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The fearsome pairing of Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson will take on South African duo Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace to open Friday’s four-balls at the Presidents Cup, as the US look to build on their 4-1 lead.

The Americans got off to a stellar start on Thursday while International struggled.

Spieth and Johnson swatted aside Marc Leishman and Danny Lee, Rickie Fowler and Jimmy Walker crushed Anirban Lahiri and Thongchai Jaidee, while Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson held off Jason Day and Steven Bowditch. Bubba Watson and JB Holmes set the tone with a win over Adam Scott and Hideki Matsuyama, with the only blue on the scoreboard coming from Oosthuizen and Grace. 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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LONDON: Former New Zealand captain Chris Cairns lied under oath that he never fixed cricket matches and once threatened to hit a teammate with a bat, heard a perjury trial on Wednesday.

Cairns was accused by the chairman of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi in January 2010 of match-fixing while playing for the Chandigarh Lions in the now defunct Indian Cricket League.

Two years later Cairns brought a libel action against Modi and successfully sued for £1.4million.

But prosecutor Sasha Wass told London’s Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday that Cairns’ co-accused, Andrew Fitch-Holland, a lawyer and his “lead adviser”, approached teammate, Lou Vincent, to get him to lie during the libel action.

Vincent not only knew Cairns had fixed matches, but was involved in match-fixing himself under the direct orders of Cairns, said Wass.

Wass said there was evidence to prove Cairns had been involved in match-fixing and had lied about it under oath.

The jury was also told that Vincent was once threatened with a cricket bat by Cairns after scoring too many runs in a fixed game, telling his then wife Eleanor Riley he had “lost Chris Cairns $250,000”.

The court also heard that Cairns had even attempted to recruit current New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum.

Cairns has now been charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice, while Fitch-Holland is accused of perverting the course of justice. They both deny the charges.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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ZURICH: African football leader Issa Hayatou took temporary charge of FIFA on Thursday after Sepp Blatter was “relieved of his duties” because of his 90-day suspension, announced the world governing body.

Hayatou is president of the Confederation of African Football, and takes over as senior vice-president of FIFA.

“Joseph S Blatter was relieved of all his duties as FIFA president” after the move by the FIFA ethics committee to suspend him for 90 days because he is under criminal investigation by Swiss prosecutors, said FIFA.

During the 90-day suspension, Blatter “is not allowed to represent FIFA in any capacity, act on the organisation’s behalf, or communicate to media or other stakeholders as a FIFA representative,” added the statement.

Hayatou, from Cameroon, heads FIFA’s crucial finance committee and once stood against Blatter for the presidency, although until the recent corruption storm, he had been a close ally.

He has headed the CAF since 1988 and joined the FIFA executive in 1990.

Hayatou played a key role in Africa staging its first World Cup in 2010 in South Africa. But he has also faced controversy.

He received a reprimand from the International Olympic Committee in 2011 over allegations that he took money from the International Sport and Leisure (ISL) marketing company. ISL was a major source of FIFA funding until its collapse in 2001.

In rare comments to journalists, Hayatou has always said he has a “clear conscience” about his dealings in international sport.

Platini hits out at ‘insidious’ suspension leaks

UEFA leader Michel Platini hit out Thursday at “insidious” leaks claiming he faces a 90-day suspension from world football’s governing body FIFA.

Platini blamed FIFA for the leaks and said it was “essentially an attempt to damage my reputation”.

Meanwhile, the world governing body’s ethics committee told AFP that Platini’s suspension does not automatically invalidate his candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

“That [Platini’s candidacy] is not a question for the ethics committee but for FIFA’s electoral commission, which will study its validity,” said committee spokesman Andreas Bantel.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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KARACHI / ABU DHABI: Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq warned England on Thursday that rising leg-spinner Yasir Shah posed a “threat to every team” ahead of their three-Test series, but added his batsmen will have to be at their best against quality opposition bowling.

Pakistan hope Yasir and slow left-armer Zulfiqar Babar will be able to match the exploits of Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman who shared 43 wickets between them in a 3-0 rout of England in 2012.

Asked whether Yasir would post as big a threat in the absence of Ajmal, who was not selected for the series due to a lack of form after remodelling his action, Misbah said: “The way he’s bowling he’s a threat to every team. Obviously England know that. But it’s not just him; all our bowlers have to play their roles and the batsmen must score consistently as well.”

Yasir has been leading Pakistan’s spin attack in Ajmal’s absence, taking 24 wickets in Pakistan’s last series in Sri Lanka and climbing to number three in the Test rankings.

Misbah praised his spinner but hoped his fast bowlers can also contribute. “We expect the fast bowling department to also play their roles by taking wickets with the new ball, especially in Abu Dhabi,” added the skipper.

The 41-year-old also said his batsmen need to counter England’s new spin twins Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. “Ali has been bowling really well and did well against a team like India, that says a lot of his bowling strength,” said Misbah. “Again it’s not just the two spinners we have to respect but the others too. We need to deal with their seamers as well. They have some quality fast bowling.”

