Couple shot dead in Baldia Town – 13 Jul 2022

KARACHI: A man and his wife were shot dead in the Baldia Town area on Tuesday, police said.

Area SHO Shakir Husain said that two armed men entered a house in Saeedabad-8 near the football ground, opened fire at Saima, 34, and her husband, Amjad Akbar, 38, and fled from the crime scene.

Hearing gunshots, area people reached the scene and informed the police of the incident. The bodies were shifted to the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi for a post-mortem examination.

The police said that Amjad along with his wife and four children returned from his native place in Faisalabad recently and started living near Babri Masjid in Baldia-8. He was doing welding work at a local junk market.

The couple’s minor girl was present at the time of the incident while their three other children were playing outside.

The area SHO said investigators were focusing on two possible aspects of the double murder. Firstly, it was their free-will marriage, and beside that, there were reports that the couple also had some property disputes with their relatives. The deceased had four children.

Police Surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed said the young couple sustained bullet wounds in the chest and died on the spot.

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Body of missing boy found in coal mine after a week – 13 Jul 2022

THATTA: A partially decomposed body of the last victim of Jhimpir coalmine tragedy Umer Pathan, 12, was retrieved finally from the flooded mine late on Sunday.

Eight miners were retrieved last Wednesday but the ninth had been missing since the tragedy occurred on Tuesday night when rainwater entered the coal mine and all the nine miners, who belonged to GilgitBaltistan, were suffocated to death.

Thatta Deputy Commissioner Ghazanfar Ali Qadri had imposed a complete ban on mining operation in the area after the tragic incident. An inquiry was under way into the causes that led to the tragedy.

The body of the victim was brought to nearby Jherruk rural health center for post mortem prior to transporting it to his native area for burial.

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Delivery boy `molested` – 13 Jul 2022

ISLAMABAD: Two persons abducted a delivery boy, allegedly molested him and looted his motorcycle and cash on Tuesday, police said.

The victim was a 20-year-old pizza delivery boy who had been working with a food outlet in Taramri for the last one-and-a-half years.

According to the police, the young man had left the outlet to deliver pizza in Karamatabad when two persons intercepted him while he was looking for the house in the area at 11:15pm.

The gunmen snatched his motorcycle and cash and then took him to a nearby camp (Dera) where they molested him at gunpoint. Later they detained him in one of the rooms of the Dera and threatened him with dire consequences, police said.

However, once the victim convinced the suspects that he would not speak about the incident with anyone, they called up his employer. During his conversation with his employer, the boy asked him to save him.

The employer then informed the police who raided the Dera at around 3am, but the culprits had escaped by then. Koral police have registered a case over the incident.Staff Reporter

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Journalist’s house attacked, sister killed, two declared critical – 13 Jul 2022

RAWALPINDI: A woman, sister of the journalists, was gunned down, while four other family members injured in a firing at their house at Adiala Road. The incident took place due to personal enmity between the deceased and the alleged murderer.

The police have shifted the deceased and the inured to Benazir Bhutto Hospital, while two of them were stated to be critical. Zain Hashmi, working with a private TV channel, told this correspondent that someone had knocked at the door, three alleged assailants rushed into the house and started shooting one of his brothers Basit Hashmi, three of his sisters, including Kanwal Hashmi, Moona Hashmi, and Maryam Hashmi, in which, his elder sister Maryam Hashmi was killed, finally they shot his mother, identified as Tayyaba Hashmi. Zain said the killer was allegedly identified as Munir Alam, former husband of his elder sister Maryam Hashmi, who had got divorce from him some two years ago.

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Woman killed by ‘drug dealers’ – 13 Jul 2022

LAHORE: A woman was murdered by suspected drug dealers in the Baghbanpura area for registering complaints against them.

Reportedly, the victim Rubina was at her doorstep when the suspects approached and opened fire at her. She received bullet injuries and died. Reportedly, local drug dealers had a doubt that she had leaked tip to police against them. Her family members staged a protest and blocked road. CCPO Lahore Bilal Siddique Kamyana took notice of the incident.

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A collective mistake – 10 Jul 2022

IT would be a serious misstep if parliament were to give safe passage to the banned T TP. Apparently, the burden and liability of the peace talks with the terrorist group have been passed on to parliament, which is weak and seems willing to lend a shoulder to the security institutions.

