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

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Converting to Islam

Converting to Islam

A blogger posted a screenshot of Lindsay Lohan’s new Instagram bio. She had deleted all her posts and the bio read “Alaikum salam” which translates to “peace be unto you.”

As a joke, I took a screenshot of the bio and put it up as my cover photo on Facebook. One of my friends asked in the comments,


Another one commented,

“All she has to do is be herself.”

Lindsay Lohan has been the poster child for Hollywood’s influence gone wrong on child stars. From her shopping habits, to friendships, to her drug addiction; everything about her has been considered public property. Her dirty laundry was never hers in the first place. It was tabloid fodder from which media outlets could just cause a buzz and find something to talk about. Lohan’s life had never been hers. But over the past couple of years, things have been changing. Maybe it’s because social media enables celebrities to post pictures of the parties they go to before they hit the tabloids, or maybe it’s because we’re slowly becoming more aware of how the paparazzi culture affects celebrities and their lives, and things are being done about it. Lohan has managed to rise above the past and evolve into someone who’s staying out of trouble.

That is, until this screenshot happened and I got those comments. I think a part of me wanted to know how the world would react to this, so I posted it. And the comments I got really helped prove to me why Lohan’s updated bio matters.

The two comments I got on the picture really explain everything that’s wrong and right in our minds and how we perceive people. Let’s talk about the ‘what’ comment first. We question every step and every intention of every person and have made it become an integral part of the conversationalist culture we are growing up in.

#LindsayLohan is obviously uninformed and doesn't appreciate or care about the atrocities Muslim women face, rapes, lack of rights etc…

— Patriot By God

This is what’s wrong with us. We fail to see the logic of the person through our eyes, because we judge them based on how we live our lives. Sure, Lohan was a party girl, and now it seems as if she’s trying to get out of it, and this just might be a publicity gimmick, but shouldn’t we laud her for having the ability to think things for herself? We, the feeders of the fast food news, are the reason why Lohan is where she is. Our desire to indulge into other people’s lives is what caused Lohan to go down the wrong path, and now that she’s trying to change herself, we question her still? Alaikum salam to you too, buddy!


Pepe Card. Ximenes @de_t0rquemada

The path to Catholicism is paved w/ painstaking intellectual investigation.

The path to Islam is paved w/ moral degeneracy. #LindsayLohan
4:19 AM - 17 Jan 2017


Which brings me to the next comment; the answer is not “all she has to do is be herself” but “all she has to do is be herself, and we have to let her be”. As a celebrity, her actions are symbolic for a lot of people. Putting two and two together over bits and pieces of news can be very gratifying to our parasitic desires, but we’re hindering the growth of an individual.


Alex Cowan @Desareon

So apparently #LindsayLohan has converted to #Islam. Those drugs must have really "jihaded" her brain cells... ;^)
7:44 AM - 18 Jan 2017


So do we really have the right to judge, and talk about a person whose decision to not party, or quit alcohol is in no way going to impact our lives?


ٹھا @rananast

Islam Qabool ker liya ??? Ok #LINDSAYLOHAN if its true then welcome to the 7th century ... …
6:29 AM - 13 Jan 2017


Every one claiming she has converted is speculating and drawing conclusions based on one phrase that is used as a form of greeting in Arabic countries. People greet one another in every single language. If Lindsay had written ‘namaste’ would people have assumed she had become Hindu? Perhaps her trip to the Middle East had something to do with her picking up on the greeting.

It’s possible that maybe she has converted. An individual has the right to decide what they want for themselves. And if it is changing religions, who are we to judge? Lohan might be converting to Islam, but how does that affect us?


Religion is a very personal matter. It is between the individual and the God that they believe in. So really, nothing about Lohan’s decision to put up “Alaikum salam” as her bio has any influence on our lives, except when we decide to shut her down.

Let’s not forget that religion teaches us to be kind to the living beings around us, and an example of that is when a prostitute was granted heaven for giving water to a stray dog. It didn’t matter what religion she subscribed to or if she even followed a religion.

And if Lohan really is converting to Islam, her past is all that it is; her past. And we can only wish her good luck on this journey of self-discovery and finding the peace she desires.

