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Updated: 47 min 34 sec ago

Australia claim series 2-0 under lights

48 min 14 sec ago

ADELAIDE: Australia claimed a thrilling three-wicket victory over New Zealand inside three days at the Adelaide Oval on Sunday in the first-ever day-night Test match.

Shaun Marsh anchored Australia to the cusp of victory before losing his wicket on 49, and the battling Kiwis set up a tense finish under the floodlights by also dismissing Peter Nevill to leave the home side seven wickets down.

Much to the crowd’s relief Peter Siddle, whose ailing grandmother passed
away overnight, cracked the winning runs with a hobbling Mitchell Starc as his batting partner, to clinch a 2-0 series victory over the gallant Black Caps.

The match was redemption for Shaun Marsh, who has struggled to hold down a place in the Australian Test team.

“It was fantastic for Shaun to get an opportunity,” said skipper Steve Smith. “He’s been batting extremely well and the way he played under pressure with his brother to put a partnership together was really crucial for us at that stage.”

The pink ball developed for day-night Tests triumphed over the bat in a fast-paced Test which attracted a total attendance of 123,736 over three days. The aim of the experiment is to bring the crowds back to the long form of the game.

“The bowlers have dominated this game and it’s great for cricket,” added Smith.

It was the first three-day Test match at the Adelaide Oval in 64 years — since the West Indies beat Australia by six wickets.

“I thought it was an outstanding Test match. It was closely fought. We’d dearly have loved an extra few runs today, but it wasn’t to be,” said Kiwi captain Brendon McCullum. “It’s pretty hard to separate the two teams over the last two Test matches.”

Man-of-the-match paceman Josh Hazlewood led the Australian attack in the absence of the injured Mitchell Starc, taking 6-70 off 24.5 overs.

The Kiwis, who had resumed on 116-5, lost their last five wickets for 92. Santner top-scored for the visitors with an impressive 45 off 88 balls. 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

New era: I’ll be the most charismatic champion since Ali: Fury

49 min 15 sec ago

DüSSELDORF: Britain’s Tyson Fury has vowed to be ‘the most charismatic champion since Muhammad Ali’ after delivering on his promise to dethrone Wladimir Klitschko and become the new world heavyweight champion.

“I always said what I would do and I delivered. I didn’t have this confidence for nothing,” beamed Fury after his unanimous points win ended Klitschko’s run of 19 consecutive defences.

Fury was awarded the fight in Dusseldorf 115-112, 115-112 and 116-111 by the judges on Saturday as Klitschko’s reign as world champion was ended after nine years, six months.

Fury takes Klitschko’s World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), International Boxing Organisation (IBO)
and World Boxing Organisation (WBO) belts as the Ukrainian suffered his first defeat since 2004.

“I knew all along I could win the fight,” said Fury. “This is the start of a new era. I’ll be the most charismatic champion since Muhammad Ali.”

This was Fury’s 25th professional victory and he will cash in on the victory, regardless of his fight purse, having bet £200,000 on himself.

“Nobody believed he could do it, only me, Peter and his brother,” said Tyson’s father John Fury. “We’ve ripped these belts off a super champion. We have changed the world. They never believed the Titanic would sink but it did.”

This was a poor display by Klitschko who finished with cuts to both cheeks while Fury was unmarked.

“I must admit that Fury was faster and better,” said Klitschko. “The speed was missing, for a big man he is incredibly agile.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Chelsea, Tottenham play out drab draw

50 min 13 sec ago

LONDON: Jose Mourinho dropped his main striker Diego Costa for Chelsea’s Premier League visit to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday but the champions still proved toothless up front as they ground out an undistinguished goalless draw at White Hart Lane.

Mourinho said before the game that his out-of-sorts Spanish striker was lacking confidence but having left him on the bench all afternoon, a Chelsea team with Eden Hazard as an unlikely target man offered only intermittent threats in an unusually tepid London derby.

Spurs enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession and chances, and forced some decent work in the first half from Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic as they went a 13th straight league game without defeat, their best run since a 14-match streak in 1984-1985.

Hazard was at the centre of Chelsea’s best opportunities, heading over the bar from a pinpoint Oscar cross in the 20th minute and volleying to force a tremendous save from Hugo Lloris in the 68th.

Yet still the Footballer of the Year saw his Premier League goal drought stretch to 17 games as Mourinho’s side are yet to string together back-to-back league victories following last week’s win over Norwich City.

Spurs, unbeaten since the opening-day loss to Manchester United, remain fifth on 25, four points shy of the top of the table.

Vardy makes Premier League history

Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy made history on Saturday by scoring for the 11th Premier League match running against Manchester United at the King Power Stadium.

The England forward struck in the 24th minute, running onto Christian Fuchs’s pass and arrowing a shot past David de Gea to break a record he had previously shared with former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Van Nistelrooy was quick to congratulate Vardy, writing on Twitter: “Well done @vardy7! You’re number one now and you deserved it. #11inarow.”