The talks with the TTP are not merely a security issue entrenched in the region`s geopolitical landscape; instead, it is a case for the soul of Pakistan.

Both state and society have developed a rare consensus in the protracted war against terrorism: the country needs a review of its ideological paradigm.

However, this consensus has not yet yielded some miraculous outcome as the state, by design or inadvertently, continues to exploit religion and empower the radical groups. Some observers also question if the political parties and civil society organisations really believe in resisting radical religious and ideological forces. They also ask if the PPP`s bid to bring the issue to parliament is merely a trick to give legitimacy to an exclusive process led by the security institutions.

Giving legitimacy to the talks with the TTP does not fit in with the PPP`s political paradigm of `democracy is the best revenge`. Mainstreaming a terrorist group will harm and shrink political spaces for the citizens of this country and parties such as the PPP, which have been more vocal and aligned against extremism. The TTP was found guilty of having assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, but the PPP sees a bigger plot behind the assassination. Though not certain, it appears that the current party leadership may be thinking beyond its own misgivings in the country`s larger interest. The party chairperson holds the portfolio of foreign minister in the coalition government and must be inspired by his mother`s ideas, including enhancing trade relationships with the Central Asian states. Back in the 1990s, Benazir Bhutto had permitted her interior minister, Gen Naseerullah Babar, to create an Afghan Trade Development Cell in the ministry to promote trade routes to Central Asia and to provide theAfghan Taliban with funds.

For a long time, state institutions have been giving hints of a shift from a geostrategic to a geo-economic plan. The PPP vision may fit well with the new paradigm, but that would require removing the TTP obstacle and providing more confidence to the Taliban regime in Kabul; the institutions are apparently also relying on relations with Kabul for their intended geo-economic shift.

The government is giving the impression that talks with the TTP are still at a stage where a national discourse is not needed. In fact, very recently, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) received a briefing from the military leadership on the TTP talks. The committee formally gave approval for holding talks with the banned outfit. The government insists that all negotiations would be conditional upon parliament`s approval. One can foresee that a few dissenting voices in the parliamentary debate will not be able to prevent the outcome if the deal is a fait accompli.

Many of the arguments in favour of the talks with the terrorists have been analysed on these pages.

Still, according to reports, in the last PCNS meeting, the military leadership told lawmakers that the TTP might join the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) and that a peace deal with the TTP is a compulsion and not a choice. One may recall that the idea of talks with the TTP was floated back in 2019, even before the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The argument at that time was to identify the missing persons, supposedly hiding under the cover of the TTP fighters. Perhaps, Pakistan`s state institutions see the terrorist group in enhanced mirror settings.

Regarding the IS-K factor, there are certain probabilities, and a lot depends on possible internal rifts within the ranks of the TTP. The TTP is under allegiance to the Taliban supreme leader, and joining the ranks of the IS-K would mean that they would have to denounce the Taliban before swearing allegiance to Abu Hassan al-Hashimi alQurayshi, the self-proclaimed caliph belonging tothe Islamic State group. Can the TTP collectively commit such a big mistake, especially when the Taliban regime has declared war on the IS-K? The most influential faction within the TTP favours the talks as they see a victory achieved without violence; a small number of them disagree with the hypothesis. Even the dissenters will think twice before joining the IS-K as the group is very exclusive and the prospects of its long-term sustainability are bleak.

There is a high probability that Al Qaeda will support the peace talks, as security experts weigh in with their opinion that any deal between the TTP and the government of Pakistan will also provide Al Qaeda some influence in the tribal districts along the border. Moreover, the deal will give an opportunity to the IS-K to enter Pakistani territory.

More importantly, the TTP has consistently asserted that it would not back down from its core demand of the merger of ex-Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa being reversed. This was said by the TTP chief Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud himself in a YouTube interview which did several rounds on social media and was apparently conducted somewhere in Kabul. There are also rumours that the Pakistani jirga which visited Kabul recently got the impression that the TTP is confident that the government of Pakistan will agree to its demand of reversing the tribal districts` status, and has sought three months to negotiate the demand.

