Attack on polio team – 30 Jun 2022

THE threat of deadly violence never seems to diminish for health workers and police officials involved in door-to-door polio vaccination campaigns in the country. On Tuesday, two policemen and a health worker were killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire on them in North Waziristan`s Datakhel tehsil.

The attack took place in the Tang Kali locality near the Pak-Afghan border. This is the second such attack since January this year when a policeman escorting a vaccination team was shot dead in Kohat. The attack in North Waziristan has come on the heels of an aggressive resurgence of the wild poliovirus in the area. Since only April this year, at least 11 cases of the wild poliovirus have been reported from a cluster of high-risk union councils. These cases had surfaced af ter a hiatus of 15 months that had given hope that Pakistan might be on the brink of eliminating the crippling disease from its territory.

However, as the attack demonstrates, Pakistan still has a long way to go before achieving polio-free status. Moreover, refusals still remain high in North Waziristan. According to reports, silent refusals by parents and fake markings on children`s fingers were one of the key reasons for the abnormally high number of cases.

Though the investigation is still ongoing, the latest attack on the polio team reflects the high mistrust of official authorities in this area. The issue of refusals is a long-standing one, and WHO and Unicef on many occasions have asked the Pakistani authorities to address the problem of missing and invisible children who remain outside the umbrella of immunisation campaigns. On the other hand, as the wild poliovirus remains endemic only in the PakAfghan region, cross-border coordination for its elimination is the need of the hour. Recent events have made it clear that aggressive campaigning for the administration of the polio vaccine is no longer enough, and that a wide-ranging, sensitive and strategic effort is required to address the public`s suspicions regarding the government`s anti-polio efforts.

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Digital democracy – 30 Jun 2022

During election season, our politicians cleverly tap into one of the best resources of our country – our youth. The youth participate vigorously in all the jalsas, knock on doors in the scorching heat, rally voters, and vote themselves.

However, when the election is over, rarely will the youth who got the representative elected in the first place be asked for their thoughts on a law that impacts them. Nor do the youth have a platform to petition for any new law, co-innovate with their representative, debate, voice, or be an active part of the law-making process. Unfortunately, deliberately or by default, youth participation in our democracy is limited to the sole act of voting or protesting at jalsas – swiftly marginalized once their zeal is no longer required.

Digital democracy is a novel solution to ending our youth’s marginalization; it is the answer to the software update our democracy desperately needs, especially in Pakistan, given that 64 percent of the nation is younger than 30. Civic tech, a conglomeration of technologies such as AI and blockchain, can help connect citizens with governments, allowing them to engage with their representatives and constituency to collaborate and play their part.

Our youth sadly do not have mechanisms to participate, deliberate and collaborate on policymaking that impacts them. They must mandate transparency and easy access of information from the government at all levels. This way, we no longer marginalize the citizen to vote only but involve them in the law-making decisions faced by the representative post-elections.

When Uber, a ride-sharing app, came to Taiwan, taxi drivers protested against it and citizens voiced their concerns about various aspects of the app. In a situation like this, elected officials, often aloof from public sentiment or lacking the proper expertise, are tempted to decide in isolation. This tragic disconnect is also true in Pakistan, where politicians are deemed magicians with all solutions and intelligence. However, Audrey Tang, the newly appointed Taiwanese digital minister, held online consultations using machine learning AI technology to “attract consensus” on the Uber issue. The deliberation process spearheaded by citizens eventually led to a set of new legal regulations adopted by the government. The citizens, alongside the representatives, debated, voted, and helped craft a law that allowed Uber to operate in Taiwan.

Rather than acting alone or forming sluggish committees to solve these complex challenges, the digital minister wanted citizens to be partners in a solution; she calls this “crowdsourced policy-making.” Almost all official meetings on Uber were streamed live or recorded, and meeting minutes were uploaded online to update concerned citizens. Digital information access to citizens complemented by civic tech proved to bring speedy and inclusive solutions through informed participation.

