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Flight PK-661: ATR manufacturer team may join crash probe

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 19:12

ISLAMABAD: A team from the France-based ATR aircraft manufacturer may join Pakistani investigators in probing the cause of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash that killed all 47 people on board on December 7.

“The officials of the ATR have contacted PIA for assistance in the probe,” said the PIA spokesperson Danyal Gilani on Saturday. In response to a question, he confirmed that soon after the tragic incident, the ATR company had contacted PIA, offering its help in the probe.

However, as the Safety and Investigation Board (SIB) is investigating the matter independently, the PIA referred the ATR to the SIB, which will decide when and whether to engage them. “The final decision in this regard will be taken by the SIB,” he said.

PIA’s flight PK-661 en route to Islamabad from the northern city of Chitral had crashed into a hillside near Abbottabad after one of its two turboprop engines failed and burst into flames.

Among those on board was Junaid Jamshed, a former singer-turned evangelist and DC Chitral Osama Warich. One Chinese and two Austrian citizens were also among the passengers.

The turboprop ATR aircraft is being operated in more than 100 countries by 200 airlines including India that has almost the same climatic and ground conditions.

PIA Chairman Azam Saigol at a news conference after the crash had said the nine-year-old plane was deemed to be ‘technically sound’ when it last underwent a detailed inspection in October.

On Saturday, PIA’s Chief Executive Officer Bernd Hildenbrand visited Saddha Batolni village in the vicinity of Havelian, where the ATR 42 aircraft (AP-BHO) had crashed. He also laid a floral wreath at the site and observed one-minute silence in remembrance of the victims.

He also met the local people and thanked them for promptly helping in the rescue efforts, according to an official statement.

Hildenbrand also visited the Embassy of Austria, in addition to meeting the relatives of the Chinese citizen who lost his life in the incident and extended his heartfelt condolences.

Two Austrian citizens who were working for a hydro power plant in Chitral lost their lives and their families could not reach Islamabad due to visa and other government formalities and permission.

But the blood samples have been dispatched by courier to Pakistan for the identification of bodies. According to the employer of the Austrian citizens, samples for the DNA verification are expected to reach Islamabad on Monday.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

HED bars public varsities from new appointments

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 19:11

PESHAWAR: The Higher Education Department of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has barred all public sector universities from making new appointments until permanent vice chancellors are hired.

On November 25, the provincial government advertised vacancies of new VCs for Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, and Khyber Medical University, Peshawar.

On December 7, the HED issued a notification, stating that all appointments and other activities at the universities would be carried out by new VCs in order to stop nepotism and corruption.

Abdul Wali Khan University’s VC Prof Dr Ihsan Ali Khan and Khyber Medical University’s VC Prof Dr Muhammad Haifzullah would retire soon.

An HED official, who wished not to be named, said the decision was taken by Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak after he received several complaints.

The complainants stated that VCs of some varsities, who were nearing retirement, had announced a number of jobs and were trying to induct their favourite people.

All fresh appointments would be handled by new VCs in consultation with the government, the official said.

Deputy Secretary of the HED Asad Jan claimed that all public sector universities had complied with the notification, adding that there was no discrepancy.

He said appropriate steps had been taken in the larger interest of higher education institutes in the province, adding that in future, administrations of all universities would continue to abide by HED rules.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Plan for South Asia: WMO to set up flash flood guidance centres

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 19:08

ISLAMABAD: The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has decided to establish flash flood guidance centres in Pakistan and India aimed at reducing human and economic losses by strengthening the South Asian region’s early warning system.

Vice-President of WMO’s Asia-Pacific Region Dr Ghulam Rasul said that the decision was taken at a meeting of the organisation’s management group in Abu Dhabi.

The meeting was participated by eight regional member countries of WMO – Pakistan, India, South Korea, Japan, China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

Dr Rasul said that the group had chalked out a plan for the 2018-2023 period aimed at dealing with the impact of climate change, especially focusing on least-developed countries.

He said that the South Asia region was highly vulnerable to natural calamities such as flash floods, monsoon floodings and tropical cyclones and there was an urgent need to strengthen the early warning system.

“Flash floods are very common and frequently occur in many South Asian countries such as Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, India and China, causing huge human and property losses. Therefore, strengthening the regional early warning system will help decrease these losses, he said.

