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Bad governance?: Water issues continue to evade solutions

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:03

HYDERABAD: The issues surrounding water — shortage of irrigation and drinking water, sea erosion, destruction of the delta and contaminated waterways and lakes — continue to evade solutions in Pakistan. And consequently, the harmful effects of these problems on the livelihood of Pakistan’s people and their cities, towns and villages remain largely unresolved.

At a discussion titled ‘Water Crisis in Pakistan and Possible Solutions’, held on Sunday, participants identified the issues and suggested short and long-term measures to address them. The event was organised by Centre for Social Change (CSC), a non-governmental organisation working on water and environmental matters.

“Much of what we see as problems are caused by bad governance,” explained Dr Danish Mustafa, who teaches politics and environment at King’s College London. He said that flaws in the irrigation network allowed farmers near the canal heads to use more than their share of water, leading to water scarcity in the tail-end areas. “The irrigation system in Sindh is designed to fulfil 64 per cent of each farmer’s irrigation needs but farmers in the head areas often irrigate their lands up to 150 per cent intensity.”

The Senate standing committee on science and technology recently claimed that Thatta, Badin and Karachi will be submerged by 2060 if the current pace of sea erosion was allowed to continue. Experts suggest that at least 10 million acre feet water should be released every year to counter this.

Mustafa, however, found this yearly mechanism to be flawed. Instead, he recommended a formula under which water was discharged for around 10 months each year. “Large quantities of water are released during the flood season but for the rest of the year, the sea is allowed to eat away the coastal land.”

A Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority official told the participants that thousands of direct outlets in the canals were creating water shortage in the tail-end areas.

According to him, these outlets were authorised by the provincial chief minister, who used his discretionary powers for an otherwise illegal water link. “First, influential people create conditions that cause the lands of the poor to dry up, then they buy these lands at throw-away prices and finally, they get permits for outlets.”

CSC’s Zulfiqar Halepoto asserted that the mismanagement was leading to contamination of lakes and canals, destroying wetlands and deltas and creating water scarcity.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

For the motherland: Qadir Magsi asks Sindh to stop talking about secession

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 17:00

HYDERABAD: The Sindhi nationalist leader Dr Qadir Magsi has urged the people of Sindh, who nurture resentment against the federation of Pakistan, that they do not need to ‘dislike’ the country. “We shouldn’t hate Pakistan; only the system that subjugates particular segments of people,” he said, while addressing the Sindh Taraqi Pasand party’s 24th annual motherland day public meeting on Saturday night in Qasimabad Town.

“The breakup of Pakistan will immediately lead to the division of Sindh into many parts. The terrorists employed for this agenda of foreign powers are working on this scheme in Sindh,” he said, dissociating his party from those who raise the slogan of secession from Pakistan. “Our party is not one of those who shed blood of innocent people for the sake of dollars and euros”.

Magsi advised the rulers to reform the federating system in a way that no ethnic group such as Baloch, Sindhis, Seraiki or Pakhtun consider themselves inferior to others. All provincial and major languages should be given national status, he added.

In a rare public criticism of the ideologue of Sindhi nationalism, late GM Syed, the STP chairperson said that hundreds of Syed’s political decisions proved to be detrimental for Sindh. The STP chairperson expressed support for the ongoing military operation, ‘Zarb-i-Azb’ in Waziristan, but demanded that it should continue until no terrorist is left alive on the country’s soil.

He also came down hard on the Pakistan Peoples Party leader Asif Zardari, accusing him of trading the blood of Zulfikar Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto for his nefarious interests. Magsi said the Sindhis need to elect progressive and enlightened leadership to the legislature for their representation.

The provincial leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and other parties also addressed the meeting. Later, the motherland awards were given to Dr Adeeb Rizvi for health, Abdul Hai Paleejo for literature, Bedil Masroor for music and IBA Sukkur for education.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Patron’s Trophy Grade II: Navy beat Customs by nine wickets

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:50
KARACHI: 

Zohaib Sehra and Nasir Owais bagged three wickets each to help Pakistan Navy register their second victory in the Patron’s Trophy Grade II tournament after defeating Customs by nine wickets in the fourth round at the NBP Stadium in Karachi on Monday.

Customs were restricted to 245 in their second innings, setting a target of 70 runs to Navy, which the eventual winners achieved in the 12th over of their second innings as Hamza Ghanchi scored 46 runs.

In the other match, Sindh Police defeated Medicam by six wickets as Abdul Jabbar, Sheraz Ali and Qamber Iqbal scored 62, 51 and 50 respectively. At the Rana Naveed Academy, KPT registered their second successive victory after thrashing Railways by 10 wickets.

Meanwhile, Service Industries and HEC won their first matches of the tournament, beating Face Fresh and Dollar East by 46 runs and six wickets respectively.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Tour de Punjab: Pakistan’s top cyclists barred from race

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:48
KARACHI: 

The fifth edition of the Tour de Punjab International Open road race, a major national cycling event, commenced with the participation of Afghanistan team but without Pakistan’s top cyclists due to internal conflicts.

