Home Collective efforts must for COVID-19, climatic issues redressal: Ambassador Kaminara Pakistan, Iraq intertwine in social, religious, culture bonds: Mandviwalla Healthy environment must for a healthy society: Aida Girma Digitalization has no borders: Dr Steffen Breast cancer is preventable up to 40% by adopting a healthy lifestyle NationalCollective efforts must for COVID-19, climatic issues redressal: Ambassador KaminaraOctober 25, 2020By Shabbir Hussain ISLAMABAD, Sunday, October 25, 2020 (WNP/DL): European Union (EU) Ambassador to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara Sunday said collective efforts were required to address the international issues particularly COVID-19 and climate change. She said while talking to this scribe, the United Nations (UN) was the only platform to response the global issues accordingly. Since its inception the world body, she said, had provided all possible assistance to many countries during the conflicts and crisis times and it had also tried its best to bring the under-developed and developing countries at par with advanced countries. Ambassador Kaminara said, “The EU is a strong supporter of multilaterism and believes that multilateral cooperation is key to peace, human rights and development.” The EU and its member states, she said, were one of the biggest donors and providing almost a quarter in the total UN’s funds for humanitarian support, fighting climate change, upholding human rights and conflict prevention and resolution. To a query, she said the EU and UN agencies such as; FAO, UNICEF, ILO, UNHCR and UNODC were extending their services in various sectors including education, food security, environment, counter-terrorism, and short and medium term response to the COVID-19 in Pakistan. She said the EU had accounted EUR172 million, 30 percent of its total development budget for Pakistan.... Read more...Pakistan, Iraq intertwine in social, religious, culture bonds: MandviwallaOctober 21, 2020ISLAMABAD, Wednesday, October 21, 2020 (WNP/DL): Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla Wednesday said Pakistan and Iraq are intertwined in social, religious and cultural similarities and these bonds keep the people of the two sides connected with each other. He said this during a meeting with Ambassador Iraq Hamed Abbas Lafta here at the Parliament House. The Senate deputy chairman underscored the need for enhanced trade and economic linkages by bringing the business communities of the two sides closer. He said Pakistan and Iraq have always exhibited warmth in bilateral relations and there is need to further strengthen these ties. Both sides also agreed to enhance frequency bilateral delegations at different levels to explore more avenues for cooperation. He said Pakistan offers a conducive environment for investment and Iraqi investors can benefit from the investment opportunities being offered under CPEC. Ambassador of Iraq agreed with the views of Senate deputy chairman and agreed to further consolidate cooperation in different sectors for mutual benefit of the people of two sides. He specifically mentioned that trade between Iraq and Pakistan is at its lowest level which needs to be enhanced through mutual collaboration. Both shall identifying the available and emerging market opportunities in Iraq, exporters suggested that a number of steps could be taken by, restoration of Pak-Iraq Business Counsel and visits of trade delegations from both countries. He underscored the need for enhancing cooperation with Iraq in several sectors, including trade, education and culture. Ambassador of Iraq said Pakistan is an important regional country. He agreed with the views of Senate deputy chairman to build stronger collaboration in multiple sectors.... Read more...Digitalization has no borders: Dr SteffenOctober 18, 2020By Shabbir Hussain ISLAMABAD, Sunday, October 18, 2020 (WNP/DL): Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Resident Representative in Pakistan Dr Steffen Kudella said digitalization had no borders as it had brought the people much closer. Addressing the 9th international conference on ‘The Dynamics of Change in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Region: Politics, (Dis) Integration and Reformation in the Borderland’, he said “Borders separate us, but that does not mean that we are not connected with our neighbours. Today, we are even more connected than ever due to digital change.” Dr Steffen said the HSF felt pride in supporting the digital event to bring the people from Pakistan and Afghanistan together for discussing the key regional issues and sort out their solutions. He said,”Democracy requires those who vote to be prepared to choose wisely. Political wisdom, therefore, is the precondition of any successful democracy, and political wisdom depends on education.” He also inaugurated a digital studio at PSUP, scheduled to host International Summer School on the same topic. Addressing the conference as a chief guest Prof Dr Ijaz Khan Khattak of Quaid-i-Azam University said the people residing along across the Pak-Afghan border had a long history of interaction, besides deep-rooted economic, social and political relations. He said there was a potential for the borderlands to become a source of peace for the region and friendship between Afghanistan and Pakistan by enhancing the cooperation among their people along the border because they belonged to same ethnicity, culture and religion. The online conference was organized by the Department of Political Science of the University of Peshawar (PSUP) and Hanns Seidel Foundation Pakistan. The conference was attended by a large number of people, including faculty members and students of universities, besides national and international experts. Speakers were of the view that the people living along the both sides of Pak-Afghan border could play a vital role for regional peace because of long history of relations based on same religion, culture and ethnicity.... Read more...No scientific evidence to support death penalty: Ambassador AndroullaOctober 9, 2020By Shabbir Hussain ISLAMABAD, Friday, October 09, 2020 (WNP/DP): European Union (EU) Ambassador Androulla Kaminara said the EU had a principled position against the death penalty in all the circumstances and for all the cases that it was unnecessary. Addressing the event on the eve of World Day against the Death Penalty, she said, “There is no valid scientific evidence to support that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments. Instead, it is the certainty of being caught and punished that serves as a deterrent and of course actions to prevent such crimes from happening in the first place. The EU ambassador said,“The call for the death penalty might come from an impulse in reaction to a horrific crime. But as a society, we need to reflect deeper on what justice really means and what needs to be done for such crimes not to happen again. The performance that premiered today invites us to enter this discussion.” Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Dr Muhammad Farogh Naseem said implementing the law regarding criminal justice system in Pakistan was a complicated issue due to some cultural and social taboos and needed improvement. The people in general were not satisfied and had expectations from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government to bring changes in the law so that the accused should not get scot-free, he said while speaking as a chief guest. Farogh Naseem briefed the audience in detail about the reforms measures taken by the present government in the justice system, like early adjudication of civil cases, transfer of inheritance, ensuring rights of women in inherited properties, and provision of legal assistance from the state to the weaker and poorer segments. On the occasion, an art performance titled ‘Before The Sun Comes Up’ was screened to highlight the miseries of a death row prisoner and his sentiments. Ambassadors from the European Union countries, representatives of civil society and government officials attended the function.... Read more...Education officers to visit 7 schools per day to ensure health guidelinesSeptember 29, 2020ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 (WNP/DL): Primary schools will open in the twin cities today (Wednesday) in the third phase of educational institutions reopening, following months shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) has directed all area education officers to visit at least seven schools every day to ensure that health guidelines and standard operating procedure (SOP) to limit the spread of Covid-19 are being implemented. A total of 193 FDE-run primary schools in Islamabad will reopen. FDE officials said that the city’s six area education officers have been told to visit at least seven schools per day. In addition, a team of FDE directors and officers from the Ministry of Federal Education and the capital administration will visit schools as well. Teams from the Private Educational Institution Regulatory Authority (Peira) will also visit primary schools, officials from the authority said. They said that it would be harder to enforce social distancing in primary schools compared to high schools, colleges or universities, particularly with students in nursery up until third grade, which is why teachers will have to make a special effort. Islamabad-based educational institutions have reported more than 30 cases of Covid-19 out of around 15,000 tests. Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mehmood said that the positivity rate is 0.8pc in educational institutions across the country. At a press conference in Islamabad, he said that out of 171,436 tests carried out in educational institutions – not including primary schools – 1,284 have come back positive for Covid-19. He said school administrations, teachers and parents must be more attentive from Wednesday, when primary schools reopen, because young children cannot follow SOP and practice social distancing on their own. SOP has been issued and arrangements have been made by the district administration and education authority as primary schools open in Rawalpindi. Commissioner retired Capt Mohammad Mehmood told media that the government had asked that preparations be made for primary schools to reopen. He said special arrangements have been made for younger students, but parents must also educate children on safety measures. He said teachers and school staff have been directed to explain safety measures and social distancing to students. He said the use of masks, hand sanitiser and other SOP will be monitored, and primary schools will be checked every day. He added that Covid-19 testing is continuing in educational institutions in Rawalpindi as part of the Punjab government’s goal to check all the schools, colleges and universities in the district. Seven out of 2,913 people tested for Covid-19 have been positive since the opening of schools and colleges on Sept 15, he said, while 2,744 were negative and the results of 162 are awaited. Mr Mehmood said teams have been working to collect samples from educational institutions. He said randomised testing has been carried out in 49 colleges and universities. He said the testing process has been slow because capacity cannot exceed 120 tests per day. All the results will be received in a day or two, Mr Mehmood said. Randomised testing will continue in schools where classes for sixth, seventh and eighth graders resumed on Sept 23.... Read more...US Embassy to resume student visa services from Oct 1September 28, 2020ISLAMABAD, Monday, September 28, 2020 (WNP/DL): The United States Embassy in Islamabad is pleased to announce that beginning on Thursday, October 1, 2020, we will resume student visa services at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi. We are proud of the long tradition of student exchanges between Pakistan and the United States. Nearly 8,000 Pakistani students study at universities and colleges across the United States at any given time, and we look forward to welcoming many more who are interested in the American educational experience. Student visas are a top priority for the U.S. Mission in Pakistan. We will make every effort to assist student visa applicants as timely and safely as possible. We have spent the last few months putting measures in place to ensure the health and safety of applicants and our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, applicants are asked to remember that masks and social distancing will be required. We will resume processing for other visa categories as soon as we are able. Applicants may visit our website at http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-expeditedappointment.asp to determine if they qualify for an emergency appointment.... Read more... InternationalHundreds in India protest govt handling of Dalit woman’s fatal rapeOctober 2, 2020NEW DELHI, Friday, October 02, 2020 (AP/WNP/DL): Hundreds of protesters on Friday demanded the dismissal of the government of a northern Indian state where a 19-year-old woman from India’s lowest caste was allegedly gang-raped and later died in a hospital. They carried placards and shouted “Hang the rapists” and ”First raped by devils, then by the system” as they assembled at Jantar Mantar, on open area close to Parliament in New Delhi. The protesters, including Bollywood actress Swara Bhaskar, said the Uttar Pradesh state government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, was not allowing anyone to meet the victim’s family, with police cordoning off their village. They accused authorities of trying to hush up the crime. Police say they have arrested four suspects, all from an upper caste. Indian television news channels on Friday showed their journalists being refused entry to the village by large numbers of police. An officer outside the village said the media would be allowed in after the investigation is completed. Bhaskar said the hasty cremation of the victim’s body without the family’s approval showed the callousness of the state government. She demanded the dismissal of Yogi Adiyanath, the state’s top elected official. The woman was cremated early Wednesday, with the family alleging that police did not allow them to perform her final rites. Videos on social media show the family weeping as police insisted on cremating the body without allowing them to take it home. A leader of the main opposition Congress party, Priyanka Gandhi, who was prevented by police from visiting the family on Thursday with her brother, Rahul Gandhi, said at a prayer meeting at a temple in New Delhi on Friday that blocking off the village was an injustice to the family and showed that the state is unsafe for women. Dalits — formerly known as “untouchables” and at the bottom of India’s Hindu caste hierarchy — are victims of thousands of attacks each year. According to human rights organisations, Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to caste-based discrimination and sexual violence. In India, rape and sexual violence have been under the spotlight since the 2012 gang-rape and killing of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus. The attack galvanised massive protests and inspired lawmakers to order the creation of fast-track courts dedicated to rape cases and stiffen penalties for those convicted of the crime.... Read more...Kuwait ruler, longtime diplomat Sheikh Sabah, dies at age 91September 29, 2020KUWAIT, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 (AP/WNP/DL): Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, the ruler of Kuwait who drew on his decades as the oil-rich nation’s top diplomat to push for closer ties to Iraq after the 1990 Gulf War and solutions to other regional crises, died on Tuesday. He was 91. In a Middle East replete with elderly rulers, Sheikh Sabah stood out for his efforts at pushing for diplomacy to resolve a bitter dispute between Qatar and other Arab nations that continues to this day. His 2006 ascension in Kuwait, a staunch US ally since the American-led war that expelled occupying Iraqi troops, came after parliament voted unanimously to oust his predecessor, the ailing Sheikh Saad Al Abdullah Al Sabah, just nine days into his rule. Yet as Kuwait’s ruling emir, he struggled with internal political disputes, the fallout of the 2011 Arab Spring protests and seesawing crude oil prices that chewed into a national budget providing cradle-to-grave subsidies. The Embassy community wishes to express its deepest condolences to HH the Amir’s family and the people of #Kuwait at this difficult time. We mourn with you and celebrate the extraordinary life & accomplishments of HH the Amir, who devoted his life to peace & regional stability. https://t.co/2gmEqKTuO6 — U.S. Embassy Kuwait (@USEmbassyQ8) September 29, 2020 “He represents the older generation of Gulf leaders who valued discretion and moderation and the importance of personal ties amongst fellow monarchs,” said Kristin Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington who studies Kuwait. “No question he has suffered from the lack of deference and respect shown by the younger and more brash young princes holding power today.” State television announced his death after playing Quranic prayers, with Royal Court Minister Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al Sabah reading a brief statement, his hands shaking. “With great sadness and sorrow, the Kuwaiti people, the Arab and Islamic nations, and the friendly peoples of the world mourn the death of the late His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, emir of the state of Kuwait who moved to the realm of the Lord,” the sheikh said, without offering a cause of death. Sheikh Sabah is expected to be succeeded by his half brother, the crown prince Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmad Al Sabah. The high regard for Sheikh Sabah could be seen in the outpouring of support for him across the Mideast as he suddenly fell ill in July this year, leading to a quick hospitalisation and surgery in Kuwait City amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Authorities did not say what ailed him. A US Air Force C-17 flying hospital then transported Sheikh Sabah from Kuwait to Rochester, Minnesota, home of the flagship campus of the Mayo Clinic — an extraordinary gesture by the American government for a foreign head of state. The Mayo Clinic did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Prime Minister Imran Khan offered condolences on Sheikh Sabah’s death, saying he was “deeply grieved” over his demise. ” Emir’s contributions to Pak-Kuwait relations will always be remembered,” the premier added. Deeply grieved over demise of HH Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, Amir of Kuwait. انا لله وانا اليه راجعون .We extend our heartfelt condolences to Crown Prince, Al Sabah family & to the Kuwaiti people. Amir’s contributions to Pak-Kuwait relations will always be remembered — Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) September 29, 2020 Two Kuwaits Sheikh Sabah’s life spanned two very different Kuwaits. He was born June 16, 1929, just as the country’s pearl-diving industry would collapse. Within the decade, Kuwait would strike oil. Engineers would eventually confirm that the tiny country, slightly smaller than the US state of New Jersey, had the world’s sixth-largest known oil reserves. Sheikh Sabah became Kuwait’s foreign minister in 1963 after holding a number of other governmental posts. He would remain in that position for four decades, making him one of the world’s longest-serving foreign ministers. His country’s greatest crisis came in 1990, when Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and occupied the nation for seven months. Fleeing with other Kuwaiti officials to neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Sabah collapsed and lost consciousness at one particularly stormy meeting of Arab leaders. On February 24, 1991, US troops and their allies stormed into Kuwait. It ended 100 hours later. America suffered only 148 combat deaths during the whole campaign, while over 20,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed. Even before the US entered Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah and others began suggesting a permanent American presence in the region might provide them protection from Iraq and others. “One learns from the past and learns about it for the future,” Sheikh Sabah reportedly said. “One has to consider arrangements that would make not only my country stable but make the whole area stable.” Today, Kuwait hosts some 13,500 American troops, many at Camp Arifjan south of Kuwait City, which is also home to the forward command of US Army Central.... Read more...WHO chief lauds Pakistan for suppressing Covid-19 while keeping economy