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Raising smaller families

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:30

KARACHI: We are impressed by Pakistan in its attempts to slow down population growth and display Islamic scholars’ photographs on printed pages of newspapers and magazines. This call by our religious leaders will surely appeal to our conservative population who, perhaps, were awaiting this message. Our population at Partition was approximately 33.5 million and has shot up to over 200 million in just a matter of 70 years, which is alarming.

Now, most middle class families have small families whereas people with limited income have larger families, which they cannot afford to feed and provide for. They cannot afford decent housing, good education and edible food for them. In Sri Lanka and Iran, populations are falling and they are giving incentives to a section of the people to produce larger families. Here in Pakistan, it is the opposite. Finally, a solution has come about. Hopefully, population growth can be curtailed as it has in China.

Navaid Husain

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News


Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:29

RAWALPINDI: I’m fed up with seeing some of the king’s cronies and other jokers perpetually occupying the idiot box whenever I switch it on and require some help. These more-loyal-than-the-king critters look so pathetic while trying helplessly to defend in vain something so obviously wrong. Do they or does anyone else have any doubts in their mind about the London flats not belonging to the Sharifs or not to have been purchased by them? And, if these do belong to them, then they must account for the money these were purchased with. It is as simple as that. What is this all about the immunity and exemptions? Why are they trying to play upon the words, find legal lacunae and indulge in hairsplitting against what ethics and morality dictate? By their clever manoeuvring, they have almost put the epic judiciary itself on trial instead of offering themselves before it for the sake of justice. The entire nation is looking expectedly but somewhat askance towards this most eventful phenomenon of our history and waiting impatiently for the outcome. Be done away with it, Sires, once for all and the sooner the better.

Col (retd) Riaz Jafri

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.

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ATR crash compensation

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:28

PESHAWAR: This is with reference to a notice by Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) announcing compensation of five million rupees to the next of kin of those who perished in the ill-fated PK661 crash. PIA and other private airlines regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) charge fares from passengers comparable with those existing in the region and internationally. Yet, why is insurance coverage so much lower for those travelling on Pakistani airlines? The irony is that a PIA pilot’s salary, most of it tax free, is comparable with that being paid to others in the region.

Ever since political cronies have headed PIA and the CAA, there has been a rise in incidents and accidents within our airspace. Numerous complaints and allegations have surfaced, of irregularities in recruitment of pilots and engineers and in rare cases, when an investigation report was issued, no punitive action was taken against culprits. This amounts to criminality on the part of those involved in irregularities and compromises in recruitment. Even after it was revealed that over 250 fake degree holders were recruited between 2008-12, they continued to be on payrolls while PIA, by default, has failed to get stay orders vacated.

How can the secretary of aviation, holding charge of the chairman of PIA and executive head of the CAA brief the Senate committee that there are no conclusive findings based on data from the black box, when this digital flight data recorder is still being probed by experts in France? Is this not misleading the Senate Committee? Why should this gentleman issue such a statement, not based on facts?

There exists a tape recording of the conversation between the pilot of PK661 and the air traffic controller where even after the first mayday call there seems to be no sense of emergency by the controller to expedite direct landing, directing other aircraft to hold for 15 minutes or more as is done by them frequently to give priority landings to VIP aircraft. On what basis does the secretary of aviation imply that the pilot made no effort to land quickly when neither the cockpit voice recorder nor the black box findings are available? The PIA management and the CAA need to give justification for their decisions to hire on contract pilots from outside and internally for operating the ATR plane by a management dominated by those on LPR.

Gul Zaman

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.

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Charsadda rally: ANP asks govt to fulfil promises or face protests

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:25

CHARSADDA: The Awami National Party on Sunday accused Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of not fulfilling his promises on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Addressing a public gathering at Charsadda, ANP leader Ásfandyar Wali Khan warned the government of protests if it backed out on its promises on CPEC.

He expressed his concerns on the stark contrast between the claims that the provincial Khyber-Pakhtunkwa and the federal government were making on the Army Public School and Bacha Khan University attack.

The ANP leader also called for the merger of the federally administered tribal areas with K-P and demanded a special grant for Fata.

He also said a census should be carried out in Fata so the region could be given its due share in the National Finance Commission Award.

He further criticised the K-P government and added that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had compromised over the provincial government’s rights.

Speaking on the occasion, former K-P chief minister Amir Haidar Khan Hoti said the K-P government had failed, adding that it is running over pension funds. He also blamed the provincial government of corruption.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.

