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34 more succumb to COVID-19 in Pakistan; 1,656 new cases emerge 

Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than the previous three COVID waves. Today, the daily positivity rate in-country is at 3.26%.

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34 more succumb to COVID-19 in Pakistan; 1,656 new cases emerge 
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Islamabad: Pakistan is presently experiencing the fourth wave of coronavirus which is said to be deadlier and more contagious than the previous three COVID waves. Today, the daily positivity rate in-country is at 3.26%.

According to National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), around 1,656 cases of coronavirus were reported while 35 people succumbed to the disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll to 27,785.

The total number of cases has reached 1,249,858.

As many as 1,175,489 patients have recovered from the disease with 3,444 critical cases.

Punjab   

The number of patients swelled to 432,809 in the province with 12,672 causalities.

Sindh

The number of infections has surged to 459,392 in the province, while the death toll has reached 7,425.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The confirmed cases have surged to 174,490 in the province with 5,571 casualties.

Balochistan

There are 32,956 confirmed cases while 349 patients have died from the infection so far.

AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan

There are 34,216 coronavirus cases in the AJK while the death toll has reached 738. On the other hand, there are 10,331 cases in GB with 184 coronavirus deaths.

Islamabad

There are 105,664 cases in the capital city while 927 people have lost their lives.

Mehak Javed

Mehak Javed is immensely creative and an enthusiastic journalist, contributing in the publication of timely and accurate news. She is a skilled writer along proven history of achievement in the field with several years of professional experience. Mehak is working with GNN since 2020.

World

8 Afghan resistance fighters killed in firefight with Taliban

Fighters from the National Resistance Front (NRF)had fought Taliban forces in Balkh province

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8 Afghan resistance fighters killed in firefight with Taliban

The Taliban killed eight resistance fighters from a national opposition group in a firefight in the north of Afghanistan, police said on Friday.

Since storming back to power in August the Taliban have flatly denied facing organised resistance, but the gun battle on Thursday night may demonstrate that armed opposition is building against their hardline rule.

Fighters from the National Resistance Front (NRF), a group led by the son of legendary late anti-Taliban commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, fought Taliban forces in Balkh province.

Eight NRF fighters were killed in a “direct clash” with the Taliban, provincial police spokesman Asif Waziri told reporters in an audio message.

Waziri said Taliban forces also seized ammunition and machine guns from the NRF fighters. An NRF spokesman was yet to respond to a request for comment from AFP.

The fighting comes less than two weeks after Taliban foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi held talks with Ahmad Massoud, the son of Ahmad Shah Massoud, in Tehran.

After that summit an official for the resistance faction said the NRF and Taliban remained on “separate pages” with no prospect of reconciliation.

Massoud's NRF forces were the last to hold out against the Taliban takeover last year, retreating to the Panjshir Valley which fell in September, weeks after government troops capitulated.

The Panjshir Valley is famed as the site of resistance to Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 1990s, during their first stint in power.

Its most revered figure is Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the “Lion of Panjshir”, who was assassinated by Al Qaeda in 2001, two days before the 9/11 attacks.

His son has since picked up the mantle and there have been reports of his efforts to organise a resistance with other exiled Afghan leaders, which Taliban authorities had so far denied.

The Taliban have also faced resistance from the regional chapter of the militant Islamic State group, IS-Khorasan, an extremist group which aims to create a global caliphate.

SOURCE: AFP

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Pakistan

ECC approves selected commodities' export to Afghanistan in Pakistani currency

The forum also approved technical supplementary grants of Rs5 billion for the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives for conducting the 7th Population and Housing Census

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ECC approves selected commodities' export to Afghanistan in Pakistani currency

Islamabad: Considering the food crisis and prevailing situation of Afghanistan, the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet Friday approved the summary presented by the Ministry of Commerce, allowing the export of selected commodities to the neighbouring country in Pakistani currency by adding them in the list of items at Para-7(1) of the Export Policy Order, 2020.

Fruits, vegetables, cement, salt and dry fruits were also included in the list of export items, while the ECC removed the 45% regulatory duty on the import of pine nuts from Afghanistan.

The forum also approved technical supplementary grants of Rs5 billion for the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives for conducting the 7th Population and Housing Census.

The ECC meeting here, which was virtually presided over by Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin, also approved Rs4 billion under the Pakistan Raises Revenue Programme (PRRP) for the financial year 2021-22 for Federal Board of Revenue.

Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Syed Fakhar Imam, Federal Minister for Industries and Production Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Federal Minister for Water Resources Chaudhry Moonis Elahi, federal secretaries and senior officers attended the meeting, a Finance Ministry press release said.

The ECC also approved Rs 78.5 million for the projects of ICT (Islamabad Capital Territory) Administration, by Interior Ministry.

The meeting gave its approval for amounts of Rs 60 million and Rs3 million (equivalent to $17,133.06) for the Interior Ministry within the sanctioned budgets for purchase of spare parts for helicopters maintained by HQs Frontier Corps Balochistan North and HQs Frontier Corps Khuber Pakhtunkhwa (North) respectively.

