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‘Stop viewing other religions through the lens of minorities’

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 14:56

HYDERABAD: The speakers of the Minority Rights Workshop, organised by the Sindh Rural Partners Organisation, highlighted issues faced by minorities and emphasised on the integration of religious minorities in the national mainstream.

“Forced conversion is still rampant in various parts of the country and urgent legislation is required to tackle it,” said Mirpurkhas division commissioner Shafique Ahmed Mahesar on Saturday. Mahesar believed that the Hindu marriage bill will help address this problem after its enactment.

Speaking about the role of political and religious parties in this matter, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan coordinator Dr Ashothama Lohano deplored that many parties treat minorities as secondary citizens which promotes the culture of intolerance.

Expressing his concern over a large number of the population being deprived of basic facilities, Pakistan Academy of Letters director Prof Noor Mohammad Janjhi said, “They are not even aware of their basic human rights.”

Mahesh Kumar, a journalist by profession, believes that the society needs to stop viewing people of other religions through the lens of minorities. He said that the media’s role is crucial in bringing the minorities into the mainstream.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

LG elections: MQM goes to court against delimitation

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 14:51

KARACHI: Days after his party legislators tendered resignations in legislative assemblies, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Farooq Sattar approached the Sindh High Court on Saturday against the delimitation done by the provincial government for the upcoming local bodies’ elections. 

Terming it a rigging done before the polls, the MQM leader claimed that the new delimitations in some urban parts of the province were illegal and biased. He alleged the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party of scheming to alter MQM’s vote bank in Karachi, Mirpurkhas and others parts of the province.

Accompanied by Barrister Dr Farogh Naseem, Sattar filed two petitions with the province’s top judiciary against the government’s move of demarcating the constituencies for the local bodies’ polls. The provincial government has fixed the number of union councils in each district rather than deciding them on the basis of population, he said.

He pleaded with the court declare the delimitations null and void as they were, according to him, tantamount to a pre-poll rigging.  Talking to the media outside the SHC, Sattar said that parts of rural areas were merged with parts of urban areas and vice versa. He suspected a conspiracy being hatched. However, he believed that the court will take action against it. “We knocked at the doors of the election commission to get justice, but in vain,” he said.

Petition filed against MQM in SC

Meanwhile, Maulvi Iqbal Haider approached the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry for an urgent by-election in the constituencies that fell vacant after the acceptance of resignations of MQM lawmakers. Haider contended that the resignations submitted by the lawmakers belonging to the party cannot be put on hold nor can they be taken back.

He asserted that the resignation saga was an attempt to hamper the proceedings on the ongoing Rangers-led targeted operation in the city. Speakers of national and provincial assemblies, chairperson senate and others have been made party in the case.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Wheels within wheels: Pickups, coasters, rickshaws fill vacuum created after Qingqi ban

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 14:49
KARACHI: 

It was 5:30pm on Thursday when Sibte Hassan, a student of Karachi University (KU), was standing at Nipa Chowrangi, anxiously waiting for some mode of transport that would take him to his house near Nagan Chowrangi.

Hassan wasn’t alone. The bus stop was thronged by a large number of people who commute through public transport. All of a sudden, a coaster minibus halted in front of them and a middle-aged man popped out and hollered, “Nagan, Nagan.” Hassan, along with the other male commuters at the bus stop, immediately hopped on. However, according to him, the female commuters took a while to board the minibus as they found it unsafe to travel in a vehicle that was not registered.

Suzuki pickups, coaster minibuses and two-seat rickshaws are now filling the vacuum created after the ban imposed on Qingqi rickshaws in the city. According to another student of KU, Asad, the trend of Suzuki pick-up vans as a mode of transport has visibly sprung up in the city. He used to travel in a Qingqi every day in the morning from Nipa Chowrangi to the Silver Jubilee Gate of KU. “But now I hop on the Suzuki pick-up, which is sometimes open and more dangerous than the Qingqi,” he said.

He further described an emerging trend — the two-seat rickshaws let four to five students board and charge Rs15 from each. “All we only need is some sort of engine that can take us to our destinations,” he said.

Similarly, Nimra Javed said she used to travel in a Qingqi daily around 9am from Sakhi Hassan Chowrangi to her workplace. “I find a good comfortable coaster every day and passengers board it,” she said. “Coasters are not registered,” she said. “They are packed and any untoward incident could happen. But what choice do I have now when there isn’t any public transport in the city?”

