Pak-Iran trade increases to $1.3 billion

ISLAMABAD (APP): Iran-Pakistan Federation of Culture and Trade President Khawaja Habibur Rehman said that Iran-Pakistan trade is on an upward trend and it has reached $1.3 billion from $600 million over past three years. He said that trade between the two countries would further improve as there are vast opportunities available to enhance bilateral trade ties. Habib said that next government of Pakistan will resume discussions with Iran on Free Trade Agreement as the caretaker government has voiced its inability to hold dialogue on the agreement, IRNA news agency reported. He added that lack of banking channel is hampering trade between the two countries and the issue should be resolved on a prioritized basis. Khawaja Habib Ur Rehman further said that Iran and Pakistan through their close cooperation can change the fate of the region. Pakistan trader stressed upon the need for early completion of Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline which would help Pakistan to overcome its energy woes.

He also called for re-launching passenger train service between Iran and Pakistan to enhance cultural ties.

Leaders of Iran and Pakistan have already agreed to take the bilateral trade volume upto $5 billion in five years.

Korea invests in power projects: envoy

ISLAMABAD (Staff Reporter): Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Pakistan, Kwak Sung-Kyu has said that his country had invested in hydropower projects of Pakistan, as hydropower projects are blessing for the country in term of clean energy.  The CPEC is advantageous for Pakistan, the ambassador said while talking to media at pre-departure orientation session for participants from Pakistan selected for Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Scholarship Programmes.  Addressing at the occasion, the ambassador welcomed the participants and said that these scholarship programmes will strengthen respective areas such as local government system, urban development, and energy policy and improves industry and trade between both countries. This will be unique experience for all the participants while studying Korean language and culture.  Ms Tehniat Shafique working as assistant director in Local Government Department AJK will participate in Yonsei University programme of "KOICA-Yonsei Master's Degree Programme in Community Development (Pakistan).

Muhammad Salman Jamil working as Deputy Director in Ministry of Commerce and Textile Pakistan will participate in Chung-Ang University programme of "KOICA-CAU Master's Degree Programme in Urban Development Policy" in Korea from August 19, 2018 - December 21, 2019.

Muhammad Farhan Ullah Khan working as Section Officer in Ministry of Power will participate in Ajou University programme of "2018 KOICA-AJOU University Master's Degree Programme in Energy Science and Policy" in Korea from August 12, 2018-January 12, 2020.

Khurram Ikram working as Deputy Director in Trade Development Authority Pakistan will participate in Kyung Hee University programme of "2018 KOICA-GSP Master's Degree Programme in Industry and Trade Policy "in Korea from August 9, 2018- December 17, 2018.

The scholarship programme aims at developing expertise and enhancing knowledge in respective courses. It also gives opportunity to learn Korean language and Culture and bring more harmony among two nations.

The participants assured their support for strengthening ties between Pakistan and South Korea and paid their gratitude to the Korean government for offering this much needed scholarship programmes.

Adnan Wadood Programme Manager of KOICA introduced the course.

Civil society for protection, promotion of breastfeeding

ISLAMABAD (PR): World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August across the world to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies. This year theme of WBW is Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life. Breastfeeding has a multitude of benefits for women and children, regardless of whether they live in a rich or poor household.  As per Lancet, a reputable medical journal Breastfeeding saves lives and improves health.  As a perfectly adapted nutritional supply, breast milk is the ultimate personalized medicine which may save about 820,000 lives a year, 87% of them infants under 6 months of age. It also helps to prepare children for a prosperous future. Longer breastfeeding is associated with higher performance on intelligence tests among children and adolescents. Despite the high cultural acceptance for breastfeeding in Pakistan, the country has the highest bottle-feeding rates and lowest exclusive breastfeeding rates in South Asia.

The percentage of exclusively breastfed children in Pakistan has remained static, with just a microscopic increase evident, over the last seven years. According to the Demographic Health Survey, this percentage has risen only from 37.1 per cent in 2006-07 to 37.7 per cent in 2012-13.

However, when it comes to the bottle-feeding race, Pakistan has no close competitors; bottle-feeding rates have risen from an already undesirable 32.1 per cent in 2006-07 to a shamefully high 41 per cent in 2012-13.

Pakistan was among the 118 countries who had voted in favour of adopting International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes during the World Health Assembly in May 1981. However, the legislation came very late in Pakistan when "The Protection of Breast-Feeding and Child Nutrition Ordinance, 2002" (XCIII Of 2002) was passed on 26th October 2002, and Pakistan became one of the 42 countries with legislation to adopt most of the articles of the Code. Currently, all provinces have adopted/passed provincial laws for protection and promotion breastfeeding. However, implementation of these laws is still a dream.

Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance Pakistan (SUNCSA, Pak); a coalition of over 150 civil society organisations together with SUN Academia & Research Network Pakistan, a network 52 Universities; is organizing multiple activities from provincial to community levels to highlight importance of breastfeeding during WBW this year. This also include vibrant social media campaign for promoting enabling social environment to support and encourage breastfeeding.

In order to improve breastfeeding situation, SUNCSA, Pak suggest federal and provincial governments to enforce legislation on breast milk substitutes, provide supportive environment for maternity protection for women in employment and ensuring breastfeeding is initiated in maternity facilities and no infant formula is routinely used. CSA also suggest capacity building of health providers and community workers, to offer counselling on Infant Young Child Feeding (IYCF) and mother-to-mother support groups in the community, accompanied by communication strategies to promote breastfeeding, using multiple channels and messages tailored to the local context.

Switzerland never offered to return assets: FBR

Islamabad (Staff Reporter): The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Thursday has said that Switzerland never offered to return Pakistanis’ assets in its banks. In order to allay the misconception being caused by media regarding Switzerland offering to return $200 billion, in 2014, under an Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (ADTA) with Pakistan, it has said that as per record available with FBR, Switzerland never, at any time, offered to return even a single dollar of Pakistanis deposited in Swiss accounts. It further said that ADTAs are not meant for retrieval of assets. The primary purpose of ADTAs is elimination of double taxation and exchange of information on request. According to FBR the impression regarding non-implementation of the draft initialed in 2014 has caused loss to Pakistan as otherwise Pakistan would have been able to access the benefits thereof immediately is totally misconceived since ADTAs are not for retrieval of dollars or assets.