Call to use Urdu as official language – 28 Feb 2023

At the Youm-e-Nifaz-Urdu conference in Hyderabad, speakers referred to the order of former chief justice

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) has demanded implementation of the Supreme Court order for using Urdu as the medium of language in the government offices.

At the Youm-e-Nifaz-Urdu conference in Hyderabad, the speakers including MNA Sabir Hussain Qaimkhani, MPA Rashid Khilji, MQM-P’s Hyderabad’s Organizer Zafar Ahmed Siddiqui and others referred to the order of former chief justice of the apex court justice (retd) Anwar Zaheer Jamali said he wanted to see the use of Urdu as a legal language.

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Emerging supply vulnerabilities – 28 Feb 2023

Rising tensions between the US and China over ‘spy balloons’ can lead to global supply chain shocks in the future. America’s inflated reaction over the balloon clearly indicates the divide between the two countries and possible trade restrictions, which is a real threat to the world economy.

The trade war with China – which was started by the Trump administration and got the tacit approval of the Biden government later – seems to have achieved the status of a permanent policy decision to counter China’s rise at the international level. This poses a threat to the global supply chain network, which will definitely disturb developing economies vulnerable to such shocks.

The recent threats by Russian President Putin to suspend his country’s participation in the New START nuclear arms treaty with the US may pose new dangers to the global supply chain as well. The ongoing Ukraine war will continue to prove to be a real threat to the global economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic if not tackled by Nato countries in a cautious manner. The Russian leadership must rethink its strategy to deal with neighbours like Ukraine to advance its efforts for global leadership. The world needs a capable visionary leadership to handle such crises, as the US is bent upon starting a new cold war – this time with China – to maintain its superiority in world affairs. The US and Russian concepts seem faulty and flawed, bringing new dangers to world peace and security.

The Ukraine war has already choked global supply chains, particularly energy and food supplies to Europe and international market, which are passing through new shocks after the Covid-19 pandemic. The new supplies of armory by European countries and the US to Ukraine is another threat to world peace, as it has created another Cuban Missile-like crisis situation on the European doorstep. It needs to be checked through negotiations to help avoid large-scale damage and catastrophes in the case of the further worsening of international relations.

It is yet to see what sort of a new world order will emerge as a result of competition between the US and Russia/China. The Russian side has its own position in world affairs, especially its economic impact over Europe which has already been taking a heavy toll across the continent with sharp inflationary pressures. Also, the Chinese economy has emerged as a big threat to the economic might of the US in the field of technology, especially electric batteries and necessary microchips used for application of artificial intelligence (AI), as it possesses a near monopoly over semiconductors crucial for new emerging technologies. Global economic diplomacy is taking new turns, owing to a trade war between the US and China. The new efforts to encircle China by the US through various defence and economic alliances at the world level may lead to another conflict, endangering global supply chains.

The current supply chain issues primarily stem from political unrest like the Ukraine war at the international level. The contribution of lack of raw material and fuel cost in the supply chain vulnerabilities cannot be underestimated. Some of the supply chain challenges include transportation costs, industry demands, latest technology solutions and timely delivery of goods and services.

Geopolitical uncertainty is one of the main hurdles posing threats to international trade and commerce. The US imports from China including semiconductors, IT hardware and consumer electronics have dramatically fallen down. As China is a big manufacturer providing goods and services at affordable rates to the world, it cannot be stopped from contributing to the world economy. But the US is trying to disrupt global supplies from China to the world market on one pretext or the other.

The American efforts to diversify imports to make the supply chain more resilient could not get encouraging results, especially in the field of battery and microchips for the new emerging electrical technologies. The world supply chain regulated by China in the field of laptops, phones, smartphones, computers, monitors, video games and toys is still unhindered. India and Vietnam are going to be the new destinations for the manufacturing of these gadgets, supplying to the world market.

