News Buzz

August 2023

HBL contributes over
Rs 4 bn. in Social Uplift

HBL has contributed over Rs 4 billion - spread over a decade - for the social uplift of Pakistan. In 2022 alone, the Bank contributed over Rs 580 million. This contribution is a testament to HBL’s commitment to being “More Than Just a Bank” making a real difference in the communities it serves.

HBL shared this information at an event to mark the launch of its Impact & Sustainability Report - 2022 in Karachi.

In pursuance of HBL’s commitment to inclusion, sustainability, and community development, the Bank is pledged to reducing its own emissions; expanding its Green Banking portfolio; expanding its customer base to over 34 million including 4 million women; and contributing to the communities in which it operates by supporting healthcare, education, arts, and social development initiatives through the HBL Foundation. Upholding the ethos of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), HBL’s good governance and Corporate Social Responsibility is not confined to charitable giving, but also directed at conducting our daily business and living our daily lives with constant care for our physical and social environments. The HBL Microfinance Bank has contributed tremendously to ensuring that we are the single largest provider of microfinance and SME services in Pakistan.

Sultan Ali Allana, Chairman – HBL, commenting on the report, said, “Last year in our review, we emphasized the urgent need to reflect on sustainability challenges in the future. This year, we lived in that future as unprecedented flooding devastated the country. Our priority remains consistent: to innovate and provide solutions that support growth and improve quality of life for our employees, those we serve, and the people of Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s Hamza Khan becomes
World Junior Squash Champion

Pakistan’s Hamza Khan won the World Junior Squash Championship 2023 after beating Egypt’s Mohamed Zakaria, becoming the country’s first champion since 1986.

Hamza beat Zakaria 3-1 during the tournament that was held in Melbourne, Australia. The last time a Pakistani made the finals was Amir Atlas in 2008, and the last winner from Pakistan was Jansher Khan in 1986.

Reacting to his win, Hamza — who had won the U-15 title at the British Junior Open Squash Championship in 2020 — thanked his coach, his managers and his parents for their support.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif thanked the squash player for bringing the title back to Pakistan after 37 years. He hoped that Hamza would make Pakistan “invincible” in the sport in the near future.

President Arif Alvi said that Pakistan had unprecedented and yet unmatched supremacy in squash in the past.

“I had personally watched many finals among our giants. After a long time, a resurgent ray of hope. Well done,” he said.

Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab termed Hamza’s win a “proud moment for all Pakistanis”.

US Centcom chief meets
COAS Gen. Asim Munir

The US Central Command Chief General Michael Erik Kurilla (L)with Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir.

US Central Command (Centcom) chief General Michael Erik Kurilla, in a meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir on July 24, recognised Pakistan’s “continued efforts” for bringing peace and stability to the region.

According to the Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), Gen Kurilla called on Gen Munir in Rawalpindi today.

“The visiting dignitary acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan Army’s successes in [the] fight against terrorism and Pakistan’s continued efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region,” the statement said.

“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, [the] regional security situation, and defence cooperation were discussed,” the ISPR added.

It stated that both sides reiterated the desire to enhance bilateral relations in all fields further.

The meeting comes days after both countries called on the interim Afghan government to prevent their soil from being used as a safe haven for terrorist attacks.

In a press briefing earlier in July week, US State Depa­rt­m­ent Spokesperson Matt­h­ew Miller said the Afghan Taliban administration bore the responsibility to control terror activities originating from their territory.

“I will say we have made very clear that we believe the Taliban has the responsibility to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a safe haven for launching terrorist attacks,” he said in response to a question.

NBP enters into an agreement with NRTC

NBP has recently signed an agreement with the National Radio Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) for the procurement of Thin Client PCs for NBP branches and ATM Hotlines under the G2G arrangement. This is a hallmark initiative by NBP management towards the digitalization of branches for better and more efficient customer service.

ChatGPT dragged to US court

US comedian Sarah Silverman and two other authors have sued Open AI over copyright infringement in the latest pushback since the company’s release of ChatGPT took the world by storm.

