Thursday, 16 February 2017

China, India account for half world’s pollution deaths

China, India account for half world’s pollution deaths

SHANGHAI: China and India accounted for more than half of the total number of global deaths attributable to air pollution in 2015, researchers said in a study published on Tuesday.
The US-based Health Effects Institute (HEI) found that air pollution caused more than 4.2 million early deaths worldwide in 2015, making it the fifth highest cause of death, with about 2.2 million deaths in China and India.
The institute’s study, the first of its kind, was based on the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) project, a database backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that tracks the role that behavioural, dietary and environmental factors play in deaths across 195 countries.
New evidence and methodologies mean that the estimate is significantly higher than the figure published by the World Health Organisation last year, which put the number of global air pollution-related deaths in 2012 at 3 million, HEI said.
The institute, which has also launched an online database showing the global impact of pollution on health (, said 92 percent of the world’s population lives in areas with unhealthy air.
Air pollution has been linked to higher rates of cancer, stroke and heart disease, as well as chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma.
China and India, the world’s two most populous countries, each accounted for 1.1 million deaths, the findings showed, but China is pushing ahead when it comes to taking action, HEI president Dan Greenbaum said.
“(India) has got a longer way to go, and they still appear to have some ministers who say there is not a strong connection between air pollution and mortality in spite of quite a lot of evidence,” he said.
A spokesman for India’s environment ministry could not be reached for comment, but minister Anil Madhav Dave said last week that “there is no conclusive data available” on the link between pollution and mortality, media reported.
China’s environment ministry did not respond to a request to comment on whether the estimate of 1.1 million deaths was accurate.
Published in Dawn

Friday, 10 February 2017

India building secret nuclear city:

India building secret nuclear city:

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan on Thursday said India was developing a secret nuclear city in its southern parts and working on intercontinental missiles as part of its arms spree, directly threatening Pakistan.

Addressing a weekly news briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said the India’s secret nuclear city, according to a Foreign Policy investigative report, was designed to produce thermonuclear weapons.

“Indian defence build-up, both nuclear and conventional, is a direct threat to Pakistan and the region, at large. India completed its plan of nuclear triad recently with the commissioning of a nuclear capable submarine,” he said.

Zakaria said India had been building inter-continental ballistic missiles and anti-ballistic missile system. “It has a stockpile of fissile material for producing nuclear weapons outside the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards,” he said.

The spokesperson said that the conventional weapons balance was already disturbed in South Asia and India’s nuclear weapons build-up had dangerous proportions to tip the strategic balance and endangered the peace of the region and beyond.

“The perils of such an uncalled for defence build-up should be seen in the backdrop of Indian defence minister’s statement on reviewing the ‘nuclear no-first-use’ and admission by the Indian army chief about their ‘cold start doctrine’, which confirmed Pakistan’s claims and justified our credible minimum nuclear deterrence,” he said.

Zakaria said that the international community should take note and check Indian rapid expansion in conventional and nuclear weapons.

Answering a question on Samjhauta Express terrorist attack, he said that despite India’s commitment at the highest political level, they had not shared any evidence to date with Pakistan.

“Instead, with the passage of time, they have even exonerated Swami Aseemanand, the RSS leader, who had made a public confession that he was the mastermind of that terrorist act and Col Purohit, then an active service Indian army officer, who headed another terrorist organisation Abhinav Bharat, was also involved. They worked in tandem with IB, RAW and other agencies of India,” he said.

The spokesperson said that Pakistan has and will continue to raise the issue of Samjhauta Express terrorist attack not only with India but also with the international community. “Pakistan had earlier noted with deep concern India’s attempts to exonerate those who have publically confessed to their involvement in the terrorist attack,” he said.

Answering a question about Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s notion that a referendum should be held in Pakistan whether they want to merge with India, he said: “Such remarks clearly violate the UN charter and respect for the sovereignty of a member state. Unfortunately, domestic politics in India had been used to further anti-Pakistan agenda by the Indian government.”

He said that Kashmiris have ridiculed the statement saying that India was aware of the possible results of the referendum in Kashmir and that was the reason they were resorting to such meaningless statements. “They have also rejected the home minister’s assertion that Kashmir belongs to India. The remarks by the Indian home minister do not merit further comments,” he said.

Zakaria said that India has committed more than 400 violations along the Line of Control in a few months as it was heating up the tension.

“We have raised this issue repeatedly with the international community and at various forums, and how this Indian belligerence is dangerously impacting peace and security in the region,” he said.

He rejected the alleged surgical strikes that India claimed to have conducted against Pakistan a couple of months ago, in the wake of the Uri attacks, terming it a drama.

Zakaria talked about the briefing given by the Foreign Office with reference to Kashmir Solidarity Day, “We also reiterated during the briefing, the perils of escalating tensions resulting from India’s continuous violation of the understanding of ceasefire in 2003. More importantly, the loss of innocent civilian lives is a matter of major concern.”

It is now evident that the main reason India tries to heighten tension on the LoC is to divert world’s attention from the grave human rights violations it is carrying out against defenceless Kashmiris in held Kashmir.

He said: “India lies about infiltration from across the LoC, which after the discovery of 2009 mass graves in Kashmir has proved to be a white lie. The International People’s Tribunal’s report in its findings stated that those found in the mass graves were indigenous Kashmiris and linked them to those thousands who had disappeared and were killed by Indian occupation forces in fake encounters.” He also condemned the victimisation of the Kashmiri leaders by India.

While talking about the multi-nation naval exercise in Pakistan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claims of isolating Pakistan, the spokesperson said: “These exercises are regularly held and a number of countries including Russia are participating in it. With reference to the statement of the Indian prime minister, you can judge that they have miserably failed to isolate Pakistan. In the process, India itself stood exposed and may be feeling isolated.”

He said India was involved in supporting terrorism in Pakistan. “The dossier on Kulbhushan Yadav and other details of Indian involvement in terrorist activities in Pakistan have already been submitted to the UN Secretary-General last month,” he said.

The spokesperson said that the United States had assured Pakistan that it was not among the list of banned countries. “We are in touch with the new administration in Washington and have been assured that no proposal to include Pakistan on the list of banned countries is under consideration. The US embassy in Islamabad has also issued a statement in this regard,” he said.

Regarding Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s visit to the US in the coming weeks, he said: “Pakistan and the US do have regular high-level exchanges and we look forward to maintaining the momentum in our exchanges.”

He said defence cooperation between Pakistan and Russia was an important component in “our multifarious bilateral relations” which is progressing well. “Both sides are interested in enhancing cooperation in various areas of mutual interest,” he added.

The spokesperson said that the Russian energy minister was already in town, and his visit aimed at discussing the technical aspects and other related details of a gas pipeline project.

He said that Pakistan wanted peace in Afghanistan and had been invited to the meeting called by Russia. “The evolving situation in Afghanistan and its bearing on the regional peace and stability is expected to be reviewed. Pakistan is committed to peace in Afghanistan and extends sincere support to the initiatives to that end. It is a new initiative,” he said.

Asked if India’s participation in the meeting in Russia would be problematic, he said: “World had seen the attitude of one country, which actually exposed that country. Pakistan’s participation in the Heart of Asia Conference was a manifestation that Pakistan is fully committed to efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. Understandably, the meeting in Moscow is about the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan is deeply committed to seeing a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and extend sincere cooperation in all such initiatives that are aimed at bringing peace in Afghanistan.”

He said the Economic Cooperation Organisation summit will be held on schedule next month and most of the countries had already confirmed their participation at the leadership level.

On the US sanctions on Iran, he said that Pakistan had longstanding relations with the United States and “we would like them to further strengthen them. Both sides constantly interact with each other to that end.”

He said Iran was Pakistan’s neighbour and a Muslim country with which “we cooperate on various forums besides bilaterally. Our relations are longstanding, cordial and diverse.”

To a question about the Pakistan International Airlines flight which was not allowed to land at the Heathrow airport, he said: “We have taken up this issue with the British authorities.”

