Lack of cotton stocks and the late arrival of the new cotton crop have resulted in the shutdown of 47 spinning mills, according to Mian Jahangir Ellahi, chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association.

The Petroleum & Natural Resources Ministry has invited bids by 21 October for the granting of petroleum exploration rights in three blocks in Punjab, Sind and Balochistan. They include Block 3070-5 (Kharar) in zone II, Punjab/Balochistan, Block 2469-5 (East Sind) in zone I, Sind, and Block 2867-3 (Dadhar) in zone II, Baluchistan.

The government of Punjab has invited expressions of interest by 22 October for the post of consultant on the national drainage programme to be implemented in the province by the Punjab Irrigation & Drainage Authority. The selected consultant will be required to assist the government to transform its provincial irrigation department into autonomous, vibrant, service oriented, financially viable public utilities. It will also assist the authorities to transfer management of the tertiary irrigation and drainage system to entities owned and controlled by farmers, in a phased manner.

The government of Sind has allocated 50 acres of land for the development of a software technology park in the north Karachi industrial area. The park, to be built on the lines of the silicon valley in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, will be set up in co-operation with local software companies. There are about 350 registered software companies in the country, of which 60 per cent are in Karachi.

Denmark’s COWI has signed a contract with the Asian Development Bank to provide assistance to the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) government on the urban development project. The 12-month project calls for improvement of urban infrastructure and services by facilitating sector reforms, building institutional capacities, and preparing an integrated urban development project suitable for bank financing.

The government of Punjab was due to receive prequalification bids from contractors by 30 September for the Punjab rural water supply and sanitation project being funded by the government and the Asian Development Bank. The five-year Rs 2,000 million ($40 million) project, started in May 1995, aims to extend the water supply, drainage and sanitation coverage to rural communities in the province, particularly in the brackish districts of Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar in the south and Rawalpindi, Attock, Gujrat & Chakwal in the north. Under the project, 300 packages are to be carried out, of which 10 are due for completion by early October when another 30 will be issued for tender. The remaining 260 will be subsequently tendered. Sources say that the project, scheduled for completion by the end of 2000, will be extended for another year due to delays in its implementation.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sartaj Aziz said on 16 September that Pakistan would not sign the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT) until all economic and other sanctions imposed in the wake of nuclear tests in late May are lifted.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sought the lifting of international economic sanctions on Pakistan during his meeting with US President Clinton at the UN on 21 September. Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmed said that Clinton told Sharif he was ‘doing his best’ to enable Islamabad to sign a nuclear test ban treaty.

The Board of Investment has invited local and foreign investors to submit expressions of interest by 31 October to develop, manage and market the National Industrial Zone. The zone is to be set up at Pindi Bhattian interchange on the Lahore-Islamabad motorway.