We recently saw how most Samsung plants have been shifted to Vietnam to lower production costs. This was done due to the growing competition with Huawei and Xiaomi products in Chinese markets. LG has also moved its smartphone assembly from South Korea to Vietnam. Recently, Apple diversified its iPhone assembly from China to India. Chinese firms, companies and products including social media platforms like TikTok are under intense pressure and competition. The European Commission recently banned the use of TikTok by its staff members for ‘cybersecurity’ reasons.

The new reality for the world is battery and microchips technology, which is a mainstay of the global market depending upon China possessing a huge resource and a cache of stockpiles. The Chinese supply chain is under stress owing to multiple political and economic reasons, especially the 25 per cent tariff imposed by the US on most of the imports from China. Nato countries are following suit under American influence, which may ultimately prove to be detrimental to the future supply chain of semiconductors. South Korea halved its chips exports to China in January this year under American pressure although they can’t afford to lose the Chinese market. Vietnam is also arming up to serve in the US chip war owing to its new chip alliance against China although China wants to maintain global industrial and supply chain stability in chips and semiconductors.

The most crucial question about global supply chain vulnerabilities is how to mitigate geopolitical and geo-economic tensions and disruptions to put international trade back on track. The UN could provide long lasting peace and stability to the world, but again it all depends on the P5 (permanent five) Security Council members along with Germany to stabilize the international trade market.

The Ukraine war and the new trade war with China are clear redlines, putting all at risk and disrupting global supplies in the future. The US and its allies must understand that geopolitical and geo-economic disputes, if not resolved through diplomacy, may cost a huge loss to humanity and pose an existential threat to the globe, especially if any country uses its nuclear weapons. All countries need to reduce geopolitical tensions for the larger interest of international trade.

The writer is a former additional secretary and can be reached at:

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Arrangements finalised for digital census – 28 Feb 2023

RAWALPINDI: The administration on the directives of Commissioner Rawalpindi Division Liaqat Ali Chattha is finalising all the arrangements for the digital census which will start on March 1.

According to a district administration spokesman, the commissioner had directed the authorities concerned to complete all the arrangements on an emergency basis. Commissioner had instructed the officers to perform their duties with commitment and dedication and warned that negligence on part of the officials concerned would not be tolerated.

He directed the deputy commissioners of the division to ensure the establishment of a control room and the provision of funds for the census. The authorities of all the departments were also directed to nominate their focal persons for coordination at the district and tehsil levels to review the administrative issues and remove the problems if any.

The spokesman informed that the police, on the directives of RPO Rawalpindi Region Syed Khurram Ali, were also finalizing foolproof security arrangements for the census. The RPO had directed the district police officers of the region to ensure the best arrangements in this regard.

According to Regional Coordinator Census, Syed Hasan Raza, 9,362 blocks have been established for the census in Rawalpindi Division in which a total of 5,610 supervisors and enumerators would perform duties.

Two enumerators in each block would perform census duties, he said and informed that 5,545 tabs were distributed across the division. He said that the digital census would be started across the country from March 1 and teams would visit door to door to collect data.

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Anti-terror strategy – 28 Feb 2023

The specter of terrorism has once again risen and is haunting the citizens of Pakistan. The situation is further aggravated by the government’s ineptness in handling the TTP threat. The recent bombing of the Peshawar mosque underlines the potentially destructive ramifications of the government’s ineffective anti-terrorism strategy. It is time for a change in policy.

The recent rise in terrorist activities in Pakistan can be partially attributed to the shift from military action towards diplomacy when dealing with terrorism. The sudden termination of the TTP ceasefire agreement, only after one month, served as a glaring reminder of the fragility and inconclusiveness of such agreements. On top of it, there are well-known dangers associated with negotiating with terrorist groups; something that had been cautioned against by many political analysts.

Instead, the militants have strategically regrouped and reorganized into Pakistani territory, using this leverage and window of opportunity to sow fear once more. Reportedly, post US-withdrawal from Afghanistan, a significant number of militants have returned to their homes in Swat and other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, reigniting fear in the local population.

