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Updated: 3 days 7 hours ago
Ethiopian Airlines dispatched its first-ever flight operated by a crew that is all female to Bangkok on Thursday.
Women filled every role on the flight from the pilots and cabin crew to in flight ramp operations as well as flight dispatchers on ground, the company revealed in a press release.
The airline says it wants to promote women’s empowerment and encourage more African women to pursue aviation careers.
In an earlier statement, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said attracting more women to jobs in aviation is one of the reasons for hosting the all-female flight, together with empowering women.
“It’s going to be very inspiring for all the women all over the world, aviation women and particularly the African woman. Because, as you know, here in the continent of Africa, we are lagging behind in women empowerment. So this is going to inspire all the school girls in Africa that they have a very bright future in the 21st century,” he said.
Although one-third of its employees are women, the figure is smaller when it comes to positions such as pilots and technicians, says Ethiopian Airlines.
Haymanot Endale, a 22-year-old cabin maintenance technician who has been working at Ethiopian Airlines for two years, said even though there are many girls working as flight attendants, as a technician, she mostly works with men.
“I think that outside of the Ethiopian Airlines, girls think that the work is very difficult, so they did not enter [come work for] this company. But we enter and we see that it is very easy,” Endale said.
This article originally appeared on Onlineethiopia
The post Ethiopian Airlines makes history with all-female flight crew appeared first on The Express Tribune.
QUETTA: Iranian border guards fired four mortar shells into Pakistani territory in Chedgi area of Balochistan on Saturday.
A senior official of Balochistan government confirmed that Iranian border guards violated the Pakistani frontiers. However, no loss of life was reported in the attack.
Iranian border guards fired eight mortar shells in the same area on October 17. Similarly, a few months ago, mortar shelling from the border killed two people inside the territory.
Areas like Panjgur, Mand, Washuk and Chagai on several instances have constantly witnessed mortar shelling by Iranian security forces.
Pakistan has raised the issue with the Iranian government but Tehran categorically stated that it would target ‘terrorists’ trying to disturb peace in Iran whether they are in Iran or Pakistan.
Separately, on Saturday, two security personnel were injured when their convoy came under attack in Proom area of Panjgur.
The post Iranian border guards fire four mortar shells into Pakistani territory appeared first on The Express Tribune.
A Vietnamese man has been forced to take the unusual step of posting a screenshot of his passport on Facebook after his account was blocked thrice for using a ‘misleading title.’
The unfortunately named ‘Phuc Dat Bitch’, whose name is actually pronounced Phoo Da Bic, has been greatly perturbed by his Facebook account being blocked multiple times.
“I find it highly irritating the fact that nobody seems to believe me when I say that my full legal name is how you see it,” he said, days after he was banned from the social media site.
“I’ve been accused of using a false and misleading name of which I find very offensive,” he added.
Bich links his frustration to the Westerners’ lack of understanding on Asian names that often appear amusing to them.
“Is it because I’m Asian? Is it?” he asked in a Facebook post.
Bich is not the first user to have his Facebook blocked for having a weird name.
A few days ago, a woman named Isis Anchalee said that Facebook deleted her profile as they thought she was a terrorist.
Responding to the increasing complaints, Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox issued an apology for the hardships people have to go through owing to the real-name policy of the tech giant.
“In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we’ve had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We’ve also come to understand how painful this has been,” Cox said.
The article originally appeared in The Independent.
The post Vietnamese man posts passport on Facebook to prove his ‘weird’ name is real appeared first on The Express Tribune.
VATICAN CITY: The Vatican has charged five people over a damning leaks scandal at the heart of the Catholic Church, with a preliminary hearing set for November 24, Italian media reported Saturday.
Vatican deputy spokesperson Ciro Benedettini confirmed to AFP that “summons are being served”, adding that an official statement would be made later.
“Vatican magistrates have charged five people at the end of an investigation into the stealing and publishing of confidential Holy See documents,” the Repubblica daily said.
Spanish priest Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda and Italian PR expert Francesca Chaouqui were arrested early this month on suspicion of stealing and leaking classified documents to the media.
Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi were questioned after they published books containing leaked information.
Vallejo Balda and Chaouqui were both members of a special commission set up by Pope Francis to advise him on economic reform within the Vatican. The fifth person, Nicola Maio, also worked with the now defunct commission.
Fittipaldi told Italy’s ANSA news agency he was stunned by the Vatican’s move.
“Maybe I’m naive but I believed they would investigate those I denounced for criminal activity, not the person that revealed the crimes,” he said.
The journalist said that under a law introduced in 2013 on the pope’s bidding, he and the others risk up to eight years in jail.
Chaouqui was released shortly after her arrest, pledging to cooperate with the authorities, but Vallejo Balda is still in a Vatican jail.
The scandal, which has revealed uncontrolled spending by the Vatican as well as accusations of corruption and theft, has awoken painful memories of the last time employees aired the centuries-old institution’s dirty laundry.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI’s butler engineered a series of leaks that revealed fierce infighting in the highest echelons of the Catholic Church and allegations of serious fraud in the running of the city state.
He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, before being pardoned by the pope but banished from the Vatican forever.