afloatSeptember 29, 2020GENEVA, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 (AFP/WNP/DL): World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has once again praised Pakistan’s response to the coronavirus, saying the country managed to fight the pandemic while allowing its economy to pick up as the country stabilises. In an op-ed in the British online newspaper The Independent, Tedros noted that Pakistan had deployed the infrastructure built over many years for polio to combat Covid-19. “Community health workers who have been trained to go door-to-door vaccinating children against polio have been redeployed and utilised for surveillance, contact tracing and care,” he wrote. He said this strategy had “suppressed the virus so that, as the country stabilises, the economy is also now picking up once again”. Pakistan’s response reinforces “the lesson that the choice is not between controlling the virus or saving the economy; the two go hand-in-hand”, the WHO chief added. Besides Pakistan, Tedros picked out certain other countries for praise, notably Thailand, Italy and Uruguay, for their handling of the pandemic. He said the grim milestone of one million Covid-19 deaths should spur the planet into fighting back against the disease, insisting that it was “never too late to turn things around”. Tedros said there were encouraging signs of hope, citing vaccine candidates in final-stage trials. One million lives have been lost to #COVID19. This milestone is a difficult moment for the whole world, but there are also glimmers of hope that give us encouragement for the weeks and months ahead. Here’s my opinion piece in the @Independent. #ACTogether https://t.co/A6ze0EcCsv — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) September 29, 2020 And he said that while the world awaited scientific breakthroughs, the new coronavirus could be effectively contained through proven public health measures. “One million people have now been lost to Covid-19 and many more are suffering because of the pandemic,” he wrote. “This milestone is a difficult moment for the world but there are glimmers of hope that encourage us now and in the near future. “No matter where a country is in an outbreak, it is never too late to turn things around.” ‘Seize the opportunity’ Tedros outlined four essential steps to get the pandemic under control, starting with preventing amplifying events and protecting vulnerable groups. He stressed the need for individual responsibility in washing hands, wearing masks and keeping a distance; and for governments to find, isolate, test and care for cases, then trace and quarantine their contacts. “While today’s milestone gives us pause for reflection, this is a moment for us all to come together, in solidarity, to fight back against this virus,” Tedros said. “History will judge us on the decisions we do and don’t make in the months ahead. Let’s seize the opportunity and bridge national boundaries to save lives and livelihoods.” ‘One million tragedies’ The WHO chief reiterated his call for funding for the WHO-led ACT-Accelerator, a globally pooled hunt for Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics and treatments. The programme has just $3 billion of the $38 billion needed to meet the goal of producing and delivering two billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million diagnostic tests over the next year. Meanwhile the Red Cross, also based in Geneva, said the death toll was one more tragic milestone in the rolling humanitarian catastrophe. “Today, we stand in grim solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of families that have lost loved ones,” said Jagan Chapagain, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “A million deaths represent one million individual tragedies and countless heartbreaks.” He added that while fighting the pandemic, “we need to be planning for the support that millions of people will need to rebuild their lives even once this illness is finally defeated”.... Read more...Kuwait’s new ruler to seek stability among fractious, powerful neighboursSeptember 29, 2020KUWAIT, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 (Reuters/WNP/DL): Kuwait’s new ruler in waiting may find it harder than his predecessor to uphold his country’s mediating role between rival Gulf powers, if only because he lacks his late brother’s decades of experience as a conciliator in a polarised region. Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, named crown prince of the oil-producing country in 2006, is in line to succeed his brother Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad, whose death was announced on Tuesday. Under Nawaf, 83, Kuwait is likely to continue to work for stability by staying on good terms with its often quarrelling, powerful neighbours, instead of seeking a leadership role in the region, diplomats say. But he lacks the negotiating skills of the late emir, who spent four decades as Kuwait’s top diplomat, earning the respect of his neighbours for rebuilding ties in the Middle East after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of his small but hugely wealthy country. Swathes of the region remain mired in conflict and strife. Saudi Arabia and Iran are locked in proxy wars across the region. US-Iranian animosity reached historic heights in January when the United States killed top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad. Sheikh Sabah tried until his death to end a Gulf row that has seen Riyadh and its allies boycott Qatar since mid-2017. While foreign policy is unlikely to change under Nawaf, OPEC member Kuwait may lose gravitas internationally, two sources close to the ruling family and one of the diplomats said. “He doesn’t have the experience, the willingness for foreign policy,” one of two sources said. “Inside, Kuwait will stay strong, but outside it will be weaker.” Sheikh Nawaf largely kept a low profile as crown prince and also during previous roles as defence minister, at the time of the 1990 invasion, and interior minister. He is known as a founder of the country’s national guard and has attempted to build security cooperation with Arab states. He had been widely perceived as a surprise choice by the emir in the succession line in 2006, and a reluctant ruler, who was encouraged to accept the role by senior members of the 250-year-old Al Sabah dynasty, said the diplomat. Royal jostling Diplomats and analysts expect he will delegate a larger portion of state affairs to his crown prince because of his low-key style and his age. This means that the person nominated by family consensus as his heir, a post which normally also holds the post of prime minister, will be closely watched. Dozens of senior Al Sabah family members have been jostling for position in anticipation of the choice of crown prince, a role that traditionally manages the government’s often difficult relationship with parliament. A handful of unofficial potential candidates include the late emir’s 72-year-old eldest son, Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, according to the sources close to the ruling family and diplomats. Business-minded Nasser entered the senior ranks of the cabinet in 2017 as defence minister but lost the job last year after the government quit in a row with the country’s influential elected parliament and amid royal infighting. Another candidate is former prime minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah, a nephew of the emir who stepped down in 2011 after lawmakers threatened to question him on corruption allegations, but had remained close to the emir. Sheikh Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, deputy chief of the National Guard, could also be in the running. None of the men — the crown prince and his potential successors — have the diplomatic experience of the emir. Maintaining balance Any potential successor will have to act swiftly to tackle domestic issues after their ascension, such as the government’s often fractious ties with parliament and jostling within the ranks of the Al Sabah, leaving less time for foreign policy. Kuwait’s government is seeking to shore up its finances amid low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic, while depleting its General Reserve Fund to plug a budget deficit. Waiting in the wings is a new generation of royals: senior royal court official Sheikh Mohammad al-Mubarak al-Sabah and international sports figure Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, who had been sidelined over allegations of political meddling in the royal system and corruption, which he denies. Kuwait has the most open political system in the Gulf, with parliament wielding power to pass laws and question ministers, although most senior posts are occupied by Al Sabah members. Friction between the cabinet and the assembly has led to frequent reshuffles or dissolution of parliament, holding up crucial investment and economic reforms. Sheikh Nawaf’s discreet manner and openness to different points of view will be essential for maintaining balance, diplomats say, adding he could give more space for lawmakers to question senior ministers and allow some top cabinet posts to be held by people outside the Sabah family.... Read more...Run for Kashmir tele-marathon cellphone application, Roshan Digital Account launched in ParisAugust 19, 2020By Rehan Khan PARIS, Wednesday, August 19, 2020 (WNP/DL): An event was held here at the Embassy of Pakistan on Wednesday to launch Run for Kashmir tele-marathon cellphone application and Roshan Digital Account. Members of Pakistani and Kashmir community in Paris and officers of the embassy attended the event. Explaining the concept behind the app, Charge d’Affaires Mr. M. Amjad Aziz Qazi said virtual Run for Kashmir is a global humanitarian effort aimed at creating awareness about the atrocities being committed by the Indian occupation forces in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). He said the IIOJK has been under the Indian military siege and its status has unilaterally been changed by the Indian government. Our small steps counted by this app will go a long way in giving our Kashmiri brethren a ray of hope that people living across the world are behind their cause, he added. Mr. Qazi invited members of the Pakistani and Kashmiri diaspora to form teams and take part in this effort while ensuring following social distancing guidelines in order to slow the spread of Covid-19 virus. A presentation was also given on the Run for Kashmir app. While introducing the Roshan Digital Account, Charge d’Affaires said that this would usher in a new era in banking in Pakistan. He regarded it a major initiative of the State Bank of Pakistan, which would provide innovative banking solutions to millions of overseas Pakistanis, allowing them to undertake banking, payment and investment activities in Pakistan. Mr. Qazi said the Roshan Digital Account will integrate the Pakistani diaspora fully into the Pakistani banking and digital payments system providing them access to all conventional account services, including funds transfer, bill payments for their families, e-commerce and other payments in Pakistan in addition to investing in stock market and fixed deposit products offered by banks. Country Manager of National Bank of Pakistan in France, Mr. Mohammad Yaqoob apprised the participants of the account opening and operation details.... Read more...Iran cries victory after UNSC rejects US bid to extend arms embargoAugust 15, 2020TEHRAN, Saturday, August 15, 2020 (AFP/WNP/DL): Iran on Saturday hailed a United Nations Security Council vote rejecting a United States bid to extend an arms embargo on the Islamic republic, saying its foe has “never been so isolated”. President Hassan Rouhani said that the US had failed to kill off what he called the “half alive” 2015 deal with major powers that gave Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear programme. “The United States failed in this conspiracy with humiliation,” Rouhani told a televised news conference. “In my opinion, this day will go down in the history of our Iran and in the history of fighting global arrogance.” Only two of the Council’s 15 members voted in favour of the US resolution seeking to extend the embargo, highlighting the division between Washington and its European allies since President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear accord in May 2018. Washington’s European allies all abstained, and Iran mocked the Trump administration for only winning the support of one other country, the Dominican Republic. “In the 75 years of United Nations history, America has never been so isolated,” said foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi. “Despite all the trips, pressure and the hawking, the United States could only mobilise a small country (to vote) with them,” he tweeted. The result increases the likelihood that the US will try to unilaterally force a return of UN sanctions, which experts say threatens to plunge the Council into one of its worst-ever diplomatic crises. ‘Inexcusable’ “The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defence of international peace and security is inexcusable,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The embargo on conventional arms is due to expire on October 18 under the terms of a resolution that blessed the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Since Trump pulled out of the JCPOA and slapped unilateral sanctions on Iran under a campaign of “maximum pressure”, Tehran has since taken small but escalating steps away from compliance with the nuclear accord as it presses for sanctions relief. European allies of the US — who, along with Russia and China, signed the deal with Iran — have voiced support for extending the 13-year-long conventional arms embargo, saying an expiry threatens stability in the Middle East. However, their priority is to preserve the JCPOA. The US text, seen by AFP, effectively called for an indefinite extension of the embargo on Iran, which diplomats said would threaten the nuclear agreement. Iran says it has the right to self-defence and that a continuation of the ban would mean an end to the nuclear deal. Pompeo announced that members had failed to back the proposal around 30 minutes before Indonesia, the current president of the Security Council, announced that the official results included two votes against and 11 abstentions. Russia and China opposed the resolution. “The result shows again that unilateralism enjoys no support, and bullying will fail,” China’s UN mission tweeted. ‘Snapback’ Ambassador Gunter Sautter of Germany, which abstained, said “more consultations are needed” to find a solution that is acceptable to all council members. During a call between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, the leaders “discussed the urgent need for UN action to extend the arms embargo on Iran”. Hours earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on China, France, Russia, Britain, the US, Germany and Iran to convene an emergency video summit to avoid an escalation of tensions in the Gulf. Washington has threatened to try to force a return of UN sanctions if it is not extended by using a controversial technique called “snapback”. Pompeo has offered the contested argument that the US remains a “participant” in the nuclear accord as it was listed in the 2015 resolution — and therefore can force a return to sanctions if it sees Iran as being in violation of its terms. European allies have been sceptical on whether Washington can force sanctions and warn that the attempt may delegitimise the Security Council. Nevertheless, the US is expected to deliver the snapback letter next week, AFP understands. Analysts suspect that Washington purposefully put forward a hardline draft that it knew Council members would not be able to accept. “The fact is that everybody at the UN believes this (resolution) is just a prelude to a US effort to trigger snapback and sink the Iranian nuclear deal,” Richard Gowan, a UN expert at the International Crisis Group, told AFP.... Read more... BusinessLeading British designer Aralia enters Pakistan with Diyár HomesOctober 20, 2020ISLAMABAD, Tuesday, October 20, 2020 (WNP/DL): Leading British landscape designers Aralia have confirmed their first ever entry into Pakistani real estate market. Aralia are amongst Great Britain’s leading landscape designers boasting a world class portfolio including the £2.8 Billion Chelsea Creek development in London for Berkeley Homes and Centurion Golf Club in Hertfordshire. Aralia will be working on the luxury Islamabad Hills development by Diyár Homes which is poised to be the most luxury real estate community in Pakistan. Commenting on the appointment Patricia Fox CEO of Aralia and lead designer for Islamabad Hills said that they are extremely honoured to be working on this monumental development with Diyár Homes and look forward to creating what will certainly be the most iconic master community in Islamabad. “It is not often we have the opportunity to work on such a large area and particularly at Islamabad Hills where Diyár Homes have allocated more than 77% of the total land area for open areas and amenities we definitely have our work cut out, ” she said. Islamabad Hills is Pakistan’s first luxury resort community and will also be home to ‘The Hills Promenade’ Pakistan’s first luxury outdoor shopping promenade. Commenting on Islamabad and her experience visiting Pakistan, Patricia said “It’s my first-time visiting Pakistan and it has come a very pleasant surprise especially as a landscape designer the natural beauty of Islamabad is second to none. The warmth and hospitality of everyone I have met has been incredible. It is great to be collaborating with local Pakistani architects and designers and we all agree no developer in Pakistan previously has appreciated the natural beauty of Pakistan’s landscape have but for Diyár Homes that is at the forefront of the development, retaining and enhancing the natural beauty”. She said the landscape of Islamabad Hills itself is magnificent, lush green hills and deep valleys which will create a world class idyllic resort setting. Asked about her one favourite feature of Islamabad Hills, Patricia commented “One thing I have never seen anywhere in the world which Diyár Homes are doing at Islamabad Hills is that they have taken the entire entrance area which spans over 350,000 square feet, where you would typically find your most prime real estate and made that into a feature park”. “We are working on some amazing plans for the entrance park to really create a holistic feeling of transition from the outside world into Islamabad Hills. We have some magnificent plans including a tree top walk which I’m currently designing which will take you to the canopy level of the development to give you a bird’s eye view. I’m really excited about this project it’s going to be extremely special”. Commenting on the appointment, a Diyár Homes executive said that they saw a feature showcase garden designed by Aralia at the world-renowned Chelsea Garden Show which was highly innovative combining technology with landscaping and knew straight away we had to bring them to Pakistan. “To say we are pleased would be an under statement, this is unprecedented bringing a world class landscape designer of Aralia’s calibre to Pakistan and will add immense value to the holistic experience of Islamabad Hills”. He said our intention with this project is not only to be Pakistan’s best but amongst the world’s best resort communities and for that we are bringing the world’s leading experts and deliver on that vision we are standing on the shoulders of giants.... Read more...PTI govt has failed to tackle Pakistan’s rising debt: SherrySeptember 30, 2020ISLAMABAD, Wednesday, September 30, 2020 (WNP/DL): PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman slammed the federal government for failing to tackle Pakistan’s rising debt. “It is alarming that Pakistan’s debt and liabilities have surged by Rs14.4 trillion in the last two years, up from Rs29.9 trillion in June 2018 to a whopping Rs44.3 trillion. Over the last two years, the PTI government has been taking on an average of Rs20 billion worth of additional debt a day. No government in the past 73 years has taken on additional debt of Rs 20 billion a day”, she said. “Public debt is breaking all previous records, inflation is highest in the region, and circular debt remains one of the biggest challenges in the power sector. Where is our economy heading?” questioned the senator. Commenting on the galloping circular debt, which remains one of the biggest challenge in our power sector, the senator said, Pakistan’s circular debt in the power sector, currently standing at Rs2219 billion, is expected to swell up to Rs4,000 billion by 2025. The PTI government had vowed to curtail the menace of circular debt. And on the contrary, they have added an addition of Rs1.72 trillion in two years which comes to Rs71 billion a month, or Rs2.3 billion a day”, the Senator added. “The country is already facing severe gas shortages. This is expected to worsen in the coming months, especially during the winter season. Is there anything, any sector that this government can manage properly” added the Senator. “Why was the federal government celebrating a decline in the Current Account Deficit (CAD)? CAD improved mainly due to a historical dip in international oil prices amidst the COVID-19 crisis. During PPP’s time in power, crude oil price was $147/barrel, yet the situation was nowhere close to what it is now”, the Senator added. “Instead of bowing down to the sugar, wheat, and business tycoons, the federal government must work towards providing economic relief to the poor and vulnerable people of Pakistan. It is getting very difficult for the common man to survive during these testing times”, the senator added. Highlighting the lack of parliamentary supervision in the federal government’s economic policies, the senator questioned, “Why is the PTI government not keeping the parliament in confidence when it comes to our economic policies? In any democratic system, the parliament and the opposition have the right to scrutinize and question the government’s performance. Commenting on the importance of revenue collection, the Senator said, “Pakistan is one of the countries in the world with the lowest tax-to-GDP ratio. The federal government must take lessons from Sindh. The FBR’s annual tax directory of 2018 showed that Sindh contributed 45% to the total revenue collection. It is important to point out that tax collection is the principle way of resource mobilisation for sovereign countries.” PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman concluded by saying” the federal government must come up with a tangible short- to long-term economic-sector reform programme to fix matters instead of constantly looking back. The Parliament must also be kept in confidence. We have every right to question the federal government’s negligence and continuous mismanagement in the economic sector.”