It was Vardy’s 14th goal of the campaign, which makes him the top scorer, but his side went in level at half-time after Bastian Schweinsteiger headed in an equaliser from Daley Blind’s corner.

Leicester and United were both seeking to supplant Manchester City, who overcame Southampton 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium earlier to provisionally reclaim first place. 

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Solemn advice: PCB must invest in foreign coaches, says Waqar

51 min 26 sec ago

While England’s tour of Pakistan has not been going according to the home side’s plans — losing both the ODI and T20I series — Pakistan head coach Waqar Younis has termed the series as an ‘eye-opener’ for both the team management and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).

In an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune at Dubai’s plush Conrad Hotel, Waqar dissected the team’s failures at length, saying in order to curtail the prevalent gap between international and domestic players, the PCB needed to invest more in the sport.

“I am startled at the standard of cricket at display and the thing that has bothered me the most is that these are our best performers, but unfortunately they were found out,” he said.  “We cannot train the players on basics in between a high-pressure series. For instance, this tour was a ‘run-out tour’ and the management cannot possibly expect us to teach them how to run between the wickets.”

The 44-year-old feels that the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Lahore needs to be overhauled and handed over to foreigners who can implement their programmes without any hassles.

“I’ll reiterate, the PCB needs to invest in the product and the NCA is the base camp. We need foreign coaches there, even if they charge a hefty amount,” he added. “The top domestic performers must be groomed according to international standards. If we don’t take the necessary steps, then believe me when I say this: we will plummet even further.”

‘Younus’ ODI retirement shocked us all’

At the start of the ODI series, veteran batsman Younus Khan was drafted in the ODI squad after a contentious absence since the World Cup and many would have expected the 38-year-old to have carried his Test form in the limited overs.

However, the Mardan-born announced his retirement —just hours before the first ODI was scheduled to take place — baffling Waqar and Co.

“I sat down with Younus and asked him to pick a number from one to 11 in the batting order of his own preference and he said he wanted to bat at four. I told him that’s fine and that he will play all four matches,” revealed Waqar. “Next thing we know he announced his retirement, so I’m not sure what his reasons for doing so are.”

‘Contemplating contract extension and England tour’

Waqar also stressed on the importance of the tour of England next year and emphasised the need to study the English game to be better suited to face their opponents; however, he remained coy on whether he would be at the helm or not.

“I am not sure if I’ll be around for the tour [of England] or not, but the fact is that we need rigorous preparations for the Test series,” said Waqar. “We need to prepare practice wickets that offer seam and bounce; perhaps we need to use English balls to fine tune. England are very good at home and would be gunning to avenge the Test defeat here.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Ghost employees: Health dept sacks 56 doctors over absenteeism

58 min 58 sec ago

PESHAWAR: The government has removed 56 doctors and initiated disciplinary action against 568 employees for their continued absence from duty for the past several years. Furthermore, 18 technicians and 17 lady health workers were also terminated by the department over negligence.

According to a handout issued on Sunday, a meeting was held at the Independent Monitoring Unit (IMU) office to review the performance of the health department and to take action against ghost employees. The meeting was chaired by Senior Minister for Health Shahram Tarakai and attended by Secretary Health Dr Yousuf Jamal, Health Services Director General Dr Pervez Kamal, and other officials.

Participants were informed that explanation letters have been served to 110 officials while deductions have been made from their salaries on charges of absenteeism and for showing negligence towards duties.

During the meeting, it was decided the IMU will introduce android-based mobile tracking system for effective monitoring of field staff. At least 2,000 smart phones will be provided to the workers to improve routine immunisation.

Reviewing IMU’s performance, the meeting was further informed that IMU staff conducted 14,000 visits of various hospitals in 25 districts of the province. It was said that this resulted in significant improvement in the attendance of staff, state of medical equipment and delivery of health services.

The participants of the meeting were told that owing to rigorous monitoring and reporting of IMU teams, vacancies of medical technicians and LHVs in primary health care facilities had been filled while there had been a remarkable reduction in absenteeism of staff.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Pukhtun leaders’ visit reignites hope for better ties

1 hour 2 min ago

In order to pay tribute to late Pukhtun nationalist Mohammad Afzal Khan, commonly known as Khan Lala, the Afghan government arranged a conference in Kabul on Saturday. Many politicians including Asfandyar Wali Khan, Mahmood Khan Achakzai and Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao along with a number of tribal leaders and intellectuals were invited to attend the conference.

The conference was held at a time the political scenario between Islamabad and Kabul is ripe with tension.

Hot button issues

ANP Central Secretary General Mian Iftikhar Hussain attached a great deal of significance to the three leader’s visit to Kabul. He termed the conference, “an event that could lead to a major breakthrough in the deadlock that erupted last August-July between the neighbouring countries.”