Dawn.com editor-in-chief tweets ‘puke’ and calls other speakers ‘dull’ at Karachi Grammar School annual career fair
It is considered an honour to be invited to visit your alma mater to speak to idealistic students about your career choice. However, that wasn’t the case for Dawn.com’s editor-in-chief Jehanzaib Haque who spent an entire ceremony at Karachi Grammar School making fun of the other invited guests and the school itself.
Haque has since deleted his tweets after the organisers were forced to complain. But The Express Tribune managed to get a copy for your amusement and disgust.
Moral of the story: Some people have no manners. We don’t think he’s going to be called back next year!
Yup, you read that right. If you are one of those people who hate the smell of mosquito repellents available in the market, fret not because science has got you covered.
A new study published in the Journal of Insect Science
Researchers at New Mexico State University carried out the study to determine effectiveness of mosquito repellents and included the perfume to test claims that fruity floral scents attract insects.
One of the researchers tested the products by putting her repellent/perfume-covered hands in a tube that was full of swarming mosquitoes. The less mosquitoes bit her, the more effective the repellent. These were the results:
According to the study, mosquitoes are attracted to carbon dioxide, lactic acid, and chemical changes made by the bacteria present in our sweat. So anything that combats these proves to be a good repellent.
And as you can see in the image above, Victoria’s Secret Bombshell too serves the purpose adequately.
Talking about scents and other species, did you know Calvin Klein’s perfume attracts wild animals and is used by wildlife photographers and videographers? Yes, that’s right.
Zoo supervisor Louise Ginman told the Scientific American: “We spray it [Calvin Klein] around the enclosure in lots of little concentrated sprays, and when the cats come out and smell it, they literally roll onto the ground, rub their cheeks all over it, and rub their faces with it. I guess it’s kind of like the reaction that you get from a cat when it’s enjoying catnip, they just seem to be in absolute heaven.”
A possible explanation for this behaviour could be the chemical civeton that is found in many perfumes and is said to resemble a territorial marking to jaguars, causing them to respond by rubbing their own scent on it, says zoo researcher and biologist Miguel Ordeñana.
This article originally appeared on Upvoted.
The post Two-in-one: A Victoria’s Secret perfume that’s also a mosquito repellent appeared first on The Express Tribune.
Pakistan’s disappointed head coach Waqar Younis Saturday believed his young players were on a learning curve and will get better despite a one-day series defeat against England in United Arab Emirates.
Pakistan went down by 84 runs in the fourth and final day-night international, handing the series to England 3-1 — their ninth series defeat in 11 since adopting the Gulf States as their neutral venues in 2009.
Waqar said Pakistan started the series well, with a six wicket win in the first match in Abu Dhbai.
“Of course, the ending was disappointing,” said Waqar.
“We started off well but unfortunately we couldn’t finish it well. This is a young team and it’s a learning curve for them.”
England levelled the series with a 95-run win in the second game and achieved a six-wicket win in the third.
Since taking over in June last year Waqar has lost six one-day series which has prompted former captain and coach Javed Miandad to call for his sacking.
Waqar said he takes positive criticism in his stride.
“When you lose, criticism comes and all the positive criticism has to be worked on,” said Waqar who denied Pakistan team is under pressure to qualify for the 2019 World Cup to be held in England.
“I don’t think that’s a concern or builds pressure,” said Waqar of fear of playing the qualifying rounds if they fail to be amongst the top eight teams in one-day rankings on the cut-off date of September 30, 2017.
“You are giving youngster’s opportunity and when you do that in modern cricket, which has become very fast, that takes time.”
Waqar said England’s Jos Buttler played an extraordinary knock to take away the game from Pakistan in Dubai on Friday.
“I don’t think we relied more on spinners, we played one spinner and another was an allrounder. I think without any doubt they played better than us, and the way Buttler played it took away the game from us.”
Buttler smashed 52-ball 116 not out in England’s imposing 355-5 – his hundred coming off just 46 balls, the fastest by an English batsman.
Pakistan were dismissed for 271.
Waqar said he was still “proud” of his players.
“The way they started and played well throughout, unfortunately we lost but I think we have gained that mindset which I have been saying that we have to play positive and attacking cricket.
“I am sure they would have learnt from mistakes.”
Waqar backed leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who managed just two wickets at 82.50 runs.
“It’s a different ball game when it comes to one-days as he takes time to settle,” said Waqar of Shah who took 15 wickets in Pakistan’s preceding 2-0 Test series win.
“I am sure he will be one of the best ODI bowler in near future.”
Pakistan and England will now play three Twenty20 internationals in Dubai (November 26 and 27) and Sharjah (November 30).
DHAKA, BANGLADESH: Two top Bangladeshi opposition leaders who are expected to be hanged within days sought clemency from the president Saturday in a last-ditch attempt to escape the gallows, the country’s justice minister said.
Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, facing execution for their roles in Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war with Pakistan, have sent mercy pleas to the home ministry, Anisul Huq told AFP.
“It won’t be treated as a mercy petition by an ordinary condemned prisoner, which means it will be treated on an urgent basis,” the minister said.
