following speakers: Dr. Sajjad Haider, Professor, Computer Science Department, IBA; Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Paediatrics & Child Health, AKU; Dr. John Bartlett, Professor of Medicine, Global Health and Nursing, Duke University; Dr. Ayeesha Kamal, Professor of Neurology, AKU and Dr. Aysha Almas, Associate Professor of Medicine, AKU.

Dr. Haider elaborated that the collaboration would enable academics from AKU and IBA to investigate the applications of existing machine learning algorithms for healthcare problems such as patient stay prediction, the possibility of readmission, and early warning systems to predict patient risk at an early stage. Additionally, the joint effort would also focus on the application of computer vision techniques on medical images and text analytics techniques on clinical notes and radiologist reports. This collaboration would also provide an avenue to develop novel methods for explainable Artificial Intelligence in the health domain.

Addressing the audience Dr. Zaidi commended AKU for organizing an excellent event and for playing an integral role in this collaboration between IBA, AKU and Duke University to train researchers who can understand and contribute towards suggesting and developing low-cost solutions to NCDs. He also said that this collaboration will bring great research opportunities for his colleagues.

Sharing his views, Dr. Khoja said that “This is a unique academic partnership in Pakistan between the IBA and AKU, where academics will work in their own domains to carry out research in order to solve local problems and challenges.”

Expressing his appreciation, Mr. Shahbuddin thanked Dr. Zaidi for gracing the event with his presence. Furthermore, he said that as a proud IBA alumnus, he was delighted at this collaboration between the two finest institutes, the AKU and the IBA, which have come together to deliver this project on Data Science and building capacities for research in NCDs in Pakistan.

Speaking about the Program structure, Dr. Tariq Mahmood said, “The exact method through which this program will be executed is through first identifying the NCD health indicators. Then we are going to create problem statements and research questions pertaining to the improvement of these health indicators. We will then convert these problems to formal projects to be executed in the MSDS program as MS theses, MS projects or course projects. Furthermore, we will strive for maximum performance through aggressive hands-on activities in data science skills.”

Prioritising employee engagement and employee wellbeing

The PBC’s Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (CERB), in partnership with EBM hosted a workshop on employee wellbeing in the workplace as part of its ongoing project – SDG Leadership Programme. The workshop focused on the growing relevance of emotional wellbeing as a factor of employee wellbeing. Organizations can commit to SDG 3 – Good Health and Wellbeing, by providing employees facilities which focus on both physical and mental health.

“The business case for employee well-being is clear,” remarked Dr. Zeelaf Munir, CEO of EBM. “It increases productivity as a result of a nourishing work environment. In such environments, employees genuinely flourish and grow alongside the company.” She further added how in addition to employee well-being, EBM remains committed to introducing initiatives to improve the well-being of stakeholders and the community at large.

The workshop was facilitated by the British Asian Trust, featuring experts supporting employee wellbeing mechanisms in the corporate sector. Experts from Taskeen, Saaya health, and Synapse raised awareness of the supportive roles that can be played at an individual level, by line managers in supporting diverse teams, and the importance of the knowledge of mental first aid.

‘The work-life balance is changing, with the advent of social media and technology. It is important now to realise when stress can be a positive driver and when it can lead to distress,’ highlighted Sanaa Ahmed, British Asian Trust. ‘Employee engagement has become key to managing employee health’.

IBA Karachi and Sumitomo Corporation to facilitate Meritorious students

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi and the Sumitomo Corporation signed an MoU to financially support aspirational students in their academic journey. The agreement was signed by Executive Director, IBA Karachi, Dr. S Akbar Zaidi and General Manager, Pakistan Office, Sumitomo Corporation Asia & Oceania Pte Ltd, Mr. Kazuteru Mihara on behalf of Sumitomo Corporation.

Participants included, Mr. Shahzad Ali, Assistant General Manager, Sumitomo Corporation Asia & Oceania Pte Ltd and Ms. Malahat Awan, Director, Alumni Communications and Resource Mobilization (ARC), IBA. The objective of this agreement is to nurture and foster the education of capable young leaders attending the Institute, who shall be entrusted with the future of Pakistan. The corporation will support 3 MBA students each year. The selected students will receive individual grants to cover their tuition fees.

Sumitomo Corporation is one of the largest global general trading companies, working towards making education accessible for deserving and ambitious students. This MoU will create opportunities for local students to attain the financial support needed to pursue their educational goals.