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Hitting back at PTI: Nawaz will continue to become PM again and again, says minister

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:23

ISLAMABAD/ PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will continue to become Prime Minister of Pakistan again and again and Imran Khan will continue to count years of his rule, said Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb.

In a statement, the minister said there was contradiction between Imran’s words and deeds. The minister said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan was suffering from Nawaz Sharif phobia.

She said why people are not presenting evidences in the Supreme Court and setting up their own courts outside the apex court. She asked Imran why he sought immunity in the Election Commission case.

She said that Imran has a habit of standing on a container and levelling baseless allegations and contesting cases.

She said Imran has done nothing for the people in the three and a half years. She said that time has proved that the PTI chief cannot do anything except lie to the nation. She said soon Imran would go on a long leave. She said if PTI had done something for the masses, it would have run advertisements.

Meanwhile, a senior aide to the prime minister has said that PTI should acknowledge the vision of Nawaz Sharif now that the PTI leadership has agreed that CPEC is a great vehicle for economic change.

Adviser Amir Muqam said this while addressing a gathering during the inauguration of a Sui gas office at Mardan on Sunday.

He said that PTI leaders have accepted that CPEC is for the betterment of the people and it would strengthen the economic system of the country.

Similarly, he said, the PTI leadership should acknowledge PM Nawaz, and his leadership for the nation.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.

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NA panel probes financial misconduct in NCA

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:20

ISLAMABAD: After parliamentarians learnt about financial misconduct in the National College of Arts (NCA), a National Assembly panel has started probing charges of financial embezzlement, nepotism and misuse of power.

The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on the Cabinet has constituted a four-member sub-committee, headed by MNA Rana Qasim Noon of PML-N, along with Asad Umar of PTI, Mansab Dogar of PML-N and Seema Mohyuddin Jemeeli of PML-N.

The committee is mandated to probe misappropriation and financial and managerial mismanagement.

News of financial irregularities and misuse of powers emerged last year after NAB started probing NCA Lahore’s principal Murtaza Jaffri for corruption. The NAB had accused him of misuse of power and showing favouritism.

The HEC also pointed out governance issues that existed between NCA’s Lahore and Rawalpindi campuses. The Lahore campus was set up vide a presidential ordinance in 1985 while its sub-campus in Rawalpindi was established in 2005.

Issues got out of hand in both campuses because of a personal tussle between Jaffri and Rawalpindi campus’s former director Nadeem Omer Tarar. Tarar was recently removed from his post and ordered to report to the Lahore campus as the post of director was termed ‘illegal’ by a three-member committee. He had been serving since 2012.

A PTI member of the committee, Asad Umar, stated that in its last meeting at NCA’s Rawalpindi campus, committee had sought details of financial and governance issues and alleged malpractices in the NCA. “We (want) Tarar to brief us in the next meeting because he was in-charge for nearly four years – the same period during which we heard about wrongdoings,” Umar added.

He also stated that the committee would also seek details about the alleged corruption in construction of the new academic block. As many as 150 students also expressed concern over the building in a letter written to the principal: they refused to occupy the building, citing faulty construction.

A report submitted by the HEC’s inspection team stated that the building had not been built in accordance with preset rules and standards.

When contacted, the principal rejected all allegations and stated that he would submit facts before the NA committee.

In its previous meeting, the NA committee recommended that NCA should have a campus in Islamabad because it should have representation in the federal capital as well. NCA is learnt to build sub-campuses in other provinces as well.

Umar said: “NCA must not be limited to just one province.”

The recommendations of the committee will later be forwarded to the prime minister, who is the head of the Cabinet division which is the controlling authority of NCA.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Crippling disease: Second phase of polio drive opens today

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:17

QUETTA/ PESHAWAR: Second phase of the immunisation campaign against poliovirus is set to begin today (Monday) across 13 districts of Balochistan, Khyber Agency and Wana Subdivision of South Waziristan, Coordinator Emergency Operation Centre Syed Faisal Ahmed said on Sunday.

He said that the immunisation campaign could not be carried out in the said districts owing to heavy snowfall and subsequent blockade of communication lines in the province.

The districts include Barkhan, Bolan, Jhal Magsi, Qilla Abdullah, Kharan, Khuzdar, Loralai, Musakhel, Pishin, Quetta, Sherani, Sibi and Washuk. The campaign would be also carried out in a few tehsils of the Zhob district, he added.

