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Pak Army rescues stranded mountaineers from Nanga Parbat

Shehroze Kashif and Fazal Ali were rescued by army aviation pilots

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman



Rawalpindi: The Pakistan Army aviation helicopters and pilots on Thursday successfully rescued the stranded mountaineers Shehroze Kashif and Fazal Ali from Nanga Parbat and landed at Jaglot near Gilgit.

The Pakistan Army, since yesterday, was coordinating a high risk rescue operation to evacuate stranded mountaineers Shehroze Kashif and Fazal Ali who were stuck at Nanga Parbat.

The Pakistan Army aviation helicopters and a ground search team comprising high altitude porters and rescuers were employed to rescue the mountaineers, said an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) news release.

The Pakistan Army aviation pilots, in a daring attempt, flew two helicopter missions despite bad weather conditions on Wednesday, but could not pick up the mountaineers due to dense clouds and very high altitude.

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SBP increases intertest rate by 125bps to 15pc

Acting Governor Dr Murtaza Syed says the "most important" objective behind the move is to control spiraling inflation

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman



Karachi: The State Bank of Pakistan Thursday increased the interest rate by 125 basis points (bps) to 15 per cent.

After chairing the monetary policy committee (MPC) on the policy rate, the central bank's Acting Governor Dr Murtaza Syed addressed a press conference, saying the "most important" objective behind the move was to control spiraling inflation.

He attributed the rise in inflation to global reasons, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, and domestic developments, including a "very high economic growth".

Syed said that while a high economic growth rate was usually a good development, Pakistan's economy was structured in a way that it would start facing problems if the rate was six per cent for two years in a row.

 Inflation had risen because of fiscal expansion, he added.

"The environment is very complex and uncertain. We have seen this kind of inflation globally after 50-60 years."

The acting governor, however, expressed the hope that the country would get past the phase of high inflation in the same way that it had been successful in combatting the coronavirus pandemic.

Syed said that inflation would remain between 18 to 20pc in the current fiscal year, however, the SBP would try to make sure that it did not rise beyond 20pc.

If the SBP had not raised the benchmark policy rate, it could have led to a worse situation — hyperinflation and more pressure on the currency, he said.

The central bank acting chief said economic growth was expected to come in at 3 to 4pc in the current fiscal year, which would reduce the risk of a further rise in inflation.

"The inflation number will remain high but we will try that it does not increase. We will try to control month-on-month [inflation] but the year-on-year [inflation] will unfortunately remain between 18 to 20pc."

He emphasised the need to control food prices. "While the monetary policy cannot control this, the agricultural output can be increased and bottlenecks in supply distribution can be addressed."

Meanwhile, SBP Deputy Governor Sima Kamal said the Monetary Policy Committee had decided that the Export Finance Scheme (EFS) and Long-Term Finance Facility (LTFF) rates would be 5pc less compared to the interest rate.

"We want to keep supporting the exporter ... this is a very important step," she said.

The central bank earlier raised the benchmark interest rate by 150 bps to 13.75pc in May.

Later in a statement, the SBP said Pakistan was facing a large negative income shock from high inflation and necessary but difficult increases in utility prices and taxes.

"Under the MPC’s baseline outlook, headline inflation is likely to remain elevated around current levels for much of FY23 before falling sharply to the 5-7 percent target range by the end of FY24, driven by tight policies, normalisation of global commodity prices, and beneficial base effects," the statement added.

It underlined that headline inflation rose significantly from 13.8pc in May to 21.3pc in June, the highest since 2008.

"The increase was broad-based—with energy, food and core inflation all rising significantly—and more than 80 percent of the items in the CPI basket experiencing inflation of above 6 percent."

The SBP noted the three encouraging developments — the passage of budget based on "strong fiscal consolidation, $2.3bn commercial loan from China and robust economic activity — were overshadown by global inflation and other factors.

The SBP said the the current account deficit rose to $1.4bn in May, on the back of lower exports and remittances partly due to the Eid holiday. "Based on PBS data, the trade deficit rose to $4.8bn in June, more than $1.7bn higher than its February low."

It said the the current account deficit was projected to narrow to around 3pc of GDP "as imports moderate with cooling growth, while exports and remittances remain relatively resilient".

The central bank noted that expected completion of the ongoing IMF review will catalyse important additional funding from external sources that will ensure that Pakistan’s external financing needs during FY23 were met.

For fiscal sector, the SBP said the fiscal stance in FY22 was unexpectedly expansionary, with the primary deficit estimated at 2.4pc of GDP, which was "double that of the previous year and more than thrice the budgeted primary deficit of 0.7pc of GDP".

The SBP said the monitoring committee will continue to carefully monitor developments affecting medium-term prospects for inflation, financial stability, and growth and will take appropriate action to safeguard them.


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NASA data claims Russia has occupied 22pc of Ukraine farmland

The war’s disruption of harvesting and planting could have a heavy impact on global food supplies

Published by Faisal Ali Ghumman



Russian forces now occupy about 22 percent of Ukraine’s farmland since the February 24 invasion, impacting one of the major suppliers to global grain and edible oils markets, NASA said Thursday.

Satellite data analyzed by scientists at the US space agency shows that Russia’s occupation of eastern and southern Ukraine gives it control of land that produces 28 percent of the country’s winter crops, mainly wheat, canola, barley, and rye, and 18 percent of summer crops, mostly maize and sunflower.

The war’s disruption of harvesting and planting – including farmers fleeing the war, the lack of labor and fields pockmarked by shelling – could have a heavy impact on global food supplies, NASA scientists said.

“The world’s breadbasket is at war,” said Inbal Becker-Reshef, director of NASA’s Harvest program, which uses US and European satellite data to study global food production.

According to US data, before the war Ukraine supplied 46 percent of the sunflower oil traded on global markets, nine percent of the wheat, 17 percent of the barley, and 12 percent of maize.

Russia’s invasion has blocked exports of food from Odessa, the main port on the Black Sea, and destroyed storage and transport infrastructure in some areas.

That means farmers in the entire country, but especially in occupied areas, have less options for getting their output into storage and to markets.

And it also threatens the planting of winter crops in the fall.

“We’re in the beginning stages of a rolling food crisis that will likely affect every country and person on Earth in some way,” said Becker-Reshef.


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