... Read more...Move to sell extra telecom spectrum for $1bnSeptember 30, 2020ISLAMABAD, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 (Reuters/WNP/DL): Pakistan will this week begin the process of selling unused telecom spectrum in an auction it hopes will raise around $1 billion and enhance network capacity, said three senior government officials familiar with the matter. The spectrum is in the 1800 and 2100 MHz bands typically used by operators for 4G LTE (long-term evolution) networks that offer faster video streaming and internet downloads, said the officials. They asked not to be named as they were not authorised to discuss the matter with the media. The country plans to kick-start the process by laying out plans to retain an international consulting firm that would design the auction process, and advise on base pricing and other details, they said, adding that no sale date has yet been set. Pakistan is anxious to replenish state coffers that have been hit by a slump in the economy and in tax collections exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. A spokesman for Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said the process to hire a consultant for “Spectrum Auction 2020-21” has been initiated. He declined to give further details. The country has some 85 million 3G/4G subscribers, and the upcoming auction is seen as a precursor to any 5G launch. The Pakistan telecom market is dominated by Jazz, backed by Netherlands-based Veon Ltd; Telenor Pakistan, backed by Norway’s state-controlled Telenor; Zong, owned by China Mobile and Ufone, which is controlled by state-owned Pakistan Telecommunication Company Ltd.... Read more...Universities train young entrepreneurs from merged districts online with US cooperationJuly 24, 2020ISLAMABAD, Friday, July 24, 2020 (WNP/DL): Bahria University and Islamic International University Islamabad, in partnership with the US government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the local business community, launched a digital platform to provide business incubation training to select entrepreneurs from the merged districts of Khyber, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan. The shift to online course work offers great new opportunities for developing business skills while COVID-19 public health precautions limit in-person meetings. The training supports aspiring business leaders as they develop their ideas and products under the mentorship of highly experienced professionals. Candidates with the most innovative ideas will also receive an implementation grant. “This program is aligned with the Government of Pakistan’s strategy to empower youth from the merged districts and provide them with the skills to enhance their self-reliance, and thus build resilience,” said USAID/Pakistan Khyber Pakhtunkhwa/FATA Director Randy Chester. “We are pleased to see how our partner institutions quickly adapted the formerly in-person course to an online format given the COVID-19 challenges, preventing a break in learning. It also challenges the participants to revise their business plans to adapt to or address the challenges the pandemic has introduced.” “Before this training, I had no idea about the essential components of a business,” said Jamaima Afridi, a young entrepreneur from Landi Kotal, Khyber. “Now enlightened with the concepts of marketing, finance, and human resources through this program, I am planning to open a cafe in Peshawar exclusively run by women for women.” Prior to launching the digital platform, the program already provided business incubation training to 369 individuals from Khyber, North Waziristan, and South Waziristan Districts. The program has also provided business incubation grants to 138 individuals to start or scale-up existing innovative enterprises.... Read more...EU for joint venture in green economic recovery by investment, capacity-buildingJuly 21, 2020By Muhammad Rizwan ISLAMABAD, Tuesday, July 21, 2020 (WNP/DL): European Union (EU)’s delegation to Pakistan Tuesday called on the Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam. Both sides discussed at length various matters of bilateral collaboration and cooperation-related opportunities in the fields of in green economic recovery through investment and green job creations, environmental sustainability, climate change, forest management, air pollution and water conservation and protection for boosting latter’s climate resilience against unfolding climate change-caused disasters. The EU delegation was led by Anne Marchal, EU Minister and Deputy Head of Mission, Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan. During the meeting, the EU delegation members lauded the present government’s green and clean initiatives for creation of green jobs through green economic recovery, protection of environment, forests, the wildlife and enhancing Pakistan’s resilience against negative fallouts of climate change on agriculture, forests, water, food, energy, health, education and lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable communities. “We are looking forward to contribute our role through our experiences in overall post COVID-19 green recovery through enhanced investment in green sectors including forestry environmental protection and climate change resilience through mitigation and adaptation initiatives in the country’s climate-vulnerable socio-economic sectors,” Anne Marchal told the prime minister’s advisor. Malik Amin Aslam welcomed the interests of the EU and its offer to join present government’s green and clean initiatives launched over last two years for overall environmental conservation and protection and Pakistan’s climate resilience. “We are happy to hear that the EU is looking towards opportunities for collaboration and cooperation for jointly working and sharing its experiences regarding environmental conservation, water management, disaster risk management and climate resilient-agriculture,” he told the EU Mission’s deputy head in Pakistan. While sharing details of the present government’s green and clean Pakistan initiatives, he told the delegation members that the climate change ministry has launched various flagship programmes and projects including the world’s largest afforestation programme of 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, Clean Green Pakistan Programme, Protected Areas Initiative, Plastic-Free Pakistan Initiative, Recharge Pakistan Initiative as a part of the country’s efforts to achieve environmental sustainability and climate resilience through conservation and protection of environment, forests and wildlife, wherein community and youth engagements are being assigned the heightened priority. “However, we welcome any support and collaboration at any scale between Pakistan and European Union bloc and with its member countries, respectively, that would surely help deepen the bilateral relations and help boost Pakistan’s efforts for environmental conservation and protection as well as reducing the country’s disaster vulnerability,” he hoped. Malik Amin Aslam also informed her that a novel Protected Area Initiative, approved last month by the Prime Minister, has been launched recently under the umbrella programme ‘Green Pakistan’, which is the present government’s historic milestone for nature conservation, aims to increase the country’s protected areas cover from 13 percent to 15 percent by 2023 and create 5,000 green jobs across the country that are viewed as crucial in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time protected natural resources of the country. He also said the Prime Minister Imran Khan had also approved the ‘Green Stimulus’ package in April this year as part of the government’s efforts to extend green cover in the county and to create job opportunities for the youth, under which so far over 86,000 green jobs have been created for daily wagers rendered unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, an agreement was signed on Monday according to which the World Bank will provide 188 million US dollars to Pakistan to address environmental degradation, deforestation and climate change-caused disaster risks in the country, the PM’s aide added. Malik Amin also remarked that the world today has been forced to accept that it is the destruction of wildlife habitats as well as the degradation of the world’s ecosystems that are the root cause of the pandemic — Covid-19. “However, this ongoing catastrophe is painfully reminding us that collectively we no longer have a choice but to respect the natural limits and boundaries of our coexistence with other species. Nature, while reclaiming lost space, seems to be rebalancing our relationship with it,” He emphasised. He said further, “Given the background, protected areas remain one of the prime nature-based tools for actualising this rebalancing act in the nature.” “They do that by providing a safe haven for nature to flourish, valuable biodiversity to survive, and for life itself to sustain. These protected refuges of nature also create a payback mechanism by creating spaces for human recreation, promoting ecotourism, generating green jobs, enhancing resilience to natural disasters, contributing to food and water security through ecosystem restoration and addressing issues such as climate change by sequestering carbon,” the advisor explained. The Pakistani delegation, led by the Prime Minister’s aide Malik Amin Aslam, comprised the climate change ministry Secretary Naheed Shah Durrani.... Read more...PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York has piqued Trump’s interest, NA body toldJuly 15, 2020ISLAMABAD, Wednesday, July 15, 2020 (WNP/DL): As the government goes about deciding which line it should eventually take to turn the PIA-owned Roosevelt Hotel in New York into a profitable entity, the luxury property has piqued the interest of a name all too familiar in American real estate: Donald Trump. The revelation came as a top Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) official informed the National Assembly Standing Committee on Privatisation on Wednesday that the United States president is interested in purchasing the hotel, located in New York’s Manhattan borough. At the outset of the meeting, committee member Khawaja Asif of the PML-N inquired from PIA officials whether anyone had shown interest in buying the property. Asif, a former foreign minister, then noted that Trump had wanted to purchase it. At this, PIA Investment Limited Managing Director Najeeb Sami disclosed that the American president “is still showing interest in Roosevelt”. Billionaire-turned-president Trump already owns seven luxury hotels and several resorts and clubs in a number of major cities across the US, according to The Washington Post. In his briefing to the committee, Sami said that Roosevelt is a three-star hotel which had been profitable for 99 years. However, the hotel suffered a loss of $1.5 million last year, the official added. He said it was not profitable for PIA to run the entire hotel on its own and it should, therefore, be replaced with offices and hotels. “It has been decided to give Roosevelt Hotel on lease on a long-term basis,” Sami told the lawmakers. Earlier this month, the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) had decided against selling off the Roosevelt and to run it through a joint venture instead. The CCoP had directed the Privatisation Commission to appoint a financial adviser to start the process for the transaction in light of a report by accounting firm Deloitte from July 2019 which recommended that “the highest and best use of the Roosevelt Hotel property is to redevelop the site into a mixed-use (through joint venture) of primarily an office tower over retail and condominium.” Asif said although his party did not oppose privatisation “at all”, this wasn’t a suitable time to privatise any entity because the coronavirus pandemic has caused market prices of almost everything to fall. He said the rights of employees should be protected whenever privatisation is carried out and they should be provided enough funds to start their own businesses. People who own real-estate businesses abroad should not be made part of the body deciding the hotel’s fate as it could lead to corruption, Asif added. The PML-N lawmaker observed that PIA itself could not be privatised in the current circumstances either. He acknowledged that it was a “mistake” on PML-N’s part that it remained unable to privatise the national flag carrier during its tenure. Privatisation Minister Muhammad Mian Soomro informed the committee that various options were currently being looked into regarding the fate of the Roosevelt, adding that a financial adviser will take the decision regarding leasing out the hotel. The PIA-owned 19-storey hotel with 1,025 rooms plus allied facilities in New York is considered a valuable property that also carries cultural significance for Pakistan. It has remained in the news for the last several years over its proposed auction. However, the management of PIA in the past had always rejected the claims of auction, etc. The hotel was acquired by PIA Investment Limited on lease during the year 1979 with an option to purchase the property. The airline had purchased the hotel for $36.5 million against a demand of $59.5m by contesting a lawsuit against the owner in 1999. The Roosevelt has been managed by Interstate Hotels & Resorts since 1997.... Read more... SportsSpin hero Rashid Khan pays tribute to late mother, his ‘biggest fan’September 30, 2020ABU DHABI, Wednesday, September 30, 2020 (AFP/WNP/DL): An emotional Rashid Khan dedicated his man-of-the-match performance to his mother, who died earlier this year, after he bowled Sunrisers Hyderabad to their first win of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The Afghan leg-spinner took 3-14 from his four overs to restrict Delhi Capitals to 147 for seven in their chase of 163, handing Hyderabad a win by 15 runs in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Khan, who tops the world Twenty20 bowling rankings, said his mother was his “biggest fan”. “Tough one-and-a-half years for me, first my dad expired and then my mom three-four months ago,” said the 22-year-old. “And it took a bit of time for me to come back. My mom was my biggest fan, especially in the IPL and when I was the man of the match, she would always talk to me through the night.” Khan, one of 12 siblings, made his debut for Afghanistan in 2015 and has emerged as a key figure in the war-torn nation’s rise as a cricketing force. The in-demand bowler has travelled the world to take part in leagues including Australia’s Big Bash, the Caribbean Premier League and the Pakistan Super League. Hyderabad skipper David Warner was all praise for the “outstanding” spinner who stood out with an economy rate of 3.50. “Rash is Rash, he knows what he has to do and the way he came out and delivered tonight was exceptionally great,” said Warner. “He knew he had a big role tonight with young (spinner) Abhishek (Sharma) at the other end. Extra bit of pressure for Rash, (but) he held is nerve and was outstanding.” Warner contributed with a gritty 45 and a 77-run opening stand with England’s Jonny Bairstow, who top-scored with 53, in Hyderabad’s 162 for four after being put in to bat first. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson also played a key role after hitting a 26-ball 41 in his first game of the season for the 2016 IPL champions, who lost their opening two matches in the United Arab Emirates.... Read more...Ertugrul proves motivating force for Pakistan, says Azhar ahead of must-win England TestAugust 20, 2020SOUTHAMPTON, Thursday, August 20, 2020 (AFP/WNP/DL): Turkish TV blockbuster Ertugrul is being used as an unlikely motivator for the Pakistan team ahead of their must-win third Test clash against England, captain Azhar Ali said on Thursday. The 35-year-old added they were in a good state of mind despite the crushing disappointment of losing the first Test when they were in a strong position to win it. The second Test was a virtual washout — at the same Ageas Bowl venue where the third Test gets underway on Friday — due to bad light and rain. TV series Ertugrul, which has run for five seasons (2014-19) and is a big hit in Pakistan, has proved a winner for raising morale, said Azhar. The series, a mix of historical fiction and adventure, is based around the life of Ertugrul, the father of Osman I, who was the founder of the Ottoman Empire. Available to stream in England, it’s been a crucial diversion for a squad confined to bio-secure sites for the duration of their stay. “Yes I think there is no player who is not watching Ertugrul,” Azhar said in his eve of match press conference conducted in Urdu. “It’s tough to lift the side after losing a winning match but we have done well to lift ourselves and will do our best to level the series by winning this Test.” Later in the English section of the press conference, Azhar said what made it easier to recover from the first Test disappointment was the harmony in the dressing room. “I’m lucky to have such a nice bunch of guys who are putting everything in for Pakistan,” said Azhar. “They have gelled really nicely, which makes the job very easy for me, so I focus on all the strategies. “I’m enjoying it. Hopefully we can win this Test and move forward from there.” Azhar addressed his own lack of form with the bat — he was out for a duck and 18 in the first Test. “I was feeling really confident about myself in the two hours or so I spent at the crease in my previous innings (20) and my balance was good as well,” he said. “It is my responsibility to make sure that I score runs.” Azhar also backed young pace bowling duo Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi to be a more potent attacking threat at the Ageas Bowl. Naseem has two wickets at 49.50 with Shaheen’s three coming at 45.66. “They are exciting characters but you can’t buy experience without playing. We have to back them,” he said. “We are lucky enough to have these exciting fast bowlers, although they are young. Naseem is nearly 18 and Shaheen is just 20. “They are bowling really well, putting the opposition under pressure and we are backing them because you can’t just sit outside and gain experience, you have to play.”