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DASHIAR CHHARA: Jubilant crowds celebrated Saturday as Bangladesh and India swapped tiny islands of land, ending one of the world’s most intractable border disputes that has kept thousands in stateless limbo for nearly seven decades.

As the clock struck one minute past midnight (1801 GMT Friday), thousands of people who had been living without schools, clinics or power for a generation erupted in cheers of celebration at their newfound citizenship.

“We have been in dark for 68 years,” said Russel Khandaker, 20, as he danced with friends in the Dashiar Chhara enclave, which belonged to India but has now became part of Bangladesh.

“We’ve finally seen the light,” he told AFP.

Read: Bangladesh, India exchange land islands in historic deal

A total of 162 tiny islands of land — 111 in Bangladesh and 51 in India — were officially handed over to the countries surrounding them on Saturday after Dhaka and New Delhi struck a border agreement in June.

The land-swap means some 50,000 people who have been living without a state to call their own since 1947 will now become part of the countries that surround their homes.

In Dashiar Chhara, thousands of people defied monsoon rains to celebrate, marching through rain-soaked muddy roads singing the Bangladeshi national anthem and shouting: “My country, your country. Bangladesh! Bangladesh!”

Others lit 68 candles to mark the end of “68 years of endless pain and indignity”.

Sharifa Akter, 20, held a candle in her hand and smiled. “I can now fulfil my dream to be a top government bureaucrat,” she told AFP.

Maidul Islam, 18, said the handover meant “we’re now human beings with full human rights.”

Read: India takes step toward resolving border dispute with Bangladesh

Officials from Bangladesh and India are set to hoist their respective national flags over their new territories on Saturday morning in formal ceremonies.

The enclaves date back to ownership arrangements made centuries ago between local princes.

The parcels of land survived partition of the subcontinent in 1947 after British rule and Bangladesh’s 1971 war with Pakistan.

Bangladesh endorsed a deal with India in 1974 in a bid to dissolve the pockets, but India only signed a final agreement in June when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Dhaka.

In the final hours before the handover, villagers held special feasts and joined prayers in mosques and Hindu temples to usher in the new era.

Prodeep Kumar Barman sang a devotional song praising Hindu Lord Krishna as he led his troupe near a temple at the main bazaar in Dashiar Chhara, singing: “Oh what a joy, what a joy!”

Plans for more lavish festivities have been scaled back as India is observing a period of national mourning for former president A. PJ Abdul Kalam, who died this week.

“This is the biggest celebration of my life. I can’t describe how I feel today,” said Parul Khatun, 35, a resident of the Indian enclave of Kot Bajni.

Both India and Bangladesh conducted surveys this month asking enclave residents to choose a nation.

The overwhelming majority of people living in Indian enclaves in Bangladesh opted for Bangladeshi citizenship, but nearly 1,000 people on the Bangladesh side opted to keep their Indian nationalities.

They now have to leave their homes by November for India where they will be resettled in the state of West Bengal.

The post Crowds cheer Bangladesh-India land swap after 70 years in limbo appeared first on The Express Tribune.

LAHORE: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif urged the affluent Pakistanis on Friday to invest their wealth in the country rather than spending it on amassing private assets.

He was speaking at the inauguration of construction at the 1,320 megawatt coal power plants in Sahiwal.

Sharif said it was a pity that Chinese companies had shown confidence in the country’s economy but local firms were still reluctant to expand their investments in the country. He criticised people who had accumulated assets like bungalows, planes and helicopters rather than re-investing their savings in the economy.

“It is your national responsibility to re-invest your profits in the economy. The nation will not forgive you if you fail to do so,” he said. Furthermore, he said people would snatch the wealth of such investors if they did not take the initiative and invest it in the economy on their own.

The chief minister said under the agreement signed with the Chinese company the 1,320 megawatt power plants would start producing electricity from December 2017. He said the company had assured the government that construction would be completed by September 2017. He said no other power generation project in the country had been completed in such a short span of time. He said the construction company had also assured the government that the plants would be equipped with state-of-the-art environment-friendly technology.

Sharif said the twin coal power plants in Sahiwal would be the first of the kind in the country. “There is no other plant in the country generating power from coal,” he said.

Sharif said the country was facing a severe energy crisis when the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz formed federal government in 2013. He praised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his hard work that, he said, had led to the signing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor agreement. He said $33 billion of the $43 billion pledged by China for development projects in the country was earmarked for energy generation projects. He said Pakistani had been in the middle of a war against terrorist outfits and it was remarkable that China had gone ahead with the agreement. “China could have chosen another country in the region to make the investment. It selected Pakistan because of our longstanding friendship,” he said.

Discussing progress on the national action plan against terrorism, Sharif saluted the security and law enforcement agencies for their achievements against terrorist outfits. He hoped that terrorism would soon be defeated and energy crisis solved, paving the way for the growth of the national economy.

Meanwhile, Sharif also criticised the sit-ins held by the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) in 2014. He said the sit-ins had adversely affected the economy. “The economy has yet to recover from the impact of the sit-ins,” he said. Sharif said because of the sit-ins the Chinese president had to postpone his visit to the country to sign the agreement last year.