On deportation of Pakistanis from Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, Zakaria said that deportation of nationals of various countries from the Gulf and Western countries was not specific to Pakistan.

Source: The Nation

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

US moves UN to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar, China voices objection

US moves UN to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar, China voices objection

China opposed a proposal by the US in the United Nations to ban Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar, Times of India reported on Tuesday.

The US, supported by the UK and France, moved a proposal to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist at the Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.

The proposal, which was finalised after consultations between Washington and New Delhi was opposed by Beijing.

India has accused the JeM and its leader of masterminding several attacks, including the assault on the Pathankot air base in January 2016. Security officials interrogated Azhar and his associates after the attack, and said they found no evidence linking him to it.

Jaish-e-Mohammad has already been blacklisted by the 15-nation Security Council, but not Azhar.

China opposed the US move by putting a hold on the proposal. The hold remains for six months and can be further extended by three months. During this period, it can be anytime converted into a block, thereby, ending the life of the proposal.

Reacting to China’s move to block the ban proposal, India’s foreign ministry said, “We’ve been informed of this development and the matter has been taken up with the Chinese government.”

Beijing had earlier blocked India’s request in December to add Azhar to UN Security Council blacklist of groups linked to al Qaeda.

Source: The Express Tribune:

Story behind Careem Success

Story behind Careem Success

Mudassir Sheikha is the CEO and co-founder of ride-hailing app Careem, one of the hottest startups on the Asian continent.

In December, it raised US$350 million from superstar investors such as Rakuten and Abraaj Capital, making it the newest unicorn in the transportation space.

It’s been quite a journey for Mudassir and his Dubai-headquartered company since starting up less than five years ago. Careem is now operational in 50 cities across 11 countries. It counts 180,000 registered drivers, which it refers to as “captains,” and claims to have served over 8 million customers.

Mudassir and team have hustled their way to regional dominance, competing with Uber with a mere fraction of the resources that the San Francisco-headquartered behemoth has at its disposal.

So how exactly should entrepreneurs take their idea from zero to one? What’s the billion-dollar mindset? How do you build companies to last?

Mudassir addressed these queries and more during a keynote presentation yesterday atMomentum in Karachi, Pakistan.

He identified four main factors which he believes were crucial in propelling Careem from a mere idea to where it is today.

Think big

“You have to think big from day one,” said Mudassir. “Sure you can open a retail store, but it’s going to be difficult to make it into a large business – a billion-dollar business. The first thing you have to target is a big problem and a big opportunity.”

The idea behind Careem wasn’t simply to replicate what other startups were doing in the West. He and his co-founder, Magnus Olsson, were both former management consultants for McKinsey. The duo were stationed in Dubai but frequently traveled across the Middle East and Pakistan.

As consultants, they had to constantly deal with the abhorrent public transport options in their markets. That was a huge pain – taxi drivers would frequently rip them off and they didn’t feel safe traveling in those rickety cars.

On-demand services were unheard of in the region at that time. So both Mudassir and Magnus quit their jobs, invested a lot of their own capital, and hunkered down for the long journey ahead.

“We wanted to seize the opportunity because it was an unexplored area and we felt the potential to scale was there,” said Mudassir to the audience.

Think big

The billion-dollar CEO is a firm believer in treating your startup like a baby and nurturing it the same way a loving parent would.

He explained it’s essential to instill the right values in your organization – to make sure culture seeps down from the top and everyone on the team is cognizant of the ideals they should aspire towards.

“If you teach your kids not to lie and make sure they adhere to it, then they’ll eventually learn and carry that with them forever. But if you don’t do that, and don’t have a close relationship with them, then they’ll grow up with indifferent values,” he said.

“Organizations are similar, they have values and aspirations as well. The companies that have been around for hundreds of years have these values instilled in their DNA. Our mindset, from day one, was to make something to last.”

As a corollary, the idea to start a business shouldn’t be predicated on an exit strategy. “It’s not the right mindset you should go into a startup with,” added Mudassir.

If an entrepreneur is truly committed to solving problems and reducing inefficiencies then they’ll carry on with that, come what may. And to build lasting institutions, ones that will outlive them as well as their future generations, founders need to treat the early years with the utmost of care.

“There’s nothing wrong with an exit, but it shouldn’t be your overwhelming priority,” he stated.

To further explain his point about culture and setting examples, Mudassir said he frequently takes red-eye flights and inconvenient connections just to save money.

“I’m happy even if I save 200 dirhams” – that US$55 – “each time,” he laughed.

“Sure people might say Careem has the cash now but I don’t want anyone in the company to think I’m being extravagant or living a flashy lifestyle. If you won’t demonstrate and lead by example, then your teammates won’t either.”

Growth needs curation

“You can’t just expect to launch a product and expect that it’ll take off automatically,” asserted Mudassir. “It’s a lot of hard work, curation, measurement, and feedback.”

The former consultant explained that at Careem they’re obsessed with data and growth. Each city – all 50 of them – is monitored every 15 minutes. An analyst can crunch the numbers and tell you whether the growth in those 15 minutes was more or less than the previous day, or even the same time last week.

If numbers are going down then there’s someone from HQ on the phone with local teams on the ground, to figure out how to improve, and whether there’s an issue of product-market fit, weather conditions, or something else.

“You cannot improve anything that you cannot measure. That’s why growth and measurement are deep deep in our DNA,” he said.

“And the best part about growth is that it compounds. If you give yourself a target of growing 25 percent month on month, then you’ll grow 10x each year. By the third 10x, we were sitting at a 100 million valuation. You can too,” he told the audience.

Your team is the sharpest weapon

Mudassir and Magnus didn’t have much money to throw around in the early days grinding in the insane heat of Dubai.

That was a problem – they wanted to hire savvy, technical, and qualified employees to grow quickly but the lack of cash meant that they couldn’t even match existing market salaries.

Mudassir admitted to having sleepless nights in those days.

“We placed a lot of emphasis on getting the right people. You can have an amazing idea but if you don’t have the right talent to execute then your plans are utterly useless. We were so cash-strapped early on that we could only offer half of what people were used to,” he said.

But there was a surprising benefit to this quandary. Careem’s early hires ticked all the right boxes in terms of their job capabilities, and they also bought into the vision of what Mudassir was trying to build.

“That’s why we became who we are today – you need to get capable people but they also need to enliven the culture of the workplace,” he added.

Source: The Express Tribune

Cross border firing by India killed Civilian

Cross border firing by India killed Civilian

A civilian injured by Indian firing along the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday succumbed to his injuries.

“Victim labourer of Indian fire in Khuiratta sector today succumbed to injuries. Another innocent life lost to Indian irresponsible attitude,” DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor said on twitter.

Earlier today, the military’s media wing said Indian forces resorted to unprovoked firing at the sector, injuring 20-year-old Ashfaq who was rushed to hospital for treatment. The statement added that Pakistan Army responded to the unprovoked firing in a fitting manner.

On Monday, Indian troops resorted to firing along the Working Boundary in Zafarwal sector, with Pakistan Rangers Punjab “responding effectively” to the aggression.

Last month, Indian forces violated the ceasefire as they fired across Jandrot, Nikyal, Baroh and Khanjar areas. Indian aggression continued unabated as the violation was reported five times.

According to Pakistan Army, Indian forces committed at least 178 ceasefire violations along the LoC and Working Boundary in 2016, killing 19 civilians and injuring 80 others.

Source: The Express Tribune

Military jets escort Pakistan International Airlines flight into London

Military jets escort Pakistan International Airlines flight into London

LONDON: The Pakistan International Airline (PIA) aircraft intercepted and escorted by fighter jets to Stansted airport, northeast of London, was diverted because of a “vague security threat”, the airline said on Tuesday.

“UK authorities received some vague security threat through an anonymous phone call regarding PIA’s Lahore-Heathrow flight PK-757 before its landing at Heathrow,” PIA spokesperson Danyal Gilani said in a statement.

