Cost of living getting terrible
By Sardar Khan Niazi
Similar to the temperature increase, a new deluge of price escalations are torturing the people of Pakistan, which has become almost unbearable. Due to the government’s failure to stem skyrocketing prices, the cost of living is getting higher day by day. Prices of essential commodities know no bounds. The government must address the root cause of inflation. It went out of proportion in April, which were by the way the first three weeks of the new government of Shahbaz Sharif. The cause is clear: unwarranted increase in imports at an exaggerated rate, a beaten rupee, and growth in food prices internationally. That may not be the end of the pinching prices, as the IMF’s call to cut subsidies on oil and withdraw the relief in electricity prices has made the scenario worst. The government has little to plan as it is at the receiving end to make certain that a fresh cash tranche comes its way to revise the ongoing program with the lender. Prices of essentials go up every year. The spiraling prices of essentials before and during Ramadan have become the standard in the country, no matter how immoral the practice is. Corrupt traders never forget to increase the prices of food items before Ramadan and in spite of the government’s constant declarations to check the price hike the prices never go down. This year was no exception. After visiting almost all markets and utility stores in the city, the citizens found that the prices of all products and goods had moved up. What is more, the rates of the daily requirements moved up even amazingly. If both the stock and supply of the goods at the markets were adequate, as claimed by the government, why had the prices increased? Moreover, if the corrupt businesspersons were responsible for the price hike, why the government did not take strict action against them? Similarly, why are there no updated price charts at the city’s markets, which are supposed to be there? The concerned departments including price control committees must sit with the traders’ associations, both wholesalers and retailers, and come up with an appropriate plan to keep the prices down. The government should make it a point to help the citizens by lowering the prices of goods, such as vegetables and fruits. Every religious occasion sees a substantial reduction in prices of basic commodities all over the world. On the other hand, astonishingly, in Pakistan, the opposite takes place every year without fail. Traders raise the prices of food items frequently purchased during religious occasions so much so that the less affluent section of society cannot manage to pay for it at all. Even if the government sends out a reduced price list to traders, there is no check and balance to see the implementation of the said prices. Stalls located on streets continue to charge a hefty price for the same vegetable, or perhaps fruit, that they were selling at half the price before the religious occasions. As a result, families face a major rise in their expenses and resort to either cutting off other equally necessary expenditures or not procuring such goods at all. Nonetheless, nutrition from fruits and vegetables is very crucial for the citizens particularly because they have to consume high-priced food or less available drinkable water. Moreover, because of the temperature rise consumption of vitamins is indispensable for people’s health. Therefore, the government should reinforce the market monitoring schemes and should take legal steps against the corrupt businesspersons to make certain that the prices of essential commodities remain within the reach of ordinary people. It is high time the regulatory authorities took the long overdue measures.
Soldiers, children among six martyred in NW suicide attack: ISPR
PM strongly condemns suicide blast in North Waziristan
By Staff Reporter
RAWALPINDI:Three Pakistani Army soldiers and three children have been martyred in a suicide attack in North Waziristan area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Sunday. According to the ISPR, the suicide attack in Miramshah area of the North Waziristan district claimed lives of three soldiers and three innocent children. The martyred soldiers were identified as Lance Havaldar Zubair Qadir, age 33 years and a resident of Pakpatan; Sepoy Uzair Asfar, age 21 years and a resident of Haripur; Sepoy Qasim Maqsood, age 22 years and a resident of Multan. Three innocent children were also martyred in the suicide attack who were identified as Ahmed Hassan age 11 years, Ahsan age eight years and Anum age four years. Intelligence agencies are investigating to find out about suicide bomber and his handlers/facilitators, the ISPR statement added. The security forces also cordoned off the area and launched a search operation to track down the perpetrators. The ISPR said that intelligence agencies are conducting a probe regarding the suicide attacker and his facilitators. A few weeks ago, seven Pakistani soldiers had been martyred in a militant attack in North Waziristan. Militants ambushed a military vehicle in Dattakhel area on April 14. Seven soldiers had laid down their lives in the exchange of fire. On April 13, two soldiers were killed in two separate attacks in the Shaam and Mirali Khadi areas of North Waziristan. Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Sunday strongly condemned a suicide blast in Miran Shah, North Waziristan in which reportedly six persons including three security personnel embraced martyrdom.
The prime minister observed that enmity with Pakistan was the reason behind this act of terrorism and expressed resolve to eliminate enemies of the country.