According to non-governmental organisation Shehri – Citizens for a Better Environment general manager Amber Alibhai, the government is making a mistake similar to the one it committed in 1970s when it nationalised all the schools without having any backup plan. Resultantly, she said, madrassas sprung up all over the city and the government has remained unable to tackle the problem till today. She said that a complete ban on Qingqis with no alternative means of transport, the situation has deteriorated for Karachi. “The vacuum has to be filled naturally as transporters need to earn and people need vehicles,” she said.

NED University architecture and planning department professor Dr Noman Ahmed said that by not taking action against unregistered means of transport, which was rapidly making its place in the city, will create conflict if the ban against Qingqi is lifted in the future or any other mode of transport is introduced. “Every mode of transport in Karachi is backed by the political mafia and letting these Suzuki pickups and coasters operate in the city will create serious conflicts in the near future,” he warned.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Planting hope: Turning the landscape green

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 14:47

KARACHI: A small flag was planted next to a plant, giving new life to the senile land. Citizens planted 500 plants in Burne’s Garden on Independence Day to rejuvenate the muddy roads and their spirits. A four-year-old child mimicking the elders too dug the ground with a small spade in his effort to make the city green.

“This is another way of being patriotic and doing something for your country”, said Nabiha Mohammad, a citizen present with her teenage niece, who was busy planting her fourth tree. Another planter Nazli Nizami talking about her adopted trees said, “We should come once a month to take care of these plants.”

Naeem Shafi, one of the core members responsible for arranging this event, described himself as a tree lover who gets upset whenever trees are cut. “The very old trees in Clifton have been cut including the ornamental ones,” he said. “So we thought of planting those types of trees here.”

Mentioning the purpose of the activity he remarked, “We want to revive the old trees that have been replaced by the conocarpus trees.”

“We are just planting white-flowers plants such as champas [magnolias] and chamelis [jasmine] in this portion,” said Shafi while standing at Sobhraj Chetumal Terrace. The area was built in 1927 specifically for women and used to be known as Pardah Park. “We want to turn this portion into a ladies’ park again,” Shafi added.

Shafi discussed his plans to move the plantation campaign to other places. “We wanted to start off with places that are designated for plants so that maintaining them is easier,” he said. “This way we can ensure that the plants are being looked after.”

Tofiq Pasha, a gardener and another core member, said that the initiative started on social media and took shape when people showed interest in their campaign.  The Burne’s Garden event group and a Facebook page named “I sure want my old Karachi back” was able to raise Rs500 per tree through the donations by the citizens.

Karachi Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui also planted a tree at the event.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Preparations: The lone eager beaver

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 14:46
KARACHI: 

PTI Sindh chapter organiser Arif Alvi claims that party leaders are campaigning for the upcoming elections. He said PTI Sindh team has visited all the districts of Sindh to make road for the party.

“We have made teams of our workers and supporters in all the Sindh districts, including Karachi to look after the campaign,” said Alvi, adding that every team consists of a woman, a youth and a minority citizen of the district to attract more and more people. PTI Karachi president Ali Zaidi said that party chairperson Imran Khan will visit the province to lead the election campaign.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

LG elections to go ahead no matter vote

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 14:45

KARACHI: While hue and cry for holding elections at the grass-roots level has been there for the last 10 years, political parties appear to be more interested in rhetoric. As the date for local government (LG) elections draws nearer, parties seem to take little interest in the preparations to contest the polls scheduled for September 20 in Sindh.

With a little more than a month left for the polls, hardly any party has launched their campaigning exercise. Usually, party workers and leaders engage in voter registration process in their respective areas ahead of the polls, hold corners meetings, visit their constituencies and apprise people about their policies. However, no such exercise appears to be taking place in any part of the province.

“Though we are uncertain about the elections taking place, but we have planned some activities from the first week of August,” said Mujahid Channa, the information secretary of the Sindh chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), adding that the party will hold a convention in Karachi. According to Channa, JI will participate in the upcoming elections, making alliance with like-minded parties except the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

MQM is among the major stakeholders in the province, but party leadership seems uncertain about the elections. “MQM is an organised party and we have already started sector, unit and zonal meetings,” said MQM leader Aminul Haque. “But we are not sure whether or not the elections will be held on time given that the Sindh government has recently approached the Election Commission [of Pakistan] to extend the date in the wake of floods.”

Meanwhile, he was positive about the outcome of the elections. Referring to the cantonment election results, he said, “Despite the state operation against us, we swept this election in Sindh. Political victimisation still continues against us, but we are determined to participate and win the upcoming LG polls as well.”

ANP Sindh chapter president Shahi Syed also expressed uncertainty about the elections being held in Sindh, which is why the party has not yet begun with its campaign. “In local government elections, no one can defeat us in Pashtun-dominated areas,” he said. “As soon as the election scheduled is announced, we will start our campaign.”

