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Turkey to strengthen transport, logistics cooperation with Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia

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Turkey has established a ministerial council with Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia to boost regional transport and logistics cooperation.

At the first meeting of the Quadrilateral Ministerial Coordination Council, the delegates from the four countries signed deals on implementing projects for improving the railroads between the countries, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We are taking a new step every day in the development of the Middle Corridor, which has become a center of attraction,” Turkish Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Adil Karaismailoglu said in a press release.

The Middle Corridor is a trans-Caspian transport route that links Turkey and Europe with China.

The Turkish minister noted that the cooperation among the four countries would significantly contribute to the improvement of this trade corridor.

“The increase in trade volume between China and Europe alone signifies the geopolitical importance of our countries,” he stressed.

Karaismailoglu noted that it takes only about 12 days for a freight train from China to reach Turkey by using the Middle Corridor, referring to the 8,693-km railroad linking Istanbul and the Chinese city of Xi’an.

The council’s first declared ambition is to have a railroad transportation volume of over 440 million tonnes through the Middle Corridor within 30 years, compared to today’s about 38 million, he said.

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Pakistan Senate divided over condolences for Musharraf

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The Pakistan Senate was sharply divided over the idea of offering prayers for late President Pervez Musharraf, as the treasury side strongly opposed it while PTI insisted on it and later praised him, and PPP lawmakers condemned the former leader for undermining the Constitution.

Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani asked JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad to offer prayers for victims of earthquake in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon, and Musharraf, who had passed away in Dubai on Sunday, The News reported.

The House echoed with slogans of “no, no” raised by the members from the treasury benches while Mushtaq Ahmad, who sits on the opposition side, also straight away said there will be no prayers for Musharraf and Sanjrani sensed the majority was opposed to it and accordingly urged him to skip him in prayers.

Leader of the Opposition Shahzad Wasim, who was a member of then Musharraf’s cabinet, as state minister for interior and PML-Q senator from 2003-06, wondered what was the harm in offering prayers for him, prompting JI legislator to retort, “he was a certified traitor who broke the Constitution twice” and was responsible for conflagration in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

However, this could not quiet the leader of opposition and he continued with defending the former military ruler while members from the government rose in their seats and gathered around the chairman’s podium.

PPP Senator Moula Bux Chandio rose to insist that the one who breaks the law is a traitor and argued those defending Musharraf were also traitors.

“You are sitting in the Parliament and have taken oath under the Constitution. You should adopt the path which leads to democracy,” he contended.

He recalled how Musharraf’s indictment in treason case had to be put off for the third time in January 2014, when he went to a military hospital instead of appearing before the court to face the charge, The News reported.

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7.8-magnitude quake kills over 125 in Turkey, Syria

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Over 125 people were killed and more that 400 others injured in Turkey and Syria after a massive earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck a wide area near the two countries’ border, according to authorities.

Ankara/Damascus, Feb 6 : Over 125 people were killed and more that 400 others injured in Turkey and Syria after a massive earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale struck a wide area near the two countries’ border, according to authorities. The US Geological Survey said the tremor occurred at 4.17 a.m. at a depth of 17.9 km near the Turkish city of Gaziantep, reports the BBC reported.

Addressing reporters, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleymon Soylu said the 10 cities of Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Hatay, Osmaniye, Adiyaman, Malatya, Sanliurfa, Adana, Diyarbakir and Kilis were affected. While Malatya province, north-east of Gaziantep, at least 23 people were killed, in Sanliurfa, to the east, there were 17 deaths, the Minister said, adding that the rest of the fatalities were reported in in Diyarbakir and Osmaniye.

About 440 people were injured.

The initial quake was followed by another one measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale at 4.26 a.m., Xinhua news agency quoted Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), as saying. At least 50 successive earthquakes were recorded with a maximum magnitude of 6.6, said AFAD.

Widespread damage was reported in at least 10 provinces in southern and southeastern Turkey, it added. Turkey lies in one of the world’s most active earthquake zones.

In 1999, more than 17,000 people were killed after a powerful tremor rocked the north-west of the country. In a more recent quake, 117 people died when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the city of Izmir on October 30, 2020.

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Pakistan’s oil industry faces collapse amid liquidity crunch

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Pakistan’s oil companies have warned that the industry is on the “brink of collapse” as the dollar liquidity crisis persists and their cost of doing balloons due to the Pakistani rupees (PKR) devaluation.

To meet the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) demand, the government removed the dollar cap, resulting in the rupee falling to a historic low of 276.58 PKR in the interbank market, Geo News reported.

In a letter to the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) and Energy Ministry, the Oil Companies Advisory Council (OCAC) said that the “sudden depreciation” of the local rupee has caused losses worth billions of rupees to the industry as their letters of credit (LCs) are expected to be settled on the new rates, “whereas the related product has already been sold”.

The government has also restricted LCs due to dwindling foreign exchange reserves, which fell to $3,086.2 million as of January 27, and are enough for just 18.5 days, Geo News reported.

Pakistan is facing a balance of payments crisis and the plummeting value of the rupee is pushing up the price of imported goods.

Energy comprises a large chunk of Pakistan’s import bill.

Pakistan typically meets more than a third of its annual power demand, using imported natural gas, prices for which shot up following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

These losses, the OCAC said, not only have an impact on the profitability of the sector, which is already under severe pressure, but also on its viability since these setbacks in some cases might exceed the “entire year’s profit for the sector”, Geo News reported.

“It is requested to urgently revise this mechanism and ensure that exchange losses of the sector are fully reimbursed if the viability of the industry and supplies to retail outlets are to be ensured,” the OCAC told the authorities.

The letter mentioned that OGRA has adopted the practice of not fully passing on the impact of the rupee depreciation and instead putting an immense burden on the sector.

Due to the challenges still being faced by the sector of previous exchange rate adjustments and the enormous impact of the current depreciation, the OCAC said it is crucial that OGRA passes the impact of the exchange rates in one go and not stagger this compensation, Geo News reported.

The council added that due to an increase in oil prices and successive depreciation of the Pakistani rupee over the last 18 months, the trade finance limits available from the banking sector to the industry have become inadequate.

As a result of the recent devaluation alone, the LC limits have overnight shrunk by 15-20 per cent, the OCAC said.

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