Another good initiative is an e-petition platform introduced by the Taiwanese minister, which allows citizens to get an actual response from the concerned ministry once a petition receives over five thousand signatures. This mechanism allows the elected officials and concerned citizens to connect face to face to raise awareness and solve policy issues together through technology.

Beyond the benefits of participation, future governments can use AI and Blockchain to provide citizens information transparency and deliver good governance. In the US and UK, federal agencies use AI to make procurement or social welfare transactions corruption-free. For example, in the UK, the department of work and pensions has a developed algorithm that gathers information from different agencies to warrant if the person receiving entitlement is genuinely deserving. Through blockchain, an immutable ledger, land titles can be dispersed, creating a corruption-free and robust implementation of property rights, a fundamental principle of any democracy.

Even though the rise of digital democracy will strengthen democracy and empower our youth, it still has a long way to go. First and foremost, it is integral that the digital infrastructure goes across societies and communities to avoid the digital divide. Significant work remains to provide access to broadband internet to citizens worldwide. In Pakistan, for example, only 35 per cent of the population has access to the internet. Internet penetration is critical and a barrier to the success of digital democracy.

Future governments in Pakistan need to change how they can utilize technology to strengthen democracy and empower the youth. We must go beyond complaint portals to create space for our youth to collaborate and shape their future. The youth must demand this shift of their new leaders and parties. The youth must strive to voice their concerns, mobilize conversations, petition for improvements, co-innovate, crowdsource new laws, or recommend changes to previous ones. Our youth’s talent and brain power must not go to waste; let’s demand 21st-century solutions to make our democracy stronger and shape our future.

The writer is a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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Question of empowerment – 30 Jun 2022

Recently, the Punjab government, notably spokesperson for the government and Minister Attaullah Tarar, has spoken about introducing a rape emergency in the province, because of the high number of assault cases against girls and women being reported from Punjab. The average stands at four to five cases per day, but estimates are that the numbers are probably far higher, given that many victims of rape or assault do not report that they have suffered this crime.

One of the issues is the manner in which to address the problem. In his briefing, Tarar suggested parents not leave their children alone at home alone and watch over them carefully. In principle, this sounds like a practical warning. But the reality also is that many children suffer assault or rape within their own homes and not outside them. This is also true of older girls and women. The question of incest, a disturbingly familiar problem in our society according to groups dealing with child abuse, means that children are at risk at home from relatives, neighbours and persons who work in their homes.

But the most common perpetrators of crimes against children of a sexual nature are relatives, often those who are fairly closely linked within the family, and whose crime is not reported because children are asked to cover up the matter, rather than create any kind of rift in the family. There are many complications in the matter of rape and keeping children in the home, even with another adult in supervision, does not mean that they are safe.

A better idea from the minister is that education be imparted in schools to children on how to keep themselves safe. This is a sensible suggestion, provided that we are willing to go into it head-on and not hide any of the ugly realities that exist in our society. Even at elite schools, parents have opposed sex education of any kind, on the basis that this could make them more aware of acts of a sexual nature that they did not know existed. This is a fallacy. In this age of the internet, children are aware of all kinds of sexual acts at an extremely early age, and it would be best to provide them accurate and balanced information on the matter, based on the age group, rather than let them depend on unreliable knowledge from dubious internet websites or from peers.

Schools need to run a campaign for this purpose and when harassment occurs in schools, as it has in the past, the institution needs to be extra careful about ensuring it is not covered up, but brought out in the open and discussed with parents with action taken against the perpetrator.

The main issue here, however, is that rape and assault is essentially a matter of power rather than sexual frustration. This is why children and even babies are targeted, quite often within their own homes, or at other places they should be able to consider safe. We need to study the problem in greater detail and work out what the parameters are that lead to such actions on such a frequent basis. And we also need to give children the confidence to report assault openly and freely and to talk about it both with parents and teachers. The fact that we live in a society where this is not acceptable makes things far harder for the victims, for their parents and for others involved in the matter.