It approved re-allocation of Rs 226.8 million surrendered funds for the year 2021-22 under Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Programme (SAP) in favour of Interior Division for further release to the ICT Administration.

The meeting gave its consent for rupee cover of $65 million (equivalent to Rs 11,960 million) to the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, committed by Islamic Development Bank, to utilize the IsDB loan under “IVAC Covid-19 Vaccine Support for Pakistan”.

The committee, while noting the growth in exports, approved another summary of the Commerce Ministry to enhance the quota limit for export of samples to $25,000 or 0.1% of actual export proceeds during the last financial year in US dollars per exporter per annum, by amending relevant paras of the Export Policy Order, 2020.

The ECC approved a Commerce Ministry’s proposal of removal of 45 percent regulatory duty on the import of Chilghoza from Afghanistan as the tariff reduction would encourage the legal import of unprocessed Chilghoza for processing in the country for export and would also be instrumental in creation of jobs in the far flung areas of border regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and economically backward areas of Balochistan.

The committee approved a proposal submitted by the Finance Division for engaging the services of third party to carry out the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) functions of the Kamyab Pakistan Programme (KPP). The M & E responsibilities were entrusted to Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF), which due to its legal status had not been able to undertake the task.

The ECC discussed and approved the Finance Division’s summary for resolving the issue of reversal of Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) unspent grant funds under amendment to MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with proposal to establish a new Credit Guarantee Company (CGC) having 56% shareholding of FCDO through Karandaaz (unspent funds) and 44 percent shareholding of Government of Pakistan, with mandate of issuance of credit guarantees against financing in the SME (Small & Medium Enterprises) sector.

The committee after deliberation and considering the depth of Pakistan’s relationship with China, and as a goodwill gesture on government level, approved the proposal of the Ministry of Water Resources for compensation package of $11.6 million for the affected Chinese nationals of Dasu Hydropower Project incident.

The ECC allowed the operations of SNGPL based plants (Fatima Fertilizer (Sheikhupura plant ) and Agritech) for a further two months post January, i.e., February- March at gas rate of Rs. 839/MMBTU on a summary of Ministry of Industries and Production to meet the Urea fertilizer requirement for remaining Rabi Season 2021-22.

It approved a summary tabled by Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication for the constitution of Advisory Committee headed by the Finance Minister for the release of IMT/5G spectrum.

The ECC also approved the draft Policy Directive of the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-Organization) Act 1996 for renewal of Cellular License of Pakistan Mobile Communication Limited (PMCL/Jazz). It was presented by the Ministry of Information Technology & Telecommunication.

SOURCE: APP

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Sports

Nadal beats Khachanov, qualifies for 4th round in Australian Open

Olympic runner-up Khachanov had lost all seven previous meetings with 2009 Australian Open champion Nadal but briefly looked capable of mounting a comeback

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Nadal beats Khachanov, qualifies for 4th round in Australian Open

MELBOURNE: Sixth seed Rafa Nadal dropped his first set at this year's Australian Open but still powered through to the fourth round with a 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-1 defeat of Karen Khachanov on Friday.

The Spaniard, seeking to claim a record 21st Grand Slam title in the absence of great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was sensational as he took a two-set lead.

But Khachanov, seeded 28th, threw caution to the wind in the third set, stalling Nadal's charge with some ferocious hitting.

Olympic runner-up Khachanov had lost all seven previous meetings with 2009 Australian Open champion Nadal but briefly looked capable of mounting a comeback.

Nadal seized back control with a break of serve at the start of the fourth, however, and with the clock having ticked past midnight on Rod Laver Arena he finished it off in a hurry.

Nadal, who has reached the last-16 in Melbourne for the 15th time in 17 appearances, will face another Russian, 18th seed Aslan Karatsev, or Frenchman Adrian Mannarino next.

 "I played a great player tonight and happy that this was my best match since coming back," the 35-year-old Nadal, who missed the second half of 2021 with a foot injury, said on court.

"I've been going through some tough times in the last year but night's like tonight mean everything."

With Federer still injured and nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic deported after a visa row, Nadal has a chance to edge ahead of that duo with whom he shares the record for most men's Grand Slam titles.

 After routine wins against 66th-ranked American Marcos Giron and German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann in rounds one and two, Khachanov represented a step up in class for Nadal despite the Russian having only ever won one set off the Mallorcan.

Nadal was primed though and won 12 of the first 13 points to stamp his authority all over the court.

Khachanov had no answer to Nadal's intensity and managed to win only one point on Nadal's serve in the opening set.

Nadal broke serve at the start of the second set but Khachanov won an incredible point in the fourth game, picking himself off the floor to crunch a backhand winner and then winning another incredible rally to earn a break point.

He could not convert that and Nadal immediately broke in the next game on his way to a two-set lead.

Khachanov began to hit closer to the lines and with more menace in the third set, which he took after breaking the Nadal's serve for the first time for a 3-1 lead.

Nadal simply found another gear though, firing a stunning backhand winner to break Khachanov's serve, and spirit, in the second game of the fourth set.

SOURCE: REUTERS

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