The tournament’s first stage ran from from Rahim Yar Khan to Bahawalpur, which was won by Afghanistan’s Zabiullah. However, the race was missing Pakistan’s Zeeshan Ali, Naimat Ali, Habibullah and Sajid Muhammad, the top cyclists of Pakistan

According to a Pakistan Cycling Federation (PCF) official, the players were asked to skip the race by their departments, as they do not follow the PCF led by Idris Khawaja, which is affiliated with the Lieutenant General (retd) Syed Arif Hasan-led Pakistan Olympic Association (POA).

“The departments follow and participate in the events organised by the PCF led by Azhar Ali, which supports the POA of Major General (retd) Muhammad Akram Sahi,” the official told The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Groom takes up his mother’s advice, knocks out his wife with a metal bar

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:45

Police arrested an Egyptian man for beating his newly-wed wife, who took his mother’s advice too seriously, to control her.

The groom slapped her thrice after taking her to their new home once the wedding ceremony had ended.

The groom says, “My mother said this would help me control my wife through our marital life.”

“She warned me that my brothers are all controlled by their wives because they did not listen to her and hit their brides,” he said, according to Egypt’s Al Bawaba News network.

“After I slapper her, she hit me back. I then went to the kitchen and brought a metal bar, which I used to hit her on the head and body,” says the groom in police custody.

The newly-wed bride suffered a fracture on her skull and pelvis.

Police have charged the man for beating up her wife brutally.

According to the brides’ family, she was still in her wedding dress, when they visited her in the hospital in Cairo.

This article originally appeared in the Emirates 24/7 News.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

At the SCG: Indian fans expected to outnumber Aussies

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:42

SYDNEY: India fans are likely to outnumber their Australian counterparts when the two teams clash in the World Cup semi-final at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) — much to the annoyance of the home captain.

Australia skipper Michael Clarke and teammate David Warner sent out identical tweets, saying, “I call on all Australian cricket lovers to paint the SCG gold on Thursday. We need your support. #goldout”

The hashtag, referring to the Australian team colours, has ironically caught the fancy of more Indian Twitter users than Australian.

Organisers believe that 70% of tickets at the sold-out 42,000-capacity SCG have been bought by India fans. If the pitch suits spinners, as has been the case at the SCG in the past, co-hosts Australia may well feel as though they have been kicked out of their own party.

Kartik Ayyalasomayajula, one of the founders of the Swami Army — India’s version of England’s Barmy Army supporters group — forecasts the Australian team would be in for a hard time. “It will be very loud,” said Kartik. “It will feel like an away game for them.

“The drummers will be going around the ground and people will be dancing, singing and cheering every run India score, every wicket they take. People will be going nuts.”

Kartik, a Melbourne-based IT professional, said the tweets by Clarke and Warner pleading for Australian support at the match indicated how much the home team was worried. “I would have thought that would be a standard expectation for the Aussie fans without their heroes going on Twitter to plead with them. They’re really scraping the barrel there. I think it’s a message in itself.”

Australian all-rounder James Faulkner said the team was prepared for a hostile response from Indian fans.

Asked if the match will feel like an away fixture, Faulkner said, “The passion the Indian fans show towards their cricket team is sensational, so we’re definitely expecting that.

“The last game we played against India here [in a tri-series match] was a washout and the fans were unbelievable in the way they supported.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

New Zealand Milne-less for the remainder of World Cup

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:41

AUCKLAND: New Zealand fast-bowler Adam Milne has been ruled out of Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final against South Africa at Eden Park in Auckland, with coach Mike Hesson calling up Matt Henry to join the squad.

Hesson said on Monday that a left heel injury had forced Milne out of the remainder of the tournament and Henry was training with the New Zealanders while awaiting formal International Cricket Council (ICC) approval to join the squad, which, according to an ICC press release, was given the nod by its Event Technical Committee.

However, the coach was giving nothing away about who would be promoted to the starting eleven.

“Once we get to the ground tomorrow we’ll look at whoever is available in the squad and we’ll look at the pitch again and we’ll pick what we deem to be the best squad,” said Hesson.

Captain Brendon McCullum said the loss of Milne could force a rethink of New Zealand’s strategy for the  knockout match against South Africa.

Much would depend on the overhead conditions with the prospect of less swing than when New Zealand bowled out Australia for 151 on the same ground, he said.

“The way we have operated with Milne in that third seamer role has worked quite well for us coming in after our two opening bowlers swinging the ball,” said McCullum. “That doesn’t mean we have to roll out the same game plan or same strategy, but it has served us well. We probably need to have another look at the pitch tomorrow, look at the overhead conditions as well and try and factor all of those things in.”

Milne felt discomfort following New Zealand’s comprehensive quarter-final win against the West Indies on Saturday and a scan showed significant swelling around the heel.

“It’s certainly serious enough to rule him out of the tournament from a playing perspective. We’ve certainly got more tests to do in terms of the extent of it but we’re thinking more in weeks than longer than that,” said Hesson.

