PM Imran Khan launches Naya Pakistan Sehat Card distribution for entire Punjab

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday launched the distribution of Naya Pakistan Sehat Card for the entire population of Punjab at a ceremony held at the Governor House.

The universal health coverage program would enable each family to avail medical treatment up to Rs 1 million a year.

During his day-long visit to the provincial capital, the prime minister would also chair different meetings on administrative and political affairs, law and order as well as development projects.

While addressing the launching ceremony, PM Imran Khan said that not everyone can take such revolutionary decisions like health cards as the PTI did.

“Today, every family in Punjab will get the health card facility. A welfare state is one where everyone has the opportunity for development and prosperity. For the first time in the State of Madina, the state took responsibility for the weaker segments of the society,” he said.

The prime minister said that the model of the welfare state can be seen in today’s Europe but not when it comes to Muslim countries.

Taking a jibe at PML-N’s mantra of making Pakistan an Asian Tiger, the prime minister said, “Asian Tiger is nothing compared to the State of Madinah, we are trying to put Pakistan on a path of prosperity.”

He said that now the government will not spend money to build a hospital, people will come and build a hospital.

“We want everyone in remote areas to have access to health facilities and by March 2022, all families in Punjab will have received health cards.”

Mohammad Rizwan, Shaheen Afridi among nominees for ICC Men’s Player of the Year award

Ace batsman-wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan and star pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi have been included among four nominees for the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Men’s Player of the Year, the world cricket body announced on Friday.

The other two nominees are England captain Joe Root and New Zealand captain Kane Williamson, the ICC said in a statement.

Shaheen — the man on fire

Elaborating on the achievements of the players, the ICC noted that Shaheen took 78 wickets in 36 international matches this year at an average of 22.20 runs. He also delivered his career-best figures in an innings this year in August against the West Indies, grabbing six wickets for 51 runs.null

“The tall Pakistani pacer was on fire throughout 2021, knocking some of the best batters over across all three formats of the game. He especially had a year to remember in Tests and T20Is, reaching his absolute peak during the T20 World Cup in UAE where he impressed one and all with his sheer speed and skills,” the statement said.

“He ruled the shortest format throughout the calendar year, scalping 23 wickets in 21 matches with his death bowling improving by leaps and bounds,” it added.

The statement made special mention of Shaheen’s performance against India in the T20 World Cup where it was the pacer’s double-wicket salvo up top that put India on the backfoot early and set the tone for the entire match.

It also recalled Indian captain Virat Kohli’s post-match statement in which he had heaped

India says China ‘inventing’ names in disputed Himalayan region

India hit out at China for giving “invented” names to several places in a disputed Himalayan region on their border as Beijing looks to assert sovereignty over the territory.

Several stretches of the lengthy frontier are disputed and relations have soured dramatically since 20 Indian soldiers died in a brawl in June 2020 on one section between Ladakh and Tibet.

Since then, both sides have reinforced the region with thousands of extra soldiers and military hardware as multiple rounds of talks have failed to de-escalate tensions.

This week the Ministry of Civil Affairs said it had “standardised” the names of 15 places in Zangnan (“South Tibet”) — Beijing’s title for the region India calls Arunachal Pradesh — and gave them all formal Chinese names.

The renaming of residential areas, rivers and mountains followed a similar move in 2017 involving six other locations in the same area.

“Arunachal Pradesh has always been, and will always be an integral part of India,” India’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

“Assigning invented names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not alter this fact,” spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in a statement.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said “Southern Tibet is in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, and has historically been Chinese territory,” adding the renaming came within “the scope of China’s sovereignty”.null

Tibet has alternated over the centuries between independence and control by China, which says it “peacefully liberated” the rugged plateau in 1951.

It fiercely defends and militarises the Tibetan border and brushes aside any debate about Chinese historical ownership of the region.

India meanwhile sees China’s new Land Borders Law, approved in October and set to come into force on January 1, as hardening of Beijing’s position.