The two leaders have exhausted all legal appeals to avoid execution and their fate now rests with President Abdul Hamid, who has the power to pardon or commute the death sentences of any convict.
Mujahid, 67, is the second most senior member of Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, while Chowdhury, 66, is an ex-lawmaker and a top aide to Khaleda Zia, leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed their final legal appeals, upholding the leaders’ death sentences originally handed down by a controversial war crimes tribunal in 2013.
The president will seek advice from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina before making a decision, Huq said, adding the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the sentences “reflected the desire of the country”.
Mujahid’s son, however, questioned whether his father had in fact sought mercy from the president.
“To seek mercy is to admit guilt. But my father has all along said that he is innocent, innocent, innocent,” Al Ahmad Mabrur, the condemned man’s youngest son, told AFP.
Chowdhury’s son Humam Quader Chowdhury also cast doubt on the mercy plea.
“Until I hear it from my father, I refuse to believe anything the government says. It’s an attempt to humiliate him,” he said.
The pair are among more than a dozen leaders of the opposition alliance convicted by a tribunal set up by the secular government in 2010.
The convictions triggered the country’s deadliest violence since independence, with some 500 people killed, mainly in clashes between Jamaat-e-Islami activists and police.
There are fears the latest verdicts could spark fresh unrest in the Muslim-majority nation, which is reeling from a string of killings of secular bloggers as well as the murders of two foreigners in recent months.
Jamaat called a nationwide strike on Thursday, declaring Mujahid’s original trial “farcical” and “aimed at eliminating” the party’s leadership.
International rights groups and legal experts have also criticised the trial, saying it fell short of international standards.
On Friday New York-based Human Rights Watch asked Bangladesh to halt the “imminent executions” of Mujahid and Chowdhury, citing “serious fair trial concerns surrounding their convictions”.
The post Bangladesh opposition leaders on death row seek pardon appeared first on The Express Tribune.
The International Cricket Council’s anti-corruption unit is investigating England’s win over Pakistan in the third ODI, where Pakistan lost a cluster of wickets batting first, and collapsed from a stable position result in a comfortable defeat.
According to Daily Mail, after the toss in Sharjah, officials were tipped off that the illegal betting market in India, worth billions of dollars per game, was expecting Pakistan to under perform.
ICC received intelligence that there could at least be an attempt to manipulate the betting odds in favour of syndicates who would be betting huge sums.
On Betfair, the day before the Sharjah match, England were tipped as favorites, which was not normal considering it was Pakistan’s home series, and the series was level at 1-1.
During the match, Pakistan became favourites when they were 132-2 in the 29th over, but lost next six wickets for 30 odd runs, which included two run outs.
Anyone in the betting circle can earn a lot, if the person can predict or have the knowledge of any potential batting collapse on the cards. This is called “flip flop” in terms of batting as the odds turn upside down in a matter of few minutes.
The debate began after former England captain Michael Vaughan used Twitter to raise concerns about the wickets pattern of the Pakistani innings, but later deleted his tweets.
Former Pakistan opening batsman Ramiz Raja criticised Vaughan, and called his tweets a “cheap publicity stunt”.
“Vaughan’s comments are highly irresponsible and I think he is just looking for cheap publicity to stay relevant on social media,” said Raja.
“Pakistan’s running has always been bad and we all know Mohammad Hafeez particularly isn’t great between the wickets.
“The team tends to panic whenever it’s under pressure and it is nothing new.”
Pakistan coach Waqar Younis rubbishes match fixing claims, and said he is satisfied with the player’s commitment.
“I am aware of these allegations,” said Waqar
“We may have lost, but we lost fair and square.
“I’m satisfied my players have done nothing wrong, and that there is nothing in these allegations.” conclude Waqar.
The article originally appeared on Daily Mail
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MANCHESTER: Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling will be one of several players facing a former club when Liverpool visit on Saturday, but visiting manager Jurgen Klopp has played down the significance of the reunion.
Sterling, 20, felt the ire of Liverpool’s supporters after rejecting a contract offer from the club at the end of last season and subsequently joined City in a deal that could be worth up to £49 million ($74.9 million, 69.8 million euros).
The England forward’s conduct was criticised by Liverpool greats including Steven Gerrard and Graeme Souness and he can expect a frosty reception from the away fans at the Etihad Stadium, but Klopp said it will be nothing that has not happened inside a football ground before.
“That’s football. It’s normal in football that former players play against their old club or whatever,” the German told his pre-game press conference.
“It’s absolutely normal and nothing special. I don’t know how many friends Raheem had here or has here.
“He played here for a long time, had a good time here. I’ve heard no bad words about him. Good player, good boy, so (let’s be) friendly, shake hands, then it’s football.”
After a quiet start to his City career, Sterling has hit form in the last month, notably netting a neatly taken hat-trick against Bournemouth, and manager Manuel Pellegrini has been pleased by the pace of his adaptation.
“I always say that Raheem is a very young player. He must improve a lot and in important things,” said the Chilean.
“It is important also he can demonstrate it in every game, but I am very happy with the way he is playing so far.”