As many as 1.3 million children will be inoculated during the anti-polio drive and preparations have been finalised in this regard. Over 4,000 workers will take part in the campaign which is divided in 3,547 mobile teams, 429 transit point teams and 371 fixed sites.

Commenting on the security arrangements, he said that the teams would be provided foolproof security during the campaign and contingents of police and FC would be deployed with the polio teams.

Meanwhile, some 0.25million children will be inoculated against the crippling disease in Khyber Agency. Some 869 teams comprising 791 mobile, 52 fixed and 26 transit teams will be participating in the campaign.

A similar campaign will be carried out in Wana where 44 mobile, 20 fixed and eight transit teams will be vaccinating 72,202 children. Fata EOC confirmed that all the arrangements have been finalised for the campaign.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.


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Tortured and dumped girl’s heirs not found

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:16

QUETTA: The body of a 13-year-old girl, who was sexually assaulted and killed by unidentified men in Quetta, is still lying in the mortuary of the Civil Hospital Quetta.

According to details, the girl was tortured to death after being sexually assaulted and her corpse was found on the 29th December of last year in the FGS Colony area, which falls in the jurisdiction of Shalkot police station. The corpse was dumped in a well which was later spotted by the police and shifted to the Civil Hospital Quetta.

However, the whereabouts of the child’s heirs are yet to be determined, while the body lies in the mortuary.

According to the Medical Superintendent (MS) Civil Hospital Quetta Dr Fareed Sumalani, the child was sexually assaulted, tortured and later killed, according to the postmortem. The assailant had also chopped off the nose, ears and hair of the girl so that it would be difficult to identify her, said sources in the hospital.

SP Sariyab Police Naseebullah told the media that despite advertisements in the newspapers, no one has contacted the police about the girl. He added that the local notables of the area have also been contacted but nobody has any knowledge about the tortured girl’s identity. He added that this could be an indication that the child was not a resident of Quetta and must have been brought from another city.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.

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Beyond jurisdiction: FIA seeks legal cover to curb organ trade

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:14

ISLAMABAD: In a missive to the government, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has appealed for legal empowerment measures that will help it reverse its losing battle against organ trafficking.

The agency said the task of curbing organ trafficking had remained hamstrung because it had no legal purview to stop the illegal trade under its current jurisdiction.

In the backdrop of growing illegal organ trade, the FIA has requested authorities to include the concerned legislation in its schedule to give it legal cover for an operation against it.

The FIA has requested the federal government to include Transplantation of Human Organ and Tissue Act 2007 (HOTA) and Amendment Act 2010 (HOTA) in FIA’s schedule.

The federal agency believes that such a step would enable it to function legally and help it to curb the illegal trade.

The FIA chief in the Punjab Zone in his letter alleged that doctors, paramedics and private agents were mostly involved in the illegal trade. It also claimed that FIA was unable to conduct cognisance of such heinous crimes because of having no legal purview.

“In order to proceed and take cognisance by FIA being premier investigation agency, it is requested that the federal government may kindly be approached to include the HOTA 2007 and Amend Act 2010 HOTA in the schedule of FIA enabling the agency to function legally and properly so that this menace could be curbed,” the letter said.

Organ trafficking is a practice that involves organs –mostly kidneys– purchased from living donors. It was criminalised in Pakistan, under HOTA, which was promulgated in 2007. That briefly led to a steep decline in transplants using vended kidneys, estimated at around 2,000 per year earlier.

Despite aggressive efforts mounted by the influential pro-organ trade lobby to derail the ordinance before it could become law, anti-organ trade campaigners won in 2010, when the National Assembly and the Senate passed the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act.

The law lays emphasis on organ donation that is “voluntary, genuinely motivated, not under duress or coerced”. It says that if a donor is not available within a patient’s immediate family (parents, siblings, spouse and offspring), “a non-close living blood relative” willing to donate his organ can do so provided an evaluation committee of the transplantation facility concerned is satisfied that no financial consideration is involved. Only in very special circumstances — such as unavailability of a family donor — can a non-related person donate an organ, provided there is no financial compensation.

Through an amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), the police was enabled to take action against the growing threat of human organ trafficking in Pakistan. However, police has not yet been able to control it effectively and as it has not been included in the FIA’s schedule, it has no domain to control this menace.