Directs CM KP to arrest Sikhs' killers
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD:Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday while strongly condemning the killing of two members of the Sikh community in Peshawar, directed the chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to ensure immediate arrest and punishment of the culprits. He also asked the chief minister to ensure steps for the protection of the lives and properties of the citizens particularly of the non-Muslims, the PM Office Media Wing said in a press release. Moreover, prime minister expressed sympathies with the bereaved families of the deceased Ranjeet Singh and Kanwal Singh. The prime minister observed that enmity with Pakistan was the reason behind this act of terrorism and expressed resolve to eliminate enemies of the country. He also assured the bereaved families of the complete support of the federal government.
PM strongly condemns suicide blast in North Waziristan
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD:Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Sunday strongly condemned the suicide blast in Miranshah, North Waziristan in which reportedly six persons including three security personnel embraced martyrdom. The Prime Minister expressed his deep grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives and conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families. He also prayed for the high ranks of the departed souls and for the bereaved families to bear the losses with equanimity, the Media Wing of PM Office said in a press release. The Prime Minister paid tributes to the sacrifices of Lance HawaldarZubairQadir, Sepoy Aziz Asghar and SepoyQasimMaqsood. He said that the entire nation felt pride over the supreme sacrifices of the armed forces of Pakistan which had always been a golden chapter in national history. aSuch a display of valor and sacrifices had always remained a glowing principle of the armed forces of Pakistan which were kept alive by the martyrs, he added. The Prime Minister also expressed condolences with the bereaved families of shaheed children including 4-year-old Anam, 8-year-old Ahsan and 11-year-old Ahmad Hassan. Expressing his resolve to root out the scourge of barbarity, he said that murderers of innocent children had been the enemies of Islam and humanity. He said that they would not rest till the facilitators and culprits behind this heinous act were brought to justice.
Marriyum condemns suicide blast in Miranshah
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD:Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb on Sunday strongly condemned the suicide blast in Miranshah area of North Waziristan. In a statement, she said that miscreants wanted to disturb the law and order situation but such cowardly acts could not dampen the spirits of the nation. "Sacrifices of security personnel for restoration of law and order in the country will not go in vain," said the minister. The minister expressed her deep felt condolences to the families of security personnel and children martyred in the blast. She prayed to Allah Almighty to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear these irreparable losses with fortitude.
Petrol to remain unchanged: Miftah
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD:Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail on Sunday said the government was not raising petrol prices and a summary for that matter has been sent to the Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif for a swift decision. “Risig petrol prices causes surge in food prices, which is the core of inflation and affects a common man directly," he said this while addressing to the media in Press Information Department (PID). He further said that prime minister wanted to provide relief to already inflation-hit citizens. However, the minister later tweeted from his official account that the decision taken to keep the fuel prices unchanged was for today. He also added that due to changing circumstances and international oil prices, they may have to revisit their decision soon. “Let me amplify what I just said in my presser. The government will not raise POL prices today. But due to changing circumstances and international oil prices, we may have to revisit our decision soon,” said the minister Over the pending talks with the International Monetary Funds (IMF) which is due on May 18th, the minister informed that they would hold a review meeting with the International lender agency and would inform them about the decision taken in this regard (unchanged petrol prices). The minister further said that the friend countries including Saudi Arabia had assured economic cooperation and talks were underway for the extension of the deposited period. He said the Saudis had promised to extend the term of deposits from December, 2022 and also agreed to negotiate an increase in deposits. Informing about the wheat production which was 26 million tonnes as per the official record, he apprised on the instructions of prime minister, they were keeping the wheat reserves. He further said that agriculture was an important part of the national economy and the government would extend full cooperation for its development. Talking about the country's import sector, he said that according to the current situation, imports were expected to touch $ 75 billion. However, Miftah said that the exports in return were expected to reach $30 billion, despite after the $30 billion remittance recorded in this financial year, the current account deficit would increase significantly Miftah regretted that due to the wrong policies of the previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, there was imbalance between imports and exports. He further stated that the pace by which the exports were increasing was half the pace compared to rise in imports. The Minister said that the former PML-N government used to export agricultural commodities including wheat, sugar and urea fertilizer and cotton but under the previous regime we had to import all these commodities. He maintained that this was due to decrease in production as well as increase in smuggling. Miftah said that wheat and urea fertilizer were being smuggled to Afghanistan (during the tenure of former government), which had put pressure on the local market and in result commodities became expensive. Slamming the former PTI government for ignoring the agriculture sector, he lamented that because of their wrong policies, the situation had come to a point where we were importing food items. "Today we are importing food items worth of $8 billion," he regretted He said that during the Covid-19, the former government got enough relaxations as G-20 countries and International Financial Institutions deferred installments on loan repayments which the PTI government could take advantage off. Moreover, on the losing value of Pakistani rupee (depriciation) against US dollars, the minister asserted that it was again due to dismal economic policies of former government.