Milne, who bowled Chris Gayle for 61 in New Zealand’s 143-run quarter-final victory, has taken 5-199 in the tournament.

Henry, who has only played eight ODIs, has impressive career figures of 21 wickets at an average of 15.42. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

South Africa out to exorcise the ghosts of failures past

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:38

In 1992, in their first ever World Cup, South Africa required 22 to win off 13 balls with four wickets remaining. It rained for a few minutes. And suddenly they needed 22 off one ball. All hopes washed away.

In 1996, they needed 79 runs with seven wickets remaining. They lost those seven for 59 runs. A dramatic batting collapse.

In 1999, one run needed, one wicket in hand and then happened THAT run out. South Africa out due to their result in the Super Sixes. Denied by a few inches of the Edgbaston pitch.

In 2003, Shaun Pollock’s miscalculation and Mark Boucher’s push to mid-wicket. A must-win match tied on Duckworth Louis once it rained after that ball. South Africa out, once again falling just one run short. Eliminated by a mathematical error.

In 2007 and 2011 followed batting failures — scores of 149 and 172. Let down by one of the most heralded batting line-ups of their time.

So strange, drastic and agonising have been South Africa’s World Cup eliminations that the side has come to be defined by them — as unfortunate and unfair as that may be. The stage of the tournament does not matter, neither does the opposition nor the host country. All that matters, all that will ever matter, is South Africa and their spectacular failures. And the unforgiving and unflattering moniker of chokers that has followed them everywhere since that fateful 1996 night in Karachi.

Now AB de Villiers has a chance to make amends. In his way and South Africa’s first ever final is the team that knocked them out of the last World Cup.

But AB stands not alone, he has in his ranks one of the finest ODI openers of all time, two of cricket’s most lethal fast-bowlers, perhaps the best fielding unit in the tournament, and many a player in form — eleven of them to be precise.

But New Zealand — fearless and carefree — will push South Africa to the limits, weary and burdened as they are of the ghosts of failures past.

It will not be easy, South Africa still have a tendency to fold when put under pressure, especially when chasing — first India and then Pakistan have shown New Zealand the way.

Auckland may be a small ground but if New Zealand set the Proteas a steep target, then it will seem to grow in size. In Trent Boult South Africa come up against the tournament’s most dangerous bowler and supporting casts come in shapes and forms much worse than Tim Southee and Daniel Vettori.

The Kiwis also boast one of the most destructive openers in the world, partnered by a man who scored World Cup’s highest ever score in his last innings and has made 342 runs in his last two. All marshalled by the most attacking captain of these times.

What man better then to lead South Africa in their biggest test, than the game’s best current batsman, the only player in the side who has the ignominy of two World Cup failures to address. De Villiers has a tendency to defy — defy convention, fear, pressure and expectation. Now he needs to defy history and a chequered past.

So complete has been New Zealand’s dominance over all that have crossed their path that half of their side still remains largely untested. All then that South Africa need to do, is take the game to the Kiwis and see how well the seemingly invincible New Zealand fortress holds.

The Kiwis won by 134 runs when these two sides met in their final match before the World Cup, but that will count for little. Nor will New Zealand’s seven wins in the tournament or South Africa’s past. All that will matter are the 22 men that take to the pitch and the two that lead them, only one of whom will lead his side to victory.

March 24 will be the day one of these two great cricketing sides come of age. Auckland shall experience history.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Wahab Riaz—the ‘parchi’ who shredded the tag

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:37

Shane Watson was wary of Pakistan’s potential on the eve of the quarter-final clash. His worry was that the often infuriatingly mercurial bunch will either ‘blow Australia away’ or ‘self-destruct’. 

Watson had encountered frighteningly furious Pakistan bouncers in the past too —Shoaib Akhtar’s thunderbolt at Brisbane’s Gabba in the 2002 bilateral ODI series left commentator Mark Waugh, arguably the calmest cricketer of his generation, spurt superlatives like ‘unbelievable’ over and over again. Watson, Waugh felt, would have been in serious trouble if the ball had indeed pinged his helmet.

Fast-forward to 2015. Adelaide Oval, World Cup quarter-final, and Watson is again in the thick of the action.

Akhtar is in the broadcaster’s Hindi commentary box, while Michael Slater and Damien Fleming are describing the theatre, the drama, and the bruising Watson’s ego is receiving against a left-arm fast bowler — who until recently wasn’t even regarded as fast — in the English commentary box.

Wahab Riaz in a half-an-hour passage settled the oft-raging debate about his calibre, Watson was just a hapless victim who should have been blown away had Rahat Ali not pressed that self-destruct button in arguably the cruellest end to a cricketing sub-plot played out in Australia.

Slater, the swashbuckler was the opposite of Waugh in the field; he gasped and then yelled from the commentary box after that drop. “Can you believe it, they had set this up and he [Rahat] clanged it” His co-commentators termed it a huge error, an hour or so later the game was settled and Watson pumped his fist in delight — the second after creaming Sohail Khan through the covers.