Because children are discouraged from reporting any kind of harassment or are embarrassed to do so, the crimes continue, perpetrators are not punished, and as a result, more crimes are committed. In fact, even in cases where the rape or assault has been reported by the child or a young woman or indeed an older woman the perpetrators often escape without punishment, leading to a greater risk of similar crimes being committed in the future because people know that rapists get away scot-free, and that there is no certain punishment for them at the end of the process.

Better police investigation and more skillful use of forensics, as well as techniques intended to build confidence in both children and women to report rape would help solve the problem to some degree at least. At present, too many are scared to come forward with their accounts of what has happened. Yet, according to the limited number of studies, most women and girls in most provinces in the country have suffered harassment or assault of one kind or another at some point in their lives.

Yes, Attaullah Tarar is right when he says this is a problem we need to deal with. The misogynist culture created over the most recent years, notably after the PTI came to power, simply contributes to the risk they are at. The right steps need to be taken but we need a commission of experts to determine what these steps should be and how they should be implemented. Organizations working for the rights of women need to be kept involved and the entire process discussed with them if we are to bring down the rate of rape in our society.

There is a belief that our larger cities have some of the highest rates of rape in the world, with Lahore and Karachi leading in this matter. Lately, there has been more reporting of harassment at colleges and universities across the country. This harassment has occurred even during exams. The fact that young women are more willing to come forward and report these crimes is a good sign. Perhaps in the future, we can become a society where there is more willingness to discuss violence against women and dispel the idea that actions of women somehow compel men to carry out acts of sexual violence against them. Such ridiculous ideas have been put forward even by the former prime minister Imran Khan.

We need to deal with rape and assault on both boys and girls as a very serious matter, and one which is becoming more and more widespread and open in our society. The age of social media may have contributed to this. But we need to find solutions and these need to be found as quickly as possible with a commission set up to discuss how best to educate children of various ages, through their textbooks and through lessons at school, which are perhaps compulsory for all children so that parents cannot pull their children out of them and thus leave them vulnerable to violent crimes of various kinds as a result of their lack of knowledge and their lack of information as to how to go about reporting any act which threatens them or counts as an act of molestation against them.

The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor.

She can be reached at:

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Article 35 provides ‘State should protect child’ – 30 Jun 2022

SC notes juvenile justice system finds its ideological roots in Constitution

The Supreme Court has observed that Article 35 of the Constitution provided that the State should protect the child.

It added that Article 25(3) empowered the State to make special provisions for the protection of children even if it discriminates against the adults.

“The juvenile justice system also finds its ideological roots in the Constitution,” read a six-page order authored by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah while granting post-arrest bail in a murder case under Section 6(5) of the Juvenile Justice System 2018.

A division bench of the apex court led by Justice Shah further noted that Pakistan was a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC) and was thus under an international obligation to take special measures for the protection and rehabilitation of the juveniles who come in conflict with law.

“It was for the compliance of this constitutional mandate and for the fulfilment of this international obligation that the Act was enacted by the legislature of Pakistan. The main object of the enactment of the Act is to modify and amend the law relating to the criminal justice system for juveniles by providing special focus on disposal of their cases through diversion and social integration for their rehabilitation.”

The court noted that Article 37 (b) of the UNCRC provided that the process of arrest, detention or imprisonment of a juvenile is to be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, while para 28 of the General Comments of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)12, which interprets Article 37(b), says that the use of deprivation of liberty, and in particular pre-trial detention, is to be strictly limited. Section 6 of the Act that deals with the release of juveniles on bail pending his trial actualises Article 37 (b) of the UNCRC.”

The judgment further noted that the conceptual framework of the juvenile justice system, which has been carved out of the general criminal justice system.

“Juvenile justice system is not retributive in character, it is primarily rehabilitative and restorative. Restorative justice is ‘a theory of justice that emphasises repairing the harm caused by criminal

Behavior’. It rests on the ‘best interest of the child’ and ensures fulfillment of [their] basic rights and needs, identity, social well-being, physical, emotional and pscyhological development. This therapeutic underpinning is the central theme of the juvenile justice system.”