Pak FM Bilawal Bhutto to visit US, China, Switzerland next week
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister of Pakistan Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will visit United States (US), China and Switzerland in the next week where he would be meeting his foreign counterparts and would also attend a meeting of the World Economic Forum. According to Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will visit the United States on Tuesday to lead Pakistan's delegation at a ministerial-level meeting on global food security in New York on Wednesday. The meeting, convened by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is aimed at responding to the escalating food prices across the world in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. According to diplomatic sources, the meeting will review the urgent humanitarian needs and identify steps to build resilience for the future. The ministerial meeting will be followed by a UN Security Council debate on "Conflict and Food Security" the following day. During his visit, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will also hold meetings with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President of UN General Assembly Abdullah Shahid and some bilateral meetings with his counterparts.
Islamabad: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Miftah Ismail addressing a press conference.
Govt Hajj Scheme: AsadMehmood holds balloting for 32,453 successful pilgrims
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD:Minister for Communications AsadMehmood on Sunday held balloting for 32,453 successful pilgrims out of total 63, 604 applicants who wanted to perform the religious obligation through the Government Hajj Scheme. Addressing the press conference along with Minister for Housing Maulana Abdul Wasay here at the Press Information Department, he said due to COVID-19 and other domestic issues the Hajj process had been delayed. In addition, the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah had not provided the details of mandatory Hajj expenses yet, he said adding as soon as the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony received the details, it would publicize the total cost of Hajj. He said the Saudi government had given the deadline of May 16, to complete all the codal formalities related to Hajj. Due to time constraints, Religious Affairs Minister Mufti Abdul Shakoor and Additional Secretary Aftab Akbar Durrani were already on Saudi Arabia’s visit in a bid to settle down all the issues on a war footing, he added.
HYDERABAD: PPP leader and provincial minister Irrigation Jam Khan Shoro laid a rally to welcome on Karachi Airport to Foreign Minister and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, at Shoro House Hyderabad.
Shazia Marri visits UAE Consulate to over condolences
By Staff Reporter
KARACHI:Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety, Shazia Marri visited United Arab Emirates (UAE) Consulate in Karachi to offer condolences to the Counsel General of UAE and the government of UAE on the sad demise of the President of UAE, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The Federal Minister Shazia Marri did Fatiha with Consul General of UAE in Karachi, Mr. Mr. Bakheet Al Remeithi, and wrote her views on the condolence book. Federal Minister further stated that it was a sad moment for both the countries i.e. Pakistan and the UAE as Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan had a very close relationship with the government and the people of Pakistan. He and his Khalifa Foundation was involved in a number of welfare activities in Pakistan and always played a vital role during emergency situations in Pakistan.
Zehra blames Sindh, Punjab police for harassing her
KARACHI:Dua Zehra, who claimed to have married Zaheer Ahmed after being reported missing from Karachi, on Sunday shared a threat to her life and said that Sindh and Punjab police are harassing her. In a statement, she said that the Sindh police wanted to abduct her and shift her to Karachi where her life could be in danger over marrying out of her own free will. “I had informed my parents through a letter regarding the motive behind leaving home and where I was travelling to,” she said and added that her parents told lies regarding the matter from day one. Dua Zehra said that she has married Zaheer Ahmed out of her own free will and if anything happened to her then her parents, Sindh and Punjab police would be responsible for it. “I request everyone to let us live in peace,” she said. It is pertinent to mention here that the Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed SSP of District East and SHO Al-Falah Police Station to produce Dua Zehra in court in the next hearing. A two-member bench of SHC headed by Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro heard Dua’s father petition seeking the recovery of teenage girl, who had gone missing from her Karachi home and later surfaced in Punjab. The court also directed the respondents as well as the prosecutor general Sindh to file comments till May 19. Her father in his petition had pleaded to the court to issue orders to the SSP East, SHO Alfalah police station and the investigation officer of the case for recovery of Dua Zehra.