Syngenta Pakistan hosts a Policy Dialogue on Sustainable Agriculture in KPK

Syngenta is a leading multinational enterprise, revolutionizing the global agricultural sector, with its innovative products and solutions. Syngenta Pakistan (Pvt.) Limited recently organized a policy dialogue on sustainable agriculture in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. This event was also in sync with Syngenta’s vision to achieve food security through higher yields & productivity by deploying new technologies in the country.

The session brought together key stakeholders from the public, private, development, and academic sectors, including; the Secretary – Agriculture Department of KPK, Director General (DG) Agriculture Extension of KPK, DG Environmental Protection Agency of KPK, Vice-Chancellor University of Agriculture Peshawar and representatives from prestigious institutions like; UNDP, UN-FAO, Plant Protection Department, Pakistan, Sustainable Development Unit-KPK and the University of Peshawar.

Providing insights about the KPK government’s valuable initiative for the restoration of over 900,000 acres of agricultural land in KPK, the Provincial Secretary of Agriculture highlighted the need for immediate actions to deal with climate change and food security issues in the province. Other distinguished speakers shared their expertise about the global best practices and suggested valuable contributions to enable sustainable agriculture in the province. A way forward for making the country and the province food secure was also discussed, while the participants urged the agricultural sector and its peripheral industry for coordinated efforts to deal with overlapping crises of: Food insecurity, climate change, water scarcity and rising temperatures, across the country.

Participants appreciated the pivotal role played by Syngenta’s innovative crop protection, crop enhancement, seed care products and seeds, in promoting sustainable agriculture and food security, all over Pakistan. They lauded Syngenta’s efforts to initiate a policy discourse on sustainable agriculture in the province and the company’s pioneering solutions that promise higher farm-profits, crop quality and convenience for the farmers.

The Head of Business Sustainability and Crop Protection Development at Syngenta Pakistan – Mr. M. Tauseef ul Haq stated that: “This was a truly insightful conference and I would like to thank the key stakeholders of the agricultural sector for their great response to this forum.”

Over the years, Syngenta has evolved a wide range of solutions to protect and enhance all major crops (including Cotton, Wheat, Rice, Sugarcane, Corn, Vegetables and Fruits) from pests, diseases, rough weather and environmental stress through its crop protection, biologicals, biopesticides, seed and other crop enhancement products.

Healthy farm produce gives higher profits, convenience and quality to fetch a higher market price for the farmers and accelerate their socioeconomic growth. Syngenta’s “Naya Savera” an exclusive network of over 850 franchise centers – provides its whole range of products along with seed-treatment facilities to the farmers to ensure peace of mind for the growers. Syngenta revolves around addressing the challenges faced by growers in order to contribute towards sustainable agriculture growth and subsequently providing greater food security.

State LIFE’s reached to new heights

100% Growth in Overall New Business & 230% Business Growth in Group & Pension.

State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan is an SOE (State Owned Enterprise), which is also Pakistan’s Largest Life & Health Insurer, Protecting 140+ Million Pakistanis’, which has now broken all previous records of financial-growth and operational-performance, across its life and health business, as reflected in its 2021 full year annual results (Jan to Dec). Over the past one year, the corporation has emerged as one of the most successful State-Owned enterprises in the country,

The SLIC takes decisions for progressive betterment of the Corporation as a result of which the Corporation is maintaining not only AAA rating in Insurance Industry but owns assets worth more than Rs. 1.35 Trillion. The futuristic strategy is in place by virtue of which express, progress and unexplored area is anticipated.

Mr. Shoaib Javed Hussain who has been working as the Chairman and CEO of State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan since March 2021. Despite having more than 2 decades of highly promising and lucrative career in Europe and Asia,

This year SLIC has paid the highest ever ‘Bonus’ – 85.65 billion Rupees to its policyholders, reflecting a 13% annual increase from Rs.75.97 billion. During this year, it paid a staggering 98.36 billion Rupees of ‘Claims’ to the customers, which shows a 52 percent increase from the previous year’s figure – Rs.64.9 billion.