As per reports the sale of human organ is a common phenomenon in underdeveloped areas of the country especially in southern Punjab. Many cases of kidnapping are also attributed to sale of kidneys. Generally, the donors under financial compulsion also sell their kidneys in exchange for Rs50,000 to Rs300,000.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.

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Development partnership: Donors, P&D officials set to meet on 24th

Sun, 01/22/2017 - 19:12

PESHAWAR: The third consultative session of the Sectoral Coordination Committees of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Planning and Development (P&D) department with international donors under Strategic Development Partnership Framework (SDPF) will be held on January 24 in Islamabad.

The meeting is aimed at firming up recommendations and identifying strategic achievements and tasks for effective implementation of the SDPF for 2017-18.

According to a handout, a total of 60 government officials representing relevant departments and 50 representatives from development partners would attend the joint session. The meeting would also review the implementation of the Integrated Development Strategy (IDS), besides carrying out analysis of progress in various sectors in addition to identifying funding gaps.

The eight committees represent as many sectors tasked with creating economic growth, job creation and enhanced fiscal space for development in K-P, besides ensuring rule of law, improving education and health sectors and guaranteeing gender equity, transparency and efficient use of provincial resources.

Last year, the P&D and other government departments held 16 sessions for each sector under SDPF.

The findings and recommendations will be carried forward to the high-level dialogue planned to be held in February this year. The strategic dialogue is chaired by the K-P chief minister and the final decision making forum in connection with SDPF.

The provincial government adopted the development framework in consultation with development partners which was formalised during the first ‘strategic dialogue on development partnership’ held on October 2, 2013. The framework aims at creating partnership for assisting the socio-economic development of the province through concerted efforts by the government and development partners.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2017.

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Opposition members seek to repeal ordinance disqualifying plea bargain beneficiaries

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 10:26

ISLAMABAD: Over one-third members of Senate submitted on Friday a resolution to repeal the National Accountability Amendment Ordinance promulgated last week to disqualify public servants seeking plea bargain.

On January 7, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said the government had decided to immediately introduce the ordinance as the introduction of a bill in this regard would delay the matter.

As many as 38 senators from the opposition as well as coalition signed the resolution to disapprove the ordinance, former Finance Minister Senator Saleem Mandviwalla told The Express Tribune.

Deterrence against graft: Plea bargain to cost lifetime ban

“We the undersigned members of Senate of Pakistan wish to move the resolution under Article 89 (2) (a) (ii) read with rule 145 (2) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012,” the resolution read.

If the Senate passes the resolution, it will be the third time in less than two years that the opposition-controlled upper house of Parliament would strike down a Presidential Ordinance. Earlier, the House rejected Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Amendment Ordinance and Companies Ordinance 2016.

Mandviwalla said the Senate was expected to approve the resolution next week. The Senate, which has has 104 seats, requires a minimum one-third members to sign the resolution to disapprove an ordinance.

According to the senator, the resolution was moved over objections on bypassing Parliament, saying members of the party also were not happy with the contents of the ordinance.

Embezzlement charges: Court returns Raisani’s plea bargain application

He said that the senators belonging to Pakistan Peoples Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Awami National Party, Muttahida Quami Movement and Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) signed the resolution.

According to the amendments, both the plea bargain and voluntary return agreements would require the approval of a court.

The Supreme Court took serious notice of the controversial plea bargain deal worth over Rs2 billion struck by former Balochistan Finance Secretary Mushtaq Raisani with NAB.

The apex court had asked the government for its point of view on the powers conferred on the NAB chairman under Section 25-A of the ordinance.

Raisani was taken into custody on May 6, 2016 after a team of the bureau recovered sensitive documents and Rs603 million in cash during a raid at his residence.

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10-year-old Misha makes waves in gymnastic circuit

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 10:02

KARACHI: Picking up gymnastics is a road less trodden in Pakistan and 10-year-old Misha Saqib is all set to blaze the trail as she dreams of following her idol Simone Biles by winning gold at the Olympics.

Misha stunned all at the National Women’s Championship this week when she collected five gold medals which included winning the individual vault event, the individual balance beam and the floor event, while she took the award for the best gymnast and claimed another medal with Sindh Green for winning the championship in the overall team rankings.

“I want to be like Biles,” Misha told The Express Tribune. “I train six times a week after school and I work hard on improving myself; I want to be an Olympian when I grow up. I really like Misha; she is the best gymnast.”