Ruyi Group Chairman Qiu Yafu, Hauneng Shandong Power Company president Wang Wenzong, Chinese Consul General Yu Boren and State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali were also preset on the occasion.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015. 

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ISLAMABAD: We live in an unjust and discriminatory society where the majority of people do not have human, educational, health, political, economic and social rights, including the right to employment. In the latter case, they face various forms of discrimination. Contractual employment is a classic example of deep-seated discrimination in our society. In many organisations, contractual jobs at all levels are created for a chosen few on the sole criterion of kinship, cronyism and flattery.

After careful review of various factors, including unemployment of well-qualified young people in Pakistan, I have concluded that the repeated extensions in contractual employment for the proverbial good-for-nothing people have irreparably devastated organisational governance and performance in different public-sector organisations. Retired people are often rehired after aggressively seeking contractual employment and get repeated extensions as if they are indispensable to the organisations. Indeed, I strongly believe that no one is indispensable in this ephemeral world.

Had our people in power applied their mind and appointed contractual employees on the basis of qualification and character, the messy situation that many of our public-sector enterprises are in could have been avoided.

Hashim Abro

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st,  2015.

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KARACHI: I endorse the views expressed by Dr Raza Khan, in his article, “Stabilising the tribal areas” in The Express Tribune (July 30). However, I would like the rehabilitation process that he suggested for Fata to be extended to Karachi. We have to bring our misguided youth that was once involved in street crimes back to normal life. Certainly, they have families to take care of financially. Curbing crime is all right, but we cannot afford to treat criminals as criminals after they have paid for their ill-deeds. Such people need to be rehabilitated in society. We need to give those people opportunities, who sincerely wish to mend their ways. A general amnesty may be considered for those not involved in heinous crimes like kidnapping, murder, and rape.

If we fail to rehabilitate those involved in petty street crimes, we may lose out on having the services of intelligent people who in better circumstances would be peaceful, law-abiding citizens.

Khalilur Rehman Rijai

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st,  2015.

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BEIRUT: Al Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, Al-Nusra Front, said on Friday that it had captured “moderate” rebel fighters who were receiving training from the United States.

Al-Nusra accused Washington of recruiting “forces from what it calls ‘the moderate opposition’… to undergo a training and rehabilitation programme run by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

“A few days ago, one of these groups — called Division 30 — entered Syria… so Al-Nusra arrested several soldiers of this division,” the group said in an online statement.

It did not specify how many rebels had been captured, or where or when the incident took place.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group had reported that Al-Nusra kidnapped eight rebels from Division 30 in a village in the northern province of Aleppo late Wednesday.

On Thursday, a US defence department spokesperson denied the report.

In its statement, Al-Nusra accused Division 30 of being “agents of American interests and projects in the area, to fight the ‘terrorist organisations,’ as they (the US and its rebel allies) described it.”

The militant group said Division 30 had coordinated with aircraft from the US-led coalition attacking militants in Syria to strike Al-Nusra positions.

“We warn the soldiers of this division not to proceed with the American plan… Their return to the truth and the right way will be more beneficial,” the statement said.

Also on Friday, Al-Nusra launched an offensive on Division 30 headquarters in northern Aleppo province.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page about the attack, Division 30 said five of its members had been killed and 18 had been wounded in the clashes.

Combined with the eight kidnapped rebels, this would mean at least 13 of the 54 original Division 30 members who entered Syria in mid-July have been rendered out of combat.

Division 30 called on rebels to come to their aid in defending the base, and demanded that Al-Nusra stop “spilling the blood of Muslims.”

Syria’s conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests, but has devolved into a multi-front civil war among rebels, regime forces, Kurdish fighters and militant groups.

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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued on Friday notice to the K-Electric on an intervener application filed by four more social rights activists seeking permission to join proceedings against the privatisation of the power utility.

Headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, the division bench was hearing an intervener plea jointly filed by singer Jawad Ahmed, the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, the Tehrik-e-Niswan and the Ajrak Social Welfare Society.

A group of non-government organisations had filed a petition, pleading to declare the privatisation of the power utility void following hours-long power cuts during the heat wave that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,300 people in the city in June.

Read: Karachi heatwave death toll crosses 1,200: Health Department

Meanwhile, the KE management filed its comments, denying that it was to be blamed for the tragic deaths or injuries. Referring to various news reports, the power utility said there was no communication by any government authority or department giving any forewarning as to the extent of the heat wave.

Secondly, a majority of those who passed away were homeless. Thirdly, it has not been established that there was a direct correlation between the load shedding and deaths. “Had this been the case, areas such as Sibi and Larkana, where the load shedding regimes are much higher and the temperature reached 49 degrees centigrade, would have seen more deaths, which is clearly not the case,” said the report. “However, the fact that this did not happen is proof that there is no correlation between the deaths caused by the heat wave and the alleged lack of electricity/load shedding.”