Pakistan International Airline's spokesman's statement on #Lahore#Heathrow flight PK-757. #PakistanIntlAirlines@DanyalGilani #PIA

— PIA (@Official_PIA) February 7, 2017

“As per their standard procedures the aircraft was diverted to Stansted airport. Security clearance is underway.”

Gilani said all passengers on-board were safe and being looked after by PIA’s local management.

“Passengers will be provided surface transport to London. For the return flight efforts are underway to ensure least inconvenience to passengers.”

Earlier, British police said the plane was escorted because of a disruptive passenger.

“This is not believed to be a hijack situation or terror matter,” Essex Police said in a statement. “The plane is currently at the airport and officers are making enquiries.”

Source: The Express Tribune 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Sources: Apple, Facebook among companies expected to sign letter to urge Trump to alter travel ban

Sources: Apple, Facebook among companies expected to sign letter to urge Trump to alter travel ban

Several technology companies plan to send a letter to US President Donald Trump on Monday urging his administration to follow through on proposed changes to a travel ban on seven mainly Muslim nations, sources familiar with the letter said Sunday.

"We welcome the changes your administration has made in recent days in how the Department of Homeland Security will implement the Executive Order," according to a draft of the letter.

The technology companies expected to sign the letter include Apple Inc, Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc's Google, Twitter Inc, Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc.

The sources did not want to be identified because discussions regarding the letter were ongoing.

On Jan 27, Trump issued an executive order imposing a 90-day ban affecting citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and a 120-day bar on all refugees. Those travel bans caused chaos by trapping some travelers at airports and stranding others overseas.

A federal judge on Friday put a temporary nationwide block on that week-old executive order, leading the Republican president to criticize the judge and the court system.

"We stand ready to help your administration identify other opportunities to ensure that our employees can travel with predictability and without undue delay," the technology companies, some of which have had a frosty relationship with Trump since the campaign, said in the letter.

"We are concerned... that your recent Executive Order will affect many visa holders who work hard here in the United States and contribute to our country's success... our ability to grow our companies and create jobs depends on the contributions of immigrants from all backgrounds."

Technology companies Inc and Expedia Inc, both of which are based in Washington, filed a brief in support of the Washington judge's temporary stay.

Source: The Dawn News

Imran Khan praising Ch Parvez Elahi and his performance

Shujaat Hussain and Moonis Elahi meets Musharraf, moots merger of PML groups

Shujaat Hussain and Moonis Elahi meets Musharraf, moots merger of PML groups

Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Husain and Moonis Elahi called on former president and APML chief retired Gen Pervez Musharraf in Dubai on Sun­day and discussed with him matters relating to formation of a new party, to be known as ‘United Muslim League’.

Chaudhry Shujaat and Moonis Elahi have held an important meeting with Gen Musharraf for bringing all Muslim League factions (minus N) under one umbrella. The Chaudhrys have renewed efforts since they feel this is the right time to enter the political arena with a new party in the presence of the PML-N, PTI and PPP,” a PML-Q leader privy to the development told Dawn.

He said the PML-Q believed that there had been a political vacuum, especially in Punjab, and the new party could make its mark in the run-up to the 2018 elections. “The United Muslim League will not only take on board disgruntled leaders of other parties but will also be in position to make seat-adjustment with like-minded parties in the coming elections,” he said, claiming that the effort this time would succeed.

After having a long discussion with the Chaudhrys, Gen Musharraf held a meeting with PML-Functional chief Pir Sibghatullah Rashdi to explore the idea of a “United Muslim League”, the PML-Q leader said.

“Now the Chaudhrys and Musharraf will have a series of meetings with other PML factions and some disgruntled leaders to finalise the plan,” he said.

However, according to a PML-Q spokesman, Chaudhry Shujaat said at the Dubai meeting the political situation demanded that all opposition parties gather on one platform.

“Pervez Musharraf said his heart beats for Pakistan and he wants to return home at the earliest,” he added.

The Chaudhrys had about one-and-a-half-year ago launched efforts for the United Muslim League under the leadership of Gen Musharraf and Chaudhry Shujaat, but these could not bear fruit because of a lack of consensus over leadership and some other issues.

Imran Masood, a PML-Q leader and former Punjab minister, said his party’s renewed efforts would soon bear fruit. “The PML-Q leadership has started meetings with the heads of other factions of the Muslim League and modalities in this regard will be finalised with them. We are on a mission of strengthening the PML and in the coming elections it will be in a better position to have seat-adjustment with other parties.”

Source: The Dawn News

Friday, 3 February 2017

USA Visa policy for Pakistanis

USA Visa policy for Pakistanis

ISLAMABAD: The United States embassy has clarified its position regarding the permit of visa policy for Pakistanis was not under consideration to be changed and President Donald Trump’s administration has not issued any exclusive instructions regarding the country.

A spokesperson for the embassy said that visa policy for Pakistanis same as it was before Trump took charge.

Trum's executive order has drawn criticism at home and abroad which sets limit for citizens hailing from seven Muslim-majority countries for travelling to the US, as well as barring the refugees. This has led to wide scale protests across US as the travellers are stranded at airports and the public is aware and sensitive to the Syrian conflict.

Despite that Pakistan’s name was not mentioned in the list, there been wide held apprehension that the country might be next on the ban list when it will be reviewed in few months.

The White House Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus, had defended Trump’s decision, “You can point to other countries that have similar problems like Pakistan and others – perhaps we need to take it further.”

Source: The Nation

China will intervene if India disrupts Pakistan's western province

China will intervene if India disrupts Pakistan's western province

ISLAMABAD: India’s opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) stems from its fear of internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute and the growing influence of China in the Indian Ocean, says a new report by one of the most influential global think tanks.

“There is considerable concern within India that China, which has been neutral on Kashmir since 1963, can no longer be so now that its economic and security interests in these territories are growing in stake,” says a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) — a Sweden-based think tank.

The report — titled “Silk Road Economic Belt – considering security implications and the EU-China cooperation prospects” — argues that India does not want a mediating role for China in these disputes.

It is the first report by any global think tank that has discussed in detail the Indian concerns on CPEC. The report has also shed light on implications of the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative on security dynamics and its compatibility with the EU interests.

The Sipri report says CPEC has raised political temperatures between India and Pakistan. “India strictly opposes CPEC, and while the Economic Belt is not a harbinger of a new conflict, it has so far intensified historic competition over influence in South Asia,” note authors of the report.

The report argues that there is a factual and conceptual objection to CPEC in India. The factual objection is that India does not want to internationalise the Kashmir dispute it has with Pakistan. Chinese activity in the disputed areas automatically makes it a stakeholder in these disputes.

At the conceptual level, CPEC allows China to gain a toehold in the Indian Ocean through direct access to the Arabian Sea. There remain concerns that this might develop a military dimension at some stage, according to the report.

Since territorial compromise from either India or Pakistan is a political suicide for any of the ruling parties, it remains to be seen whether CPEC will contribute to a resolution of this dispute or further fan the flames. There is also a concern in India that China will use Gwadar port to observe Indian naval activity and possibly even exploit it for an expansion of China’s own naval presence.

There is also concern in India that while CPEC in the short and medium term could be an opportunity to generate jobs and growth in Pakistan, over the longer term its strategic consequences could reshape the regional balance of power in favour of China and limit India’s geopolitical reach.

The assertiveness and swiftness of Chinese actions in the South China Sea have implanted a preoccupation among China’s critics in India that if China gains a foothold in the Arabian Sea and, as an extension, in the Indian Ocean through Gwadar, it might make national interest claims in India’s maritime sphere too. “After all, if Gwadar grows to be the immense port China envisions it to become, China will need to take on a bigger direct or indirect security role,” it says.

The Sipri report noted that unlike in India, CPEC has not raised concerns in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is open to all regional initiatives that could reactivate its ailing formal economy, whether that is by way of CPEC or India-led efforts to connect with the Afghan economy through the Chabahar Port in Iran. Iran has not opposed CPEC and has expressed strong interest in the Belt and Road Initiative.