The plaintiffs accuse the San Francisco company of using their works to train their artificial intelligence models without permission, adding to a series of cases that could complicate the development of the tech world’s biggest new trend.

The trio also filed a suit against Facebook parent company Meta, whose less known open source models also used pirated downloads of their books for training purposes, the suit alleged.

Much of the training material used by OpenAI and Meta “comes from copyrighted works —including books written by the plaintiffs — that were copied by OpenAI and Meta without consent, without credit, and compensation,” the trio’s lawyers said in a blog post.

US diplomat briefed on
Gandhara civilisation

US Consul General in Lahore William Makaneole visited the archaeological museum of Taxila and the ancient Buddhist site of Dharmarajika stupa in July.

The officials briefed the US diplomat about the history of Gandhara civilisation, various stupas, statues, and other artefacts. The diplomat and his team were taken around the main hall, which exhibits more than 70 stories of the life of Buddha from the time of his birth to death. They also visited the Bodhisattva and Buddha galleries.

The envoy was informed that hundreds of monasteries and stupas had been built together with Greek and Kushan towns, such as Sirkap and Sirsukh, both in Taxila. The diplomat also visited various Buddha images and Buddha life stories. Mainly the display consists of objects from 600 BC to 500 AD. Gandhara is the second holy land of Buddhism, and it is the place where the religion flourished across the globe. Later, he also visited the Unesco Buddhist world heritage site of Dharmarajika stupa and monastery which was founded in the 3rd century AD by King Asoka. The US diplomat was informed that this ancient site was accredited for being one of the earliest Buddhist monuments, one of South Asia’s eighth largest Buddhist stupas.

Telenor Pakistan partners with Kistpay to scale smartphone financing

Telenor Pakistan has entered into a partnership with Kistpay to bring affordable smartphone financing solutions to customers at an unprecedented scale. A signing ceremony in this regard took place, which was attended by Irfan Wahab Khan, CEO of Telenor Pakistan, Asif Jafri, CEO of Kistpay, Julian Gorman, Head of APAC Region GSMA, Saira Faisal, Country Lead and Jeanette Whyte, Head of Public Policy APAC GSMA who participated virtually to emphasize the importance of this partnership.

The highlight of this partnership is the launch of Shariah-compliant smartphone instalment plans, which are tailored specifically for Telenor’s vast customer base in Pakistan. The collaboration offers an inclusive solution for individuals hailing from middle and low-income segments of society, promoting smartphone ownership through user-friendly instalment-based financing options that align with Shariah principles. The partnership aims to further digitalization in the country and empower communities through this first-of-its-kind collaboration by making the purchase of smartphones convenient and affordable.

EFU Life appoints new MD and CEO

The Board of directors of EFU Life Assurance has appointed Mohammed Ali Ahmedas the new MD and CEO of EFU Life. Mohammed Ali Ahmedas has 29 years of professional experience in the life insurance industry and is an Actuary by qualification.

He started his career at a trainee position and over the last three decades has risen through the ranks to reach the leadership position. In his recent roles at EFU Life, Ahmedas served as the Chief Strategy Officer, before being elevated to Deputy MD position in 2021. Ali joined EFU Life in 2002 and prior to this worked in the public sector life insurance industry for 8 years.

With an impressive tenure of 21 years with the Company, Ali brings a wealth of experience, deep industry knowledge, and a steadfast commitment to values.

Princess Diana’s sweater
to be auctioned

A jumper worn by Britain’s late Princess Diana and depicting a black sheep is headed for auction this summer with a price estimate of up to $80,000. Designed by knitwear label Warm & Wonderful, the sweater, which will headline Sotheby’s Fashion Icons Aug. 31-Sept. 14 online sale, was rediscovered in an attic earlier this year by one of the brand’s founders.