Wahab is now the poster boy of Pakistan cricket; the Watson battle was the moment Shahid Afridi handed over the reins of stardom to a successor who had battled hard, real hard — unlike his predecessor who often considered his iconic status a birth right.

Wahab is the twitterati’s favourite hashtag; Shane Warne, Kevin Pietersen and Brian Lara are all in awe. Lara even offered to clear Wahab’s ICC dues as the rule makers made an unnecessary intervention following the most tantalising battle of the event.

The player who breathed life into a lop-sided game of cricket was asked to appear before the match-referee merely moments after the tears in his eyes dried — mourning the shoddiness of his butter-fingered teammates.

Wahab loves the attention and Wahab loves the World Cup. Four years ago, Wahab shattered Akhtar’s dream — replacing him in the playing eleven in the semi-final and registering his maiden five-wicket haul at a partisan Mohali crowd. Pakistan grieved at the loss yet Wahab was revered.

But between the 2011 and the 2015 edition Wahab played a mere 29 ODIs, a spate of injuries, an inconsistent bowling arm and the tweak in the rules combined to halt his progress.

So much so that his selection in the World Cup team was questioned by many, one Pakistan team member wasn’t impressed after the selectors named him in the 15 and in an informal conversation made some comical observations of Wahab’s ‘immature’ personality.

After all, Wahab was the ‘parchi’ who had stepped up the ladder more through the connections of his father than his performances on the field.

“Wahab is immature,” said the player. “He loves ice-cream, and in fact he is always having ice-cream. He is a spoiled brat and only the connections of his family have brought him so far. The fact is that Wahab is a parchi, and all of Lahore knows that.”

All in Pakistan are familiar with the term ‘parchi’ — a player who is backed by the influential and only possesses mediocre abilities.

Waqar Younis, who was credited for banking on Wahab instead of Akhtar ahead of the Mohali game, briefly lost faith in him too and insiders reveal the Burewala Express was disappointed with the deranged ‘Lahore Express’ and only the persuasion of the selectors coaxed him into giving Wahab one final shot at redemption.

But once the tournament started, Waqar realised that Wahab was truly geared up and the sustained impact of the whippy left-arm demanded his attention. Ten years after his retirement Waqar had another W for company, coincidentally a left-armer too.

The Parchi has now made it big, the detractors are silent and Wahab is the darling of Pakistan. Misbah and Afridi are now part of history; let us hope that we don’t have to wait till the 2019 edition of the World Cup for a Wahab special.

Watson has now endured the wrath of a Pakistan pacer twice, surely his aging muscles and reflexes can’t handle another such skirmish and one hopes he has learned his lesson. The all-rounder had the graciousness to admit that he was outclassed by an inspired spell of bowling well beyond his ability. “Special spell from Wahab the other night, very lucky to have come out unscathed”, he said in his tweet.

Watto, we couldn’t agree more.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

NZ looking to write history at Eden Park

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 16:35

It’s been 23 years since Inzamamul Haq smashed New Zealand’s best chance of reaching a World Cup final in Melbourne. 23 years since the country witnessed one of the biggest cricketing games in their backyard. 23 years later and the circle has been completed.

Eden Park will be set ablaze. 46,000 supporters, mostly Kiwis, will be chewing their lips, biting their nails, holding their breaths — nine ODI wins and their players are just one short of joining the elite club of 10 successive ODI victories, nine wins and they are just one short of making the World Cup final for the first time in their 11th attempt.

The pressure is all-consuming. The favourites tag comes with its own pitfalls — it is demanding. Expectations are on an all-time high. But New Zealand have prepared almost perfectly for this moment; captain Brendon McCullum has ensured match after match that even when a hero emerges, the balance remains, with both bat and ball.

McCullum has been belligerent at the top of the order for the Black Caps. Seven games, 269 runs and a strike rate of 185.51 later, he remains the X-factor in the squad, playing fast and hard although he has been dismissed early in the last couple of matches. However, if he does get going against the South African side, the visitors will be staring down a barrel, flailing around the field as they wait for one shot after the other, helpless in the face of the onslaught.

The skipper is ably supported by a much calmer opener in Martin Guptill, who will be expected to play through the innings. The 28-year-old nicknamed two toes due to a freakish childhood incident that left him with only two toes in his left foot, has accumulated 498 runs including an unbeaten double century, dispatching the West Indies bowlers all over, and can play on if McCullum departs in the earlier stages.

Another player to balance out the aggressive nature of the team is Kane Williamson, New Zealand’s middle-order mainstay — he is young but he has enough experience and has been in ominous form in the past year-and-a-half.