England’s pacers include world numbers two and five Stuart Broad and James Anderson, and are far stronger on paper than Pakistan’s pace department, which features Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan.

He also hoped the return of Shoaib Malik — back after five years — will boost the team and give them an extra bowling option. “He’s playing really well and is in good form. He is here for his bowling as well and will be useful because England have four to five left-handers.”

England won’t be easy, warns Shaharyar

Misbah’s sentiments that another 3-0 whitewash will not be easy were seconded by PCB Chairman Shaharyar Khan, who felt England will be better prepared to tackle Pakistan than what they were three years ago.Shaharyar, who is due to fly to the UAE for ICC meetings, stated that PCB officials will meet with Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) officials to discuss the possibility of a bilateral series but admitted that the series looks unlikely.

“At the moment we can say there is hardly any chance of a Pakistan-India series in December. The political situation isn’t great but we’ve said time and again that politics and sports shouldn’t be mixed,” said Shaharyar. “We will meet BCCI officials on the side to see if we can find a solution.”

Shaharyar also backed Shahid Afridi to remain T20 captain till the World T20 next year, stressing that no player will be forced to retire.

“Afridi will captain Pakistan in the World T20 because he was and is a match-winner,” said the chairman.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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SOCHI: Nico Rosberg is heading into this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix determined to keep alive his bid for the drivers’ world title by beating defending two-time champion and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on a track that may throw up tyre problems for most teams.

The 30-year-old German, who is 48 points adrift of the Briton after winning three races, to Hamilton’s eight this season, said he feels he has enough positive feelings to draw on to justify his optimism as he prepares for a keenly-anticipated contest.

“Once I got back from Japan, I was able to focus on the positive elements from my weekend in Suzuka,” explained Rosberg.

“Pole position, the on-track pass on [Valtteri] Bottas and then having the speed to undercut [Sebastian] Vettel’s Ferrari at the second pit-stop…

“I’m not backing down in my fight for the championship and gaining those positions back fair and square showed that. We have five races to go and, although the championship gap to Lewis is quite big, in my mind it’s definitely not over yet.”

Rosberg’s bright approach may need to be considered carefully against the possibility, as expressed by Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe that unexpected behavior by the team’s tyres could cause problems in Sunday’s second race on the hybrid semi-street circuit built in the Olympic Park created for the 2014 Winter Games.

Lowe and the Mercedes team bounced back to form at the Japanese Grand Prix after a curiously off-target performance in Singapore where Ferrari, and four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel, capitalised on their difficulties.

Vettel secured his third win of his maiden season with Ferrari and now has 218 points, only 11 fewer than Rosberg on 229, while Hamilton leads the way with 277.

And Ferrari’s resurgence could make them a threat again in Russia as they bid to ensure they retain second in the constructors’ championship behind Mercedes, but ahead of Williams.

The pace of Ferrari and Williams has left Red Bull struggling in fourth ahead of Force India as Formula One endures a torrid period of insecurity amid rumours and speculation about its rocky future ahead and many teams struggling to survive.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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KARACHI: While many Pakistani footballers dream of playing for English clubs, Jon Ashworth, an English professional footballer, has broken the trend by opting to play for Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) champions K-Electric (KE) ahead of this month’s Sheikh Kamal International Club Cup in Bangladesh.

Ashworth, who was picked by the Everton youth academy at the age of 14, sees the opportunity to play with a Pakistani club an ideal chance to revive his career, which came to a halt when he failed to make the cut for Everton and in turn quit the sport.

However, he has been playing for a eighth-tier club in the UK for the past four to five years.

It was then that he met with Majid Shafiq, a former KE coach, who saw the potential in the youngster and got him into Stalybridge Celtic Pro Football, where Majid was serving as director.

“I’m quite excited about playing for KE,” Ashworth told The Express Tribune. “I don’t know many people who followed this path but it seems quite interesting to me. My knowledge of Pakistan is what I know from Shafiq. I know that the country needs development in the sport, so my goal will be to learn from the players here and help them improve if I can.”

Ashworth joined KE through Shafiq’s own project — Aspirations All-Pakistan Football Alliance — which acts as a liaison between players and clubs. Shafiq has been using his expertise and resources from the UK, and plans to bring more players to Pakistani clubs.

Ashworth is expected to join the team directly in Bangladesh and miss the training camp, which starts from October 11 in Karachi, but the 24-year-old is confident that he can make up for the lost time as he is a quick adapter.

“I will be training in England and will try to play as many matches as possible to be match-fit when I travel to Bangladesh,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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KARACHI: Opposition parties in Sindh have expressed reservations over the appointments of district returning officers (DROs) and returning officers (ROs) and demanded the deployment of military or paramilitary forces in every polling station for the local government elections that are scheduled to start from October 31.

The parties claim the police force is part of the Sindh government, threatening to boycott the polls if their demands are not considered. Submitting their written complaints to the provincial election commissioner, the leaders expressed reservations over the preparations for the local government elections.

