Pakistan is in a severe economic crisis with foreign exchange reserves down to around just $3 billion and inflation at approximately 28 per cent. Reports suggest a high probability of a breakdown of the supply chain, which will potentially worsen inflation in the coming months.
The fuel prices have been hiked by Pakistani Rs (PKR) 35 a litre and the PKR has declined to a historic low, about 20 per cent, against the US dollar. Pakistan is hopeful of getting the approval of the ninth review of the IMF programme. The assistance from the international donor carries tough conditions that will directly or indirectly affect inflation and the cost of living. This, in turn, would further add to the anger and frustration among the people against the Shehbaz Sharif government, which is already bearing the brunt of its economic decisions.
The IMF has been tough with the conditions and scrutiny. China has promised some money, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE have committed to some relief. However, no substantive commitments have been made that could potentially allow Pakistan to evade the economic default.
US fighter jet shoots down Chinese spy balloon, remnants recovered
Remnants of the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down by a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor jet from Langley Air Force Base in Virginia off the coast of South Carolina on February 4 have been recovered and research is on as to what it contains.
A viral video shows the moment the aircraft fired a single AIM-9X missile from an altitude of about 18,000 metres (58,000 feet) at the Chinese ‘spy’ balloon, which had been travelling at a height of about 18,000 to 19,800 m.
As per reports, the F-22 Raptor is the US Air Force’s crown jewel. The US Department of Defence said that the F-22 fired the Sidewinder at the balloon from an altitude of 58,000 feet. The balloon at the time was between 60,000 and 65,000 feet.
Officials have said these surveillance airships, operated in part by the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) air force, have been spotted over five continents, the daily reported.
“These balloons are all part of a PRC (People’s Republic of China) fleet of balloons developed to conduct surveillance operations, which also violated the sovereignty of other countries,” a senior defence official was quoted as saying.
China says the balloon was an errant weather observation aircraft with no military purpose. But Washington has described it as a sophisticated high-altitude spying vehicle which reportedly traversed over several top-secret military sites.
The Pentagon later released a series of pictures recovering the high-altitude surveillance balloon. General Glen VanHerck, head of the U.S. Northern Command, said a naval ship would map a debris field left by the balloon in the Atlantic that is expected to measure about 1,500 by 1,500 meters.
The balloon itself was up to 60 meters tall and carried a payload weighing several thousand pounds that was roughly the size of a regional jet aircraft, he said.
Saudis to host 2027 football Asian Cup
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced that Saudi Arabia has won the hosting right to the 2027 Asian Nations Cup, for the first time in its history, since its inception in 1956. This came during the work of the 33rd Congress of the AFC, in the Bahraini capital, Manama. Saudi Arabia was the only bid presented at the Congress in Manama after India’s withdrawal in December 2022.
After the announcement, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “This victory is an opportunity to create the future of football in the kingdom and the continent of Asia, and we look forward with determination to open new horizons for Asian football.”
The Saudi Arabia 2027 committee concerned with the Saudi file to host the 2027 Asian Nations Cup revealed the new and developed stadiums that will be worked on to host the tournament. The Kingdom obtained the vote of 43 countries to organize the 2027 Asian Nations Cup out of 45 votes, and Palestine and Turkmenistan abstained from voting.
Modi wears jacket made from recycled plastic bottles
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 8 wore a sleeveless jacket made of material recycled from plastic bottles to Parliament. The Prime Minister was seen in the light blue “sadri” jacket as he sat in the Rajya Sabha in the morning.
Officials said the jacket Modi was wearing was made of material recycled from plastic bottles. The jacket was presented to him by Indian Oil Corporation during India Energy Week in Bengaluru when he launched the uniforms under the “Unbottled” initiative of the company.
In line with his call to phase out single-use plastic, Indian Oil has adopted uniforms for retail customer attendants and LPG delivery personnel made from recycled polyester (rPET) and cotton, officials said.
Each set of uniforms of Indian Oil’s customer attendant shall support the recycling of around 28 used PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles.
The PSU is taking this initiative further through “Unbottled”, a brand for sustainable garments launched for merchandise made from recycled polyester.