Daily The Patriot edition of 21-07-22

PM summons emergency meeting over economic turmoil 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: In light of the recent increase in dollar rates and the current state of the economy, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has called an urgent meeting of economic and financial officials. Details indicate that the PM has convened an economic and finance committee to develop a plan to combat the recent rise in dollar rates and the ensuing economic unrest. The team would also give a status report to the PM. According to the SBP data, the dollar rate has reached an all-time high against the Pakistani rupee and is currently trading at Rs 225 in the interbank market. Political unrest wreaked havoc on the currency market for the second consecutive day. According to details, the greenback spiked sharply by Rs3.01 in the interbank market to settle at Rs 225. The USD is trading at Rs226-227 in the open bank market. The current account position, news headlines, and local instability all contribute to the daily currency volatility, according to the "market-determined exchange rate mechanism," which the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) blamed for the 11 rupee change in the exchange rate in just two days. The SBP said that”better measure" of the rupee's strength is the actual effective exchange rate, which takes into account the currencies in which Pakistan trades in inflation-adjusted terms. This was apparently done in an effort to downplay the decline.

According to the SBP data, the dollar rate has reached an all-time high against the Pakistani rupee and is currently trading at Rs 225 in the interbank market.

Algeria keen to enhance institutional cooperation with Pakistan

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: At Parliament House on Wednesday, Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani and Algerian Ambassador H.E. Brahim Romani spoke about the friendly and bilateral ties that Pakistan and the Republic of Algeria currently share. Sanjrani stated during the discussion that Pakistan and Algeria have long-standing close ties because of their shared faith, same cultural values, and cooperative foreign policies. The gathering also covered highlighting the necessity of cooperation in the modern day. He emphasised the importance of Pakistan's relations with Algeria and urged the two countries to strengthen their cooperation in the area of information technology. The Chairman, while talking to the Ambassador, said that Pakistan believes in the expansion of friendly bilateral ties based on mutual interests to promote savvy diplomacy and to develop a multidimensional approach towards the outer world. He highlighted that Pakistan desires to further collaborate with the Republic of Algeria based on a broad canvas in various fields such as economy, politics, and developing cultural and public connections. Sanjrani emphasised the necessity to take the required actions to change the trends of trade between two states in an era of increasing state dependence on one another and global connectedness. To strengthen the economies of both nations, it is critical to address the current impediments. The Chairman of the Senate encouraged the Ambassador to encourage investors from Algeria to work with Pakistan in a variety of fields to create cooperative ventures that will help develop sophisticated economies in the twenty-first century. The chairman of the Senate urged members to use parliamentary diplomacy as a weapon to advance regional peace and harmony and to work together to address problems that are impeding progress. Chairman Senate underscored that parliamentary cooperation and institutionalized collaboration can help promote people-to-people contacts. The visiting dignitary remarked that Pakistan is an important country for us and in the region.

COAS inaugurates state of the art Tunneling Institute

By Our Correspondent

RAWALPINDI: During his visit to TIP, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), officially opened the cutting-edge Tunneling Institute, an FWO initiative. TIP strives to unite tunnelling resources and enhance specialised tunnelling knowledge, including research and development. TIP will provide a new platform for integrating tunnelling education from academic and professional tunnelling expertise. The TIP facility, which was completed and placed into operation by FWO within the authorised 10-month time frame, is only the sixth of its kind in the world. Later, the COAS visited National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC). COAS was appraised about the latest polio Campaigns conducted in the country and challenges being faced. In order to ensure a safe and secure environment for polio teams and to ensure the correct reach and efficacy of polio campaigns in order to accomplish the goal of a polio-free Pakistan, the COAS directed to deploy additional manpower/resources in sensitive places. Engineer in Chief (E-In-C) Lieutenant General Moazzam Ejaz and Director General Frontier Works Organization Major General Kamal Azfar met COAS when he first arrived at TIP.

Ahsan Iqbal lauds PTI’S Roshan Pakistan Programme 


WASHINGTON: Roshan Pakistan Program has received praise from Ahsan Iqbal, the federal minister for planning and development. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration praised the Roshan Pakistan Programme with the intention of luring Pakistanis from abroad and bringing in foreign exchange. Speaking at a ceremony at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, Ahsan Iqbal claimed that the PTI government had created the Roshan Pakistan Programme two years prior, and that it has helped Pakistan. He was cited as adding that initiatives begun for Pakistan's advancement should continue notwithstanding the country's new administration.

Pakistan, Turkiye enjoy exemplary fraternal relations based on common values: Khawaja Asif


ISLAMABAD: Minister for Defence, Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Wednesday said Pakistan and Turkiye enjoy exemplary fraternal relations based on common faith, culture, values, civilization and historical linkages, mutual trust and support. The Minister paid his regards during a call on paid by Ambassador of the Republic of Turkiye Mehmet Pacaci, a news release said. While speaking to Ambassador of Turkiye, Mehmet Pacaci, Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif expressed satisfaction over common understanding on regional and global emerging situation.

Kashmir issue resolution key to regional peace

Beware of Covid-19 rise in August

By Sadar Khan Niazi

Five more people expired from COVID-19 in Pakistan overnight, bringing the country’s total Covid death toll to 30,445, according to data from the National Institute of Health, Islamabad. Covid cases are declining in Pakistan, but media reports are projecting a new Omicron wave similar to what we have seen in Europe and some US states. It will start in August. Media reports have confirmed that Pakistan is about to enter its new wave of Covid infections. All institutions and individuals must come together to practice health safety rules vehemently. In addition to a reluctance towards mask-wearing and social distancing, many of the population seem to be in denial of the fact that the new Covid wave is nearing. Some think their fever may be due to dengue, or that their symptoms indicate only the seasonal flu. However, the recent reports prove otherwise. While the people's attention is fixed on political affairs, the coronavirus numbers have been rising again. Authorities should respond properly to the emerging threat. This pattern of increase – which, as an expert said, means we are about to face the new wave of coronavirus, should concern us. The question is why Covid is likely to rise again when Pakistan has vaccinated a large number of its citizens. The persons who died had received two shots of vaccine each, while others had received a single dose. This is a case of breakthrough infection, where a vaccinated person gets Covid. If this is a sign of things to come, Pakistan, where a relatively small percentage of the population got the booster dose and where people are still generally lax in following health guidelines, has a lot to worry about. Experts say that since the coronavirus is constantly mutating, no vaccine can guarantee lifelong protection against it. Two Omicron sub-variants, which are already causing havoc in a number of countries, are feared to be behind the rise of infections. These new variants are highly infectious if not highly dangerous. However, the effect of a vaccine, or the antibody produced from one's exposure to infections, gradually wears off after a certain period. This makes it extremely important that we follow health guidelines at all times even after vaccination, and that the majority of the population are given the booster dose and more doses if the pandemic persists as soon as possible. Part of the problem in Pakistan is people's indifference to testing. Earlier, when the pandemic was at its peak, there was some interest in voluntary testing but that, especially after vaccination, seems to have largely dissipated. This has to change. The authorities must launch a new drive to raise awareness of testing and other Covid precautions if we are to handle the new wave effectively. At the same time, strengthen the nationwide testing and vaccination programs further. Following health guidelines, especially wearing masks in public and maintaining a safe distance, should be made mandatory again. The coronavirus is something that is here to stay, and will only mutate to take different, often more dangerous, forms. To combat this, it is crucial that the population stays up-to-date on their Covid vaccines, as every dose eventually wears off exposing a person to higher chances of being infected. As such, only our vigilance through daily health safety measures and receiving vaccines can prevent the virus from devouring numerous lives and livelihoods, as it has done in the past. We urge the authorities to ensure that health and safety rules are strictly enforced at shopping malls, kitchen markets, and on public transport vehicles and that a thorough and efficient vaccine drive is conducted to safeguard the population against the new wave of the Covid virus.

Murad orders the police department to create specific training units for counterterrorism

By Our Correspondent

SHAHDADPUR: Syed Murad Ali Shah, the chief minister of Sindh, has ordered the police department to set up an anti-terrorism training unit at the police training centres in Shahdadpur and Rzakabad, Karachi, in order to provide new police recruits with specialised training. "Our police training facilities have commandos, anti-riot, and anti-dacoits specialised training units, but we lack anti-terrorism training units, which are urgently needed; as a result, they must be formed so that the police can deal with these anti-state groups effectively." This he said while speaking at 172nd Passing out parade of 561 ASIs at Police Training Center, Shahdadpur on Wednesday. The programme was hosted by Inspector General of Police Ghulam Nabi Memon, Principal PTC Munir Khuhro. MPA Shahid Thahim, Aajiz Dhamraha, Javed Nayab Leghari, Paras Dero and other notables as well as family members of passing out ASIs attended the programme in a large number. The chief minister gave IG Police Ghulam Nabi Memon instructions to recruit top instructors from the Pakistani Army to instruct freshmen recruits on how to deal with terrorists. We will be able to combat terrorists on various fronts, such as espionage and operation, once these trained policemen are on the ground. He stated, "I would advise you [IGP] to set up such units at Razakabad-Karachi and Shahdadpur so that chosen policemen might receive specific anti-terrorism training. Mr Shah addressing the ASI being passed said that the policing is a sacred profession because you [the policemen] protect life and property of the people. "The presence of a policeman must be considered as sense of security, protection and confidence by the people - this is my humble desire, and I am sure the police would come up to such a level of professionalism," he said. Mr Shah said that the passed out 561 ASIs, male and female, now would wear uniform to perform their duties in the field. "You have to maintain the sanctity of your uniform and you have to enhance the dignity of the police service through your professional approach in handling different kinds of cases," he urged. The CM said that his administration had used highly qualified Pak Army trainers to implement the most cutting-edge and contemporary ways of police training. "We have raised the salaries, benefits, and compensation for the families of the Shaheeds, and we have updated the pay grades for the police in the new budget. Additionally, as police officers are chosen solely on the basis of merit, newly hired or trained officers must establish themselves as assets to the division and society "added he.

CM Mahmood Khan Inaugurates Provincial Security Secretariat

By Our Correspondent

PESHAWAR: The Provincial Security Secretariat (PSS), which was established in the Home & Tribal Affairs Department, was officially opened by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan on Wednesday. Both the IGP of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Commander of the 11 Corps, Peshawar, attended the event. A newly created piece of software was also launched on the occasion. There were also representatives from a number of security agencies in attendance, including the Advocate General, IG FCKP, Director General FIA, Director, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, DG NADRA, Force Comd ANF, KP, DIG IB KP, Director General Passport, Chief Manager SBP, Member Custom Operation, DG Excise & Taxation, DIG Special Branch, and DIG CTD. All of the attendees were warmly welcomed, and the Secretary of the Home and Tribal Affairs Department gave a presentation on the creation of PSS. Brig: Naik Naam from the 11 Corps informed the conference of the PSS's goals. In his closing remarks, Commander 11 Corps Peshawar emphasised PSS's goals, thanked all parties involved, and stressed on its critical role in streamlining the whole coordinating process for productive outcomes.