Read: Feeling the heat, Taliban threatens K-Electric against power outages

The KE management insisted that load shedding was reduced during the peak of the heat wave from the beginning of Ramadan, whereas the maximum load shedding prior to the month was 7.5 hours (in some areas). “At present, approximately 60 per cent of the city of Karachi is exempted from load shedding and this includes the industrial areas, which are the backbone of the commerce and industry in our metropolis,” the power utility maintained. It claimed that the 143 hospitals were exempted from load shedding throughout the city.

Claiming to have improved the system, KE maintained that it had reduced the losses of transmission and distribution, which were taking place due to illegal abstraction of electricity, theft or otherwise, from 36 per cent to 25.3 per cent till June 30, 2014.

This figure has been further brought down by June 30, 2015 to approximately 23.7 percent.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015.

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KARACHI: Around 1,000 police personnel, including 500 elite police commandos, will be deputed to provide security to the Chinese nationals expected to visit Sindh for the Pak-China Economic Corridor megaprojects.

This was decided at a meeting chaired by the IGP Sindh, Ghulam Hyder Jamali. Rapid response force DIG Dr Amin Yusufzai, who was nominated as focal person for this project, gave a presentation to the participants.

He said that the Sindh IG had already ordered 500 police commandos to be placed at his disposal for the security of the Chinese nationals in the province.

Read: Pak-China economic corridor: Army chief vows to defeat enemy’s designs

He also submitted a draft of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for their security.

Jamali directed the immediate establishment of a dedicated provincial foreigners’ security cell at the Central Police Office and district foreigners’ security cells in each district of Sindh, to ensure security for the 1,600 Chinese nationals already working on 125 different projects in the province.

He directed the Sindh reserve police DIG to immediately place 500 more police personnel at Yusufzai’s disposal, which would raise the total strength to 1,000.

Read: Pak-China Economic Corridor: Alteration in section of original route opposed

It was decided to appoint at least 2,000 retired armed forces personnel on contract basis to make up for the manpower shortage, for which a summary will be submitted to the government soon.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015.

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KARACHI: At least four suspected militants were killed during an encounter with the paramilitary force in the outskirts of the city on Friday.

According to Rangers officials, the encounter took place at Kathore Road near Sassi Toll Plaza during a Rangers raid following a tip-off regarding the presence of suspected militants.

On seeing the Rangers, the militants resorted to indiscriminate firing and tried to flee, said the Rangers spokesperson. In the exchange of fire, the Rangers killed four militants, he added.

Read: Former party worker among three killed in Karachi

The bodies of the militants were shifted to Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth after the completion of medico-legal formalities at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

The militants have been identified as Asif alias Ajmal, Amir Khan, Abdul Waseem alias Channay Wala and Younus Ahmed alias Kala.

The deceased were affiliated with banned organisations and were involved in various crimes including murders, extortion and robberies, claimed the Rangers spokesperson. Weapons were also recovered from their possession, he added.

Read: The right to criticise: HRCP calls for greater transparency in Karachi operation

The encounter occurred a day after the police killed five members of Taliban and two gangsters from Lyari in separate encounters in District West and City.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015.

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KARACHI: At least 63 clinics were sealed and 14 quacks were detained in different parts of the city. The action was taken on the directives of commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui instead of the health department that is primarily responsible for keeping a check on the business.

The commissioner has directed deputy commissioners to visit their respective areas daily, report to him weekly and take action against such practitioners who play with the lives of innocent people.

According to the anti-quackery committee of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), around 60,000 such clinics and maternity homes are being run by quacks in different parts of the city, especially slums. Dozens of such doctors play with the lives of people in Keamari alone. Families have also raised their voices but are unable to take action due to the absence of a proper platform.

Read: Healthcare challenge: Campaign against quacks soon, says Salman Rafiq

“These clinics exist in narrow streets and quacks, for a few hundred rupees, play with the lives of people,” said Siddiqui, adding that the administration will not allow anyone to run such illegal activities. He also advised people to be wary of quacks and complain to the administration about their presence anywhere.

Appreciating the steps taken by the administration, anti-quackery committee secretary Dr Abdul Ghafoor Shoro said that an extensive crackdown is required against quacks. “The campaign should continue for a long time,” he urged.

Dr Shoro said that there is no exact data about the total count of such clinics in the city. “The data of 60,000 is an old one,” he said. “The number is around 100,000 now.”

Read: Unqualified: SHC orders health authorities to take action against quacks

According to some senior medical officers, quacks are being supported by political parties and criminals. They say that it is not an easy job to shut down these clinics forever.

“Several clinics were raided and closed a few months back in Lyari, but all have reopened recently,” a medical officer requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune. “The health department, politicians and law enforcing agencies are involved and support quacks,” he alleged, saying quacks seem more powerful than real doctors.

“The Health Commission Bill is the only solution,” suggested Dr Shoro. He said that the health department has no power to take action and the administration can help the department to taken action against quacks.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015.

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KARACHI: 

The students of NED University, among others, walked along Clifton beach in support of a green Karachi.

The aim of the walk was to spread awareness about planting trees and ensuring a cleaner environment in Karachi. A large number of families and students from different schools, colleges and universities took part in the walk.