He said that in Pakistan, the flash flood guidance centre would be set up at Islamabad and in India, it would either be established in New Delhi or Pune (Maharashtra) with WMO funding.

“Renowned experts … will be invited to train local scientists to develop the system and run the centre effectively,” said Dr Rasul.

Other countries in the region would be asked to get connected either with the flash flood guidance centre in Pakistan or India, he said.

These centres will gather data from all South Asian countries and instantly issue early warnings to countries at risk of flash floods or tropical cyclones, he said.

He said the centres in both Pakistan and India would become operational by 2018.

First rain of winter season

On Saturday, scattered light to moderate showers and snowfall occurred in hilly areas.

Dr Rasul, who is also the chief of Pakistan Meteorological Department said: “This rain will just help wet the earth, settle down dust particles in the atmosphere but will not help fill water reservoirs or overcome water shortages in the country,” he said.

He said these showers would help get rid of diseases caused by dry weather which had persisted over the past few months.

“After these rains, the weather will remain partly cloudy in most areas of the country for the next few days,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

US concerned about escalation along LoC

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 19:07

WASHINGTON: US National Security Adviser Dr Susan Rice on Friday expressed concern over increasing escalation along the Line of Control (LoC) and said the United States stood for dialogue and meaningful cooperation among the countries of the region.

She was speaking to Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi, who is currently on a visit to Washington for post-election meetings with US lawmakers.

Dr Rice and Fatemi discussed wide-ranging issues of mutual interest in the areas of peace and security, counter terrorism, defence and economic cooperation at a meeting held at the White House. Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani was also present.

The recent escalation on the border and ceasefire violations by the Indian forces were also discussed. Fatemi particularly mentioned the killing of innocent civilians, as a result of indiscriminatory fire by Indian forces across the LoC and the Working Boundary.

Dr Rice stressed that the United States attached the highest importance to its relations with Pakistan and expressed satisfaction with the progress made by both in enhancing their cooperation in multiple fields.

She appreciated Pakistan’s efforts to promote peace and stability in the region and commended its participation in the Heart of Asia Conference held in Amritsar last week.

Fatemi briefed Dr Rice on Pakistan’s unprecedented successes in counter-terrorism, highlighting the sacrifices rendered by the people and security forces. He also drew the attention of Dr Rice to the massive and systematic human rights violations in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

policemen targeted: Car bomb injures some 20 in Istanbul

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 19:05

ISTANBUL: Around 20 police officers were injured in a car bomb explosion outside an Istanbul football stadium on Saturday, in the latest attack to rock Turkey this year. The car bomb blast struck the area outside Istanbul’s giant Besiktas football team’s stadium after a match against the Bursaspor club, targeting a bus packed with police officers, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said. “A car packed with explosives is believed to have exploded where our riot squad was deployed shortly after the football fans dispersed following the match,” Soylu said. “The attack targeted the riot police’s bus,” the minister said, adding that nearly 20 police officers had been injured. An AFP correspondent in Istanbul heard the explosion followed by the sound of ambulance sirens rushing to the scene. State broadcaster TRT World showed images of the wreckage of a car, engulfed in flames with emergency services swarming around the scene outside the stadium. Other footage showed severely damaged police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast had shattered the windows of several nearby homes.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Financial activities: ‘London’s City will disperse post-Brexit’

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 18:16

THE HAGUE: Financial activities that today are clustered in London will migrate to other European countries post-Brexit, but there will be no single hub to replace the City, senior EU figure Jeroen Dijsselbloem said.

“I expect there will be a lot of movement,” Dijsselbloem – Dutch finance minister and president of the group of 19 countries that share the euro – told the Financieele Dagblad daily in an interview published Saturday.

“Banks will not completely move out (from London), but there will be a makeover of their activities, which will be parcelled out to various cities,” he said.

“There won’t be a new City.”

Dijsselbloem added that “Amsterdam certainly has a role”, pointing to its advantageous position at the crossroads of northern Europe.

On Tuesday, Dijsselbloem warned London could not expect to remain Europe’s financial capital if Britain refused to follow EU regulations.

“If the UK wants access to the internal market, they will have to accept the rules and regulations which go with that internal market,” he said.

In other comments on Saturday, Dijsselbloem said the 2008 financial crisis was the “prime cause of populism” in Europe.