CS orders speeding up vaccination in LSD-affected areas


LAHORE: The livestock department has been instructed by Punjab's Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal to expedite the vaccination process in areas where Lumpy Skin Disease is a problem (LSD). On Wednesday, he gave this order while presiding over a meeting at the Civil Secretariat in this city. The discussion went through the steps being taken to protect cattle from lumpy skin disease. The Chief Secretary stated that a system should be created for efficient situation monitoring and further stated that the government would prioritise providing all necessary resources for the eradication of lumpy skin condition. He requested that the livestock department take immediate action to increase the capacity for making vaccines. The Chief Secretary received a thorough briefing from representatives of the livestock department. They claimed that 2.40 million doses of the (Caprivac) vaccine had already been developed by the livestock department and distributed to all regions. They insisted that equipment will be introduced to boost the manufacture of vaccines. Officers from the department and the Secretary of Livestock attended the meeting.

Court Notice

In the Court of Manzar Hayat Khokhar Senior Civil Judge Jhelum Application for Permission of Traveling Abroad Saudi Arab, Case Title Alia Bano vs Muhammad Taaj Ali. To, Muhammad Taaj Ali son of Dewaan Ali R/o Samwal Sharif Mirpur Presently Residing at 71 Church Street Bradford, West Yorkshire England U.K, BD8 7NP. As there is not possible to call the Defendant through Summon in the instant Application so through proclamation in Newspaper, You are directed to appear in the court on 25.07.2022 at 8:00AM, otherwise ex-parte proceedings will be initiated.

Court Notice

In The court of Medum Afshan Younas Civil Judge Gujrat. Title Zafar Iqbal. versus: Nasir qbal Suit for Dispossession Notice to: 2-Qaiser Iqbal S/o. Ch. Muhammad Aslam R/o. Rehmania PO KHas Tehsil & District Gujrat. Whereas in the above mentioned case it has been proved to the satisfaction of the court that the above mentioned defendant is not be served in ordinary way. It is therefore proclaimed under order 5 rule 20 CPC that if the said defendant will not appear personally or through a duly authorized agent or pleader in court at 8 AM on 22-07-2022. Otherwise case will be decided ex party.

Shujaabad administration to activate closed water purification plants in one month: DC

By Our Correspondent

Multan: Deputy Commissioner Tahir Vito visited Tehsil Shujaabad. On this occasion, the Deputy Commissioner inspected the medical facilities in THQ Hospital and met the patients and also inspected the supply of medicines. Deputy Commissioner Tahir Vito said that TH Q Hospital will provide screening facilities for heart diseases, while a summary has been sent to the government to meet the shortage of staff in the trama center. Tahir Vito said that the blood bank of Shujaabad will be connected to Multan for supply so that the patients can receive emergency services in time. Deputy Commissioner Tahir Vito has said that the district administration has decided to take practical steps to restore the infrastructure of Shujaabad. Assistant Commissioner Shujaabad has also been directed to immediately stop the encroachments. Tehsildar Khalid Mahmood, Deputy DHO Dr. Haseeb Khokhar, MS Dr. Rana Javed Iqbal and others were also accompanied by Deputy Commissioner Multan Tahir Wattoo.

Punjab Govt issues notification of increase in salaries from Grades 1 to 19


LAHORE: The Punjab government has announced an increase in pay for employees in grades 1 through 19. A regular notification was released by the Punjab Finance Department on Wednesday, according to a private news outlet. The pay of the staff members of various provincial departments will increase as a result of the special allowance. As per the notification, the allowance will not be given to the officers and employees of the civil secretariat, Chief Minister’s House, and police department. The allowance will be available to government employees from March 1, 2022.

KARACHI: Ms. Romina khurshid Alam Special Assistant to Prime Minister and Convener parliamentary task force on SDGs meeting with the Acting Governor Sindh Agha Siraj Durrani at Governor House Karachi.

Vice chancellors from different universities of Multan called on Governor Punjab

By Our Correspondent

LAHORE: In the meeting, Emerson University Vice-Chancellor Dr. Shaukat Malik, Multan Women's University Vice-Chancellor Dr. Uzma Qureshi and Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Agriculture University Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr. Asif Ali were present. During the meeting, the Vice-Chancellors briefed the Governor Punjab about the performance of the universities and the problems faced by them. Speaking on this occasion, Governor Punjab Muhammad Balighur Rehman said that youth are the most valuable asset of the nation and they need to be given good education so that they may be able to contribute to the development of country . He said that teachers should pay special attention to the education of the students as well as their moral training and character building so that they always bring good name to the country, adding that in our religion much emphasis has been laid on high morals and character building. Punjab Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman said that the universities have been asked for proposals to take practical advantage of the research done on environment and a consortium will be formed soon in this regard. He said that it is gratifying that the performance of Pakistani universities is improving in the global ranking. He said that the linkages of academia with industries should be strengthened, this will not only provide employment opportunities to students, but the industry will also benefit from the research done in the universities. Governor Punjab while giving instructions to the vice chancellors asked them to prepare and share the short term and long term plans of the universities. He said that the process of appointment of vice-chancellors should start six months before the end of their term. Governor Punjab said that the timely appointment of vice-chancellors to the posts is necessary for effective management of educational and administrative affairs in universities. He further said that all possible steps will be taken to solve the problems faced by the universities.

‘PTI lawmakers offered 25-50 crores to change loyalties’

By Our Correspondent

LAHORE: Yasmin Rashid, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), asserts that Asif Ali Zardari and the PDM administration are offering their MPAs between Rs250 million and Rs300 million to leave the party. Asif Ali Zardari has set up a flea market for MPs in Lahore this time, according to Yasmin Rashid, who was speaking to media representatives in Lahore. She stated that their MPAs are receiving offers ranging from Rs250 million to Rs500 million. She added that the Election Commission is responsible for such ill practices. If the ECP had disqualified defecting lawmakers for life then this practice would have been buried for good, she said. Yasmin added that Asif Ali Zardari has destroyed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s party. All thieves and robbers have gathered in PPP and PML-N, they not only plundered public money but now want to steal their mandate too. She continued by saying that the PPP and PML-N are using parliamentarians' hard-earned money to buy off their allegiances. She urged ECP to pay attention to this practise. Yasmin Rashid stated that Shehbaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, and Humza Shehbaz should be ashamed of themselves. She stated that the people of Lahore should oppose the theft of their mandate.

Ch Shujaat backs Pervaiz Elahi as Punjab CM candidate

By Our Correspondent

LAHORE: Ch Shujaat Hussain, the president of the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid), has stated categorically that Ch Pervaiz Elahi will run for the position of Punjab Chief Minister. Elahi will represent the party in the CM election, Ch Shujaat made clear in a statement released on Wednesday. He said that he had previously made it clear not just once, but twice or three times. He claimed that his decision was evident and that "I do not need to define myself any further," hence he would not be releasing a letter to announce it. On the current political situation, the senior PML-Q leader said that those who achieved mandate had got the right to govern the country. He advised politicians to forget about the number game and try to solve country’s problems. He urged them to take steps to mitigate poor man’s problems. “Those who will solve poor people’s problems, they will actually get the required numbers,” Shujaat said barring fellow politicians from pulling each other’s legs. “There is only one solution which could solve country’s problems: either let the government complete its tenure or conduct immediate elections. Immediate elections means government should conduct polls right now, not after a delay of several months,” he added.

Moonis Elahi tells govt to worry about its numbers not PTI, PML-Q 

By Our Correspondent

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Moonis Elhai on Wednesday said that the Shehbaz Sharif-led government must worry about its numbers in the Punjab Assembly, not Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) or PML-Q. Moonis said that only 144 MPAs were present in the meeting of PML-N and its allies. He sarcastically suggested that the police and IB go after the country's citizens. After winning handily in Punjab's by-elections, PTI made the decision to take power there. While the assembly would appoint Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi as the next chief executive. PTI now holds 188 seats in the assembly, whereas PML-N holds 180.

Boat capsizes in Indus River: 5 more bodies recovered


SADIQABAD: After two days since the horrific occurrence in which two boats crashed, five more dead remains were found on Wednesday in the depths of the Indus River. Details indicate that 33 individuals have now perished from drowning, and that 16 more people are still being sought. Meanwhile, divers from the Pakistan Army have also reached Machhaka. It may be recalled that boats carring participants of a marriage party had capsized in the Indus River on Monday. According to rescue officials, the participants of the marriage party consisted of two boats and more than 150 people were on board in total. The rescue officials further said that due to the threat of robbers in the area, there are difficulties in the operation.

Pak Rupee hits historic low, reaches at Rs225 against US dollar in interbank

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The US dollar did not offer the local currency any reprieve on Wednesday as it maintained its upward trend and increased by Rs3.1 in interbank trading to reach Rs225, an all-time high record. The US dollar's previous closing on Tuesday was Rs221.99, an increase of Rs6.79 from the previous day, before it reached its highest-ever peak of Rs224 during the interbank, an increase of Rs9. The value of the US dollar has increased by nearly Rs40 since the coalition administration came into office in just three days, or Rs9.8 versus the local currency. American currency closed at Rs221.99 with an increase of Rs6.79. Karachi Forex trader association said that political instability and foreign loan installment are playing important factors in US dollar flight. Experts said that the rupee has been seeing a decline due to panic buying of the dollar by banks in the interbank market and the panic has prevailed in the financial markets following fears of a possible change in the government in Punjab and Centre, especially after the by-polls on the province's 20 seats. Not to forget that apart from others factors, the downgrading of Pakistan's outlook from stable to negative by the Fitch rating agency further increased panic in the market yesterday. In a previous statement, Finance Minister Miftah Ismael predicted that Pakistan would get $4 billion from friendly nations this month to fill a hole in its foreign reserves that the International Monetary Fund had identified (IMF). Last Monday, the IMF and Pakistan came to a staff-level agreement that would allow for the transfer of $1.18 billion. The board is also thinking about increasing a $6 billion programme approved in 2019 by $1 billion.

CDA Chairman for Rawal Dam Interchange's speedy completion


ISLAMABAD: Aamer Ali Ahmed, the head of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), gave the order to Frontier Works Organization (FWO) on Wednesday to move the Rawal Dam Interchange Project along quickly for the benefit of passengers. The authority's chairman gave the instructions after carefully reviewing the construction activities at the project site during his visit. The officials of FWO apprised the CDA chairman about the progress on the work and said both the ramps of the interchange being completed at fast pace, whereas the filling work of one ramp was also finished while the sub-grade work was underway. Special arrangements have been made to continue work without any obstacle amid the monsoon rains, however, it was being ensured that the quality of work was not affected, the CDA chairman told. The Rawal Dam Interchange project, which FWO is now working on, was supposed to be finished one month earlier than the specified timeframe. The project's committed delivery date was October 2022. An underpass, an overhead bridge, a few slip roads, and an underpass linking to Margalla Town are all included in the project.

NHA to build service area along Lahore-Multan Motorway near Jaranwala

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The National Highway Authority (NHA) sought to contract a consultant business to provide consulting services for its feasibility study and detailed design in order to create a service road alongside the Lahore-Multan Motorway (M-3) in the Jaranwala area. A representative of the NHA told to Government that the body had requested proposals from respectable engineering firms with active Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) registration certificates in the pertinent field. He said that a pre-proposal conference for the project will be held on July 26 in the NHA Auditorium (HQ) Islamabad. Procurement will be carried out by adopting “Single Stage Two Envelops” procedure. The proposals complete in all respects, in accordance with the instructions provided in the RFP document, in sealed envelopes should reach on or before August, 2022 16 at 1130 hours in the office of General Manager (P&CA), NHA, HQ, 28-Mauve Area, G-9/1, Islamabad.