The verdict noted that juvenile courts, by their very nature, were designed to be more therapeutic than the adult criminal justice system.

“Juveniles differ from adults in their development and their needs.”

The SC noted that in the present case, the [lower] courts had failed to appreciate the scheme of the Act

“[And in particular that of Section 6(5) of the Act, which has been enacted to counter the negative effects of long-term detention on the juveniles in jails.”

“The [lower] courts below have thus committed a patent error of law by not allowing the benefit of Section 6(5) of the Act to the petitioner, when the delay in completion of the trial was not attributable to any act or omission or of any other person acting on his behalf.”

The SC therefore converted the petition into an appeal and allowed it. “The impugned order is set aside and the application for post arrest bail of the petitioner is accepted under Section 6(5) of the Act on the ground of delay in completion of the trial exceeding a period of six months since the date of his arrest in the case. The petitioner is admitted to post-arrest bail subject to his furnishing bail bond in the sum of Rs500,000 with two sureties in the like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court.”

The court also noted that in the present case, the petitioner was arrested on March 18, 2021 and he had been detained for a continuous period exceeding six months since his detention and his trial had not been completed when he applied for the relief of bail before the trial court and the high court. “The trial court declined the relief of bail to the petitioner without discussing the fact who was at fault for the delay in completion of the trial.”

The SC observed that while the high court had noted that the delay occurred due to failure of the investigating officer in timely submission of the final report under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898.

In the latest report , it added, submitted by the trial court, dated May 25, 2022, on requisition of SC, it has been reported that the delay has occurred due to filing of a private complaint by the complainant.

“The delay in completion of the trial is thus not attributable to any act or omission of the petitioner or any other person acting on his behalf, and the petitioner is therefore entitled to be released on bail, as of right, under Section 6(5) of the Act.”

The SC told the trial court to conclude the trial of the petitioner expeditiously as undertaken by it in the report submitted to this court.

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Underage girls’ marriage termed trafficking – 30 Jun 2022

Ex-MPA says many transgender persons have also fallen victim to trafficking

Former member of provincial assembly (MPA) Uzma Kardar has termed the case of a teenage girl Dua Zehra’s purported marriage an incident of human trafficking.

She was speaking at an advocacy session with potential victims of trafficking in person. The district advocacy session organised by the Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO) was attended by parliamentarians, brick kiln and domestic labourers, media persons, social service officers, police officials and others.

Kardar said there was a means of human trafficking in which underage girls were brought from different provinces and forced into marriage.

She pointed towards different laws regarding underage marriages in the provinces.

She said women were promised marriage and forced into sexual exploitation.

Many transgender persons had also fallen victim to trafficking, she added.

Provincial Senior Minister Hassan Murtaza said the governments had not done enough to put an end to human trafficking.

He stressed the need for taking the stakeholders on board and launching an awareness campaign about the issue.

The epicentre of the campaign should be public places and not the government premises. We as a nation should participate and take it forward,” Murtaza added.

“Being from a rural area, I have been witness to many incidents in which labourers of brick kilns had to face courts and police stations and FIRs of theft had been registered against them to coerce them into bonded labour,” Murtaza said.

He added that in many instances the victims had been trapped for bonded labour due to their adverse circumstances like taking heavy loans to meet their needs.

He also quoted an incident of a village near his home where a victim was smuggled to Ethiopia after being lured by agents through the promise of a bright future. The victim had to go through an arduous struggle to return home safely.

“Human trafficking is a heinous crime that needs to be addressed on priority,” Murtaza concluded.

SSDO Executive Director Syed Kausar Abbass said the labourers had been invited for interaction with legislators and enforcement officers to share their concerns, challenges and approach.

He said the session was aimed at creating awareness on trafficking in persons and its impact on communities and countries, laws, referral mechanism and role of citizens in supporting government departments to identify and curb it.

The issue pertained to sex and bonded labour at brick kilns and farms, he added.

Punjab Assembly member Bushra Anjum Butt said she had raised the issue during the budget debate recently.