Elections are due next year in The Netherlands, France and Germany, where the populist vote will be closely scrutinised following the Brexit referendum, in which eurosceptics were able to stir resentment against Brussels and immigration.

“The financial sector’s instability caused enormous damage to the economy in The Netherlands and the rest of the Western world,” Dijsselbloem said.

“This is one of the factors which led to the advance of populism in Europe. Trust was completely disrupted.”

Many weak banks were restructured and recapitalised and as a result, banking culture today “is going through a complete change,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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Meeting: Sapin congratulates Dar on Open Govt Partnership

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 18:15

ISLAMABAD: French Finance Minister Michel Sapin congratulated Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on joining the Open Government Partnership process at a meeting the latter held with his French counterpart before he left for Islamabad after his official visit to Paris.

In the second meeting, held in the last three months, Sapin appreciated the ratification by Pakistan of the OECD Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters.

Dar apprised his counterpart of the importance Pakistan attaches to transparency in public matters and his intention to make Pakistan a member of OECD Convention against Bribery in due course.

The finance minister briefed Sapin on the turnaround of Pakistan’s economy in the last three years, macroeconomic stability and improvement of energy and security situation in the country, which has provided a favourable atmosphere for foreign direct investment.

Sapin acknowledged Pakistan’s economic achievements and expressed hope that the journey towards further progress and development would continue.

Both ministers also discussed trade, economic and investment relations between the two countries. While expressing satisfaction over the upward trajectory of bilateral relations, including decision by French automobile company Renault to start manufacturing vehicles in Pakistan, they emphasised the need to further strengthen ties through the institutional mechanism of Administrative, Economic and Trade Committee (AETC).

They agreed, in principle, to upgrade AETC to Ministerial level. Dar invited Sapin to visit Pakistan to co-chair the next meeting of AETC.

Prior to that, both sides would meet early next year at secretary level to prepare the ground for the Ministerial meeting.

Secretary Economic Affairs Division and Ambassador of Pakistan to France were also present in the meeting.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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US hits Chinese washing machines with punitive duties

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 18:15

WASHINGTON: Chinese manufacturers are dumping washing machines into the US market at artificially low prices, making them subject to punitive duties of up to 52%, the Commerce Department announced Friday.

In a case brought by US appliance manufacturer Whirlpool a year ago, in a market that saw $1.1 billion imports in 2015, one Chinese firm was found to be dumping the large clothes washers at up to 52.5% below the fair price.

The Commerce Department has ordered importers to begin paying the punitive duties immediately, but the final step will come January 23 when the International Trade Commission will rule on whether the dumping has harmed US companies, in which case the penalties on the Chinese products will be enforced permanently.

Suzhou Samsung Electronics was found to be selling at the biggest gap below fair value, while other producers had margins of 44.3%, and Nanjing LG-Panda Appliances with the smallest gap, of 32%.

The latest antidumping case comes on the eve of China’s 15th anniversary of joining the World Trade Organization, which was supposed to mark the formal recognition of the country as a market economy.

China wants that status as it would make antidumping cases harder to file, but the United States has indicated it is not ready to change how it handles these cases, as has Japan.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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Real estate investors still wary of amnesty scheme

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 18:15

LAHORE: The amnesty scheme recently approved for the realty market of Pakistan has not caused much excitement among stakeholders as they are sceptical about what the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is offering.

The reason behind this suspicion is public perception of the tax collecting body, which is not at all satisfactory in dealing with individuals and different associations of the realty market.

Though the FBR and Ministry of Finance have repeatedly announced that no one will ask about the source of income and assets of any individual who will opt for the amnesty scheme, market people are not ready to believe their words.

“Markets are not taking the amnesty scheme seriously and 90% of players believe that tax authorities may ask them about the source of income at a later stage,” said Azeem Saddiqe, a realty market expert, while talking to The Express Tribune.

“We know it has been passed by parliament but what if they amend the policy; people are not afraid of declaring their income, they are afraid of the FBR tactics that are often used to harass taxpayers,” he added.

Since the introduction of a new taxation system in July this year for the realty market, it has been under-performing. Market leaders and FBR officials along with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar have held many meetings to resolve the issue.

Now, the government has come up with a scheme that says real estate investors can keep 97% of tax-evaded money by paying only 3% tax.

Over the past five months, the investors have either sidelined or shifted their money to Dubai’s real estate market and only real purchasers are injecting little bit of money into the market.