“The provincial government of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Sindh has planned a massive rigging programme to hijack the local bodies’ institutions,” stated the letter.

Muhammad Ismail Rahoo, the president of PML-N’s Sindh chapter, former Sindh chief ministers Arbab Ghulam Rahim and Liaquat Jatoi, who now belong to the PML-N, former home minister Zulfiqar Mirza, PTI MNA Lal Malhi who hails from Thar, Shaharyar Mahar, Nand Kumar and Nusrat Seher Abbasi of the PML-F, Anwar Soomro of the Qaumi Awami Tahreek and have joined hands against the PPP-led government.

“Even during the process of filing nomination papers and their scrutiny, the DROs and ROs were not impartial. They are making decisions in favour of the PPP candidates,” claimed Rahoo.

In their written complaints, the leaders of the opposition parties suggested the provincial election commission to ensure that all phases of the local government elections are conducted impartially and give equal opportunity to all contesting candidates.

During their meeting with provincial election commissioner Tanveer Zaki, the leaders of opposition parties focused on 10 points and said that the provincial government was planning to change the venue of all polling stations to facilitate their candidates to cast ‘bogus’ votes and deprive opponents the right to cast their votes.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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BEIJING: Novak Djokovic churned towards Rafael Nadal’s all-time record for unbeaten starts to a tournament as he demolished Chinese number one Zhang Ze in less than an hour in Beijing on Thursday.

The world number one showed no mercy to Zhang, ranked 219, in front of his home fans as he ended local hopes 6-2, 6-1 in 55 minutes to reach his sixth China Open quarter-final.

Djokovic, unbeaten in five appearances, now equals Jimmy Connors with 26 wins at a tournament before suffering a single defeat, in sight of Nadal’s record of 31 at the French Open.

“I guess as I keep coming back each year with that positive record, it gives me more confidence knowing that I played so well in the past on this court,” he said. “I just keep on going. That’s all. There is no particular reason. There are a few things that play in my favour.”

Zhang, 25, could only applaud after he was outclassed in all facets by the Serbian 10-time Grand Slam-winner, who has only ever dropped three sets at the China Open.

“As for his level of play, his game, I think there are no loopholes or shortcomings. Actually, I prepared very well in order to play my game. But he won three major titles [this year],” said Zhang. “His performance is amazing. He is really good.”

Earlier, Ivo Karlovic bludgeoned his way into the record books for career aces, and Garbine Muguruza had an eventful 22nd birthday as she smashed a racquet, reached the WTA Finals and then celebrated with cake.

Muguruza was frustrated by Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni but she gathered herself for a 1-6, 6-2, 6-1 win which qualified her for the glitzy, eight-player season finale in Singapore.

“I’m just really motivated, like I said before, to try to finish on a high. It’s great to have qualified. But tomorrow I have another match,” said the Spaniard, who was presented with a cake on court after the win.

The day’s most historic achievement came from Karlovic, who broke Goran Ivanisevic’s record for career aces as he went down to Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas.

The 6ft 11ins Karlovic hammered 26 aces in his 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (9/7) defeat, reaching a total of 10,247 and surpassing compatriot Ivanisevic’s 10,237.

The record was consolation for Karlovic after his loss to 37th-ranked Cuevas, who is enjoying a dream run in Beijing after he beat world number five Tomas Berdych in the first round.

Last month’s US Open finalists both also suffered upsets with New York winner Flavia Pennetta, who is set to retire at the end of the season, going out 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Pennetta’s defeat came after fellow Italian Roberta Vinci was beaten 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 by Bethanie Mattek-Sands, in yet another surprise at the unpredictable Beijing tournament.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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Defending champions Spain can seal their place at next year’s European Championships in France when they host minnows Luxembourg in Logrono on Friday.

However, Vicente del Bosque’s men are under pressure to produce plenty of goals as well as the three points after an unconvincing campaign that has failed to dispel the doubts that his golden generation may be past its prime.

Del Bosque has been fiercely loyal to players who were a part of Spain’s historic three consecutive major tournament wins between 2008 and 2012 with the country’s first World Cup sandwiched between back-to-back European Championships.

Yet, even the former Real Madrid boss was fiercely critical of his side’s sluggish display in a 1-0 win over Macedonia last month that took them to the verge of automatic qualification.

Spain have won seven of their eight matches to lead Group C, but have managed just five goals in their last four qualifiers.

“We have the responsibility to play two games, the first to ensure that we qualify and if we win the second it would be a complete week,” Del Bosque told Spanish radio station Cadena SER.

In the quest for goals La Roja should be boosted by the return of in-form Juventus striker Alvaro Morata in place of the suspended Diego Costa.

However, despite Chelsea’s poor start to the season, Costa’s club teammate Cesc Fabregas is set to keep his place in the side.

Should Fabregas feature both against Luxembourg and away to Ukraine on Monday he will become just the 10th Spanish player to reach 100 international caps, eight of which were part of the World Cup winning squad in 2010.