Tim Southee and Trent Boult bowl aggressive spells, one fast ball after another, worrying not about the runs they concede. Southee’s best spell came against England — 7-33 — while in Auckland, against Australia, he registered figures of 2-65, and also went for runs against the West Indies. Boult, meanwhile, has been a tiger, a mighty savage tiger, and a game-changer. With 19 wickets to his name, his situation is the same. He takes one wicket after the other like no man’s business — 5-27 against Australia being the pick of the bunch — but can also be expensive — 2-64 against Sri Lanka.

But to counter the two, McCullum has Daniel Vettori, cool in the World Cup pressure cooker.  He is brought in to calm things down. Vettori may not be as deadly as the two strike bowlers, but he makes up for it by being extremely hard to hit. Perfect example: the match against Australia in Auckland, where New Zealand play the semi-final. Southee gives away 15 runs in the first over. Boult concedes nine in the second. 12 in the third. And so pile on the runs with the score at 51-1 at the end of the sixth over. However, when Vettori enters the fray — two, five, six and two are made in the next four. And suddenly, when all momentum is lost, back comes Trent Boult to run through the batsmen.

With batting, bowling and some fine fielding in order, it will be anybody’s guess who will banish the reputation of choking in the penultimate stage — New Zealand or South Africa, who too have a balanced side, a side with a certain AB de Villiers in it.

But as McCullum keeps telling his country, “Dream big, New Zealand,” our time is almost here.

Semi-final woes

New Zealand will be looking to change history, rid themselves of the ghosts of the past that have haunted their luck at the World Cup thus far.

Their despair began in 1975:

1975: Lose to the West Indies by five wickets at The Oval

1979: Lose to England by nine runs at the Old Trafford

1992: Lose to Pakistan by four wickets in Auckland

2007: Lose to Sri Lanka by 81 runs in Kingston

2011: Lose to Sri Lanka by five wickets in Colombo.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 24th, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Activists form human chain around Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 13:30

KARACHI: Every Sunday, Christians living in Saddar and its adjoining areas make way to the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for the weekly mass. This Sunday was slightly different. For though the Christians followed the same routine, they were joined by people from other faiths who formed a human chain outside the cathedral in a symbolic gesture of providing protection to the minority community while they prayed. 

As the Christian community mourned the loss of their loved ones who were killed in the twin bomb blasts in Lahore a week ago, the symbolic human chain guarding their place of worship provided a glimmer of hope for their future in the country.

A group of 50 civil society activists, led by the National Students Federation, linked their hands as they stood guard the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday. The message was clear: the Christians are equal citizens of the country and enjoy full rights.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, NSF’s general secretary, Kabir Ali, demanded equality for the Christian citizens of Pakistan. He lamented that the Pakistani society had always considered Christians lower class citizens, adding that it was time to stop calling them a minority group. According to Ali, the NSF aims to stand in solidarity with every group that has been targeted by terrorists in the name of religion. “A practicing Muslim can never attack any person belonging to a different religion,” he said.

The idea to form a human shield to protect Christians during their weekly prayers took root in the wake of the deadly blast on two churches in Lahore last week, killing 15 innocent Christians and injuring around 70 others.

“We have made this chain to show solidarity with the minority groups,” said a participant Zaki. “If we stay quiet today, the day is not far when they will enter our masjids,” he said.

NSF central organiser Khurram Ali, in his address to the participants, repeated his party’s stance that the state was not taking any action to end terrorism in the country.  He complained that people such as Maulana Aurangzeb Farooqi and Hafiz Saeed enjoyed more security than the churches that were attacked last week. “The state should take action against the ideological centres of the terrorists,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Enforcing the law: Police kill eight alleged militants

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 13:28
KARACHI: 

The counter terrorism department (CTD) of the Sindh police have uncovered a ‘bomb-making factory’ and killed two suspected militants who were apparently attempting to carry out a major terror activity in the city on Resolution Day. Separately, a local commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is believed to be among the six militants killed in two separate encounters on Sunday.

The CTD officials came across the bomb-making factory when they conducted a raid at a two-bedroom house in Qaimkhani Colony, Orangi Town early on Sunday morning. During the raid, the CTD personnel faced resistance from the suspects inside the house. In the retaliatory fire by the law enforcers, both the suspects were killed. They were later identified as Kamran and Zubair, both in their mid-20s.

The officials found around 100kgs of dynamite, 100kgs of locally-manufactured explosives, a huge cache of different kinds of chemicals used in making of the bombs, 60 detonators, remote controls, weapons and ammunition at the factory.

“We also found a register containing the formulas to be used in the manufacture of different kinds of bombs. The terrorists apparently used the register for guidance,” said the CTD in-charge Mazhar Mashwani while speaking to The Express Tribune. The officer said that they had also found several warning letters used to threaten people to get extortion money. “The militants were affiliated the Badar Mansoor group, the one behind the Peshawar school attack. However, the militants killed in the encounter were not directly involved in the attack.”

In Karachi, the militants killed were working with the Azizullah Shamzai group, which has carried out a number of attacks on law enforcers in the city, particularly in District West.