Apart from this, most of the property transactions are being done in cash, contrary to the previous practice of making payments through bank pay orders, to keep a lid on people’s real wealth.

“People do not believe in the FBR and its statements that they will not ask about the source of income,” said Mian Bilal Hanif, Chief Executive Officer of Estate Heights.

“The market is digesting the increase in taxes but investors are not ready to declare their source of income; we still hope for some improvement in coming months.”

Interestingly, the new taxation system is helping the market as genuine buyers are replacing those investors that set the trend of buying or selling properties in a particular area.

“People showed some resentment in the beginning when taxes were increased, but later they started accepting the new property transfer prices, which were not as high as the market had anticipated,” said Abdul Ghaffor, CEO of Pak-Properties.

“This probably will help the market in achieving maturity, however, the amnesty scheme has once again hit the investors hard.”

At present, market people are not hopeful that any satisfactory conclusion will emerge from all the measures taken by the government in the current fiscal year.

Most of the stakeholders are not interested in further raising their voice for the time being. Pointing to the perception that around Rs7 trillion is parked in the real estate market, they say it should be checked how much money now remains in the country.

“We are not considering any protests or negotiations, investors are not interested in Pakistan’s realty market, so for whom we should make efforts,” Saddiqe added.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Industrial phase of CPEC to kick off soon

Sat, 12/10/2016 - 18:14

FAISALABAD: The industrial phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is going to kick off soon under which Chinese investors would be allowed to set up only high tech industries, which would not have any negative impact on Pakistan’s existing industry, said CPEC Acting Project Director Hasan Dawood.

Speaking to a delegation of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI), he said that CPEC has three major perspectives including geo strategic, regional integration and industrial cooperation, adding that Chinese investors cannot afford any clash at any stage with Pakistani industrialists; hence, they prefer to concentrate on Gwadar Port.

The delegation, which was headed by FCCI Vice President Ahmed Hasan, met with the director and apprised him about the reservations of the local industrialists.

Three routes have been proposed to link China with Gwadar Port including eastern, western and central routes, which are expected to be completed by the year 2018, informed Dawood.

Talking about the industrial cooperation under CPEC, he said that working groups are being established to determine the needs of both countries. Four meetings between National Development and Reforms Commission of China and Planning Commission of Pakistan have already been held, said the director.

He said that working groups will have representation of all provinces and encouraged FCCI to present its proposal through their related province for discussion in the working group.

He further told that 36 economic zones would be established under CPEC which would not only create thousands of jobs but also gear up the pace of progress and prosperity.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2016.

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Interpol nets key suspect in deadly Baldia factory fire

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 23:40

KARACHI: Interpol and Thailand police have arrested Abdul Rehman, alias Bhola, who is suspected of starting a devastating factory fire in Karachi four years ago that killed dozens of workers. A former sector in-charge of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Rehman had reportedly jumped ship earlier this year to join the Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP).

Abdul Rehman, 46, was detained at a hotel in the red light district of Nana in Bangkok on Friday evening, said Thailand’s Interpol chief. “Thai Interpol tracked this suspect following an arrest warrant sought by the Pakistani authorities,” Major General Apichart Suriboonya told AFP. “He will be repatriated as soon as Pakistan is ready,” he added.

Main suspect behind Baldia factory fire arrested in Bangkok

Some 260 workers were burnt to death when a fire swept through the Ali Enterprises garment factory in Karachi’s Baldia Town on September 11, 2012. Initially, the fire was believed to be an accident, but the case took a dramatic turn on February 7, 2015 when the report of a joint investigation team (JIT) claimed that the MQM was behind the deadly conflagration.

Quoting MQM worker Rizwan Qureshi, also a suspect in the case, the JIT said that a ‘well-known party senior official’ had asked the factory owner for Rs200 million in extortion though his frontman in August 2012 and when the owner refused, his factory was burnt down.

The report, submitted to the Sindh High Court in February 2015, said Qureshi on June 22, 2013 had also spoken about the alleged role of two other suspects – Abdul Rehman and Hammad Siddiqui – in the fire. Fearing their arrest, Rehman and Siddiqui had fled to Dubai in December 2013.

Rehman’s wife and police confirmed that after fleeing the country, the two suspects had stayed together for a year. However, when the report containing their names as ‘extortionist who set the Ali Enterprises garment factory on fire over non-payment of money’ surfaced, they parted ways.