“It would give me great satisfaction to reach that figure,” he told Radio Marca. “To play 100 games in the 10 years since I made my debut is a lot.”

Yet, Fabregas rejected that the number of centurions in the squad is a sign that more fresh blood is needed to take Spain back to the heights of recent years. “Now we have a different team because some important players have gone, but the youngsters and those of us still here provide an important base for the team to build on,” he said. “It would be good if we can continue to be successful and in France win a third consecutive Euros.”

England to try out youngsters

Tottenham Hotspur teenager Dele Alli is one of several players hoping to make an impression when England begin their preparations for next year’s European Championships against Estonia on Friday.

England secured their place at Euro 2016 by beating Switzerland 2-0 last month and with nothing riding on the game, manager Roy Hodgson may use it to test Arsenal forward Theo Walcott in a central role and could also give 19-year-old central midfielder Alli a first taste of senior international football.

“He’s really pushed on,” said goalkeeper Joe Hart of Alli. “He had a good season last season and Tottenham look like they’ve given him confidence by putting him in their very good side.”

With club-mate Danny Welbeck injured and Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge easing his way back to full fitness, Walcott is eager to seize a chance to prove himself as a potential long-term partner for skipper Wayne Rooney.

“Playing there [up front] for England, that’s what I want to do,” he told a press conference on Wednesday. “You want to represent your country and I know everyone would like to see me up front, but whether it’s on the left or right… There’s an opportunity there, definitely.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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Pakistan’s healthcare reality is made up of strange numbers; 70% of the students in medical schools are females but only 23% of the registered doctors are women. An innovative project doctHERs is attempting to bridge this colossal gap by bringing female medical graduates, who either get married right after finishing school or quit after having a baby, back into the workforce. 

A brainchild of Dr Sara Khurram, who had to quit residency midway because she was expecting her first child, doctHERs targets Pakistan’s ‘doctor brides’, enabling them to work from home and at the same time, serving people who don’t have access to quality healthcare.

“At its economic simplest, the doctHERs model is all about connecting the unmet demand for quality healthcare to the untapped supply of home-based female doctors,” explained the co-founder of doctHERs, Dr Asher Hasan. “Using technology to address market failures and directly matching supply to demand is exactly what Uber is doing and you can see its impact.”

The doctHERs concept was first tested in Sultanabad, Karachi, in 2014 with the small grant money, won in the international entrepreneurial competition, Ashoka Changemakers. “I consulted 100 antenatal patients in six months remotely via Skype and referred seven of them to hospitals for safe deliveries,” shared Dr Khurram. Winning the top prize in another competition, REC@NNECT, was the defining moment for her and she knew doctHERs had to be made into an operational company.

With two fully functional clinics in Karachi and one soon-to-be inaugurated in Mansehra, doctHERs wants to upgrade all existing healthcare units by introducing telemedicine. Their clinics have a nurse, two home-based doctors and a specialised video consultation setup that facilitates doctor-patient interaction.

The first clinic in Karachi’s Model Colony was built inside a house gifted to doctHERs after the government and private organisations refused to let their clinics be used for the project. Since it started in May this year, the clinic has consulted 1,300 patients and conducted six medical camps.

The prototype in Sultanabad and inaugural clinic in Model Colony were relatively easier feats for the doctHERs team, considering the challenges they faced in Hijrat Colony. “It is a very conservative, challenging society,” Dr Khurram shared her experience. To achieve their target in the area, the team persuaded community elders, conducted workshops in schools, surveyed houses from door to door and established medical camps.

The clinic in Mansehra is their first pan-Pakistan venture and they are eager to see what can and cannot be done, when the doctHERs core team is not physically present in the area. “We need this experience for our rural expansion plan,” she stresses.

Not in favour of making doctHERs a charitable venture, Dr Khurram and her team are determined to have a sustainable business model. “We charge Rs100 as fee per patient. From this, Rs50 goes to the doctor, Rs25 to the nurse, Rs15 covers the operational expenses and Rs10 is the doctHERs service fee,” she breaks down the numbers, stating that not having to pay rent keeps their expenses low. The team has also introduced value-added services such as blood pressure and glucose tests and a mini pharmacy to increase earnings.

Dr Khurram points out that her doctors do one-third of the work a resident does in Pakistan’s government hospitals and earn half as much. But she believes these doctors don’t come for the money. “They are working to fulfill the oath they take at medical schools; for them it is about the thrill of seeing patients get better and being the centre of the clinic,” she shares.

Breaking multiple barriers and defying limitations, the doctors in Karachi’s clinics are consulting patients from their houses in Chakwal, Quetta and London. By 2017, doctHERs plans to expand to eight community clinics in underserved areas, 15 clinics for corporate employees and ten retail clinics, says Dr Khurram.

By 2020, Dr Hasan adds, the team envisions to have impacted over five million lives (directly or indirectly) in Pakistan and the idea replicated in at least two or three other emerging markets.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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ISLAMABAD: With the inclusion of another 48 cases of dengue in Rawalpindi on Thursday, the total number of cases reported has soared past 1,000 in the city with three deaths.