Moreover, it has achieved a phenomenal and an unprecedented 100% growth in New Business sales, at 71.78 billion Rupees, while the previous year’s figure was 35.91 billion Rupees. The Total Business Sales have grown by 36 percent, from 119 billion Rupees to Rs.161.79 billion. The ‘Investment Income’ earned this year amounted to 117.1 billion Rupees, after a 13 percent increase from previous year’s amount of Rs.103.78 billion. Taking the total value of the corporation’s Assets from 1.2 Trillion Rupees to 1.37 Trillion Rupees, an increase of 14%.

The exceptional business growth and performance has resulted in an impressive 57% increase in Net Profit, from 4.2 billion Rupees in 2020 to 6.6 billion Rupees in 2021. The annual ‘Cash Dividend’ paid to the Shareholders amounted to 1.7 billion Rupees, an increase of 13 percent from last year’s figure – 1.5 billion Rupees. It is important to recall here that SLIC allocates 97.5% of its surplus from life business to its policyholders and retains only 2.5% for its shareholders.

The dynamic Chairman of SLIC – Mr. Shoaib Javed Hussain stated that: “It is a testament of the trust placed in us by our policyholders, customers and partners that these unprecedented financial and operational results have been achieved, during the year when State Life Insurance is also celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Today we proudly serve more than 140 million Pakistanis. This outstanding performance has been achieved due to the dedication of our professional workforce, across our officers, staff and sales force cadres; as they pursued the innovative vision and competitive strategy of our dynamic corporate leadership. Within one year, we have evolved SLIC into a rapidly growing organization driven by product and digital innovation with a focus on further enhancing policyholder care and services. A technology-driven enterprise, to launch a Digital Product-Line, ensuring unmatched customer-care and convenience.”

Deployment of innovative solutions, like: A Digital Portal & App, New Products, Health-App, Policyholders-App, E-Office Management System and Automated ‘Complaint Management System’, has transformed the company, enabling round-the-clock responsiveness and cellular accessibility, on-the-go. This way, the corporation is pursuing; operational excellence, complete regulatory-compliance and transparency.

2022, SLIC’s 50th year anniversary, promises to be another year of exceptional performance under the leadership of its Chairman; driven by product innovation tailored to meet customer needs, to focus on policyholder servicing and strategic initiatives for sustained future growth.

Standard Chartered launches Futuremakers Inclusive Employability Project

Standard Chartered Bank Private Ltd. (SCBPL) has launched the Futuremakers Inclusive Employability project which focuses on economic empowerment of youth with disabilities. This project is part of ‘Futuremakers by Standard Chartered’ – the Bank’s global initiative to tackle inequality, by promoting economic-inclusion for young people, including those affected by COVID-19.

Through this programme the Bank will be reaching out to targeted beneficiaries, including more than 480 youth with disabilities of which 20% will be visually impaired. Expected project outcomes include 20% of the project beneficiaries transitioning into formal employment (including self-employment) and at least 40% of beneficiaries will be females, because currently their participation in the Pakistani labour-force is extremely low.

Commenting at the occasion Mr. Rehan Shaikh, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Pakistan said, “Supporting underprivileged and differently abled youth and helping them learn, earn and grow is a key component of our Futuremakers strategy. The launch of the Futuremakers Inclusive Employability project is aimed at training youth, especially people with disabilities, to join the workforce in order for them to realise their full potential. This project is directly aligned with our vision to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity, while we reinforce our brand promise – ‘Here for good’.”

“I am very optimistic that the Bank is playing a role in bridging the socio-economic inequality of youth, and especially women living with disabilities. Through this programme we strive to becomes a catalyst of change and create lasting impact not only for those participating but also for the future generations”

Funded by Standard Chartered Foundation, the project is delivered with support from Sightsavers. The project is based on a strategic partnership that builds on a successful pilot of how labour market systems can adapt to be more inclusive of people with disabilities in formal employment.

The project will focus on four core pathways: Pathway-1 will build the employment readiness and self-confidence of jobseekers with disabilities. Pathway-2 will build the disability confidence of employers. Pathway-3 will strengthen the supporting functions of the labour market and Pathway-4 will influence employment regulatory frameworks. Sightsavers will implement this project in partnerships with a local implementing partner – Civil Society Human and Institutional Development Programme (CHIP). Other collaborations include: Deaftawk, Community Based Inclusive Development Network (CBIDN) and the National Forum of Women with Disabilities (NFWWD).