She said she had requested the government to resume issuing cards for financially helping the domestic workers, bonded labourers and workers.

Kiln workers, domestic labourers, victims of trafficking and bonder labour shared their stories of sufferance.

A worker shared that she worked at a house as a maid, where she was harassed by the owner.

A participant said everyone pledged something to get loans but the brick kiln workers had no assets and were forced to pledge themselves.

The SSDO executive director said the organisation had formed a stakeholders’ working group to work on the issue.

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Saving the ecosystem – 30 Jun 2022

Increase in average global temperature by 0.04 °C per year would reduce world’s real GDP per capita by more than 7%

Now everyone, everywhere, agrees or at least experiences first hand the irregular weather pattern caused by insane human actions! And if not reversed, with some targeted interventions into the way we produce and consume things, this pattern will get worse and worse over time until the mother earth becomes unlivable for all species. It will metamorphose into Mars which, astrophysicists believe, might have had all life-supporting conditions in the past but it is now anything but livable.

The earth’s climate has changed throughout its history. According to some estimates, just in the last 700,000 years there have been 7 cycles of glacial advance and retreat with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 11,700 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilisation. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.

But substantial evidence is available through direct observations made on and above earth’s surface that planet’s climate is significantly changing at a rate that is unprecedented over millennia, and human activities since the mid-20th century have been the primary driver of those changes. The carbon dioxide and other gases have the ability to trap heat. Evidence from ocean sediments, tree rings, coral reefs and layers of sedimentary rocks indicate that CO2 from human activity is increasing more than 250 times faster than it did from natural sources after the last Ice Age.

Let us look at some data and see what is happening in and around the earth making it hostile for living in the foreseeable future. The planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century. The years 2016 and 2020 are the warmest year on record. Global sea level rose about 8 inches (20 cm) in the last century. Spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and the snow is melting earlier. The survival of coral reefs, considered the ‘rain forests of the sea’, and host around 25% of marine species, is in danger. Atmospheric CO2 is absorbed in the sea and lowers the pH of seawater threatening the survival of coral reefs.

What does all this tell us about the existing economic order and its sustainability? A study by researchers from the IMF and University of Oxford show that a persistent increase in average global temperature by 0.04 °C per year would reduce world’s real GDP per capita by more than 7% by the end of 21st century. Climate-vulnerable countries pay a higher risk premium on their sovereign debt

Foreign Direct Investment tends to be lower to locations that are more vulnerable to climate effects such as increased rainfall and flooding, warm temperatures and droughts. Firms in vulnerable climates (major storms, flooding, heatwaves) have lower and more volatile profits and cash flows, hold higher amounts of cash and use long-term debt. Financing is also costly for firms exposed to climate change. Investors demand 92 basis points higher return to invest in firms affected by severe drought conditions.

These numbers, though large, are an underestimate according to a recent large survey of CEOs, academics and bankers. The picture is not all gloomy, though. Climate change can be turned around if there is global consensus on actionable policies. It is estimated that spending about 3% of global GDP on reversing climate change through reforestation, investment in renewable energy and cleaning the oceans can have a substantial impact.

There is already good work underway around the world. Some countries have started discouraging carbon emissions and promoting the use of green renewable energy sources. Evidence from recent studies suggests that financial markets have started pricing carbon related risks. Investors demand higher returns to invest in the stocks of firms with higher total CO2 emissions. Likewise, banks charge higher interest rates and use more covenant restrictions to lend to firms responsible for adverse climate incidents such as oil spills, excess carbon emissions and deforestation projects. All these actions, though admirable, are not enough to save the ecological disaster. Countries and MNCs need to do more and on sustained basis to thwart climate calamity.

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College student critical after `suicide bid` – 30 Jun 2022

LAHORE: A Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) student suffered injuries when she jumped from the third storey of the Faculty of Social Sciences building on Wednesday.

The student is enrolled in Bachelor of Science (BS) 8th semester of the physic department and visited the university to submit her thesis. She suffered head injuries and was taken to the Services Hospital where she was said to be in a critical condition.