Pakistan begins testing inbound travelers from Gulf countries for coronavirus
KARACHI:The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has restarted Covid-19 tests at the airports for people arriving from the Gulf countries. The testing was resumed after Pakistan recorded its first case of a new sub-variant of the Omicron coronavirus variant. The new variant is named “Omicron sub-variant BA.2.12.1”. According to the notification issued by the CAA, the testing was being done on the directives of the health minister. Teams have been deployed at the Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi airports to conduct rapid antigen tests. The passengers would obtain the results of these tests within 20 minutes. Passengers with a positive test result will have to quarantine at their own expense. Meanwhile, those who test negative will be allowed to go home. They will have to stay indoors for a week. Pakistan reported its first case of a new sub-variant May 9. According to the ministry of health, the variant entered Pakistan through a person traveling from Qatar. The person had mild Covid-19 symptoms and has since fully recovered. All the members of the patient’s family tested negative. “The situation is under control right now but we must stay vigilant,” said the minister according to a government release.The federal health minister said that the government was monitoring the situation and there was no cause for alarm. After the sub-variant was detected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif ordered to immediately restore the National Command and Operation Centre.The National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) which was established in 2020 as the nerve centre for Pakistan’s unified response against the coronavirus ceased operations on March 31, 2020.The then former NCOC Chief Asad Umer said the decline in the spread of the virus and the vaccination rates indicate people should return to normal lives. “This institute which was established in an emergency situation [now] needs to be phased out,” said Umar.
KARACHI: Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety, Shazia Marri visits UAE Consulate to offer condolences on the passing of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Imran Khan should name person conspiring to harm him: Sindh CM Says conspiracy to kill former PM is a political scoop
By Staff Reporter
KARACHI: The Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Sunday said that why Imran Khan is panicking. He also urged the PTI chairperson to name the person conspiring to harm him, make it public. Addressing a press conference in Karachi the Pakistan Peoples Party leader Murad Ali Shah said that if Imran Khan is facing threats in other provinces then the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will take action on the matter. If the threat turns out to be wrong, then action will be taken against Imran Khan for misrepresentation. “We believe in the supremacy of law,” he added. Murad Ali Shah has said that when the former prime minister has blocked phone numbers of the people he believes to be his enemy how he received the threat he disclosed in his public meeting Sialkot. The CM advised the former prime minister to disclose the name of the person(s) who has threatened him or has hatched the conspiracy against him so that necessary action could be taken by the concerned government. “But, he [Imran Khan] says the names would be disclosed if, God forbid, he is killed,” he said and added “it shows he has started to be fretful.” Murad Ali Shah said this is a various matter and should not be used as a political scoop. This he said while addressing a press conference along with the organizers of the My Karachi Expo at Expo Centers. He was flanked by Information Minister Sharjeel Memon, Advisor Law Murtaza Wahab, Chairman Business Group Zubair Motiwala, President KCCI Mohammad Idress, General Secretary A.Q Khalil and others. The chief minister said that the former prime minister has no respect for any institution or any person. “He is trying to blackmail everyone to return to power,” he said and added his government was removed through a political and democratic process, but he was pointing the finger of accusation at others.
Pakistan’s new airline Fly Jinnah to start operations by June
By Staff Reporter
KARACHI: The Pakistan airspace is set to get crowded as Fly Jinnah, a proposed low-cost carrier, prepares to take wing by June. The airline has already commenced recruitment drives for cabin crew in Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore. Fly Jinnah will operate flights between Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The airline has announced to charge the lowest fare for the travellers for its domestic flights. “Fly Jinnah will benefit from the experience of Air Arabia, which is its minority stakeholder,” an aviation expert from Pakistan said. “It will be essentially a low-cost airline, just like its partner. “The airline will begin operating domestically with three leased A320 aircraft and will gradually expand to international routes after a year of successful domestic operations following the addition of aircraft,” the insider said. Last year, in order to boost tourism, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Saturday issued TPRI (Tourism Promotion and Regional Integration) license to a newly launched private airline named North Air.
Minister expresses concern over theft of 32,000 cusecs water
By Staff Reporter
KARACHI:Sindh Minister of Environment has expressed concern over the theft of 32,000 cusecs of water between Taunsa and Guddu Barrage and has said that water scarcity has intensified in Sindh. Environment Minister Ismail Rahoo said that IRSA has failed to distribute water fairly in the provinces, the federation should ensure the neutrality of IRSA, agricultural lands of many districts including Badin, Thatta, Sujawal have become barren. Ismail Rahoo said that water shortage at Kotri Barrage has reached 67%, only 5300 cusecs of water is available at Kotri instead of 15700 cusecs, people are not even getting drinking water, dearth of water on Indus river has extreme adverse effects on climate and due to climate change severe shortage of water has emerged. Provincial Environment Minister said that water scarcity in Sindh is intensifying and this is causing serious problems, not only for human but also for livestock and aquatic and wildlife. We are facing extreme heat and drought. There are also concerns about the lack of food production.
HYDERABAD: PPP workers shouting slogans during a rally to welcome on Karachi Airport to Foreign Minister and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, at Soro House Hyderabad.