Source: The Express Tribune

Mahira Famous dialogue "Battery saala"

Mahira Famous dialogue "Battery saala"

Mahira Khan and her sizzling chemistry with King Khan in Raees has everyone on the edge of their seats.

While the Humsafar star is featured prominently in all the promotional material released so far, one of her dialogues has become a permanent fixture in our minds. The very flirty and sultry, ‘Battery Saala’.

Mahira Khan breaks silence over not being able to promote Raees

In the first trailer of the movie, Mahira’s character, Aasiya, is seen delivering the dialogue with perfect ease, followed by a wink. However, a new teaser of the movie gives us some insight into what this line means to Raees, the bootlegger.

In the trailer, Shah Rukh as Raees is called ‘Battery’ due to some reason, which is yet to be revealed. This, however, does not sit too well with the bootlegger who gets quite angry about it. Except when he is called the same by the love of his life, Aasiya.

SRK isn’t the only gangster in Raees, reveals Mahira

A few weeks back, Mahira also took to Instagram to post a picture in which she was wearing a shirt with the same dialogue written on it. Have a look here.

We are extremely curious to know what ticks Raees off and what this dialogue really means!

Source: The Express Tribune

Drugs in QAU

Drugs in QAU

ISLAMABAD: Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) management has been unable to stop the use of drugs and liquor within the campus premises, QAU Dean Prof Waseem Ahmed said.

In a briefing to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Federal Education and Professional Training held the other day, he said apart from contraband sale and consumption, gambling was also rampant in the varsity.

LUMS clarifies drug policy after student’s death in hostel room

“Wild parties are held in the dorms where people freely consume drugs and liquor…police, on the complaint of the university’s administration, have raided such parties and even made arrests, but all those people go scot free by next morning,” the dean said.

The meeting of the standing committee was held at QAU, under the chairmanship of Dr Amirullah Marwat.

Prof Ahmed said that employees of the university were involved in the supply of hashish and liquor.

Drugs are the real weapon of mass destruction

Despite presence of over 200 security guards, the administration cannot control the sale and consumption of contrabands, he said hinting at the power the people behind this illegal trade wielded.

He further said that besides students some unauthorised people were also living in the hostels. Meanwhile, QAU Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Ashraf, while talking to Daily Express affirmed the fact that drugs, liquor and gambling was common at the public sector varsity.

He said 200 guards were not enough to man such a
huge campus.

Source: The Express Tribune

Punjab government is damaging institutions meant for the welfare:Pervaiz Elahi

Punjab government is damaging institutions meant for the welfare:Pervaiz Elahi

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said the Punjab government is damaging institutions meant for the welfare of deprived children.
Talking to a delegation on Monday, he said the self-tiled Khadim Aala of Punjab is destroying these essential institutions because they had been set up by the earlier (Q) government. This also resulted in the flight of foreign support previously guaranteed for these projects, he said. Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said that his government had established the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau in Punjab as a department in 2004.

The driving force behind this department was my personal motivation to alleviate the miseries of children begging at traffic signals and in busy squares, he said, adding from the camel children to the socially neglected young ones we had arranged accommodation, education and social support for thousands of such most neglected children of Punjab. 

He said that the department of Child Protection & Welfare Bureau was established through an Act of the Punjab Assembly. He said that under this initiative, his government had set up child protection institute, child protection units, child help line, open reception centre and special schools for these children. 

These child protection units were established at Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Rahimyar Khan and Bahawalpur. We provided shelter to more than 10,000 children separated from their loved ones. Such children also included the 2005 earthquake victims. Pervaiz Elahi accused Shahbaz Sharif government for trying its level best to destroy all such public welfare initiatives credited to Pervaiz Elahi’s earlier government of Punjab.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017


Leather products in Fashion

Leather never really ‘trends’ — for it is always around. Moulded into myriad variations, draped, layered or patched, it is a veritable fashion staple; never really ‘in’ or ‘out’, nor ‘on-trend’ or ‘off’. It is, simply, timeless, classic, a wardrobe favourite that can be worn year after year without getting dated.

There are well-cut leather trench coats that enamour aficionados whenever the weather gets blustery, the pure leather handbag that perpetually epitomises luxury, the edgy ‘cool’ of the black leather jacket and well-tailored leather shoes that symbolise comfort and elegance.