Country Director of Sightsavers, Munazza Gillani, stated that: “It is a proud moment for us to collaborate with Standard Chartered’s Futuremakers initiative that focuses on economic empowerment of youth with disabilities in Pakistan, including the visually impaired. The project will build on learning from Sightsavers’ Inclusion Works programme, using existing resources that we have developed (including the Markets for the Poori (M4P) methodology; Accenture’s Skills-to-Succeed Learning Exchange and the Inclusive Futures’ Disability Employers’ toolkit. This initiative will ultimately facilitate the realisation of ‘Leave No One Behind’ agenda, that is the central principle of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 framework. “

Sensitization workshop for first-ever digital census held

As per recommendations of Census Advisory Committee and the directions of Professor Ahsan Iqbal, Minister PD&SI, PBS has initiated a series of Sensitization Workshops with Chief Secretaries, relevant Secretaries, and functionaries at Provincial levels. These workshops will bring more clarity and ownership of provinces in the process of the census as provinces are important stakeholders and are directly involved in data collection, execution, and monitoring of the Census process.

In this connection, The first stage sensitization workshop of the series in connection with the forthcoming 7th Population and Housing Census 2022, (the first-ever Digital Census in Pakistan) was organized by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics at Avari Hotel, Lahore.

The workshop featured the sensitization of the divisional and district administration of Punjab, as it symbolizes the critical synergetic relationship that will exist between the PBS and provincial, divisional & district administration throughout the gigantic national activity. This workshop aimed to inform participants about completed tasks so far and about future strategies, plans, methods, and tools for successful completion of the Census.

On behalf of Chief Secretary Punjab, Mr. Asad Rehman Gillani, Secretary Local Government & Community Development Department (LG&CD), Punjab was the Chief Guest on the occasion. Dr. Naeem uz Zafar, Chief Statistician along with Mr. Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, Member (Support Services/Resource Management), Mr. Ayazudin, Member Census and Surveys, Dr. Amjad Javaid Sandhu, DG (Admin), Dr. Syed Wasim Abbas Director/Incharge PBS Provincial office, Lahore and Senior Officers from PBS Islamabad, Lahore jointly hosted the event. Secreatry LG&CD, Commissioner Lahore Capt. Muhammad Usman, representatives from Senior Member Board of Revenue, Secretary Population Welfare, Secretary Primary & Secondary Healthcare, and all Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners offices of the Punjab and Director General, Punjab Bureau of Statistics attended the workshop.

Dr. Naeem Uz Zafar, Chief Statistician, PBS welcomed all the distinguished guests and briefly told them the background and importance of census process. He informed that Census is an important national activity and linked with resource allocation to provinces, representation in National/Provincial assemblies and delimitation process. Therefore, it is need of the day to take provinces on board and address their grievances before conduct of Census. He further informed that PBS is planning for Census as per decision of Council of Common Interest (CCI) which along with the recommendations for conduct of census was devised by the Census Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising of renowned demographer and experts from all provinces. CAC advised the involvement of provinces at earlier stage will be helpful in resolving challenges faced in previous census well before time.

Then, Mr. Asad Rehman Gillani, Secretary LG&CD, Punjab, in his inaugural address, shed light on the value of Census and Population data in evidence-based decision making and appreciated the working of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics towards the initiation of the first-ever digital census in Pakistan. He also emphasized the cooperation of the Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners for the successful conduct of the Census Operation in line with the instructions of the federal government and PBS.

Mr. Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, in his presentation aware the participants about the recommendations of the Census Advisory Committee for the conduct of the 7th Population & Housing Census-2022. Moreover, he included that as per the decision of CCI, PBS is going to conduct Census after five years intervals, for the first time, with the use of the latest tools and technologies by adopting the best international practices with the high aim to fetch improved quality of data. Geotagging of each structure, tablet-based and self-enumeration system will build the trust of stakeholders. He also added that a National Census Coordination Committee (N3C) has been developed at the national level in the House of PBS. While the development of the Provincial Census Coordination Committee (P3C) in provinces is in process. He also shared that to monitor the process, standards, and protocols of the Census a Census Monitoring Committee has also been constituted. Census Support Centers in Census Districts have also been established in almost 90% of the tehsils of Punjab, for which he admired the efforts of the Secretary LG&CD, Divisional and District Administration. He also shared that, a social media team is hired by the PBS to statistically literate the public about the sensitivity of the Census activities through awareness campaigns.