Diana first wore the red jumper, which depicts a lone black sheep among rows of white sheep, to watch then Prince Charles play in a polo game in June 1981, a month before they were married, sparking speculation over its potential significance. “If you’re Princess Diana, certainly you have access to lots of pieces of apparel you could choose to wear,” Cynthia Houlton, global head of fashion at Sotheby’s, said at a press preview in London.

“And the fact that she wanted a replacement and then again two years later wore the replacement sweater, I think speaks really volumes from her how much this sweater meant to her.”

The jumper, which is being sold with Everett’s two letters to Osborne, has a price estimate of $50,000-$80,000.

Top BBC Presenter Off the Air

A BBC presenter Rylan Clark has been accused of paying a minor for explicitly sexual photographs.

The alleged victim’s mother told The Sun that the money, amounting to over £35,000, was used to fund drug addiction, destroying her child`s life.

In response, broadcaster Rylan Clark tweeted to clarify that he was not the presenter in question. Neither the individual nor the teenager has been identified.

BBC said it takes allegations `very seriously` and has processes to investigate such cases, considering the severity of the matter.

Yamuna laps Taj Mah

A river that runs through the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has risen to lap the compound walls of the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra city, causing concern about damage to the 17th-century white marble monument.

The water level of the Yamuna River has increased over the last few days after unusually heavy rain in northern India, including Uttar Pradesh, which has received 108 per cent of its normal rainfall since the four-month monsoon season began on June 1.

According to India’s Central Water Commission (CWC), the portion of the river flowing alongside the Taj Mahal rose to 152m on July 18, well above the warning level for potential danger of 151.4m. The level considered dangerous is 152.4 metres.

Local media outlets reported the last time the river reached the walls of the monument was 45 years ago, in 1978.

Visuals from the area showed the red sandstone boundary wall of the Taj Mahal surrounded by muddy water, with the mausoleum itself looming over the scene, untouched by the river.

Officials from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), which oversees the Taj Mahal along with several other monuments in the country, said there is “no serious concern” about the monument at present.

“If it rains more, or the water stays this high for some days, we will need to assess the situation again,” said Raj Kumar Patel, superintendent archaeologist with ASI.

Several other monuments and gardens located in the vicinity of the Taj Mahal, closer to the banks of the Yamuna, however, “have been submerged” and damaged, he said.

Sirajuddin Aziz appointed
as Banking Ombudsman

Sadiq Sanjrani, the then Acting President, has signed the summary of appointing Sirajuddin Aziz as Banking Pakistan Ombudsman.

Sirajuddin Aziz, veteran banker with decades of experience, has worked for different organisations in Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, UK, Nigeria, and the UAE. Until recently he was the Chief Executive Officer-Financial Institutions at Habib Bank AG Zurich. Prior to this, he has served as the president and Chief Executive Officer of other leading commercial banks in Pakistan. Aziz is a Fellow of Institute of Bankers Pakistan (IBP). He was the Editor of the Journal of IBP and is also a Member of Pakistan Institute of International Affairs and of the English Speaking Union of Pakistan. He served on the Board of Governors of various educational institutions and social organisations.

Sirajuddin Aziz is a regular contributor to national and international publications, including Monthly SouthAsia ( He is a published author, with works comprising “In Quest of Mirage,” “Bitter & Sweet – Life & Times of Dad,” “The Essence of Islam,” and “Emerging Dynamics of “Management.”

Jashn-e-Urdu Held in Chicago

The Urdu institute USA recently held “Jashn-e-Urdu,” an emblematic event, which was organized on 3rd of July in Chicago, United States, in collaboration with the Pakistan Arts Council Karachi.

Speaking on the occasion, the convener Amin Hyder, along with the president of the Pakistan Art Council Ahmad Shah, highlighted the future programmes for the promotion of Urdu literature and hoped that this collaboration will usher many more episodes of this kind to the people living abroad Pakistan who want to see their literature to its par excellence.