Mashwani said the deceased militants had also planted a bomb containing over 150kgs of explosives on a rickshaw and parked it in Baldia Town in January this year. “Their aim was to target the Rangers personnel but luckily the bomb failed to detonate,” the officer claimed. “The group was now trying to carry out a major terror activity on Resolution Day in Karachi.”

Separately, a local TTP commander, identified as Qudratullah was killed along with two of his aides during an encounter with the police in Jamali Goth, Sohrab Goth on Sunday. SHO Fasihuz Zaman said that Qudratullah was the chief of the TTP for Sohrab Goth and belonged to the Mohmand chapter of Taliban. He added that the group was involved in several cases of terrorism while the police have seized 29 kgs of explosives and a huge cache of weapons from their possession.

Earlier on Saturday night, three alleged militants were killed during an encounter with the police in Manghopir. The suspects were later identified as Khalid Baloch, Zahid Shah and Noman. Police officials said that the encounter took place during a search operation in the area, adding that the militants were involved in over one dozen cases of target killings, particularly of law enforcers.

Target killers arrested

Preedy Police claim to have arrested four members of a political party, allegedly involved in the targeted killings of rival party workers as well as other cases of crimes. The suspects were identified as Shahzad, Shakeel, Abdul Hameed and Farooq. Weapons were also seized from their possession.

The arrests were disclosed during a press conference at the Preedy Police Station where Saddar division SP Raees Abdul Ghani told the media that the arrests were made during snap checking in the area. He added that the suspects claimed to be members of a political party and had confessed to at least five cases of murders of rival party members – the Sunni Tehreek, Punjabi Pakhtun Ittehad and Awami National Party. The suspects had also revealed that the weapons were provided to them by their party’s unit in-charge.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

WordPress temporarily blocked in Pakistan

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 13:22

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has temporarily blocked WordPress.com in Pakistan.

According to reports, PTA has asked all Internet Service Providers in Pakistan to block the site. WordPress.com, a blog hosting platform that hosts millions of blogs, is currently inaccessible on all major ISPs in the country.

It is still unclear why the site has been blocked.

ProPakistani.pk, quoting an unnamed source at PTA, has claimed that WordPress.com is blocked due to issues related to national security. It further said that the content which has caused the blockade of the site cannot be revealed due to sensitivity of the issue.

Read: Study finds Pakistan’s online space increasingly ‘not free’

A recent study released by Freedom House in December last year noted that increasing attempts by the government to curb access to content online while seeking introduction of laws that limit civil liberties online, has landed Pakistan among the 10 worst countries for net freedom.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Mission Impossible 5 trailer released

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 13:01

The trailer for one of the most anticipated action movies of the year, ‘Mission Impossible 5’ has been released.

Paramount Pictures on Sunday released the trailer of the latest installment of MI series, ‘Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation’.

 

PHOTO COURTESY: PARAMOUNT PICTURES

Tom Cruise is back in the role of Agent Ethan Hunt. The movie, which was originally slated for a release in winters, will now hit cinemas on July 13.

 

 PHOTO courtesy: facebook.com/missionimpossiblemovie

 

Besides high speed bike chase and action sequences that are the hallmark of the MI franchise, the teaser also shows Tom Cruise hanging from the side of an aircraft.

 

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Apparently, the decision to move the release date from around Christmas to July was taken to distance the film from JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens, which is releasing on December 18. Moving the dates up, would also help MI5 avoiding collision with the release of MGM and Sony’s latest James Bond sequel, Spectre, which is all set to hit theatres on November 6, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Lion cubs turn into stars of Gaza family

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 12:55

Two lion cubs have become star members of a family living in a Gaza refugee camp as a result of the weak economy in the war-battered Palestinian territory.

 

PHOTO: AFP

A cash-starved zoo in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, sold the cubs to Saadi Jamal, a Palestinian Authority security employee who has taken them home — to the delight of his four children and their neighbours.

For the past 10 weeks, “they’ve been living in the house like members of the family”, says he. The children in the three-room apartment and their local friends “play all day long with the cubs”.

 

PHOTO: AFP

But this extended family comes at a price.

They gobble up half a kilo (one pound) of meat a day, a tall order in Israeli-blockaded Gaza where prices have soared since a devastating war last July-August against the Jewish state.

 

PHOTO: REUTERS

“Once they turn five months,” Jamal plans to make some money by leasing the cubs out to lunar parks, seaside resorts and restaurants.

 

PHOTO: AFP

Jamal has even received a $9000 (8,400 euros) offer to buy them, but he won’t say how much he paid the zoo.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Illegal water connections: KWSB turns its focus on bulk consumers

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 11:45

KARACHI: The Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) has disconnected two major water connections in SITE – an area that is home to thousands of industries.

The water board claims the main target of the campaign against illegal hydrants and connections are bulk consumers, who openly bribe corrupt officials with millions of rupees to get such connections for their industries.

“We disconnected two main illegal connections at SITE on Saturday,” confirmed Asif Qadri, the operational in-charge of KWSB illegal water connection drive. “We were sorry to know that these respectable people were involved in water theft at such a large scale,” he lamented. One of the illegal connections, that used a six diameter pipeline, was connected to the Union dying mills, while the other was passing from near Wintex Private Limited.

