BOP Announces Pakistan’s Largest Hackathon, Sprint Pakistan, in Collaboration with Esteemed Partners

In a remarkable spirit for innovation and forward-thinking, the Bank of Punjab (BOP) hosted a launch ceremony to unveil the details for their hyped Pakistan’s largest hackathon ‘Sprint Pakistan – Powered by digiBOP, Empowering Innovation for Global Impact’ in collaboration with its executing partner, (NICL) at LUMS who will be involving NICs across these cities.

The ceremony officially kicks off a series of hackathons in 7 major cities of Pakistan inviting all startups and fintechs to participate and compete for the most innovative ideas. Winners from each city hackathon will later compete in the final Grand Hackathon to be held in Lahore at NICL LUMS. Lucky winners from the grand hackathon will win cash prizes worth PKR 2.2 million and a fully sponsored trip with return tickets to Singapore, representing Pakistan at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2023.

Sprint Pakistan – Powered by digiBOP’s esteemed partners include Pakistan High Commission to Singapore, SFA, StartKar 2.0, Elevandi, and APIX.

The ceremony held at NICL Auditorium (LUMS) brought together BOP’s leadership, notable industry dignitaries from LUMS, and startup founders including NICs and BICs from 7 major cities of Pakistan. Mr. Nofel Daud (Group Head Strategy & Strategic Initiatives – BOP) highlighted BOP’s consistent efforts in its digital transformation journey. He said, “I am confident Sprint Pakistan will be a game changer in the startup ecosystem as well as render itself as another feat in BOP digital transformation journey”.

Ms. Alia Zafar (Group Head People & Organizational Excellence – BOP) emphasized the importance of initiatives for youth and their scale of impact. She said, “Sprint Pakistan” serves as a fertile ground for innovation, providing startups with a unique platform to showcase their creativity”.

Mr. Imran Ashraf (Chief Digital Officer – BOP) enlightened the audience with a comprehensive plan for the hackathon emphasizing the golden opportunities that it offers to the startups such as international recognition, followed by cash prizes, and fully sponsored trips with return tickets for participation in SFF.

H. E. Ms. Rukhsana Afzaal (Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Singapore) and Mr. Shadab Taiyabi (President SFA) graced the launch ceremony with their presence through e-video message. Mr. Umang Moondra (CEO Synfindo APIX) and Mr. Farhan Mumtaz, working group StartKar from Singapore joined virtually and engaged with the audience explaining invaluable information regarding Singapore Fintech Festival 2023. The event was largely viewed locally and internationally in Singapore through e-connect.

Mr. Badar Khushnood, an industry expert, entrepreneur, and board member of NICL was also present at the ceremony and lauded BOP’s consistent efforts for the startup ecosystem and fostering innovation. Mr. Hussain Merchant (Head Fintech, CE & Innovation – BOP) concluded the evening and asked the aspirants to gear up for the city-wise hackathons that are about to begin for winning startups.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Currency Dealers Unhappy With Banks Replacing Exchange Companies

Currency dealers warned that replacing existing money exchange companies could backfire and allow banks to abuse the situation by manipulating the exchange rate.

Authorities have stated that they are under pressure to close down exchange companies because they are blamed for the rising dollar rate. According to Chairman Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan (ECAP) Malik Bostan, this is an entirely incorrect approach that would help the grey market make a more forceful comeback if exchange businesses close.

ECAP General Secretary Zafar Paracha lamented that banks weren’t penalized after SBP exposed them for currency manipulation. Paracha said SBP failed to bring charges against these banks because of the foreign investors’ element which persuaded the authorities to halt the investigation.

Overall, currency players argue that putting the currency business under one roof would allow banks to take advantage of the exchange rate more so when overseas investors control the majority of these banks.

Despite the complaints of the forex market, the larger consensus of public opinion supports the move. This change will streamline the industry and curb unlawful activities that have plagued the sector. Also, it will encourage larger and more established exchange companies to engage in transactions in a transparent and responsible manner.

Notably, large banks are establishing exchange companies with substantial capital backing, which is seen as a positive step towards resolving liquidity issues and ensuring the stability of the sector.

Besides NBP and HBL already in the game, MCB Bank, UBL, and Meezan Bank have recently announced the formation of exchange companies. Other banks are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Caretaker Planning Minister Gives One-Week Deadline for Provincial and Islamabad’s Master Plans

The caretaker Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, Muhammad Sami Saeed, asked the provincial governments and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) to submit their respective Master Plans with recommendations in one week.

The Minister made these remarks while chairing a committee meeting aimed at “Building Consensus for Regulating the Conversion of Agricultural Land to Housing Societies in Pakistan.” This committee was established by the Prime Minister to foster agreement on regulating the conversion of agricultural land to housing societies across the country.

The caretaker Planning Minister is the Convener of the committee and its members include provincial Chief Secretaries, the Secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research, the Secretary Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, as well as the Provincial Ministers for Agriculture, Cooperatives, Revenue, and local government.

“There is a dire need of the hour to preserve the agricultural land keeping in view the challenges being faced by the country,” remarked the Minister, while chairing the second meeting over the subject.

The meeting was attended by the Secretary of the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), Additional Secretary, IPC, Chief Statistic Pakistan Bureau of Statistic PBS, Member Infrastructure at Planning Commission, Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing & Development Authority NPHDA and representatives from the provinces were also present at in the meeting.

The Master Plans, Legal Framework, and implementation are the essential steps that need to be addressed properly, said the Minister, while reiterating that the government is taking serious steps to preserve the agricultural land in the country.