“Rehman moved to Malaysia where he lived until recently,” his wife, Samina Bano, told The Express Tribune by phone. “I don’t know where he [Siddiqui] went. My husband never talked about him.”

She said that around a month ago her husband moved to Thailand ‘in search of work’. “We [the family] were in contact with him through the internet. On Friday, we heard the news that he was arrested. We called the hotel he was staying in and they confirmed the arrest.”

Baldia factory fire case: JIT member summoned again by ATC

Though Rehman and Siddiqui were not formally wanted in the case at the time they went abroad but a source said they had come to know about the incriminating statement of Qureshi, which actually became the basis for their implication.

Karachi police chief AIG Mushtaq Mehr told The Express Tribune that Rehman would extradited in a couple of days. “A team will leave for Thailand after completing necessary legal formalities,” he said.

Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said those involved in the deadly fire would not be spared and would be smoked out from wherever they were hiding. “The Baldia factory fire was one of the worst incidents that have ever taken place in the city in which innocent male and female labourers were burnt alive,” he said in a statement.

PSP denies Rehman is a member

According to his wife, Abdul Rehman had joined the PSP. “He joined the party from outside the country after its formation in March,” Bano said. However, the PSP denied Rehman was its worker.

PSP Chairman Mustafa Kamal told media in Lahore that his party had nothing to do with the person arrested in Bangkok. The party also dismissed a membership form containing his picture, name and other details as fake. (With additional input from AFP)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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Sick while flying: CAA chief visits Saudi pilot

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 19:19

Civil Aviation Authority Director General Air Marshal (retd) Asim Suleiman along with Air Vice Marshal Usaid Ur Rehman Usmani, Additional DG CAA, visited Captain Khatab Nawaf of Saudi Arabian Airlines at Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi. The delegation presented a bouquet to the pilot. The pilot of the Saudi Airline got sick while flying over Pakistan from Lucknow to Jeddah and had made an emergency landing of flight number SV 891 at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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Lack of maintenance: No duty roster for road workers in K-P

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 19:18

PESHAWAR: More than 2,200 workers assigned for road maintenance across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are working without a proper attendance mechanism and duty schedule.

The issue came up at a recent meeting of the communication and works department.

According to the minutes of the Nov 16 meeting, the chairman and adviser to the chief minister on C&W affairs Akbar Ayub Khan was briefed about issues left unaddressed over the past many years.

The meeting was attended, among others, by C&W Secretary Muhammad Asif Khan, Chief Engineer Central Muhmmad Ayub Khan, Chief Engineer East Ijaz Ahmad Ansari, Superintending Engineer Headquarters North Ghulam Yazdani, Director of Planning and Development Shakir Habib and Executive Engineer Highways Division Aziz Khatak.

Documents obtained by The Express Tribune showed that a large number of these workers, known as ‘road repair men’, were working in offices and houses of both serving and retired government officers.

“The absence of road repair men is creating an embarrassing situation and road edges and kerbs and drains are not being maintained properly, creating problems for the public,” the minutes of the meeting quoted the chairman as saying.

Subsequently, official attending the meeting decided that no maintenance workers would be allowed to work for government officers and all such repair men and workers would be recalled to join their original duties.

“Salaries of those who fail to rejoin their duties should be withheld … Their services should be terminated after serving show-cause notices on them.”

Road inspectors were also asked to ensure proper attendance of such workers or else they would face strict disciplinary action.

The meeting agreed to prepare fresh lists of road porters that should be submitted with the office of the secretary C&W. “The lists must contain biographical data of the porters.”

Furthermore, it was decided that funds would be released for providing uniforms and tools for the road repair workers.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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Online management: K-P has 1,340 IT labs in schools

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 19:17

PESHAWAR: There are currently 1,340 IT labs in schools across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and the provincial government has introduced an online management system in schools, the provincial minister for elementary and secondary education said on Saturday.

Muhammad Atif Khan was addressing an e-conference at the Sarhad University Peshawar. Previously, the number of IT labs in educational institutions stood at 179.

He also said that the provincial government had introduced an online action plan for ensuring teachers’ attendance.