“The KWSB could not register cases against the owners of these factories as they had either got these illegal connections with permission from SITE authorities or had run away from Karachi,” he said. Despite repeated attempts to contact him, the president of the SITE Association for Trade and Industry could not be reached for comments.

For his part, Qadri explained that the basic problem lay in the difference between the supply and demand of water in the industrial area. SITE industrial area requires at least 40 million gallons per day (MGD), while the KWSB is supplying it only five MGD. Therefore, the industrialists connive with the water mafia and install illegal connections by puncturing main trunk lines of the KWSB to cater to their needs. “The water mafia is supplying 35 MGD to these factories illegally,” he said.

Qadri added that almost all the industrial units in SITE were involved in water theft. The KWSB, on the directions of the local bodies minister, Sharjeel Memon, has initiated a strict crackdown against all such illegal connections. He assured they will abolish all such connections, particularly in SITE.

A leading industrialist of Karachi, SM Muneer, said that the water shortage in the city’s industries has become more aggravated in the recent years. He lamented that there was no respite in the offing as there were no efforts to provide relief to the industries. “We are paying around 100 per cent more to cater to the water needs for our industries,” he said. Muneer stressed the need for the Sindh government to chalk out an emergency action plan to meet the needs of the industrial in the city.

KWSB’s managing director told The Express Tribune that the board had disconnected at least 135 illegal connections in the last two months. He hoped the campaign would prove its worth during the summer season when the demand for water is at its peak. “The drive will continue until we have destroyed every last illegal connection,” he resolved.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

English Premier League: Mata’s strikes prove Juan two many

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 11:39

In a match completely dominated by Manchester United from the word go, United midfielder Juan Mata scored two spectacular goals as Liverpool’s 13-game unbeaten run was brought to an abrupt halt on Sunday as the Red Devils routed Liverpool 2-1 at Anfield.

The result leaves United five points clear of fifth-placed Liverpool and one point behind third-placed Arsenal to strengthen their bid for the top-four.

United had dominated possession from the start of the game and found the net 14 minutes into the match as Ander Herrera found the run of Spanish compatriot Mata with an excellent through ball to put him in behind the defence. However, Mata still had it all to do, taking a few touches before tucking it away past Simon Mignolet with his right foot.

United continued to press Liverpool, who squandered possession many-a-time in their own half but soon found their feet as Raheem Sterling set Jordan Henderson away down the right flank, and the midfielder fired an excellent early ball around the visitors’ defence for Daniel Sturridge.

The striker had a chance to shoot but decided to lay off for the late run of Adam Lallana, but his England team-mate could only drill his first-time effort wide of the target from 18 yards out.

Brendan Rodgers’ substituted Lallana for captain Steven Gerrard, who although was sent to play the remaining 45 minutes, ended up being a part of the game for  only 45 seconds as he was sent off in the 46th minute after appearing to stamp on Herrera’s feet right in front of the referee.

With their skipper sent-off, Liverpool lost any momentum they had generated in the first half and ended up conceding another goal in the 59th minute as Mata scored a spectacular goal from Angel di Maria’s lobbed pass.

Liverpool managed to haul themselves back in 10 minutes later, when Philipe Coutinho drove through the middle and found Sturridge via a deflection off Phil Jones, who managed to fire the ball inside David de Gea’s near post.

The visitors were given the chance to kill the game off in stoppage time when Daley Blind got past Emre Can in the box and went down under the defender’s challenge, but Rooney’s tame penalty was easily parried away by Mignolet.

The result, although not decisive in the top-four race, certainly gives a major advantage to Manchester United.

Leicester’s Pearson slams ‘arrogant’ ref Dean

Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson branded referee Mike Dean “one of the most arrogant men” he had ever met after his side’s 4-3 Premier League loss at Tottenham Hotspur.

Pearson was aggrieved by Dean’s decision to award Spurs a 64th-minute penalty, which Harry Kane converted to complete his first Premier League hat-trick and restore the hosts’ lead after Leicester had fought back from 2-0 down.

“I just find it bizarre — that’s probably the nicest thing I can say,” said Pearson. “I am not suggesting of course that the decision was deliberate, but we can’t be on the receiving end of so many poor decisions.”

The penalty aside, Kane’s form was the decisive factor at White Hart Lane as he capped a fine week following his first ever England call-up.

 

Wenger plays down Arsenal’s title chances

Arsenal’s 2-1 win at Newcastle United meant they kept up pressure on the top two, but manager Arsene Wenger believes that Chelsea are too far ahead to lose the title.

“Chelsea have good security at the moment. I feel they have enough of a cushion to be quite serene,” said the Frenchman. “We have Manchester City in front of us and behind us it is tight as well. The only thing we can do is to win our games.”