A health official told The Express Tribune that despite the government’s efforts, the situation was worsening. The Punjab government, he added, has sent some of its best vector control experts in the city to chalk out plans to control the spread.

“It seems their plans have failed. Temperatures are expected to fall in the coming days, and it is the only way to check the virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Rawalpindi health department has hired 300 volunteers to strengthen the ongoing anti-dengue campaign in the city and make it more effective.

According to Health Executive District Officer Dr Arshad Ali Sabir these volunteers have been divided into two teams — one to carry out the indoor campaign and the other for outdoor activities.

“These teams have been given authority to take strict action against people who have been found providing favorable breeding grounds for mosquitoes,” he said.

He said that early warning will be given to the people to destroy potential breeding grounds in their areas.

Meanwhile a meeting at the Rawalpindi commissioner’s office decided that some of the dengue patients would be shifted to private hospitals due to space constraints.

“Indoor residual spraying (IRS), will be done at the homes of dengue fever patients,” said Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed.

Situation in Islamabad

Meanwhile, as many as 168 people admitted in various public hospitals of the capital have tested positive for dengue.

Dr Najeeb Durrani of the ICT Health Department said 72 of them are from Rawalpindi, 50 from rural Islamabad, 26 from urban Islamabad, and the rest from other nearby cities including Haripur, Manshera, and Abbotabad. He said the Islamabad administration is running an intensive anti-dengue campaign in areas from where new cases emerge.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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ISLAMABAD: Participants at a discussion here on Thursday stressed the need for adherence to building codes to improve reconstruction and rehabilitation mechanisms, learning from the experiences of other countries.

The event was organised to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the devastating earthquake that shook Kashmir, parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad at the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), a local NGO office.

They were of the view that the government and NGOs needed to take up a proactive approach to disaster management instead of reactive measures.

After a decade of the disaster and facing floods frequently, Pakistan lacks effective data collection and information dissemination mechanisms, they said.

The SPO Chief Executive, Naseer Memon questioned how, and why, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake caused such a huge deaths and destruction, while only a few people lost their lives in an earthquake of magnitude 9 in Japan.

Memon, voiced concern at lack of disaster impact assessment mechanism before a development plan that involves mega constructions, calling for strict adherence to standard building codes. He urged the civil society to raise voice against what he termed the nexus of contractors, builders and building control authorities.

Joint Action Committee for Emergency Response member Naheed Aziz said, “Research shows that while situation at some families has improved, a significant portion of affected communities are yet to recover from losses they incurred.”

Samiullah from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) enumerated the various agency-recommended building codes and regulations, urgent need assessment tools, early recovery policies, guidelines and coordination with the government and civil society.

Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation representative Shazia Harris emphasized the importance of an inclusive approach, collaboration and coordination among the various government entities, knowledge management and shared data sets of vulnerable groups and professionals.

Human rights activist Tahira Abdullah questioned why almost all government primary and secondary schools collapsed, in contrast to a few private schools.

She wondered why the same government engineering firm was awarded the reconstruction contract. Abdullah said that disasters were a global phenomenon but preventing death, injury and destruction, required bona fide intent, honesty and integrity.

She called for establishing a strong database as even 10 years after the tragedy there was no consensus on number of deaths that occurred in 2005.

Rescue 1122

The Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue 1122) commemorated the National Disaster Awareness Day to remember the 2005 earthquake tragedy. An awareness event at Central Rescue Station Rawalpindi was organised followed by a walk to Faizabad.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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As the country marked the 10th anniversary of the deadly 2005 earthquake on Thursday, the UNDP organised a seminar to highlight lessons learned and opportunities for earthquake risk reduction in Pakistan.

Neil Buhne, the designate UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, and UNDP Resident Representative in Pakistan, opened the event. Talking about the aftermath of the earthquake, Buhne said “the tremendous response of the public and the state is used as a role model worldwide.” Commenting on risk reduction factors, the UN official said “We have a responsibility to victims [of the earthquake] to try to get the building code implemented,” he shared.

Ahmed Kamal, member disaster risk reduction at NDMA, gave an insight into the establishment of the authority and its future plans — including the rolling out of a national disaster management plan on October 19th.

The monitoring and evaluation head at Erra, Brig (retd) Fiaz Shah, gave a detailed presentation on the authority’s working.

Sharing statistics, he said 9,914 projects have been completed and 600,000 houses constructed in the affected areas, which include four districts of AJK and five in K-P, and termed it a 97.4 per cent success. “Three to four houses are being constructed daily in the region,” he claimed.

Aziz Jamali, the district commissioner of Awaran, Balochistan when the 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit the impoverished region in September 2013, revealed that 99 per cent of structures in the district were ‘katcha’ which led to the displacement of 27,000 families. He said the reconstruction project is the biggest one in Balochistan to-date. Sharing updates, the bureaucrat said 15,984 families have received the first instalment of a $2,200 conditional grant while 7,000 houses with seismic safety features are in various stages of owner-driven reconstruction.