“We have arranged this walk to raise awareness of the advantages of a clean environment,” said Abrar Anwar, a student of NED’s mechanical department. Anwar said many students from his university had joined the citizens of Karachi for this great cause.

Read: Seminar marks Environment Day

Imran Ali, a representative of the Karachi Youth Model United Nations said through these steps, they were representing a side of Karachi that some may truly be unaware of.

Ali added that once this walk was completed, they would sit with the representatives of the NED University student body to jointly ask the Sindh government to donate plants that the students can plant in the city.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015.

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KARACHI: There has been a rise in the number of madrassas in Pakistan lately. The number of madrassas in 1947 was 300, whereas today the numbers are estimated to be 35,000.

There is no public record of the number of registered and unregistered madrassas in Pakistan. There is no distinction between a maktab and madrassa either.

The disparity exists in terms of government records as well, as it indicates that 9.3 per cent of all school-going children are madrassa students. However, the World Bank indicates that these children are less than one per cent.

Read: A sorry state of affairs: ‘40% of Hyderabad’s children do not go to school’

These are the salient features of a report published by HIVE Karachi, titled ‘The Madrassa Conundrum’.

The report goes on to say that external stimuli have always been the source of madrassa reforms in Pakistan rather than an internal consistent stance. HIVE’s lead researcher, Umair Khalil, identified the 9/11 attacks, the London bombings of 2007 and the recent Army Public School attack in Peshawar as the key stimuli that provoked the government to take action.

Answering a question about the stratified nature of madrassa education, Riaz Sheikh of Szabist disagreed that modern madrassa education has anything to do with class or economic status. “The issue is not the madrassa, but its politicisation by the state that gives it the perception of what it is today,” he explained.

Read: IHC orders action against madrassa

How the Deobandi school of thought gained popularity was an interesting aspect of the discussion. Historian Mubarak Ali was of the opinion that, in the early days of Pakistan, the state had nothing to do with these madrassas and only a handful existed. Sheikh further explained the phenomenon as an ideology that supported jihadis. “In the wake of the war of 1857, the British opted for an anti-jihadist approach. Thus, Ahmedis and Barelvis mushroomed as a consequence of this,” he explained.

The report also suggests reforms to the government for the proper management of madrassas. Dr Mubarak, however, opined that unless they are introduced by the parliament in the form of legislation, he does not see any reformation likely in the near future. “The recent encounter of Malik Ishaq and the national action plans are only a means to calm down the emotions of the people,” he claimed.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015. 

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KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) observed on Friday that the level of corruption in the Sindh police had increased by up to threefold since the incumbent inspector-general, Ghulam Haider Jamali, took charge of the force.

The apex court threw out the second consecutive report submitted by the top cop on the distribution of the funds provided by the provincial government to strengthen its investigation wing.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, was hearing an application regarding the withholding of funds meant for the police’s investigation wing. Sindh Police IG Ghulam Haider Jamali and Finance AIG Javed Mehar appeared in the court to answer the queries.

Read: Who will guard the guards? Half of Karachi’s police stations working under dirty cops

IG Jamali submitted a second report on the disbursement of the funds allocated by the government. Earlier, the bench had rejected the IG’s first report and ordered him to file a new one. The bench members grew visibly irritated when they found that neither the Finance AIG nor IG Jamali had provided the requisite details.

“Tentatively, we picked out one district of Hyderabad, in which, according to the police IG, 3,616 criminal cases were registered between July 2014 and June 2015,” remarked Justice Muslim. “A sum of Rs3 million was disbursed to this district for investigations and a further Rs2 million on our intervention,” he remarked, while going through a portion of the report.

“We have calculated this and it comes to Rs829.64 per case. If this is the amount that is disbursed for investigations, the investigation officer can never probe the matter properly,” the judges noted in the order available with The Express Tribune.

Read: Official visit: Sindh Police lauded by home minister

To the bench’s query, the finance department officials informed that the police had requested for Rs316 million towards the costs of investigations, out of which they were given Rs140 million and a supplementary budget of Rs75 million was also released in April 2015. The bench was informed that out of the aforesaid amount, the police could not utilise Rs12 million.

When the judges confronted IG Jamali, he could not offer any explanation as to why this amount was not utilised. “The level of corruption has increased threefold in the police since you have assumed charge,” said Justice Muslim. He added that situation of law and order in city was worsening but the IG had withheld the funds given to strengthen the investigation wing. “It appears there is no system within the police to oversee all this,” said Justice Muslim. At this stage, the advocate-general Abdul Fateh Malik intervened and requested for time to convey the court’s displeasure to the competent authority.

“In spite of the police’s efforts in Karachi and outside it, the system has not improved,” the bench told AG Malik.

Turning to the IG, Justice Muslim told him that the living conditions in the colonies meant to house police personnel were worse than those meant for sanitary workers.

The bench questioned the IG whether the funds were provided to the police only to buy helicopters and armored police carriers, instead of strengthening the force. They remarked that it seemed that nobody bothered to take interest in matters related to investigations and the families of those cops, who had been martyred by criminals.