Meeting of Executive Board of National Accountability Bureau


ISLAMABAD: Acting Chairman Zahir Shah presided over the Executive Board Meeting (EBM) of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Islamabad. Syed Asghar Haider, the prosecutor general for accountability, Mirza Muhammad Irfan Baig, the director general for operations, and other senior NAB officials were present during the meeting. The EBM approved making several enquiries. The recently modified NAB Act 2022 is not being followed to the letter and spirit by not disclosing the specifics of approved inquiry. NAB is committed to carrying out its responsibilities in accordance with Islamic Republic of Pakistan's laws and constitution. Chairman NAB has directed that all the inquiries and investigations should be conducted in accordance with NAB Act 2022. It may be mentioned here that all the inquiries and investigations are initiated on the basis of alleged allegations which are not final. The decision to proceed ahead with any inquiries and investigations is taken after taking into account the point of view of both sides so that all the requirements of justice could be followed according to NAB Act 2022.

IHC rejects D.G. NAB's appeal of the PAC summons

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: On Wednesday, a bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed a petition by Director General NAB Shahzad Saleem challenging summonses to appear before the Public Accounts Committee. A plea with the Secretary of the National Assembly, PAC Wing, and other parties was heard by Acting Chief Justice Aamir Farooque. In response to Tayyaba Gul's charges of sexual harassment, NAB Director General Shahzad Saleem has filed a petition with the Islamabad High Court challenging the Public Accounts Committee's decision to call him. NAB prosecutor Jahanzeb Bharwana said, "PAC goes beyond its mandate to call the D.G. NAB, the court should rule the PAC notification as void." The NAB attorney stated, "The instances of allegations have been ongoing in courts, the PAC has served another notice." Justice Aamir Farooque said, "The Supreme Court has said in its views pertinent to the case that the court could intervene in malicious measures." Deputy Attorney General Khawaja Imtiaz said that the parliamentary committee’s proceedings could not be challenged in the court. The apex court’s decision could not be applied in this case, DAG said. “The PAC proceedings are exempted from the judicial review,” he added. “When Speaker and Chairman Senate are being served notice, why not the Chairman Public Accounts Committee,” Justice Aamir questioned. The PAC summons was asked to be suspended by NAB prosecutor Bharwana. The bench sent notifications to the PAC and other parties after rejecting the plea for suspension of the notice. The court continued the case's hearing until July 27. It should be noted that the Public Accounts Committee's (PAC) authority was contested yesterday at the IHC by the interim head of the NAB. The NAB chief said in his plea that the Public Accounts Committee exceeded its authority in its hearings on June 24. He begged the court to nullify the PAC meeting minutes dated July 7 and stop the parliamentary body from taking any further action.

ICTP organizes 474 road safety education workshops 


ISLAMABAD: Referring to certain IGP ISLAMABAD directives Dr. Akbar Nasir Khan, Islamabad Capital Police (ICTP), has organised 474 road safety workshops AND 2, 39,504 Citizens Educated during the current Year in an effort to maintain traffic discipline and reduce violation of the laws. For drivers licence applicants, volunteers, students at educational institutions, and employees of government and non-government organisations, several traffic workshops were organised. In a bid to educate motorists on the correct traffic procedures, SSP (Traffic) Dr. Syed Mustafa Tanveer said that ICTP is arranging such workshops and creating awareness amongst people about consequences of traffic rules violations, including over speeding, one-wheeling, inappropriate number plates, juvenile driving, lane-line discipline, zebra crossing, the use of helmets and so on. He said that through fostering traffic discipline, the lives and property of other road users would be protected. Road safety seminars are being held at government and commercial organisations, including educational institutions, according to the SSP (Traffic), to educate road users about various traffic laws. He noted that the awareness campaign for motorist safety is already underway. In this regard, special teams have been constituted to teach road users how to ensure their safety before travelling on roads, particularly motorbike riders were being advised how to take the left lane while travelling. The SSP (Traffic) said that these teams were performing duties at various main roads of the city and briefing motorbike riders and other motorists about safety. Those motorbike riders driving without helmets and side mirrors or having defective indicators, headlights, rear lights and speed meters are being cautioned and urged to get their bikes and vehicles repaired.

RDA plants 2000 trees in its own housing schemes 

By Staff Reporter

RAWALPINDI: The Land Development Wing of the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) has planted 2000 trees in the RDA's own housing developments at the instruction of Director General Capt. (retd) Tahir Zafar Abbasi. During the current Monsoon Tree Plantation Drive, it was done. At addition to Asghar Mall Scheme, Saidpur Road, Civil Lines, Dosehra Ground, Eidhgah Rawalpindi, Ghazni Colony, Sherpao Colony, Millat Colony, and Mohanpura, trees have also been planted in the aforementioned locations. The DG RDA examined the plantation drive and complimented the LD&EM staff for their good job. He praised the plantation, calling it admirable. He also instructed the LD&EM Directorate to keep periodically monitoring the plants to care for the trees.

Met office on predicts another spell of rainfall in country 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Met Office on Wednesday forecasted that there would be more rain in the nation as strong monsoon currents were expected to start in the upper and central regions of the nation today (July 20) and move to the other regions the following day. Rain-wind or thundershower (with scattered heavy falls) are expected in Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Murree, Attock, Chakwal, Jhelum, Sialkot, Narowal, Lahore, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Swat, Mansehra, Kohistan, Abbottabad, Haripur, Peshawar, Mardan, Kohat and other areas from 20th to 26th July with occasional gaps under the influence of weather system. Moreover rain-wind with thundershower (with isolated heavy falls) is also expected in Bannu, Lakki Marwat, D.I. Khan, Sahiwal, Okara, Bhakkar, Layyah, Multan, Khanewal, Pakpattan, Vehari, Rajanpur, Dera Ghazi Khan, Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahimyar Khan and Khanpur from Thursday 21st to 26th July with occasional gaps. More rain-wind/thundershower (with few heavy falls) are expected in Zhob, Ziarat, Barkhan, Loralai, Bolan, Kohlu, Kalat, Khuzdar, Lasbella, Naseerabad, Jaffarabad and Sibbi from 22nd to 26th July while in all districts of Sindh from 24th to 26th July. Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has warned against likely urban flooding in Rawalpindi/Islamabad, Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Faisalabad, Lahore and Gujranwala from 20th to 23rd July. While in Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta, Badin, Shaheed Benazirabad, Jamshoro, Mirpurkhas, Dadu, Umer Kot, Jaccobabad, Larkana and Sukkur from 24th to 26th July.

Consumers have to pay for increased power rates: NEPRA Chief

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The head of the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority stated that the cost of producing power has increased frequently and that the increased prices should be passed along to the consumers. A Nepra bench headed by its Chairman Tauseef H Farooqi on Wednesday completed the public hearing of a petition filed by the government seeking an increase in phases in basic tariff to make it uniform. The bench, however, reserved its judgement. In its petition, the government told the regulator that it wanted to increase power rates for consumers of the “unprotected category” using up to 100 units per month by about Rs4.06 per unit instead of Rs7.91 worked out by Nepra, and hence this burden had to be passed on to the higher consumption categories. When briefing the bench prior to the hearing, the assistant secretary for the power division stated that the Nepra had approved a basic electricity pricing increase of Rs7.91/unit on June 4. However, he continued, "the government does not want to place the entire responsibility on customers at once." He added that despite a gradual increase in the basic tariff rate, the government was still providing a subsidy of Rs220 billion. According to a government decision, the base rate for individuals who consume 101–200 units per month would rise by Rs7.21 per unit in stages to Rs18.95, while the cost for those who consume 201-300 units per month would rise by Rs8.31 to Rs22.14 per unit.The rate for 301-400 units would increase by Rs4.30 per unit to Rs25.53, while the rate for 401-500 units would increase by Rs6.51 per unit to Rs27.74. Likewise, the base rate for 501-600 units will increase to Rs29.16 per unit, up by Rs7.93, and that of 601-700 units will go up to Rs30.30 per unit, showing an increase of Rs8.97 per unit. The base tariff for consumption above 700 units per month would go up to Rs35.22 per unit, with an increase of Rs11 per unit. The base rate for time of use (TOU) meters would go up by Rs10.06 to Rs34.39 for peak consumption hours and to Rs28.07 per unit for off-peak hours.

Pakistan reports seven deaths, 592 fresh Covid cases


ISLAMABAD: Seven Covid-related deaths have been recorded in Pakistan, and 592 new cases of the pandemic have been reported there in the past day, according to information released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Wednesday. In the last 24 hours, 21,264 Covid tests were carried out nationwide, of which 592 were positive, according to the NIH data. According to the report, the national Covid-19 test positivity rate maintained at 2.78 percent. Additionally, 174 individuals may be in serious condition. The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed concern over the rising number of coronavirus cases that were taxing medical staff and infrastructure. Due to sub-variants of the Omicron strain and the removal of control measures, the number of Covid cases reported to the WHO rose 30% in the last two weeks.

Health Levy on Tobacco products can generate additional 50 billion in revenue 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: In order to save valuable lives that are in imminent danger of death, health professionals have urged the government to put a health fee on tobacco products. The experts urged the government to execute this action, which has been delayed since June 2019, according to a joint press release distributed by SPARC. Malik Imran Ahmed, Country head, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, shared that in June 2019, the federal cabinet decided to implement a healthy levy on tobacco products to protect the health of low-income groups and children by taking tobacco products out of their spending reach. Unfortunately, this initiative was constantly thwarted by important government figures who were from tobacco-growing regions. He continued, saying that although the tobacco industry portrays itself as a vital sector, smoking is the main contributor to non-communicable diseases like cancer, chronic respiratory conditions, and cardiovascular disease. According to the Social Policy and Development Centre, around one-fifth of all individuals (aged 15 and up) or 31 million use tobacco now (SPDC). Khalil Ahmed Dogar, Program Manager, SPARC, mentioned that children and low-income people are primary target of tobacco industry and unfortunately, our tobacco control policies are making these groups more vulnerable. Quoting the research by SPDC, Khalil said that the average increase of 10.8% in excise tax on cigarette in Finance Bill 2022 is even lower than the 13.3% inflation; cigarettes will become affordable than two years ago. Therefore, it's critical to enact a healthy levy right away; else, we risk losing control over Pakistan's smoking population.

IK vs the CEC 

It was a perplexing victory speech that was sure to create a terrible impression. The PTI unexpectedly won 15 of the 20 seats up for grabs in the Punjab by-elections, shocking nearly everyone who was watching, but party chairman Imran Khan continued to criticise chief election commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja the next day, accusing him of bias and attempting to use the Election Commission of Pakistan to skew the results in the PML- N's favor. Given how openly the former prime minister had been saying that the entire electoral system was rigged, one might have expected Mr. Khan to have moderated his tone given that no one was expecting his party to perform so well. Instead, the results from Election Day revealed that it was a fairer race than most expected, with the PTI managing to run away with the majority of seats despite the odds and the ruling PML-N receiving an embarrassing hammering on its own territory. Despite the outcomes, one could perhaps argue that the elections appeared to be fairly free and fair and, with the exception of a few violent episodes, largely well-run. It stands to reason that the PTI should be a little more grateful that it was given a level playing field and that its worst worries were unfounded. However, Mr. Khan didn't seem ready to get over his mistrust of the CEC. Given that the latter is more committed to quietly carrying out his constitutional obligations and is not appearing to be persuaded by the unrelenting onslaught against him, the ongoing animosity is inexplicable. The PTI chief's continuous criticism has now begun to appear like bullying to certain onlookers due to the power disparity between them. They think that Mr. Khan has been pressuring the CEC repeatedly about the outcome of the case involving foreign money against the former's party. Whether or whether such is the case, Mr. Khan needs to be more forthright about his mistrust of Mr. Raja and must offer adequate proof to support his claims against him. There is a political process that must take place if the PTI chief wants the CEC fired. It's not the way to handle it to publicly harass the latter. According to recent reports, Mr. Raja is concerned for his safety due to the threats to his life. He shouldn't have to live in terror just for carrying out his constitutionally required duties. Given that he has resigned from his position as a member of parliament and appears to have no desire to meet with his opponents to discuss any subject, including this one, Mr. Khan should also think about how he would like to be included in consultations for the next ECP chairman.