Misha began showing interest in gymnastics in 2013 when she was introduced to the sport through a local coach who used to train the kids in her neighbourhood. A lot of time has passed since then and Misha now gets to go to Dubai to train twice a year.

British gymnast gets two-month ban for mocking Islam

“It’s a lot of hard work and dedication,” said Misha’s mother Zantiana. “We took her to London for a short course as well and Misha did some ballet for a year as well; we saw her potential so we decided that she should continue with it.”

Meanwhile, Pakistan Gymnastics Federation (PGF) President Ahmed Ali Rajput, who is also a Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) official, said that Misha has been one of the most improved athletes he has seen so far and hopes she keeps up the good work.

He, however, lamented the state of the sport in the country. “Gymnastics in Pakistan is a misunderstood sport,” admitted Rajput. “Most of the coaches, even the national ones, read articles to find out how to train the athletes. They don’t have much professional experience. We have still a very long way to go if we are to become world-class.”

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Assange agrees to extradition if US releases whistleblower

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:54

LONDON: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will agree to be extradited to the United States if President Barack Obama grants clemency to the former US soldier Chelsea Manning, jailed for leaking documents, the company said on Thursday.

“If Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ (US Department of Justice) case,” WikiLeaks wrote on Twitter. Assange has been living in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations.

The Australian former computer hacker said he fears Stockholm will in turn extradite him to the US, where he angered Washington over WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of US military and diplomatic documents leaked by former US soldier Manning.

WikiLeaks’ Assange faces questioning by prosecutors

Manning is currently serving a 35-year sentence in solitary confinement for handing over the 700,000 sensitive documents from the US State Department. Supporters of the transgender soldier are putting their hopes in a pardon by Obama before he leaves office later this month, although the White House has said the president will not be granting her clemency.

Manning has already made two suicide attempts and currently has an appeal pending before a military court. Washington has maintained the threat of prosecuting Assange over the 2010 leak, though no charges have been filed.

WikiLeaks’ post on Twitter was accompanied by a letter addressed to US Attorney General Loretta Lynch, in which Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack argues there is no legitimate basis for continuing the investigation into the WikiLeaks founder.

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Something needs to be done about player confidence: Jalaluddin

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:53

KARACHI: Former cricketer Jalaluddin has warned the team management that they need to do something about the players’ confidence, otherwise the team won’t be able to win any match in the series.

The 57-year-old believes that the constant rotation policy by the team management, where a single bad performance can get a player axed from the team, is not reaping any rewards.

Australia beat Pakistan by 92 runs in first ODI

“If a batsman is not confident that his place is secure in the team, then he will not play his natural game,” he said. “He won’t be able to follow the plan laid out by the management and thus won’t be able to contribute much. The team management has to keep this in mind and work to improve the players’ confidence. The team is very demoralised at the moment.”

Jalaluddin also criticised the team management for not fully utilising the strengths of the batsmen. “We have to agree that our batsmen are not all world-class; they don’t have the skill and the mental temperament to match the best in the world and the team management needs to realise that. They need to utilise the strength of the batsmen and ask him to play accordingly.”

The tragedy of Pakistan cricket

The former pacer also expressed his disappointment with the bowlers, who just have been extremely poor the entire tour.

The Pakistani bowlers had reduced Australia to 78-5 at one point but were unable to capitalise on it as the hosts ended up setting a strong 269-run target for the visitors.

Jalaluddin, who claimed ODI’s first-ever hat-trick, said that players lack confidence and consistency which is a worry for Pakistan because it can spoil all the good work they have put in. “The bowlers showed some complacency after reducing Australia to 78-5 and that was where the problem began. The just relaxed a little bit and Australia took advantage of that,” he said.

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Market watch: Stocks witness long-awaited correction

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:43

KARACHI: The index finally underwent a much-awaited correction, registering a fall of 306.51 points on the last day of the week after climbing over 156 points in the morning.

Investors opted to book long overdue profits, falling in a queue after the mid-day break with the KSE-100 Index enduring a volatile and see-saw ride to finish close to the 49,200 level.

At close, the Pakistan Stock Exchange’s (PSX) benchmark KSE 100-share Index finished with a fall of 0.62% or 306.52 points to end at 49,210.50.

Market watch: Profit-taking witnessed, but index surpasses 49,500

JS Global analyst Nabeel Haroon said the market opened on a positive note as the index gained to make an intraday high of +156 points but came under selling pressure during the second half where investors booked profits.