“I think leather is edgy and stands out without being over the top. That’s why it has been a predominant element in my designs for the longest time,” observes designer Shehla Chatoor who has a penchant for unconventionally incorporating leather onto bridal-wear and formals. In Shehla’s collections, leather skirts are worked with hand embellishments, masquerading as modern-day lehengas; a dupatta may be lined with leather and leather lattice may be worked upon sleeves.
Why this versatile and long-lasting material will always be in fashion

Beyond the high-end realms of couture, one sees leather products dotted about the local market: belts, shoes, wallets and an extensive variety of jackets and coats. According to the Pakistan Tanners Association, leather production contributes to five percent of Pakistan’s GDP and 5.4 percent to the overall export earnings of the country.

“Right now, Pakistan is supplying leather uppers for brands like Bali and Massimo Dutti,” says Feri Rawanian, who sources materials and garments for export as GM at Linmark International.

“We also supply finished products like shoes to the mass market in France. Trade could be so much better should the country’s infrastructure be more conducive. Right now, many more orders are sent out to China, Vietnam and Bangladesh because these countries are able to offer more competitive prices.”

Nevertheless, product lines created for export in Pakistan invariably filter out to the local customer at competitive rates. Quality runs the gamut from the mediocre to the well-honed; the leather used may be of the exemplary full-grain or top-grain calibre, which means that its adulteration has been minimal. Or else, it may be genuine leather or corrected grain leather which has been worked upon considerably.

Similarly, the accessories used and finish of the products vary. Amongst a milieu of substandard leather products, the Pakistani market features a small smattering of retailers who specialise in painstakingly created, exemplary leather products.

Standing out particularly in leather’s luxe market is Jafferjees, a brand that has helmed a legacy in leather for more than 130 years now. Starting with a single store in Karachi’s Saddar area back in 1935, the brand has now expanded to 10 stores across the country as well as one in the UAE.

According to Murtaza Ali, who used to be Director at Jafferjees and is now set to launch his own label titled Murtaza Jafferjees, the process of selecting leather for the brand has always been painstaking.

“The leather is ordered from different tanneries, depending on the quality and quantity required,” he describes. “Large tanneries usually only accept large orders while smaller ones are generally flexible. Our goal is to select skins that are relatively unblemished and as natural as possible. Usually, we opt for full-grain leather.”

Stock at Jafferjees tends to be dominated by more austere shades: a wide range of satchels, totes, clutches, bucket bags and boxy shoulder bags in solid leather hues which textures that vary from smooth to grainy. Strewn amidst the classic designs are the more avant-garde innovations; bags that are cross-pleated or decorated with polka dots, multi-coloured tassels or contrasting seams. “The bags that are relatively unconventional tend to be retailed in smaller numbers while most of our stock is dominated by the classic designs and subtle shades that are always in demand,” explains Murtaza.

Similar retail aspirations are shared by HUB Leather, a brand whose leather lineage took root from trading skins and hides, progressing today to become a luxury leather brand with 12 stores countrywide.

“Leather products are expensive which is why focus is placed in retailing products that are in demand,” explains Asfandyar Farrukh, HUB’s Managing Director.

“The men’s briefcase, for instance, has now predominantly been replaced by a baggy leather laptop bag or messenger bag. Women’s bags also generally follow sophisticated lines. There will always be a demand for leather because discerning customers will associate it with durability and elegance.”

The HUB director further adds: “At the same time, I feel that a large segment of the market is now inclined towards fast fashion. Catering to this demand is our high-street brand Hobo where products are not always constructed from pure leather which allows costs to be lower. The designs can, thereby, be trendier because customers find it easier to buy on-trend bags and shoes that are more economical while in the case of the more expensive leather counterparts, they prefer designs that will last longer.”

The comfort provided by supple pure leather is another factor that particularly draws customers. TSM & Co., a shoe brand that was launched in 2011 and currently retails in Karachi’s Zamzama market, specialises in high-quality leather shoes.

According to CEO Hammad Ahmed, customers’ main concern is comfort. “Most of our clients are from the corporate sector and they have to wear their shoes all day long. The shoes have to look good and simultaneously be comfortable,” he says.

“It all comes at a price, of course, but on the other hand, leather lasts longer. Where other fabrics and textures wear and tear, leather develops a patina over time, which is a weathered soft sheen that clients particularly appreciate.”