Over 1,000 women appear in nationwide trials
By Staff Reporter
LAHORE: As many as 1,118 young girls and women participated in the trials organised in five of the six Cricket Associations as the Pakistan Cricket Board's efforts to make the game more gender-inclusive continue. The biggest turnout was in Central Punjab where 287 players appeared in trials. With 250 players, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was next. In what is a major development for the women's game in Balochistan, 218 teenagers and women participated in the trials. 223 and 140 players gave trials in Southern Punjab and Northern. The selection panel in these CAs, which comprised highly qualified coaches in former Test and first-class cricketers, selected players across the U19, emerging (ages 19-24) and senior (ages 25-28) categories. 125, 139 and 40 players were selected in the U19, emerging and senior categories in Balochistan, Central Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Northern (Muzaffarabad remaining) and Southern Punjab. Head of Women's Cricket Tania Mallick: "The turnout in these trials is overwhelming. It underscores the appetite of women's cricket in the country and has played a crucial role in the identification of talent in different parts. I want to thank parents around the country for facilitating their daughters to appear in these trials and this is a good omen for women's cricket. The educational institutions have also played a major role in making these trials a success by bringing their students to venues. "I want to congratulate and thank the CAs who have played a robust role in the smooth execution of trials. These trials are the first step in the long journey for the development and promotion of the women's cricket in the country, and it cannot be done without the support of CAs and we will continue to provide all the necessary support for it." The selected players have ample opportunities with a bumper women's cricket season ahead.
Circumstances in J&K are moving towards horrible situation: Syed Salahuddin
By Staff Reporter
MUZAFFARABAD: Hizbul Mujahideen Chief and United Jihad Council Chairman Syed Salahuddin Ahmed has said that the circumstances in Jammu and Kashmir are moving towards horrible situation, adding that the international Community’s silence is condemnable. This was stated by Syed Salahuddin Ahmed in statement issued to press on Sunday. Syed Salahuddin Ahmed said that efforts are being fastened to kill the recognized leadership of freedom movement of Jammu and Kashmir one after the other. He said that the criminal and unilateral silence of the international community and international organizations is condemnable. He said that after the suppressed martyrdom of Imam Syed Ali Geelani and Muhammad Ashraf Sehrari, conspiracy is being hatched to remove another prominent Hurriyat Quaid Muhammad Yasin Malik from the way. He said that New Delhi’s puppet and justiceless court of Modi government is going to announce the verdict in a fake case against Kashmiri leader, adding that this will be a heinous effort to satisfy the followers of Hindutva and so called collective conscience. Syed Salahuddin Ahmed said that what will be the big human carnage then anonymous silence of the international community and organizations over making shameless plans to keep the recognized leadership of suppressed Kashmiri nation behind the bars and eliminate them from the earth. He said that Pakistani government should use its diplomatic sources and influence to stop the planned killings of the Kashmiri leadership. He said that there is no room for any negligence during a situation which is taking horrible turn speedily.
Investigative agencies prepared sketch of attacker's female facilitator
By Staff Reporter
KARACHI: Investigative agencies on Sunday sketched out the attacker’s female facilitator in the Karachi University suicide blast case and have also appealed to citizens for help in the search. Experts from research institutes prepared the sketch with the help of eyewitnesses.
In the Court of Mewish Shazadi Civil Judge Jhelum Suit for Possession Through Partition, Case Title Shabir Ahmed etc vs Liyaqat Ali etc To, Anayat BiBi Daughter of Murad Ali, Malik Tariq Mehmood son of Muhammad Safdar R/o Mohallah Islam Pura Tehsil & Dist Jhelum. As there is not possible to call the Defendant through Summon in the instant Suit so through proclamation in Newspaper, You are directed to appear in the court on 19.05.2022 at 8:00AM, otherwise ex-parte proceedings will be initiated.
Govt decided against hiking fuel prices
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led federal government has decided against hiking fuel prices. The announcement was made by Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail while addressing a press conference in Islamabad. Miftah Ismail said the government is not going to increase fuel prices and added that he is going to hold talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the revival of the loan package for Pakistan. “We are not going to increase fuel prices,” Miftah said and advised the masses not to wait in long lines at the petrol pumps in this hot weather. Taking on the former finance minister Shaukat Tarin, he said, the latter agreed with the IMF to end subsidy on the fuel prices phase-wise. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has decided to call a meeting of coalition parties in the federal government to decide on tough measures needed to bring economy out of crisis. According to sources privy to the matter, the meeting of the coalition parties is likely to be held on Monday or Tuesday where participants will be taken onboard with regard to decisions made by PML-N leadership in London. The prime minister will return to Pakistan after his London and UAE visits today where he would hold consultations on the economic situation.