During the panel discussion, an official of the AJK Rural Support Programme negated Erra’s reconstruction data, to which Shah replied that since the authority is the only source of data, its figures have to be taken at face value. In reply to a question about the authority’s ‘questionable’ role, he said Erra is just an implementing agency whereas the decision-maker is the government.

Admitting that ‘things could have been better’, Shah put the blame for the much-delayed new Balakot city project on the provincial government saying it has only acquired 14 per cent of land to-date.

Talking about the role of NGOs vis-à-vis state institutions, Buhne told The Express Tribune that organisations like NDMA can set policy, but NGOs reflect the on-ground situation by ensuring that the community’s voice gets heard. Replying to a question about the government’s recent move to scrutinise NGOs’ operations, he said “It’s important that there be transparency and mutual trust [between NGOs and the government]. I hope it turns out to be a good confidence building measure.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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The leaders of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have fielded their scions for the upcoming local government elections and are going to great lengths to make them successful by hook or by crook, claimed the chairperson of the Sukkur Development Alliance (SDA), Jawed Memon, during a press conference held at his office on Thursday.

Memon said the SDA aimed to provide a platform to the people of Sukkur, including traders, political and social workers and others, to work for the development of the city, which has been subjected to the worst form of looting and plundering during the last three decades.

As the SDA does not want to leave spaces open for the PPP, therefore they have fielded their own candidates to contest the elections on almost all the city’s union councils. Memon claimed that, except for PPP candidates, the nomination forms of most of the independent candidates and candidates from other parties had been rejected by the returning officers. The court had to order the returning officers to accept their nominations, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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ISLAMABAD: The cantonment boards or Rawalpindi and Chaklala took several important decisions in separate in-camera meetings on Thursday.

Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) also awarded a three-month extension to 64 contractual employees of Food Street, located on Bank Road. The Food Street generates Rs300,000 in revenue, while employee salaries totalled roughly Rs1 million.

An executive of the cantonment board had abstained from granting the extension himself and referred it to the board.

The board also approved a budget of over Rs6.4 million for medicines for the only civil hospital in its limits. In 30 cases of residential and commercial buildings that violated the approved plans, the board awarded small penalties and regularised them. A sum of Rs5 million was allocated for a dispensary in Lalkurti.

The board also decided to charge IESCO Rs49.529 million under property tax, ground rent, pole rent, and other fees. IESCO had earlier sent a notice to RCB asking them to waive their dues of RS109.19 million. On the recommendation of the Public Account Committee, the board noted that RCB had already waived Rs8.86 billion in IESCO dues.

The meeting was also told that only Rs198 million was available in the monthly account of the cantonment till September 2015.

Several suggestions, including demarcation of the boundary in connection with uplifting the cantonment were also approved in the meeting.

The board decided that health and water supply systems would be upgraded, and that the education policy should also be worked on.

Chaklala Cantonment

The Chaklala Cantonment Board awarded its retired officer Shaukat Raza Malik a six-month extension after his three-month contract expired. The extension seems to be in violation of a government policy wherein no retired person from any department would be hired on contract basis.

Separately, the board dismissed an application filed by former President Muhammad Ayub Khan’s son seeking the conversion of a 28-Kanal residential plot into a commercial building. Khan’s son, Tahir Ayub, had requested the board to rezone his residential building as he wished to build a service station and workshops at the site.

Tahir’s application was dismissed on the grounds that the site was being acquired by the army.

Re-carpeting of Imran Khan Avenue in Chaklala Scheme 3 and a two-month extension in the contract for cleaning the area was also approved. Another Rs5 million was allocated for upgradation of MT workshop, whileRs200,000 was marked for building speed breakers in different areas.

The board also approved a grant of Rs118,000 to build the CCB website.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued on Thursday warrants for the arrest of police officials for not complying with the court’s earlier directives to ascertain the whereabouts of two missing students.

The court issued bailable warrants for the arrest of Central Investigation Agency (CIA) SSP Farooq Awan and non-bailable arrest warrants for inspector Amjad Kalyar of the Anti-Violent Crime Cell of the CIA for the sum of Rs25,000 each.

Headed by Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, the division bench was hearing petitions against the disappearance of two students from Karachi in 2011 and 2012. Muhammad Faisal, a second-year student of the Ship Owners College located in North Nazimabad, had allegedly gone missing in January 2012.

His father, Muhammad Islam, took the interior secretary, the provincial home secretary, the provincial chiefs of the police and Rangers and the Mominabad police station’s house officer to court.

The petitioner said his son had gone to Saddar for shopping on January 9 but never returned home. He stated that a kidnapping case, FIR No 26/2012 under Section 365-B of the Pakistan Penal Code, was also lodged at Mominabad police station. However, the law enforcers have yet to ascertain his whereabouts.