Once-peaceful areas stand threatened of being plunged back into a seemingly perpetual state of violence. People are worried that targeted killings, abductions, and terrorist attacks by militant fighters can once again become part of daily occurrence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Further diplomacy with militants would not only serve to legitimize their extremist views but would also reinforce the notion that terrorism can achieve political objectives while sending a message of weakness to other extremist groups.

Moreover, the alleged release of some TTP leaders without proper consideration was a grave mistake. TTP militants were responsible for the brutal murders of many innocent civilians and government officials. Any release of such people would not only dishonour the memory of our fallen soldiers in the war against terror but would also send a message that anyone engaged in violence and bloodshed can escape punishment in Pakistan.

What we have at the moment is not only terrorists refusing to disarm, but they’re also making illegitimate demands of the government, such as reversing the Fata merger and withdrawing security forces from the area.

In order to meaningfully counter this threat, Pakistan requires a comprehensive strategy that encompasses the economic, political, and security complications of the problem. For instance, monitoring and gathering data from people’s internet usage and social media activity can provide useful information about potential terrorist activities and their plans.

In addition to this, addressing the root causes of terrorism and extremism, such as poverty and illiteracy, is extremely crucial to effectively defeating the TTP and other militant groups. Militant organizations like IS-K and TTP target vulnerable individuals in poverty-stricken, low-literacy regions of Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Although the National Security Policy of 2022 recognizes extremism and radicalization as significant threats, its success rests on wider public support from all political parties. The policy lacks parliamentary endorsement and has not undergone sufficient public discussion. The absence of political consensus on an issue as vital as national security is particularly problematic.

Further, there are several issues hindering effective counterterrorism legislation in Pakistan – though it is not too late to overcome these challenges. The government can by enacting new laws with a focus on improving conviction rates through enhanced investigation and police powers, whilst simultaneously increasing accountability measures, Pakistan can effectively combat terrorism at home. For instance, extensive police reforms, including the creation of robust counter-terrorism departments, are desperately needed.

The existing Police Act of 1861 and Police Order of 2002 are inadequate as they do not address terrorism and extremism, and thus require revision. Currently, only the KP Police Act of 2017 incorporates a counterterrorism department. Updating police laws to address contemporary security challenges is critical to effectively countering terrorism and ensuring the safety of citizens.

Moreover, Pakistan needs to address the issue of the Afghan government’s support of the TTP, as the current terrorism threat arises mainly from Afghanistan. There have been reports of disappointing results of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, raising concern over the footprint of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan. Pakistan should ask the Afghan government about its role while seeking peaceful solutions to end support to extremist groups and ensure regional stability.

The government should maintain a resolute position instead of negotiating with terrorists in order to uphold rule of law, protect its citizens, and ensure that those who commit terrorist acts are prosecuted. Only by changing this diplomatic policy can the leadership demonstrate its commitment to the security and well-being of its citizens, and help build a stronger and more stable nation for future generations.

The writer is a lawyer. He tweets @Muhammadylak

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Pink Bus Service to operate on two more routes in Karachi – 28 Feb 2023

Women’s only bus service to increase fleet of buses and continue adding routes

The Sindh government announced on Tuesday that the women’s only Pink Bus Service will operate on two new routes in Karachi from March 1 (tomorrow).

The announcement was made in a meeting under the chairmanship of Information and Transport Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon.

Transport Secretary Abdul Haleem Sheikh, MD Sindh Mass Transit Authority Zubair Chana, PDNRTC Soheb Shafiq, Operations Manager Abdul Shakoor and others participated in the meeting.

It was also announced that the fleet of Pink Bus Service traveling from Model Colony to Tower Route-1 will be increased from tomorrow.

The two new routes of the women’s only bus service include Route-2 from Power Chowrangi to Indus Hospital and Route-10 from Numaish Chowrangi to Sea View clock tower.