Highlighting the PTI government’s efforts for initiating information technology education in educational institutions, he said that modern education was essential for ushering in an era of prosperity.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, he said, has assigned the highest priority to education, adding that it had achieved a record number of achievements in this field.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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Workers’ convention: Altaf has a history of inflammatory remarks

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 19:14

KARACHI: Altaf Hussain’s August 22 speech was not the first inflammatory address made by the MQM founder, senior deputy convener of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-Pakistan) Amir Khan said on Saturday. Altaf had made similar declarations before as well, he claimed.

Amir, who bolstered MQM-Pakistan’s stance over disavowal of the party founder for making controversial remarks, lashed out at the leadership in London for creating hurdles in their way.

Speaking to a general workers’ convention in New Karachi, he said that Dr Sattar’s August 23 step had saved the party from being banned because anti-Pakistan slogans and seditious remarks were unacceptable. “We can’t tolerate such remarks,” he maintained.

Criticising Wasay Jalil, Mustafa Azizabadi, Muhammad Anwar and others leading MQM’s London faction, he said that they were unable to withstand hard times. He said that Jalil had fled abroad a day after the MQM headquarters was raided by Rangers last year. “(Jalil) is a social media king though,” he remarked.

Accusing Azizabadi of reaping financial gains for himself and his family, he said that he was the biggest ‘courtier’ of all times. “He owns tens of houses in a row in Landhi while his brother is an employee at Karachi Metropolitan Corporation.”

He said that Anwar through his brother, Chunnu Mamoo, a fugitive wanted by the authorities in land grabbing and terror financing cases, acquired millions from ‘china-cutting’ schemes in the city. “And they call us [MQM-Pakistan] traitors.”

Abuse of power admitted

Admitting that the party misused the power it enjoyed during the Musharraf regime, he said: “People feared us because of this abuse of power, people feared going to the party’s sector and unit offices as if they were going to police stations.”

He said that party workers who visited MQM-Pakistan’s programmes to further the pro-London agenda may continue to do so. “We do not need to answer them.”

He also urged his colleagues and party activists to mend their ways and focus on making Karachi a better place to live.

He said that party workers who did not agree with MQM-Pakistan’s policies should stop following them. “We are not like Pak Sarzameen Party which forces people to join it,” he said, adding that soon the chapters of PSP and Haqiqi would be shut down.

According to him, some people wanted to create a clash on December 9 – the day the party commemorates as Youm-e-Shuhada. “We will not visit Yadgar-e-Shuhada if the authorities do not allow us.”

Dr Sattar agreed with his assertions and said that elements who wanted to split MQM should realise that it “was and will always remain a single unit”.

Reminding the audience that the authorities had resorted to similar tactics in 1992, but they failed to execute their plan.

MQM-Pakistan, he said, would secure “more National Assembly and Sindh Assembly seats in the next general elections”.

Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izharul Hasan also spoke on the occasion.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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Democratic transition: Pakistan’s political power structure in a flux

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 19:13

For a country mired in conflicts, it is natural that the country would have greater civil-military convergence and for the establishment to be actively involved in public policy.

However, this power structure has undergone several changes over the years owing to different factors such as a changed external environment, domestic security, economic situation, challenges in its major relationships, and democratic transition and transformation.

This was stated by Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, director of the School of Politics and International Relations at the Quaid-e-Azam University and co-editor of the book

“Pakistan’s Democratic Transition: Change and Persistence”.

The book was launched by the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) in Islamabad on Saturday.

Rafiq, who is a doctoral candidate at University of Oxford, said that the indicators of the changing political power structure include increased political participation, indictments, voices against social evils, support to accountability, and social mobility. This changing political landscape makes the idea of another coup not impossible, but certainly more expensive.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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Within 24 hours: Three spurious drug manufacturers sealed

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 19:11

RAWALPINDI: As part of a province-wide crackdown on spurious and illegal drug manufacturers, health officials in Rawalpindi have shut down as many as three factories in the past 24 hours and arrested at least two men.

Officials of health department, along with local police units raided factories in different parts of the city on Friday and Saturday recovering manufacturing machines being used and medicines produced.

According to available details, Divisional Drug Controller Naveed Anwar, Area Drug Inspector Jawad Ahsan, Assistant Commissioner Khalid Goraya, and Rawat police raided the Hemazone Factory in the Rawat Industrial Area on Saturday.

The factory, sprawled over an area of about four kanals, was raided at around midnight between Firday night and Saturday morning.