The Supreme Court had ordered that the delimitation of union councils be finalised ahead of the elections. The exercise is about to finish, but some political parties have expressed their concern over the process. “The pre-poll rigging has started with the delimitation of the union councils as 90 per cent of the staff of Sindh government is engaged in this process,” Ismail Rahoo, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) in Sindh. “These politically appointed people have given favour to PPP, making the wards and union councils of their choices. Despite all this, we will participate in the elections.”

Meanwhile, the leaders of PPP, a party that is another major stakeholder in the upcoming polls, are tight-lipped. Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had convened a number of meetings on the LG elections preparation, directing local leaders to expedite the process of making the committees, visit the respective constituencies, and interact with voters and resolve their issues. However, concrete result has yet to surface.

On the other hand, local government minister Nasir Shah said that party leaders are presently engaged in the flood emergency in Sindh but their preparation for the polls is also in full swing. “It is better to postpone the election until December, so that we can deal with the flood,” he said. “Otherwise, we are ready to contest. We will give another surprise to the people of this province by sweeping the polls.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Displacement continues: High tide worsens flood crisis

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 14:43
HYDERABAD: 

With over 100,000 residents of the katcha [riverine] area having reportedly been forced to evacuate, displacement continues in parts of lower Sindh as peak floodwater passes through Jamshoro, Hyderabad, TM Khan, Thatta and Sujawal districts before falling into the Arabian Sea.

To make matters worse, the high tide in the Arabian Sea is preventing the river water to drain into the sea at its normal pace, said residents of the coastal areas.

In the fresh wave of evacuation, more than 100,000 people have reportedly evacuated from hundreds of villages and dozens of rural towns situated in the riverine areas. On top of that, relief is trickling in very slow, complained the affected.

The largest affected areas lie in the coastal Thatta district, where around 500 villages in Ghora Bari, Keti Bunder and Kharo Chahan talukas have been flooded. More than 100,000 people have reportedly been forced to leave their houses situated in the katcha. On Saturday, 601,565 cusecs water was recorded at the Kotri Barrage while 575,730 cusecs was released in its downstream, which spreads across Thatta, Sujawal and parts of Hyderabad, TM Khan and Jamshoro districts.

“The sea has further compounded our problems. The high tide is preventing the river water to fall at the normal speed,” said Nazeer Mallah, whose village is located on the coast. The katcha population in Thatta is estimated at around 150,000. While there is no official estimate of the displaced people, unofficial figures suggest that up to 90 per cent of the katcha has gone under water. “We need tents, ration, drinking water, mosquito nets and medical camps,” said a resident of a village in Keti Bunder, Sikander Maachi.

Coastal residents in Sujawal complained that the river levees around their villages are facing immense pressure as the floodwater is taking longer than usual to drain into the sea. According to residents Hussain Baksh Ranto and Raza Muhammad Ranto, the irrigation department has yet to move the heavy machinery and stones for the pitching works, which may be required if the embankments cave in to the pressure.

Meanwhile, in Jamshoro, where displacement began more than a week ago, the floodwater overflowed into 40 more villages in Manjhand Town on Saturday. Two petrol pumps and four water filtration plants have also been inundated. In Kotri taluka of Jamshoro, the entire town of Khanpur has reportedly gone under water, affecting around 20,000 dwellers of the katcha. “No one has bothered to see where the displaced people are going after evacuation,” complained a villager, Zubair Shoro.

A few thousand people from at least 18 villages in Hyderabad’s riverine areas have also left for the hilly town of Kohsar in Latifabad taluka. But they, too, complained about the response regarding relief.

Floodwater has also hit many villages in Mulakatiar taluka in TM Khan district. Hyderabad commissioner and deputy commissioners of the districts could not be contacted for their comments on the situation.

The blame game

“The provincial government and the district administration are trying to submerge parts of Hyderabad in the flood,” said a statement issued by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement from Hyderabad on Saturday.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Fazlur Rehman to hold talks with MQM leadership, assures grievances will be addressed

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 14:17

Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman will travel to Karachi and hold talks with the leadership of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) to address their grievances and help pave the way for their return to assemblies, Express News reported. 

According to details, the JUI-F chief spoke with MQM chief Altaf Hussain via telephone on Saturday evening.

During the call, the Rehman assured Altaf that all genuine grievances of MQM will be addressed.

JUIf Ldr Mau FazlurRehman calls london & spoke2 #MQM #Pakistan F&L Mr #AltafHussain & had a discussion on MQMs Parliamentarians Resignations

— Wasay Jalil (@WasayJalil) August 15, 2015

Another MQM leader, Mustafa Azizabadi, said that Rehman will visit Karachi soon to initiate dialogue.