Given how openly the former prime minister had been saying that the entire electoral system was rigged, one might have expected Mr. Khan to have moderated his tone given that no one was expecting his party to perform so well

Global progress toward gender equity is stalling


The World Economic Forum last week released a report showing that global progress toward gender parity has largely stalled. The WEF report and other analyses suggest that the pandemic threw obstacles in the path toward gender parity, though the effects vary significantly by country. The “Global Gender Gap Report” measures progress toward gender parity in 146 countries. It began with 102 countries in 2006. The 2022 report finds that the world today has closed the overall gender gap by 68.1 percent. At this rate, it will take the world 132 years to reach gender parity. The WEF Global Gender Gap Index includes four subindices. Today, the global gender gap in health and survival has closed by 95.8 percent, educational attainment by 94.4 percent, economic participation and opportunity by 60.3 percent and political empowerment by 22 percent, according to the report. North America scores the highest among regions, closing its gap by 76.9 percent, with Europe close behind at 76.6 percent. Latin America and the Caribbean rank third, at 72.6 percent. Central Asia (69.1 percent) and East Asia and the Pacific (69 percent) lie in the middle, followed by sub-Saharan Africa at 67.9 percent. The Middle East and North Africa rank further down, closing 63.4 percent of the gender gap. South Asia ranks last, at 62.4 percent, suggesting a depressing 197 years to reach parity in the region. Within regions, progress varies significantly among countries. Iceland ranks first in the world, as the only country to have closed more than 90 percent of its gender gap (90.8 percent). Germany is 10th at 80.1 percent and the US comes 27th at 76.9 percent. The UAE ranks 68th at 71.6 percent, while India holds 135th spot at 62.9 percent. Afghanistan ranks last at 43.5 percent — a decline from last year. In terms of the countries that have made the most progress toward closing their gender gaps in the last year, Vanuatu ranked first, Kenya second and Saudi Arabia third, with the Kingdom closing its gap by 3.3 percentage points to 63.6. At the other end of the spectrum lie Algeria, Malawi and Benin, which all experienced significant declines in parity. The WEF index showed slight improvement from last year: 68.1 percent of the gap was closed in 2022 versus 67.9 percent in 2021. However, the report notes that the last year’s progress does not make up for the losses in 2020 and 2021. Indeed, other reports have demonstrated that the pandemic was a major setback for women around the world. A Deloitte report from earlier this year warned that the pandemic had “reversed key gains over the years in expanding the rights of women worldwide.” Earlier in the pandemic, the UN warned that impacts of COVID-19 threatened to undo decades of progress. At the height of pandemic restrictions, women’s employment declined more than men’s, as restrictions hit the service sectors that dominate women’s employment and closed schools and childcare facilities. Such impacts are particularly difficult for women, who often work in sectors — or in the informal economy — that lack benefits and protections. Women are also society’s primary caregivers and the pandemic massively increased demands for care. Furthermore, multiple reports have found that domestic violence increased significantly during the pandemic and a UN report from late 2021 also noted that many women feel less safe outside of their homes than before the pandemic. Additionally, UN agencies have sounded the alarm about the importance of returning girls to school following lengthy, pandemic-related school closures. The pandemic clearly undermined progress toward gender parity and even women’s basic rights. However, even without the pandemic, progress tends to be uneven. For example, the WEF report also noted that the years of austerity following the 2008 financial crisis undermined some forms of progress in many countries. Wars, climate change and other crises often have a disproportionately negative impact on women and children. Still, there are some reasons for optimism. The WEF report found that progress toward closing the gender gap has improved by 3.8 percentage points globally since 2006. More countries have made significant or marginal improvements in the last year than those that experienced declines. Progress is slow and goes through setbacks, but it is better than regression. Gender parity and women’s rights matter to broader society. When women suffer violence, economic difficulties, health concerns and more, the men and especially the children in their families and communities suffer too. Economies lose potential when women are unable to fully contribute. Excluding women from government decision-making leads to policies that fail to account for the realities of women’s and families’ experiences. Businesses that lack women in leadership will miss out on the potential skills and ideas of half the population and will be disconnected from the experiences of many potential customers, investors, clients and employees. In the wake of the pandemic, governments, businesses and social institutions need to work harder to advocate for women and to implement policies that address women’s real-world needs. Kerry Boyd Anderson is a writer and political risk consultant with more than 18 years of experience as a professional analyst of international security issues and Middle East political and business risk. Her previous positions include deputy director for advisory with Oxford Analytica.

Wars, climate change and other crises often have a disproportionately negative impact on women and children

Putin, Raisi and Erdogan have less in common than it appears


Tuesday’s three-way summit in Tehran, the first to bring the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran together since 2019, put many common issues on the table, but with a diverse agenda. So diverse, in fact, that the chances of Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ebrahim Raisi agreeing on everything, when the three are facing unique challenges, were remote at best. The Tehran meeting came a few days after US President Joe Biden participated in an extraordinary high-level meeting in Jeddah, hosted by Saudi Arabia and attended by the GCC leaders plus the heads of Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. The outcome of the Jeddah summit was in contrast with the bilateral US-Israel declaration signed only two days before while Biden was visiting Israel. While the main component of the so-called Jerusalem Declaration was a vow not to allow Iran to militarize its nuclear program, the message from Jeddah was articulated in a way that keeps the door open for an Arab reconciliation with Iran. There was no mention of an anti-Iran Middle Eastern version of NATO, with Israel as a member. The Iranian leadership will appreciate the value of the messages coming from Jeddah. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that Riyadh continues to extend its hand to Tehran. The UAE announced that it is considering sending an ambassador to Iran, which Tehran has also welcomed. But the leaders’ meeting in Tehran had other issues to consider. Putin wants to sign with Iran a comprehensive strategic treaty, whose main objective is to lessen the effect of Western sanctions on Moscow and create an anti-American alliance. Tehran can go as far as siding with Putin, but not at the expense of losing an opportunity, feeble as it may be, to end Western oil sanctions. For Iran — where a close adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Kamal Kharrazi, announced this week that Tehran had the capability to build a nuclear bomb but it chooses not to — an 11th-hour deal to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement remains possible. An anti-Western alliance with Moscow at this stage would not help conclude a deal that Tehran badly wants. For Putin, any semblance of support from states with an axe to grind with America is a good thing. But there are limits to such support. For Tehran, normalizing ties with Riyadh would carry huge geopolitical value. Such rapprochement could end many of the region’s conflicts. At the end of the day, Iran is aware of its geographical destiny as a neighbor of the Arab Gulf states. For Erdogan, a pragmatic leader who has no qualms about shifting sides and switching positions, cementing his presence and influence over two anti-US countries is enough to keep Turkey a major geopolitical player regionally and beyond. He has been threatening to launch a major military operation in northern Syria for weeks. But Moscow and Tehran have different takes on such an operation. Why Ankara wants to engage in a risky military adventure in northern Syria is difficult to fathom. Iran has stated that it opposes any operation that threatens the territorial integrity of Syria. Moscow is also not happy with Turkey’s meddling in Syria, which it sees as an extension of its own geopolitical influence in the region. The fact that Moscow is caught up in the Ukrainian quagmire makes it apprehensive about any serious shift in the balance of power in Syria. Topping all this is the fact that Israel, in the wake of Biden’s visit, has made direct threats toward Tehran. On Monday, Israeli army chief Aviv Kochavi said that the military is preparing for the possibility it will have to act against Iran’s nuclear program. Israel and Iran have been engaged in an indirect war for years. But the fact that Israel is considering an attack on Iran does not please anybody. The United States, the Europeans and the Arab countries are in no mood to see another unpredictable war break out in the region. Certainly, when it comes to potentially igniting another war in the region, Israel is in a minority of one. While the Tehran summit offered much in terms of a photo opportunity, a platform for some fiery statements and a semblance of an accord, the reality is that the three leaders have less in common than it appears. Their personal agendas are not in synergy and, while joint challenges may bring them together for now, dealing with them leaves much to be desired. Osama Al-Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.

Tehran can go as far as siding with Putin, but not at the expense of losing an opportunity to end Western oil sanctions

How Palestinians can win support in pro-Israel America


Fighting against Israel’s oppressive apartheid policies is not easy. For example, Israeli soldiers kill an American citizen working for an Arab satellite network and they basically get away with it. They have killed other Americans before. When has Israel been held accountable? It is not like this pattern just started. Israel attacked an American military ship, the USS Liberty, during the 1967 war, killing 34 American soldiers and wounding 171 more. Instead of Israel being held accountable, the US military instead blamed its own soldiers. In under seven years, Israel’s supporters have convinced 28 American states to adopt anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions laws that punish US citizens who choose to boycott Israel, a foreign country. Those who refuse to sign affidavits to not boycott Israel or support the BDS movement can lose basic rights guaranteed in the US Constitution. They can lose grants and loans or have contracts canceled. This is unconstitutional, but Israel has convinced legislators that its needs are more important than Americans’ constitutional rights. Israel wants to be included in the US Visa Waiver Program, which would allow its citizens to more easily enter the country. But there are harsh and discriminatory restrictions on who can enter Israel, with American citizens who criticize Israel or support Palestinian rights banned. So, why does a country like the US — the most powerful country in the world, which was founded on freedom, democracy, individual rights and the rule of law — cast all that aside where Israel is concerned? Instead of answering this question analytically, many Palestinians and their supporters respond emotionally and angrily. I have spoken with many Americans. When I present pro-Palestinian views to them, they say they are shocked. But they are quick to respond that they have “concerns” about Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, issues of terrorism and violence, and what appears to be their refusal to “assimilate.” Many Americans, the majority of whom are Christian, do not even know that most Palestinians and Arabs in America are Christians themselves. They see them as being Muslim, a religion they often do not understand. Americans have been conditioned by decades of one-sided propaganda to embrace Israel and be skeptical of Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians. It is deeply ingrained, with years of brainwashing coming from every corner of US communications. Seventy-five years of being portrayed as terrorists in hundreds of major Hollywood movies would change perceptions of even the most generous of human beings. It is not just movies. The stereotypes and inaccuracies inundate the book publishing industry too. These false stereotypes are conveyed even more profoundly by the mainstream media through newspapers, radio and television. And, more recently, through the internet and social media too. So, how do we change this and tell Americans that two plus two does not equal five when it comes to Palestine? Well, we certainly cannot do it the way we have been doing it. Believing that telling the truth will somehow erase 75 years of lies sounds right, but it is not. Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians often refuse to accept the reality that countering Israel’s propaganda and influence in America requires an understanding and manipulation of three basic principles of communication. The first principle is that, in America, perception is reality, especially when it involves Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians or criticism of Israel. Perception has more impact than truth. The perception of Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians has been defined by inaccurate, racist and hate-driven stereotypes. Simply offering the truth as a response is ineffective. The second principle is delivery. It is not what you say (even if it is the truth) but how you say it. This involves many factors, including how your audience, the American public, views you. For example, humans are more likely to believe someone who looks and sounds like them and are more skeptical of strangers, foreigners or anybody different. To be more effective, we need to look and sound like the audience we are trying to convince. The third principle is in the crafting of the message, which is merely a carrier of the truth. Israel not only has a huge advantage over Palestinians in terms of Hollywood movies, the book publishing industry and the news media, but also in how its message is defined and presented. There are dozens of very strong pro-Israel publications, TV shows, radio shows and US-based online media. In contrast, the Arab American media is practically non-existent. It mostly caters to its own community, an audience of Arabs and Muslims. Programming tends to be in Arabic, not English. Making this bad situation worse for the Palestinian cause in America is that the Arab, Muslim and Palestinian communities are also very divided. Angry extremists dominate. Oftentimes, Arabs are more critical of other Arabs than they are of Israelis. If you want to change the ineffective dynamics that undermine the justice of the Palestinian cause, then you need to change what you do. Change the perception. End the divisions. Improve your message. Do that and you might undermine America’s blind support of Israel. Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist.