However, the report argues that Afghanistan is unlikely to benefit from CPEC unless Kabul-Islamabad relations improve. For this to happen, Pakistan’s security concerns with regard to Afghanistan need to be assuaged. The authors note that CPEC has the potential to exacerbate three fault lines in South Asian security.

The first is between China and India themselves. The second is between China-Pakistan on the one side and India on the other. The third is between China and India and its partners – the US, Japan and, to a lesser degree, Vietnam. The region of Balochistan is being geopolitically instrumentalised by these various players, they added.

It says that this is an evidence that CPEC has contributed to political and security bloc formation, but the bloc rivalry between the US-India and China-Pakistan exists regardless of CPEC. CPEC has merely strengthened the strategic Chinese-Pakistani alliance.

China’s reliance on CPEC means that it needs a stable and amicable Pakistan, underlines the report. “The Silk Road Economic Belt initiative may become one of the cornerstones of Asian economic growth and integration, and eventually of closer political and security cooperation among states, but the pathway to this scenario is long and fraught with obstacles,” it says.

Source: The Express Tribune

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Iran confirms missile test, denies breach of nuclear deal

Iran confirms missile test, denies breach of nuclear deal

TEHRAN: Iran confirmed on Wednesday that it had tested a ballistic missile, but denied that was a breach of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

The comments from Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan came after the UN Security Council met on Tuesday to discuss the weekend test, which Washington described as “absolutely unacceptable”.

“The action was in line with boosting Iran’s defence power and is not in contradiction with the JCPOA [the nuclear deal] or Resolution 2231,” Dehghan said.

He was referring to a UN Security Council resolution that bans Iran from developing missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.

“This test was in line with our ongoing programmes,” Iranian media quoted him as saying. “We have previously announced that we will execute the programmes we have planned in production of defence equipment meant for our national interests and objectives ... We will not allow foreigners to interfere in our defence affairs.”

Iran’s ballistic missile programme has been a bone of contention with the West since the nuclear deal took effect in January last year, triggering the lifting of international sanctions.

Iran says its missiles do not breach United Nations resolutions because they are for defence purposes only and are not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

It has missiles with a range of up to 2,000 kilometres, sufficient to reach Israel as well as US bases in the region.

US ambassador Nikki Haley told Tuesday’s Security Council meeting that Washington would not stand idly by while Tehran pursued its missile programme. “The United States is not naive. We are not going to stand by. You will see us call them out,” she said.

Tehran warned Washington against using the issue to fuel tensions. “We hope that Iran’s defence programme is not used by the new US administration ... as a pretext to create new tensions,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said ahead of the meeting.

The row comes against a backdrop of already strained relations between Washington and Tehran over US President Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens from Iran and six other Muslim-majority countries.

Some 220 Iranian lawmakers signed a motion on Wednesday endorsing the boosting of Iran’s defence capabilities, the Fars news agency reported.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s only way to deter the enemy’s aggression is its missile power,” the motion said, calling the programme “an unavoidable necessity” for protecting national security.

The European Union, which helped broker the nuclear deal, had appealed to Tehran to refrain from activities such as the missile tests, “which deepen mistrust”.

But Moscow, which is fighting alongside Tehran’s forces in Syria, leapt to its ally’s defence. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Iran’s missile test did not breach Resolution 2231 and accused Washington of “heating up the situation”.

Source: The Dawn News

Source: The Dawn News

To ban or not to ban?

To ban or not to ban?

HERE we go again. This story is getting a little old now, so let’s hope there is a different ending this time round. Hafiz Saeed has been placed under house arrest, and there are indications that the two groups he leads — the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and the Falah-i-Insaniyat (FiF) Foundation — may be listed as “banned organisations” in the near future. This may or may not be a significant step, but the law mandates it upon the government considering both groups are listed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267.

Now we have reports that pressure is mounting on the government from the Asia Pacific Group, which works with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to ensure that individual countries have enough safeguards in place to prevent their financial system from being used for the purposes of terror financing. If this group officially determines that Pakistan does not have enough safeguards in place, and that its financial system poses the risk that funds connected with a terrorist group could pass through it into the international financial system, it can place the country on a black list that would so raise the costs of interacting with the global financial system that our trade, remittances, bilateral and multilateral aid and loan disbursements would all be significantly affected.

Meaning, if the reports are true, we are currently running the risk of substantial disconnection with the global economy.

This issue has been running for at least six years now. The presence in the country and the open large-scale operations of groups listed as terrorist outfits by the United States was one. The other was that the FATF wanted tax evasion listed as a money-laundering offence in the country’s code to certify that its financial system was in compliance with international best practices.

In 2011 and 2012, Pakistan briefly flirted with being blacklisted by the FATF, leading to some concern in financial circles about the ramifications. A few steps were taken in light of that threat, and the country graduated up to the ‘grey list’, meaning its financial system might pose a threat to the international financial system if certain remedial steps were not taken. The measure to bring tax evasion under the Anti Money Laundering Act found resistance in parliament, but the FATF was willing to negotiate on that since the demand was being resisted in many other countries of the world as well.
On the matter of terror financing and shutting down the operations of listed terror groups, the demand was non-negotiable.

But on the matter of terror financing, and shutting down the operations of listed terror groups and all individuals known (and named in the UN Resolution), the demand was non-negotiable. We emerged from the grey list in February 2015, but only against a commitment that action would be taken under UNSCR 1267. The matter was announced with some pride by the finance minister.

That episode had come at the end of a period of serious wrangling within the country. In late December 2014, Nacta released an amended list of banned organisations in the country, in which the JuD was “Enlisted under observation Second Schedule” since 2007. A few days later, then secretary of state John Kerry arrived in the country and, amongst other things, asked after the enforcement of UNSCR 1267 as part of the cooperation in the war on terror. Only a few days later, an amended list of banned groups was released by the interior ministry, in which a total of 11 organisations were “Enlisted under UNSCR 1267”, including FiF and JuD. They were shown as proscribed since March 2012 and Dec 2008 respectively. It appears that some earlier notifications to the effect were being acknowledged officially.

Then the list disappeared and, a few days later, Nacta’s website was taken down comprehensively. Later, a series of contradictory statements belied the fact that a tussle was under way behind the scenes around the issue. The minister of defence went on record to say that there was “no reason to ban JuD” because it was a charity group, and a few days later the Foreign Office officially confirmed that the group had been banned. Then came a series of contradictory statements from unnamed officials in the interior ministry and intelligence agencies, some claiming there was a ban while others denied it.

Days later, the JuD held a large rally in Karachi, which was addressed by Hafiz Saeed himself, where he mocked the idea of a ban on his group and announced the commencement of an ambulance service for the city.

That was the background to the removal of Pakistan from the FATF’s ‘grey list’ that came the following month. And the matter went to the back burner for a few months.

Later in 2016, we began hearing reports of renewed pressure coming on Pakistan to move against the groups and individuals listed in UN Resolution 1267. Once again, the open mention of this controversy in a report carried by this paper sparked a furore and angry denials from all. But now, we’re seeing more reports, anonymously sourced for the moment, about renewed pressure to act against these groups followed by the move to place Hafiz Saeed under house arrest.

So what exactly is going on? Clearly this is one of the several proverbial ‘third rails’ of Pakistani politics. The stakes on either side are extremely high. On more than one occasion since 2010, the country has come to the very brink of a potential rupture with the international financial system on account of its failure to come into compliance with UNSCR 1267. In each case, a few partial steps have sufficed to pull things back from the brink.

But this time, reports are saying that the new presidential administration in Washington, DC may see things differently. How far does Pakistan really want to go in allowing groups and individuals listed as terrorists by the United States to roam and operate freely and organise rallies on its soil?