Moulana Fazlur Rehman will visit #Karachi for start dialogue with #MQM. Grievances of MQM will be addressed. Moulana Fazalur Rehman assured

— Mustafa Azizabadi (@azizabadi) August 15, 2015

The party’s UK chapter said that Altaf had demanded that the government should fulfill the promises that it had made to the MQM.

حکومت ہم سے کیے گئے وعدے پورے کرے، الطاف حسین #MQMWantsJustice

— MQM United Kingdom (@MQM_UK) August 15, 2015

Earlier on august 12, MQM lawmakers had en masse submitted resignations in the National Assembly, the Senate and Sindh Assembly.

Read: Alleged victimisation: MQM lawmakers resign en bloc

Speaking on the floor of the House, MQM Parliamentary leader Farooq Sattar had said that his party’s decision to resign from all legislative bodies was taken after long deliberations.

He said the MQM chief was being singled out as in the past, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, JI leader Munawar Hassan and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif have all criticised the military and have expressed insulting remarks against them.

Read: Mqm resignations: Khuhro supports dialogue

Subsequently, a parliamentary committee led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had tasked the JUI-F chief to hold talks with the MQM, and convince them to return to the assemblies.

The post Fazlur Rehman to hold talks with MQM leadership, assures grievances will be addressed appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Former ISI chief Hamid Gul passes away in Murree

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 14:03

Former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General (retd) Hamid Gul passed away in Murree on Saturday evening due to brain haemorrhage, Express News reported.

According to his daughter, Uzma Gul, the former spy master had been taken to the Combined Military hospital in Murree on Saturday after he suffered brain haemorrhage.

Despite efforts by the doctors, he could not be saved.

His body will be shifted to Rawalpindi, while details of his funeral prayers will be decided after his son, Abdullah, returns from Turkey.

The three-star general was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in October 1956 with the 18th PMA Long Course in the 19th Lancers regiment of the Armoured Corps. He fought in the 1965 war with India. He attended the Command and Staff College Quetta in 1968-69.
During 1972–1976, Gul directly served under General Muhammad Ziaul-Haq as a battalion commander, and then as Staff Colonel, when General Zia was GOC, 1st Armoured Division and Commander, II Corps at Multan.

Gul was promoted to Brigadier in 1978 and steadily rose to be the Martial Law Administrator of Bahawalpur and then the Commander of the 1st Armoured Division, Multan in 1982.

He then served as the director general of ISI between March 29, 1987 and October 4, 1989.

He retired from service in 1992.

Just talked to Gen Hamid Gul's grandson.He died at 9PM of brain haemorrhage. Knew this great man since early 90s.May his soul rest in peace.

— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) August 15, 2015

Shocked. I chatted 4 long with Hamid Gul at the reception Enver Beg had held only 10 days ago & teased him 4 looking "so fit"!!

— Nusrat Javeed (@javeednusrat) August 15, 2015

May ALLAH THE ALMIGHTY bless Gen Hamid Gul's soul a place in the best of Heavens. Amen.Agree or disagree with him- he was a man of substance

— MasoodSharif Khattak (@MSharifKhattak) August 15, 2015

Saddened by the death of a Great friend, brave soldier and Patriot Gen Hamid Gul. May Allah give him highest place in Jannah. Ameen.

— Ejaz Chaudhary (@EjazChaudhary) August 15, 2015

Simplicity Gen Hamid Gul having dinner Regimental field mess Multan on 24 June,1985 #PakSalutesHameedGul pic.twitter.com/x3csEdAdGx

— AAMIR KHAN (@aamirsagar) August 15, 2015

Differences with Hameed Gul's past and ideology aside; he deserves respect for being a true patriot and stood for what he believed in #RIP

— Osama Bin Javaid (@osamabinjavaid) August 15, 2015

Former DG ISI Gen Hamid Gul passes away. He was known as the father of Taliban.

— Kamran Yousaf (@Kamran_Yousaf) August 15, 2015

Can't believe that Gen(R)Hamid Gul is no more.lots of #Respect & duas for General sb. pic.twitter.com/zEcmtKSuBb

— Anam Hameed (@anamhameed) August 15, 2015

RIP General Hamid Gul… He was such an awesome person.. May his soul rest in heaven. shocking sad news.

