Protest against trader’s killing in robbery – 17 Nov 2022

SAHIWAL: Several commission agents, grain market traders, and businesses blocked Bahawalnagar Road in Arifwala on Wedensday in protest at the robbery that killed a timber market commission agent on Tuesday.

They demanded the two gunman be arrested. Protesters set fire to tyres and shut down traffic for five hours. Two motorcycle riders assassinated Muhammad Amjad outside the bank at the timber market for resisting them. Amjad did not hand up the cash bag to the shooters, who escaped afterwards.

Amjad was sent to the Arifwala Tehsil Headquarters Hospital before being transferred to the Sahiwal Teaching Hospital, where he died. On Wednesday, his funeral prayer was offered.

Traders brought our protest procession and blocked the road after his funeral. The robbery case was converted to a murder case by the police.

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Seeking climate justice? – 17 Nov 2022

The proponents of Pakistan’s search for climate justice must visit an impressive case of the last century that prompted a global change of hearts and minds and led to the dismantling of apartheid – considered a remote possibility not too long before.

When the late Swedish prime minister Olof Palme shortly before his tragic assassination in 1986 famously pronounced apartheid as a “system that can not be reformed, it must be dismantled”, the end to white minority rule in South Africa seemed a distant possibility.

By the time of Palme’s landmark speech anti-apartheid activists around the world notably Europe had begun organizing regular anti apartheid protests. But Western governments, notably the UK and the US, firmly stood behind South Africa’s white supremacist rulers, driven mainly by a combination international business interests along side the fear of leftist ideology taking grasp in that country if the black majority population received equal democratic rights. Yet, the unexpected release of the late icon Nelson Mandela just four years later and the subsequent peaceful transition to a fully democratic South Africa led to the most celebrated bloodless political change of the 20th country.

Today, as Pakistan grapples with the fallout from this years’ climate disaster that led to Islamabad’s plea for global financial support, there are lessons to be learnt from the South African case. While towering figures like Olof Palme joined by other Scandinavian governments deserve special praise for stepping up to serve a just cause, it was eventually the change within South Africa that caught global attention. Together, the personas of Palme and notable figures in South Africa led by the late Nelson Mandela led to a powerful change of minds across the world.

As Pakistan grapples with the challenge of catching global imagination, its task ahead must be built upon building ties with global figures and institutions to plead its case alongside bold internal reforms to lead towards progressive change. It is clear that only a Pakistan which is capable of impressing the world with its ability to change rapidly for the better will lay the foundation for generous global support in dealing with the country’s flood related catastrophe.

Pakistan’s active engagement with world class players, ranging from the UN secretary-general to attendees at the high-profile COP27 environmental conference in Sharm el Shaikh, Egypt, have set the stage for a continued international democratic engagement. But within Pakistan, the post-flood recovery, reconstruction and establishment of long-term safeguards are yet to be knitted together in a powerful strategy for the short, medium and long term.

Together, the two ends – global interest in tandem with Pakistan’s internal reforms – will lay the basis for Pakistan to reap the benefits in the shape of sustained international interest to lift Pakistan from its crisis. The reforms, if undertaken comprehensively, could well arrive in time to avert Pakistan’s next balance of payments crisis, already predicted by some to take the country towards a mayhem laden default on debt repayments.

Two intertwined objectives must lead the way towards changing Pakistan permanently to not only impress the world but more vitally to change the country’s outlook within.

First, Pakistan’s failure to reform over time has not only weakened its institutions at the centre of internal governance. The failure has also caused a collapse of the country’s economy in fundamentally vital areas. At the tip of the iceberg lies the oft-repeated failure to reform the country’s tax and revenue collection system that have turned Pakistan into an economic basket case. In sharp contrast to Pakistan’s status as the Islamic world’s only country impressively armed with nuclear weapons, its ability to force many more of its people to pay their tax dues has left behind a glaring mismatch.

The choice for Pakistan is very clear. Either the country reforms its economy in tandem with its exclusive membership of the nuclear club or be prepared for relentless global pressure to abandon its strategic position. In brief, the two – membership of an exclusive strategic club alongside a repeatedly faltering economy can just not go hand in hand.