Americans have been conditioned by decades of one-sided propaganda to embrace Israel and be skeptical of Muslims, Arabs and Palestinians

Will These Ancient Trees Survive a Drying West?

By Daniel Griffin

About two hours north of Los Angeles, on the steep slopes of Mount Pinos, stands an ancient grove of big-cone Douglas fir trees. The telltale signs of decades-long droughts from centuries past lie deep within the trunks of its oldest trees. But inscribed just beneath the bark are traces of the worst drought these trees have ever withstood. Across California, primeval forests are under threat. Pests are decimating the state’s bristlecone pines, the oldest trees on Earth. Two wildfires in September killed thousands of mature sequoias (the world’s largest trees by volume), a fate similar to large areas of coastal redwood forests (the world’s tallest) the year before. Last week, the Washburn Fire scorched the flank of the Mariposa Grove, a group of over 500 giant sequoias whose protection was a driving force for the creation of Yosemite National Park. The rings inside the Douglas firs in the Mount Pinos grove record a continuous climate history stretching back 500 years, nearly five times farther than rain-gauge records. But even though these trees are well adapted to this rugged landscape, they cannot survive without sufficient rainfall and moisture. For some of the trees, their unbroken story may be coming to an end. As a dendrochronologist, I examine tree rings to study climate. I hunt for old trees and use a simple hand tool — which does not harm the tree — to bore deep into trunks looking for evidence of ancient drought and deluge. For 20 years, first with my teachers and later with my students, I’ve visited old-growth forests across the American Southwest, watching dry season after dry season pile up. These withering years are killing trees. We have watched their habitats shrink, as warmer temperatures pull moisture out of the ground at lower elevations and drive woodlands to higher, cooler slopes. I’ve taken samples from healthy younger trees and returned years later to find them dead or dying. The matriarchs, the largest, oldest and most deeply established trees in many groves, seem to be hanging on for now. But no scientist is sure how much more they can endure. A recent study published in Nature Climate Change analyzed the rings of thousands of living trees and architectural wooden beams from around the Southwest to reconstruct a 12-centuries-long timeline of climate extremes. The authors concluded that there was probably not a drought as severe as today’s in the past 1,200 years. Our planet produced decades-long megadroughts well before humans had a discernible impact on the climate. Tree rings and weather records make it possible to see how and why today’s megadrought is so different from those that came before: Rising temperatures over the past two decades, clearly attributable to the burning of fossil fuels, have greatly increased the severity of the Southwestern drought. We have spiked the climate system, releasing heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than at any time in at least the past 50 million years. Human-fueled megadroughts like this one will be more frequent and severe in the future. In the Southwest, there will be more years with declining snowpack, more years with water shortages and a more dire mismatch between where water is available and where it is needed. A century of successful wildfire suppression has ensured that when the forests of our dry lands finally catch flame, they will burn much hotter than before. Rare, high-intensity wildfires kill trees that the low-intensity fires of the past did not. Tree rings we are able collect this season might not be around to sample in the next. That danger was evident last summer, when our research group pulled off the highway near Mount Pinos to extract core samples from living big-cone Douglas fir trees. Years ago, we wouldn’t have hesitated to bring chainsaws to collect entire discs of tree trunks from fallen trees. But not last year. We would leave the fallen trees where they were. We could not chance an errant spark that could ignite a wildfire.

Not just Ukraine, West must wake up to crisis in Sri Lanka

By T P Sreenivasan

For a nation on the verge of collapse and its people in danger of economic chaos without food and fuel and other amenities, the much-needed changes in Sri Lanka are still in slow motion. Even after discontented mobs took to the streets and occupied the Presidential palace and surrounded the Prime Minister’s residence, things moved at snail’s pace as Gotabaya Rajapaksa used his privileges as President to protect himself and his family and to carry his ill-gotten wealth to safe havens. What appeared to be a revolution for the sheer existence of the people of Sri Lanka did not generate the sense of emergency required for establishing a legitimate Government, which has to work out a bail-out package from the World Bank, the IMF and friendly countries. Precious days and hours were being spent on following the president’s calculated moves to travel to Maldives and Singapore. Instead of devising extraordinary procedures to deal with an extraordinary situation, which impinges on the survival of its people, constitutional niceties are delaying the election of president and a prime minister. Ranil Wikremasinghe, whose removal as prime minister was a major demand of the protesters, has been sworn in as president, who has declared an emergency to prolong the agony of the people. Except for India, no other country, not even China, is engaging with Sri Lankan authorities to bring about an emergency cabinet, which should not lose time in making a rescue economic package for Sri Lanka. The Ukraine war has dominated the western world so completely that the Sri Lankan situation does not even create a ripple in its conscience. The champions of human rights have no time to address the misery of the Sri Lankan people. The complexity of the crisis in Sri Lanka has not been appreciated by the world at large. Sri Lanka’s economy was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is currently facing the most severe economic and energy crisis recorded in recent history due to the ongoing foreign exchange shortage. The prices of essential commodities have sky-rocketed as inflation hit 15 per cent in February 2022, while people queue up for hours outside fuel stations and undergo regular power outages for as long as seven hours daily. The tourism industry, one of the highest foreign exchange earners, decreased by 70.8 per cent in March 2020 as travel restrictions came into effect. Foreign exchange shortage resulted in the country being unable to pay for the import of essential commodities which in turn drove up the prices of many day-to-day necessities from food to fuel to pharmaceuticals. The rising cost of living has pushed close to 600,000 Sri Lankans below the poverty line. The foreign exchange shortage has also triggered an energy crisis as the country is unable to pay for the import of fuel. The fuel shortage in the country has driven prices of petrol and diesel up to unmanageable levels, and people are forced to queue up outside fuel stations daily. The country has to repay close to $7 billion in loan instalments and sovereign bonds in 2022, resulting in a budget deficit of $11.9 billion. However, this has not prevented Sri Lanka from going further into debt as the country is desperately attempting to shore up its foreign reserves. The erroneous economic policies followed by the Rajapaksa administration are largely responsible for the current crisis. This includes measures such as tax cuts implemented in 2019 as part of the Rajapaksa election campaign which continued to incur budget deficits due to loss of revenue close to $550 billion. The most recent protests were a demonstration of the hardships of the overwhelmed masses. But the behaviour of the protesters was surprising. Inside the Presidential palace, it looked like an excursion rather than a demand for immediate action. The irony is that the timetable set even after the resignation of Gotabaya is painfully slow. Wikremasinghe, as acting President, will now appoint a prime minister and then the Parliament will elect a new president till 2024. Somewhere in between, an all-party government will be formed. All of this was promised within a week, but there is no likelihood of it happening within a short period. It is amazing that the Sri Lankan people have been so patient about the process of change. But unless the process is speeded up, the agony of the people will continue and the stability of the country will be in jeopardy. It is high time that the world woke up to the grave situation in a strategic nation in the Indo-Pacific.

The irony is that the timetable set even after the resignation of Gotabaya is painfully slow. Wikremasinghe, as acting President, will now appoint a prime minister and then the Parliament will elect a new president till 2024

What a term

Pakistan is currently the fourth most expensive country and the policies of the incumbent government are responsible for it. Cabinet ministers claim that the economy is moving towards stability, and price hikes are only a result of increasing rates in international markets. While addressing the nation, the prime minister said that prices of petrol are lower than those in neighbouring countries. Control on the situation can be gauged by the fact that one day, the head of the cabinet assured the nation that prices would not mount anymore, but the next day prices were raised. The incumbent government also has no qualms bypassing parliament by presidential ordinances. The APS attack situation too stands unresolved. The PTI was founded on the claims of accountability and transparency but it has failed to deliver either. Charges against PPP and PML-N leaders stand unproved. While the PTI government has managed to handle the Covid-19 situation successfully, immediately afterwards there has been crippling inflation. The government must revamp its policies or face the people’s lack of trust.

Azhar Ali Mallah, Nawabshah

Smell of rot

This is to draw the attention of the authorities concerned towards the serious problem of garbage in Karachi, which is the economic hub of Pakistan. Residents are frustrated about huge heaps of garbage everywhere. Even in our locality – Landhi – the appointed garbage collector is never on time. People have started dumping their trash in a corner, which has become a mess. Moreover, a majority of the city’s streets are flooded with sewage water and trash. This not only pollutes the environment, but also smells unbearable. Apart from making the city ugly and discouraging tourism, such environments are also unhealthy to live in. Typhoid fever, diarrhoea, food poisoning, dengue, malaria and other health problems all fester in such places. The relevant authorities need find better ways to dispose of waste. If not, we will fail ourselves and the environment. ‘Reduce, reuse and recycle’ are the most common methods to reduce waste. Reducing solid waste also means reducing the amount of trash that goes into landfills.

Syed Abdul Hadi Ali, Karachi

Unclean water

This is to bring the attention of the authorities to the problems faced by residents of Quaid-e-Azam University Colony, Islamabad. For over a month now, residents of the colony have been suffering from water-borne diseases. They have lodged complaints to the authorities, but to no avail. The government should ensure that clean and safe drinking water is provided to all people. All the residents have signed a petition to demand a resolution of the issue, and the relevant authorities should work to relieve them from their plight immediately.