According to reports in Afghan media, Asfandyar, Achakzai and Sherpao managed to persuade Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to meet Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, the time and venue has yet to be finalised.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Iftikhar said Pak-Afghan relations and the merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas with K-P are two extremely important issues at this stage and time. “Both these problems would remain at the top of the agenda in Kabul – regardless of whether the talks are formal or informal,” he said. Mian Iftikhar remarked that except for the future of Fata, the three leading Pukhtun politicians had similar points of view regarding all regional and international issues. “If dialogues are held between Kabul and Islamabad, many crises can be resolved peacefully and politically,” he added.


In order to end terrorism and militancy, and perhaps more importantly, save trillions of US dollars invested in war-devastated Afghanistan after 9/11, the world community, particularly US-led allies, seems to be reaching some sort of consensus regarding Fata’s merger with K-P. However, the same cannot be said about Asdfandyar, Achakzai and Sherpao who are willing to stand united on topic of the long-standing Afghan conflict but refuse to work together for the future of Fata. What they fail to realise is that both these issues are not only inter-linked but Afghanistan has a very high stake in it.

While Asfandyar and Sherpao’s parties favour the merger of Fata with K-P, Achakzai wishes the people of Fata to decide the future of their territory. According to historical agreements of 1893 and 1905, Pakistan is bound to take Afghan government into confidence regarding the status of Fata.

Reaching common ground

Though Achakzai’s Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party is part of PML-N-led coalition government, Asfandyar and Sherpao have also reached an understanding with PM Nawaz Sharif. Before departing to Kabul, Asfandyar held an exclusive meeting with Nawaz and discussed matters of high significance. The two leaders debated about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the ongoing situation in Afghanistan, in particular about tense relations between Islamabad and Kabul. Asfandyar also proposed talks at a high level between Pakistan and Afghanistan, suggesting Nawaz and COAS General Raheel Sharif meet President Dr Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah from Afghanistan.

Looking back

After assuming office in 2014, Ghani had been very hopeful about good terms between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He travelled to Pakistan to meet Nawaz and Raheel and upon his return to Kabul, assured his people of an era of peace and tranquillity.

However, these hopes were shattered when Afghan militants not only refused to hold peace talks but also revolted in Kunduz and engaged in unprecedented violence in Khost, Nangarhar and several others regions in Afghanistan. Militancy not only fuelled hardships for Ghani and Abdullah’s unity government but also created uncertainty in the international arena where many countries had invested heavily in reconstructing Afghanistan.

Time to act

At a time when leaders, technocrats and analysts are attaching great significance to events in both neighbouring countries and casting light on their inter-related affairs, it is the time to take steps to initiate and maintain stability. Continuous distrust between Islamabad and Kabul is not only detrimental to the very interests of both countries but enables war mongers to exploit the situation.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Sleeping on duty: Murder suspect escapes custody

1 hour 8 min ago

An injured Afghan refugee, under arrest for murder, escaped from King Abdullah Teaching Hospital Mansehra on Sunday while the policemen guarding him were asleep. After the incident, police arrested six policemen for negligence. A City police official told journalists that Nehmatullah, an Afghan refugee living in Jhugiyan area of Abbottabad, was arrested three days back on charges of murdering Akmal Khan, a resident of Sheikhul Bandi. His suspected accomplices were also arrested.

Nehmatullah was injured during the arrest. For his security, police shifted him to King Abdullah Teaching Hospital Mansehra where he was under treatment.

Sunday morning, Nehmatullah managed to remove his handcuffs and escaped when five policemen deputed on his security were sleeping in the private room of the hospital. When they woke up, the policemen tried to find the accused but failed. However, on the orders of City DPO, criminal cases have been registered against constables Bilal, Muhammad Riaz, Yusuf and Zeeshan, sub inspector Manzoorur Rehman and duty in charge head constable Shahid and arrested them. They will be produced before the court of judicial magistrate on Monday (today). Meanwhile, the family members of Akmal protested at Dhobighat Chowk when they heard the news of Nehmatullah’s escape. They dispersed when they were told about the policemen’s arrest.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Missing persons: Police see pattern in kidnappings

1 hour 11 min ago

At least three men were reported missing in Swat over the last three weeks; however, the police are still in the dark regarding their whereabouts.

While talking to The Express Tribune, Swat District Police Officer Saleem Marwat confirmed the incidents and said police investigation teams were striving hard to find the victims and the kidnappers.

According to a police official, a young man identified as Salman Hussain, a resident of Ghaligay, Tangi in Barikot tehsil, went missing at least 18 days ago. “The victim’s bullet-riddled body was found on Monday, buried under a pile of rocks in the mountainous area. We are still investigating the case,” the official said.

Karim Khan, an official of Swat investigation team, explained two teenagers, Adnan Khan and Muhammad Imran, were allegedly kidnapped by unidentified assailants in the last week, who shifted them to an unidentified location. “Both teenagers were kidnapped from College Colony Saidu Sharif,” stated Karim. “There is a pattern, however, and police are still trying to reach the offenders,” explained the official. He added the kidnappers would soon be nabbed. However, he refused to share further information.