Second, beyond reforming the country’s under performing tax collection system, Pakistan must radically address the many gaps surrounding the sliding living conditions of the poorest of the poor. This year’s floods have badly exposed the deep vulnerabilities surrounding the lives of low income communities in many parts of Pakistan. For instance, a large network of local hospitals across rural Pakistan that were neglected over previous decades suddenly found themselves overwhelmed by a spike in demand for services from flood victims.

A similar case can be made for government provided school networks across Pakistan. And last but not the least, the multiple challenges surrounding the agriculture sector have contributed to worsening food security over time.

Pakistan’s case for climate justice will remain incomplete unless deprived communities across the country first receive long overdue justice.

The writer is an Islamabad-based journalist who writes on political and economic affairs. He can be reached at: farhanbokhari@gmail.com

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Political realities, social cultures – 17 Nov 2022

For most of those who live in today’s Pakistan – the country made up primarily of young people as well as the very young – the era of Gen Ziaul Haq and all that came with it is essentially something confined to textbooks and other documents.

For those who are older and have lived through that era, the reality is different. They recall the religious divides, sectarianism, brutal days when the already-scarred journalists, activists and others were flogged in public in stadiums – their pictures making headlines – the atrocious sites where the bodies of people hanged along the roadsides and so much more.

This was the time when the hardline sects of Islam were brought into the country to convert us into a people who no longer take pride in their language – even prefer to use the Arabic word for Ramazan. Whether this makes us more pious or wiser is difficult to say. But the people growing up today still experience the reality created in that time in the form of what lives around them and the emphasis on religion and acts of worship without explaining their real meaning in the sense that corruption and dishonesty go along with them and the other facets that Zia expertly added to life.

But these people as well as the other generations know and will recall clearly the new era of ‘Naya Pakistan’. This entity under Imran Khan has different undertones and meanings. While the same kind of culture as put together by Zia may not have been created and the level of expertise is quite different, essentially what has been put out is a culture of misogyny, abuse and a new degree of violence. This misogyny comes from the leader of the PTI himself and the ‘boys club’ he has surrounded himself with.

We regularly see numerous insults being hurled at women, abusive language used against them, and suggestions made that women put themselves at risk when they step out of their homes or interact with mainly men-dominated audiences. While this may not be totally untrue, the responsibility of any political leadership lies in attempting to change it instead of insisting that it is simply a facet of human behaviour, which men are unable to overcome. Surely, they cannot be so weak.

Abuse is also a new addition to Pakistan’s political reality and can be seen all across social media, notably on Twitter. Some of the remarks are so offensive that they have to be deleted either by the social media app itself or by other persons in charge of such matters. The problem is that the use of such language by leading political figures, some of them with huge following, has normalized such behaviour and made it acceptable to hurl derogatory language at people who do not agree with their opinion or point of view. In an already divided country, this is extremely dangerous. And the divide has, as a result, deepened and become more difficult to fill.

The question is: how can we escape this reality and move things back to normal? It is not as simple as turning back the hands of a clock. Today, more than three decades after Gen Zia was killed in a plane crash, we still live with his legacy and all that he left behind. Most of it is ugly; much is painful, and many have painful or difficult memories of the manner in which they survived those times.

Others will have the equally dark memories of the new era brought through an election by a populist leader who was clearly backed by the country’s powerful quarters. Whether he will come to power again is something we do not know for now. But if it happens, we should be worried and concerned.

Another question is: why do so many people support the PTI and Imran Khan, seeing him as a charismatic, populist leader with an appeal that is quite different from that of other politicians? In some ways, it is easy to see why this is the case. In a country that worships cricket, Imran is a sporting legend and the memory of his days with the red or white ball in his hands still lives on. On top of it, there are replayed television images and the leader’s constant references to the World Cup and his victory that keep the memories of that event, which happened a long time ago, alive.