Waleed Akhtar


China condemns US warship passage through Taiwan Strait

Taipei: China on Wednesday slammed Washington as "a destroyer of peace" in the Taiwan Strait, following the latest in a series of passages by US warships through the waterway. Beijing views Taiwan as part of its territory to be re-taken one day -- and the narrow body of water that separates the island and mainland China is a flashpoint between the two sides. In contrast to Beijing's position, the United States and other countries see the strait as part of international waters and thus open to all, and this year a US warship has transited the route almost every month. On Tuesday, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Benfold "conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit ... through international waters", the US Seventh Fleet said in a statement. "The ship transited through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State," it added. China's Eastern Theatre Command said Wednesday it had deployed naval and air forces to "follow and monitor the whole process". "The frequent US provocations and showboating fully demonstrate that the United States is a destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and a risk maker," said its spokesman Colonel Shi Yi. He added Chinese forces were always "on high alert to resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity". Taiwan's defence ministry said it had closely monitored the destroyer's passage and "the situation was normal". In June, Taipei clashed with Beijing over the latter's restating of its position that the strait was not international waters, accusing China of trying to endanger regional peace with its territorial claims. British, Canadian, French and Australian warships have all made passages through the Taiwan Strait in recent years, sparking protests from Beijing. The USS Benfold's passage on Tuesday coincided with a visit to Taiwan by former US defence chief Mark Esper, who called Taiwan "a good friend we must support and defend" during a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen. Esper said the time had come for Washington to "move away from strategic ambiguity" over whether it would intervene militarily on Taiwan's behalf. "Strategic ambiguity" has been the United States' longstanding policy on Taiwan, designed both to ward off a Chinese invasion and to discourage the island territory from ever formally declaring independence. AFP

Senior lawmaker says EU supports Taiwan's 'sovereign' existence

Taipei: A senior European Union lawmaker said Wednesday that Taiwan's future should be decided by its own people and that the EU backs the island's "sovereign" existence, in a pointed warning to Beijing. Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled democratic island as part of its territory and has vowed to seize it one day, by force if necessary. Beijing's increased sabre-rattling has spurred greater shows of diplomatic support for Taipei and prompted visits from Western politicians. Nicola Beer, one of the European Parliament's vice-presidents, arrived on Tuesday for what Taiwan's foreign ministry described as "the first official visit" by an MEP of her rank. In a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen, Beer voiced Europe's concerns over Beijing "moving in a direction that could unilaterally alter the status quo" with Taipei. "This must not happen, under no circumstances, under no pretext. Only the Taiwanese people can decide on Taiwanese future," she said. "Don't doubt Europe's reassurance in your strive for a democratic, peaceful and sovereign existing." AFP

High treason

Ukraine's Zelensky moves against 'spies'

Warsaw: Ukraine's army is putting up fierce frontline resistance against Russian troops, but President Volodymyr Zelensky's shock dismissal of two top law enforcement officials has revealed another front in the war closer to home -- against spies and Kremlin sympathisers. His dismissal of SBU security chief Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend of President Zelensky, and of prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova, is unprecedented since the start of the invasion. The decision was announced Sunday and approved by parliament on Tuesday, with Zelensky berating the pair for their failure to counter the activities of Russian spies and collaborators in Ukraine. In his daily video address, he said there were over 650 cases involving officials suspected of treason and aiding Russia, including 60 "working against our state" in Russian-held areas of the country. "Everyone was expecting... more tangible results" from Bakanov and Venediktova in "fighting collaborators and traitors", said Andriy Smyrnov, deputy head of the presidential administration. "The president and his cabinet were not pleased with the work of Bakanov and Venediktova" even before the Russian invasion, Ukrainian political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko told AFP. In the last few months, at least three top SBU officials have been accused of high treason. One of them, Oleg Kulinich, who was sacked in March and was arrested on Sunday, had been based in the southern region of Kherson. Situated close to the Crimean peninsula which was annexed by Moscow in 2014, the region was quickly taken over by Russian troops at the start of the invasion -- a significant setback for which the government was heavily criticised. "This man was collaborating with Russian secret services. It is a very serious blow. In my view, it was the last straw for Zelensky," Fesenko said. Zelensky had already sacked the regional head of the SBU for Kherson, Sergiy Kryvoruchko. Another SBU official is suspected of having shared with Russian troops top secret maps of minefields intended to hamper their advance. Zelensky on Monday said there would be a "review" within the SBU, pointing out that 28 agents could be sacked for "unsatisfactory" work. One of Bakanov's deputies has also been sacked. Prisoner exchanges at risk? Venediktova was heading up the high-profile investigations into atrocities committed by Russian forces, particularly in the town of Bucha, which became a symbol of the alleged Russian war crimes. AFP

Lake Geneva baptism ban infuriates evangelicals

Geneva: The Swiss canton of Geneva has banned baptisms in the waters of Lake Geneva organised by evangelical churches -- a decision they branded a "witch hunt". The canton -- comprising the city of Geneva and its hinterland that forms the western end of the lake -- took the step on July 8, amid a backdrop of debates around secularism. "It's an abuse of authority," Jean-Francois Bussy, president of the Evangelical Federation of the neighbouring canton of Vaud, told AFP. Baptisms in Lake Geneva are permitted in Vaud, which covers the rest of the lake's northern shore. "We have had no complaints in the canton of Vaud, which is much more liberal at this level than Geneva, which in my opinion applies fundamentalist secularism and a quite detestable witch hunt," said Bussy, who heads the Vaud branch of the Swiss Evangelical Network in French-speaking western Switzerland that has around 40,000 members. Among the Swiss confederation's 26 cantons, Geneva and Neuchatel are the only two secular ones. The separation of church and state has been enshrined in Geneva law for more than a century. AFP

More cunning than the 'old fox': Sri Lanka's new president

Colombo: New Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe's election on Wednesday is the fulfilment of a lifetime's ambition for a veteran political operator who is the nephew of one of his predecessors. Wickremesinghe, a six-time former prime minister, was backed by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party of ousted leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled abroad and then resigned last week after protesters overran his palace. The pro-Western Wickremesinghe has sought the top position for decades. A few families have long played outsized political roles in the Indian Ocean island nation, and Wickremesinghe's uncle Junius Jayewardene was one of its longest-serving leaders -- in power for 12 years until stepping down in 1989. Dubbed the "old fox", Jayewardene was renowned for his cunning, but his nephew is regarded as an even shrewder navigator of the country's internecine power networks. It was Jayewardene who brought him into politics by making him a deputy foreign affairs minister in 1977. Commentators joked the initials of their United National Party (UNP) actually stood for Uncle and Nephew. Family members say that Jayewardene, who died in 1996, had wanted to ensure that Wickremesinghe becomes president "even for one day". Gotabaya appointed Wickremesinghe, 73, as prime minister in May, after the leader's elder brother Mahinda resigned in the face of widespread protests against the rule of the Rajapaksas, who have dominated Sri Lankan politics for much of the last two decades. Wickremesinghe ran for the presidency twice before -- in 1999 and 2005 -- losing both elections, and the UNP was annihilated in a parliamentary election in 2020, leaving the silver-haired veteran as its only MP. His political manoeuvring, however, has seen him outfox opponents to ascend to the presidency. But he will now have to address the country's worst economic crisis, and while he was backed by the SLPP, the demonstrators who ousted Rajapaksa have also been demanding his departure -- accusing him of protecting the ex-president's family's interests. Analysts say he will crack down hard if protesters take to the streets against him. Burning books Wickremesinghe is married to Maithree, an English lecturer. They do not have children and have bequeathed their assets to his old school and their universities. But their impressive library of more than 2,500 books -- which he called his "biggest treasure" -- was among the losses when their house was torched by demonstrators who also drove Rajapaksa from his official residence. Born into a wealthy and politically connected family rooted in publishing and plantations, Wickremesinghe started work as a rookie reporter at one of the family newspapers. He turned to a legal career after the family firm was nationalised in 1973 by Sirima Bandaranaike, the world's first woman prime minister. AFP

Final two candidates for UK PM to be decided

London: The final two candidates to become UK prime minister will be decided Wednesday, with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Penny Mordaunt battling it out with frontrunner Rishi Sunak. Former finance minister Sunak was only two votes short of securing his place in the final two after Tuesday's voting, but the race behind him tightened as Truss clawed back five votes to finish only six behind Mordaunt. The final two will be announced at four pm (1400 GMT), before the race then moves to the party members who will decide the new leader and prime minister. The result will be announced on September 5. Tuesday's vote means Britain will get either its first British Asian prime minister or the third female leader in the country's history. Sunak, whose resignation helped to topple outgoing leader Boris Johnson, is all but guaranteed to make the final cut. But Mordaunt -- the one-time bookmaker's favourite -- is now the outsider with punters betting that the right wing of the party will swing behind Truss after Kim Badenoch was voted out on Tuesday. Former minister David Davis, a backer of Mordaunt, accused Sunak of lending votes to Truss in order to face her in the run off. "Rishi just re-allocated some (votes) ... He wants to fight Liz, because she's the person who will lose the debate with him," he told LBC Radio. A YouGov poll published before the vote showed that, despite his popularity with parliamentary colleagues, Sunak was the least appealing candidate to the members. Mordaunt had headed the same poll previously. She now trails Truss after a damaging few days in which her former boss, one-time UK Brexit pointman David Frost, slammed her work ethic and questions were raised over her stance on trans rights. Race gets personal In a statement after Tuesday's vote, Mordaunt said: "We are so nearly across the finish line. I am raring to go and excited to put my case to members across the country and win." The BBC announced on Tuesday it will host a live televised debate with the final two candidates on Monday, with all remaining candidates agreeing to take part if they get through. Sky News on Monday scrapped a planned debate between the remaining contenders after Sunak and Truss pulled out. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on July 7 he was quitting as Conservative leader after a government rebellion in protest at his scandal-hit administration. His government having survived a confidence vote on Monday, Johnson is now almost certain to stay on as prime minister until his successor is announced on September 5. Under Britain's parliamentary system, the leader of the biggest party is prime minister and can be changed mid-term without having to call a general election. Johnson chaired his last Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning and is due to face his last weekly question and answer session with MPs in parliament on Wednesday. In the two previous televised debates -- on Channel 4 Friday and the ITV network Sunday -- the contenders clashed notably on whether to cut taxes to help ease a soaring cost of living crisis. But Sunday's clash turned more acrimonious -- and personal -- with candidates encouraged to directly criticise one another and their proposals. Sunak called out Truss for voting against Brexit, her previous membership of the Liberal Democrats and her position on tax. In turn, Truss questioned Sunak's stewardship of the economy. Badenoch attacked Mordaunt for her stance on transgender rights -- a rallying call in the "culture wars" exercising the Tory right. AFP

Europe counts cost of heatwave as French fires come under control

Bordeaux: Europe counted the cost of a record heatwave on Wednesday as French firefighters brought twin blazes near Bordeaux under control and climate change protesters pointed to the sizzling weather as a wake up call for the continent. Temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) over previous days have spelled misery for millions and shattered heat records, focusing attention on the impact of global warming. Cooler air swept in Wednesday, bringing relief to people from Portugal to Britain, but thousands of firefighters continued to tackle mass fires that have broken out in multiple countries in recent days after months of drought-like conditions. "Our assessment is generally positive. The situation improved overnight," French fire service spokesman Arnaud Mendousse told AFP from the southwestern Gironde region where two huge blazes have engulfed 20,600 hectares (50,900 acres) of tinder-dry forest since last week. The infernos had barely expanded overnight, with lower temperatures and the construction of a 300-metre wide fire break helping stem the spread of the flames. President Emmanuel Macron was set to visit later on Wednesday to speak to emergency services members and some of the 37,000 people who have been evacuated in the popular Atlantic Ocean region that is teaming with tourists in the summer months. Two firefighters were severely injured overnight, government spokesman Olivier Veran told reporters. Separate blazes in the Monts d'Arree area of northwestern Brittany continued to rage on Wednesday, with aircraft dropping water from above. Greek planes and helicopters were also in action against a wildfire that has forced hundreds of people to flee mountainside suburbs north of Athens. AFP

Abdullah Shafique has been hailed by Afridi, Ramiz Raja, and Shoaib Malik as the "next batting superstar"

Sports desk

The Pakistani cricket community has nothing but appreciation for Abdullah Shafique's outstanding performance, which helped Pakistan defeat Sri Lanka in the first Test on Wednesday in Galle.Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by four wickets after chasing down a record-breaking 342 run total with Shafique scoring an unbeaten 160. Shahid Afridi, a former captain of the national cricket team, claimed Abdullah Shafique's outstanding innings would live on in history.Afridi claimed that Abdullah Shafique will become a major star as a result of this innings in a message on the social media platform Twitter. Shoaib Malik, a cricket player and all-rounder, described Pakistan's victory as "a stunning and historic victory."