Business community asked to have close liaison with FTO to address their grievances
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) Dr Asif Mahmood Jah Sunday emphasized the urgent need of uninterrupted close liaison of business community and tax payers with FTO offices across the country for immediate redress of their genuine grievances on top priority. While talking a corporate sector delegation led by Meher Kashif Younis, former Senior Vice President Lahore which called on him on Sunday to abreast him of taxation problems being confronted by business community, the FTO said no injustice will be tolerated at any cost against tax payer by the tax collectors throughout the country. He said that he always attached great importance to business community especially, all tax payers and fully committed by law to address the genuine grievances due to any mal-administration by any functionaries of Federal Board of Revenue or Inland Revenue services or customs. He said all Advisors/Consultants of regional offices of FTO all over the country have already been directed to speed the lawful disposal of pending complaints on top priority and be decided on merit within stipulated time frame of maximum 60 days. He said that private sector always play significant role in economic development of the country and state is bound to provide business friendly environment by fully ensuring ease of doing business. Dr Asif Mahmood Jah, the recipient of civil awards of Sitara-I-Imtiaz and Hilal-I-Imtiaz, said tax payers contribute a major role towards national development by paying taxes timely. On the other hand, he said FBR is apex tax body in Pakistan which collects taxes and revenue from tax payers strictly in accordance with law. He urged the business community to file only lawful genuine complaints supported with documentary evidence for seeking justice or remedy of grievances. He said special awareness seminars are being organised at all regional offices and big cities to educate the business community about the role and function of FTO while business honorary coordinators have also been appointed at chambers of Commerce and Industries for effective better coordination with FTO for prompt action. Meher Kashif Younis invited FTO to address a awareness seminar in city for tax payers especially members of business community and offered to sponsor the event which he accepted to be conveyed in the last week of instant month. FTO Advisors Dr Sarfraz Ahmad Warraich,Tauseef Ahmad Qureshi,Advisor to President SAARC Chamber Dr Waqar Ch ,former FTO Advisor Dr Fayyaz Ahmad Ranjha and senior officials were also present.
Gwadar’s 300 MW coal power plant to end energy scarcity by 2023
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: The longstanding vagaries of the port city of Gwadar due to growing energy scarcity would end by October, 2023 after the completion of the 300megawatts coal-fired power plant. The 300-megawatt (MW) coal-fired Gwadar Power Plant would cater the needs of some 150,000 local people by the end of 2023 under the 2050 Master Plan of Gwadar, said an official source while sharing exclusive updates of the project. The power plant of an independent power producer was one of the key energy projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he added. The project aimed at improving reliability on local power supply that would help gradually solve the problems in current economic development and urban construction in Gwadar region, which was being restricted by the shortage of power. “We are currently spending millions of dollars per annum to generate electricity from diesel generators. I hope the plant would be operationalized soon to solve the port’s power scarcity issues.
Five Pakistanis crossing Iranian border to go to Europe illegally kidnapped
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: More than five Pakistani youth have been kidnapped when they were crossing Iranian border to go to Europe illegally. According to a private television channel report on Sunday the kidnapped youth belonged to different cities of Punjab including Hafizabad, Gujranwala, and Mandi Bahauddin. The families of the victims have said that the kidnappers have abducted more than five youths and are blackmailing them by making videos of the kidnapped youth. The families also informed that they have already sent half a million rupees to the kidnappers for each youth but now they are demanding more ransom. Families of the kidnapped youth have appealed to the government of Pakistan for help.
NAB believes in zero corruption and 100% growth. NAB respects business community’s role in the development of the country. Chairman NAB
By Staff Reporter
Islamabad: NAB always believes in zero corruption and 100 percent development. NAB respects the role of business community for development and prosperity of the country, says Honourable Mr. Justice Javed Iqbal, chairman NAB in his statement. He said that he not only met with different delegations of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, Flour Mills Association, Cotton Ginners Association, Gwadar Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the last more than 4 years besides referring the cases of income tax, sales tax and under-invoicing to FBR so that the cases could be disposed of in accordance with the law. He said that NAB has established a special desk in Islamabad for resolving the complaints of business community under the supervision of a director. The business community leaders lauded the efforts made by NAB under the leadership of Chairman NAB for resolving the issues of business community. He said the reputed national and international organisations have lauded excellent performance of NAB. Some 59 percent people expressed their confidence over NAB according to Gillani and Gallup survey. There are 1,237 corruption references having accumulated value of Rs 1,335 billion are under trial in across country in various learned accountability courts. During the tenure of incumbent management of NAB, NAB has recovered Rs 584 billion directly or indirectly from corrupt elements. Also various learned accountability courts convicted to record 1,405 culprits due to the vigorous prosecution of NAB. He said that NAB is determined to curbing corruption and money laundering, looting people at large, having assets beyond means, illegal housing societies and Madaraba scandals. He said that Illegal housing societies have not returned deposited money or plot to affectees. Poor investors were wandering here and there for return of their looted money. NAB has recovered Rs 40 billion from illegal housing societies which were returned to affectees. He said NAB has no affiliation with any individual, group or party but only with the state of Pakistan. The NAB is working with full commitment to eradicate corruption considering it as its national duty.