Rejecting the report, the bench ordered chief secretary to appear on August 4 so that he could appraise the court on the working of the police as no serious efforts had been made by the IG to improve the conditions within the department.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2015.

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BIRMINGHAM: Ian Bell delighted a capacity crowd at his Edgbaston home ground with a sparkling unbeaten fifty as England defeated Australia by eight wickets to win the third Test on Friday.

Victory, achieved with more than two days to spare, saw England go 2-1 up in the five-match Ashes series.

England, set a modest victory target of 121, finished on 124 for two shortly before tea on Friday’s third day.

Bell, promoted to number three after his place was called into question following a run of low scores, was 65 not out — his second fifty of the match.

Joe Root, who struck the winning boundary off Mitchell Marsh, was 38 not out in an unbroken stand of 73.

This match represented a remarkable turnaround from England’s humiliating 405-run defeat in the second Test at Lord’s which saw Australia level the series at 1-1.

But whereas that clash had taken place on a largely placid pitch, the course of this Test owed much to Australia captain Michael Clarke’s decision to bat first on a seaming surface offering sideways movement.

James Anderson, England’s all-time most successful Test bowler but wicketless at Lord’s, led the way with an Ashes-best six for 47 as Australia were dismissed for just 136 in their first innings.

And recalled fast bowler Steven Finn, the man of the match, took a Test-best six for 79 in Australia’s second innings 265.

But come Friday, Anderson had been ruled out of both the remainder of this match and next week’s fourth Test at Trent Bridge with a side strain suffered while bowling on Thursday.

“It’s an amazing game, isn’t it?,” Bell, a member of the England side that won the first Test by 169 runs in Cardiff, told Sky Sports.

“It was a tough week after Lord’s. The bowlers set the tone on day one, it’s been a great week for us but there’s a lot of hard work for next week as well.”

As for his own efforts at Edgbaston, the 33-year-old Bell, who was appearing in his 113th Test, said: “I hope that’s the start of me getting back in form.”

Meanwhile Clarke, looking to guide Australia to a first Ashes series win in Britain in 14 years, said: “It’s very hard to explain.

“Credit has to go to England, they bowled well on day one and we didn’t bat anywhere near we’d have liked.

“I still would have batted first, you can see the wicket has deteriorated.

“It swung and seamed throughout the whole game. We probably had the best batting conditions, we just didn’t execute with bat and ball.”

England captain Alastair Cook added: “The way Jimmy (Anderson) bowled in that first innings was fantastic, but I don’t think it was a 140 all out pitch.

“You always wonder whether cricket has a sting in the tail, but it’s good to see Ian Bell back in form.”

England saw Cook and fellow left-handed opener Adam Lyth both fall cheaply in their run-chase on Friday.

But Bell took charge with a flurry of four fours in seven balls off Mitchell Starc, including one down the ground and a classic cover-drive.

He was, however, given a reprieve on 20 when, with England 35 for one, he edged Starc to second slip only for Clarke to drop the two-handed catch.

It summed up a miserable match for Clarke, whose run of low scores in Tests continued with innings of 10 and three at Edgbaston.

Bell’s late-cut boundary off Starc saw him to his second fifty of the match, off 68 balls with seven fours.

As England neared victory, there was mass barracking of Australia fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, repeatedly taunted with a derogatory song regarding his accuracy that became commonplace during England’s 2010/11 Ashes series win ‘Down Under’.

It appeared to get to the left-arm quick, who aborted his run-up for one delivery and then bowled from well behind the crease before he was taken off.

Australia resumed Friday on 168 for seven, 23 runs ahead.

The two not out batsmen overnight, Peter Nevill and Starc, both went on to make fifties after five of Australia’s top six failed to get to double figures in the innings.

The post Bell sees England to Ashes series lead over Australia appeared first on The Express Tribune.

If you’ve been fighting your natural hair texture since grade school — especially if you were born with curls, then this one’s for you. From flat-irons to straightening serums, you’ve tried it all and after trial and error, you found a customised secret to semi-smooth hair, but do you really need to toil so much to achieve a straighter, smoother texture? As compiled from realsimple.com and stylecaster.com, discover plenty of reasons to embrace curly hair.

Read: 6 ways to get gleaming hair this summer

Curls will save you time

Whether you blow-dry, flatiron or pay a professional to do the heavy lifting, taking it from curly to straight is a time suck. Cancelling your blowout appointment and spending less time tugging at your hair in front of the mirror frees up precious minutes in your schedule. For a simple, speedy, DIY plan that starts in the shower, use a hydrating shampoo and conditioner and only comb curly hair when it’s wet. This is a curly hair commandment, say hair experts at Redken salons, New York, adding, “Never touch your hair after the shower, except with a paper towel to blot excess moisture.”

Curls are easier on your arms

Put down your hot tools, people. Maybe juggling a paddle brush and a blow dryer are in part responsible for those strong biceps, but creating enough tension to take curls into nonexistence is exhausting (sometimes even painful). The worst though is putting in all of that hard work to smoothen your hair, only to realise you’ve worked up a sweat that’s causing your hairline to fuzz up further. Wearing your hair curly and giving your hair tools a break does a body good while adding to your bohemian vibe.