A large number of Urdu literature fans turned up on the occasion to enjoy and witness the exemplary presentations. The sessions depicted the excellence of participants in their mastery and expertise in various forms of literature and performing arts. A grand mushaira added the spectacular ambiance at the end of the grand ceremony.

Afghan women protest
against beauty parlour ban

Security officials shot into the air and used fire hoses to disperse dozens of Afghan women protesting in Kabul against an order by Taliban authorities to shut down beauty parlours, the latest curb to squeeze them out of public life.

Since seizing power in August 2021, the Taliban government has barred girls and women from high schools and universities, banned them from parks, funfairs and gyms, and ordered them to cover up in public.

The order issued last month forces the closure of thousands of beauty parlours nationwide run by women — often the only source of income for households — and outlaws one of the few remaining opportunities for them to socialise away from home.

“Don’t take my bread and water,” read a sign carried by one of the protesters on Butcher Street, which boasts a concentration of the capital’s salons.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the protest breakup. “Reports of the forceful suppression of a peaceful protest by women against the ban on beauty salons — the latest denial of women’s rights in #Afghanistan — are deeply concerning,” it said in a tweet.

Summit rebrands itself
as Bank Makramah

Summit Bank Ltd is going to change its name to Bank Makramah Ltd (BML).

One of the smallest commercial lenders in terms of net assets told investors it received consent from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on July 17 to change its name. The new name will become effective once “other relevant regulatory approvals” materialise. The move is part of Summit Bank’s on-going effort to fully convert into a Shariah-compliant entity after a UAE investor became its majority shareholder in April.

Nasser Abdulla Hussain Lootah, a national of the Gulf nation, injected fresh equity to the tune of Rs10 billion by subscribing to 3.98bn new shares of the bank at Rs2.51 apiece. As a result, he gained 51pc shareholding as well as management control of the commercial lender. The injection of fresh liquidity is meant to partially fix the bank’s capital adequacy issues. Summit Bank said in its latest quarterly accounts that with the capital injection, growth factors and other key assumptions stipulated in the business plan, it’ll be able to achieve compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.

Auction of old Washington chancery building called into question

The Senate Standing Committee on Priva­tisation has raised questions on the approval process for the auction of the old chancery building in Washington DC, and sought a report from the foreign ministry.

At a meeting on July 18, the committee expressed concerns about the approval of the chancery building without the consent and intervention of the Privatisation Commission.

Further concerns were raised when a senior official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the committee that the decision to sell the building was taken during a meeting in which representatives of the Ministry of Finance and the Privatisation Commission were present. However, the privatisation secretary denied that the commission was made part of the approval process at any stage.

A foreign ministry official told the committee that the old chancery building was sold to Abdul Hafeez Khan, a Pakistani-American who offered the highest bid of $7.1 million. He said that the cabinet considered the summary moved by the foreign ministry and appro­ved the recommendations of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to sell one of the buildings.

“The building was from the 1980s and a very old one,” he said. He further informed the committee that a loan of $7m had already been taken for its renovation, but the IMC later decided to sell the property.

Rehmat Ali Hasnie Appointed as President of National Bank of Pakistan

In a significant development, the Federal Cabinet has given the green light for the appointment of Rehmat Ali Hasnie as the permanent President of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) for a three-year term. This decision was made based on the Ministry of Finance’s recommendation.

Rehmat Ali Hasnie brings with him a wealth of experience in the banking sector, having commenced his career in 1995 at Taurus Securities Limited before joining Pak Iran Investment Company Limited. His journey led him to NBP in January 2010, where he assumed the role of Senior Vice President (SVP). With a cumulative banking experience of 15 years, Hasnie’s dedication and expertise earned him the well-deserved promotion to the position of “Executive Vice President.” Notably, Hasnie has been serving as the acting President of NBP since May 2022, demonstrating his adeptness in overseeing the bank’s affairs during this period.

The appointment of Rehmat Ali Hasnie as the permanent President of NBP signifies a crucial milestone for the institution and is expected to further bolster the bank’s standing in the financial landscape of Pakistan.