The law calls China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity “sacred and inviolable” and enables Beijing to “take measures to safeguard the territorial integrity and land boundaries and guard against and combat any act that undermines territorial sovereignty and land boundaries”.null

India said in October that it expected that “China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this law which could unilaterally alter the situation in the .India-China border areas”

Four soldiers martyred in gun battle with terrorists in North Waziristan: ISPR

Four soldiers of the Pakistan Army embraced martyrdom in an exchange of fire with terrorists during an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan tribal district, the military’s media wing said in a statement on Friday.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), security forces conducted an IBO on the reported presence of terrorists in the area.

During the raid, an intense exchange of fire ensued between the terrorists and the troops, as a result of which four soldiers embraced martyrdom. The martyred soldiers were identified as Havaldar Munawar, Sepoy Zaka Ullah, Sepoy Farhan and Sepoy Sheraz.

Meanwhile, security forces conducted another operation in the Tank area following reports of terrorists’ presence in the vicinity.

During the operation, two terrorists were killed, who were later identified as Shahzeb alias Zakir and Daniyal. The forces also recovered weapons during the raid.

“These terrorists were involved in multiple terror activities including attacks against security forces, targeted killings and kidnapping for ransom,” the ISPR statement said.

Earlier on December 24, two soldiers were martyred when terrorists attacked a security forces check post in Balochistan’s Kech district.

The ISPR had said a follow-up operation was in progress in the area to search for the terrorists when the attack took place.

Similarly, on December 14, a member of the security forces was martyred when terrorists attacked a post close to the Pak-Iran border in Balochistan.

Pakistan’s economic position will be ‘far better’ by August, says Fawad

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Friday insisted that Pakistan was heading in the “right direction” and that the country’s economy will be “far better” by August 2022.

Speaking to reporters in Lahore, Chaudhry said a phase was being commenced in Pakistan in which the social protection programs will take effect, paving the way for the improvement of the overall economic situation of the country.

He informed that the PTI-led government had to return $55 billion in its next two years in debt payment, adding that a sum of $32bn had already been paid under debts in the last three years.

“We are paying the price for the legacy left by Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif,” the minister said, in reference to the last two governments of the PPP and PML-N.

Dispelling the impression given by the opposition about the country failing at the economic front, Chaudhry said Shehbaz Sharif and other opposition leaders should not worry about the country as “it is heading in the right direction, and people are witnessing it”.

‘Our politics, defence and economy are all stable’

The minister stressed that Pakistan’s politics, defense, and economy were all quite stable.

He said the national economy was growing at five percent and it will further stabilize in time to come.

“Also, take an example of the coronavirus pandemic as such calamities occur once in 100 years, and Pakistan’s strategy to tackle it is being praised worldwide,” he added.

‘LHC must move to bring Nawaz back’

Chaudhry, while continuing with his criticism of rival parties, said the opposition leaders were all panicked after the government expressed its intent to bring Nawaz Sharif back to Pakistan.

“We want the Lahore High Court to move on his case and Nawaz should be brought back at the earliest,” he said.

He added that the government also wanted that cases involving Shehbaz Sharif should be taken up on a day-to-day basis.

The minister stonewalled a query when asked about the political implications of the “most important” appointment the prime minister was set to make in 2022 and wrapped his answer by succinctly saying “for God’s sake”.

‘Pakistan’s films will now tell its story to the world’

The minister, while highlighting the importance of the film and drama industry, rued that the country had not been able to utilize the potential of the vital industry for its image-building.

“Our stories have to be told through films and the way we ended our film industry was really unfortunate. We will now revive the medium to tell the story of Pakistan to the world.”

‘Dollar depreciated after the introduction of finance bill’

Chaudhry said he was pleased that the dollar depreciated against the rupee after the introduction of the Finance (Supplementary) Bill 2021 in the National Assembly on Thursday.

“This inflation cycle will break in three to four months, while the prices of vegetables will also decline in a couple of months,” he added.

The information minister said Pakistan would have gone bankrupt had Imran not been the prime minister of the country.

“If Pakistan is floating today, it’s because of Imran Khan and the PTI’s economic team,” claimed the minister.

He said the system through which Pakistan had been governed for the past several years was no more in practice. “Now, for the first time, a people-centric government is working in Pakistan”.