Another police official, who wished to remain anonymous, added so far the police failed to determine any details in the missing teenagers’ case. “We don’t even know whether the men were kidnapped by militants, or picked up by security forces or by a gang of kidnappers,” said the official. He said cases have been registered and further investigation is under way. “Even family members do not know the whereabouts of the missing teenagers.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Of money and misery: Rs178m budget approved for Chitral tehsil

1 hour 13 min ago

A budget of over Rs178 million was approved for Chitral tehsil counsil for the financial year 2015-16 in Chitral District Council Hall on Sunday. Nazim Maulana Muhammad Ilyas presented the budget at a session convened by Khan Hayatullah Khan.

Ilyas said Chitral faced many unfavourable circumstances this year. “On one hand, the district faced many natural calamities while on the other, the delay in rules of business of (local government) became a hurdle in resolving many issues,” he added.

Ilyas said people from areas of Chitral that do not fall within the urban vicinity, including Kalash Valley and Garam Shashma, are sidelined and neglected in the budget. He said people from these areas demand the allotted percentages in the budget be left open to meet everyone’s needs.

Moreover, youth councillors requested an increase in funds for sports and a few members also demanded an increase in the funds for disaster management and natural calamities. It was decided Rs114.2 million will be the development and Rs64.3 million the operational budget.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.


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Categories: News

Constitutional limbo: G-B lawyers vow to resist move to thwart reforms

1 hour 31 min ago

GILGIT: Lawyers in Gilgit-Baltistan have vowed to resist any move to curtail powers of elected representatives in the constitutional reforms proposed for the region.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, G-B Bar Council Vice Chairman Shehbaz Khan said the legal fraternity will not accept a symbolic provincial status for the region.

The remarks come at a time when Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and his team are preparing to amend the G-B Empowerment and Self-Rule Order 2009. The committee – which also includes G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rahman – is expected to present the draft document to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif next month.


According to Shehbaz, the federal government should retain control over defence, foreign affairs, communication, finance and currency.

“The regional assembly should have jurisdiction over the rest of the affairs,” he added.

The lawyer insisted if G-B cannot be declared the fifth province of the country owing to the Kashmir dispute, it should at least be given provisional constitutional status.

“This can be done by amending Article 1(2) and other relevant provisions and clauses of the Constitution,” he said. “He said amendments in Articles 41, 51, 59, 175 will give G-B due representation in the National Assembly, Senate and Supreme Court of Pakistan.”

A delayed response

“Empowerment is right of the people of G-B,” Shehbaz said. “The region voluntarily acceded to Pakistan in 1947.”

According to the lawyer, reforms should pave the way for G-B to be represented in all federal constitutional forums and institutions as was done by India for occupied Jammu and Kashmir in 1948 and 1957.

“We will launch a legal battle across the country if the reforms aren’t genuine or do not measure up to people’s aspirations,” he added.

Last week, the regional government convened an all-parties conference in Gilgit to seek input from all major stakeholders in this regard. The conference was also attended by parties lacking representation in the assembly.

Parting ways

Shehbaz also announced his decision to part ways with Pakistan Peoples Party.

“After 40 years of association with the party, I have resigned from PPP with a heavy heart,” he said. “The decision is painful for me as I am one of the founding members of the party in the region.” Shehbaz joined PPP in the early 1970s while he was a student. He served as the party’s district president in Gilgit and later became its deputy general secretary.

“Today’s PPP is no longer former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s party,” he said. “The policies have changed and the workers are being pushed against the wall.”

According to the lawyer, he feels like a “misfit” in the party. “I thought it best to quit than to stay on without a purpose,” Shehbaz said. “I will decide my next step after consulting my friends. All options are open and I’ll make a decision soon.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Mega schemes: PM to inaugurate development projects for Hazara

1 hour 59 min ago

MANSEHRA: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved various development projects for Hazara division and plans to inaugurate them during his visit to Mansehra in December.

This was said by Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yousuf during a news conference in Mansehra on Sunday.

“The prime minister’s visit to Mansehra is long overdue,” he said. “During his visit, Nawaz will initiate a series of projects.”

According to Yousuf, the prime minister will inaugurate the Rs800 million Sui Gas pipeline project with a 12-inch diameter which would be laid between Abbottabad and Mansehra during the first phase of development.

“This project will help in laying a network of gas supply to remote areas like Shinkiari, Jaba, Atarsheesha and Khaki,” he said. “A water supply project worth Rs40 million and a women’s university in Mansehra will also be inaugurated by the premier which would be completed within two years.”

The minister said the Hazara Motorway from Havelian to Thakot will be constructed in the second phase. In addition, an airport, a Danish school and a medical college will be established in Mansehra.

“Under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, the country has flourished and development projects have been initiated in all provinces,” he said. “With the completion of PML-N’s tenure, the people will enjoy prosperity and development.”

He also flayed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, saying the party’s promise to transfer power to the grass-roots level after the local government elections has failed and created problems for the public.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Planned attack: PTI leaders doubt Durrani’s claims

2 hours 3 min ago

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders have raised doubts over the federal minister for housing and works’ claim that the bid on his life was a political attack.