Liverpool drew the first three games of Klopp’s reign before reeling off three successive wins, including an impressive 3-1 victory away to defending champions Chelsea on the last day of October.
But they lost 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace in their last league game before the international break and go into the weekend seven points off the Champions League places in 10th place.
The consensus over the campaign’s opening weeks was that City were the division’s outstanding team as Pellegrini’s team won their first five matches without conceding a goal.
But their level has dipped since then as injuries have taken a toll and they have won only three of their last seven league matches, culminating in a 0-0 draw at Aston Villa on their last outing.
It has allowed the chasing pack to close in and the concertina effect at the top of the table means that although City enters the weekend as leaders — above Arsenal on goal difference — they could be as low as fourth in the standings by the time the game kicks off.
The two-week international break has given City striker Sergio Aguero time to recover after seven games out with a hamstring injury and he is due to make his comeback against Liverpool.
Aguero’s Argentina team-mate Pablo Zabaleta is also back in contention after a knee problem, but captain Vincent Kompany (calf), playmaker David Silva (ankle), midfielder Samir Nasri (hamstring) and striker Wilfried Bony (hamstring) remain sidelined.
While City’s fans will be delighted at the prospect of seeing Aguero back in a sky blue shirt, Liverpool could also welcome back their key striker if Daniel Sturridge can prove his fitness in time.
The former City man has not played for Klopp yet after hurting his knee in training and remains short of full fitness, but the German said there was a chance he could feature.
James Milner is also in line to play against his former club, having shaken off a hamstring problem.
Liverpool have not won at City in six league games — a run stretching back to October 2008 — but prevailed 2-1 when the sides last met at Anfield in March.
PARIS: European football paid tribute to the victims of attacks in Euro 2016 hosts France during Saturday’s qualifying play-offs which saw Sweden edge Denmark 2-1 and Ukraine beat Slovenia 2-0 in first leg ties.
A minute’s silence was observed before Saturday’s games for victims of the Paris attacks on Friday, one of which was outside the Stade de France where world champions Germany were playing a friendly against France.
In Solna, Paris Saint-Germain star Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his ninth goal in nine qualifiers as Sweden claimed a slight advantage over 1992 champions Denmark.
Ibrahimovic converted a second half penalty after Emil Forsberg had scored his first international goal on the stroke of half-time.
But Danish substitute Nicolai Jorgensen grabbed an away-goal lifeline for his side 10 minutes from time, ahead of the second leg in Copenhagen on Tuesday.
A back-heel from Jimmy Durmaz allowed Mikael Lustig to sprint away down the right flank and his pass reached Forsberg at speed. The Leipzig winger then buried a first-time shot into the corner past Kasper Schmeichel.
The Denmark goalkeeper rescued his team just before the half-time whistle with a diving save to deny Ibrahimovic’s power-packed free-kick from just outside the box.
But Ibra finally made it 2-0 five minutes into the second period, converting a penalty after Thomas Kahlenburg had clumsily tripped Forsberg.
With 10 minutes left, substitute Jorgensen latched onto a Yussuf Poulsen flick-on from an Eriksen corner to boost Denmark’s hopes of making the finals next summer.
Ukraine make home advantage count
Ukraine took a comfortable 2-0 lead over Slovenia in Lviv as Andrei Yarmolenko and Yevhen Seleznyov scored in either half of a bad tempered clash at the packed 65,000-seat Lviv Arena.
Ukraine, who have lost all five of their previous qualifying play-offs for major tournaments, dominated early but Samir Handanovic proved solid in the Slovenian goal in the opening 20 minutes.
However, in the 22nd minute Yarmolenko picked up a rebound after Handanovic failed to clear Yevhen Konoplyanka’s cross and slotted inside the far post with a low shot.
After the break, Ukraine continued to press forward and in the 54th minute Seleznyov got the second with a close range shot off an Artem Fedetskiy cross.
Ireland favourites to confirm spot
Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland will be bidding to carry on from where they left off in their 1-1 first leg draw away to Bosnia in Dublin on Monday, where they can confirm qualification with a clean-sheet.
“Everybody walked off the field [fit] and in terms of other players like Glenn Whelan, Seamus Coleman, Marc Wilson…all those people [avoided bookings], so in that sense it’s really good news,” said O’Neill regarding the 1-1 draw.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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Man of the match Jacques Kallis impressed with both bat and ball as Warne’s Warriors chased down a difficult 220-run target in the third and final T20 of the Cricket All-Stars Series at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Shane Warne’s side won all three exhibition matches against Sachin’s Blasters, with both sides boasting modern legends in a bid to increase the popularity of cricket in the US.
Former India captain Sachin Tendulkar, one of the best players to have ever graced the game, rolled back the years with a 27-ball 56; much to the delight of the fans gathered in the baseball arena, most of them wearing the blue of India.
Tendulkar’s former teammate Saurav Ganguly also scored a half-century as the Blasters managed to make 219-5 in their 20 overs.
Former New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori claimed 3-33 in his four overs while Kallis was the only Warriors bowler to go at less than six an over; giving away 17 runs in his three overs.