Memon shared the news on Twitter, saying that the Pink Bus Service will provide the women of Karachi with more facilities for “safe and better travel” around the city.

He said that the first new route, Route-2, will travel to Power Chowrangi, North Karachi, Indus Hospital Korangi, Nagan Chowrangi, Johar Mour, COD, Drig Road, Shahrah e Faisal, Shah Faisal colony, Singer Chowrangi and Korangi No 5.

Route-10 will travel to Numaish Chowrangi, M A Jinnah Road, Zaibunissa Street, Metropol, Do Talwar, Teen Talwar, Mazar e Abdullah Shah Ghazi, Dolman Mall and Sea View ClockTtower, he tweeted.

At the meeting, Memon also directed the NRTC to run the People’s Bus Service up to Hawke’s Bay Road.

He said that a survey should be completed on more new routes of the People’s Bus Service in Karachi. “I also want more new routes of People’s Electric Bus Service to be started as soon as possible,” he said.

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Seminar urges modern agriculture techniques – 28 Feb 2023

UAF hosts international seminar highlighting the dangers of using chemical pesticides

Experts at an international seminar at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF) on Monday called for adopting modern agriculture techniques, including integrated pest management, as excessive use of chemical pesticides to curb the pest attack was not only playing havoc with the lives of people but also devastating environment.

The seminar was jointly organized by the Department of Entomology, UAF, the Asian Development Bank and the CAB International.

Presiding over the session, UAF Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan showed his grave concern that fruits and vegetables were facing challenges in insect pests, diseases and postharvest issues, which were resulting in high cost of production and low per acre yield.

He said that chemical insecticides, as predominant pest control measures, were being used to fight the problems. But, the excessive and pesticides misuse had provoked different economic losses and hazards to human health.

He stressed upon the need to adopt the modern pest management technique for a healthy and food secure society.

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16 Pakistanis survive Italy shipwreck – 28 Feb 2023

FO says diplomats in Rome in contact with local authorities to verify status of four missing persons

The Foreign Office said on Monday that four Pakistani citizens were still missing, while 16 survived Sunday’s migrants shipwreck in the southern Italian coast, as the overall death toll from the tragedy rose to 62.

A sailboat, carrying 180-200 migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia and several other countries to Europe, crashed into rocks amid stormy weather near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria.

Initial reports had suggested that the deceased included around 28 Pakistanis. Italian authorities had said on Sunday that 81 people, mainly Afghans survived the shipwreck. The officials said more bodies were recovered on Monday, raising the death toll to 62.

The Foreign Office said in a tweet that Pakistani diplomats in Italy had met with 16 Pakistani survivors, who said that there were a total of 20 Pakistanis on the ship and that the four remained still missing.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had said in a tweet on Monday morning that reports suggested more than two dozen Pakistanis had drowned and that he had asked the Foreign Office to make checks.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra said the ministry had requested Italian authorities for details. She quoted a Pakistan Embassy official, who met the survivors, as saying that they were “in good physical condition”.

Rescuers and UN agencies said many Afghans had been travelling on the wooden sailboat, which had come from Turkey. Afghanistan’s foreign office and refugee ministry spokespeople did not respond to request for comment.

Italian officials said that the rescuers recovered two more bodies on Monday, bringing the death toll to 62, including at least 14 children. Many of the victims washed ashore close to Steccato di Cutro where the vessel sank, while some bodies were recovered from sea.

“One Afghan 12-year-old boy lost his entire family, all nine of them—four siblings, his parents and other very close relatives,” Sergio di Dato, head of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) team offering psychological support to the survivors, told journalists.

Save the Children charity said on Twitter it was supporting survivors from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria, including 10 minors who had been travelling with their families. “There are many missing minors,” it wrote.

As blustery winds die down at sea, dozens of coffins were laid out in a sports hall in the neighbouring town of Crotone ahead of an eventual funeral, as local people left flowers and candles on metal railings outside to show their respect.