“Banking sector led the decline in the market, as index heavyweights UBL (-2.64%) and MCB (-1.83%) lost value to close in the red zone,” said Haroon.

“Profit taking continued in the textile sector as the sector extended it loss to close (-1.79%) lower.

“The fertiliser sector also closed marginally lower (-0.22%) than its previous day close even after the news that fertiliser manufacturers have increased prices by Rs210/bag and Rs300/bag for urea and DAP,” respectively.

“Fauji Fertilizer Bin Qasim Group (+1.11%) managed to close in the green zone.”

PSX emerges as Asia’s best-performing market in 2016

Trading volumes rose to 563 million shares compared with Wednesday’s tally of 460 million.

Shares of 432 companies were traded. At the end of the day, 161 stocks closed higher, 263 declined while 8 remained unchanged. The value of shares traded during the day was Rs23.6 billion.

First Dawood Investment t Bank was the volume leader with 28.8 million shares, gaining Rs0.22 to finish at Rs7.85. It was followed by Pace (Pak) Limited with 24.6 million shares, losing Rs0.71 to close at Rs11.30 and Sui Southern Gas Limited with 24.1 million shares, gaining 1.35 to close at Rs37.74.

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V&A museum in London picks Labour MP as new chief

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:37

LONDON: Britain’s Victoria & Albert Museum announced on Friday that opposition Labour lawmaker Tristram Hunt would be its next director, triggering a by-election that could provide an opening for the Brexit-supporting UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Hunt, a history lecturer, will resign next week as Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent in central England as he prepares to take the prestigious post in the ‘coming months’, he and the London museum said.

The announcement brings a fresh challenge for beleaguered Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is struggling in opinion polls against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives.

The V&A’s Trustees are delighted to announce @TristramHuntMP as new director of @V_and_A. Details:

— V&A (@V_and_A) January 13, 2017

Voting begins in bitter Labour leader contest in UK

In his resignation letter, Hunt cited his ‘frustration’ at the direction of his party under the veteran socialist, although he said he had ‘no desire to rock the boat’.

Hunt was first elected in 2010 and kept his seat at the election five years later with majority of more than 5,000 over the runner-up from the anti-immigration, anti-EU UKIP.

In the June referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, he campaigned against Brexit — but 69 per cent of his constituents voted to leave the bloc.

UKIP, a driving force behind Brexit under its former leader Nigel Farage, confirmed it would contest the forthcoming by-election.

“UKIP will be fighting hard to offer local people the committed representation they both need and deserve,” said UKIP chairman Paul Oakden.

British art critic, revolutionary John Berger dead at 90

UKIP, which currently has only one MP, has been plagued by in-fighting since the vote to leave the EU, which was for decades its primary objective.

Hunt is an expert on British history in the 18th and 19th centuries and alongside his parliamentary work, which has focused on education policy, lectures at Queen Mary University of London.

V&A Chairman Nicholas Coleridge said he had a “highly compelling mixture of experience across public life, the arts, history, education and academia, and knows our collections well”.

As MP for an area known for its potteries, Hunt also helped save the Wedgwood Collection in 2014, which was gifted to the V&A and is on long-term loan to the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.

Hunt said he was “delighted and honoured”, adding: “I have loved the V&A since I was a boy, and today it is a global leader in its unrivalled collections, special exhibitions, academic research and visitor experience.”

The outgoing director, German Martin Roth, announced his intention to leave following Britain’s vote to quit the EU, saying he would throw his weight into fighting nationalism across Europe.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Gunmen kill journalist in Balochistan

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:36

QUETTA: Unidentified attackers shot dead a journalist in Balochistan’s Qalat district, close to Afghan and Iranian border, police said Friday.

Muhammad Jan, 37, who worked for Urdu language daily newspaper Qudrat, was shot late Thursday while on his way home on a motorcycle in Qalat district, some 160 kilometres south of Quetta, the provincial capital.

“Two attackers on motorcycle opened fire on him, using a pistol and killing him on the spot,” senior police officer Muhammad Ali told AFP. The attackers fled the scene, he said.

Five Hazaras injured in Quetta shooting

Pakistan is ranked among the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. The restive province has been wracked for more than a decade by religious, sectarian and separatist insurgencies. However the motive for Jan’s killing is not yet clear, Ali said. He had not complained of any threats from militant groups or mentioned any family or tribal dispute.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the killing, and Ali said police were investigating. Jan was also working as a press secretary for the Balochistan media council as well as a teacher in a government school.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Bouchard taking advice from Kyrgios

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:23

SYDNEY: Canadian starlet Eugenie Bouchard says she has learnt to take no notice of the “haters”, revealing she has spoken with fellow young gun Nick Kyrgios on how to handle the intense scrutiny.