... Read more...Former Indian captain MS Dhoni announces retirement from international cricketAugust 15, 2020NEW DELHI, Saturday, August 15, 2020 (Reuters/WNP/DL): Indian wicketkeeper-batsman and former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket on Saturday in a cryptic message posted on Instagram. Dhoni, who turned 39 in July, quit Test cricket in 2014 and has not played a limited overs match for India since taking a break after the team’s semi-final exit at the 50-overs World Cup in July last year. “Thanks a lot for your love and support throughout. From 1929 hrs consider me as Retired,” he wrote on Instagram with a video montage which had images from his 15-year international career. View this post on Instagram Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout.from 1929 hrs consider me as Retired A post shared by M S Dhoni (@mahi7781) on Aug 15, 2020 at 7:01am PDT As captain, Dhoni led India to the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup title in 2007 and he repeated the feat at the 50-overs World Cup on home soil in 2011. Dhoni ends his ODI career having played 350 matches, scoring 10,773 runs and effecting 444 dismissals. He holds the record for most dismissals in T20 internationals with 91 in 98 matches. He also captains the Chennai Super Kings in the franchise-based T20 Indian Premier League but did not specify if he has retired from all cricket.... Read more...Rain causes fresh delay to England-Pakistan 2nd TestAugust 15, 2020SOUTHAMPTON, Saturday, August 15, 2020 (AFP/WNP/DL): Rain meant there was no play before lunch on the third day of the second Test between England and Pakistan at Southampton on Saturday in a match already plagued by stoppages for bad weather. Play should have resumed at 11:00am local time but light rain meant the pitch and square remained fully covered, with the floodlights then on full beam. Had the players been on the field, play may well have continued given the rain was only of the ‘spitting’ kind. But, with no spectators present in the series being played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus, the floodlights were then switched off in a clear indication the umpires had decided there would not be any action before lunch. Pakistan, 1-0 down in the three-match series, will resume on 223-9 in their first innings, after winning the toss, following a second day where only 40 overs’ play took place. Mohammad Rizwan batted with huge skill and resolve in overcast, swing-friendly conditions, to be 60 not out. In partnership with dogged tailender Mohammad Abbas (two off 20 balls), the wicketkeeper took Pakistan past 200 in a ninth-wicket stand after they had come together with the tourists struggling at 176-8. This was Rizwan’s second fifty in eight career Tests following his 95 against Australia in Brisbane in November. Pakistan were also indebted to opener Abid Ali (60) and Babar Azam (47) for painstaking innings when the conditions were stacked against the batsmen. Meanwhile in-form paceman Stuart Broad became the first England bowler since off-spinner Graeme Swann 11 years ago to take at least three wickets in seven consecutive Test innings thanks to a return of 3-56 in 25 overs. Broad has taken 25 wickets in four Tests so far this season at a miserly average of 12.88. Victory in this match will see England secure their first series win over Pakistan since 2010.... Read more...Babar Azam punishes sloppy England with fine fifty in first TestAugust 5, 2020OLD TRAFFORD, Wednesday, August 05, 2020 (Reuters/ WNP/DL): Babar Azam struck a fluent unbeaten half-century as Pakistan closed a rain-shorted first day of the first Test against England on 139 for two at a gloomy and wet Old Trafford on Wednesday. Babar (69 not out) showed all his skill and class to weather an early storm from the England bowlers, and wrestle away the initiative along with the more sedate opener Shan Masood (46 not out). England were superb before lunch, heading into the interval with Pakistan on 53 for two, but wayward and tepid after the break as the tourists piled on 68 runs in 16.1 overs before rain brought an early tea. The players came back late in the day for 7.5 overs, but bad light meant England had to bowl spinners Dom Bess and Joe Root, and Pakistan were able to see off their threat. The closest the home side came to a wicket was a stumping chance for Jos Buttler against Shan off Bess, but the bounce of the ball eluded the wicketkeeper and the left-hander survived. Fast bowler Jofra Archer took the first wicket in the innings, bowling Abid Ali (16) with a delivery that nipped back and burst through the gap between bat and pad after a tentative prod from the batsman. Seamer Chris Woakes then claimed the big scalp of touring captain Azhar Ali, trapped leg before wicket for a duck, which left the visitors teetering at 43 for two as the ball whistled about in the gloom. Yet they were unable to hammer home that advantage, instead losing their line, length and intensity in a limp post-lunch session as Babar and Shan added an unbeaten 96 for the second wicket. Pakistan had won the toss and elected to bat, with England captain Root admitting he would have done the same, hopeful of utilising a wearing wicket late in the game that is expected to take turn. It is for that reason they have selected a pair of leg-spinners in Shadab Khan and Yasir Shah, but will want to give them something to bowl at by building a sizeable first innings total.... Read more...Amir to join Pakistan squad in England after child’s birthJuly 20, 2020LAHORE, Monday, July 20, 2020 (Reuters/WNP/DL): Fast bowler Mohammad Amir, who had initially pulled out of the England tour, will join the Pakistan squad following the birth of his second daughter last week, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Monday. The white-ball specialist and masseur Mohammad Imran underwent Covid-19 tests on Monday and they must register two negative results before they can join the team in England, the board said. “If their first tests return negative, they will be moved to a bio-secure environment in Lahore where their second tests will be conducted on Wednesday, with the expected departures over the weekend,” the PCB said. Update on Amir and Shoaib travel planshttps://t.co/HByd6QPjt7 pic.twitter.com/aiVeNR1phk — PCB Media (@TheRealPCBMedia) July 20, 2020 All-rounder Khushdil Shah will miss the first Test against England with a fractured thumb, the board said on Sunday. Khushdil has been ruled out for up to three weeks after injuring his left thumb while batting during Saturday’s training session in Derby. Teammate Abid Ali also survived a scare after being struck on the helmet while fielding at forward short-leg during an intra-squad match on Sunday. “Abid is absolutely fine and will be available to resume training on Wednesday following Tuesday’s rest day,” team doctor Sohail Saleem said. “He underwent a precautionary CT scan which has also returned normal.” The three-Test series begins in Manchester on August 5, with the last two matches scheduled in Southampton. Beginning on Aug 28, Pakistan will also play three Twenty20 Internationals against England with Manchester hosting all the matches.... Read more... DomesticAJK election commission for not using COAS’s picture for political mileageOctober 2, 2020MUZAFFARABAD, Friday, October 02, 2020 (WNP/DL): The Election Commission of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has warned political parties against using portraits of army officers, mainly the chief of army staff (COAS), and heads of any other institutions such as the judiciary in their newspaper advertisements and panaflex banners and posters. An order to this effect was issued by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Abdul Rashid Salahria after the picture of a welcome banner put up by a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader, which carried portraits of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and another central party leader, went viral on social media, with many users criticising the alleged “politicisation of the armed forces”. “We have received complaints that some political parties are using pictures of the army chief in their advertisements and panaflex banners. Under law, no individual or political party can use or run a campaign on the basis of the pictures of the army chief or the head of any other institution. Such a step may lead to disqualification under Section 21 of the Election Act, 2020,” the order said. It pointed out that all political parties were bound by the code of conduct under Section 106 of the Election Act and could not deviate from it. “Therefore all individuals and political parties are prohibited from showing for political purposes their connections with the armed forces, particularly the army chief, judiciary or any other institution, or using their pictures in their advertisements and panaflex banners and posters for the purpose of publicity.” The CEC directed the divisional and district administrations to initiate action under the law against those found violating his order in addition to removing all such banners and posters immediately. In pursuance of the order, the divisional commissioners of Muzaffarabad, Poonch and Mirpur were asked by the election commission secretary to do the needful without any delay. General elections are slated to be held in AJK in the mid of next year. The last elections held in July 2016 were swept by the PML-N.... Read more...Hasil Bizenjo passes away at 62 in KarachiAugust 20, 2020By Muhammad Rashid KARACHI, Thursday, August 20, 2020 (WNP/DL): Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, seasoned politician and veteran Baloch nationalist leader, Thursday died at the age of 62. He was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Karachi, National Party Central Secretary General Jan Muhammad Buledi said. He said Bizenjo was admitted to the hospital after his health deteriorated. The senator was diagnosed with lung cancer last year. He remained chief of the National Party and was currently serving as an ideologue of the party. Politicians, journalists and intellectuals expressed grief and sorrow at the senator’s passing. Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also expressed grief over his demise and extended condolences to the senator’s family and friends, according to a tweet by the DG ISPR. General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) expresses grief and extends heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and friends on sad demise of Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo.“May Allah bless the departed soul in eternal peace-Ameen”, COAS. — DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) August 20, 2020 Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) president Sardar Akhtar Mengal shared his condolences in a tweet. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un. Extremely saddened by the news of Hasil Bizenjo’s passing. My deepest condolences. May Allah grant him the highest place in Jannah. Prayers with the family during this difficult time. — Akhtar Mengal (@sakhtarmengal) August 20, 2020 Leader of Opposition in National Assembly and PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif in a tweet said he was “shocked and saddened” by the news of Bizenjo’s death. “As a distinguished politician from Balochistan, he represented the voice of the people of his province & stood for progressive & rule-based politics.” Shocked & saddened by the news of Senator Hasil Bizenjo's death. As a distinguished politician from Balochistan, he represented the voice of the people of his province & stood for progressive & rule-based politics. May Allah rest his soul in peace! انا للہ وانا الیہ راجعون — Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) August 20, 2020 PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari described his death as “a great loss to the country, its democratic forces and Balochistan”. “Bizenjo remained in the forefront in the struggle for supremacy of the Constitution and strengthening of democracy” and was “a strong voice against injustices to Balochistan”, Bilawal said in a statement. Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expresses deep grief and sorrow over the death Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjohttps://t.co/BUB59fWepW — PPP (@MediaCellPPP) August 20, 2020... Read more...Muharram moon sighted, Ashur on Aug 30August 20, 2020By Muhammad Rashid KARACHI, Thursday, August 20, 2020 (WNP/DL): Central Ruet-e-Hilal Committee Chairman Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman on Thursday announced that the Muharram-ul-Haram moon had been sighted and the Youm-e-Ashur would be observed on August 30. The holy month of Muharram would begin on August 21, Mufti Muneeb said after he chaired a meeting in Karachi. The Pakistan Meteorological Department had already said that there was a good chance of moon sighting of Muharram-ul-Haram on August 20 (Thursday). The PMD, in a statement, had said that the new moon of Muharram, 1442 AH would be born on crossing conjunction point at 07:42 PST on August 19. The weather is expected to be cloudy/partly cloudy in most parts of the country.... Read more...US Mission Pakistan brings American speakers on COVID-19August 17, 2020KARACHI, Monday, August 17, 2020 (WNP/DL): Esteemed American scientist and global health advocate Dr. Peter Hotez will share his insights with Pakistani audiences as part of the U.S. Mission Pakistan’s COVID Speakers Series. In collaboration with Dow University of Health Sciences, all are welcome to attend Dr. Hotez’s webinar “Preventing the Next Pandemic: A Discussion on Poverty, Social Determinants, and Neglected Tropical Disease” on Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 6:00 PM. Dr. Hotez is the dean of the School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, the co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital for Vaccine Development, and a Baker Institute fellow in disease and poverty. An internationally recognized physician-scientist in the fields of global health, vaccinology, and neglected tropical disease control, he has spoken on the impact of COVID-19 extensively. Hotez is also the author of the acclaimed book, “Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases,” and previously was the president of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene The COVID Speaker’s Series launched in July to support Pakistani efforts to engage and inform the public about the spread and impact of COVID-19. At least once a month, the U.S. Mission to Pakistan will partner with local universities and organizations to host webinars to help Pakistanis understand, adapt, and succeed during the pandemic. In July, more than 100 attendees including students and medical professionals attended the inaugural webinar on effective public health communication, especially with regards to behavior change, timely dissemination, and threat alert by global public health educator and advocate Dan Rutz.... Read more...Saudi envoy calls on Buzdar, discusses bilateral tiesAugust 14, 2020LAHORE, Friday, August 14, 2020 (WNP/DL): Saudi Ambassador Nawaf Bin Saeed Ahmed Al-Malkiy Friday called on Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and some religious parties here. The Saudi ambassador’s meetings are being seen as part of an effort to mobilise support for his country. Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, leader of the Pakistan Ulema Council, flew to Saudi Arabia last week to discuss the relations between the two countries. The PML-Q leadership had on Thursday expressed dismay over the ‘language’ used by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi about the brotherly country during a talk show recently. PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also criticised the foreign minister’s remarks. Riyadh has reportedly demanded repayment of its $3 billion loan extended to Islamabad in 2018. A third of it has been paid and negotiations are continuing for the payment of the remaining amount. A handout issued after the meeting between Ambassador Al-Malkiy and CM Buzdar said the two discussed Pak-Saudi relations and promotion of bilateral cooperation. The chief minister said Pakistanis had a long-lasting spiritual attachment with Saudi Arabia and the people of both countries were linked in the bond of brotherhood. The cooperation extended by the Saudi government for development of Pakistan is praiseworthy. Buzdar said the foundation stone of Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project had been laid. “It’s planned to develop a new Lahore to keep the city’s environment clean. It will provide secure investment opportunities to national and international investors and Saudi investors can take advantage of such opportunities in the project,” he said, according to the statement. The Saudi ambassador appreciated the steps taken for the development of the social sector and took keen interest in the Ravi project, said the handout. A press release issued by the PML-Q said that during his meeting with Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the ambassador said Saudi Arabia stood by Pakistan at every difficult time. He said observance of standard operating procedures was ensured on the occasion of Haj. Pilgrims would soon be allowed to go to Saudi Arabia for performing Umrah in accordance with these measures, he added.... Read more...PIA likely to resume flights to Europe in two monthsAugust 14, 2020TAXILA, Friday, August 14, 2020 (WNP/DL): European skies are expected to open for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in the next two months as the government is utilising all technical and diplomatic means to resolve the ban issue, Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said on Friday. “PIA is in contact with European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) to allay their concerns and take necessary corrective measures along with filing an appeal against the decision on Aug 31,” he said, adding there is room for the appeal against the EASA ban and the government will file it. The EUSA suspended PIA’s authorisation to operate in EU states after the grounding of 262 Pakistani pilots whose licences were termed “dubious”. Following the EASA’s move, the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority also withdrew PIA’s permit to operate from three of its airports in Birmingham, London and Manchester. Responding to a question, the minister said PIA was currently managing European flight operations through “court sharing” arrangements, under which PIA flies passengers to Istanbul and subsequently they travel to Europe and London. Flight operations to London are being carried out through a Portuguese airliner. However, he said, these were temporary arrangements and PIA would restore its flight operations in two months. When asked about the necessity of grounding PIA pilots, he said, steps being taken by the government were aimed at ensuring the highest level of flight safety in PIA operations. The national carrier remains committed to maintaining the highest standards and quality in its air operations, he added. Earlier, the minister inaugurated the city’s first D-class bus terminal in Taxila.... Read more... CultureGovt announces civil awards for 184 in recognition their services to PakistanAugust 14, 2020ISLAMABAD, Friday, August 14, 2020 (WNP/DL): On 73rd Independence Day, Pakistan’s government announced civil awards for 184 Pakistanis and foreigners in recognition of their services to the country and showing excellence in their respective fields. The awards will be handed out by President Dr Arif Alvi in a ceremony scheduled for Pakistan Day, March 23, 2021. Actors Bushra Ansari and Talat Hussain will be receiving the Sitara-i-Imtiaz award whereas the Pride of Performance accolade will be given to actors to Humayun Saeed and Sakina Samo, singer Ali Zafar. Singer Abida Parveen, painter Sadequain Naqvi and poet Ahmed Faraz have been awarded a Nishan-i-Imtiaz. Last year’s honoured entertainment figures included actors Babra Sharif, Mehwish Hayat, Reema Khan, Iftikhar Thakur, Shabbir Jan, singers Attaullah Essakhelvi, Sajjad Ali and Sardar Ali Takkar.... Read more...Wazir Khan Mosque controversy: Saba, Bilal apologize for unknowingly hurting public sentimentsAugust 9, 2020LAHORE, Sunday, August 09, 2020 (WNP/DL): Saba Qamar and singer Bilal Saeed will be starring together in a music video for Bilal’s upcoming song Qubool. The music video which is the directorial debut of Saba Qamar will be released on 11th August. However, just a few days before its release controversy seems to have found its way to it. The team behind the music video has steadily been building up hype for the upcoming music video before its release. It started from still images followed by an official poster for the music video. But when a behind-the-scenes clip from the making of the music video was released, it backfired as instead of creating positive hype it ended up getting backlash on social media. A behind-the-scenes video made rounds on social media where Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed could be seen happily twirling. The location of the shot was the historical Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore. Upon release, the artists received immediate flak for the apparent violation of the sanctity of the mosque. Social media got filled up with posts demanding that the Government of Punjab takes strong action against them for doing so. View this post on Instagram A clip of Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed’s new music video Qabool hai from historical Masjid Wazir Khan Lahore . . . . . . . @bilalsaeed_music @sabaqamarzaman #vogical #lahore #bilalsaeed #sabaqamar #pakistaniquarantine #sleepingoutside #pakistanimakeup #gracefulpakistanis #stylishpakistanis #pakistanicouple #pakistanimodels #pakistanicouture #pakistanifashion #pakistaniformalwear #stylishpakistanis #pakistanistyle #pakistanichic#pakistanicinema #pakistaniactress #stylishpakistanis #pakistanibeauty#pakistanisingers #pakistanibride #pakistanisongs #pakistanimodels #pakistanidesigner #pakistanfashion #pakistanwedding #pakistanijewellery #pakistanstreetstyle A post shared by Vogical (@vogical) on Aug 8, 2020 at 6:29am PDT Apart from it, all sorts of rumors started flying around with people claiming that the team behind the music video had not even taken the permission to shoot the video inside the main chambers of the mosque. The assistant director, however, cleared up the misunderstanding and said that the team was given permission to shoot the nikah scene in the mosque. Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed responded to the criticism by sharing a teaser of the music video alongside the official statement in the caption. The caption clarified how the scenes shot in the mosque were just a prologue for the music video. The characters in the music video, played by Saba and Bilal, were shown to get tied in the bond of nikah and that was the only scene that was shot at the mosque. View this post on Instagram Presenting the first teaser of ‘Qubool’🙏🏽 This is also the only sequence that was shot at the historical Wazir Khan Mosque. It’s a prologue to the music video featuring a Nikah scene. It was neither shot with any sort of playback music nor has it been edited to the music track. I won’t explain any further as the full video comes out on 11th of August. The BTS video that's making rounds on social media was just a circular movement to click stills for the poster of ‘Qubool’ depicting a happily married couple right after their Nikah. Hurting or offending anyone or being disrespectful to a holy place is as unimaginable and unacceptable for me as for any decent human being. Despite this if we have unknowingly hurt anyone’s sentiments we apologise to you all with all our heart. Love & Peace! #Qubool releasing on 11th of August 🙏❤️ @bilalsaeed_music A post shared by 𝐒𝐚𝐛𝐚 𝐐𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐫 (@sabaqamarzaman) on Aug 8, 2020 at 5:18am PDT The 55-second teaser shows Bilal and Saba saying “qubool” in the mosque, with no music in the background but only birds chirping. In the statement, it was clarified that the administration of the mosque was already present during the shooting and they can corroborate that no music was played there. The behind-the-scenes clip that sparked the whole controversy on social media did not involve them dancing. Instead, they were moving in a circular motion to click some pictures for the poster of the video. After clarifying their stances, Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed issued an apology for unknowingly hurting the sentiments of the public. They also urged the people to wait for the official release of the music video and not jump to any conclusions based on just one behind-the-scenes clip.... Read more...Amitabh Bachchan recovers from coronavirusAugust 2, 2020MUMBAI, Sunday, August 02, 2020 (AP/WNP/DL): Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan was discharged from a Mumbai hospital on Sunday after undergoing three weeks of treatment for the coronavirus. His actor son, Abhishek Bachchan, who is still in the Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital with the virus, said in a tweet that his father has tested negative and will rest at home. Both were hospitalized on July 11. 🙏🏽 my father, thankfully, has tested negative on his latest Covid-19 test and has been discharged from the hospital. He will now be at home and rest. Thank you all for all your prayers and wishes for him. 🙏🏽 — Abhishek Bachchan (@juniorbachchan) August 2, 2020 I, Unfortunately due to some comorbidities remain Covid-19 positive and remain in hospital. Again, thank you all for your continued wishes and prayers for my family. Very humbled and indebted. 🙏🏽I’ll beat this and come back healthier! Promise. 💪🏽 — Abhishek Bachchan (@juniorbachchan) August 2, 2020 Abhishek Bachchan’s wife, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and their 8-year-old daughter, who both also contracted the virus, left the hospital last week after recovering. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is a top Bollywood actress. The elder Bachchan, 77, has acted in more than 200 Indian films over the past five decades. He is also a former politician and television host. The Bachchans are often called Bollywood’s first family. Amitabh Bachchan’s wife, Jaya, is also an actress and a one-time member of Parliament. She was not hit by the coronavirus.... Read more...Pakistan’s folk music enchanting with soulful lyrics, rich musical tapestry: Australian envoyJuly 17, 2020By Shabbir Hussain ISLAMABAD, Friday, July 17, 2020 (WNP/DL): Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan Dr Geoffrey Shaw Friday said Pakistan’s folk music is enchanting with its soulful lyrics and rich musical tapestry. Taking to twitter, he said it speaks for the unique and diverse culture of my present home. This is Pakistani music at its finest! He said these songs from #CokeStudio Pakistan are on my current Spotify favourites’ playlist. The songs include; Aaja Re Moray Saiyan by Zeb Bangash, Alif Allah by Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi, Taajdar-e-Haram by Atif Aslam, Paar Chana De from Noori and Shilpa Rao and Lagi Bina by Sanam Marvi and Saieen Zahoor. These songs from #CokeStudio Pakistan are on my current Spotify favourites’ playlist. Pakistan’s #folkmusic is enchanting, with its soulful lyrics and rich musical tapestry. It speaks for the unique and diverse culture of my present home. This is 🇵🇰 Pakistani music at its finest! pic.twitter.com/A8z9fd3nYm — Dr Geoffrey Shaw (@AusHCPak) July 17, 2020... Read more...ICESCO culture ministers extraordinary virtual conference concludeJune 18, 2020By Shabbir Hussain ISLAMABAD, Thursday, June 18, 2020 (WNP/DL): The extraordinary virtual conference of culture ministers of the member states of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), held with the participation of 50 countries and 22 international organizations, under the theme – sustainability of cultural action in the face of crises (Covid-19) – Thursday concluded. The ministers of culture and the heads and representatives of the participating regional and international organizations were of the view to promote the position of culture in tomorrow’s societies to face future challenges, support and develop digital culture, raise awareness about cultural heritage, and encourage the culture of solidarity and cultural synergy. In the final statement read out by ICESCO Director General Dr Salim M AlMalik, the participants reiterated their support to ICESCO’s vision which is based on conserving, protecting, supporting and rehabilitating the cultural and civilizational heritage of the Islamic world to preserve the Islamic world’s cultural identity and anchor human rights, most notably the cultural rights which ICESCO seeks to sustain, particularly during crises and disasters. Moreover, the statement stressed the importance of the Digital Cultural Strategic Project, prepared by ICESCO as a proactive initiative for the management of cultural affairs and as a sustainable anticipatory programme for future cultural action. The participants also called for developing cultural projects and programmes to bring culture closer to citizens in the urban and rural areas, promote the reality of cultural action and figures by anchoring a new vision which is more creative, developed ad consistent with the major trends which strongly impose themselves on the international scene such as the promotion of cultural diversity, the protection of the tangible and intangible heritage, and the use of AI applications. The statement also underlined the importance of developing cultural tourism and promoting the complementary relationship between the sectors of culture and sports in building human beings by developing an integrated system of programmes for the benefit of various social groups. Besides, the participants lauded the initiative of “ICESCO Digital Home” as a knowledge platform in the fields of education, science, innovation and human sciences, including the programme of “Distance Culture,” which they committed to support and enrich its digital contents as well as the contents of the Portal of the Islamic World Heritage and the digital libraries. Furthermore, they reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate with ICESCO Heritage Center and the Islamic World Heritage Committee in highlighting the richness of the cultural and civilizational heritage of Member States and inscribing the largest number possible of heritage sites. The statement also commended the efforts of ICESCO and its director general in developing and implementing innovative projects based on the digital culture in the management and sustainability of cultural activities, particularly during crises and disasters. In conclusion, the participants thanked ICESCO and its director general for calling to this conference amid these difficult global circumstances triggered by the spread of Covid-19. They also thanked the State of the United Arab Emirates for chairing the conference. The conference’s sessions witnessed considerable interaction from the ministers and the heads of the participating international organizations. During the interactive session, the participants explored the future of cultural actions and the need to develop it through modern technologies and promote the digital culture. The conference concluded with an address by Dr AlMalik wherein he thanked the ministers and the heads of the international organizations for their participation in the conference and support to ICESCO’s initiatives.... Read more...Pakistan has potential to become top tourist destination: French mountaineerJune 4, 2020PARIS, Thursday, June 04, 2020 (WNP/DL): Ambassador of Pakistan to France Moin ul Haque Thursday held a virtual meeting with Ms. Francoise Cadoux – a renowned French mountaineer and traveler who had recently published a book about her travels to Pakistan and China. Moin ul Haq thanked Ms. Francoise for writing an interesting book based upon her mountaineering experiences and travels in Pakistan. He also briefed her about government’s efforts for promoting tourism in Pakistan. Sharing her experiences, Ms. Francoise Cadoux said the people of Pakistan were one of the most hospitable and friendly in the world. She said Pakistan had beautiful natural landscape and cultural diversity and with appropriate improvement in tourist infrastructure and services. Pakistan had the potential to become a top tourist destination, she added.... Read more... ShowbizAishwarya, daughter Aaradhya discharged from hospital after testing negative for COVID-19July 27, 2020MUMBAI, Monday, July 27, 2020 (WNP/DL): Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her Aaradhya Bachchan have discharged from the hospital after testing negative for coronavirus. This was confirmed by Abhishek Bachchan on Twitter on Monday. He said, “Thank you all for your continued prayers and good wishes. Indebted forever.” “Aishwarya and Aaradhya have thankfully tested negative and have been discharged from the hospital. They will now be at home,” Abhishek said and added, “My father and I remain in hospital under the care of the medical staff.” Thank you all for your continued prayers and good wishes. Indebted forever. 🙏🏽 Aishwarya and Aaradhya have thankfully tested negative and have been discharged from the hospital. They will now be at home. My father and I remain in hospital under the care of the medical staff. — Abhishek Bachchan (@juniorbachchan) July 27, 2020 The mother and daughter duo contracted novel coronavirus on July 12 and were moved to Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital after complaints of breathlessness on July 18. They have returned home after 10 days of treatment at the hospital.... Read more...Aishwarya Rai, daughter Aaradhya, hospitalised for COVID-19 treatmentJuly 18, 2020NEW DELHI, Saturday, July 18, 2020 (Reuters/WNP/DL): Indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter were hospitalised for COVID-19 treatment, the Times of India reported on Saturday, days after her husband and father-in-law were admitted. Rai’s father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan and husband Abhishek Bachchan, also major Bollywood celebrities, were admitted to Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital early this week, becoming the highest-profile patients the pandemic sweeping India. At the same time, Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World who regularly appears on most beautiful lists, and her eight-year-old daughter, Aaradhya Bachchan, tested positive for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but they have since been in home quarantine. “After Amitabh Bachchan and Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and her daughter Aaradhya have been shifted to Nanavati hospital,” the newspaper said, adding that they were admitted to the top Mumbai private hospital on Friday. A spokeswoman for Aishwarya Rai did not respond to text messages and calls seeking comment. Fans across India prayed this week for the celebrity family as the virus continued its rapid spread without any sign of a peak. Aishwarya Rai, 46, has worked on several Bollywood and Hollywood films. She is a brand ambassador for some multinational companies, including L’Oreal. India, which has registered over a million coronavirus cases, has the world’s third-highest number of infections, and more than 26,000 people have died of COVID-19. Partial lockdowns have been re-imposed in some densely populated areas to control the spread of the virus.... Read more...Tariq Aziz, Pakistan’s first television host, passes awayJune 17, 2020LAHORE, Wednesday, June 17, 2020 (WNP/DL): Renowned radio and television anchor Tariq Aziz passed away in Lahore on Wednesday. He was 84. Aziz was born in Jalandhar on April 28, 1936. After partition, his family migrated to Pakistan and settled in Sahiwal, where he received his primary education. He started his career with Radio Pakistan in the 1960s and later went on to become Pakistan’s first television host. His programme Neelam Ghar — later named Tariq Aziz Show — started in 1974 on Pakistan Television and continued for four decades. He was also a poet and an actor and performed in several radio and television programmes as well as in films. His first film, Insaniyat, was released in 1967. Other notable titles he acted in include Salgirah, Qasam Us Waqt Ki, Katari and Har Gaya Insan. For his services to the entertainment industry, he was awarded the prestigious Pride of Performance Award by the government in 1992. Aziz dabbled in politics as well and was a member of the National Assembly from 1997-99. President Arif Alvi prayed for the anchor’s soul to rest in peace. “A chapter closes with the sad demise of Tariq Aziz,” he tweeted. A chapter closes with the sad demise of Tariq Aziz. May his soul rest in peace. I will fondly remember his opening greetings in Neelam Ghar. دیکھتی آنکھوں اور سنتے کانوں کو طارق عزیز کا سلام إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ — Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) June 17, 2020 Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was saddened to hear about Aziz’s death, who he said was an “icon in his time and a pioneer of our TV game shows”. Saddened to learn of the passing of Tariq Aziz, an icon in his time and a pioneer of our TV game shows. My condolences and prayers go to his family. — Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) June 17, 2020... Read more...Rumors come true as Sadaf Kanwal changed her name to Sadaf Sabzwari on InstagramMay 31, 2020ISLAMABAD, Sunday, May 31, 2020 (WNP/DL): Model Sadaf Kanwal has changed her name on Instagram to Sadaf Sabzwari following the rumours surrounding her Nikah with Shahroz Sabzwari. View this post on Instagram ALHAMDULILLAH A post shared by Shahroz Sabzwari (@shahrozsabzwari) on May 31, 2020 at 6:21am PDT News of the couple having a Nikah today was rife on social media. However, since Sadaf changed her name, pictures of the the newly married couple have started circulating too. Both the celebrities have also shared pictures from the intimate ceremony on their Instagram and turned off the comments. “Complete,” wrote Sadaf, while Shahroz simply thanked God.... Read more...Mehwish Hayat to appear soon in BBC’s My World produced by Angelina JolieMarch 14, 2020ISLAMABAD, Saturday, March 14, 2020 (WNP): Mehwish Hayat and Angelina Jolie are both celebrities who realise the power their influence wields. That’s why Jolie has teamed up with BBC and Microsoft to produce My World, a global show which aims to explain the real stories behind the news, provide facts to viewers aged 13 and up to make up their own minds about international issues. And we now know that Hayat will be interviewed for the show, as she revealed on her Instagram. View this post on Instagram Excited that my interview for BBC world will be out soon. Great concept created by Angelina Jolie for the first TV show she is producing. Thank you Jamie Angus @grvlx001 for your vision in highlighting so many important issues that young people face today. #MehwishHayat #Angelinajolie #Myworld #ComingSoon A post shared by Mehwish Hayat (@mehwishhayatofficial) on Mar 13, 2020 at 8:33am PDT “The roles that I’ve done, they have been the type that have broken stereotypes. I really want that the male actor and female actor get the same amount of money so they get an equal amount of respect,” said Hayat. “Social media if used the right way, can be really helpful and healthy and progressive; it can build people up,” she added. She also shared that the full episode will be out soon but didn’t specify when. My World aims to fill a global gap in reliable and trusted information for young audiences, who are legally allowed on many social media platforms but susceptible to the dangers of ‘fake news’ and disinformation. Hayat is currently shooting London Nahi Jaungi, written by Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar and being directed by Nadeem Baig. Surprisingly, the actor, who is usually very active on Twitter and very vocal, has been mum so far regarding Qamar’s multiple abusive outbursts.... Read more...Comedian Amanullah passes awayMarch 6, 2020ISLAMABAD, Friday, March 06, 2020 (WNP): Veteran comedian Amanullah passed away in a private hospital in Lahore on Friday. Earlier this month, the veteran actor had been hospitalised in a private hospital in Lahore after his health deteriorated. He had been shifted to the hospital for the fourth time as his condition remained unstable. He was suffering from multiple medical complexities such as lungs, kidneys and breathing issues. While appealing for prayers, Amanullah’s family had earlier said he was admitted in the hospital and was on the ventilator. A versatile stage, TV and film actor, Amanullah had entertained at least three generations with his particular style of spontaneous comedy. His performances in various stage dramas and films had accumulated audience appreciation for his unique style. Amanullah was born in Gujranwala in 1950. He came to Lahore at an early age where he used to sell toffees in buses and at Data Darbar to make ends meet. Fond of singing, his earliest performances were at the Data Darbar. His first stage performance was “One Man Comedy Show” at a local theatre in Lahore in which he performed mimicry of famous celebrities. His first television play “Sixer” with producer Iqbal Effendi was a huge hit. Some of his famous stage plays include “Basheera in Trouble” and “Landa Bazaar”. Amanullah performed over 2000 stage plays in a career spanning some 40 years and worked with all the big producers of the time. The actor was married thrice and leaves behind 14 children and a sister. Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed “deep sadness” at Amanullah’s death. In a tweet shared by PTI official, the prime minister said: “Late Amanullah was a valuable asset of stage, comedy and drama industry.” وزیر اعظم عمران خان کا معروف کامیڈیئن امان اللہ کے انتقال پر گہرے دکھ کا اظہار مرحوم کے درجات کی بلندی اور لواحقین کے صبر کی دعا مرحوم امان اللہ اسٹیج ، مزاحیہ اداکاری اور ڈرامہ انڈسٹری کا قیمتی اثاثہ تھے: وزیر اعظم @ImranKhanPTI — PTI (@PTIofficial) March 6, 2020 PML-N chief and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif also condoled the actor’s death. He termed it a “big loss for the worlds of stage, comedy and acting” and said that his fans would “never be able to forget his acting abilities and his services in the acting profession”. “He kept earning good deeds by bringing smiles on the faces of people,” he added. Speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser also expressed deep sorrow over the actor’s passing.... Read more... Bar & BenchNAB granted 14-day physical remand of Shehbaz in money laundering caseSeptember 29, 2020LAHORE, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 (WNP/DL): An accountability court in Lahore on Tuesday granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) a 14-day physical remand of PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, a day after he was arrested by the anti-graft body in a money laundering case. On Monday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected Shehbaz’s bail plea, after which he was taken into custody from the court’s premises, where a large number of PML-N workers and supporters had gathered ahead of the hearing. Accountability judge Jawadul Hassan presided over the hearing today, during which Shehbaz also spoke. He alleged that a mockery was being made of the law. “This is the NAB-Niazi nexus ,” he added. He said that his parents had worked hard and established the business, which he had then transferred to his children. “I do not take any salary or bonus. An allegation was leveled against me that my children benefited because of my office. “I submitted five documents in the Lahore High Court yesterday. We did not reduce the price of sugarcane in Punjab and I did not cause harm to the growers. I did not give any subsidy to my children’s sugar mills from the treasury. “My decisions caused a loss of millions of rupees to my brother (Nawaz Sharif) and to my son. I am a transgressor the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that a father is not responsible for his son and vice versa.” The judge asked him how much had the national treasury benefited from the decisions he made while he was in office to which Shehbaz replied that it was in “billions”. The PML-N president said that he had fixed excise duty of Rs2 on ethanol in 2011, adding that he had decided to impose the duty even though his son was setting up an ethanol plant. “Rs2.5bn were deposited in the national treasury because of that,” he told the court. He said that his father had migrated to Pakistan from India and set up six factories within 18 months. “These properties are from that time,” he said. He said that he was “declaring under oath that he had not benefited from any scheme for the repayment of loans and that he had never used his office wrongfully”. “I did not take a salary of even one rupee in three decades or any ta-da,” he claimed, adding that he also used to pay for his personal assistant’s lodgings during his stays abroad. During the proceedings, the court also directed that Shehbaz’s performance report be made part of the case. NAB’s counsel, Asim Mumtaz, requested the court to grant the accountability body 15-day physical remand of Shehbaz. “Shehbaz has himself said that his children depend on him. We asked him questions last night but he outright refused to answer them.” The court, however, granted a 14-day physical remand which would expire on October 13. Meanwhile, the court accepted Shehbaz’s daughter Javeria’s petition for permanent exemption from court hearings.... Read more...منی لانڈرنگ اور آمدن سے زائد اثاثوں کا کیس، شہباز شریف زیر حراستSeptember 28, 2020منی لانڈرنگ اور آمدن سے زائد اثاثوں کے کیس میں شہباز شریف عبوری ضمانت خارج ہو گئی جس کے بعد نیب نے ان کو حراست میں لے لیا۔ لاہور ہائیکورٹ کے جسٹس سردار احمد نعیم اور جسٹس فاروق حید پر مشتمل 2 رکنی بینچ شہباز شریف کی درخواست ضمانت پر سماعت کر رہا ہے۔ قائد حزب اختلاف شہباز شریف کے ادوار میں ترقیاتی منصوبوں سے متعلق تفصیلات عدالت میں جمع کرائی گئیں۔ اپوزیشن لیڈر کے وکیل نے عدالت کو بتایا کہ شہباز شریف اب تک ایک ہزار ارب روپے قومی خزانے کا بچا چکے، شہباز شریف نے آج تک بطور ممبراسمبلی تنخواہ تک وصول نہیں کی، شہباز شریف کو جیل بھیجنے کا کوئی فائدہ نہیں، بلدیاتی انتخابات کے موقع پر جیل بھیجنے کا دعویٰ کیا جا رہا ہے۔ وکیل شہباز شریف نے کہا منی لانڈرنگ میں بھی شہباز شریف کیخلاف کوئی ثبوت موجود نہیں، کسی گواہ نے نہیں کہا کہ شہباز شریف نے منی لانڈرنگ کی، 26 کروڑ 90 لاکھ کے اثاثے شہباز شریف کے ہیں، خرچ مانتے ہیں، آمدن نہیں مانتے، زرعی آمدن پر ٹیکس ادا کرتے رہے ہیں، نیب کی بدنیتی واضح طور پر نظر آ رہی ہے۔... Read more...Saba Qamar, Bilal Saeed granted interim bail in controversial mosque shooting caseAugust 15, 2020LAHORE, Saturday, August 15, 2020 (WNP/DL): A sessions court on Saturday granted interim bail to actress Saba Qamar and singer Bilal Saeed in a case relating to shooting a music video in a mosque. The court heard an application filed by the celebrities seeking interim bail for a case registered against them. The court asked them to submit surety bonds of Rs25,000 each and adjourned proceedings until 25th August. Earlier on Friday, a case had been registered against Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed for the controversial shooting of their latest song ‘Qubool’ at the Wazir Khan mosque. The Akbari Gate police have registered the case on the complaint of lawyer Farhat Manzoor. The FIR has been registered under Section 295 (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Pakistan Penal Code. The case also appealed for stern action against the mosque administration. Manzoor had filed a petition earlier this month to file a case against the artists in this regard. A short clip of Qamar whirling with Saeed at the historic mosque went viral on social media, drawing strong reactions from religious and political circles. Saba Qamar also responded to the criticism in a series of tweets, saying the clip was a “prologue to the music video featuring a Nikkah scene. It was neither shot with any sort of playback music nor has it been edited to the music track,” she said on Twitter. Bilal Saeed has subsequently apologised to the public in a video posted on social media. “We realise what has happened over the past few days has hurt your sentiments deeply,” he wrote as a caption. “We as Muslims, as decent human beings and as artists will never, ever trivialise or condone disrespect to Islam or any other religion, race, caste, colour or creed. If we have unknowingly hurt anyone’s sentiments we apologise to you all with all our heart.”... Read more...Another petition filed against Saba Qamar, Bilal SaeedAugust 15, 2020LAHORE, Saturday, August 15, 2020 (WNP/DL): A lawyer in Karachi, Liaqat Ali Khan Gabol, has also filed a petition against actress Saba Qamar and singer Bilal Saeed regarding their dance video shoot in Masjid Wazir Khan on Saturday. Additional District and Sessions Judge Karachi South sought reply from SHO City Court and others on August 22. The next hearing will seek arguments on the admissibility of the petition while the court has also sought names of the management of Masjid Wazir Khan who gave permission for the video shooting. The petitioner pleaded that film actress Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed violated the sanctity of the mosque by dancing inside it. Similar applications have been filed earlier in Lahore against the dance video shoot in Masjid Wazir Khan. It is pertinent to note that Punjab Auqaf Department has suspended Masjid Wazir Khan Manager Ishtiaq Ahmed for allowing an illegal video shoot of a song by Saba Qamar and Bilal Saeed. The accused is directed to appear before the director (inquiry) to respond to the allegations levelled against him. Earlier, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi flayed inaction against people who showed disrespect to a mosque. They said those responsible for this dancing in the mosque should be immediately arrested and prosecuted. Chaudhry brothers termed the dancing video of Saba Qamar and Bilawal Saeed inside Lahore’s Masjid Wazir Khan a “tragedy”. “The dancing taking place in mosques is a blatant violation of Shariah and the persons involved in it should be given real and ideal punishment so that no one would dare to commit such an ugly act in future,” Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said. “Sadly, those who violated the sanctity of Wazir Khan Mosque are still free,” Chaudhry brethren said in a statement in Lahore.... Read more...Court directs for case registration against Bilal Saeed, Saba QamarAugust 13, 2020LAHORE, Thursday, August 13, 2020 (WNP/DL): A sessions court on Thursday ordered registration of an FIR against singer Bilal Saeed, actress Saba Qamar and others over shooting a music video at Wazir Khan Mosque. The court ordered SHO Akbari Gate to proceed against the proposed persons if some cognisable offence was made out. Additional District and Sessions Judge Atiqur Rehman passed the orders on a plea filed by Advocate Sardar Farhat Manzoor Khan Chandio. During the court proceedings, the police submitted a report wherein it was stated that an official inquiry had been launched against officials of the Auqaf Department after suspending them. The court was also apprised that Zonal Auqaf administrator had also requested for proceeding against Saba Qamar and other responsible and action was being taken. However, the defence counsel argued that the proposed accused did not commit any offence as the entire video was shot after permission of the department administration. He further submitted that chief minister Punjab had also issued orders for detailed inquiry of the incident whereas respondents had already sought apology on various forums, He pleaded with the court for dismissal of the plea. The court, after hearing detailed arguments of the parties, directed SHO Akbari Gate to proceed against the proposed persons if some cognisable offence was made out. The petitioner had argued that a music video was filmed on singer Bilal Saeed and Actress Saba Qamar at Wazir Khan Mosque whereas posts were also shared on social media about it. He submitted that the mosque was the holiest place and the step violated its sanctity, whereas feelings of the people were also hurt. He pleaded with the court to issue directions for registration of a FIR against Bilal Saeed, Saba Qamar, producer Ahmad Waqas and department officials as the police concerned had failed to perform its official duty on his application.... Read more...SC expresses displeasure over police report on Matiullah Jan abductionAugust 6, 2020ISLAMABAD, Thursday, August 06, 2020 (WNP/DL): The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed displeasure at the performance of the Islamabad police and lambasted the capital city police chief for a report his department submitted regarding the abduction of senior journalist Matiullah Jan last month. A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed had taken up the police report as it resumed hearing a contempt of court case against Jan, who was abducted last month by men in police uniforms from outside a school in Islamabad and released after 12 hours. The abduction on July 21 had come just a day before the journalist was supposed to appear before the Supreme Court after it had taken suo motu notice of “contemptuous” tweets against the superior judiciary posted by Jan on his Twitter account. The capital police in its report had conceded that they were still waiting for replies from different departments, the assistance of which they had sought to unearth the journalist’s kidnapping. “But efforts are underway to trace the culprits involved in the incident and in this regard the reports of various departments awaited to carry out further investigations,” stated the 52-page report furnished before the top court on Wednesday by the deputy inspector general (operations) on behalf of Islamabad Inspector General Amir Zulfikar Khan. As IG Khan appeared on the rostrum during the hearing on Thursday, CJP Ahmed inquired why the police had failed to gather information in the case. “What kind of report has been submitted?” the top judge asked while addressing the capital police chief. “IG sahib, what age are you living in you are writing letters like a police babu (clerk)?” CJP Ahmed stressed that time is of crucial importance during an investigation and evidence can be destroyed even if 10 minutes have lapsed after an incident. He told IG Khan that he was apparently “unaware” of how investigations work. “Officers are not there to warm their chairs.” Also expressing dissatisfaction with the performance of the DIG operations, the CJP directed him to “go sit in the department from which you want information”. “You can no longer just write letters. Officers have to move actively,” the top judge said, ordering police to submit a detailed report regarding the abduction. The hearing of the case was adjourned for four weeks. In its last order issued on July 22, the three-judge SC bench had ordered recording by the relevant police station of the statement of Matiullah Jan about the kidnapping incident. Jan was kidnapped from Islamabad in broad daylight on July 21 — a day ahead of his appearance before the Supreme Court in the contempt of court case — but was released around midnight after a hue and cry was raised by journalists, civil society members, human rights organisations and various political parties. In its report, the Islamabad police stated that a five-member special investigation team (SIT) headed by the superintendent police (investigations) was probing the abduction incident, adding that police had soon after the kidnapping of the journalist approached the Ministry of Defence with a request to ascertain his whereabouts from the Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence and Inter-Services Intelligence so that the investigation could be concluded on merits. Besides detailing the police communication with various police stations and hospitals to gather information, the report explained that a written request was sent to the director of the Safe City Project for provision of CCTV footage of the place of occurrence, which was still under process. It said the CCTV footage of the alleged kidnappers was also sent to the National Database and Registration Authority on July 24 for matching of the suspects or their particulars, which was still under process. It said verbal directives as well as written orders had also been issued to the SIT members to peruse the FIR and case file to ensure apprehension of the culprits involved in the crime without further delay. The report stated that the police department and SIT members were in close contact with the victim and other relevant departments and every effort would be made to take the case to its logical end.... Read more... Editorial & OpinionUN a silent spectator over Kashmir issue despite passage of many resolutionsAugust 9, 2020By Senator Lt-Gen Abdul Qayyum who is also the chairman of Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production. ISLAMABAD, Sunday, August 09, 2020 (WNP/DL): After the slaughter of millions of human lives as a result of World War I, the League of Nations was created on January 10,1920 to ensure international peace. Later, Lenin regarded this organisation as a ‘Thieves Kitchen’ as it failed to maintain world peace, which ultimately unfortunately pushed the global community into yet another global conflict (WWII) which again brought in untold miseries and unprecedented destruction and suffering to human lives and property. The League of Nations was thus disbanded and immediately replaced by yet another international institution called the United Nations Organisation (UNO) on October 24, 1945 with the following objectives: i) ensure international peacekeeping; ii) facilitate conflict resolution, iii) guarantee human rights protection; iv) provide international justice through ICJ in case issues transcend state borders; v) undertake socio-economic welfare measures covering health and education sectors; and vi) mitigate climate change impact and ensure smooth handling of refugees and their safe repatriation to their countries. Unfortunately this new world body has also totally failed to achieve its objectives. There have been bloody conflicts the world over, many in which Muslims were the main victims. There are dozens of UN resolutions on conflicts like Kashmir and Palestine which have not only been thrown in the dustbin of history by rogue countries like India and Israel but these countries are also committing blatant human rights violations and unprecedented state terrorism. There are unfortunately gross violations of the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and other international law. Socio-economic welfare indicators are also very poor all over the world. For example, world population control is in utter disarray. In 1950, the world’s population was 2.6 billion; it is now 7.6 billion in 2020. Poverty in third world countries is rampant. Millions of people are falling below the poverty line every year, and the coronavirus pandemic has further compounded the situation with the WHO helpless to control the virus. Three million Afghan refugees from Pakistan alone await repatriation for the last thirty years. Environmental issues due to rapid climate change are ever worsening. In all this, where is the UN, with its objectives and charter? What is worst are the human rights violations being committed by the Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir with impunity. Kashmir valley has been turned into a prison camp and is under double lockdown. The UN Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) is not being allowed by the Indian government to leave their offices to perform their duties and still the UN is silent. There is no media, no foreign observers and no internet in Kashmir. To further deteriorate the situation, the Covid-19 pandemic has provided the Indian government an iron wall behind which atrocities are being committed. Kashmiri people are being burnt alive. There are draconian laws including the Public Safety Act (PSA), Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), NSA (National Security Act) and OSA (Official Security Act). Arrest without warrant, shoot to kill and entering houses without permission is the order of the day. Fair trial for the Kashmiris is a mere dream, free legal aid is a far cry, access to council is impossible and cross examination is not allowed. After the so-called unilateral unionisation of Kashmir and Ladakh, Kashmiris are being subjected to humiliation, mental torture and third degree methods at the hands of the Indian occupying forces. It is, therefore, strongly recommended that Pakistani diplomats and our diaspora abroad must arrange demonstrations in Washington, New York, London, France and Germany highlighting that Kashmir is not a dispute frozen in time as also stated in the UNHRC report of June, 2018. Hence Article 370 of the Indian constitution – abrogated or unabrogated – makes no difference. The status of the Kashmir dispute has not been changed; instead it has been internationalised further because of Modi’s high-handedness. The need of the hour is that the UN must get its resolutions on Kashmir implemented by using its powers as stipulated in chapter 7 of its charter which recommends graduated punitive action against the defiant state including diplomatic isolation, slamming economic sanctions and if even this doesn’t work, then giving permission for use of force against states not abiding by the UN charter and its resolutions. An OIC summit meeting needs to be called to highlight the plight of the Kashmiris in double lockdown. The Pakistan government must send special envoys and parliamentarians delegations not only to the P-5 countries but also to all influential states in different continents which have a vote in the UN General Assembly. The Pakistani PM must himself visit a few countries along with some elected parliamentarians. He should also try to extract an invitation from Oxford and other advanced world universities and personally go there to plead the case of the Kashmiri people. Similarly, the Pakistani diaspora and embassies abroad must constantly highlight UNHRC reports of June, 2018 and 2019 which clearly highlight HR violations being committed in