In reply, the Warriors seemed out of the competition when they lost three wickets inside the first six overs, including the dismissal of former England captain Michael Vaughan after he was bowled by Curtly Ambrose off the first ball of their innings. However, Kumar Sangakkara swung the momentum in his side’s favour with a counter-attacking 42 off just 21 balls.
Jonty Rhodes was dismissed soon after but former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting and Kallis then showed why they were regarded as two of the most dangerous batsmen of their time.
The duo combined to make 88 runs off just 37 balls before Kallis was dismissed on the third ball of the final over after making 47 off 23 balls.
Skipper Warne then came out onto the middle and finished the Hollywood ending with a six off his first ball when his side needed two to win off two balls, with Ponting unbeaten on the other end at 43.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
The post Cricket All-Stars Series: Warne’s side whitewashes Sachin’s after some Kallis hitting appeared first on The Express Tribune.
KARACHI: Two goals by experienced vice-captain Muhammad Dilber Hussain led the Pakistan junior hockey team to their second win in as many games at the 8th Men’s Junior Asia Cup.
The Colts defeated Korea 3-0 at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Malaysia.
Dilber opened Pakistan’s tally when he converted a penalty corner in the eighth minute, which proved to be the only goal of the first half as Pakistan went in leading 1-0 at the break.
The forward doubled his side’s lead with his second goal of the game in the 42nd minute.
It went from bad to worse for Korea as SeongJae Kim was shown a yellow card in the 48th minute and was forced to sit for the next five minutes.
Pakistan made full use of their numerical advantage and made it 3-0, via Abu Mahmood, just a minute later from a penalty corner to virtually end the match as a contest.
Muhammad Kamal also received a yellow card in the 54th minute to give coach Tahir Zaman’s men a nervy few minutes but the Koreans were unable to break through Pakistan’s obdurate defence, who held on for a convincing 3-0 win.
“Korea are not a weak team; defeating them by this margin is a great achievement,” said Zaman while talking to The Express Tribune from Malaysia. “Dilber displayed his entire repertoire of skills and also showcased his experience.”
The coach also expressed satisfaction with the way his side has begun the tournament, especially in attack. “The team in the last two games has showed tremendous combination play and perfect communication while scoring goals,” he said.
Zaman also hoped the players will improve as the tournament goes along. “It was a good win and I hope the good performances continue,” he said. “This is an important stage for the national junior hockey squad.”
Meanwhile, man of the match Dilber was happy with his contribution. “I am glad that I was able to perform for the team,” he said. “I didn’t feel any pressure because the entire team was playing as a unit.”
The Greenshirts now lead Pool B after claiming two wins in two games. They now face Oman, who have lost both their matches in the tournament so far, on November 17.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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Weeks after a solitary press statement announced their divorce, Reham Khan told a British newspaper that her 10-month marriage with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan collapsed owing to a possible conspiracy and a “witch-hunt” in addition to compatibility issues with the ‘Kaptaan’.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Reham defended herself against accusations of “hitting” Imran, “poisoning him with rat poison” and being an “MI6 spy” as she described the “painful” and “disturbing experience” of a public witch-hunt against her.
Reham says since she did not know him before marriage, her experience of moving in with Imran in his “bachelor pad” was full of shock. She says the house was in a terrible state with Imran surviving on one chapatti a day and eating “raw porridge”.
Asked whether she had shut out Imran’s beloved pet from the bedroom, Reham denies the rumour. “His dog was in love with me.”
Trouble with party members
One of the reasons cited for their split was her growing role in the party.
“I was told specifically by a senior adviser that they basically wanted me to be in the kitchen, to be cooking chapatis and not to be seen ever again.”
She also denied reports that Imran had texted her ‘Talaq’ three times to end the marriage, maintaining that they had mutually decided it.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
The post Conspiracy, incompatibility, behind divorce: Reham appeared first on The Express Tribune.
Only 59 women and 111 non-Muslims are among the 27,542 candidates contesting local government elections in 12 districts of Punjab in the second phase of the exercise. This shows the pathetic state of participation of women and minorities in the political process even at the grass roots level.
Interestingly, most the districts going for polls in the second phase on November 19, are in central and northern Punjab, deemed relatively developed compared to southern Punjab. The districts going for elections in the second phase are Sargodha, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Attock, Jhelum, Mianwali, Chiniot, Toba Tekh Sindh, Hafizabad, Mandi Bahauddin, Sheikhupura and Khanewal.
Though some women and non-Muslim will be elected in the indirect polls once the three phases of direct elections, the meager participation of marginalised segments of society in the actual electoral process raises serious questions.
The Punjab local government act was amended earlier this year through an ordinance limiting direct elections only for two categories; chairman and vice chairman. The seats for women, minorities, peasants/workers have been kept for indirect elections. The councilors elected in the direct elections will choose members on these seats.
However, like the elections for national and provincial assemblies, there is no bar on these segments to take part in the direct elections exercise for LG polls. Very few participate and hardly any get elected.
A total of 14.67 million voters – 8,278,087 male and 6,401,225 female – will exercise their right of franchise in the second phase of the elections in Punjab. The electorates will elect chairmen and vice chairmen, and general members of union councils for district councils which will be set up in main urban areas. Semi-urban areas will have municipal corporations while the rural areas would have municipal committees.