Read: 6 hair oils these celebrities use that you should too!

Curls are healthier for your hair

Your flat iron might work wonders on your hair, but not without paying a price. Heating it consistently fries it and over time, results in dryness and split ends. Unplugging your blow dryer, flat iron, and curling iron will give your hair much needed respite. Before making the switch to team curls, have your ends and layers “dusted” (a haircutting term that means to take off less length than a trim), so your curls have bounce and shape, but still enough length. If your curls are tight, grow them out with long layers so they’re a bit more relaxed, says celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, who believes the secret to good curls are long layers.

Curls act as a free accessory

Curly hair is the finishing touch to any outfit. Pair them with a maxi and you’re an avant-garde goddess. Wear them with jeans and a white tee and you look effortlessly chic. The low-maintenance style is having a moment and you should take advantage of it. Another plus — you can skip a few washes. Curls, in fact, get better as they get a little dirty so don’t be afraid of separating them and tousling them up a bit. And, don’t be afraid to oil them once in a while. Sarson ka tel along with olive oil can be super beneficial for curly hair, since these oils promote shine and softness.

You can embrace any weather

With straight hair, you almost always must avoid water at all costs, even if it means using shower caps during body showers or staying indoors while it rains. Because when straight strands do get wet, the hair’s texture might change, making it look less sleek and unsmart. All of that time, money, and effort to get poker-smooth hair goes to waste if the day is windy, wet or warm. Now, if curls get wet, or struck by wild winds, or you get sweaty after a workout, it’s no big deal. First, washing and styling isn’t a tedious process. And second, damp curls can easily be revived with a little oil or whipping them up into a textured topknot.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st,  2015.

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BEVERLY HILLS / CALIFORNIA: HBO’s most-watched series, the medieval fantasy drama Game of Thrones, will likely continue through three more seasons, a network executive said on Thursday, as he defended the show’s gritty violence.

The sixth season is currently being filmed. Executives have planned to run at least seven seasons and are discussing with the show’s creators how much longer the show will extend beyond that, said Michael Lombardo, president of HBO programming.

“They are feeling two more years after six,” Lombardo said at a Television Critics Association meeting.

Lombardo said he’d like to have more beyond that and would also be open to a prequel to the story of the epic battle for the Iron Throne in the fictional kingdom of Westeros, based on George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books.

Read: ‘Game of thrones’, ‘Captain America’ visual effects editor dies after lioness attack

This year, Game of Thrones hit 20 million viewers on average for its fifth season, which received 24 Emmy nominations including a best drama nod.

It also generated controversy for a brutal rape scene and burning of a child. Lombardo defended its graphic depictions as part of the story and said he supported show creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff.

“This show has had violence as part of its many threads from the first episode,” he said. “There are no two showrunners more careful about not overstepping what they think the line is.”

The fifth season also ended by killing off one of its lead characters and fan favorite, Jon Snow, but viewers have been speculating that the character will return — not that Lombardo was giving away anything on Thursday.

Read: ‘Game of Thrones’ finale: Pakistani fans more shocked than surprised

“Everything I’ve seen, heard and read, Jon Snow is dead,” he said.

Game of Thrones this year also helped launch HBO’s standalone streaming service HBO Now, where viewers can watch HBO programming at any time without a cable subscription, as television continues to move toward on-demand viewing.

Lombardo told Reuters he was happy with HBO Now’s rollout but would not reveal subscriber numbers.

He also said marketing has become more challenging amid an explosion of critically acclaimed shows. Viewers of HBO, a unit of Time Warner Inc, routinely tune in Sunday nights, but other days are less certain, he said.

“I worry about that all the time,” he said. “Particularly with a digital platform and on-demand where things are available, I think quality will ultimately win.” 

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st,  2015.

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NEW DELHI: After adding drama to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Goliyon Ki Rasleela — Ram Leela with her costumes, designer Anju Modi is working with him on his Bajirao Mastani dream project. She says the filmmaker has absolute clarity on how he wants the characters to be developed, portrayed and perceived.

Modi, who styled Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra in the 2013 released film, is again styling for both the ladies for Bajirao Mastani, and the designer has immersed herself into research along with Bhansali to nail the right look of the characters.

“For the research, since the movie focuses on a specific period in our history when the Maratha Peshwa (Bajirao) rose to prominence and the region of Maharashtra, we had our work cut out for us”.

Read: Bajirao Mastani: No rivalry between Priyanka and Deepika

“Sanjay Leela Bhansali is a very detail-oriented person — he is methodical and has absolute clarity on the way he wants the characters to be developed, portrayed and perceived. Bhansali and I travelled to various parts of Maharashtra to research the costumes and how we can best highlight and detail out the nuances of each of the three protagonists’ characters and personalities,” she said.