If this is the case, will parliament amend the Constitution to fulfil the demand of a terrorist group? If it happens, one can imagine the legal, political, social and ideological consequences. It would simply mean the state`s surrender to terrorists. Can the state institutions not craft another strategy to deal with the TTP threat? And do the political parties have the courage to say that they want the matter deferred until there is an open debate in society and within and among political parties? m The writer is a security analyst.

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Make it work – 10 Jul 2022

IN the early 2010s, I began work with a PR company writing for their clients in the hospitality and tourism sector in Vietnam. I had lived in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City so I knew the sector and its players. The company had a physical office and staff in Hue, but the rest of us worked from the US, Taipei, Bangkok while I was in Karachi. It wasn`t called Work From Anywhere like it is now but the man who set up the agency said it was the future of work.

When the pandemic hit, I was reminded of my former boss` prescience and genius but was surprised to read a piece in the Harvard Business Review saying the first WFH (working from home) policies were adopted in the late 1970s because of soaring petrol prices caused by the Opec oil embargo which made commuting very costly.

`Workers were often also given control over their schedules, allowing them to make time for school pickups, errands, or midday exercise without being seen as shirking,` it said.

With the advent of personal commuters, the internet and cloud computing, WFH increased in the 2000s and of course gained prominence courtesy the pandemic.

I can`t deny the flexibility and work-life balance my PR writing gig gave me; the workflow and communication then done over Google and Skype was smooth. That experience helped prepare me for lockdown and was made easier because prior to the pandemic, during the 2019-2020 academic year, I taught on Zoom with professors in Kenya, the US and Canada. I was prepared for remote work except for the feelings of isolation that it brought. That`s something the pandemic hasn`t `fixed` which is perhaps why so many offices want employees back in the office all over the world.

However, there are many that don`t: In the US, companies like Twitter, 3M, Lyft, Reddit, Spotify and Coinbase switched to permanent remote or hybrid options. Tata Consultancy Services, a global IT services company says it plans to be 75 per cent remote by 2025.

Work from home during the pandemic has given birth to a range of new ideas.

Two Dutch lawmakers proposed a bill last month to make WFH a legal right which if passed this summer would make Netherlands the first country to grant work flexibility by law.

Countries whose economies were ravaged by tourism during the pandemic have launched digital nomad visas for remote workers. Indonesia is the latest to begin work on offering one for `techpats` ie remote technology workers. In Europe, the opportunity has gained ground with Georgia, Croatia, Estonia, Norway and Portugal offering residence permits for remote workers providedthey can prove X amount of monthly income.

Granted such schemes favour the relatively well-off worker but such schemes benefit economies in the long run.

How is Pakistan faring, especially as its economy seems to be gasping for breath? Are companies enacting WFH policies taking ground realities like petrol prices into consideration? Having spent a majority of my life working in Pakistan, I find it to be one of the most worker-unfriendly countries where governments protect their rich business friends and ensure unions are `kept in their place` Organising in private firms may as well sound a death knell. All employees are left to fend for themselves and dare not speak up for fear of losing their job. HR departments by and large exist to placate owners or the men on top. Whether you`re employed in a family-run business or a fancy corporation, the seth ethic runs deep.

It is worth looking up the union in your workplace or organising to create a union at your workplace to take up the issue of remote working, a raise in wages, better healthcare,paid leaves, worker safety, etc.

Pakistan`s labour laws allow workers to join unions.

I understand the burden of WFH falls on the person at home who may save on commuting costs but will pay more to workat home (costs to run ACs, computers, phones etc). However, I believe the rise in fuel prices is an unprecedented one and makes remote work, despite the aforementioned, a better option for companies and workers.

Companies can offer work-from-home stipends to help mitigate the burden. The aforementioned Harvard article said there are many studies to show that WFH increased employee engagement which is an important metric for an organisation`s success. Happier workers are more productive.

A majority of folks in Pakistan are overwhelmed by anxiety brought on by the burden of finances. The state bears some responsibility in mitigating the problems caused by past incompetent and peopleunfriendly policies. They can encourage businesses to move towards remote/hybrid working and offer incentives. I understand WF H is not possible for all organisations but smart management should be thinking about what is needed to make it possible. I am certain my former boss was right in 2010:thefuture is here.m The writer teaches joumalism.