— Daniyal Alvi (@DaniyalLv) August 15, 2015

Saddened to learn about sudden demise of Lt-Gen (R) Hamid Gul. I extend my condolences to the family of late former ISI chief. RIP

— Hina Butt Hayat (@hinaparvezbutt) August 15, 2015

#MQM founder leader Altaf Hussain express grief and sorrow of demise of former #ISI Chief Gen. Hameed Gul. @GenHameedGul

— Mustafa Azizabadi (@azizabadi) August 15, 2015

Thank you for your services. Pakistan will remember you. General Hamid Gul. إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ

— RC (@Arslaning) August 15, 2015

Looking into his professional attitude and character, unlike others, General Hamid Gul remained intelligence Chief till his last breath.

— M.Asim Khan (@asimnyazee) August 15, 2015

Massive respect for Hamid Gul who always raised Pak flag high in respective world #PakSalutesHameedGul pic.twitter.com/WVyHDEiX8X"

— sumairajamil (@real_sumaira) August 15, 2015

Gen Hamid Gul sb will always be missed as a patriot and someone who always stood for Pakistan. #PakSalutesHameedGul

— Areesha Mir (@TheMahiraKahn) August 15, 2015

The post Former ISI chief Hamid Gul passes away in Murree appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Categories: Pakistan & World News

Water wastage

Sat, 08/15/2015 - 13:11

KARACHI: Contrary to what recent downpours may suggest, every citizen would agree that drought-like conditions prevail in Karachi for most of the year. In a situation like this, water conservation holds high importance. The other day, I was alarmed to see a water tanker at a traffic signal leaking water relentlessly. As the traffic light turned green, the truck rushed away, leaving a wet trail behind. Either the driver did not have the faintest of clues about the leaking water or he simply did not want to address the issue. In a city where clean water is a precious resource, this is a common sight. Vessels carrying water are subjected to negligence and, consequently, water wastage has emerged as a huge problem.

With the recent boom of the water tanker industry, this problem threatens to occur at a large scale. I urge local water management and conservation authorities to take immediate measures to thoroughly examine water tankers for leaks and, thereby, allow only those trucks to operate that have ensured no wastage will occur during transport. For every drop of water we save, a drop more we have.

Hassan Ahmed

Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Award for excellence: Ronak Lakhani honoured with Tamgha-e-Imtiaz

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:53

KARACHI: In recognition of her selfless services to differently-abled persons, the government has honoured Ronak Lakhani with Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, the fourth-highest decoration given to any civilian in the country based on one’s extraordinary achievement.

Since she is considered one of the pioneers when it comes to social causes, the news of honouring her with the prestigious award did not come as a surprise for her team at the Special Olympics Pakistan (SOP).

Lakhani has been a force behind the organisation that fiercely took the cause of helping the individuals with intellectual disability to become a part of the mainstream society and providing opportunities with preparing Pakistan’s team for Special Olympics World games in 1991 for the first time.

Although SOP became an organisation in 1989, but Lakhani’s close-friend and a colleague, Asma Hasan, said that the idea was with Lakhani since 1986.

Hasan also said that the characteristics that set Lakhani apart is her compassion and her humility while being a part of SOP.

“We are extremely proud of her, she is a force behind SOP, and this organisation will go to new heights with Lakhani being a chairperson now,” Hasan told The Express Tribune.

“Lakhani is very hard working and very down-to-earth, in fact she joined SOP as a volunteer 25 years ago, then she became the secretary and now the person we all look up to,” she said, adding, “It’s really her selflessness that sets her apart, and she deserves this [Tamgha-e-Imtiaz] honour.”

SOP has regularly competed at the World Games since 1991.

Recently, the contingent competed at the Los Angeles World Games where they bagged 35 medals, while SOP also won hearts at the Athens World Games 2011 by securing 56 medals.

SOP’s mission, according to its website, is  to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Independence Day speech: President calls for crackdown on graft

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:53
ISLAMABAD: 

President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday counted corruption and illiteracy among the major challenges that the nation must fight against along with terrorism in its journey towards economic prosperity.

“Illiteracy and corruption are some of the many challenges that our country is facing. However, we will soon have to overcome these challenges,” President Hussain said while speaking at an ‘Independence Day’ event on Friday.

He said corruption and malpractices had put Pakistan’s economic prosperity and administrative structure on the backburner. “It is time to kick off a serious crackdown against corrupt people in Pakistan,” he added.

The president said despite facing a number of challenges, the nation stands alongside the Pakistan Army against the menace of terrorism. He recalled the December 16 massacre at a military-run school in Peshawar and pledged to continue the war against those who challenged writ of the state. “The war against terrorism will continue until terrorism is eliminated from the country,” he said.