Working with Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra is also a delight for Modi. Amazed by the professionalism they have at this young age, Modi said, “In Ram-Leela, I got the opportunity to work with two of the top leading ladies — Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra (for her song in the movie), and got to design costumes for both these beautiful actors and Ranveer Singh.

Read: Bajirao Mastani first look: Ranveer Deepika and Priyanka ready to set screen on fire!

“It has been an absolute delight working with all three of them! They’re all highly professional at such a young age, and to see their passion and dedication towards their craft is nice to see.”

Modi, who launched her label in 1990, is one of the founding members of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), the industry’s apex body.

Behind the scenes, Modi has been tirelessly working with master artisans across the country. She has delicately revived age-old Indian techniques, including vegetable dyeing, block printing and embroidery. She has also been working on contemporising traditional crafts like Chanderi weaving, Kota fabrics, Varanasi zari work and Bandhani printing.

When she is working on period movies, which require use of traditional Indian textile, Modi finds it “intellectually stimulating and gratifying” to research and work on such projects that “celebrate and showcase our rich history and textile heritage”.

“In fact, my collections (outside of costume design) are always steeped in research. I suppose it is my area of comfort,” said the designer, whose couture line at the ongoing edition of Amazon India Fashion Week (AICW) 2015 draws its inspiration from one of the richest ancient civilisations Persia. 

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st,  2015.

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MUMBAI: Actor Rani Mukerji, who exchanged vows with Yash Raj Films (YRF) head honcho Aditya Chopra earlier this year, says she is currently enjoying “being married and doing nothing”.

In an interview to Vogue India August 2015 issue, Rani has spoken about life post marriage, her choice of films and her future plans.

Asked if she sees herself producing or directing a film in the future, the actor, who has completed two decades in Bollywood, said: “There’s nothing stopping me. Adi (Aditya Chopra) would never say no. But I see the way my husband works. He’s the most hard working person in his studio and the last one to leave at night. I wouldn’t want to risk his or his company’s name by doing something juvenile.

Read: Parineeti Chopra to wrestle in ‘Sultan’

“For now, I’m enjoying being married and doing nothing.”

As for five years from now, she wants to see herself doing some “kickass films” and having “lovely babies beside me as I go to the set”.

Rani, who has delivered powerful performances in films like No One Killed Jessica and Mardaani, credits three men, including her husband, for spotting her talent in her initial days.

“Yes, he (Aditya Chopra) did, and so did Shah Rukh (Khan). Aamir (Khan) recommended me to Mukesh Bhatt and Vikram Bhatt for Ghulam (released in 1998). These three men have been integral to my career,” said the actor.

She also recalled the time when filmmaker Karan Johar asked her to lose weight before Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Read: Raees-Sultan clash: ‘Salman and I will do everything together’ says Shah Rukh

“Karan is so hyper. If you see that scene today, where’s the weight? I was actually happy that I didn’t look like everyone else. Today, people think about it far more than we used to,” said the actor, whose film choices have changed as she feels that “it’s embarrassing for a 37-year-old to do the roles she did in her twenties.”

“I’m not delusional. I’m conscious of what the audience wants to see me in,” she stressed. 

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st,  2015.

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KARACHI: Her claim-to-fame may be the countless dramas and gorgeous music videos like Jal’s Sajni she has starred in, but as per popular belief, anchoring is where she makes a stand. This misconception about her career choices confuses Juggun Kazim, who doesn’t believe in being typecast as a performer.

“I am a full-time actor and a full-time anchor and I want to erase this misconception that I can only take up an anchor’s job,” Kazim tells The Express Tribune.

Read: Pakistani women look beautiful, no matter what they wear: Vidya Balan

For Kazim, it works both ways and she wants to be acknowledged likewise. However, it seems like Kazim has taken the misconception quite seriously as the actor is not only set for some action on the big screen but is also ready to launch her own prêt-line.

She will feature in Adnan Ahmed’s film Sedare, which is being produced by Moomal Productions and is now in the post-production phase. “It’s a love story cum sci-fi flick. It was a really cool script and I enjoyed working on it.” She will be playing the female lead alongside, Robin Dunn and Ali Kazmi in the film. Sedare is slated to be released later in 2015.

With so many films ready to release this year, we are unsure whether Sedare will release on time or not but we are quite sure that her clothing line has the potential for being a successful venture.

Read: Former Pakistani TV actress becomes UK MP

“I will be launching a clothing line shortly; it is a Pret line per se along with accessories. This will be a very affordable collection.  I will be lending my creative abilities too.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st,  2015.

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The post More feathers in Juggun Kazim’s cap appeared first on The Express Tribune.

KARACHI: 

Regarded as one of the pioneers of rock music in Pakistan and one of the country’s first true ‘rockstars’ —  it is very hard to keep a musician of Ali Azmat’s stature away from the limelight.

The singer who has not released a lot of new music of late, and has been busy performing concerts and live shows, is all set to hit the studio once again. Speaking to The Express Tribune the singer revealed his upcoming projects, one of which involves contributing two songs for the upcoming Pakistani film Hijrat.

