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OMAP urges PM Shehbaz to save petroleum industry from 'brink of collapse

Petroleum association appeals to PM to intervene and save the industry from foreign exchange losses

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Lahore: The Oil Marketing Association of Pakistan (OMAP) has penned a letter to the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stating that the petroleum industry in the country is "on the brink of collapse."

In the letter written to the PM on Saturday, Chairman of the Association Tariq Wazir Ali appealed to the premier to intervene in the matter of foreign exchange losses amounting to Rs26 billion, which he stated, are severely impacting the petroleum industry.

Wazir Ali highlighted that the petroleum industry is already grappling with numerous challenges.

The oil companies are bearing substantial losses due to flaws in the foreign exchange system, he said adding that despite acknowledging these flaws, the Ministry of Petroleum has failed to address the issue effectively.

In April, the Director General of Oil convened a meeting to formulate recommendations, which were subsequently sent to the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA).

However, the matter is currently stalled at the Prime Minister’s office.

The chairman emphasised that the petroleum industry is facing imminent disaster due to the 'Ministry of Petroleum's delaying tactics.'

He urged PM Shehbaz to give special attention to resolving the crisis to prevent the industry’s collapse.

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World

US claims Iran is near to produce bomb-grade fissile material

Secretary of State Blinken says he wants to end Iran's isolation and favours reviving 2015 nuclear deal

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(AFP): Iran is capable of producing fissile material for use in a nuclear weapon within "one or two weeks," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday.

The details on Iran's capabilities emerged following the recent election of President Masoud Pezeshkian.

He has said he wants to end Iran's isolation and favours reviving the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and global powers.

Blinken said, however, that "what we've seen in the last weeks and months is an Iran that's actually moving forward" with its nuclear program.

In 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal, which was designed to regulate Iran's atomic activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Speaking at a security forum in Colorado, Blinken blamed the collapse of the nuclear deal for the acceleration in Iran's capabilities.

"Instead of being at least a year away from having the breakout capacity of producing fissile material for a nuclear weapon, (Iran) is now probably one or two weeks away from doing that," Blinken said.

He added that Iran had not yet developed a nuclear weapon.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said last month that Iran is further expanding its nuclear capacities, with Tehran informing the agency that it was installing more cascades -- or series of centrifuges used in enrichment -- at nuclear facilities in Natanz and Fordow.

According to the IAEA, Iran is the only non-nuclear weapons state to enrich uranium to the high level of 60 per cent -- just short of weapons-grade -- while it keeps accumulating large uranium stockpiles, enough to build several atomic bombs, the agency says.

Following the US withdrawal, the Islamic republic has gradually broken away from its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

But the country's acting foreign minister Ali Bagheri told CNN earlier this week that Iran remained committed to the accord, known as the JCPOA.

"We are still a member of JCPOA. America has not yet been able to return to the JCPOA, so the goal we are pursuing is the revival of the 2015 agreement," he said. "We are not looking for a new agreement."

Bagheri said no one in Iran had talked "about a new agreement. We have an agreement (signed) in 2015."

Blinken was speaking just days after reports that the US Secret Service had increased security for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump weeks ago, after authorities learned of an alleged Iranian plot to kill him.

Tehran has denied the allegations.

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Pakistan

PM directs for early completion of Islamabad Technology Park

South Korean government provided funds for the project which will be completed by June 2025

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Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday directed the project team of Islamabad Technology Park and the Information Technology Ministry to complete the project within the current calendar year instead of the scheduled completion date of June 2025.

The prime minister, during his visit to the under-construction site of the country’s largest Islamabad Technology Park, said the project was launched in 2022 by the coalition government of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and the contract was awarded to a South Korean company.

He said the project was being completed at Rs25 billion out of which $70 million (soft loan) was being provided by the South Korean government.

“Soon after taking charge of my office, I issued directions to continue work on the project round the clock,” he said adding that he as chief minister of Punjab had introduced the system of 24-hour work on the development projects.

Expressing satisfaction over the progress of the project, PM Shehbaz asked the project management to try their best to complete the project by September or October this year.

He said after completion of the project, some 120 offices of different companies would be established in the park.

Similarly, he said an incubation center with 15 offices and startups would also be part of the park with a business support center where legal marketing and financial support facilities would be provided under one umbrella.

Around 10,000 productive jobs would be created in the IT park for the skilled and knowledgeable workforce, he said.

The prime minister highlighted that as a result of the construction of the IT park, the country’s exports would be increased by around $70 million per year.

He said a level 3 data center-one of the highest and first ever in Pakistan- would be established in the IT park.

He pointed out that Islamabad Technology Park would create synergy between domestic and foreign academia, researchers, industry and planners.

The prime minister vowed to replicate such projects in other parts of the country with cooperation of the the provincial governments.

He hailed the government of South Korea for their contribution in organising the project.

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