Kashmir policy continuing from Gracey period till today for right to self-determination of Kashmiris has to be changed: Sirajul Haq
Says if we will not realize Kashmir then Pakistan will become barren Addresses the launching ceremony of English translation of late Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s autobiography “Wular Kinaray” in Islamabad
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Emir Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan Sirajul Haq has said that Kashmir policy continuing from the Gracey period till today for the right to self-determination of Kashmiris has to be changed. Sirajul Haq while presenting rich tribute to shaheed-e-Kashmir Syed Ali Shah Geelani said that people of Pakistan and Kashmir have kept alive the freedom movement of Kashmir but unfortunately the Pakistani rulers could not do any mentionable work. This was stated by Emir JI Sirajul Haq while addressing the launching ceremony of English translation of late Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s autobiography “Wular Kinaray” on Sunday in Islamabad. The ceremony was also addressed by former emir JI Azad Kashmir Abdul Rashid Turabi, Convener Tehreek-e-Hurriyat Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Muhammad Safi, former minister Azad Kashmir Farzana Yaqoob, JI leader Nasrullah Randhawa, Kashif Chaudhry and Shahid Rafi. Sirajul Haq said that we present rich tribute to the people of occupied Kashmir who have kept alive this movement while sacrificing their lives. He said that one Pakistani ruler made claims but he used to talk about Tipu Sultan and Sirajud Daula but like other rulers he could also not do anything for Kashmiris. He said that former prime minister Imran Khan could not do anything during his four years rule. He said that India caused great harm to Kashmir on 5th August 2019 but Imran Khan could not do anything. Sirajul Haq said that Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have forgotten the Kashmir in their big public gatherings, adding that we say these parties should take one step for Kashmir we will move towards them while running. Sirajul Haq warned that if we will not realize Kashmir then Pakistan will become barren. He said that Pakistani politicians instead of fighting with each other should fight against the enemy of Kashmir and fight against poverty and lawlessness and should get our cooperation. Sirajul Haq said that the quaid of Kashmir was used to say “we are Pakistanis and Pakistan is ours”, adding that today we announce that we are Kashmiris and Sirajul Haq is Kashmiri. Emir JI said that with the Blessings of Almighty Allah we will secure Kashmir. He said that Syed Ali Geelani is name of an ideology, struggle, movement and life, adding that the English translation of his book has been done so that the world should come to know about his ideology. He said that Syed Ali Geelani passed 1/3 part of his life in jails.
Action against land grabbing mafia, criminal elements continues in Capital
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad Muhammad Ahsan Younas Tuesday said that Islamabad Police will continue action against land grabbing mafia and criminal elements until its elimination from the city. He said this while holding khuli kacheri in the Central police office to listen to the public as well as police official’s issues. 30 citizens and police officials attended the khuli kachehri held on Monday. IGP listened to the public grievances and marked them to the concerned officers. On a citizens complaint, the IGP ordered enquiry about the conduct of the investigation officer and directed to take departmental action if found guilty. He also marked enquiry on another complaint about land grabbing and directed to send a report within 03 days. Islamabad police chief marked several applications to the concerned officers and directed them to resolve on a given time frame and send a report to his office The IGP ordered Rs. 75,000 from a welfare fund for the marriage of a police official’s daughter. He also directed to give Rs.50, 000 from the welfare fund for the education of the martyr's daughter. He said that the welfare of police officials is our priority. Martyrs are our heroes and it’s our prime responsibility to take care of their families and children. Muhammad Ahsan Younas strictly directed all zonal officers to listen to public complaints and resolve them purely on merit. “No laxity will be tolerated in this regard” he added. Islamabad police chief emphasized that Islamabad police are committed to resolve the public grievances on priority and on merit. “We are public servants and to secure the life and property of the citizens is our foremost priority” the IGP maintained. He further stated that a massive campaign against drug menace and land grabbers is on full swing. The IGP directed all the police officials to adopt courteous attitude with the complainants visiting police stations and accomplish their responsibilities in a professional manner.