Chief Statistician, Dr. Naeem uz Zafar, in his closing remarks thanked the Provincial, Divisional, and District administration for sparing valuable time and attending this workshop in person from all the corners of Punjab. The cooperation of provincial and district administration at each step was admired and acknowledged by the Chief Statistician with special thanks to Secretary LG&CD for actively working for the successful conduct of this workshop. He also appreciated the efforts of the PBS team, working day and night for this National cause, and hoped that they will work with the same commitment to accomplish this task. While concluding, all the participants unanimously agreed upon the fact that this workshop greatly helped in clarifying the concepts related to the upcoming 7th population and Housing Census.

Islamabad Diagnostic Center inaugurates state-of-the-art Total Lab Automation (TLA) System by Roche

Islamabad Diagnostic Center (IDC) has set new standards of laboratory excellence with the launch of the latest, high throughput automated workflow solution from Roche in a grand inauguration ceremony on Tuesday where Swiss Ambassador Bénédict de Cerjat was the Chief Guest. The event was attended by the Board of Directors and Management of the Islamabad Diagnostic Center, Roche Diagnostics Pakistan and Sysmex along with key media personnel and other notable representatives from the healthcare industry.

These are testing times for laboratories. Today, the importance of accurate and timely diagnostic testing can be felt across the globe. Growing testing demands put laboratories under significant pressure to increase their testing volumes and operational efficiency, with fewer resources. At the same time, clinicians and patients rely on accurate and timely results to make informed decisions. To overcome these challenges, labs require reliable diagnostic solutions that ensure simplified testing, allowing for earlier diagnosis and improved patient care.

This state-of-the-art TLA system is precisely designed by Roche to help laboratories fully automate routine tasks while maximizing test reliability and patient safety. Its highly advanced and integrated diagnostics platform enables laboratories to decrease complexity in workflows and improve efficiencies, thereby boosting capacity. All the while focusing on delivering what’s important – quality, precision, speed and reliability – without having to focus on manual tasks that are time-consuming and can introduce errors.

Speaking at the occasion, founding Chairman Islamabad Diagnostic Centre Dr. Rizwan Uppal, said, “Patient Centric Approach of IDC is what makes it different from others. IDC always remains fully active to the needs of patients & their healthcare providers. I always appreciate and value our association with Roche similarly with other vendors who help us materialize my vision & mission. This most advanced TLA installed at IDC is one of its kind in Pakistan and only in this region. This demonstrates that IDC resolves to offer quality diagnostics and shortest Turnaround time at affordable cost. Thanks to Roche for being partners with IDC to help us carry forward our vision & mission.”

“We are proud to partner with institutions like The Islamabad Diagnostic Center by providing them with this cutting edge technology that empowers labs, healthcare providers and patients to make informed, insights-based decisions across the entire care continuum thereby improving patient health outcomes and reducing costs to society in the process.” said Abdul Qayyum,

“We at Roche recognize the unique challenges that Pakistan faces and are driven by the fundamental responsibility to help as many people as possible access our solutions in the right place, at the right time.” said Lance Little, Managing Director, Roche Diagnostics Asia Pacific in a recorded video message.

Sharing his views at the ceremony, Swiss Ambassador Bénédict de Cerjat said, “The pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of reliable and quality diagnostic tests, as advanced testing gives increasingly precise information that helps save lives, prevent or control the spread of a disease, and monitor treatment effectiveness. Under these circumstances I can only be pleased about this new partnership between a Swiss and a Pakistani company between Roche and IDC as it will play a key role in enhancing relations between Switzerland and Pakistan.”

Chairman DRAP Dr. Asim Rauf and General Aamir Ikram executive director National Institute of health appreciated the partnership between Roche Diagnostics Pakistan and Islamabad Diagnostic services and felicitated Dr. Rizwan Uppal on this partnership. They both acknowledged the IDC’s services in providing the state of the art diagnostics services to the people of Pakistan.

Dr. Thilo Brenner, APAC Sub-region Head Roche Diagnostics, commented, “At Roche we are very committed from the region to continue to support our organisation to be a good partner and develop further with the IDC. We want to learn and develop our capabilities for tomorrow so that together we can continue to make a lasting and meaningful difference in the lives of patients across Pakistan.”

This partnership between IDC and Roche will play a key role in optimizing the day-to-day working of laboratory professionals by helping physicians determine the best clinical strategy thereby improving the speed and reliability of treatment decisions for patients and their families.

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