Source: The Dawn News

Only Prema Milk is fit for consumption in Pakistan

Only Prema Milk is fit for consumption in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: After conducting tests on 16 brands of packaged milk given Ultra High Temperature (UHT) and pasteurisation treatment, the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) has found that only prema milk is safe for consumption, the National Assembly was told on Monday.

Dairy companies use UHT treatment to increase the shelf life of packaged milk. For UHT treatment, milk is heated to above 135 degrees Celsius to kill harmful bacteria. Pasteurisation is a similar process, but involves lower temperatures and seeks to preserve microbes that are good for human consumption while eliminating harmful ones.

During a question-answer session in the National Assembly, the Minister of Science and Technology, Rana Tanveer Hussein told the house in a written reply that the PCSIR had conducted tests on 16 brands of packaged and liquid milk on the directives of the Supreme Court.

He said six brands in the UHT category were tested, including Olper's, Nestle, Milk Pak, Day Fresh, Good Milk, Nurpur Original and Haleeb Full Cream.

“All the UHT milk brands’ samples were found safe except Haleeb Milk, which contains formalin and cane sugar,” the minister said.

The minister said samples from 10 brands of pasteurised milk were also examined, including Anhar Milk, Daily Dairy, Doce Milk, Gourmet Milk, Nurpur, Nutrivi, Al-Fajar, Accha Milk, Prema Milk and Adams.

“Of these, only Prema Milk was found safe for consumption,” he said.

The above findings were also included in a report on the quality of milk submitted to the Supreme Court in Dec 2016 by the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

The Supreme Court has been hearing a petition filed by Barrister Zafarullah Khan against the sale of substandard milk and drinking water in the country.

Barrister Zafarullah Khan had claimed in his petition that Pakistani citizens have been consuming milk adulterated with different chemicals, including detergent powder. He said the use of contaminated and substandard milk has been leading to serious diseases such as cancer and hepatitis-C in humans, and asked the court to ban the use of contaminated and adulterated milk and water.

The apex court had on September 16, 2016 ordered the University of Agriculture Faisalabad, the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences Lahore and the PCSIR to conduct a chemical examination of all domestic and international brands of packed milk available in the market.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar — who has been hearing the case since it was taken up — had instructed representatives of the three institutions to conduct a thorough analysis of the milk samples without any fear and leniency as the matter involved the lives of children.

Source: The Dawn News

Monday, 30 January 2017

Ch Parvez Elahi Address at Enthusiastic PML Workers Convention 2017

Entire nation should offer collective prayer like for rain for ouster of the rulers, patients are told to come to hospital bringing cot, bed, medicine from home: Address at enthusiastic workers convention
Pakistan Muslim League (PML) senior central leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Ch Parvez Elahi has said the nation will get riddance of incompetent rulers if whole of opposition is united, for their ouster entire nation needs to arrange for offering collective “dua” like was done for rain. Ch Parvez Elahi Address at Enthusiastic PML Workers Convention 2017 Addressing a very big quite enthusiastic Workers Convention in Gujranwala today, he said that during our tenure even poor patient was taken to the hospital on ambulance where free medicines were provided to him even injecting costing up to Rs 10 thousand was also given free, but now the patient is told to come to the hospital along with cot, bed and medicines from home. He said that there are neither beds nor medicines in the hospitals now, patients are breathing last lying on cold floor, Shehbaz Sharif has not been able to start our established 1122 Service even after ruling the Punjab for 15 years, we had provided free education up to matric, undertaken unparalleled works for welfare and well-being of the people of all fields including farmers and workers and provided revolutionary facilities, our established Wazirabad Cardiology Hospital is not being allowed to become functional due to personal ego by Shehbaz Sharif due to which so far more than 8 thousand persons hailing from Gujranwala and adjoining areas have died due to heart attacks, Shehbaz Sharif “suffers from blood pressure on seeing plaques of my tenure, he should remove plaques of my name but should not block projects of peoples’ welfare because our plaque is in the heart of the people”, if overhead bridge was being constructed in Lahore instead of Gujranwala it would have been completed long ago, Punjab allocated budget is being spent on show off and dollars making projects in Lahore. Ch Parvez Elahi Says Shehbaz Sharif Has Not Been Able to Start Our Established 1122 Service Even After Ruling The Punjab for 15 years   Continuing, he said that N-League has the greatest enmity with the farmers, Kisan Package was announced in the name of Patwari Package, “I earnestly appeal to every Pakistan to stay away from N-League in the next election otherwise even future generations will not forgive them.” Ch Parvez Elahi asked the opposition to brush aside personal ego and go together unitedly and Almighty Allah will bless them with “barkat in their work”, N-League will run away and prestige of opposition will be enhanced. Ch Parvez Elahi Says Wazirabad Cardiology Hospital is Not Being Allowed to Become Functional Due to Personal Ego by Shehbaz Sharif He pointedly stated that whichever scheme was started during our tenure is still functional, we were providing job opportunities to ten lakhs people every year, Shehbaz Sharif had started 9 schemes all of which have failed, Nandipur power Project, Bahawalpur Solar Power Project and Sahiwal projects all have failed, what other cities of Punjab will get from Orange Line, people do not need show off projects like jangla bus, they need medicines in hospitals and education in schools, N-League people are involved in Panama Case, all those who were mentioned in this case had resigned but they are sticking to the chair for last six months. Ch Parvez Elahi said N-League Kisan Package was Announced in The Name of Patwari Package He said that we had started Sialkot-Lahore Motorway on which two foreign universities were also to be established which were shifted to India because of their incompetency, incompetent Chief Minister has put Punjab under heavy debt of Rs 2000 billion. Paying rich tributes to active colleagues, he said that our party needs workers like Zain Ali Bhatti. Ch Parvez Elahi was enthusiastically welcome by chanting of loud slogans and showering on flower petals. The Convention was also addressed by Tariq Bashir Cheema, Ch Zaheeruddin and Khawaja Waqarul Hassan while those seated on the stage on this occasion included Muhammad Basharat Raja, Zain Ali Bhatti, Bao Rizwan, Mian Imran Masood, Tanveer Azam Cheema, Col (R) Abbas, Hussain Elahi, Zubeida Ehsan, Irfan Ehsan, Ch Zulfiqar Pappan, Haji Shakir Mobeen, Ch Nasir Inayat Sira advocate, Engineer Shehzad Ali and other party leaders. Venue of the convention was packed to capacity and large number of women were also seated on nearby houses roofs Earlier on arrival at the venue Ch Parvez Elahi was enthusiastically welcome by chanting of loud slogans and showering on flower petals. Convention participants kept raising repeatedly slogans of Ch Shujat Hussain, Moonis Elahi, Pakistan Muslim League Zindabad and Go Nawaz Go. Venue of the convention was packed to capacity and large number of women were also seated on nearby houses roofs

Thursday, 26 January 2017

It is unfortunate that the Sino-Pak friendship is being questioned

It is unfortunate that the Sino-Pak friendship is being questioned

If the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) wasn’t already an enigma, the recent debates regarding its pros and cons have muddled this into an even bigger mess. On one hand, there are the knockers who didn’t shy away from labelling it as the future East India Company (EIC), and on the other, we have the blind patriots – the ones that hold CPEC at the highest level of sanctity, that merely questioning the transparency regarding CPEC’s projects amounts to treason for them.

Undoubtedly, these directionless debates have a lot to do with the suspicion and political sensitivity created by the government around the CPEC framework. However, to me, both prevalent views are far-fetched and perilous to national interests.

At first, to equate China’s role, within the context of the CPEC project, with that of EIC is simply an embellishment. Such an over-statement has been countered by various writers in recent days, rather successfully. And quiet evidently, a strict comparison of both is fallacious and misplaced for the simple reason that the days of claiming ‘EIC is like colonialism’ are long gone. Since Pakistan was in a weak state, China’s investment should have been welcomed. China already has deep pockets, thus one should not expect the country to take anything away from us, the way the EIC robbed the subcontinent of its resources.