Thereby, leather remains the material du jour perpetually. The world of fashion may spiral at breakneck speed as it endeavours to harness the worldwide phenomenon of ‘see now, buy now’ and a perpetual sea of trends may go viral and proceed to get hackneyed a few weeks later.

Far from this madding crowd, though, leather’s demand remains, catering to a discerning clientele that prefers quality, above else.

Source: The News

Raheel Sharif attend WEF

Intelligence sharing needed on global level to combat terrorism: Raheel Sharif

Former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif said 2016 witnessed a significant decrease in terrorism and that "intelligence sharing is a very important component of strategy to combat terrorism."

Addressing a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) titled 'Terrorism in the digital age', he said: "Terrorism is a global issue and the global community will have to get united if it wants to defeat terrorism."

Talking in reference to the achievements of Pakistan Army in fighting terrorism, he said the military cleared 8,000 square kilometres area after recapturing it from militant control. He apprised the gathering that tens of thousands of affected people were rehabilitated in the area.

Raheel Sharif went on to say that terrorism has become a "gangrene for the world". He added that terrorists attack in a well planned manner and intelligence sharing is a very important component of strategy to combat terrorism.

Pakistan bears tragedies such as the Army Public School (APS) because of terrorism, he added. "However, we can not take such negative measures against terrorists like they do."

Source: The Dawn

PAK fishermen in Indian prisons

PAK fishermen in Indian prisons

THATTA: Bearing the brunt of their relatives’ incarceration in a Gujarat jail in India, some sort of miracle is being awaited by the starving families of 26 fishermen who were escorted by Indian coastguards away from Pakistan’s territorial waters along the Runn of Kutch.

We found them at the isolated Ramzan Parehri village on the Arabian Sea, some 110 kilometres away from Thatta. It was Friday, and our fact-finding mission was there to record their misery. Though we left Thatta in the early morning so that we could cross the oceanic trench in a timely manner, by the time we got there the tide had already receded. We had to wait two hours further before we could proceed onwards and meet the desperate residents of the village.

There is no word other than desperation to use. Most of the women and children at the village were barefoot and wore tattered clothes; how they were surviving in their thatched huts as freezing wind blew off the waters during the ongoing cold spell was a wonder.

One of the only two men left behind to look after the families, Jumu Parehri, an old man, emerged to ask who we were and what we were doing there. At some point in time, his leg had been amputated, and he was hobbling on crutches.

When we explained our reasons for being there, he invited us into one of the huts and offered the customary welcome by unfolding an embroidered Sindhi rilli so that we could sit comfortably on the floor.

“No one except for the omnipotent God has so far looked after us,” he said, talking about the village residents’ predicament since the incident on Dec 21 when, violating Pakistan’s territorial waters, Indian coastguards took away at gunpoint five Pakistani fishing boats. There were 26 fishermen on board, as well as the crew. Their catch, fishing nets and other belongings were also towed away to India.

In tears, the disabled man told us that only two men were left behind, himself an octogenarian, the other an ailing leader of the Parehri and Maachi tribes. They are the only ones responsible for the sustenance and solace of about 40 souls residing in the three to four huts here. A third fisherman of the village, Soomar, died on Jan 13 — they say it was because of grief over the detention of his 16-year-old son, Deedar, and his ordeal in the Indian jail. Jumu said that of the 26 captives, nine are his sons, nephews, sons-in-law or other close relatives. The rest are also closely related to each other.

In a whisper, he added: “India and Pakistan have never been in too close a relationship but recently both countries have also exchanged imprisoned fishermen from their jails; I do not understand why the federal and provincial governments, or stakeholders from the private and public sectors, or even NGOs and civil society, are quiet on the issue [of these 26 men].”

During our visit there, more than a dozen women and children emerged from their huts holding photographs of their relatives incarcerated in the Indian jail. The nine fishermen belonging to one family of Ramzan Parehri village include Ramzan, Juman, Hasan, Ramzan¸ Ibraheem, Rustam, Asghar Ali, Nawaz Ali and Bux Ali. The remaining are also related to each other.