“There are a few major projects in the work, one of which includes two songs for the movie Hijrat,” said the former Junoon vocalist. Azmat, who has previously contributed songs like Garaj Baras and Maula to famous Bollywood movies like Paap and Jism 2, also revealed that for now, he does not have any projects lined up across the border.

Read: From ramp to the reel

Ali Azmat will also mark his comeback to Coke Studio this year.

“For now I have no work lined up in India and will be concentrating on projects in Pakistan,” he added.

Having made his feature film acting debut with role in 2013 blockbuster Waar, Azmat is all set to appear in another movie very soon, the details of which he did not disclose.

Read: From ramp to the reel

Since his last appearance on the popular music show Coke Studio Season 6, Azmat has gone onto perform judging duties on the inaugural season of the music show Pakistani Idol and even collaborating on the song Baba Bandook with Haroon for the animated television show Burka Avengers.

With his previous appearances on Coke Studio being during Rohail Hyatt’s years (in Season 1 and 6), Azmat will be returning to the show after a gap of two years with Strings now assuming the mantle as the show’s producers.

Despite multiple collaborations and projects already in the pipeline it is the news about his album that is bound to generate a wave of excitement amongst the musician’s fan-base —  popularly referred to as Ali-ens.

“Plans for the [third] album are also in place and we will hopefully start recording it very soon.”

It has been almost seven years since the musician released an album. His last album, Klashinfolk, which was released in 2008 featured his frequent collaborators Kamran ‘Mannu’ Zafar, Omran ‘Momo’ Shafique and Louis J Pinto (aka Gumby) — a team he hopes to get back in the studio once again for his latest venture.

With the music industry gradually getting back up on its feet and other notable musicians announcing plans for an album release in the near future, it is definitely a time for Pakistani music fans to rejoice.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st,  2015.

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The post Rock steady like Ali Azmat appeared first on The Express Tribune.

ISLAMABAD: 

Food and hospitality consultant Raza Abbas is unsurprisingly a foodie. When talking about food, the glint in his eyes reflects the big dreams he has for the food industry in Pakistan. A leading light for many, who wish to pursue their dream of becoming a food-service consultant in the country, the chef, food blogger and soon-to-be restaurant owner, shares his journey of how he stumbled upon pursuing this field and the myopic view of running restaurants prevailing in the country.

Having extensive experience with restaurateurs in Islamabad and Lahore, Raza is now opening an eatery that will serve Pakistani cuisine in Dubai. The consultant recently took part in and bagged the second prize at a cooking competition there, where semi-professional and professional chefs from different countries participated. He’s currently writing a cook book and working on launching his food blog.

Read: Eating out: The fault in our food

Born and raised in Lahore, the now 26-year-old Raza recalls pointing out directions to his favourite restaurant, which was located at a 30-minute distance from his home, when he was only three. By the age of 12, he had tried and tested almost all kinds of cuisines.

Raza grew up like most children in Pakistan. He attended school and college in Lahore, but things took a rough turn when he lost his father to a tragic accident when he was 18. He knew he had no choice but to find a job to finance his education. He started working at his aunt’s restaurant in Lahore. “I spent my initial days washing dishes in a 110-degree kitchen,” he says laughing.

He worked at the restaurant for about four years, quickly learning the ropes of the business, and was soon appointed as the head chef. “I paid for my undergraduate education in Accounting and Finance during this time, but soon realised that I didn’t want to spend my life working as an accountant,” he shares.

What Raza accidentally stumbled upon became his passion and led him to pursue a degree in Thai cuisine at Blue Elephant in Thailand. “Once I moved back to Pakistan, I got in touch with local restaurateurs and businessmen to raise awareness about food and hospitality consultants, and their role in making a food business successful,” explains Raza.

Read: Master chef: Quick recipes for a restaurant-like Iftar

They say that a food consultant is to a restaurant what an architect is to a building. “We deal with the budgeting, menu design, tabletop design, décor and chef training,” he shares. Speaking about setting up a successful business venture, Raza states, “The reason why most restaurants fail, despite heavy investments, is that they overlook the importance of an expert, who is needed to develop faster and easier workflows with the staff, train the chefs, and make the space different from other food joints operating in the country.”

Raza laments the loopholes in the local food industry, urging the need to address them. “The main issue is that businessmen in Pakistan invest in restaurants, which have a great ambience, and hire a competitor’s chef, but still fail to provide quality food with consistency,” he points out.

Restaurant owners have just recently begun to realise the importance of having a customised menu that offers dishes, designed exclusively for them by a food consultant. It’s otherwise common for food businesses to duplicate items off the menus of successful restaurants in the hopes of receiving the same response from customers. Raza feels it’s better for businesses to carve their unique identity and recognise that, by providing good food and service, customers will respond positively to their offerings.

“The only piece of advice I’d like to give to aspiring food consultants is that they shouldn’t hesitate to start from scratch. Washing dishes and mopping floors will help you understand how a restaurant business works,” he suggests. “It’s critical to take into consideration the market you’re operating in, adapt yourself to changing industry trends, while maintaining a unique element in your work.”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st,  2015.

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The post Putting his cards on the dining table appeared first on The Express Tribune.

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