Interestingly, only 12 women are among the thousands of candidates running for the offices of chairman and vice chairman in district councils (to be set up in the big cities) and municipal corporations (to be set up in smaller towns). Eight of these are contesting for office of chairman and only four for the office of vice chairman. In the general councilor category, among the more than 20,000 candidates only 47 are women.
The situation is even pathetic when it comes to participation of non-Muslim men and women. Though election authorities did not provide any segregated data of non-Muslim men and women participating in the polls, their total number is 111 and almost all are believed to be men.
Only six non-Muslims are in the run for the offices of chairman while nine are running for the vice chairman’s slot. The remaining non-Muslim candidates are contesting for general councilors’ slots.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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ISLAMABAD: Despite the lengthy sentences handed to them abroad, over two dozen drug peddlers who were deported to Pakistan from Thailand, walked free within months of their return.
Since 2010, Thailand has deported 42 Pakistanis who had been jailed for heinous crimes, according to the interior ministry.
They had been convicted of drug-related offences and even murder with sentences ranging from decades in prison to life terms, and even death sentences in some instances.
The transfers were part of an agreement signed by the PPP-led government and four other countries, including Thailand, to transfer convicted Pakistani citizens back to serve out the remainder of their sentences in their home country.
Of all those transferred 31 had been set free within months of their return. Only 11 convicts are currently serving their terms in Pakistani prisons.
The interior ministry, in a written reply to MNA Naeema Kishwar Khan’s questions in the National Assembly last week, said that three of those released had been pardoned by the then president, Asif Ali Zardari.
“Twenty-seven prisoners were released by high courts under the Transfer of Offenders Ordinance 2002 without completing their sentences,” noted the interior ministry’s documents available with The Express Tribune.
Only one prisoner, Muhammad Saeed, was released by the courts upon completing his stipulated sentence.
Zardari, who had during his tenure stressed on the fight against drugs to curb terrorism, pardoned three men convicted of drug-related charges.
Among these was Muhammad Zaheer. Convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison in July 2000 by a Bangkok court, he was pardoned by Zardari just months after his transfer to Pakistan. But two years later, he was caught by the Anti-Narcotics Force for allegedly smuggling a large cache of heroin in 2012. A senior ANF official confirmed on Friday that Zaheer was involved in a fresh drug smuggling case.
The former president had also pardoned Syed Shamsul Hadi in 2011 just months after his transfer despite being handed a 40 year jail term by a Bangkok court. Khaliquz Zaman was pardoned in 2012 after spending a few months in jail.
However, it was not the former president who allowed convicts to walk free before their terms were complete. Syed Haider, Irshad Ahmed and Muhammad Nadeem, who had all been sentenced to life by Thai courts, were released by Pakistani courts just a few months after their return. Similarly, drug peddler Raja Imtiaz spent only 17 months in a Pakistani jail even though a Thai court had handed him a life term.
Most of these convicts who were released by Pakistan have now fled the country, interior ministry officials told The Express Tribune. “They [drug barons] have left Pakistan— but the irony is that their names had been placed on the Exit Control List [at the time of their transfer],” an official of the interior ministry said.
“The incumbent government is taking note of the misuse of authority under the agreement. We are contesting the compatibility issue in terms of sentences in the Lahore High Court in a writ petition filed by the 11 prisoners who are still in jail,” the official added.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had suspended the transfer of prisoner agreements pending finalisation of standard operating procedures for such transfers after 40 drug traffickers and peddlers were transferred illegally from Sri Lanka, Thailand and other countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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ISLAMABAD: This is the third part of a series of interviews with former Awami National Party (ANP) senator Afrasiab Khattak tracing the rise and fall of Pakistan’s left wing. In the first part, Khattak explored the emergence of socialism in India under the British Raj, the establishment of leftist factions in the nascent state of Pakistan and golden age of the left wing in the country in the 1960s. In the second part, the former senator described the factors and events that sparked the decline of leftist politics in Pakistan. In this part, Khattak discusses how the leftists’ failed to adapt as the country’s politics shifted at the height of the Cold War in the 1980s and eventually found themselves consigned to irrelevance.
Pakistan’s already fragmented left wing, disillusioned with the Pakistan’s Peoples Party, degenerated further in the 1980s before suffering a final blow with the disintegration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991.
And as religious fundamentalism grew in Pakistan, the leftists left shattered by the dissolution of the Soviet Union failed to readjust and update their narrative to match both local and international politics post Cold War.
According to Afrasiab Khattak, it would be incorrect to pin responsibility for the left’s decline on a few individuals. “There were a number of factors. To start with, the areas that became Pakistan were socio-economically backward compared to developed urban centres like Mumbai, Calcutta, Madras and Delhi.”
“Ours was more or less an agrarian region, some of which was dominated by tribalism. The progressive leftist movement was [as such] weaker here than in areas which became part of India,” he said. “Many non-Muslim leftists left Pakistan for India when the Hindu community migrated, further weakening the left in Pakistani urban centres.”