Arsenal were certainly forced to battle until the final seconds of their latest victory on Saturday and were indebted to striker Olivier Giroud, who scored twice in the opening 28 minutes to take his goal tally for the season to 17.

 

 

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Four alleged target killers ‘belonging to political party’ arrested in Karachi

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 11:33

KARACHI: The police has claimed to have arrested four members of a political party suspected to be involved in cases of target killings of political rivals, along with other crimes.

Saddar division SP Raeed Abdul Ghani during a press conference held at the Preedy police station on Sunday disclosed that the arrests were made during snap checking in the area.

He said the suspects claimed to be members of a party, and have been involved in at least five cases of murders of rival parties – Sunni Tehreek, Punjabi Pakhtun Ittehad and Awami National Party.

The rounded suspects were identified as Shahzad, Shakeel, Abdul Hameed and Farooq. Weapons were also recovered from their possession.

Ghani added that the suspects revealed that weapons recovered were provided to them by their party’s unit in-charge to help them in target killings, extortion and to be used during strikes in the city.

Meanwhile, Rangers claimed to apprehend 22 suspects during targeted raids in different parts of the city, including Soldier Bazaar, Agra Taj Colony, Bihar Colony, Liaquatabad, Northern Bypass, Pirabad and Shah Faisal.

The Rangers spokesperson said target killers, Lyari gangsters and terrorists of banned outfits were among the arrested criminals, while weapons and jihadi literature were also found from their possession.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Lutfi’s coaching career left high and dry

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 11:24

KARACHI: At the age of 63, when all you have invested in comes to an end, when your services are no long required, the harsh reality of the situation is almost unbearable to come to terms with.

Outgoing KRL coach Tariq Lutfi was told this week his contract would not be renewed this season with the Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) outfit after serving the club for four years, winning four PPFL titles.

He produced players such as Muhammad Adil, Kaleemullah and Saddam Hussain, who became part of the first homegrown batch to sign contracts with foreign clubs.

“It’s strange because if no one hires me, this will be the first time in 36 years that I won’t be a part of the league,” Lutfi told The Express Tribune. The outgoing coach further said that Pakistan had been encouraged by FIFA and the continental body after KRL became the first Pakistani club to reach the Asian Football Confederation President’s Cup final in 2013.

“I made history with the club,” he said. According to Lutfi, he had been feeling left out from the internal affairs of KRL, which had given him an idea of what his future held. “I felt the rift.

Of course KRL didn’t do as well as they had in the past, finishing sixth out of 12 teams this season. However, our key players have left for foreign clubs and making a new team requires time and vision.”

Where it all began

Lutfi said he left his career as a footballer with PIA to become a coach back in the 1980s.

The 63-year-old recalls leaving for England with three other participants for a coaching course at the suggestion of his departmental manager.

“I was one of the first people to think along those lines and went to England, Brazil, Germany and many other places to get FIFA certifications.

The idea was to get players coming from educated backgrounds into coaching and development work.”

He dropped out of bachelors to finish his coaching course, after which he undertook a master’s degree in political science. “This is what football meant to me.”

Lutfi became the national team coach in 1985, and on FIFA’s recommendation, continued to hold the position till 2004. His achievements include wining the South Asian gold medal in 1989, 1991 and 2004 with the national side.

Published in The Express Tribune, March  21st,  2015.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

2018 FIFA World Cup: Yemen, Pakistan to play must-win encounter

Sun, 03/22/2015 - 11:18

KARACHI: After reshuffling the venue and the date of the preliminary qualifier’s second-leg for the 2018 FIFA World Cup between Pakistan and Yemen, the two sides will finally collide at the Al Khalifa Stadium in Manama, Bahrain on Monday.

Pakistan had been scheduled to host the match on March 17 at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore, but due to security concerns following the church blasts, FIFA had to shift the tie to a neutral venue.

So far, Yemen has the edge having won the first-leg 3-1 on March 12 in Doha. In order to fight the odds and qualify for the next round, the men in green will have to win with a margin of at least two goals.

However, the hopes are high and Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi believes the team still has a chance to make it. “My personal expectations are that the players should be able to pull off a 2-0 victory,” he told The Express Tribune. “If this match was happening in Lahore it would’ve been different, but we aren’t losing any hope. We are well-prepared.”

Lodhi added that coach Mohammed Shamlan is also confident regarding the team’s preparations for the must-win encounter.

Pakistan take up the 170th spot in this month’s latest FIFA rankings while Yemen are on 175.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier began in Asia with the 12 lowest teams. India cruised to the next round after defeating Nepal 2-0 on aggregate. East Timor defeated Mongolia 5-1, Cambodia won against Macau 4-1, Chinese Taipei edged past Brunei 2-1 and Bhutan overcame Sri Lanka 3-1 on aggregate.

The six teams, including winners of the match between Yemen and Pakistan, will join the top 34 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) sides to round-robin matches in eight groups on home-and-away basis.

The eight group winners and four best runners-up will progress to the third round and also qualify for the main draw of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

 
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Categories: Pakistan & World News

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