Hanyu calls time on storied career

Japanese figure skating great says he feels ‘no sadness’ after retiring from competition aged 27

TOKYO: Japan's two-time Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu said he felt "no sadness" after retiring from competition aged 27 on Tuesday, bringing the curtain down on one of the sport's most glittering careers. The soft-spoken "Ice Prince" became the first man to win back-to-back Olympic titles in 66 years and is a national icon who is followed around the world by adoring fans. But he said the time was right to bow out after finishing fourth at this year's Beijing Games – where he struggled with injury – saying he was "not needed any more" in competitive skating. "As far as competitions and results go, I think I have been able to take all the things I wanted to take," Hanyu, dressed in a dark suit and bowing deeply as he took to the stage, told a packed press conference in Tokyo. "I think I have grown in such a way that I don't seek that kind of evaluation anymore," he added. Hanyu said he intends to keep his legion of "Fanyu" supporters happy by skating in exhibition shows, and made clear his discomfort with the idea of being considered retired. He will no longer compete on the stage that made him one of figure skating's all-time greats, however, adding that he would "never miss the tension of competition". "I'll no longer be compared with other skaters as a competitor," he said. "I have no sadness. I want to continue to do my best." With his graceful skating style and delicate, boyish looks, Hanyu is an icon for his fans, who shower the ice with Winnie the Pooh toys after his routines. He won his first Olympic singles title at the 2014 Sochi Games and overcame injury to retain his crown four years later in Pyeongchang. He also won the world championships in 2014 and 2017 but he has been dogged by injury in recent years, including an ankle ligament problem that he had to overcome to win his second Olympic gold. He was dethroned as Olympic champion in February in Beijing by rival Nathan Chen of the United States, tumbling during his routine and missing the podium. Hanyu said he had considered retiring after the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018 but finally made up his mind after returning from Beijing. "I thought about a lot of things at that time, and I thought I wasn't needed anymore on this stage," he said. Hanyu will concentrate on skating in ice shows, where he will attempt to land the fabled quadruple axel jump that eluded him throughout his competitive career. He said he would "work harder" so he could one day "land it successfully in front of everyone". Although his plans for the future are still "vague", he said he wanted to "figure out ways to show people my skating in a way that's more befitting of today's age". "Ice shows tend to be considered something elegant and fun, but I want to remain more of an athlete," he said. "I want people to see me as I continue to fight." Hanyu is a national hero in Japan, where he became the youngest recipient of his country's prestigious People's Honour Award in 2018, and his every move is headline news. But he still remains something of an enigma despite the huge attention, rarely granting interviews and having no social media presence. He said he wanted to "continue learning", adding that "being Yuzuru Hanyu is a heavy burden". AFP

Defending Tour de France champion Pogacar loses key teammate

Saint-Gaudens: Defending Tour de France champion Tadej Pogacar lost a third UAE Emirates teammate when his lieutenant Rafal Majka pulled out injured ahead of Wednesday's mountain stage 17 climb to Peyragudes. Slovenian Pogacar needs to overturn a two minute and 22-second deficit to overall leader Jonas Vingegaard of Jumbo as their cat-and mouse struggle for the yellow jersey enters its end game. The 2020 and 2021 champion Pogacar has already lost climber George Bennett and flat plains specialist Vegard Stake Laengen, while Vingegaard has also lost two teammates. "Unfortunately Rafal Majka will not start stage 17... after sustaining a strain injury to his thigh after mechanical trouble on stage 16 when his chain broke," UAE Team Emirates doctor Adrian Rotunno said. Pogacar was leading the race by 39sec from Vingegaard before losing Bennett and Laengen to positive Covid tests last week and then struggling in the Alps on the Col du Granon on stage 11 in intense heat. But on stage 15 Denmark's Vingegaard lost two teammates to injury, levelling the playing field as Primoz Roglic pulled out and Steven Kruijswijk fell heavily and was taken away by ambulance. "If I hadn't lost my teammates I wouldn't be behind now," Pogacar said at the time, and looked confident and strong on stage 16. Just ahead of the Tour, Matteo Trentin, a key member of Pogacar's team, also withdrew from the race with Covid. AFP

Martial shines again as United beat Palace 

Striker scores his third goal in as many pre-season games to help Red Devils bag 3-1 win

MELBOURNE: New coach Erik ten Hag warned that there was still a lot more work to do after Manchester United beat Crystal Palace 3-1 on Tuesday with Anthony Martial scoring his third goal in three pre-season games. In front of 76,500 fans at Melbourne Cricket Ground, French forward Martial struck in the first half while Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho both collected their second goals of the pre-season tour after the restart. Joel Ward pulled one back for Palace, but they were always chasing a game that saw United reduced to 10 men in the dying minutes after Will Fish was sent off for a deliberate foul. Another sour note was the reaction of some fans to Harry Maguire, with suggestions that the United skipper was the target of boos. But it was a mostly positive evening, the friendly victory Ten Hag's third since taking over after their 4-0 thumping of Liverpool in Bangkok and a 4-1 win over Melbourne Victory. In contrast, it was a second straight defeat for Patrick Vieira's young Palace side, who crashed 2-0 to Liverpool in Singapore on Friday. "We are happy with the improvement we are seeing, but there is also a lot of work to do," said Ten Hag. "We did score some wonderful goals, that's true. "We played well and I think the belief is increasing," he added while praising his forwards in particular. "They did a lot of running, a lot of work. They have a lot of energy and were rewarded by scoring goals." The Dutchman is beginning to stamp his mark on the Old Trafford side, with his team – who finished a disappointing sixth last season in the Premier League – producing some fluid, one-touch football. Goalkeeper David de Gea returned after missing the Victory game with a niggle. New left-back Tyrell Malacia began ahead of Luke Shaw, while Rashford was back in the starting line-up after scoring as a substitute against Victory, partnering a rejuvenated Martial and Sancho in Cristiano Ronaldo's absence. Christian Eriksen and Lisandro Martinez, Ten Hag's other new signings, are not in Australia. Vieira has a youthful squad in Australia, with a number of senior players not making the trip. United made a confident start, dominating early possession, with Palace goalkeeper Jack Butland making a fine stop from Martial after Brazilian Fred's pass split the defence. But the save ended Butland's game, forcing him to leave the pitch after treatment on his hand. AFP

Henrik Stenson stripped of Ryder Cup captaincy

London: Henrik Stenson was Wednesday stripped of the captaincy of the European Ryder Cup team with immediate effect "in light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances". The 46-year-old Swede is understood to be on the verge of signing up for the Saudi-funded breakaway LIV Golf series and, after discussions with Ryder Cup Europe officials, the decision was made to effectively sack him as captain. "Ryder Cup Europe today confirms that Henrik Stenson's tenure as captain of Team Europe for the 2023 Ryder Cup at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in Rome, Italy, from September 25 to October 1, 2023, has been brought to an end with immediate effect," a Ryder Cup Europe statement read. "In light of decisions made by Henrik in relation to his personal circumstances, it has become clear that he will not be able to fulfil certain contractual obligations to Ryder Cup Europe." AFP

Pak vs SL Shafique stars as Pakistan break Galle record to beat Sri Lanka

GALLE: Abdullah Shafique hit an epic 160 to anchor Pakistan's record chase of 342 at Galle as the tourists won a thrilling opening Test against Sri Lanka on Wednesday. The opener capped his marathon display with the winning runs in the final session on day five, jumping for joy and pumping his fist as Pakistan triumphed by four wickets for a 1-0 lead in the two-match series. Left-arm spinner Prabath Jayasuriya took a match haul of nine wickets but his efforts were in vain as the visitors battled past the previous best chase in Galle of 268 by Sri Lanka against New Zealand in 2019. The 22-year-old Shafique excelled with his second Test ton. He built crucial partnerships including a 101-run third-wicket stand with skipper Babar Azam, who made 55 after his 119 in the first innings on a tricky pitch to bat on. "We know how to play spin so we believed," Azam said after the tense win. "When I was batting with Abdullah Shafique we were just trying to build a partnership. He has shown his class." Shafique, who was named man of the match, said: "It was difficult but with time it was easier. Babar is one of the best in the world. We have learnt so much from him. I enjoyed batting with him in the middle." The unbeaten Shafique finally combined with Mohammad Nawaz, 19 not out, to take the visitors home after a brief rain interruption halted their charge. The teams had taken early tea before returning for the third session of play. Shafique survived three dropped catches, on 70, 135 and 151, but deserved his luck and played the anchor´s role to perfection as he surpassed his previous Test best of 136 not out. Pakistan had a few anxious moments after Jayasuriya, who sent back talisman Azam before the close on day four, struck at the stroke of lunch to get debutant, Salman Ali Agha, out for 12. Hasan Ali fell for five in the second over of the second session after being promoted up the order to hit out the remaining runs. Lone man Jayasuriya Jayasuriya, who took 12 wickets on debut in a series-levelling Test win over Australia last week at the same venue, six in each innings, kept up the pressure but Shafique stood firm. Pakistan resumed the day on 222-3 and Sri Lanka soon used up their remaining two umpire reviews, with Jayasuriya involved in both calls. Mohammad Rizwan opened his day´s account with a boundary off Ramesh Mendis and kept up his positive intent by taking singles and twos before he fell lbw to Jayasuriya for 40. "With the ball, we could not support Prabath from the other end. We had to give him more support," skipper Dimuth Karunaratne said of his lead spinner, who toiled for 95.2 overs in the two innings combined. A review did not save Rizwan, a wicketkeeper-batsman who has come into the two-match series after a successful stint with English county Sussex. Dinesh Chandimal kept up his blazing form in an unbeaten 94 — his second successive half-century — when he ran out of partners in Sri Lanka's second-innings total of 337. In a match of tail-end fightbacks, Azam hit a defiant century in Pakistan's first innings and batted patiently with the lower order after the visitors slipped to 85-7 on day two. The second Test starts Sunday, also in Galle, after it was moved from Colombo due to the political unrest in Sri Lanka. AFP

ISLAMABAD: President of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi is having a conversation with SM Muneer, Head of United Business Group.

MUZAFFARABAD: Deputy Speaker Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly Chaudhry Riaz Ahmed presided over the meeting by ministers and members of the assembly.