But cricket cannot be transposed over a political landscape and used in the same way. Leading 11 men on a field is quite different from running a country. When it is these men in a dressing room, perhaps some degree of abusive language or ‘locker room’ talk – as called in the US where Donald Trump utilized many of the same tactics during his tenure – may be acceptable. It is not acceptable when it is used over TV and at public rallies, heard by tens of thousands, if not millions of people.

The question is: how will this culture affect us? It will quite obviously affect women, at a time when many are making an attempt to alter past history and take up new challenges. In conservative cities in Punjab, we see more women on motorcycles and bicycles – that has never been the case before. We see daring young women organize events such as the annual Aurat March; their placards appeared to threaten security forces more than bullets, guns or other weapons.

Of course, these placards cannot create violence or the kind of misogyny we have seen from Imran. But they still appear to be a source of fear and terror with NOCs now being difficult to obtain for the peaceful march, which is intended only to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 each year to put forward the various concerns of Pakistani women from across the country. Other women have also entered areas which were once closed to them. We see this on sporting fields, in engineering companies, at airfields and airports and in other places.

The attacks by the PTI and its leader will hold back women as well as other groups and make it more difficult for them to move forward. This would be a tragedy and will leave behind a legacy as dangerous as that bequeathed to us by the late Gen Ziaul Haq.

Email: kamilahyat@hotmail.com

The writer is a freelance columnist and former newspaper editor.

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Stop child labour – 17 Nov 2022

According to Unicef estimates, there are around 3.3 million child labourers in Pakistan. Poverty and lack of access to education are the main drivers of this problem. Many of these children are working dangerous jobs that involve hard labour and are easy targets for criminals as they are out unsupervised for long hours.

It is important to remember that these children are entitled to the same rights and opportunities as those from wealthier backgrounds, the government must ensure that every child can go to school and that no child has to take up hard labour in order to feed his or her family.

Bakhtawar Peer Jan

Karachi

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All set to start winter family festival today – 17 Nov 2022

LAHORE: After almost 15 years, Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) has organised the biggest winter family festival across the province, which will be started today (Thursday).

Senior Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal while addressing a press conference announced this here Wednesday. Commissioner Lahore Muhammad Amir Jan, CCPO Ghulam Mahmood Dogar, PHA Chairman Engineer Yasir Gillani, Vice-Chairman Zeeshan Rasheed and DG Zeeshan Javed were also present.

The minister said that Punjab’s biggest winter family festival was being held in Jilani Park after 15 years. He said the grand opening of the festival would be held Thursday (today), and the festival would be continued for a month. He said that the festival contained the best food courts and restaurants for the traditional cuisine of Lahore, while security and other arrangements were completed and it would be the best event in the history of the province. The purpose of organising the mega event was to attract people to the parks and grounds, he added.

The minister said that steps were being taken to beautify the entrance and exit points of Lahore. The work on improving Shahdara, Babu Sabu interchange and Gajjumata entrances were in full swing.

The underpass was designed to improve the flow of traffic on the Gulshan Ravi crossing at Bund Road while the lighting system was being improved in city parks under a phased programme, he mentioned. In response to a question, the senior minister said that instructions had already been issued to regularise the gardeners and the PHA was ordered to take steps with the union concerned to regularise the gardeners. An inquiry was in process regarding the irregularities in the revenue matters of PHA and steps were being taken to increase its revenue, he said while answering another question. On this occasion, PHA Chairman, Vice-Chairman and DG also talked with the media and gave details of the festival. They said the festival was the best opportunity for free entertainment for all citizens.

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‘One Network’ catches the eye at IDEAS-22 – 17 Nov 2022

Project aims at fulfilling telecommunication requirement of country

KARACHI:
Participating of the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar 2022 (IDEADS-22) evinced keen interest in the ‘One Network’ project of the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) the on the second day of the mega event at the Expo Centre in Karachi on Wednesday.

The ‘One Network’ is an advanced communication project, under which 3,000 kilometres of underground fibre optic cable is being laid along the motorways across Pakistan. After the completion of the project, it would meet Pakistan’s telecommunication requirements.