Occupied Kashmir. The United Nations Human Rights Council should be urged to establish an independent commission of inquiry to conduct a transparent investigation as directed by the UNHRC. India should also be urged to repeal all draconian laws, release 10,000 innocent Kashmiris and Hurriyat leaders and withdraw its military from Occupied Kashmir. The Indian government should also lift the lockdown, and allow internet facilities, and permit sick and wounded Kashmiris access to hospitals. It should also stop the malafide demographic transition of Kashmir by inducting lakhs of RSS terrorists there. Potent efforts must be made to ensure the RSS is declared a terrorist organization. Their migration to Kashmir must be stopped through world pressure . The Pakistani community at home and abroad should inform the world through the international media that in a globalized environment regional conflicts cannot be compartmentalised. The Kashmir issue surely is a global nuclear flashpoint, which if not amicably solved according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people in light of UN resolutions can bring global devastation. Similarly, it should be realized that if peace is essential in Afghanistan, it is also essential in Kashmir and the Middle East. Our Foreign Office should follow a proactive approach and not a reactionary strategy. After all, it is a battle of ideas and initiatives. Friendly countries like China, Turkey and other Muslim countries of the Middle East, South East Asia, Central Asia and Africa may be requested to give statements against the unionisation of Kashmir and Ladakh.... Read more...Balance of power essential for peaceful coexistenceJune 5, 2020By Senator Gen Abdul Qayyum ISLAMABAD, Friday, June 05, 2020 (WNP/DL): Strategic balance of power is considered essential to ensure the existence of nation states when threatened in the prevailing international system. The desired equilibrium is achieved and maintained through various balancing mechanisms. Firstly, by building war potential and upgrading combat worthiness both in conventional and non-conventional spheres. This could be symmetrical through visual power potential or asymmetrical including psychological factor also. Secondly, by aligning itself with other threatened states like when the Warsaw Pact bloc was formed up. Thirdly, the worst option available to weaker states is to guard their existence by aligning with stronger powers even if these are aggressors. This is called bandwagoning which states are forced to resort to at times against their conscience when it is felt that the cost of confrontation with stronger powers will be much more than the benefits. Pakistan unfortunately had to adopt this option when the Americans invaded Afghanistan and extracted Pakistani cooperation at gunpoint with a clear warning that “you are with or against us” and that in case of non-cooperation you could be pushed to the stone age. The balance of power theory is in fact as old as history. It was considered essential to maintain peace and was first applied by the Greek civilisation. European countries however could not maintain the balance of power and remained engaged in religious wars for 30 years. These wars ended in 1648 when the Westphalia peace treaties were signed in which 109 delegates participated at different times in different pacts. This was the beginning of the modern international system where sovereignty of states was to be respected. However thereafter we unfortunately saw the Napoleonic wars, First and Second World Wars, the Korean conflict and Gulf wars. This totally destroyed the concept of universalism which had emerged to encourage greater politico economic relations among sovereign nations without any external pressures or coercion of any type. Resultantly, the League of Nations failed and now we are witnessing the near demise of the United Nations. In South Asia, in view of Indian refusal to honour UN resolutions on Kashmir and its reluctance to reconcile with the reality of Pakistan because of her hegemonic designs, it was essential to maintain a balance of power to protect our sovereignty and defend the territorial integrity of our country right from Pakistan’s inception. Pakistan therefore, had no choice but to initially join SEATO and CENTO, align with the US in the 50s, and with China and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in the 60s, while India on the other hand derived strength from non-aligned forums and later aligned with the Soviet Union and now it has secured strategic partnership with the US. Present Indian government under Modi actually believes in the Akhand Bharat concept including amalgamation of all SAARC countries and control of the sea lines of communications from the Strait of Malacca to the Strait of Hormuz in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. This concept was propounded by Chanakya, the adviser to emperor Chandra Gupta Maurya, about 2,300 years ago. When India created an imbalance by amassing billions of dollars worth of conventional arms, aggressed into former East Pakistan in 1971, and finally had the audacity to undertake nuclear explosions in 1974 with impunity, Pakistan had no choice but to take essential measures to rectify this sudden disturbing distortion in the existing balance of power to allay the looming danger to our national security. The Indian military leadership thereafter came up with the Cold Start Doctrine to exploit our limited depth, proximity of our strategic road-rail communications and population centres to our eastern borders. This was immediately responded by Pakistan through development of tactical nuclear weapons. It will, therefore, be very fair to conclude that all civil and military rulers in Pakistan played their very effective role to lift Pakistan’s defence capability to ensure the balance of power in South Asia since 1947. The initiation of the nuclear programme and its pursuit with desired vigour by all was no doubt very important to create a credible deterrence. In fact the Fall of Dhaka necessitated this. Visionary leaders of the calibre of ZA Butto initiated the project and all rulers from 1974 onwards pursued it with desired devotion, sincerity and secrecy. The crucial role was however played by the scientists, our military leadership and many unsung heroes. The bomb was ready by the late 80s but for its international declaration and explosion, Pakistan had to wait for over one decade because of international pressures. Indian arrogance on the other hand created a golden opportunity when they conducted five explosions on May 11, 1998, which was responded by undertaking six explosions by Pakistan’s democratic leadership of PML-N under prime minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on May 28, despite all external pressures and threats of economic sanctions. All politicians, service chiefs, diplomats, media magnets and scientists who gave positive or negative recommendations in the national interest deserve commendations. However, prime minister Nawaz Sharif took the final political decision taking full responsibility on his shoulders for any success or failure. That feather cannot be removed from his cap. Besides such a bold decision can only be taken by a democratic leader who is answerable to the Parliament and the people of Pakistan and not by any dictator who thrives not on public support but foreign guarantees for his rule. It is now indeed very satisfying to note that nuclear Pakistan has created a strategic balance of power in South Asia through a very potent nuclear deterrence but it is also important at the same time to comprehend that defence potential of a state alone cannot ensure foolproof national security. There are other equally, if not more, important factors like national unity, internal cohesion, prospering economy, political stability, towering political leadership and proactive aggressive foreign policy which play a pivotal role. Unfortunately, at present we see a dismal performance in all these areas. We, therefore, need to pay attention to these factors jointly as a nation. The sitting Prime Minister has to take this initiative and lead the nation from the front.... Read more...Total disconnect between centre, provinces is hallmark of PTI govt amid COVID-19June 3, 2020By Senator Lt Gen (R) Abdul Qayyum ISLAMABAD, Wednesday, June 03, 2020 (WNP/DL): Coronavirus is an invisible enemy armed with lethal killing sting against which the entire humankind has presently no defence and unfortunately no firm hope to find its counter in the immediate future. We are not sure for how long the world will remain in its grip and whether it will reappear with more vigour in subsequent waves. Some fear that its constantly mutilating character may render present research endeavours by the scientists fruitless. In these circumstances, health experts have been recommending isolation and social distancing so that we don’t enter its beaten zone by mixing with its mobile carriers. The virus has simultaneously assumed alarming proportions by engulfing all continents including over 200 countries. Countries like Iran, Cuba and Venezuela, which are under harsh US sanctions, are doubly affected. The conditions of people in conflict zones like Kashmir, Palestine, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are also miserable. It is a ruthless virus which makes no distinction based on age, gender or geography. It is constantly mutating and is therefore very versatile. Chronic patients, elders, young people and even children have suffered and are suffering. As per recent John Hopkins University research, about 1.2 million children may die because of COVID-19 with its epicentre in the underdeveloped world. It is estimated that roughly 6,000 children may die per day in the Sub-Saharan desert area. It may be recalled that in mid-14th century when the world’s population was only 500 million, 200 million people died due to the Black Death pandemic. Similarly, in 1918, when the Spanish flu started from US/Europe, the Indian Subcontinent became its epicentre, where 20 million people fell prey to the virus in a few months because of slums, poor health conditions and underdeveloped healthcare facilities. Dr Nabarro, the WHO special envoy for coronavirus, says it is quite possible that humanity may have to live with coronavirus forever. Containment of the spread of the virus by social distancing is therefore the recommended world strategy till its vaccine is developed. This warrants total change in our lifestyle and social behaviour. America’s top disease expert chief Dr Anthony Fauci is, however, hopeful to find its vaccine in the next 12 to 18 months. Economic pressures have already forced almost all governments the world over to relax the lockdown. However, countries like Pakistan — where the ascending curve of COVID-19 is constantly creating alarm and the public unfortunately is totally non-compliant — are in a fix. It is likely such countries will face a colossal loss of human lives because governments are being forced to depend on herd immunity. Pakistan’s federal government was unfortunately paralysed from day one. Confused leadership, wavering stance and total disconnect between the Centre and provinces have been its hallmark. Whereas while keeping in mind the most dangerous and worst hypothesis, which is based on the prolonged disease with no vaccine availability in the foreseeable future, the government must strictly follow the globally recognised strategy of awareness, testing, tracing, quarantine, treatment and simultaneous economic management. I feel that while making full endeavours to arrest the ever-increasing disease trend, we must constantly upgrade our health facilities and be ready for the worst. All governments are facing difficulties but Pakistan faces unique challenges of weak governance, divided polity, invisible self-righteous central leadership, extremely neglected health facilities and last but not the least, a totally shattered economy with an expected -1.5% growth for the first time in our over 70 years history. The strategy should not be based on either economy or human lives. We have no choice. There is no question of either or or. It has to be both. While simultaneous efforts to boost the economy must continue with vigour, we must not totally break the complete lockdown allowing maximum deaths in an effort to achieve herd immunity. Some specific recommendations are below: We need to follow the internationally recognised strategies which include effective awareness campaign, testing, tracing, quarantine and treatment. There is a need to procure large-scale testing kits and undertake massive testing on subsidised rates. District health facilities, both public and private, must be mobilised to trace affected areas and individuals who remain in contact with infected persons and ensure their quarantine. DCs and DPOs must make the best use of elected and non-elected political leaders and workers for the awareness campaign and to reach out to people at the grassroots level suffering from food insecurity. For economic revival, we must enhance agricultural growth of our cash crops by encouraging and financially assisting the farmers. We need to enhance large-scale manufacturing and provide maximum assistance to export earning industries. Interest rate can be further reduced and price of patrol and diesel cut down further. This will not only reduce electricity bills but also help farmers to run tube wells on reduced cost. Fifty-eight per cent people work in the service sector, 28% in the agriculture field and 20% in industries. Different SOPs can be evolved for their social distancing. Presently there is neither a clear policy nor desired competence and political will to implement government orders. Crowds in funerals, parties, religious processions and shopping centres speak volumes about the government’s helplessness.... Read more...Soft greetings instilling lifeless feelings, emotions in youthMay 31, 2020By Rehan Khan ISLAMABAD, Sunday, May 31, 2020 (WNP): Many moons ago, when the people were alien to the android technology, they used to exchange Eid cards with their loved ones especially on Eid festival. Writing Eid card was once a big trend to wish the joys of the day to someone who was a bit close to your heart. It used to give an immense pleasure on both sides of the isle equally. Even children used to exchange postcards, printed with photos of their favorite film-stars on the one side especially on the occasion of Eid. But after Year 2000 (Y2K), a significant change was witnessed in the life style of the people across the globe due to the mushroom growth in the social media applications. People, instead of Eid cards, started exchanging Eid greetings through short messaging service (SMS), electronic mail (email), Microsoft Network (MSN) messenger, Yahoo messenger etcetera. But after the advent of new digital modes of communication like Facebook and WhatsApp, people entered into a new phase of life where feelings and emotions are based on emojis. That’s why; our young generation is turning towards the materialistic approach which ultimately is instilling lifeless feelings and emotions in them. Taking a serious note of this burgeoning trend in the society, Syed Ehsan Gilani, a sociologist, said he did not pay heed towards such greetings which were “copy and paste” and forwarded just to get job done. He said these days; everyone’s hand gadgets’ memories were full of impersonal messages and causing nervous breakdown in the youth. “This is one of main factors behind its short temper, depression and perplexion,” Gilani opined. Reema Durrani, a socialist, said she did not find true passions in copy and paste greetings especially on the occasions of Eid, new year and birthday. “This is the high time to console each other when the whole world is passing through a mental agony due to COVID-19 and the nation with PIA plan crash tragedy occurred in Karachi just before a couple of days of Eid,” she added. Sharing her personal experience, Reema said she was still in habit of writing Eid, new year and birthday cards to her university life friends and sending on their postal addresses. She said, ”It gives a blissful happiness to me whenever I receive a greeting in the shape of a hard copy.” Wajahat Hussain, an English literature professor, said, “Either this is an old-fashioned to write an Eid card but it prints long-lasting psychological impression on the reader.” He said the walls of my room were decorated with cards of various events including Eid, new year, father day, teacher day and birthday. Those cards were written by my friends, colleagues and students, he said adding whenever, he went through them, it infused a new spirit of life in my body and opened new avenues of thoughts to move ahead both in private and public personas of life. Wajahat proposed the youth to come out of fantasy’s life which existed for a short time and it had nothing to do with real happiness of life.... Read more...Coronavirus pandemic: PM Imran to face resistance if ban imposed on prayers in mosquesMarch 17, 2020 By Rehan Khan If the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s test can be positive for coronavirus and United States President Donald Trump can be tested as precaution then who on earth commoners are to show attitudes in case of adopting preemptive measures against this deadly viral infection. ISLAMABAD, Tuesday, March 17, 2020: Convincing religious bent of mind people for offering prayers at their homes is not only difficult but an impossible task for the heads of Muslims states. Tawakkul (a concept of reliance on God) is a good thing but it forbids you not to adopt preemptive measures for one’s safety. Coronavirus has become a pandemic and its spread is inevitable but the safety measures are only the way forward to combat it. This a Namazi (a person who offers prayer) would get to understand and follow the injunctions as per health advisory issued by the United Nations health agency, World Health Organization (WHO) religiously. In a bid to combat coronavirus pandemic, the Muslims countries are also taking various precautionary measures for the safety of their people’s lives. The Saudi government took the lead by stopping Tawaf (circumambulation) in Mataf (an open area around the Khana-e-Kaba) for a couple of days. It happened first time in the Islamic history. In addition, the Saudi government has temporary suspended the provision of visa facility for the countries affected from the coronavirus – a deadly viral infection which has paralyzed whole the business and terrorized the entire world by confining within four walls. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also imposed ban on all houses of worship including mosques for four weeks. Keeping in view the evolving situation on the coronavirus pandemic, a dozen of mega sports events has been cancelled and banned the public gatherings world over. Being a coronavirus affected country, Pakistan is also exercising the world’s best practices to face this natural calamity. Pakistan, to overcome the spread of this deadly virus, has taken many an initiative such as; two weeks western borders closure with Iran and Afghanistan, three weeks closure of all educational institutions including religious seminaries and running public awareness campaigns through all possible means of communications. Sindh government has also announced the closure of shrines and marriage halls for three weeks and directed the local administration to establish quarantine in each district to meet any untoward health hazard situation timely. But the next step, to stop people from offering payer in mosque, for Pakistan government would be a bit difficult but anyhow, it will have to swallow this bitter pill in the lager national interest. For this purpose, the incumbent government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has started consultation process with religious scholars of various schools of thought so that they could reach a mutual conclusion to address the ever-biggest health issue of the world. The talks between state machinery and clerics are under way but it seems that it would create the same controversy as in Rome by angry pope Francis who voiced displeasure with the Italian authorities’ push to shut them because of the coronavirus pandemic. Kuwait – country in the middle east – has somehow resolved the issue by bringing a slight change in Azan (a call to offer prayer in the mosque). Now, the Moazzin (a man who recites Azan at prescribed times of the day) in Kuwait says “al salatu fi buyutikum” means offer prayer at your homes instead of ”hayya alas salah” means come to pray. Although, it is a positive development but it is still a big issue with rest of the Muslim world to stop their people from socializing at mosques. Prime Minister Imran Khan is playing his cards well by getting religious scholars into loop on the matter as without their consent, he could not impose ban on the people for offering prayer in mosques. If he did so on his own, he will have to face the music as anti-Imran elements can manipulate the situation and ignite the people to hold countrywide protest demonstrations against his government. Later or sooner, the Azan into the air of Kuwait would be heard in the load speakers installed in Pakistan’s mosques and rest of the Muslim countries. Azaan in #Kuwait changed slightly to stop people from coming to mosques due to #coronavirus. Instead of “hayya alas-salah”(come to prayer), the muazzin says “al-salatu fi buyutikum” (pray in your homes). 