Addressing a news conference in Bannu on Sunday, Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Transport Malik Shah Mohammad Wazir said he sympathised with Akram Khan Durrani.

“But we believe Durrani has pinned the blame on his opponents for political gains,” he added. Wazir said the attack on Durrani’s convoy was “not a terrorist attack but a planned and self-styled act.” He was flanked by other PTI leaders who demanded an impartial commission should probe into the incident.

“The device was planted in an ambulance,” Wazir said. “Therefore, people have the right to know the motive behind the attack. I strongly condemn the attack.

Wazir announced the K-P government will provide Rs300,000 as compensation for the families of those who were killed in the attack on the federal minister’s convoy in Narmikhel, Bannu.

“Moreover, Rs100,000 will be offered to the wounded,” he added. At least two people were killed while three others were injured in the attack on Durrani’s convoy on November 26.

A day later, the federal minister dispelled the impression that the attack on his convoy was an act of terrorism.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Billion Tree Tsunami project: Paid only first instalment, labourers threaten to uproot plants

2 hours 4 min ago

Their contract with nurseries for the Billion Tree Tsunami will end in December; yet most of the labourers claim they still have not been paid since it started in January.

“I was excited to work for the project but I now regret it as I have not been given the fruit of my hard work,” Hassan, a labourer who is also a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf worker, told The Express Tribune. “I now don’t look after the plants and flowers and will start a protest if I’m not paid the salary that I deserve.”

Hassan added Minster for Environment Ishtiaq Urmar had announced salaries would be paid after Eidul Azha but that did not happen. “I, along with other labourers, tried to contact Naeemul Haq (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf central information secretary) but he was never available.”

The labourers have also gathered outside the watershed office in Kohistan several times, hoping for results. Each time they get the same answer: the government has not released the money for their payment.

Bowled over

When the Billion Tree Tsunami project was initiated in January by PTI Chairperson Imran Khan, nurseries were set up. Around 30% of the nurseries were handed over to the private sector, including those in Shangla.

There are about 200 private nurseries in Shangla district which are looked after by labourers who work for private contractors. As per the agreement, the first 25% instalment was paid to labourers and contractors; this included the purchase of plastic bags, seeds and equipment.

However, the second 25% and third and final 50% instalments have not been paid even though the agreement will end in December. This leaves labourers in a fix who have no other source of income to feed their families.

Withering plans

A contractor, Ali Taj, the only bread earner in his family, told The Express Tribune he was working one of the nurseries and taking care of the plants for quite some time but was still not paid.

Now he says he is no longer taking responsibility for the nursery as he is planning to leave. “I’m going through a difficult time as the landlord [of the property on which the nursery is established] asks for rent and I do not have anything to pay them.” Taj added the landlord and labourers threaten him, and say they will destroy his plants and saplings if they are not paid on time.

Landlord Umar Saeed said his community buys seeds for wheat and other food items to sow in their farm from the money they get from the initiative, but they have not been paid rent for their lands yet. “We will throw away the plants from the nursery and will take the matter to the court.”

The sense of restiveness among labourers and others who rely on the project for a living comes from the fact that agreement of the project ends in December. The labourers have said the government has forced them to take to the streets. They have said they will protest on Karakoram Highway for their demands.

However, when asked, the region officer of the watershed office in Kohistan, Shujat Ali, said the finance department has not released funds to them as yet and they are expecting the funds will be provided in near future.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Stori da Pakhtunkhwa: Delay in scholarship grants leaves students in the lurch

2 hours 8 min ago

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Higher Education department has failed to provide Stori Da Pakhtunkhwa Scholarship grants to students who topped educational boards. While students complain of irresponsible governance, and officials of government’s lack of interest, Stori Da Pakhtunkhwa officials say the issue lies in the increase in scholarships.

The Awami National Party (ANP) government had initiated a scholarship programme under the name Stori Da Pakhtunkhwa. Initially under this initiative, grant money would be given to the top-ten Secondary School Certificate and Higher School Certificate students respectively. This would apply to all education board across the province. The number of grants was then increased to 20 each for matric and intermediate. Each student at the intermediate level is eligible for Rs15,000 per month.

A higher education official wishing not to be named said the programme was launched successfully by the ANP government. During their tenure, students had no trouble getting their grants.

The official said the incumbent government was delaying the process, causing officers in the education and finance departments to stop issuing the stipend. This, he said, was despite allocation of funds to Stori Da Pakhtunkhwa in every budget cycle.

Students who won the scholarship visit our offices,” said the official. They call the departments daily, he added, but officials keep postponing the issue, giving students yet another date each time.

From the students

Students from Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Swat told The Express Tribune over the telephone that the main reason for delaying the grants was “an irresponsible attitude and lack of interest on part of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government.”

Talking to The Express Tribune, BISE Swat student Naeemullah Khan, who was in the top 20 intermediate students, said he was being deprived of his rights. “They should bring [Stori Da Pakhtunkhwa] to an end if the government cannot manage the scholarship scheme,” said Naeemullah.

“Poor students eagerly wait for this scholarship (but get nothing from the department).