Mamnoon said the government has shown strong political will to purge various areas and cities from the menace of lawlessness, terrorism and extremism. He said it was part of this resolve that the Pakistan Army and other law enforcement agencies were performing their responsibilities in an effective manner to bringing peace in the country.

The president also spoke about the Indian forces’ aggressiveness on the Eastern border and said the government would not compromise over its defence line, if there was any threat.

‘Open heart’ on Kashmir

He also urged India to come up with an open heart to resolve the core issue of Kashmir. “Pakistan wants to resolve all the longstanding disputes with India, including that of Kashmir, through dialogue,” he said.

President Manoon Hussian said business activities in Pakistan were increasing, generating investment opportunities for the investors especially the foreign investors, who, he said, were rushing to invest in country. “On the economic front, the government has adopted solid policies for the economic turnaround,” he said.

He said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was not only in favour of Pakistan but the whole region would get the benefits of the project. “The CPEC will bring prosperity in the region,” he said, adding: “The whole nation stands united against anti-state elements who don’t want early execution of this economic corridor. We are ready to remove all the obstacles in way of this project.”

Remembering the sacrifices of the Muslims of Indian subcontinent, he urged the Pakistani nation to follow in the footsteps of the nation’s forefathers and work together for the betterment of the country.

The president warned against the anti-state elements, which, he said, are posing serious threats to national unity. He also counted other challenges faced by the nation including flood, natural disasters and miseries of internally displace persons.

The president lauded the ‘culture of tolerance’ among the political parties, adding that unanimous decisions were being taken on national issues, which, he said, was a good sign.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

The horror continues: Child abuse scandal erupts in Multan

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:52

MULTAN: Police have booked five accused out of eight in a child abuse scandal in Multan. The accused were said to have captured videos with the threat of uploading them on internet on disclosure of the tragedy.

Police have also conducted raids in search of the rest of the three accused. According to the police, the child abuse scandal came to light after the disclosure of Pakistan’s biggest child abuse scandal in Kasur.

A spokesman to City Police Inspector Rana Zaheeruddin Babar said the Mumtazabad police have registered child sex abuse complaint against eight accused.

They are Ehtisham Sindhu, Ahmed Baloch, Arbaz, Shan, Jafar Ghouri, Juna, Mohsin and Irfan. The accused were involved in sexually abusing a 9th class student RF* and capturing it on video.

The accused were blackmailing the family in order to receive more money and the family lodged complaint after failing to meet the demands by the culprits.

The victim’s father Rana Sajid lodged his complaint with Mumtazabad police stating that his son was 13 or 14 years old. He was studying in 9th class when his class fellow Muhammad Tayyab and Islam kidnapped him at gunpoint three months ago.

The kidnappers shifted his son at a deserted house where three accused Ehtisham Sindhu, Ahmed Baloch, Niyiaz sodomized the boy and the rest of the five accused captured videos.

The accused were blackmailing the family for the last three months and receiving heavy money for not uploading the video on internet.

Mumtazabad police have arrested the five accused and conducted raids for the search of the rest of the three accused, police spokesperson added. (Initials used to protect victim’s identity)

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Unwavering: Pakistan vows to support Kashmir’s struggle

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:49

NEW DELHI: Pakistan renewed its pledge to Kashmir’s freedom struggle on the 69th anniversary of the partition of the sub-continent.

Addressing the Independence Day celebration ceremony in the heart of New Delhi’s diplomatic enclave, Ambassador Abdul Basit said that Islamabad would not abandon the Kashmiris and their struggle against oppression.

“Aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir can neither be ignored nor put on the back burner,” said Basit in a strongly worded speech delivered during the ceremony at the High Commission. “No matter how much more time does their legitimate struggle take, Pakistan will never abandon Kashmiris and their cause,” the envoy added.

The high commissioner said Pakistan has always desired normal and cooperative ties with India. “It is necessary to settle all outstanding issues, particularly the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Basit asserted.

During his brief speech after hoisting the country’s national flag at the Chancery, Basit also highlighted the far-reaching changes taking place in Pakistan on the economic front and its “fight” against terrorism, saying the country’s economy was showing “encouraging” signs of recovery.

“The China-Pakistan economic corridor is a testament to Pakistan’s potential and unparalleled opportunities the country offers for investment,” the diplomat said.

Earlier, deputy high commissioner Mansoor A Khan read out the Independence Day messages from President Mamnoon Hussain and Premier Nawaz Sharif.

While relations between the two nuclear-armed countries remain frosty, their national security advisors are scheduled to meet in the Indian capital later this month as a confidence-building measure.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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8 militants gunned down in FR Bannu

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:48
DI KHAN / BANNU: 

Security forces killed eight militants in retaliatory fire on Friday following an attack on their checkpoint in the Daryoba Agency area of Frontier Region Bannu.