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No country for young women – 10 Jul 2022

I have been meaning to put down these thoughts for almost a year but somehow kept delaying it. However, I have come to realize that just because I lack the rigour of the theoretical underpinnings and academic vocabulary on this important issue, which affects every woman in this country of 230 million, that should not keep me – or anyone else – from speaking out.

The news of the NAB chairperson finally being seriously investigated for what the country saw in leaked videos a few years ago is the impetus that finally pushed me to do this – though the timing of this sudden renewed interest in the case seems to be motivated by political necessity rather than doing what is right. Just like that, the inaction by the PTI government on this case is easily explained by its overriding interest to use the evidence that publicly emerged to compromise the NAB chair and keep him under its thumb rather than walk its own talk and push for swift justice on a case involving corruption, moral depravity, harassment of women, and negligence of missing persons’ cases. The fact that the PTI government was supporting someone who is alleged to be involved in all of these while publicly pushing for ‘Riyasat-e-Madina’ is a twist of irony.

I am at a stage in my career where, as a woman, I have seen a good number of young women struggle to find their feet while fending off advances and harassment as they enter their working lives. For years at home, long before they start working, many girls and young women are conditioned to refrain from laughing and even smiling too much in public lest they attract unwanted attention. Do not make any waves, for anything that happens to you is always explained as a reaction to how you acted, dressed in public. Best to never smile, wear a permanent scowl on your face and float through life unnoticed, preferably while remaining invisible.

Before I go on and some men start objecting that men are also victims of harassment at the hands of women, let me say this: harassment incidents are underreported in Pakistan – yet, those that are reported heavily feature men harassing women. For that reason, I refuse to acknowledge the Johnny Depp/ Amber Heard caveat anyone demands of me.

Most parents shy away from having frank conversations that could somewhat prepare their children, especially their daughters, for the real-world workplace. Most schools, colleges and universities are also of little help because just broaching such a subject can invite public backlash from parents and the public. That means no guest speakers, no workshops, no training, no mock practice sessions, no nothing to give students the life skills necessary to know the bounds of acceptable behavior and deal with anything from obnoxious behaviour to predators and everything in between without second guessing oneself.

In the rest of the world, the bounds of civilized behaviour, especially with other sexes, are learnt growing up, dealing with friends and peers at school. In our country, where most schools remain segregated, many graduates start their first job with this handicap. Even coeducational institutions are often subject to strict moral and dress policing, sometimes by gangs of thugs and at other times by the administration itself.

Inappropriate language and behaviour, harassment, and predatory behaviour (mostly by men) remains rampant and mostly unaddressed in workplaces. All the gender frameworks in the world to bring more women into education and the workforce do not mean much if workplaces remain as hostile to women and devoid of accountability for men as they are today. Clearly, the trauma of harassment in the workplace has a psychological cost, but unsafe, unwelcoming workplaces also exact an economic cost. For example, while close to two-thirds of medical students in Pakistan today are women, that is not reflected in the number of women that go on to practice medicine and a big reason for that is the hostile work environment they encounter.

For example, a young woman I worked with called me and asked if the WhatsApp messages she received from a very senior bureaucrat were typical of the way he talks to everyone. Without being asked, he had been telling her about his gym routine, commenting on her display picture, and asking if the baby in the photo was hers, perhaps as a crude attempt to elicit her marital status. It is very easy to see how such behaviour from a man occupying a high public office, especially towards a young woman, would leave her split between feeling highly uncomfortable and asking herself whether she should react to put a stop to it lest it may cause issues for her employer on whose behalf she was working with that official.

In another instance, an owner of a private school told me about her interaction with a public official who, after interacting with her for official business, sent her a disappearing WhatsApp message inviting her to meet him outside of work. Since the message was fleeting, she could not even take a screenshot of it.

Another woman received LinkedIn messages from a very senior bureaucrat she had once officially interacted with, telling her that the colour of her dress in her display picture was ‘becoming on her’.

On numerous other occasions, women I have worked with had to regularly endure comments on their dressing, were told that they look pretty, were asked their age, marital status, received unsolicited and irrelevant late night WhatsApp messages or inappropriate memes or songs when their relationship could not even be characterized as friendly colleagues. It is inconceivable that in this day and age such people still need to be told that this constitutes unprofessional and inappropriate behaviour. While I remain reluctant to apply this litmus test, I have no doubt that such men would immediately recognize their own behaviour as crossing the line if someone else was inflicting it on women of their own family.