A BISE Mardan topper, Riaz Ahmad, said they were expecting the PTI-led government would make sure the bureaucracy actually helped the public. But, Ahmad said, the PTI-led government failed to even spend the allocated amount on students who deserved it.

“We were thinking this scholarship will encourage intelligent students but the behaviour of officers in these departments is all the more discouraging.”

Ahmad demanded the provincial government and chief minister take notice of the unpaid grant money. “They need to immediately release the scholarship funds of poor students.”

Not a matric problem

Talking to The Express Tribune, BISE Chairman Muhammad Shafi Afridi said the scholarship money was being provided at the matric level. However, he said it seemed the problem lay at the intermediate level.

Afridi also requested the higher education department to release the due amount without any delay so students can continue with their studies.

The Stori da Pakhtunkhwa programme in charge comes under the higher education department. Erum, who is the programme in charge, told The Express Tribune the disbursement was delayed after they increased the number of students from top 10 to top 20.

Regarding the delay in the release of funds, Erum said all but one board gave details of students who would get the money. Only the DI Khan board did not provide details of their students. This she said delayed the entire process.

“Previous year’s grants will be given collectively in this academic year.” She said soon everyone would get their dues. Erum admitted to red-tape in the release but said problems had not been addressed for the facilitation of students.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Future benefits: Bill tabled to legislate on BOIT

3 hours 47 min ago

The provincial government has tabled a bill in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly to officiate the Board of Investment and Trade (BOIT).

Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights Imtiaz Shahid Qureshi presented the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade Bill 2015 earlier this week. The proposed legislation aims to address a network of problems associated with the current board.

Failure to launch

Officials privy to the development told The Express Tribune the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government said the current board was constituted through an executive order in 2013. “However, it lacks a legal basis,” an official said. “Mohsin Aziz, an industrialist, is the vice chairman. But the board is understaffed.”

Special Assistant to Chief Minister for Industries Abdul Karim Khan told The Express Tribune the board remains functional but does not operate on a regular basis like similar bodies in the other three provinces.

“It needs to be given a legal status through legislative means,” he said. “The board has been working on major projects in the province. However, the law department and other authorities have posed hurdles for it (in the absence of legal cover).”

Abdul Karim added the industries department has not been given due attention even though the province has countless opportunities to attract investors.

“Investors are mostly private firms and we need to create a friendly environment for them,” he said.

Hack attack

Insiders revealed the board’s website has also been hacked. However, Abdul Kareem had no information about the website being hacked.

“This is the first time I’ve heard about this,” he said. “I will enquire about this as soon as possible.”

Structural affairs

The bill provides some useful guidelines on the composition of the Board of Investment and Trade and the appointment of members.

According to a copy of the bill available with The Express Tribune, the proposed board will include no less than 15 and no more than 20 members, including its chairman. Government officials and private sector members will be included in the body.

“The government officials in the board must include the K-P additional chief secretary, finance secretary, planning and development secretary and the managing director of the Bank of Khyber,” stated the bill. “Private sector members should include experts in agriculture, science, banking, commerce, economics, engineering, industry, academia, investment, marketing and technology.”

As per the proposed legislation, the government should appoint private sector members for no more than a period of three years.

“The chief minister shall be the chairman of the board while the vice chairman shall be appointed by the government for not more than three years,” read a copy of the bill. However, the person appointed for the post should be known and have experience in making and implementing policy.

The BOIT will have a chief executive officer appointed by the government, it added.

“The CEO can be a government officer of no less than grade-20,” stated the bill. “However, a private sector member can also be appointed to the post.”

Modus operandi

The proposed legislation also defines the appointment of board members in the event of a member’s death. It also defines the procedure through which the board will hold its meetings.

“All decisions should have the backing of a majority of members present at meetings,” stated the bill.

Aims and objectives

As per the proposed legislation, the BOIT will aim to facilitate investors by coordinating with relevant departments. The board will also seek to encourage foreign investors and facilitate the government to create a suitable environment for investment.

“It will also assist the implementation of K-P Public Private Partnership Act 2014,” stated the bill. “The board will be provided funds to achieve the purpose of the 2014 legislation.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 30th,  2015.

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Categories: News

Modern inconveniences: How to protect yourself digitally

3 hours 51 min ago

KARACHI: Addressind the audience on the question of how to keep their children safe in the digital world, physical security disaster management expert Norbert Almeida pointed out that anything uploaded on the internet cannot be deleted.

Conducting an interactive session with more than 100 participants, including parents, teachers and college students, on the second day of the School of Tomorrow conference, he shared three case studies from Karachi, in which social media and parenting styles were connected.

“How can we allow our children to talk to strangers and be friends with them on Facebook while we ourselves stop them from talking to strangers on the streets,” he said, asking parents to keep an eye on their children’s Facebook activities and what friends they make.