According to the One Network chief operating officer (COO), 2,000 kilometres of fibre optic cable haf been laid under the motorways communication infrastructure. People traveling on the motorways would get relief from the rush situations. It would also eliminate cash payments at toll plazas.

The system would also be linked to the motorway police to keep check on any violation of the traffic rules, such as wearing of seat belt and the speed limit. Besides, in case of emergency, people would get timely recovery or rescue assistance.

The ‘One Network’ covers M1 to M16 Motorways in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Pindi Bhattian, Multan, Sukkur, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sialkot, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat and Hazara, besides the Lahore Ring Road and Lahore-Faisalabad route.

The FWO is also conducting six diploma courses. According to the principal of this project, Col (retd) Atif, about 45 short courses of three to six months of duration were also offered. The graduated from here were associated with technical fields in Pakistan and other countries.

Meanwhile, during a seminar titled ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Defence Market: A Paradigm Shift in Military Strategy and National Security’ as part of IDEAS-22, artificial intelligence (AI) experts underscored the essential role of universities to keep Pakistan abreast with advancements in this field.

The seminar was orgnaised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad, and the Defence Export Promotion Organization (DEPO), where Minister for Defence Production Israr Tareen was the chief guest, said a press release issued here.

Addressing the seminar, Tareen acknowledged the country’s progress in the industrial and defence sectors, driven by the AI and machine learning (ML). He also underscored the role of academia, research scholars, and data-savvy individuals in the development process.

“Pakistan can become a global hub for AI, data science, cloud-native computing, edge computing, block-chain, augmented reality, and the IoT by reshaping and revolutionising education, businesses, and research through adoption of cutting-edge technologies and the AI-driven applications,” he said.

He emphasised that the country’s talented youth should be provided opportunities in the field of the AI and the Fourth Industrial Revolution [Industry 4.0] through initiatives like the Presidential Initiative for Artificial Intelligence and Computing (PIAIC).

“Apart from social, political, and economic changes, advanced technologies, 5G, and the AI have also changed the whole dynamics of contemporary warfare, battlefields, tactics, and strategies, the minister told the participants.

“With such strategic shifts, the concept of security has widened beyond conventional terms and rudimentary procedures to include sophisticated mechanisms and technology-driven procedures. These pose new challenges to the states,” he said.

IPS Chairman Khalid Rahman, who delivered the introductory remarks, highlighted the role of human intellect and research in the process of development. “In this regard, universities have served as the key platforms to set the pace for humanity in the key areas,” he said.

“The progress in AI will not stop and no country should stay behind in the AI development,” he emphasised. The role in AI progress is essentially played by universities, where research, creativity, and collaboration … can not only capitalise on the potentials of AI but also deal with the challenges.”

To meet the new complex security challenges of the 21st century, the other speakers presented their research papers, ideas, and findings on different AI-driven applications and processes, upon which the future international security dynamics depend.

Lt-Colonel Dr Ghulam Murtaza, Dr Yasar Ayaz, Dr Muhammad Tayab Ali, Maj Aon Safdar, Dr Waleed Bin Shahid, Lt-Col Usman Zia and Sqn-Ldr Javeria Farooq also addressed the seminar. The session was followed by a discussion by the panel.

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PR meeting takes important decisions – 17 Nov 2022

Use of latest technology including the installation of CCTV cameras for safe travel of passengers was agreed upon

ISLAMABAD:
The Pakistan Railways has decided to restore the Greenline train and launch new coaches in December along with the use of latest technology and installation of CCTV cameras in the coaches.

A meeting of the PR was held under the chairmanship of Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique.

The meeting decided to launch new coaches in December and restore the Greenline train. The participants of the session were briefed about starting a train service from Pind Dadan Khan to Malakwal, Punjab.

The meeting directed DS Rawalpindi to meet the stakeholders and submit a report. The use of latest technology including the installation of CCTV cameras for safe travel of passengers was agreed upon.

The police and train manager will be able to screen suspicious activities during the travelling this way.

It was further decided that the windows of each compartment will be covered with curtains and liquid soap will be kept in each washroom of the train.
The meeting also decided to restore the position of train manager.