Indian troops arrest several youth during CASOs in IIOJK

By Our Correspondent

SRINAGAR: During cordon and search operations and house searches in several parts of Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir, Indian troops detained a number of people. According to Kashmir Media Service, during their ongoing house raids and search operations, Indian troops, paramilitary, and police officials detained more than a dozen teenagers in various parts of Srinagar, Badgam, Baramulla, Jammu, Rajouri, Poonch, and Kathua districts. The troops on the second consecutive day continued their house raids and search operation in Uri and Baramulla towns while similar operations also continued in Pir Panjal area of Jammu region to intimidate the people who are demanding right to self-determination and liberation from Indian occupation.

Political instability causing economic turmoil in country: Tarin

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Shaukat Tarin, a former finance minister, asserted that the nation's economic unrest was being caused by political unrest. When commenting on the free collapse of the rupee against the dollar, Tarin claimed that the State Bank of Pakistan has refused to provide dollars, with the current interbank rate of the currency being Rs 227. Despite Miftah Ismail's assertions, Shaukat Tarin claimed that the market did not believe him. Price increases will follow from the rupee's devaluation, he continued. According to him, the market is uneasy and needs to regain confidence for things to return to normal. The previous finance minister added, "The people have to pay the debt they have borrowed." Stocks are dropping and the dollar is strengthening as a result of political unrest, according to Tarin. “Only solution of the situation is announcement of the election, so as the market feels the confidence that we are moving towards political stability,” he said. After the results of the Punjab by-election, a former minister encouraged the government to call elections and install a strong caretaker government, noting that the results had made the political unrest in the nation worse. He demanded the establishment of a powerful interim administration that is knowledgeable about the market. "We have to go forward to end the political uncertainty for the economic prosperity of the country," he stated. He predicted that until the new elections were declared, there would be uncertainty.

A one-day workshop on the National Water Policy 2018 Implementation Framework will be held tomorrow 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: A one-day workshop on the implementation framework of the National Water Policy 2018 regarding water status, availability, and better water management in the country will be held on Thursday. The workshop will be held in the auditorium of WAPDA Staff College. The workshop will be attended by domestic and foreign water experts and solutions to water problems in the country and the water needs of the country. Secretary Water Resources Dr. Kazim Niaz will deliver the welcome speech regarding the implementation of the National Water Policy. The workshop will be addressed by CSIRO Australia Dr. McCirby, Rome International Agricultural Research Advisory Group representative Dr. Stephen Davis, American water expert Dr. George L. Morris, and Federal Minister of Water Resources Syed Khurshid Shah. There will be various sessions of the workshop that will discuss various proposals on water management, water conservation, current, and future needs, and other issues. Climate change, Ministry of National Food Security, Ursa, Federal Flood Commission, Department of Meteorology, Agriculture Departments of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Planning and Development Secretaries and other officers participated in the workshop. Intellectuals and related persons from international financial institutions and civil society have been invited. The workshop will be chaired by Chief Engineering Adviser/Chairman Flood Commission Ahmed Kamal and Joint Secretary Water Resources Syed Muhammad Maher Ali Shah, who will chair the sessions on water resources management, conservation, and current and future requirements. On this occasion, the experts will also give their suggestions on which a special time has been fixed for the question and answer session.Various reports on water resources management and needs will also be presented in the concluding session. This workshop is of great importance in terms of addressing the problem of water scarcity in the country and improving the availability of water. In the light of the opinions and suggestions of the experts participating in the workshop, the future strategy will be formulated, for the improvement of water resources and future guidance and consultation with the government with reference to the construction of small and large dams and water reservoirs in the country. The participants of the workshop will also be informed about the measures to be taken.

Imran Khan encamps in Lahore amid horse-trading blames


LAHORE: Imran Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and a Former Prime Minister arrived in Lahore on Wednesday. He plans to set up camp there before the election for Punjab chief minister, which is set for July 22, and monitor the activities of his lawmakers amid allegations of horse trading. Former president and PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari received harsh criticism from the former premier. After claiming that Zardari was the mastermind behind the horse-trading, he urged that he be put in jail. The PTI chief moves to the provincial capital to keep an eye on the developments ahead of the runoff election. He will also chair a meeting of the party’s parliamentary committee and meet with party candidates who emerged victorious during Punjab by-elections. Imran Khan will also hold a meeting with Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi – who has been nominated by PTI for the chief minister slot. The PTI chairman also posted a series of tweets against the alleged horse-trading in Punjab ahead of the CM election of which he laid blame on ex-president Asif Ali Zardari. Several PTI leaders have made similar claims as the election approaches near. "Today Lahore is seeing a rerun of the Sindh House horse trading that transpired in Islamabad with up to Rs50 crores being offered to buy MPAs," he stated in a tweet.

Kashmiris to mobilize public opinion on India’s rights abuses in occupied Kashmir


WASHINGTON: Kashmiri activists meeting in Washington have decided to mobilise public opinion on India's egregious human rights violations in Kashmir in this country's capital as well as at the UN in New York and Geneva, according to a press release issued on Wednesday by the advocacy group World Kashmir Awareness Forum (WKAF), which hosted the meeting. The conference, according to a news release, appointed a committee to organise two events: one to commemorate the illegal annexation of Jammu and Kashmir by India on August 5 and another to organise a nonviolent demonstration in New York City in September during the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, WKAF’s president, underscored the role of diaspora in highlighting and bringing into focus the human rights abuses and denial of the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir. “We are in the process of organizing the diaspora to reach out to the US communities and our elected representatives,” he said. Dr. Pir Syed Ali Raza Bukhari, a parliamentarian from Azad Kashmir and Chairman of the International Sufi Peace Forum, who was the chief guest, emphasized that the peaceful resolution of longstanding Kashmir dispute will guarantee durable peace and stability in the region of South Asia. “The people of India and Pakistan need healthcare, education, clean water which is only possible once you create an atmosphere of peace by giving the people of Jammu & Kashmir right to self-determination,” he said. The honoree was Abdul Shakoor, president of the Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan and assistant secretary general of the "Union of NGO's of Islamic World (UNIW)" in Istanbul. He claimed that Kashmiri-Americans are situated in Washington, DC, one of the world's most significant capitals. In order to participate in WKAF's numerous activities, including social media, arranging seminars, symposiums, and talks on college campuses and abroad, youth and students must be inspired to do so. There is a demand for French and Arabic translations of the content that WKAF publishes. Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Secretary General of WKAF, said that the most important and poignant aspect of the situation in Kashmir is uncertainty, unpredictability, and anxiety of the unknown. Thousands have been brutally killed or cling to life in hospitals, in jails, in secret torture cells. These Kashmiris are victims of a reign of terror by India’s 900,000 strong military and paramilitary forces. Yet, despite a faint murmur of protest in international circles and an occasional report in the world press, India has felt no pressure whatsoever to desist from its semi-genocidal campaign.

APTFK was acclaimed to highlight the issue of Kashmir and to raise a voice in the World

By Our Correspondent

LAHORE: The "All Parties Task Force for Kashmir" was founded to draw attention to the Kashmir crisis and to raise a voice for the release of Yasin Malik, the leader of the Kashmiri Hurriyat, and other Kashmiris. The Task Force is led by former governor of Punjab Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar and includes members from various political parties, including the Tehreek-e-Insaaf, PML (N), People's Party, Muslim Conference, and Jamaat-e-Islami. There will be a discussion on this topic in the British Parliament soon after Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar contacts British lawmakers and human rights advocates of the horrors being committed against Kashmiris, particularly Yasin Malik. According to the announcement issued by the “All Parties Task Force for Kashmir”, the Chairman of the All Parties Task Force will be Former Governor of Punjab Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, while other members include include Azad Kashmir President Barrister Sultan Mahmood and PML-Q Federal Minister Chaudhry Salek Hussain, JUI (F) Secretary General Abdul Ghafoor Haidri, PML-N Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, wife of Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik Mushaal Mullick, Former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider, Leader of Opposition in the Senate from Tehreek-e-Insaaf Dr. Shahzad Waseem, Jamaat-e-Islami Vice President Amir Liaquat Baluch, Pakistani Awami Tehreek Secretary General Khurram Nawaz, MQM member of Parliament Kishwar Zuhra, ex-deputy speaker AJK Shah Ghulam Qadr, PPP Central Secretary Information Faisal Karim Kundi and Nadeem Afzal Chan, President Muslim Conference Azad Kashmir Sardar Atiq Ahmed, Leader of Opposition Azad Kashmir Assembly Chaudhry Yaseen, and Rafiq Dar of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front.In the ongoing declaration of the Task Force, it is said that Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar has met with the Chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kashmir, Debbie Abrahams, and other members of the British Parliament against the punishment of Yasin Malik and Indian atrocities in Kashmir. And over 12,000 people have signed the petition to discuss this matter in the British Parliament and it will be debated in the British Parliament very soon. There is no question that India is committing worse crimes against Kashmiris, according to Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar, and there are no such things as human rights. It is admirable that all of Pakistan's political and religious groups consistently agree on the Kashmir issue, and inshAllah, the day will soon arrive when Yasin Malik and all other prisoners from Kashmir will be set free. Against Yasin Malik's unconstitutional penalty and the crimes being committed against Kashmiris, he said, I am in daily contact with British members of Parliament, and we will fight for Kashmiris all over the world.

Pakistan is anticipated to be visited in September by a FATF evaluation team 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is expected to meet the formal conditions to be removed off the Financial Action Task Force's "grey list" of nations subject to intensified surveillance in September, according to information learned on Wednesday. The dates for the FATF evaluation team are reportedly being confirmed through diplomatic channels. After analysing Pakistan's anti-money laundering and counter-terror funding activities, the assessment team will evaluate them. According to sources, the FATF delegation will assess the two action plans, which comprise 34 items finished by Pakistan, in person. The FATF assessment team will complete its thorough report on Pakistan and present it in the October session of the watchdog. On June 17, 2022, the FATF in its statement said: “Pakistan has substantially completed its two action plans, covering 34 items, and warrants an on-site visit to verify that the implementation of Pakistan’s AML/CFT reforms has begun and is being sustained.” The declaration was made following the conclusion of the FATF's four-day plenary meeting in Berlin, which covered Pakistan's position. In June 2018, Islamabad was added to the FATF list of nations requiring heightened surveillance. In its statement, the watchdog noted that the required level of political commitment will continue to exist in order to ensure implementation and development going forward. According to the FATF, Pakistan has made a high-level political commitment to work with the organisation and the Asia Pacific Group (APG) to improve its anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime and address any weaknesses it may have in strategic counter-terrorist financing. This commitment dates back to June 2018.

MUZAFFARABAD: Secretary General of International Human Rights Ambassador Malik Nadeem is meeting with Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry of Azad Jammu and Kashmir at President's Office in Muzaffarabad.

President Alvi praises cricket team for win against Sri Lanka despite ‘hiccups, rain scare’ 

By Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: President Dr. Arif Alvi on Wednesday congratulated the Pakistan cricket team for winning against Sri Lanka in the first of two test match series, by achieving a high target in the fourth innings. “Congratulations Pakistan. Good confident cricket to achieve a high target in 4th innings. Despite some hiccups and rain scare you made it,” President Dr. Arif Alvi remarked on Twitter. He praised Abdullah Shafique for “outstanding batting” who hit an unbeaten 160 as Pakistan chased down a record target of 342 at Galle leading to a victory by four wickets. He also appreciated the performance of Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan as well as “good bowling” by Nawaz. “Mashallah you have become a formidable pack” the president commented.

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