Zulekha, wife of Bux Ali, one of the men under detention in the neighbouring country, rued that none of the country’s elected representatives, social workers or political workers had so for extended any help to these families. Ilyas Samo, a local journalist, and Aziz Lashari, a social worker who later arrived here from the tehsil headquarters at Ketibandar, corroborated that no government functionary had arrived in the village; any hopes these families have are centred on the provincial fisheries minister, Mohammad Ali Malkani, who also belongs to the coastline region. The local people told Dawn that for these families the only was of staving off starvation was to unearth crabs by digging holes in the mud. They called upon the federal and provincial governments to come to the rescue by getting the fishermen released from Indian prisons.

Source: The News

Terrorist in Sheikhupura

Terrorist in Sheikhupura

SHEIKHUPURA: Officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) gunned down four alleged terrorists belonging to a banned outfit during the wee hours of Thursday.

The operation was carried out by officials of CTD against alleged terrorists near the Sheikhupura Bypass. CTD officials claimed that they had been tipped off by intelligence sources regarding the presence of the suspected terrorists.

Upon reaching the place, an armed conflict initiated between the CTD officials and the suspected militants. Four alleged terrorists were gunned down by CTD while three managed to flee. Police managed to recover arms, ammunition and explosive material from the suspected militants.

Reports stated that Asif Chotu was also among the suspected militants who were gunned down by CTD officials. CTD stated that Asif Chotu was involved in the killings of more than 100 people.

Source: The News

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Get a grip on the CPEC

Get a grip on the CPEC

HOW does one get a grip on the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its associated investments without any hard information except for the hype? In the absence of any mechanism for credible evaluation I suggest we hold it up against a historical parallel and see what emerges by way of tentative conclusions. Some discussion grounded in real experience may be better than taking sides in the dark.

Around the turn of the 20th century, the British invested vast sums of money in the part of the subcontinent that now comprises Pakistan. Amongst these investments were the network of canals and barrages, the post and telegraph, and roads and railways. All included it would have likely added up in real terms to be bigger than the $56 billion associated with CPEC.

What came of all that investment and what economic transformations did it sustain? At the macro level, Pakistan remains a desperately poor country with around a third of its population struggling to survive below the poverty line. Almost half the population is functionally illiterate without access to safe water and sanitation or adequate healthcare. Stunting, malnutrition and infant and maternal mortality are at levels considered unacceptable in the rest of the world.

The sobering conclusion would be that even if the investments had huge economic payoffs, extremely venal governance ensured that while some people became phenomenally rich very few of the benefits trickled down to the majority in any meaningful sense.
What came of all the colonial-era investment and what economic transformations did it sustain?

Notwithstanding the issues of governance and distribution, which remain as critical now as then, the question remains: did the investments have huge economic payoffs? Even to speculate intelligently on the question one would need to disaggregate the investments and consider them separately.

Take the canal colonies and the barrages. I believe most people would accept that the outcomes were positive and significant. One can assess the outcomes in terms of crop outputs, crop yields, employment created, or incomes generated for farming households.

Next, consider the railways where the comparisons become more interesting. The link between Karachi and Peshawar via Hyderabad, Sukkur, Multan, Lahore, and Rawalpindi can be considered the central artery of the Pakistani economy capable of transporting people and products efficiently and economically. Once again, I believe there would be agreement that the outcomes were positive and the payoffs significant.

Now consider some other investments in the railways that turned out differently. Among these were the links between Peshawar and Landikotal on the Afghanistan border, the link between Quetta and Chaman that was intended to have been extended to Kandahar in Afghanistan, and the Trans-Balochistan railroad from Quetta to Zahedan, inside Iran.

All these could be considered as economic corridors of their time. Even if they were not intended as such, they could have become so after the independence of Pakistan. The Trans-Balochistan railroad extended 455 miles (732 kilometres) with 38 stops linking very friendly countries between which much trade was possible. Indeed, under the Regional Cooperation for Development there was the possibility of extending the link to Turkey and thereby into Europe, an opening with immense economic potential. Today, the Peshawar-Landikotal link is inoperative, and the Quetta-Zahedan link operates on a nominal frequency of twice a month. None of these corridors had any transformative impact on the local or national economies.

Take roads as another example. The British upgraded and extended the Grand Trunk Road, an ancient trade route linking populated habitations, to great and sustained benefit. Contrast the limited economic impact of the more recent Lahore-Peshawar motorway. The equally recent Karakoram and Thar-Karachi highways have had virtually no significant transformative impacts on the local economies except to make it easier for local labour to migrate to more prosperous areas for employment.