Services Hospital Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Aamir told reporters that one leg of the girl was broken and she also suffered injuries on head.

He said neurosurgeons would further examine her once she regained consciousness.

He said all possible medical care was being provided to the patient.

The girl`s mother said her daughter was unhappy over her marriage which took place on June 13 at Hasilpur, a tehsil of Rajanpur.

She said her daughter left home on June 22 and reached the university to complete her studies.

LCWU Vice Chancellor Dr Bushra Mirza constituted a four-member committee to probe the incident and submit a report. The committee members are Department of Physics chairperson Dr Zohra Kiyani, Student Affairs Director Sameera Sajjad, the registrar and Chief Security Officer Qadeer Sulehri.

LCWU spokesperson Naveed Iqbal told Dawn that initial investigation revealed that the student tried to commit suicide due to personal issues. He said the student belonged to the final semester and she had also completed her research work before the last date.

Asked about any pressure from the university administration, he denied and said: `The administration has nothing to do with it`.

He said the committee would submit its report on Thursday (today).

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Woman allegedly raped in clinic – 30 Jun 2022

RAWALPINDI: A woman was allegedly raped by two persons at gunpoint in a clinic in Sadigabad.

The victimlodged a firstinformation report (FIR) in which she stated thatshe visited a seminary a few days ago in Sadigabad as she was looking for a job when a man approached her and offered to arrange employment for her.

The FIR stated that she was askedto reach a clinic located along Kuri Road for an interview, adding that when she reached the location, she found two persons sitting there.

-Staff Reporter

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Minor girl raped – 30 Jun 2022

OKARA: A man allegedly raped a six-year-old girl here on Wednesday in Abdullah locality of Dipalpur city.

As per the first information report, complainant `B` said his daughter `F` went out of the house to play in the street but didnot return home.

He said he along with locals launched a search in the locality and found the girl coming out of the house owned by `M` who managed his escape.

Dipalpur City police have registered a case. Correspondent

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Lady doctor tortured by relative at police station – 30 Jun 2022

BAHAWALNAGAR: Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz on Wednesday sought a report from the Bahawalnagar DPO office over a viral CCTV footage of the Haroonabad city police station in which a political figure can be seen thrashing a lady doctor inside SHO`s room.

Dr Maryam Hussain told Dawn that Adeel Afzal, an influential politician and her husband`s cousin, was moving freely without getting an interim bail and threatening her family with dire consequences for pursuing the case.

She said despite the video evidence of the incident which clearly showed that she was abused, tortured and dragged inside the police station in the presence of the SHO, police let Afzal and his two accomplices Sohail Muhsin and Azam off the hook.

She said she was abused at the behest of her husband, Dr Nauman, but police refused to register a case against the four nominated persons on her complaint. She alleged that hours later, police registered a case with a minor section against only one person (Afzal) by altering her complaint on the orders of SPInvestigation Farooq Anwar during a visit to the said police station.

She alleged the SP was approached by an MNA and two MPAs, therefore, he not only refused to listen to her, but also forced her to stand outside his office in the middle of the crowd which had gathered there on the call of the politicians.

Dr Maryam alleged that due to intense political pressure, police not only refused to share the CCTV footage which she later got through a court order but they also suspended the SHO who was an eyewitness to the incident and wanted to take action against those responsible.

DPO`s spokesperson Shehzad Ishfaq said it was a six-day old incident in which Adeel, of Haroonabad`s Pakki Mandi, thrashed Dr Maryam. He said on June 24 Dr Maryam was called for a hearing by the city police station over a complaint filed against her by her husband, Dr Nauman Rashid.

During the hearing, Afzal andDrMaryamexchanged harsh words. On the complaint of the lady doctor, the city police arrested the man after registration of a case. However, the video of the incident went viral on June 29.

Meanwhile, a handout issued by the Bahawalnagar DPO Office said DPO Faisal Gulzar had removed the SHO because of his inaction and ordere d an inquiry.

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