However, the EIC analogy cannot be completely disregarded. The days of colonialism might be past us, yet, states no longer employ the weapons of the colonial era to subjugate other states, as capitalism now does it for them. In the words of Kwame Nkrumah,

“Capitalism is but the gentlemen’s way of slavery.”

For a state to thrive in this era of capitalism, its financial independence is integral. When a state is financially dependent on another, the way our country was on Saudi Arabia and the United States, that is when a phenomena like that of the EIC in the subcontinent occurs.

Nevertheless, it is the second view that seems more precarious. Nonsensical patriots, who are trying to make CPEC a sacred cow, are forgetting that it is not China’s gift via the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government to the people of Pakistan. If that were the case, then there would be nothing to ponder over. But to our dismay, most of the projects under CPEC are loans which we, the public exchequer, will have to pay back. Unfortunately, the mysterious CPEC framework agreement has not been revealed yet, thereby, we do not know about the terms and conditions encircling the proposed $51 billion investment. In the words of the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan,

“I don’t know out of $46 billion [in CPEC deals] how much is debt, how much is in equity, and how much is in kind.”

Thus, turning a blind eye to the whole thing is not patriotism, but on a very conservative scale, it is imprudence.

Both the views advanced in the CPEC debate have been poles apart. Ignoring the fact that we as a nation are currently facing a paradox – where on one hand, there is the necessity for such an extravagant investment in our country and on the other, the fear of subjugation at the expense of such an investment.

The antidote for this problem lies with the government, who is primarily responsible for the smooth and uncontroversial functioning of the corridor projects. Unfortunately, the PML-N government has made this matter more ambiguous by building a smokescreen around the CPEC framework agreement. Secondly, and more recently, the ignorance towards Public Procurement Rules in CPEC projects means that the impetus for speculations has been renewed. There is an inherent need for the government to step up and put an end to all the speculations by implying transparency in the CPEC projects.

It is unfortunate that the Sino-Pak friendship is being questioned at a time where a collaboration between the two friendly states is at an unprecedented high – the reason being the lack of transparency around this collaboration. Thus, an onus also lies on the Chinese counterparts as well; they must realise that giving loans through backdoor channels won’t help their cause. For the success of their ‘One Belt One Road’ plan, of which CPEC is an integral part, they need to make sure that the people of Pakistan are engaged and given a sense of ownership in the corridor. The US-Pakistan relationship must serve as a lesson to be learnt – despite the fact that the US injected billions of dollars into Pakistan over the last decade, they were still disliked as a country.

For now, as a nation, we have to redeem ourselves from this state of disunity and realise that by labelling CPEC as a form of colonialism, or making it contentious, might dissuade our foreign investors. Similarly, turning a blind eye to accountability would mean renting Pakistan out on the terms and conditions of investors. Therefore, positive criticism and calculated pressure must be exerted on the authorities to ensure that we are provided with the chance to utilise our strategic location. Firstly, to warrant a profit out of the loans we are availing, and secondly, to result in economic prosperity rather than a burden of unpayable debts.

Source: The Express Tribune

Unnecessary hyped of land allotment

Unnecessary hyped of land allotment

LAHORE: Defence analysts are of the view that there is nothing unusual about the 90 acres of land allotted to Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif, saying ‘some elements’ have leaked the information with the intention defaming him.

Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, an analyst, while talking to The Express Tribune, said: “Apparently, this information has been leaked to tarnish his image which he had gained throughout his service and during his tenure as chief of the army staff.”

No one has magic wand to solve Pakistan’s problems, says General Raheel

He said the British had adopted the policy of granting agricultural land to military personnel in Punjab in order to encourage recruitment to the army. “This [step] helped improve the socioeconomic status of army personnel in an agricultural society.”

He said in the post-independence period, land in Thal desert was assigned to the military for allotting to former military personnel.

“The provincial assembly was informed in January 1988 that the Punjab government had allotted about 450,000 acres of land to 5,538 military personnel between 1977 and 1985,” he said.

However, a retired military man, on the condition of anonymity, said: “He [Sharif] is awarded [land] out of the way,” adding, “At the maximum a retired military officer is allotted 50 acres (400 kanal) of land, while Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif is given 90 acres which is an exception.”

“Moreover, this is a prime piece of land located near Lahore. Otherwise, officers of lower ranks are given land in far-off areas which are not in the reach of a common man,” he said while talking to The Express Tribune on telephone. He spoke on record for about 10 minutes till the end of the conversation, but later ringed back to request not to be named.

“To the best of my knowledge, I cannot find a single example of awarding this much land to any general — at least in the air force or the navy,” he went on to say.

He said: “It makes no sense that Raheel Sharif has been allotted 50 acres of land under his prerogative as a four-star general, and another 40 acres as the chief of army staff,” adding, “Every army chief is a four-star general.”

He said officers of lower ranks (subedar and naib-subedar) are given 25 acres (200 kanal) of land — at most — and added that it was also not necessary that they were allotted land soon after their retirement.

“They are allotted land on the basis of its availability,” adding, “Many retired officers have to wait for years to get the land.”

“If a retired officer dies without getting land, he loses his right over the land and his children also cannot get it.” He added that if a serving military officer of the rank of brigadier or lieutenant-general gets land, he would not be allotted more land even if he gets promoted to the rank of a general.

Ex-Indian army chief praises Gen Qamar Jawed Bajwa

Meanwhile, military sources, on the condition of anonymity, said: “Gen (retd) Raheel Sharif is given land strictly in accordance with the relevant rules and provisions.”

They said it was agricultural land and added that it could not be used for commercial or some other purposes. They said in case of any emergency, this land could be taken back.

Lt-Gen (retd) Talat Masood while talking to The Express Tribune, said: “I am not sure but [Gen Raheel] Sharif must be given land in accordance with the available provisions,” adding, “It is necessary to have information about the record of land given to other generals so that a comparison can be made.”

Source: The Express Tribune

Reshape of Article 62 and 63

Reshape of Article 62 and 63

The government has started deliberations on Wednesday to reshape Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution that deals with eligibility and disqualification of parliamentarians, it has been learnt.

State Minister on Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman told reporters that the sub-committee on electoral reforms, headed by Zahid Hamid, in its meeting at the parliament house in Islamabad, started discussions on the Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

She said that political parties have submitted their suggestions on the issue. The state minister added that the committee was deliberating on restoring the Articles 62 and 63 into their original forms as per the Constitution of 1973, further amending the Articles or to keep them as they are.

"In its initial form, the Articles 62 and 63 of the 1973’s Constitution had not made it mandatory for a legislator to be ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’. Later, in the tenure of Ziaul Haq, the terms were made part of the Articles. So, if the Articles were reshaped to their original form, legislators could not be prosecuted for not being ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’," she said.

The committee also discussed the format of Senate elections and agreed to keep dual nationals out of the Senate. It also considered the suggestion that Senators be selected, instead of elected.

If the suggestion is approved, political parties would submit respective priority lists of senators, on the pattern of special seats, before the Election Commission of Pakistan and the commission would announce the selection of senators as per the lists, provided by political parties.

The minister further said that the committee would take Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani and senate secretariat onboard in connection with the issue.

The subcommittee was formed by the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms, headed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
Echo of Articles 62 and 63 in SC

The applicability of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has largely been discussed in connection with the Panamagate case, being heard in the country's top court.

Petitioners in the case wanted the Supreme Court to dislodge the prime minister under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, where as the premier's lawyers argued that the Articles need scrutiny and that disqualification of the premier under these Articles is not possible.

Source: The Dawn News

The pop sensation's daughter thinks her father's murder was a conspiracy.

The pop sensation's daughter thinks her father's murder was a conspiracy.

2011 witnessed a historic moment when singing sensation Michael Jackson lost his life due to heart failure. Seven years later, his daughter Paris Jackson opens up about his death in an exclusive interview with Rolling Stone.

"They always say, 'Time heals,'" she says. "But it really doesn't. You just get used to it. I live life with the mentality of 'OK, I lost the only thing that has ever been important to me.' So going forward, anything bad that happens can't be nearly as bad as what happened before. So I can handle it."