Despite a slump in form, she and the Australian are two of the sport’s hottest drawcards, with both having to deal with a spotlight on their professional and private lives.

Bouchard, on the comeback trail after her high-flying career plunged into a tailspin, said being seen as one of the most marketable players on tour could be a hard ask.

She has discussed the burden of expectations with the brash Kyrgios, tipped as a future Grand Slam champion but who has polarised opinion with his on-court antics.

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“Yeah, we have spoken about it a little bit. We just came to the conclusion that haters are going to hate and we weren’t going to listen to them,” she said in the Sydney Morning Herald Friday.

“Why would you not do something because of somebody else’s opinion of you? Why should I allow somebody else to dictate my life? That’s Nick’s attitude as well and I think that’s really cool. I respect that.”

Bouchard became one of the most bankable assets in women’s tennis in 2014 when she stormed to the Wimbledon final as well as the semi-finals of the Australian and French Opens.

Bouchard overcomes Pavlyuchenkova in the heat

But the confident, charismatic 22-year-old then saw her career nosedive in 2015 and her ranking slump.

Now 49 in the world, she reached her first semi-final for 10 months at the Sydney International this week, before losing to Britain’s Johanna Konta.

She said it was “a good step in the right direction” ahead of the Australian Open Grand Slam next week, where all eyes will again be on the Quebec native.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

‘Brexit tourists’ take advantage of weak pound: survey

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:15

LONDON: Spending by tourists visiting the UK, especially from Hong Kong, China and the Middle East, surged in December with the pound slumping after the Brexit vote, a survey said on Friday.

“Foreign visitors spent over £725 million…in December, as the weakened pound prompted an influx of bargain hunting ‘Brexit tourists’ to the UK over the Christmas period,” said a report from card payments processor Worldpay.

It said spending on foreign cards surged 22 per cent year-on-year, handing an extra £130 million to UK retailers compared with the same month in 2015.

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Worldpay said visitors from Hong Kong spent an extra 69 per cent in UK stores last month. Spending on Chinese cards was up by 24 per cent, while traditionally big-spending visitors from the UAE spent almost a third more. US and Russian outlay also grew by around a quarter.

And the amount spent by French and German tourists over the festive period was up by 14 per cent.

“UK retail centres, including London’s West End, are a magnet for visitors from all over the world, made all the more attractive by the bargains on offer as a result of the weakened pound,” said James Frost, chief UK marketing officer at Worldpay.

UK economy grows faster than expected in Q3, no sign of Brexit hit

The pound has struck 31-year lows against the dollar and eight-year troughs versus the euro since Britain voted in June to exit the European Union, making the UK an attractive place for foreign visitors holding stronger currencies.

Irish spend was up more than 46 per cent, although this likely included a number of people holding euros from southern Ireland simply crossing the border into Northern Ireland where the currency is sterling.

Swiss-held cards meanwhile showed a drop in spending of 1.8 per cent in December, according to Worldpay data.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Sri Lanka clamps down on tuk-tuks as death toll mounts

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:06

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Friday tightened the rules governing the around one million tuk-tuks — rickety three-wheel taxis — on its streets after road traffic accidents claimed a record 3,000 lives last year.

The transport ministry said all tuk-tuks must now have head and tail lights, and made it an offence for drivers to smoke while carrying passengers. All three-wheelers will also have to be fitted with fare meters and issue receipts to passengers, it said in a notice in the country’s official gazette.

Sri Lanka strips suit and tie from official dress code

The transport ministry also made it mandatory for the ubiquitous tuk-tuks to have electrically operated windscreen wipers and cabin lights. Police estimate that 3,000 people died on Sri Lanka’s roads last year and about 15 per cent of those were tuk-tuk passengers.

Another 100,000 people are seriously wounded in traffic accidents each year in Sri Lanka. Last month, the government announced raising the minimum traffic fines from about 500 rupees ($3.3) to 25,000 rupees ($166) in a bid to make Sri Lankan roads safer.

The vast majority of three wheelers in Sri Lanka have been imported from neighbouring India and most of them are in poor condition.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News