Those who came from India to organise the leftist movement in Pakistan, while sincere, were unable to grasp the ground realities in the country, he added.
“They couldn’t connect with local mass movements and ethos,” Khattak said. “There was a big Hari movement in Sindh. There was the Khudai Khidmatgar movement in our province (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, then the North-West Frontier Province). In Balochistan, you had the Bizenjo-led Ustaman Gal and Abdul Samad Achakzai-led Wror Pashtun movements.”
“These were all anti-imperialist movements endorsed by common people. They had deep roots. The socialists who came from India could not connect with them,” he added.
Then, during the Soviet-Afghan war, Pakistan was pushed towards the right through large-scale political engineering, according to Khattak. The war coincided with the dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq, who was really hostile towards the left.
“The United States and Western Europe began pumping a lot of resources to stoke religious extremism in our region [Pakistan and Afghanistan],” he said. “They saw Central Asia as the ‘soft belly’ of the Soviet Union. They believed the religious movements they were encouraging here would make their way to Central Asia through Afghanistan.”
The decline of secular nationalism in the Arab world also had a far-reaching impact on Pakistan’s progressive movements, according to Khattak.
“With the separation of East Pakistan, we were cut off from Southeast Asia and gravitated towards the Gulf countries,” he said. “Our labourers went to the Middle East in large numbers and Pakistani society began absorbing a lot more influence from Arab countries.”
Secular nationalism emerged as the dominant force in Middle Eastern politics in the 1950s, with people like Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Ba’ath party of Iraq and Syria. But comprehensive defeats in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1967 and 1975 weakened the movement greatly and helped the rise of Islamic nationalism.
The Muslim Brotherhood was initially the nucleus of Islamic nationalism in the Middle East. However, the Wahhabi ideology became the core of the change when Arab elites too moved towards Islamic nationalism.
During the Soviet-Afghan war, Wahhabism made its way to this region as well, Khattak said.
The final blow to leftists in Pakistan was the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“We believed in non-capitalist development. This thesis hinged on the idea that our societies would progress without capitalism with the help of advance socialist countries,” the former senator said. “When socialist countries collapsed, so did this thesis.”
Khattak discussed the decline of socialism in the context of Vladimir Lenin’s 1918 treatise ‘A Great Beginning’.
“Lenin wrote that after the socialist revolution, socialist and capitalist systems would compete with each other globally,” he said. “Although he said several factors would decide which side emerged victorious, key among them would be productivity of labour.”
“The fact of the matter is that capitalists ended up with more productivity of labour. The socialists, meanwhile, focused more on extensification and then competed with each other,” he added.
However, this, according to Khattak, does not mean that socialism has suffered its ultimate demise.
“The concept of socialism has kept emerging in one form or another throughout human history. The social security systems you see in the West are inspired by socialism,” he said. “As long as there is disparity between people, socialism will emerge in one form or another.”
The former senator insisted that countries like Pakistan particular need socialist democracy.
Khattak also deplored the lack of an alternative narrative in Pakistan. “Political forces go through ups and downs, but what worries me is that our state is neither disinterested nor inactive politically. Our state has been carrying out political engineering, sometimes with naked coercion,” he said.
“Currently, this political engineering has left Pakistan with two Punjabi elites, both of which are basically right wing,” he said, referring to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. “Power will now be handed from one Punjabi elite to the other, leaving no hope for the federating units and the poor.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will inaugurate today (Monday) the second section of the M4 motorway which will stretch from Faisalabad to Multan upon completion.
The M4 motorway is divided into four segments: the 58km Faisalabad-Gojra section, which has already been opened for traffic; the 62km Gojra-Shorkot section, which Nawaz will inaugurate today and is expected to be completed by 2019; the 64km Shorkot-Dinpur section and the 45km Khanewal-Multan section.
Last month, Pakistan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had signed a loan agreement of $178 million for construction of the Gojra-Shorkot section. The United Kingdom will also fund the construction, for which it will provide $90.7 million as a grant. The UK will disburse funds through the ADB. The government will invest the counterpart share of $46 million (Rs4.85 billion), bringing the total cost of the project to $315 million (Rs33.2 billion).
Once the M4 is completed, it will link the southern parts of Punjab with the north through already established networks of motorways. The motorway will extend the M1, M2 and M3 southward and shorten the distance between Multan and the twin-cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Besides decongesting the country’s overburdened transport infrastructure, the M4 is expected to boost trade and travel while reducing time and money from the textile hub Faisalabad to Multan, a major trade centre.
It is likely to open up new opportunities for the residents of Faisalabad, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh and Shorkot by providing faster access to bigger markets.
The motorway is also a step towards positioning Pakistan as a transit artery for goods moving between Karachi-Gwadar in the south and Torkham on the northern border with Afghanistan via the country’s major business and population centres. It will eventually link ports with the landlocked regions of Central Asia.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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Pakistan fears that the working conditions for its nationals living abroad could become starker and harsher in the aftermath of the execution-style killings of 132 Parisians by Islamic State terrorists.