The 18-year-old has inked herself with memories of her father; nine of her 50+ tattoos are devoted to Michael Jackson. "He's brought me nothing but joy. So why not have constant reminders of joy?"

Paris was 11 when she and her older brother Prince Michael Jackson lost their father. "I just thought his name was Dad, Daddy," she says. "We didn't really know who he was. But he was our world. And we were his world."

Jackson's life was a tumultuous one, he was indicted for conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment, extortion, child molestation, among other things. Added to that, his personal life was always under scrutiny.

"My dad would cry to me at night," she adds.

"Picture your parent crying to you about the world hating him for something he didn't do. And for me, he was the only thing that mattered. To see my entire world in pain, I started to hate the world because of what they were doing to him. I'm like, 'How can people be so mean?'"

Speaking on her father's death she said, "He would drop hints about people being out to get him. And at some point he was like, 'They're gonna kill me one day.'"

Michael Jackson's death was speculated to be murder and his doctor Dr. Conrad Murray was a suspect in the investigation. He was charged with manslaughter and sentenced to jail for two years of a four-year ruling, with reports stating that "Murray's negligence led to Jackson's death from an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol."

Paris firmly believes that there's a conspiracy theory at hand.

"Absolutely," she says of her father's death being murder. "Because it's obvious. All arrows point to that. It sounds like a total conspiracy theory and it sounds like bullshit, but all real fans and everybody in the family knows it. It was a setup. It was bullshit."

When asked who would've wanted the singer dead she replies, "A lot of people." And she's looking for revenge, or at least justice. "Of course. I definitely do, but it's a chess game. And I am trying to play the chess game the right way. And that's all I can say about that right now."

Source: The Dawn

Friday, 20 January 2017

Future of Gujrati Language

Future of Gujrati Language

The Gujarati language is facing an uncertain future in this country, to put it mildly. At least its written form is in danger of a slow death. Although a living and vibrant language in India, Gujarati is suffering from an apparent indifference from the very people who speak it as their native language in Pakistan.

A recent decision by the National Database and Registration Authority sums up the plight this language now finds itself in. Nadra has omitted Gujarati from the column asking the applicant about his mother tongue.

Interestingly enough, both Quad-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi spoke Gujarati. Mr Jinnah, by the way, knew Persian as well because his mother spoke the language.

Spoken by over 50 million people, Gujarati is the 26th most widely spoken language in the world. The majority of native speakers of Gujarati lives in the Indian state of Gujarat. Apart from Gujarat, the regions where the language is spoken as first language include some area of Maharashtra (like Mumbai), Pakistan (especially Karachi), Bangladesh, a few African countries — where Gujarati-speaking Indians had settled centuries ago — and, of course, countries where Gujarati-speaking immigrants live in large numbers, such as the United Kingdom and the United States.

A branch of the Indo-Aryan family of languages, Gujarati evolved from Sanskrit and Prakrit, according to linguists. But modern Gujarati took shape in the early 19th century. It has its own script that has evolved from Sanskrit and Hindi scripts and many letters in the Gujarati alphabet are almost like the ones in Hindi’s Devanagari script. However, the Gujarati script does not have a horizontal line that is put above every word in Hindi.

The Gujarati literature’s oldest written record dates back to the 17th century. But it was Alexander Kinloch Forbes, a British officer and scholar in the government of British India, who gave a fillip to the language and literature of Gujarati by encouraging local writers.

Forbes was instrumental in getting the first Gujarati play written, the first Gujarati newspaper and literary magazine published. He also established a library in Surat in 1850 and Gujarati Sabha in Mumbai in 1865.

The number of Gujarati speakers in Pakistan is declining fast and one of the reasons is that the new generation of Gujarati-speaking does not use it. The few who do so speak it strictly within the family or community. Since most of the youth, the descendants of Gujarati-speaking communities, cannot read the script, Gujarati-language publications in Pakistan face an imminent death.

Gujarati is spoken in Pakistan by those who migrated from present-day India after the creation of this country. Some of the communities that had settled here before 1947 and did not migrate to India after Partition, still speak Gujarati. The communities that still speak Gujarati are the Bohras, Parsis, Hindus, Ismailis, Kutchi Memon and Kathiawari Memon. They are mainly settled in Karachi, adding colour to the city’s multi-lingual, multi-ethnic scene.

Although a minority language in Pakistan, Gujarati is the official language of India’s Gujarat state, where Hindi is the “additional official language”.

Many senior citizens would recall that Gujarati was taught at many schools in Karachi. There used to be Gujarati-medium schools and students were allowed to use it as the medium of answer in secondary and higher secondary examinations. Special arrangements were made to assess such answer scripts. This was in vogue from independence till the early 1970s, when schools were nationalised.

In those days Gujarati journalism in Karachi was doing well. At least two daily news papers, Millat and Dawn Gujarati, were brought out from this city. In addition, there used to be an evening newspaper, Vatan.

Daily Millat and Vatan are still alive, but face a bleak future as the number of readers is falling steadily .

‘Millat’, launched by Fakhr Matri in 1948, added a few pages in Urdu about 20 years ago to win over younger readers, but the experiment does not seem to have paid off.

A few Gujarati magazines, too, appeared from this city till the 1990s. Newspapers, magazines and books were imported from India and some of them enjoyed immense popularity.

For instance, many people (this writer among them) would recall that their elders used to read Chakram and Chitralekha, magazines imported form Indian Gujarat. These were very popular among Gujaratis in India and Pakistan. N.J. Golibar, the editor of Chakram, was a well-known figure among Gujaratis of Karachi back in the 1960s. Some columnists of Chitralekha were household names.

Gujarati ‘mushaeras’ were a regular feature in Karachi. And attendance at such events used to be good. But with the passage of time, all this seems a distant memory.

The second generation of Gujarati-speaking migrants from India, who settled in Karachi, knew Gujarati and were able to read and write it.

The later generations, however, lost interest in this language as they did not see any prospect while the Urdu and English languages offered lucrative jobs and were useful in education as well as for everyday communication in society.

Nowadays only the elderly read and write Gujarati while most of the younger ones (young only in a relative sense) cannot even speak it fluently.

The loss of a language is indeed a matter of concern — not for linguists or anthropologists alone but also for anyone interested in culture.

Pakistan E-commerce: Fastest growing market

Pakistan E-commerce: Fastest growing market

Chief Executive Officer of eBay, an American Inc and e-commerce company, has termed Pakistan among the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world.

In a Facebook Live session on the page of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Devin Wenig was asked a question regarding his thoughts on Pakistan and emerging markets.

“It's the fastest growing markets we have around the world. Anywhere where wealth is growing and technology is being adopted, e-commerce is being adopted like crazy,” said Wenig in his remarks also carried by a section of media here.

The eBay CEO said that the perfect opportunity for e-commerce was in countries where people were growing in wealth and do not have access to goods.

“People use e-commerce to get access to those goods”.

When asked as to why eBay was not in Pakistan, Devin Wenig said eBay did not have a local Pakistani version, however, there were customers shopping from the country on various eBay sites.

“We absolutely encourage you to shop, and we will get our goods and services in Pakistan for sure. Go and use eBay in Pakistan,” Wenig said.

Source: The Dawn News

Security operation in Karachi

Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday met leaders from the business and trader communities and assured them of continuation of the security operation in Karachi, said a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

"The Karachi operation will continue till the elimination of crime in the city," said the army chief while addressing a gathering of the community.

Security operation in Karachi

Bajwa added that all possible measures will be taken to restore peace in Karachi, and said that the strategy for Karachi would remain the same and there would be no change in policy.

COAS addressing troops and officers. -ISPR

The army chief also reassured the business community leaders that businesses and investment in Karachi will benefit form improving law and order situation and should, in turn, ensure social and national obligations.
'Efforts to consolidate peace will continue'

General Bajwa, while interacting with officers and soldiers, lauded the Rangers and law enforcement agencies for the operations conducted across the metropolis.