Forensic police set about identifying the victims, issuing an email address to which relatives searching for loved ones could send distinguishing details, from eye and hair colour to tattoos or piercings.

The shipwreck has stoked a debate on migration in Europe and Italy, where the recently elected right-wing government’s tough new laws for migrant rescue charities have drawn criticism from the United Nations and others.

However, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi denied that the government was to blame for the loss of life, pointing the finger instead at human traffickers and the families that set off to sea.

“Desperation can never justify travelling in conditions that endanger the lives of their children,” he told reporters. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have reached Italy by boat over the past decade, fleeing conflict and poverty back home.

The boat that sank off Calabria had departed from the western Turkish port of Izmir about four days ago and was spotted 74 km off the coast late on Saturday by a plane operated by European Union border agency Frontex.

An initial attempt to reach the vessel was thwarted by bad weather, police said. Interior Ministry Undersecretary Wanda Ferro dismissed accusations that the migrants could have been saved despite the rough seas as “boorish political propaganda”.

One survivor was arrested on migrant trafficking charges on Sunday, but the Guardia di Finanza customs police said two more people were suspected of having aided the alleged smuggler.


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CTD cop among two arrested after bail dismissed in abduction case – 28 Feb 2023

Two officials of the Counter-Terrorism Department were taken into custody on Monday after an anti-terrorism court dismissed their applications seeking confirmation of their interim pre-arrest bail in a kidnapping for ransom case.

The ATC-XII judge also dismissed an application filed by a detained suspect seeking post-arrest bail in the case. CTD Inspector Shoaib Qureshi, along with Constable Sardar Rauf, driver Muhammad Khaleeq and informer Kashif Ali, has been booked for alleged involvement in kidnapping two citizens for ransom within the jurisdiction of the Bilal Colony police station in June last year.

The judge announced his order after hearing arguments from the defence and prosecution sides. He dismissed the applications of Qureshi and Rauf seeking confirmation of their interim pre-arrest bail. The judge also rejected the plea of Khaleeq seeking his release on bail.

According to the prosecution, Qureshi along with his accomplices allegedly abducted two citizens — Saad Shafiq and his builder friend Faizan — on June 5, 2022, who were later released after the payment of ransom.

An FIR was lodged at the Bilal Colony police station under sections 365-A (kidnapping or abducting for extorting property, valuable security, etc), 384 (punishment for extortion), 385 (putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of Saad Shafiq.

Shafiq alleged in the FIR that he and his builder friend Faizan were abducted by Qureshi and his accomplices on June 5, adding that the CTD inspector released them after extorting money from them. The case was registered on the orders of the court.

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Accomplice of minor’s rape suspect arrested – 28 Feb 2023

TAXILA: Police on Monday arrested the accomplice of a man involved in a girl’s rape and botched attack on a police party.

According to a police spokesman, the suspect took the girl (11) in his rickshaw from Losar Sharfoo area to his under-construction house in Faisal Town on Feb 8, where the main suspect assaulted her.

The police traced the main suspect on Feb 15 from Sadiqabad. On Feb 24, when the police party was taking the main suspect for recovery, his accomplice opened fire to get him freed. During the crossfire, the suspect received a bullet injury.

The attacker fled but police traced him on Monday.

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Two policemen injured in Dera checkpost attack – 28 Feb 2023

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Two police personnel sustained injuries when militants attacked a checkpost in the jurisdiction of the Kulachi police station late on Sunday night, an official said.

Dera police spokesman Syed Yaqoob Bukhari said the militants attacked the Rohri checkpost with small and heavy weapons, injuring constables Attaullah and Nematullah.

He said a police team retaliated to the attack, forcing the militants to escape, taking advantage of darkness. The injured policemen were shifted to a hospital.

Meanwhile, district police officer Abdul Rauf Babar Qaiserani along with security forces’ officials also visited the site. He ordered an investigation into the attack.

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