Striving for harmony: Education as a tool for peace building

Speaking about how technology has changed in recent years and made the world shrink into our palms, he explained that mobile phones and the data we store on them are also not safe. “We should keep a check and balance on our children’s passwords on mobile and social media platforms, at least till they’re teenagers,” he said, giving the example of a case in Karachi where a teenage boy was kidnapped by a Facebook friend.

Comparing physical dangers to digital dangers, Almeida presented some facts and advised changing passwords frequently. “We keep the same passwords of different email addresses or our computers for years and give easy access to our friends,” he added, questioning why people do not understand that their data can be used against them.

Sharing a personal experience, he told the audience how he received some messages from a friend who lives in Australia to transfer some money. “I doubted those messages and just asked a personal question, which he was not able to answer, which proved that the message was sent by someone else who had accessed my friend’s Facebook,” he said.

The world is getting smarter; if people are getting technologies, anti-viruses, back-ups, passwords and pin codes, then these digital criminals are also getting smarter and using all these tactics, he said. According to Almeida, Google is the best helper for everyone, it helps us to solve our issues and at the same time also helps hack someone’s email address. He explained to the parents how access to the internet has pros and cons for their teenage children.

The best way to keep your child safe is to keep monitoring and sharing problems with children. “Parents should keep computers in common places and keep a check and balance on what their child doing,” he suggested.

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Children’s rights: Speakers reveal what your child is not telling you

3 hours 51 min ago

KARACHI: The session ‘What your child is not telling you’ at the second day of the School of Tomorrow conference drew a huge crowd of parents, in which speakers discussed the important issue of child sexual abuse.

Supreme Court of Pakistan advocate and founding member of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) Anees Jillani spoke about the ever-prevalent issue of child abuse and sought answers to what can be done to improve matters at home and in school.

“As far as matters of sexual abuse are concerned, I have noticed that kids do tend to share it with someone older, mostly mothers,” said Jillani. He added that it is usually the mothers who shush them and insist on quieting them, especially when the victim is a girl.

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Highlighting the problem from the children’s perspective, Jillani said that it takes a lot of courage for a child to speak the truth, as parents usually do not deal with such news positively. “It is not like parents have much choice either,” he added.

Sadia Khatri from Girls at Dhabas agreed with the fact that society doesn’t offer many options when it comes to involving police or infrastructure for rehabilitation. But according to her, familial confrontation is possible. “I have not met anyone in my inner circle who has not been abused to some level,” said Khatri, adding that in most cases, the perpetrators are the people you trust the most.

Bringing the lens of education to the forefront, School Evaluation general manager Afshan Khalid shared an experience with the audience. Khalid said that a third grade art teacher once came to her and spoke about how a student’s drawings had taken a strange turn due to some disturbance at home. Referring to that story, Khalid said that teachers play as much a role in a child’s life as parents do. She believes that the most important thing is dialogue and said, “You see, mothers do have puberty talks to a certain extent with girls, but what about sons? No one talks to them about the changes that are coming in their lives.”

Striving for harmony: Education as a tool for peace building

Speakers concluded that even though grades are important for a child’s success, ingraining life skills holds far more significance, including building a strong parent-child relationship. “We have to become good listeners and respond rather than react to what our child says,” said Khalid. Khatri and Jillani agreed that medical consultation should be the last resort when it comes to dealing with matters of abuse.

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Ugly billboards: Can’t live with them, can’t live without them

3 hours 51 min ago

KARACHI: Driving through the chaos that Karachi’s roads are – dodging unruly motorcyclists, unaware pedestrians and slow-moving donkey carts – the last distraction a driver needs is a life-sized chocolate bar hanging from the sky above. “I already have to keep an eye on five to six obstacles on the road and the last thing I want to look at is a billboard,” says architect Zain Mustafa as he moderates a session about the impact of economic progress on environment on the second day of School of Tomorrow conference.

The session focused on billboards in Karachi and how the city has become immune to them, with the moderator and panelists Marvi Mazhar and Laila Kasuri trying to make sense of the visual pollution that has come to define the city’s skyline.

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While many agree the thousands of sign boards that dot Karachi’s skyline are visually unappealing, what bothers architect Mazhar is that no one objects to them. “In Islamabad, there was a huge uproar against putting up a single billboard; the authorities gave in and the board was taken down,” she shares, asking why this never happens in Karachi.

Mustafa believes the difference in reaction to billboards in the two cities has to do with the difference in the level of economic activities that takes place in Karachi and Islamabad. “In Islamabad, it was just one billboard, in Karachi, you don’t even know where to begin,” Mustafa states, mentioning how Shahrae Faisal alone hosts hundreds of billboards.

Kasuri, a water engineer working with The World Bank, argued that people do not object to ugly billboards because most of them have no idea what a good city looks like. “In Pakistan, people either live in poorly-planned cities or travel to the rustic northern areas,” she says, explaining that people need to know of other options to do a comparison.

How to save the earth: Speakers tell audience to start battling climate change now

The World Bank official believes it all comes down to teaching the younger generation about cities and their rights as a citizen.