Some tentative conclusions can be adduced. For investments to yield economic benefits, it seems a necessary, if not a sufficient, condition for them to either generate employment or to connect populated locations at relatively comparable levels of economic development. The historical evidence suggests that routing corridors through sparsely populated territory even with associated investments that create very few jobs is unlikely to be transformative. And linking disproportionately developed areas without prior complementary investments may just accelerate a drain of people and resources from the less developed regions.

It is indeed possible that investments in roads in some sparsely populated areas, eg, in the northern areas or along the Makran coast, would pay off economically if as a result a significant inflow of people is facilitated as would be the case with a major boost to tourism. But such prospects are scarce given Pakistan’s security conditions and increasing social conservatism.

It will no doubt be argued that the unsuccessful rail corridors mentioned here were not made by the British for economic but for strategic military purposes and therefore comparisons with CPEC are invalid. However, as mentioned before, there was nothing to prevent the conversion of the readymade investments to economic purposes after 1947. There was significant trade potential both with Afghanistan and Iran and the latter was a very friendly country at the time. The shrivelling of the corridors should prompt serious questions inquiring what went wrong after all the investments were made.

At the same time it could be argued that CPEC is an equally strategic initiative of the Chinese presented as one with transformative economic payoff for Pakistan. The latter remains to be demonstrated independently and objectively. The historical evidence cautions that mere hand-waving is not enough.

One should also consider what might be the fate of CPEC if relations with China turn sour in the future. This may seem a far-fetched concern at this time but the evolution of the relationship with Iran should provide a reality check. Pakistan’s abysmal relations with all its primary neighbours do not leave much room for complacency and demand a credible fall-back alternative.

If the national objective is to further the development of the lagging provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it might be better to think in terms of employment-generating investments in the regional economies much as the canal colonies created jobs in the Punjab in the 20th century. It might make more sense for economic corridors to follow and not precede such investments.

Decision to lease out Pakistan Steel Mills for 45 years to be taken

Decision to lease out Pakistan Steel Mills for 45 years to be taken

ISLAMABAD: As Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) continues to pile up liabilities, the government is considering leasing the country’s largest industrial complex to a private concern for 45 years under a revenue sharing arrangement, and laying off almost 5,000 employees.

On Monday, a transaction committee discussed various options in this regard, based on which the Privatisation Commission’s board will meet on Tuesday (today) to decide the duration of the lease. Sources privy to the development said a meeting of the cabinet committee on privatisation has been called over the weekend to approve the transaction structure.

“The present state of PSM is due to unchecked corruption, inefficiency, over-employment and the government’s lukewarm attitude towards its revival,” summarised a report to the Economic Coordination Committee by the secretary of the industries ministry.

Read: Pakistan Steel Mills financial woes continue

A previous attempt to sell the PSM by then prime minister Shaukat Aziz to a Saudi-led consortium for Rs21.6 billion ($362 million) was struck down by a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June 2006, which practically led to a halt of the privatisation programme for almost eight years.

The PSM’s accumulated losses and liabilities, which stood at Rs26bn at the end of 2008, have increased to around Rs415bn, including Rs166bn payable liabilities.

The government has injected over Rs85bn out of the federal budget for various bailout packages since than.
A previous attempt to sell PSM to a Saudi-led consortium for $32m was struck down by a landmark SC ruling in 2006

It was clear from the deliberations on Monday that the government would take care of liabilities worth Rs166 billion and offer voluntary separation scheme (VSS) to at least 4,835 employees and outsource the services of some of the remaining workforce to the new operator.

The PSM’s total liabilities and losses have more than doubled since the PML-N government came to power in May 2013. At least $5 billion has been spent on ‘replacement imports’ ever since the PSM was put on ‘hot-mode-zero production’ since June 2015.

An official who attended the meeting of the transaction committee led by Zafar Sobhani, a private sector expert, told Dawn that selling the company at this stage would be difficult to pull off. The options finalised by the transaction committee included a concession agreement or lease agreement with the private concern.

He said three lease or concession terms had been proposed with a maximum of 45 years. A Chinese group, an Iranian firm and a local steel group are reported to have shown interest.