A health official told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity that when they went to the factory, it was locked from the outside. The official, who did not wish to be named, said that the factory often remained locked from outside during the day when it is supposed to be operating.

During the raid, officials said they had recovered a sachet manufacturing machine, a tablet manufacturing machine, a tablet packing machine, a syrup machine, and drugs worth millions of rupees from the factory.

The official claimed that when the factory was raided it was locked from outside. Moreover, the official said factory often remained locked from outside at day time. The police arrested two men working in the factory and seized hundreds of thousands of tablets.

At least two people were arrested from the factory who told officials that the unit was owned by a Quetta native called Fiaz. The men further said that the medicines manufactured in the factory were usually sold in Peshawar and Quetta.

Earlier on Friday, the health department had raided and sealed two drug related establishments including Al-Jadeed Homeo Laboratory, located on Liaqat Road, and Bioroots Laboratory, located in the Rawat Industrial area on Friday. Owners of these two establishments were booked.

Anwar, the divisional drug controller, explained to The Express Tribune that around 50 drug manufacturing units operate in Rawat. He added that they had raided the two units in the area after receiving tip-offs about illegal activities there.

Responding to a question on the sudden surge in raids on spurious drug manufacturing factories in the city, Anwar explained that the raids took place after the Punjab government issued special orders to crackdown against illegal manufacturing units.

He added that drug inspectors from the Pakistan Drugs Regulatory Authority are primarily responsible to regulate drug manufacturing units and to keep check against illegal manufacturers. However, the drug controller complained that federal inspectors had been inactive for a while.

The drug controller noted that owners of these unauthorised manufacturing units had been booked under the Drugs Act.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Crackdown: Police arrest 60 criminals in capital

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 19:09

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad police on Saturday said they had launched a crackdown against criminals and professional alms-seekers in the capital.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Operations) Islamabad Sajid Kiani had directed officials to specially focus on apprehending professional beggars.

Following his orders, Islamabad police launched search operations in different parts of the capital in which 49 suspected criminals and 10 proclaimed offenders along with two professional beggars were arrested.

Further, police said they had impounded 211 bikes as well as seven vehicles which were being driven without proper documents during in the last 24 hours.

SSP Kiani said that the purpose of the search operation was to ensure high vigilance. He urged citizens to remain vigilant and inform police in case of any suspicious activity around them.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

Mountain festival: Capital’s girls scale rock walls in Margalla

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 19:08

ISLAMABAD: Maham Tariq scrambled up the jagged rock face at the Jasmine  Corner of the Daman-e-Koh in the Margalla Hills National Park as dozens of other young climbers gathered underneath, watching in awe the technique being employed by her to make it to the top.

The strenuous exercise was part of a rock climbing event on Saturday to kick off the 6th annual Pakistan Mountain Festival, held to commemorate International Mountain Day.

The week-long festival has been organised by the Development Communications Network (Devcom-Pakistan), and Saturday’s rock climbing event at Daman-e-Koh was organised in collaboration with the Adventure Club.

The event was held to allow youngsters to explore their potential and to challenge themselves in a rough environment. While those having experience with climbing tried to clamber up the rock face, those who were new were given the basic lessons on climbing.

After expertly managing her way up the rock face, Tariq said rock climbing helps boost her confidence and prepare her for untoward situations.

Saba Nazir, one of the climbers, said that parents  usually do not allow their daughters to take up sports such as rock climbing , adding that girls should be given equal opportunities play all types of sports.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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Categories: Pakistan & World News

G-B expects 1.2m tourists next year

Sat, 12/03/2016 - 19:06

The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) government expects at least 1.2 million tourists to visit the scenic resorts of the region rich with natural beauty.

“Around one million tourists visited G-B during the season that concluded in September and we are expecting atlest 1.2 million visitors next year,” said the G-B Minister for Tourism Sports and Culture Fida Khan.

The regional government in consultation with authorities in Islamabad is formulating polices to promote tourism industry in G-B, the minister said talking to Radio Pakistan.

Tourism is the main source of income of G-B which is endowed with pristine natural beauty of lofty mountains. “Tourist facilitation and information centres will be set up at Gilgit and Skardu airports and in all districts to help guide the visitors,” he said.

The G-B government has decided to put in an extra effort to promote cultural events of the region. Calendar of events would be implemented and steps will be taken for development of sports and culture, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2016.

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