Dawn – Dutch queen arrives in Pakistan for three-day visit

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 25 November 2019. Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrived in Pakistan on Monday for a three-day visit in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advocate (UNSGSA) for Inclusive Finance for Development.

The Dutch queen was received by senior officials of the foreign ministry and representatives of the Embassy of Netherlands at Nur Khan Air Base. Last week, the Foreign Office (FO) announced Queen Maxima’s visit.

In a press release, the FO said that the Dutch queen will call on President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan during her visit, in addition to her engagements with stakeholders from the public and private sectors.
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Queen Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti will also attend the launch of the ‘Micro Payment Gateway’, which the FO described as “an initiative of the State Bank of Pakistan aimed at reducing the costs of small payments and boosting digital transactions to benefit people and promote financial inclusion”.

The statement had added that inclusive finance for development is one of the “key priorities” of the government and the country has taken a number of steps in recent years to promote financial inclusion.

Queen Maxima had visited Pakistan in February 2016 as well.


The Asian Age – Jailed ex-Pak PM Nawaz Sharif’s wife, Begum Kulsoom, dies in London

The 68-year-old former first lady was diagnosed with lymphoma (throat) cancer in August 2017

Shafqat Ali

Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan, 11 September 2018. Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, wife of former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, passed away in London on Tuesday after suffering from complications related to cancer.

The 68-year-old former first lady was diagnosed with lymphoma (throat) cancer in August 2017. She married Nawaz Sharif in April 1971.

Begum Kulsoom had contested and won NA-120, a traditional bastion of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) after the seat fell vacant following Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court (SC) in the Panama Papers case.

Crucial to the PML-N, she ensured the party remained functional during the most difficult of times. She contested for the NA-120 seat despite her failing health and secured 59,413 votes and defeated Yasmin Rashid of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI).

During her husband’s exile after the 1999 military coup by Pervez Musharraf, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz took over reins of the party and served as its president from 1999 to 2002.

Referring to her mother, Maryam Nawaz had said that she had dauntlessly challenged a usurper when “most men did not”. Born into a Kashmiri family in Punjab, she graduated from Forman Christian College University.

Nawaz and Begum Kulsoom Nawaz married in 1971 and had four children; Hassan, Hussain, Maryam and Asma.

On 23 August 2017, UK doctors confirmed that Kulsoom Nawaz was suffering from cancer and was shifted to London for medical care. Since then, Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz have been making trips back and forth to visit ailing Kulsoom Nawaz. On June 15, she was placed on a ventilator after suffering a cardiac arrest.

Both her sons Hassan and Hussain reside in the UK and cared for her while Nawaz and Maryam attended near daily hearings of the corruption trial.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed deep grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Kulsoom Nawaz.

In a statement, he said all facilities will be provided to the family and heirs of Kulsoom Nawaz as per law.

The Prime Minister has directed Pakistani High Commission in London to assist in provision of all necessary facilities to the heirs of the deceased.

PML-N leaders said her funeral will be held in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif is likely to be allowed to attend the last rites.


Dawn – Civil society in Islamabad protests ‘forced resignation’ of economist from advisory council

Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan, 11 September 2018. Members of the civil society on Monday staged a protest outside the National Press Club against the ‘forced resignation’ of Dr Atif Mian from the recently-constituted Economic Advisory Council (EAC).

Participants of the protest, organised by Awami Workers party (AWP), decried the PTI government’s ‘Naya Pakistan’ claim.

Former PPP senator Farhatullah Babar described government’s action as stepping on a ‘slippery slope’, adding that “if the government remains on this place it will continue to be blackmailed by the religious elements”.

The civil society activists spoke against the ‘removal’ of a world-renowned economist from the council on the basis of religious affiliation.

Dr Farzana Bari said it was the duty of all Pakistanis to speak up against the systematic use of religion as a political weapon that had now reached epidemic proportions.

AWP leaders Alia Amirali and Ammar Rashid said progressive forces must come together to challenge the status quo.

They said that the AWP welcomed efforts of all progressive forces within and outside the parliament to work together to initiate efforts for curriculum reform and banning of hate speech on media.

Other speakers included Dr A H Nayyar and Tahira Abdullah who slammed the PTI government for taking a U-turn on Atif Mian’s appointment and welcomed all erstwhile PTI supporters who are now starting to realise that building ‘Naya Pakistan’ is nothing but a hollow slogan.