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Family funfair held for Dir orphans – 17 Nov 2022

LOWER DIR: The Al-Khidmat Foundation in collaboration with the district youth affairs’ department on Wednesday arranged a daylong health screening test and family funfair for the orphans at the Timergara campus of the Abdul Wali Khan University.

Besides orphan children and their families, campus coordinator Dr Zahoor Jan, foundation’s provincial president Fazal Mehmood, district president Hafeezullah Khaksar, former MNA Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, district youth officer Shehzad Tariq, Timergara tehsil chairman Mufti Irfanuddin and students attended the event.

Hafeezullah Khaksar and Shehzad Tariq inaugurated the funfair and health screening test by cutting the ribbon.

Speaking on the occasion, the foundation’s activists said the government had failed to take the responsibility of providing every possible relief to the orphans.

They said this responsibility had been taken by the Al-Khidmat Foundation, which was commendable.

The speakers said philanthropists should support orphans to become useful citizens.

Shields, trophies and certificates were distributed among the students, who participated in various activities.

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Two soldiers, six cops martyred in Bajaur, Lakki Marwat attacks – 17 Nov 2022

RAWALPINDI/LAKKI MARWAT/ISLAMABAD: Two soldiers and six policemen, including an ASI, were martyred in two separate terrorist attacks in Bajaur District and Lakki Marwat on Wednesday.

In the first attack, two soldiers were martyred while a terrorist was killed in an exchange of fire which took place in Bajaur District, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Wednesday. The fire exchange took place between security forces and terrorists in general area Hilal Khel, Bajaur District, on Tuesday night.

During an intense exchange of fire, one terrorist got killed and weapon and ammunition were also recovered from him. He remained actively involved in terrorist activities against security forces.

However, during the intense exchange of fire, Naik Taj Muhammad (age 33 years, resident of Kohat) and Lance Naik Imtiaz Khan (age 30 years, resident of Malakand) having fought gallantly, embraced Shahadat.

Sanitisation of the area is being carried out to eliminate any terrorists found in the area. In another terrorist attack, six policemen, including an assistant sub-inspector (ASI), were martyred when terrorists opened fire on them near Wanda Shahabkhel in Lakki Marwat on Wednesday, officials said. They said that a police party was going to a weekly cattle market to perform security duty when the terrorists opened fire on them.

As a result, ASI Ilm Din, lower head constable (LHC) Pervez Khan and constables Ali Usman, Dil Jan, Ahmad Nawaz and Mehmood embraced martyrdom. The officials said that the attackers also took away weapons and bullet-proof jackets of the martyred cops with them. A large contingent of police, led by District Police Officer Ziauddin Ahmed, reached the area and launched a search operation.

“The police have seized the motorcycles of attackers and also recovered the bullet-proof jackets they had snatched from the cops,” said an official.

The funeral prayers for the martyred cops were offered at the Police Lines in Tajazai. Inspector General of Police Moazzam Jah Ansari, Bannu Regional Police Officer Syed Ashfaq Anwar, Deputy Commissioner Fazal Akbar, DPO Ziauddin Ahmed, army and civil officials and people from different walks of life attended the funeral prayers.

Later, the martyred cops were laid to rest at graveyards in their native villages with state honours. Meanwhile, in a statement, the banned armed group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, adding that its attackers made it back to safe havens.

In a statement, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s office condemned the latest attack, calling the police a vanguard against terrorism. “Let us make no mistake. Terrorism continues to be one of Pakistan’s foremost problems. Our armed forces and police have valiantly fought the scourge,” he tweeted.

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Two shot dead in DI Khan – 17 Nov 2022

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Two persons were killed and another sustained injuries when unidentified motorcyclists opened fire on them in the limits of the Cantt Police Station here on Wednesday.

The sources said that Dost Muhammad, Izat Khan and Noor Muhammad, residents of South Waziristan, were on their way in a car after attending a jirga on Small Dam when two motorcyclists opened fire on them. As a result, Dost Muhammad and Izat Khan died on the spot while Noor Muhammad sustained injuries.

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