🕌 #CoronaOutbreak #coronapocalypse #CoronaVirusUpdates #NationalEmergency pic.twitter.com/XPe3x9qSs2 — Danyal Gilani (@DanyalGilani) March 14, 2020... Read more...Shut-up call to Mravi imperative for cultural legacy preservation: SurveyMarch 5, 2020By Rehan Khan ISLAMABAD, Thursday, March 5, 2020 (WNP): There are three types of people in our society – one who is supporting Marvi Sirmed and defending the hidden agenda behind the immoral slogan “mera jism, meri merzi” through illogical reasoning. The second is appreciating the bold step of Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar for giving a shut-up call to a foreign-funded woman who is trying to distort our cultural legacy through introducing nonsense attitudes towards man. The third is a bit confused. It is favoring Khalil-ur-Rehman but disagreeing on cursing Marvi on-air. These three types of people are discovered by World News Pakistan (WNP) through a countrywide survey in a bid to reach out the true public opinions about the ongoing controversy between a man of letters, Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar whose recently screened master piece “mere paas tum ho” has broken all the previous records on the silver screen and the so called socialist Marvi Sirmed. The WNP has categorized the responses into three categories – mature, under mature and pre-mature. For the convenience of understanding, the people falling in mature category are in between 40 years and above; they are married and parents of adult children. In second category, people are in between 20 to 40 years and parents of babies and above all; in third category, people are under 20 years and unmarried. The first category of response is of the view that Mr. Qamar has done nothing to be ashamed of……his reaction against Marvi was natural and genuine one because a sane, civilized and man of character reacts like Mr. Qamar against any intruder who will try to disintegrate our national resolve through injecting negative aspects of life among our innocent cultured women whether they are from Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Balistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. The immoral attitudes being projected by Marvi are not even in practice anywhere in the advanced countries. She is exercising a useless attempt in the wake of “Aurat Azadi March” like “Students Azadi March” by Progressive Students Collective in a bid to create anarchy in the country. Both are the two sides of the same coin and their nefarious designs are to unite dejected segments of the society against the state’s apparatus and to hold them responsible for all ongoing wrongdoings in the society. There some political parties like Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are openly providing logistic support to such anti-state elements to deprive the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government from their democratic and constitutional mandate and to weaken the role of establishment in the present-day politics by hook and by crook. In fact, PPP and PML-N’s leaderships are facing mega corruption cases in the courts of law. To halt the ongoing accountability process, they are playing filthy politics putting the integrity and sovereignty of the country at stake. There are many a decent way to highlight the issues being faced by the women – the weaker sex in the male-dominated society – but the way Marvi Sirmed is doing, it is totally against the social, cultural and religious norms. The second category of response is somehow in favour of Mr. Qamar but it is not agreeing on cursing Marvi on-air. It gave balanced remarks for both of the controversial figures. The third category of response favors Marvi Sirmed and said the slogan “mera jism, meri merzi” is being manipulated by conservative and moderate segments of the society. It is purely combating for the women rights being usurped by male-dominated society for years and years.... Read more... CrimeUnderage girl commits suicide due to blackmailing of her alleged rapists in TharSeptember 30, 2020CHELHAR, Wednesday, September 30, 2020 (WNP/DL): A 17-year-old girl, who had allegedly been raped a year earlier, committed suicide in Sindh’s Tharparkar district after she was reportedly blackmailed by the suspects whom her family had accused of sexually assaulting her. The teenager, who belonged to a Hindu family, took her own life in the early hours of Wednesday by jumping into a deep open well in village Dalan-Jo-Tarr near Chelhar town. Villagers retrieved the body and shifted it to Mithi Civil Hospital for postmortem examination. “The girl was raped by three men in mid-July in 2019 and the accused in the case are on bail,” the victim’s father and other relatives told reporters in Mithi. They alleged that the girl committed suicide after she was blackmailed and harassed by the influential suspects who had raped her. Chelhar police had registered a first information report (FIR) no. 26/2019, against three men on rape charges. The suspects had not only taken turns to rape the girl but allegedly also filmed the ordeal after taking her to a house. According to then-Tharparkar senior superintendent of police (SSP) Abdullah Ahmedyar, initial medical reports had confirmed that the girl had been sexually assaulted. The trial of the case was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. October 15 has now been fixed as the date when evidence in the case will be submitted, the lawyer of the victim’s family, Advocate Mohan Mathrani, told media. No fresh case was registered against the accused after the girl’s death (until the filing of this report), however, one of the three suspects was arrested again by Chelhar police on the orders of Tharparkar SSP Hassan Sardar Niazi. Chelhar Station House Office Mushtaq Malik said police would register a new case if the family lodged a complaint of blackmail or harassment. People from different walks of life including rights activists Samtra Manjani, Bheem Raj and others strongly condemned the incident and demanded stern action against those who forced the teenager to take the extreme step. People of the Meghwar community, as well as workers of various parties, have warned they will stage protests in Thar and other areas against such rising incidents of crimes against women. The incident comes amid renewed debate and outrage over sexual crimes against women in the country, which was sparked by the gang-rape of a woman on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway in front of her children after she was left stranded by a fault in her car. Amidst countrywide anger, Prime Minister Imran Khan said rapists should be handed down the most severe punishments to curb rising sexual violence, such as either hanging them publicly or chemically castrating them. A Sindh Police study had revealed earlier this year that as many as 1,287 people, including 586 females, committed suicide across the province over the last five years. This research was carried out in the wake of growing incidents of suicide, particularly in lower Sindh, the provincial police chief had told media, saying its purpose was partly to sensitise the police and identify triggering factors behind suicides.... Read more...5 killed, 2 injured in Nowshera blastSeptember 29, 2020NOWSHERA, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 (WNP/DL): At least five people were killed and two others injured in a blast in the Akbarpura area of Nowshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, police Tuesday said. District Police Officer (DPO) Najamal Hassan said the explosion occurred in a market situated along the Kabul River. “Some people were collecting scrap material from the stones alongside the river. Some of the scrap included explosive material which detonated when they were weighing it.” He said police were collecting evidence and investigating the incident further. The injured people have been shifted to the hospital, he added. Earlier this year, at least one man was injured in a blast on an imambargah in Lower Kurram’s Shoorki area near the Pak-Afghan border. Police suspected explosive material had been planted at the mosque, Yaqoob Khan, a local police official said.... Read more...Saba Qamar, Bilal Saeed booked for controversial shoot at Wazir Khan MosqueAugust 14, 2020LAHORE, Friday, August 14, 2020 (WNP/DL): An FIR has been lodged against actor Saba Qamar and singer Bilal Saeed over their controversial shoot for the singer’s latest music video Qabool at Wazir Khan Mosque in Akbari Gate Police Station. The case has been registered on the complaint of lawyer Farhat Manzoor under Section 295 (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting Its religion or religious beliefs) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Advocate Sardar Farhat Manzoor Khan had filed the petition pleading that he submitted an application to the Akbari Gate SHO for registration of an FIR against the culprits for violating the sanctity of the mosque. The lawyer contended that the culprits trampled upon the sanctity of the mosque by their act which also sparked an outrage among the citizens. He asked the court to order the police to lodge a case against the persons involved in the illegal act. Besides the actor and the singer, the petitioner also sought action against the production house of the music video and officials of the Auqaf department who permitted the shooting. However, the defence counsel argued that the proposed accused did not commit any offence as the entire video was shot after permission of the department administration. He further submitted that chief minister Punjab had also issued orders for detailed inquiry of the incident whereas respondents had already sought apology on various forums, He pleaded with the court for dismissal of the plea. A short clip of Qamar whirling with Saeed at the historic mosque went viral on social media. The video drew strong reactions from religious circles. Qamar also responded to the criticism in a series of tweets, saying the clip was a “prologue to the music video featuring a Nikkah scene”. “It was neither shot with any sort of playback music nor has it been edited to the music track,” she said on Twitter.... Read more...3 booked for torturing lions to deathJuly 31, 2020By Muhammad Rizwan ISLAMABAD, Friday, July 31, 2020 (WNP/DL): A case has been registered against three persons for allegedly torturing a pair of lions, which led to their deaths. The case was registered at Kohsar Police Station, under Section 429-PPC and Section 5 of the Animal Act 1990, in response to a complaint, lodged by a journalist Shakeel Ahmed. According to the first information report (FIR), a video shows three persons lighting fires in the animals’ enclosure at Islamabad Zoo, so they would move inside cages; they also poked the lion with sticks to force it out. Both lions died later, while they were being moved to a lion breeding sanctuary in Kasur. Legal action must be taken against the persons involved in the incident, it added. Police have asked for video footage of the incident from the complainant, to identify the accused for further legal action. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam has formed an inquiry committee to investigate the deaths of both lions. Under directives from Islamabad High Court, the pair was being shifted from Marghazar Zoo, however, both animals died on the way to the sanctuary in Kasur. The lion and lioness were both eight-years-old; they were brought to the zoo in 2016 from Lahore Safari Park, as part of the Bird and Animal Exchange Programme between Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the Punjab government.... Read more...FIR registered against couple for beating motherJuly 22, 2020By Muhammad Rizwan RAWALPINDI, Wednesday, July 22, 2020 (WNP/DL) Rawalpindi police on Tuesday registered a first information report (FIR) against a man and his wife after a video of him beating his mother went viral on social media. Dear #pakistani brothers and sisters. Please raise your voice against these two husband and wife. If you have seen the video you must be aware of what they have done. #zoobiameer and her mother needs justice. pic.twitter.com/uidwc9vN8J — M A N S O O R__A L I🙂 (@apka_mansoor) July 21, 2020 Rawalpindi CCPO Ahsan Younis took notice of the video showing Arsalan allegedly beating his mother Gulnaz Bibi and directed Rawal Division Superintendent of Police (SP) Rai Mazhar Iqbal to register a case and arrest him. سٹی پولیس آفیسر محمد احسن یونس کے حکم پر ایس پی راول ڈویژن بیٹے کے تشدد کا نشانہ بننے والی ماں جی کے گھر پہنچ گئے، خیریت دریافت کی اور اب تک کی پولیس تفتیش سے آگاہ کیا۔ سی پی او راولپنڈی کا ماں جی سے فون پر رابطہ، خیریت دریافت کی اور میرٹ پر تفتیش کی یقین دہانی کروائی۔ pic.twitter.com/sHpOGZ4oEP — Rawalpindi Police (@RwpPolice) July 22, 2020 SHO Sadiqabad Tahir Ahmed Rehan, on the instructions of the SP, lodged a case under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 337 A-1, and 337 L-2 and got the medical examination of Gulnaz Bibi done. Hospital officials said the medical report would be submitted to the police within a week. In the FIR, Gulnaz Bibi, a resident of Dhokla Ali Akbar area of Rawalpindi, alleged that her son and daughter-in-law would “fight with me every other day”. “At 7pm on night, they pushed me, beat me and tortured me intensely,” she said. Bibi’s husband, Ghazali Meer, told that he was not present in the house when the incident took place. He claimed that his stepson has breathing problems and his daughter informed him of the incident over the phone. He added that when he got home, he found both his wife and his stepson lying on the floor of the house. “My stepson complained to me that Gulnaz had broken the car’s mirrors and it had been badly damaged,” he claimed, adding that his wife had not let him meet the police when they tried to contact him and instead “snatched his phone away and used very vulgar language with the police officials”. Meer said that Gulnaz was his second wife, adding that she has two daughters and two sons from her previous marriage. “The daughters are married while one son is in England and the other (Arsalan) lives with us”. He said that he had one daughter with Gulnaz who lived with them in their house. Meer alleged that his wife also “tortured” his stepson and daughter-in-law which is why the matter had come to this point and had also reached the police Early on Wednesday morning, a video emerged on social media of Arsalan’s stepsister Zoobia Meer, in which she sought justice for her mother. She claimed that police had released Arsalan an hour after they submitted a complaint against him. Statement of Zoobia Meer whose brother beat her mother over property and cash! See previous video… Punjab Police refusing to register FIR!!!.#copied.Jo log video banany wali is larki ko bura bhala keh ray hn Socho ager video na banti tab kon yakeen kerta!!! Posted by JuNi JJ on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 According to Zoobia, her brother had beaten her with a wiper as well, following which their mother used the same wiper to damage Arsalan’s car and subsequently lost consciousness. While the mother and her daughter were taken to safety by some neighbours, Arsalan with the help of his in-laws took away cash, certain documents and some jewellery, and tore apart their clothes, according to Zoobia. She said police were not taking any action even though their medical examination report “clearly stated” that they had marks of physical abuse on their bodies. Zoobia acknowledged that she and her mother had also hit Arsalan back, but claimed that it was only in self-defence. SP Rawal Division earlier said that Arsalan, who owns a car showroom, and his wife had fled and raids were being carried out to arrest him. However, it later emerged that the couple has obtained interim pre-arrest bail from a local court. According to the court orders received by police, Arsalan and his wife are on interim bail until August 6, police spokesperson Sajjad said. He added that the couple was expected to join the investigation in the case. Meanwhile, Arsalan’s wife Bisma told that she had been married for four years and had a 1.5-year-old daughter. “I cannot even tell you what my mother-in-law did to her son.” She claimed that her mother-in-law had been “torturing” her for four years but she had never spoken about it to save her marriage. “I had to necessarily show the other side of the picture when the case reached the media and police. My mother-in-law and her daughter even hid my daughter’s milk. “I was tortured every day but remained silent. If the son lifted a hand on his mother, then there must have been reason to do so,” she claimed, adding that her sister-in-law had gone to bring the police but had not told them the “truth”. “My mother-in-law tortured first, which is why the matter reached this point.” Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar while taking notice of the incident directed the Rawalpindi Regional Police Officer to submit a report and directed that Arsalan be “immediately arrested”. He also directed that “justice be ensured for the mother”.... Read more...4 arrested in Mardan for destroying ancient Buddha statueJuly 18, 2020MARDAN, Saturday, July 18, 2020 (WNP/DL): Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) police Saturday arrested four men for shattering an ancient Buddha statue, found during the construction work in Takhtbhai area of Mardan. Earlier this day, videos surfaced on social media showing a man breaking with a hammer a life-sized statue of Buddha, parts of which were still embedded underground. Other men can be seen looking on as the statue is being destroyed while a couple of people were making videos. Archaeology and Museums Director Doctor Abdul Samad termed the destruction of the statue a “crime” and said “disrespecting any religion is intolerable”. Police later tweeted that the suspects had been traced and arrested while pieces of the broken statue were also recovered. According to the police, those arrested include Qamar Zaman, Amjad, Aleem and Suleman. مردان پولیس نے واقعہ کی ایریا اور ملزمان کو ٹریس کرلیا ہے۔ پولیس نے واقعہ میں ملوث ملزمان کو ٹریس اور مجسمے کے ٹکڑے بھی برآمد کرلئے ہیں۔گرفتار ملزمان میں ٹھیکدار قمر زمان سکنہ گلی باغ، امجدسکنہ پاتے کلے، علیم سکنہ سازودین کلے اور سلیمان سکنہ شیخ ملتون شامل ہیں۔ @DrZahid_Jan https://t.co/qJTb9teh3q pic.twitter.com/M0jNcA8BB9 — KP Police (@KP_Police1) July 18, 2020 A first information report (FIR) has been registered against them under the Antiquities Act 2016, according to officials. Dr Samad expressed appreciation on the police’s “prompt action” in arresting the suspects.... Read more... HealthHealthy environment must for a healthy society: Aida GirmaOctober 20, 2020 Breast cancer is preventable up to 40% by adopting a healthy lifestyleOctober 13, 2020 Supreme Court turns pink in support of Pink RibbonOctober 10, 2020 Over 10 m women in Pakistan are at ‘Breast Cancer’ riskOctober 7, 2020 Dengue larvae detected in 963 places in RawalpindiSeptember 29, 2020 EU ensures basic healthcare services for Sindhi, Balochi women, newborns amid pandemic: AndroullaSeptember 15, 2020 Photo News The Rabi-ul-Awal moon sighted in Pakistan infusing a new spirit of life among the Holy Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him lovers on Sunday, October 18, 2020. There were 313,431 coronavirus cases, out of them 298,055 were recovered and 6,499 were died till the last report received on Friday, October 2, 2020. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Standing Committee on Human Rights Chairman, is chairing the committee meeting in the Parliament House on Tuesday, August 18, 2020. Muhammad Ali Sheikh, owner of Hafiz Bata Store, located at Main Road Moro, marked 73rd Independence Day of Pakistan by cutting a cake portraying national flag here on Friday, August 14, 2020. Pakistan's 73rd Independence Day is being celebrated with national zeal and zest across the country without taking care of standard operating procedures for COVID-19 on Friday, August 14, 2020.