On September 10, the SHC bench had directed SSP Awan to look into the matter, as the authorities had failed to make any progress since 2012 when the petition was filed in the high court. The officer was also directed to submit a report within two weeks.

During Thursday’s proceedings, the judges noted that neither did the officer appear nor was any reason given to the court on his behalf. The bench members expressed extreme displeasure over the police authorities’ conduct towards the compliance of the court’s directives.

“Let bailable warrants in the sum of Rs25,000 be issued against him to be served through the DIG CIA for the next date,” the judges ordered. The DIG must ensure SSP Awan’s arrest and his appearance before the court on October 22.

Inspector’s arrest warrants

The same bench also issued non-bailable warrants for the arrest of an inspector of the AVCC, Amjad Kalyar, in a case relating to the disappearance of a business student from Iqra University. They fixed the next date of the hearing on October 29.

Last month, the judges had issued bailable warrants for Kalyar’s arrest for not submitting the record biometric verification of the SIM cards used by the kidnappers of Ali Raza.

The petitioner, Aliya Parveen, had alleged that the law enforcement agencies had kidnapped her 22-year-old son on April 6, 2011. Later, his kidnappers contacted them to pay ransom for his safe release but the police failed to track down the culprits. On September 17, the bench issued bailable warrants for arrest of Kalyar, as he failed to appear with the SIM cards’ biometric verification report.

During Thursday’s proceedings, the police official was still absent. The judges issued a non-bailable warrant for him in sum of Rs25,000.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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KARACHI: Two police officials were shot dead near Char Minar within the limits of the New Town police station on Thursday. The unknown miscreants managed to escape after killing the cops.

Both officials, head constable Abdul Ghafar and Pervaiz, were posted at the New Town police station and were on their routine patrol when the incident occurred. They succumbed to their injuries on the spot.

The police recovered seven empty bullet casings from the crime scene and have initiated an investigation into the incident.  Earlier, traffic policemen were being targeted in the city. According to police officials, 70 police personnel have been targeted in Karachi this year so far.

Taking notice of the killings, Sindh home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal has asked the traffic AIG and DIG to submit a report on the incident. In a statement, he said that the operation will continue against terrorists, adding that such incidents can’t demoralise law enforcement agencies.

The minister has announced jobs in the police department for the family members of the deceased, assuring that the families will also receive salaries and other benefits.

Traffic policeman found dead

A traffic policeman, identified as Rehan Sarwar, 45, was found dead from his home in Aram Bagh on Thursday. The cause of the killing has yet to be ascertained, said the police. The body was shifted to Civil hospital.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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While issuing notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the Islamabad High Court on Thursday turned down the federal government’s request to suspend an order issued by the electoral body which suspended parts of a relief package for farmers.

A division bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq N Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq issued a notice to the ECP for October 13. The bench turned down Attorney General of Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt’s request to suspend the ECP’s orders regarding the National Kissan Relief package, observing that it would create complications.

The government had also urged the court to suspend the ECP order for the duration of the hearings, but it was turned down.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Muhammad Waqar Rana on behalf of the secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research moved the petition, saying that the ECP has drawn an irrational nexus between the package and the LG elections.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced the Rs341 billion package on September 15.

The ECP partially suspended the scheme two weeks later, saying that the timing of the announcement ahead of the scheduled local government (LG) elections in Punjab and Sindh amounted to a violation of the code of conduct for the polls.

The government’s petition argued that ECP has drawn an ‘irrational nexus’ between the Kissan Relief package and the LG elections.

Arguing on behalf of the government, AAG Rana said that, “Any code of conduct [issued by the ECP] is only in the nature of guidelines and does not create any enforceable duty,” he added.

Justifying the package, Rana said floods and other natural calamities have adversely affected the agriculture sector of Pakistan every year since 2011. The government announced the Kissan package for the purpose of addressing the grievance of the small farmers, he added. The case will be taken up on October 13.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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Ever since four main arteries in the city have been made signal free to ease flow of traffic, there has been a rise in the number of fatal accidents on them.

These findings were shared in a study presented at the 3rd National Conference on Space Science and Technology at the Karachi University (KU) hosted by the Institute of Space and Planetary Astrophysics (Ispa) earlier this week.

Karachi has 9,500 kilometres of road networks for 3.1 million running vehicles, pointed out Dr Salman Zubair, an assistant professor at the University of Karachi’s (KU) geography department, during his presentation. “The four signal-free corridors are only 100km long but are responsible for almost 20 per cent of both fatal and non-fatal road traffic accidents.”

Total Number of Vehicles in Karachi

SOURCE: (WAJID, 2008. AND AMIR, ET AL., 2014); 

Dr Zubair listed that these corridors include the 10.5-km-long one built in 2007 that connects Sharae Faisal to Site Town, the 19-km-long one built in 2008 from Sharae Faisal to Surjani Town, the 28-km-long one built in 2009 from Saddar to Toll Plaza and the 28-km-long one which is still in progress from PIDC to Malir via Sharae Faisal.