A security official said unidentified assailants attacked the Khadim Shaheed checkpoint in the wee hours, prompting the security forces to retaliate.

He said a protracted exchange of gunfire left eight militants dead, while no harm came to any security officials.

Later, the security forces combed the area for suspects after placing restrictions on movement. However, no arrests were made until the time this report was filed.

This is the third militant attack on the Khadim Shaheed checkpoint in the past two months. In the previous attack, two security officials and three militants had been killed.

Meanwhile, two commanders of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) surrendered to the security forces in Dera Ismail Khan.

A security official said Alauddin alias Charagh and Fazlur Rehman, associated with the Gandapur group of the TTP, laid down their weapons and surrendered.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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In the lurch: Nearly 200 dead in Libya ‘massacre’

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:43
TRIPOLI: 

A battle between Islamic State group and local gunmen in Sirte has left between 150 and 200 dead, a Libyan diplomat said Friday, warning of a massacre in the coastal city.

“A real massacre is taking place, and we call on the international community to intervene,” Libyan ambassador to France, Chibani Abuhamoud, told AFP.

A Sirte council official said earlier that the fighting erupted Tuesday as authorities in the militia-held capital Tripoli, opposed to Libya’s internationally recognised government, announced the launch of an operation to retake the city from IS.

“A real war has been going on in Sirte since Tuesday,” the council official said.

“IS militants and armed residents from the city have been fighting continuously,” he said, adding that Sirte was also being hit by air strikes.

The defence ministry in Tripoli, which was seized last year by a militia alliance known as Fajr Libya, announced Tuesday the launch of “an operation to liberate Sirte”.

It said the offensive was being spearheaded by “youths and residents from Sirte and our air force and revolutionary” fighters.

The ambassador, who answers to the recognised government, said the clashes erupted after the IS assassinated an imam, or Muslim prayer leader, from the influential Al-Farjan tribe at the start of the week.

The jihadists have since been “massacring people, even killing people in their homes,” Abuhamoud charged.

Libya has descended into chaos since the fall of dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. It has two parliaments and two governments vying for power, one based in Tripoli and one in Tobruk in the east.

Only the Tobruk-based government is recognised by the international community.

IS, which already controls large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, has exploited the chaos in Libya, notably taking control in June of Sirte, 450 kilometres (280 miles) east of Tripoli.

The jihadists control an eastern district in Sirte, Kadhafi’s hometown, known as Neighbourhood Three.

The Tobruk government has condemned the violence in Sirte and urged the international community to “assume its moral responsibilities” against IS.

It said Tuesday that world powers were using “double standards” by fighting IS in Syria and Iraq and “turning a blind eye” to the growing presence of the jihadists in Libya.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

She’s more than just a dead cow

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:39

‘All living things deserve equal respect’ or that’s what we’re told. And, what about when they die? I literally broke down and felt sick to my stomach last Friday, when I saw a beautiful, buxom, white cow lying dead at a side street in Defence, Phase 1, Karachi. How sick is it that the majority of the Pakistani society turns a blind eye to such matters and sees absolutely no issue with this grotesque image of a deceased being at all?

The response I get from a local Karachiite: “Well, you do realise that people are treated the same in this country?” And, I am appalled at that response. It’s not about whether there was a human lying there or a sphinx cat; it’s about the casual attitude concerning death and the abysmal disrespect towards something, we, so regularly, consume. This laidback approach is what gives rise to animal cruelty. Somehow, it’s totally acceptable to spend a couple of grand on a steak, but when it comes down to dutifully putting the animal six feet under, we either squirm or walk away — indifferent and unfeeling; heading out to the well-prepped aaloo gosht at home.

Coming from the United States and being an active member of Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), it was ingrained in me that animals are not mere resources for human consumption. But, somehow, I never turned vegan. Not, until, now. Witnessing a ghastly image of a being, that, in fact, spent her entire life providing her owner with milk and offspring (that were callously snatched from her for meat or sold off) makes me disgusted. I’m repulsed by this society. Pakistan needs to understand, alongside all other societies that don’t value life that animals are splendid beings in their own right, which have evolved alongside us as co-inheritors of all the beauty and abundance of life on this planet.