Bidding will be held on the basis of revenue sharing with the government during the lease tenure. The government will convert its Rs33 billion financing/loans and guarantees into equity and issue interest-bearing coupons to the Sui Southern Gas Company for Rs35bn dues and Rs50 billion to banks for interest/loans repayment and bear about Rs17 billion of the employees’ severance cost.

The lease agreement will require the new firm to revive 25 per cent of the plant’s capacity utilisation in the first year, raise it to 50 per cent in the second year and to 85 per cent after that. The government will retain the right to encash the investor’s bank guarantee if the private concern fails to achieve 50pc capacity utilisation at the end of two years or 85pc capacity utilisation between three and five years.

The PSM’s land will remain with the government while the plant and machinery will be handed over to the new company for a maximum of 45 years.

The investor will form a new company registered in Pakistan and operate the plant on its existing premises. All non-core assets will remain the property of the PSM while “all liabilities on PSM books would be settled or restructured by the government before signing the lease or concession agreement with the new investor”.

The government will also ensure resumption of all utilities, particularly natural gas, while the assets or capital expenditures (Capex) will be transferred to the PSM at the end of the lease term for a notional value.

The investor will not be allowed to mortgage existing assets to raise finances but will be free to bring in equipment or invest to revive operations.

The investor will also have to commit to bring in its own working capital and share a revival and expansion plan. “The lessee will pay a lease amount to the PSM as a percentage of revenue.”

The sources said that PSM’s employees will be retained on the PSM payroll and be outsourced to the lessee. The core regular staff strength is currently estimated at 19,700, of which the government expects 4,835 to be laid off through VSS.

A few weeks ago, the Ministry of Industries and Production warned the government that a humanitarian crisis was brewing in the mills because of non-payment of wages and medical expenses. Salaries have been paid from the federal budget for over two years and are considered outstanding since October 2016. Since the mill is no longer considered an “ongoing concern” for auditors, the PSM’s three-year accounts could not be audited.

The PSM had previously leased out about 157 acres of prime land to the Port Qasim Authority for Rs1.467bn on a 30-year extendable lease to ensure emergency payments on account of unpaid utility bills.

Source:The Dawn News

Harmful Pakistani Skin Whitening creams

Harmful Pakistani Skin Whitening creams

London Trading Standards has fined fifteen businesses for selling harmful beauty products, including Pakistani skin whitening creams, according to the BBC.

The businesses were fined £168,579 for selling unsafe cosmetics, the majority of them skin lightening products.

4 useful beauty tips for women to follow this bridal season

Some of the products contained enough harmful chemicals to cause organ damage, officials said. The products said to be harmful include Pakistani skin products such as Faiza Beauty Cream, Golden Pearl, Stillman’s, Maxi Light and Face Fresh.

Officials said the prolonged use of these products could cause cancer, skin discolouration and skin thinning. These products contain hazardous and prohibited levels of hydroquinone, mercury or corticosteroids. Faiza Beauty Cream reportedly contains 0.54 per cent of toxic mercury.

Skin Secrets: Five reasons you can’t banish your acne

London Trading Standards said officers found and seized “hundreds of thousands” of the products in a coordinated campaign.

Further, the Trading Standards said at least 15 online sellers offering prohibited skin lightening products have been identified using eBay. Efforts are being made to locate them, said the officials.

Officers in Waltham Forest recently seized more than 3,000 products from one such seller. Company bosses, who sell banned cosmetic products can be sent to prison and fined up to £20,000 per offence.

Source: The Express Tribune

PK-661 Crew to be Tested for Poisoning/Intoxication

PK-661 Crew to be Tested for Poisoning/Intoxication

ISLAMABAD: The district administration and officials at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) said on Monday that they will conduct tests on samples already collected from the crew of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-661 to check whether they had been drugged.

The statement came after directives from the Aviation Division to exhume bodies of the flight crew to carry out the necessary tests came to light on Monday. On December 7, 2016, a French-built ATR-42, was flying from Chitral to Islamabad when it crashed into a hillside in Havelian, killing all 47 people on board. The victims included singer-turned-preacher Junaid Jamshed, his wife and the Chitral deputy commissioner.