Dr Zubair conducted the study along with his colleagues at KU Jamil H Kazmi and Syed Shahid Ali, Rashid Jooma of the Road Traffic Injury Prevention Centre and Zeeshan Akhtar from KU’s Applied Chemistry department.

Most of these accidents occur when people fail to follow traffic rules, motorcyclists use all traffic lanes, pedestrians fail to use overhead bridges, and poor planning of some U-turns. For instance, U-turns are built after every 1.1km that forces the motorcyclist to ride on the high-speed lane, which causes fatal accidents, he explained. Insufficient number of pedestrian bridges is the second main cause of road accidents on all four corridors, he added. “Speed control can reduce the severity of road traffic accidents,” said Zubair. “Median walls of U-turns should be terminated so the problems of traffic jams can be avoided on all corridors,” he suggested.

Arsenic in drinking water

Dr Alia B Munshi, the chief scientific officer at the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research complex laboratories, shared in her presentation how she found traces of arsenic in tap water in the coastal villages on the outskirts of Karachi. The amount of arsenic in tap water is eight parts per billion, which is very high, she said.

A large number of companies selling bottled water are merely selling non-mineral water that has passed through the reverse-osmosis process, she shared. Drilling and alternate ways of water has more contamination as compared to tap water supplied by the water board, she added. She traced cadmium, mercury and copper in the waters collected through alternative ways.      `

Water is a major source of minerals for the human body and the use of contaminated water in the city leads to potassium deficiency in a large number of residents, she said.

Wind turbine technologies

Dr Suhail Zaki Farooqui, the head of the Pakistan Council for the Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET), gave a lecture on the renewable energy resources in Pakistan. “Pakistani experts have indigenously developed vertical wind turbines whose generators and blades have no bolts,” he said. “All these innovations are in the patent process.”

These generators cost one-fifth less than other generators available across the world, he pointed out, adding that it was after many trials and errors that he successfully designed vertical wind turbines and its important parts. Apart from these three studies, scientists presented several other technical papers on topics ranging from cosmology to space sciences, climatic change, astrophysics in the two-day conference.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) decided to file a corruption reference against the Northern Institute of Medical Sciences, Abbottabad, the college’s chairperson Dr Muhammad Aziz among others.

The decision was made at the executive board meeting (EBM) of the bureau, headed by the NAB Chairperson, Qamar Zaman Chaudhry here on Wednesday, said an official press release.

In the medical college case, the individuals involved are accused of defrauding and cheating students causing a loss of Rs548,434,700 to the national exchequer.

Moreover, the board also authorised complaint verifications against Sindh Excise Minister Gian Chand Israni, Sindh Assembly Member Abdul Rauf, MNA Peer Noor Muhammad Shah Jeelani, Highways and Buildings X.En Hashim Channa, and Sindh Buildings Department Sub-Engineer Zulfiqar Arain.

Israni is accused of alleged misuse of authority and accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income. Rauf among others are accused of alleged corruption by misusing their authority in awarding illegal tendering/contracts in Sindh. Similarly, Channa, Arain and Jeelani have been accused of alleged corruption/corrupt practices, misuse of authority and accumulation of assets beyond known sources of income.

Meanwhile, the board also decided to authorise inquiries against Balochistan ex-minister Molvi Abdul Wasay, Abdullah Shah Ghazi Sugar Mills’ top management officials/owners Muhammad Irshad Butt, Qamarul Nisa, and Faiz Qadeer Butt, as well as officials of the Capital Development Authority.

Wasay is accused of alleged corruption and misuse of authority causing a loss of approximately Rs154.801 million to the national exchequer.

The mill officials are accused of alleged corruption and corrupt practices by not providing sugar to the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP)/ the Utility Stores Corporation (USC) as per terms and conditions of tender awarded, and by pledging stock reserved for the TCP with one of the national financial institution, causing a loss of approximately Rs1,311.527 million to the national kitty.

The CDA officials are accused of alleged corruption in non-recovery of mobilisation advance amounting to Rs123.192 million in the construction of cultural complex at Shakarparian, Islamabad, and wasteful expenditure on construction of cultural complex at the site amounting Rs313.952 million.

Meanwhile, the board in a case against officers/officials of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) authorised investigation against the trust officials.

The board authorised investigation against the officials regarding alleged illegal allotment of land measuring 260, 000 sq metres, receipt of illegal custom examination charges of Rs120 million in the premises of plot no 52 old KESC plot, and in alleged illegal allotment of plots to various land mafias.

In this case, the officials have been accused of corruption and corrupt practices by misuse of authority and criminal breach of trust, causing a loss of approximately Rs402 million to the national exchequer.

The board also authorised investigation against Tariq Awan, ex-secretary/director education Workers Welfare Board (WWB), K-P and others.

In this case, the officials are accused of corruption and misuse of authority in appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff in schools/technical institute etc run by the WWB, K-P, causing loss of millions of rupees to the national exchequer.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2015.

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