And in memory of Cecile the lion…

This is not just about a majestic lion who was shot dead in cold blood by a ruthless coward, but just as Cecile, no animal should be hunted for sport or pleasure. No one has the right to brutally torture and humiliate animals, even after they have passed. I urge you to please, stop supporting animal cruelty. Trophy hunting, hunting for sport, skinning animals alive for fur — none of it is acceptable. It’s a vain, cruel and sickening act. Animal abuse and torture is never okay. Please stand up for what’s right and for those who have no voice.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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Death toll rising: Floods claim 207 lives to date, says NDMA

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:37
ISLAMABAD: 

The ongoing floods have claimed five more lives in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 207. Of these, 49 are children and 63 women, according to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

According to the preliminary report compiled by the NDMA, 33 children have been reportedly killed in Punjab and 16 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in the ongoing flooding.

Moreover it is estimated that 1,378,082 people across the country have been affected by the floods so far.

Dr Ghulam Rasul, Director-General Met Office, said that light to moderate monsoon rains have already started in Balochsitan and Sindh provinces. This will continue for some time in other parts of the country as well.

“Though currently the situation is under control and there are no chances of heavy rain in the next few days, it does not mean that we can rule out the possibility of floods in the coming days,” he said.

Half of the monsoon season has passed and half is left as it will come to an end in September, he said.

Till then there could be heavy rain at any place which could generate floods, he observed.

Flood warning

According to latest Meteorological and Hydrological conditions observed by Flood Forecasting Division Lahore, River Indus at Kotri is likely to attain high flood level. Water is expected to range between 450,000 cusecs to 550,000 cusecs till August 18.

Snake bite

According to Met Office this year so far over 500 millimeter rain has been recorded in Tharparkar and more is expected till September.

Meanwhile there has been an increase in the incidents of snake bite in Tharparkar. The number of snakes often increased after heavy rain in the area, according to the officials of district health department.

‘There have been 325 cases of snake bite incident reported in one month. Out of these 105 were reported in the Mithi local hospital,” said an official .of district health department Tharparkar while talking to The Express Tribune over phone.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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NADRA scam: FIA seeks ministry’s help in fake ID probe

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:32
ISLAMABAD: 

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has asked the interior ministry for help after the National Database and Registration Authority’s (NADRA) Karachi offices refused to cooperate with investigators looking into the issuance of computerised identity cards (CNICs) and passports to thousands of foreign nationals.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had directed the country’s premier probe body to investigate and take action against Nadra officials who helped some 5,000 foreigners, including terrorists, obtain fake identities and other documents. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) named some 40 such officials, some of whom are ex-army officers serving at top posts in NADRA, to the authority’s chairman recently.

Talking to The Express Tribune, a senior FIA official said the agency had to approach the interior ministry after Nadra officials in Karachi refused to help with the investigation. “Nadra Karachi refused to cooperate with investigators looking into the scam, so we have now sought the help of the interior ministry,” he said.

Nisar, after being briefed by FIA officials, directed Nadra Chairman Usman Mobin to visit the authority’s offices in Karachi to take up the issue, said an interior ministry statement released on Friday. He will be accompanied by senior NADRA officials on his visit, interior ministry officials said.

“The Nadra team [visiting Karachi] will present an audit report of all Nadra offices in Karachi to the interior minister within a week,” the ministry’s statement said. “On the basis of the team’s findings, the ministry will take action against all corrupt officials,” it added.

The Nadra director general for Sindh has also been directed to address public complaints by personally visiting various offices in the port city, interior ministry officials said.

When contacted, Nadra officials in Islamabad said they did not have anything to add to the interior ministry statement.

Earlier, the FIA arrested the in-charge and two other officials of the Nadra office in Karachi’s Keamari area for issuing fake passports to detained Indian nationals last month. They were handed over to the FIA Human Trafficking Cell for further investigation.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Troubling claims: ISI ex-chief plotted to topple govt, says Mushahid

Fri, 08/14/2015 - 21:30

A senior leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has claimed that during the last year’s marathons sit-ins by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), the then Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief had plotted to topple the country’s civil and military leaderships.

In an interview to BBC Urdu at the first anniversary of the sit-ins, Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahid Ullah Khan said the conspiracy was foiled after a civilian intelligence agency, Intelligence Bureau (IB), intercepted a call of the ISI chief Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam who was allegedly giving instruction to create chaos during the sit-ins and take control of the PM House.

He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presented an audio tape of the conversation to the army chief, General Raheel Sharif, in a meeting held in the evening of August 28, 2014.

“The army chief was astonished to hear the tape and called for General Zaheerul Islam who came to the meeting and after hearing the sound bite acknowledged that it was his voice. Later, the army chief asked Islam to leave,” Mushahidullah said.

The PML-N stalwart claimed that the conspiracy was aimed at toppling not only the civilian government but also the military leadership.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2015.

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