Looking for solutions to end the ugliness that hangs above the heads of the people of Karachi, Mazhar mentions São Paulo and Chennai as examples of cities which have imposed a complete ban on billboards. “Chennai is a city from our region and its progress must be looked into,” Mazhar stresses, with Kasuri adding that Pakistan should learn from these cities and find out how they implemented the ban.

Drawing similarities between Karachi and São Paulo, Mustafa says the two cities have similar dynamics and if Karachi wants to move away from outdoor advertising, it must learn from the Brazilian city.

However, Mazhar says one needs to consider the amount of income generated from these billboards when talking about taking them down. “What will be our response when the local government throws numbers at us?” she asks, to which Kasuri replies there are many more avenues to advertise today and it is about time people start using those options.

In agreement, Mazhar says just like much of the print turned digital media, advertisements should also move to that medium.

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The wary ones: One step forward, several steps back

3 hours 52 min ago

KARACHI: At a time when Pakistan embraces next-generation mobile broadband technology, announcing its intent to invite global e-commerce players, a discussion on the cybercrime bill would remind citizens that there is still a long way to go before the word “progressive” could be used for the country’s information technology space.

The second day of the School of Tomorrow conference saw a rather passionate and agitated discussion where it was established, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill (PECB) is nothing, but a “curse and all the synonyms one can come up with”.

The three speakers, apart from minor differences in opinion, were all on the same page. Barrister Zahid Jamil, who has also helped several countries draft cybercrime laws, called the PECB “impractical”.

Classroom conundrum: Twisting history has twisted our mind

“The bill has been drafted for political gain,” Jamil said, referring to content one can put up on the internet that targets political parties or its members. “Through this bill, they want to see how they can criminalise actions or words against them.”

Farieha Aziz and Fahad Desmukh, with their background in journalism and a knack of balancing stories, tried but were unable to balance this one.

Aziz said the Rehman Malik-PIA episode, which went viral on social media and ensured, to an extent, that such incidents do not happen in the future, would have seen the person who filmed the event arrested. “The point of filming such videos is not harassment, but a way of holding them accountable, answerable — to ensure some sort of transparency in the system,” said Aziz.

The PECB — which is swiftly making its way up the approval chain — was meant to criminalise illegal acts that are not covered by the penal code. Jamil said the bill has gone a step further and included “immoral behaviour” in its grasp. “They [authorities] are not realising it, but Pakistan’s investment climate will suffer, companies will be wary of doing business here,” said Jamil.

How to save the earth: Speakers tell audience to start battling climate change now

“You are hindering research that is essential in the digital sphere.”

Just when participants thought the proceedings were enough of an eye-opener, Aziz, a co-founder and director at Bolo Bhi, came up with more food for thought.

“Imagine the conversation on your mobile phone being open for authorities to listen to. You can understand how this equipment can be used to spy against you.”

Jamil then summed up with a headline quote, calling the PECB “by far, the worst piece of cybercrime legislation in the world”.

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Long journey: Reinventing schools, reforming teachers

3 hours 52 min ago

KARACHI: Education is not an ideological problem but more of developmental problem, said the moderator Muaz Ahsan.

He was addressing a session, titled, ‘Government Schools: Unlocking the Potential’ on the second day of the School of Tomorrow conference. The session discussed the policies and measures that can be adopted to make government schools more effective and efficient.

In order to explain the dichotomy between public and private institutions, Aman Foundation CEO Ahmed Jalal shared a recent study conducted in India. The results revealed that public hospital doctors performed better in private hospitals. Privatisation provides incentives to the employees, he pointed out.

 Classroom conundrum: Twisting history has twisted our mind

The study shows that the performance of people changed as soon as their institutions changed, he pointed out. “However, for us performance does not matter,” he said, referring to how public institutions do not care about ghost employees and other problems. In government institutions, there is no system of checks and balances, he added.

Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology acting president Shahnaz Wazir Ali raised the issue of why such topics are not discussed in public schools and why public school teachers do not get the same training opportunities as their counterparts in private schools.

Debating the issues of high dropout rates in schools and the number of children who do not go to schools, Ali said that the problem of dropout students is more dangerous than the latter. She claimed that out of 100 students enrolled in public schools, only 20 manage to complete their matriculation. However, hardly five manage to make it to university.

Striving for harmony: Education as a tool for peace building

Singer Shehzad Roy was of the view that credible changes cannot be made till the whole sector is reformed. “In 2006, when we took Fatima Jinnah School under Zindagi Trust, we focused on three areas — academics, administrative and policy changes.” In a span of merely nine years, the same school is producing quality education and its students are competing on the same platform as students from private schools, he pointed out.

When questioned about what prevents the replication of the same model into other areas, he said that its the media and the civil society. Whenever somebody takes the initiative to adopt a school, the teachers, who are afraid of losing their jobs, start protesting, he said. The so-called civil society helps them and media portrays the investors as ‘cruel’, he claimed. People will then be afraid to take steps to improve the system, he added.

“In Karachi, the public and private Institutions must work together for the betterment of education,” said Adeel Aslam of Education Fund for Sindh.

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