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In a letter written by District Health Officer on December 23 to officials at Pims, the officer had requested an autopsy of the two pilots, two flight attendants and one flight officer who were on board flight PK-661. The district health officer had asked for the procedure to ascertain whether the crew had been intoxicated, as required by the investigation board.

The Pims administration, however, denied receiving any written orders to carry out the tests so far. Hospital officials, though, said that they had retained samples from the bodies to carry out the necessary tests.

“It is routine that after every aircraft accident …we have retained samples of all the bodies as a reference and we can run whatsoever tests which the Civil Aviation Authority wishes and there is no need to exhume the bodies at all,” said Professor Dr Javed Akram, the vice chancellor of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU), on Monday. Pims is an attached hospital of SZABMU.

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After the crash in Havelian, and an acute shortage of space in the mortuary at the Ayub Teaching Hospital in Abbottabad, officials had decided to move all 47 bodies to Pims in Islamabad. There, after completing the necessary formalities and taking samples to carry out DNA tests, the bodies had been moved to a cold-storage facility in Rawat.

Deputy Commissioner Mushtaq Ahmad, meanwhile, said on Monday that the letter to exhume bodies of the two pilots, one flight officer and two flight attendants had been withdrawn and that the hospital had been asked to conduct drug tests on samples which the hospital had already taken.

Source: The Express Tribune 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Worst situation of Gas Supply in Punjab

Worst situation of Gas Supply in Punjab

LAHORE: Gas crisis worsened in Punjab on Sunday after the shortfall surged to 400MMCFD, forcing the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines (SNGPL) to divert to the domestic sector a supply of about 275MMCFD, out of over 400MMCFD liquefied natural gas (LNG) meant for the industrial, power and CNG sectors.

Although the situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is not as dire as in Punjab, consumers have started complaining about low gas pressure there as well.

The SNGPL clai­med to have launched a campaign against those using compressors to extract gas in parts of Punjab and KP, causing low gas pressure.

At present, the company supplies around 1,400 to 1,500MMCFD to the domestic sector, which needs supplies ranging between 1,800 and 1,900MMCFD to meet the demand of about five million consumers in Punjab and KP.
LNG supply to industrial, power and CNG sectors cut to meet domestic demand

“Following severe cold, the situation appears to be tough these days. The shortfall has surged to 400MMCFD amid a demand of 1,800-1,900MMCFD, even though we have curtailed LNG supply to two major fertiliser plants, as many power plants and the CNG sector, and diverted it to the domestic sector,” SNGPL managing director Amjad Latif told Dawn.

The fertiliser plants — Fatima Fertiliser (Pvt) in Sheikhupura and Pak Arab Fertilisers (Pvt) in Multan — consume 90 to 100MMCFD of gas.

Likewise, gas supply to the Rousch Power Plant, the Abdul Hakim Power Plant (in Kabirwala and Khanewal respectively) and the Libe­rty Power Plant, in Mirpur Mathelo, has been suspen­ded for an indefinite period.

“The Rousch Power Plant was being supplied 90 to 95MMCFD while Liberty consumes 40 to 45MMCFD... However, the supply to Liberty Power Plant has been curtailed on account of non-payment of bills... and not for overcoming the gas crisis,” the MD said.

He said the supply to other industries, including textiles, continued. The textile sector and other industries that have switched over to LNG are being supplied 100 to 150MMCFD.

But the supply to different industrial units in Punjab, which have not shifted to LNG despite repeated reque­sts, was curtailed last month.

“The situation is really problematic these days and we are trying hard to ensure gas supply to at least domestic consumers during winter,” Mr Latif said.

To a question, he said the use of compressor by some consumers to extract gas was a headache for the company as it made it difficult to keep pressure. During the last 30 days or so, over 3,000 consumers in Punjab and KP have been caught red-han­ded for using compressors.

The SNGPL has cut connection of such consumers for three months.

“Keeping in view the situation, we have asked the federal government to amend the laws and provide judicial powers to the SNGPL to enable it to take stern legal action agai­nst those using compressors to extract gas,” the MD said.

After curtailment of gas supply, power generation of over 600MW by the plants (400 by Rousch and 235 by Liberty) has been stopped, leading to an increase in the electricity shortfall and enhancing loadshedding hours in parts of the country.

Source: The Dawn News