He appreciated the efforts of all involved for significantly reducing terrorism, kidnapping for ransom and target killings.

The army chief reiterated that efforts to consolidate peace in Karachi will continue unabated.

He also said the Pakistan Army would continue to give full support to all government institutions involved in the Karachi operation, particularly the Sindh Police and the civil administration.

Source: The Dawn News

Pak Suzuki Launch Vitara

The compact and subcompact crossover vehicle category is steadily gaining momentum in the local automobile market. Buyers looking for new vehicles in this market segment are getting a wider range of options from a number of automobile manufactures.

Pak Suzuki had launched the Vitara in December 2016, taking market trends at the time into consideration.

Pak Suzuki is currently offering two variants of the 4th generation Suzuki Vitara;
GL+: PKR; 3,490,000/=
GLX: PKR; 3,790,000/=

Both variants are sold as CBU (completely built units), imported from Hungary in accordance with Pakistani specifications and both come with a 60,000 kilometer or 3-year warranty.

I got a chance to personally test drive the all-new Vitara at Carachi Motor Company, located in Karachi.

The model I got to test was the Vitara GLX, the top-of-the-line variant on offer.

Pak Suzuki Launch Vitara


The front of the Vitara welcomes you to a mix of the SX4 sedan and a hint of the 3rd generation Swift. The grill comprises of a chrome finish which gives the front end a busy look and feel.

Towards the bottom there are day-time running lights (GLX only) accompanied with fog lights and parking sensors. The headlights are projector LEDs on low beam (GLX only) and Halogen on high beam.

Moving towards the sides, there are chrome garnishes over the front fenders (GLX only) and fully powered and retractable side-view mirror with LED indicators.

One of my favorite features of the vehicle is the large dual-pane panoramic glass roof (GLX only), which is uncommon to see in this segment of Japanese compact crossovers as well as the aluminum roof rails (GLX only).

The shoes it wears surprised me at first glance, the GLX comes with 17’’ inch alloy wheels finished off in matte silver and gloss grey wrapped in 215/55/R17 Continental ContiPreimum Comfort tires, which have little to no road noise and great grip quality. The wheels may not be the prettiest set of wheels you would see but they blend in well enough with the rest of the car.

The quality of interior is an improvement from our local Suzuki options but there is still usage of low quality hard plastics on the dashboard, door panels and centre console. However, options such as a multi-function leather stitched steering wheel, cruise control, hill descent control, multi-information display, 10’’ inch Android OS based infotainment system, paddle shifters and climate control take your attention away from the sub-par quality of these plastic fixtures.

The panoramic roof from the inside gives a premium view of the sky and brightens up the interior heavily once the shade is moved back.

The seats are a blend of suede and leather, with centre suede inserts and leather side bolsters. They are surprisingly comfortable for both short and long distance driving.

Locking and unlocking of the doors is controlled by a smart key access system, which works even when the smart key fob is in your pocket. It uses push button ignition instead of a conventional ignition key cylinder which is becoming standard for cars throughout the automotive industry.

An auto-dimming rear-view mirror is pre-installed (GLX only) to reduce the high beam glare of the vehicle behind you during night-time driving.

I myself being 6 foot tall did not have much leg or head room in the rear seating cabin, my knees hit the front seats once they were moved all the way back and I had to lower my head a bit due to the panoramic roof.

Trunk space is pretty much similar to its competitors, 375 litres. This means you can fit nearly three medium sized suitcases after tucking the parcel shelf away.

Something which bothered me a lot on the test drive was the fact that there was no armrest for the driver seat. After driving for a while you want to rest your fatigued arm on to something, well you can’t with this Vitara unless you buy the armrest as an option from the list of available add-ons.

The infotainment system is based on Android operating software. The screen size is 10.1’’ inches and the system is powered by a 1.4 GHZ Quad Core Processor with 1GB RAM and 16GB built-in memory. Some of its key features are a Sygic based GPS Navigation system, DVD playback, Bluetooth, Mirror Link, Air Play, USB/SD input and built-in Wi-Fi.

It is a pretty impressive head-unit with all modern resources which fill our daily needs and then some. The feedback of the touch-screen is very responsive and has no lag, very easy to use menu with a bunch of different settings to choose from.The screen does however bounce sunlight back a lot which causes discomfort while driving.

The climate control is a single zone unit which is very straight forward to control. There are two 12V sockets below the air conditioning unit but unfortunately there is none at the back, which is necessary for a long trip with multiple passengers.

Places to hold your drinks and bottles? There is one in every door panel, and two additional ones in the centre console, only if there was an armrest instead of more cup holders.

Both the GL+ and GLX are offered with a 1.6L M16A in-line four cylinder naturally aspirated engine equipped with VVT (Variable Valve Timing). It produces 118HP at 6,000RPM and 156 NM of torque at 4,400RPM.

The acceleration isn’t outstanding but for city driving and merging on to open roads, it gets the job done. The Vitara will do 0-100 Km/hr in approximately 12 seconds, which is sluggish if you consider the displacement of the engine and the overall light weight of this crossover.

The fuel economy is said to be 15.5-17.5 Km/L depending on your driving mode, road condition and driving style.

The engine is paired to a 6-speed automatic gearbox with a manual mode which can be used via the steering mounted paddle shifters marked Plus (+) for up-shift and Minus (-) for downshift.

The response time is reasonable and it gives a good level of feedback to the driver unlike CVT transmissions which can get annoying at times. The transmission is fun to play with and does not show any signs of hesitation while shifting gears, which makes for a great driving experience on the open road.

Both variants come with a total of seven SRS airbags which include dual front airbags, front side airbags, curtain airbags and a driver-side knee airbag.

An Immobiliser is also a standard feature for both the GL+ and GLX, even though the GL+ does not come with a smart key access system or push button ignition. Parking sensors are standard for both and each bumper comes with four parking sensors.
Brakes, suspension & drive-train

The Vitara GL+ and Vitara GLX both come with 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution), ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and TRC (Traction Control System). The brakes are very responsive and have a decent amount of bite to them upon sudden braking on both even and uneven surfaces.

The suspension does feel bumpy while passing over small ditches, bumps and patched roads at higher speeds, but that is something that can be expected from 17’’ inch wheels on a crossover vehicle. Both variants come standard with Suzuki’s AllGrip 4WD drive system.

The only feature which I did not get to personally test out was the Hill Descent Control or Hill Hold Control. Living in Karachi there aren’t many inclines to deal with on the road but for those living in more hilly or mountainous parts of the country, it could be a vital inclusion.

There are four different driving modes in the AllGrip 4WD system which you can select using the dedicated control knob located behind the gear shifter; Auto, Sport, Snow and Lock.

In Auto mode, the vehicle is mostly in 2 wheel drive unless it detects no traction or slippage, it engages 4WD depending upon the traction of the tires.

Lock mode locks up the front and rear differentials to maximise traction in muddy terrain or if it detects the vehicle to be stuck. It would switch itself to Snow mode automatically if the speed is above 60 Km/hr.

In Snow mode, the drive-train reacts to your throttle and steering movement. It engages ESP and sends power to the rear wheels before it feels the vehicle is about to lose traction.

In Sport mode, all four wheels come into play to provide ultimate handling for navigating bends and corners, letting you shift gears from the paddle shifters at the RPM of your choice.

On an open stretch of road, I got the chance to take it up to 140km/hr and the vehicle felt very stable throughout. There was minimal crosswind coming in from the A-pillar and C-pillar but it effortlessly maneuvered the bends and curves on the road, thanks to the very impressive AllGrip 4WD system.

Having experienced driving other compact crossovers, the new Vitara certainly brings much needed value into this market segment. There is no doubt it will face tough competition this year from rivals but taking into account the added value and attention to detail provided through the various options and after sales service it has to offer, the Vitara can really be a ‘game changer’ for Pak Suzuki.

Source: The Dawn News