During the meeting, the relevant stakeholders from the provinces and ICT apprised the forum about the existence of their respective Master Plans, their legal framework, and mechanisms to implement their laws. The Minister while directed the relevant stakeholders to submit their recommendations with Master Plans within one week.

The committee’s Terms of Reference (TORs) include deliberating on the potential implications of converting agricultural land by land developers or housing societies with regard to food security, agricultural growth, livelihoods of rural communities, and the increasing pace of migration to urban areas.

The TORs also involve examining existing federal and provincial legislation related to the subject, as well as prevailing land use and zoning regulations. The committee is to consult with relevant stakeholders and sector experts to develop consensus among provinces regarding the introduction of rules to discourage the conversion of agricultural land into housing societies or industrial estates.

Moreover, the committee aims to foster and develop general guidelines that discourage the conversion of agricultural land into housing societies and to discuss measures for introducing vertical housing in cities and urban centers. Additionally, the committee will deliberate on planning future industrial zones in non-cultivable areas.

Source: Pro Pakistani

What Should be Pakistan’s Squad for World Cup 2023?

The preparations for the upcoming World Cup 2023 are underway as some top teams have already announced their squads for the event over the past few days.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has set September 28 as the last date for squad submission, and the PCB is expected to announce its squad this week.

The Men in Green recently participated in the Asia Cup 2023 and managed to win only two games against Nepal and Bangladesh, failing to qualify for the final.

With the injury of Naseem Shah and the need for an effective spinner in the setup, the Selection Committee is expected to make a few changes to the national squad.

The Committee is likely to include Hasan Ali and Abrar Ahmed as replacements for Naseem Shah and Usama Mir, respectively to bolster the national bowling unit.

Here is what we think the national 15-member squad for the ODI World Cup 2023 in India should look like:

Opening Combination

Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman have been opening the innings for Pakistan in 50-over cricket for years, and their form will be crucial for the team.

However, the Mardan-born batter does not seem to be in good form, which gives Abdullah Shafique, a chance to open the innings along with Imam-ul Haq.

Abdullah was part of the playing XI in the last match against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup, where he scored a half-century, which is a positive sign for Pakistan.

Middle Order

Babar Azam is the best candidate for the one-down position, and he has been showcasing phenomenal performances for the past few years.

The right-hander has scored 4,868 runs at an average of 62.41 while batting at number three, which allows Pakistan to stick with the same batting order in the event.

The recent performance of Rizwan at number four is commendable, with his 1,060 runs at an average of 44.16 at this position making a strong case for him.

For number five, Salman Ali Agha is a strong candidate for Pakistan, having scored 226 runs in eight matches at an average of 37.66, including three fifties.

Iftikhar Ahmed will be batting at number six, having delivered many brilliant performances, while Saud Shakeel will serve as a backup batter for the middle order.

Spin Bowling

The inclusion of the mystery spinner, Abrar Ahmed, will be a huge boost, along with vice-captain, Shadab Khan and left-arm spinner, Mohammad Nawaz.

However, the recent performance of Shadab has witnessed ups and downs, but he has been one of the key performers for Pakistan with both bat and ball.

Nawaz, on the other hand, can also help the national side in taking crucial wickets with the ball and can change the game in his favor with the bat.

Fast Bowling

The injury to Naseem Shah in the Asia Cup is undoubtedly a huge blow for Pakistan, but the recovery of Hasan Ali is a sign of relief for the Men in Green.

The right-arm pacer has been one of the top performers for the national team in white-ball cricket and can be a valuable resource in the marquee event.

Hasan Ali has the ability to share the new ball with Shaheen Shah Afridi and can also deliver his best in the middle of the innings.

Haris Rauf will be the third pacer for the Men in Green in the event, having showcased impressive performances in the recently concluded Asia Cup 2023.

The right-arm quick was the leading wicket-taker for Pakistan in the event, taking nine wickets in four games, including a superb spell of 4 for 19 against India.

Mohammad Wasim will be the fourth pacer in the squad, who had a phenomenal start to his ODI career, taking 24 wickets in 16 matches at an average of 26.7.

Source: Pro Pakistani

Namira Salim Set to Make History as the First Pakistani to Go Into Space

Virgin Galactic is about to send the first Pakistani citizen to space on a historic mission. Namira Salim, a renowned explorer, will be on board the “Galactic 04” mission, which will depart from Spaceport America in New Mexico on 5 October 2023.

Namira Salim announced on X (formerly known as Twitter) that she will be joining Trevor Beattie and Ron Rosano on the Galactic 04 mission with Virgin Galactic. She said that she hopes her journey will inspire young women, girls, and the global youth to reach for the stars.

In addition to Namira, the flight will also carry Trevor, a renowned British advertising executive, and Ron, a respected American astronomy educator.

Along with the three passengers, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses, will also be on the flight. Kelly Latimer and C.J. Sturckow will pilot the VSS Unity spacecraft, and Nicola Pecile and Jameel Janjua will pilot the VMS Eve, the carrier aircraft that will take Unity into space.

This will be Virgin Galactic’s fourth commercial spaceflight in four months, following successful flights in June, August, and September.

It is worth noting that Namira is a seasoned adventurer, having previously visited both the North and South Poles. She was also one of the first 100 people to book a seat on a Virgin Galactic flight in 2006, for $200,000 —a price that has since increased to $450,000.

Source: Pro Pakistani