The Paris massacre has already triggered a xenophobic and anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe with far-right groups stepping up their campaigns against the influx of refugees from Muslim countries.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), more than 750,000 migrants are estimated to have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year. Syrians top the list of people seeking asylum in Europe, followed by Afghans, Kosovars, Iraqis, Albanians and Pakistanis.
“The recent terror attacks [in France] will increase hard times for Pakistani nationals. We should formulate a specific policy and strategy to handle this crisis,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said in a statement on Sunday. “These incidents of terrorism will increase difficulties for Pakistanis living in foreign countries.”
The interior minister will also convene an important meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss “how Pakistan could handle the situation emerging in the aftermath of the Paris attack”, an interior ministry official told The Express Tribune.
Foreign ministry officials are likely to attend the meeting where the interior minister is to prepare his recommendations which will subsequently be submitted to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for implementation, he added.
The ministries of foreign affairs and interior should formulate a policy and strategy to help the Pakistanis facing discriminatory behaviour abroad, Nisar said in the statement. “It is our responsibility to safeguard our citizens no matter where they are. Overseas Pakistanis are our asset,” he added.
The interior minister also directed the Federal Investigation Agency to come up with a strategy against human smugglers who are bringing a bad name for Pakistan. “After terrorists, human smugglers are a stigma on the face of humanity,” he said. “The FIA has to speed up its efforts to net all these human smugglers and prepare a strategy to deal with this issue.”
Currently, Pakistan is among Tier-II countries in the Trafficking in Persons Report. And it might slide to Tier-III, if it fails to control human smuggling in near future. Tier-III countries could face international travel restrictions. “What will happen, if Pakistan fails to control human smugglers? We must control this curse,” the interior minister said in a recent meeting of FIA officials.
As many as 97,000 Pakistanis had recently been deported from over 40 countries for their alleged involvement in various illegal activities, according to officials.
The ultraextremist Middle Eastern terrorist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Paris massacre and threatened more such attacks on France. French President Francois Hollande called the attacks as an act of war by Da’ish and vowed a ‘merciless response’.
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, meanwhile, ruled out the presence of Da’ish on Pakistan’s soil and said the country has the capability to tackle such threats. “The Islamic State is a terrorist organisation and Pakistan is capable of facing such threats. No one in the country will be allowed to have any contact with the outfit,” he told journalists at the annual charity bazaar organised by the Pakistan Foreign Office Women’s Association.
Chaudhry said Pakistan has been a victim of terrorism for so many years and has taken a number of steps to curb terrorism, while giving sacrifices to defeat terrorists. “The menace is now dying in the country due to the effective steps taken by the government,” he said.
He said the Pakistani leadership had shown courage, determination and resilience in the face of terrorism and emphasised the need for collective efforts at the global level in this regard. “The people and the leadership of Pakistan are united to fight terrorism,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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ISLAMABAD: Army chief General Raheel Sharif departed for Washington, DC, on Sunday to kick off a five-day visit that has generated a lot of interest in both Pakistan and the United States.
This is the second time Gen Raheel has visited the US this year and comes just a month after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Washington where he met US President Barack Obama. He is scheduled to meet senior military officials, as well as US Vice President Joe Biden, in the American capital, according to officials.
Gen Raheel in his talks with US civil and military authorities will discuss the current security situation in the region, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Lt-Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, who is also in Washington, told The Express Tribune by telephone.
“The situation in Afghanistan will also figure during the talks,” the chief military spokesman said.
Talking to The Express Tribune, security officials in Islamabad said the army chief’s visit was planned three months ago and was aimed at interacting with US military authorities following recent changes there.
They said the army chief will share Pakistan’s perspective on key regional issues, including Afghanistan, with his US interlocutors. The focus will be on reviving the stalled peace process, the officials added.
Speaking at a news conference in Washington, the ISPR DG said Pakistan was still committed to facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process in the war-torn country.
Officials in Islamabad are hoping for a breakthrough which will pave the way for the resumption of peace talks following Gen Raheel’s talks with US authorities.
Talking about Pakistan’s ongoing fight against terrorism, Bajwa said that Operation Zarb-e-Azb had eliminated terror infrastructure from the tribal region.
He said some militants might have fled to Afghanistan due to the sustained campaign by the Pakistani security forces along the border. However, he regretted that Afghanistan had done little to deal with the fleeing militants.
His statement came amid fresh incident of rocket fire at the Pak-Afghan border.
The Pakistani Army said that rockets were fired from Afghan side at Angor Adda in South Waziristan Agency. Five rockets were landed near the vicinity of Pak-Afghan gate inside the Pakistan territory, said the ISPR in a statement.
“Pakistanis also fired in the direction from which rockets were fired. No loss reported,” the statement added.
The latest border incident suggested that there was little headway in normalization of ties between the two neighbors despite efforts by Pakistan calling for re-engaging with Afghanistan.
The army chief’s visit also comes at a time when the world is outraged at the recent coordinated terrorist attacks in French capital France. There have been calls for more concerted efforts against the self-styled Islamic State, which has claimed the responsibility of the Paris attacks.
Officials said the emerging threat posed by IS would also be discussed during the army chief’s visit to the US.
Pakistan is adamant that IS has no footprints on its soil, although the group is reportedly established its foothold in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.
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