What to do? A few days ago, my kid started her first summer job in retail. One of the things she was taught as part of her training was how to use the store’s ladder, which irked her a little (“Do they think I am an idiot?”). I had to explain that training her to climb a ladder was as much for her benefit as for the store’s – if, God forbid, she ever gets into an accident while using the ladder, it absolves the business of blame (“The employee was properly trained in the safe use of the ladder in her orientation”).

Pakistan’s ‘Protection against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act’ and its implementation is still far from perfect and still leaves several questions and gray areas. However, one thing that it does is give employers, both public and private, responsibility for the workplace environment they create.

The route to legal restitution remains a difficult one. As some recent high-profile public cases have shown us, even after recent legislation, it can involve years of court appearances, counter challenges of defamation, etc. Only a small segment of society enjoys the resources and family support necessary to see such legal challenges through. Furthermore, legal challenges of workplace harassment are dueled out between the harasser and the harassed – the employer who created the work environment often remains out of the fight.

We need to raise the financial and reputational cost of inaction of institutions and private organizations high enough that employers start weeding out toxic employees long before an incident occurs. I am not aware of any significant number of cases that have worked their way through the legal system yet in which survivors of (workplace) harassment have been able to hold their employers responsible for their part in creating a hostile work environment. One hopes that it will only be a matter of time that sufficient legal precedents are established which will make it too expensive for employers to ignore or sweep such incidents under the rug. For this reason, employers would do well to get ahead of the curve.

As a first step, employers could institute mandatory training for employees that explicitly informs employees on the bounds of acceptable office behaviour and a common understanding of what constitutes harassment and inappropriate behaviour, something that has been common practice around the world for decades. In that regard, to my understanding, employers are not restricted to narrow definitions of bad conduct laid down in the law but may demand adherence to a higher standard of their employees, one that is in line with the employer’s stated principles.

Men harassing women know full well what they are doing. However, such workplace training disposes of the plea of innocence by way of ignorance. If your workplace does not have workplace harassment training yet, demand them; if you are in a position of influence, institute them.

The writer (she/her) has a PhD in Education.

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Journalist gets bail in case of `incitement against army` – 10 Jul 2022

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Saturday granted interim postarrest bail to TV anchorperson and YouTuber Imran Riaz in a case of incitement against army and other state institutions after he undertook notto speak on theissue.

Mr Riaz along with his lawyers appeared before the court to pursue his petition for quashing of 18 FIRs registered against him with an alternative prayer to investigate and prosecute only in one FIR in the larger interest of justice, besides suspending the operation of all 18 FIRs.

At the outset of the hearing,Advocate Mian Ali Ashfaq, a counsel forthe anchorperson,thanked Justice Ali Bagar Najafi for taking up the petition during Eid holidays.

Thejudge observed thatthe courts were supposed to protect fundamentalrights of the citizens enshrined in the Constitution.

Advocate General for Punjab (AGP) Shahzad Shaukat made a concession statement that the Punjab government was willing to show grace to the petitioner and, therefore, would have no objection if an interim post-arrest bail was granted to him in the FIR registered with Chakwal`s Saddar police station until next working day, when he shall appear before the judicial magistrate concerned.

The FIR was registered under sections 505-1(c) 505-(2), 109, 501 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) read with sections 4, 5, 11, 16, 20, 22 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act2016 (Peca) and under section 16 ofthe Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960.

The petitioner undertook that he would not release any statement regarding the issue during the pendency of the petition.

Justice Najafi granted interim protective bail to the anchorperson in the Chakwal case subject to furnishing personal surety bond till July 13 when he shall appear before the judicial magistrate for appropriate orders.The judge also directed the government and the police to submit para-wise comments on his petition by July 19.

Earlier, a judicial magistrate at cantonment courts discharged Mr Riaz in another FIR on similar charges registered with the Civil Lines police station of Lahore.

The CIA police had produced him before the magistrate and a prosecutor sought his physical remand. However, the magistrate discharged him in the case andissued his release order.

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