Pakistan’s exports of goods and services to Italy witnessed 35.58pc increase
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan‘s Honorary Investment Consular to Milan, Italy, Muhammad Sheheryar Khan Sunday disclosed that Pakistan’s exports of goods and services to Italy witnessed an increase of 35.58 percent during the first three quarters of the current fiscal year compared to the corresponding period of last year. He stated this while talking to chief executive officer of Pakistan Furniture Council Mian Kashif Ashfaq, said a press release. He said on year to year basis,the exports to Italy also increased by 42.79 percent by going up from $75.006 million during March last year against exports of $107.105 million in March current year. He said on month to month basis,exports to Italy also registered surge of 30.89 percent in March 2022 as compared to the exports of $81.826 million in February 2022. Sheheryar khan who is leading investor and expert of financial management said overall Pakistan’export to other countries witnessed an increase of 26.64 percent in the first three quarters from US $ 18.713 bn to US$23.699 bn.
PTI seeks special security for Imran Khan at nationwide airports
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD:Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has sought security protocol for former prime minister Imran Khan citing threats to his life from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). According to sources privy to the matter, the PTI Chairman secretariat has written a letter to the aviation authority and sought protocol for the former prime minister at Islamabad airport. “The letter highlighted the security threats faced by Imran Khan,” they said adding that the PTI has also sought permission for the use of the China gate at the Islamabad airport. The Airport Security Force (ASF), according to sources, has also been asked to provide security to the ex-premier. Pakistan (PTI) Chief Imran Khan on Saturday said that a conspiracy is being hatched to kill him and that he has recorded a video statement which will be released if he is murdered so that the nation knows the conspirators. The PTI chief said that he has recorded a video statement detailing everything, revealing every name behind the conspiracy to oust him and now kill him, and it will be released if he is murdered during this movement.
Highest number of child abuse cases
It is a question worth exploring why, despite the existence of several laws made to protect children against abuse and newer initiatives such as the Zainab Alert app, this scourge is not only rampant but endemic in many parts of Pakistan. A list recently shared by Sahil, a leading NGO that focuses on child protection, names the 10 districts where this abhorrent practice is most common.Rawalpindi and Islamabad have been listed as districts with second and third highest numbers of child abuse cases among 10 districts of the country.According to information shared by a non-governmental organisation working for child protection, Sahil, on its twitter handle, said Kasur topped the list with 298 cases.It said 292 cases were reported in the district of Rawalpindi and 247 in Islamabad even though the federal capital had a higher literacy rate and slightly more law-abiding citizens.Sahil said in its findings that in the year 2021 out of the total 3,852 cases more than half — 52 per cent — had been reported from these 10 districts. After six years, Kasur is on the top with 298 cases.As many as 120 cases of child abuse were reported in Okara and another 107 in Muzaffargarh.The number of cases of child abuse reported by Sahil in 2021 were 2,000. Incidents of child sexual abuse increased by 14pc in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period the year before, the NGO had reported The organisation, which has worked on child protection against sexual abuse since 1996, blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the increase in the cases, arguing that children were home and more than 55pc of their abusers were acquaintances. The situation was no better in the year 2018 when Sahil reported that cases of child abuse had increased by 11pc compared to 2017 with more than 10 children facing some form of abuse every day in Pakistan. The NGO said 3,832 cases were reported in the year 2018. In comparison, 2,445 such incidents were reported by newspapers between January and December 2017. The officials also revealed that sexual abuse of boys from six to 10 years was on the rise. These figures are probably just the tip of the iceberg. Abusers are often known to the victims, and in many cases the matter is never reported to the police for reasons of shame, ostracisation and fear of revenge. The absence of a sensitised police force has also prevented victims and their families from coming forward.
The situation was no better in the year 2018 when Sahil reported that cases of child abuse had increased by 11pc compared to 2017 with more than 10 children facing some form of abuse every day in Pakistan.
Irresponsible Israeli, Palestinian politicians fanning the flames
It has been a year since the most recent war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza broke out. It was preceded by deadly clashes between Arabs and Jews in East Jerusalem and inside Israel, and proceeded to cause immense suffering. And now, once again we can see all the familiar hallmarks of two sides on the brink of renewing large-scale violence and with no obvious will to hit the brakes, even though no one is interested in such an escalation and neither side can benefit from another round of bloodshed. Despite some similarities to the events of last spring, including tensions and clashes at Al-Haram Al-Sharif, there is also a strong element of spontaneity evident in the current wave of attacks by Palestinians on mainly Israeli citizens, which have so far claimed the lives of 19 people and injured many more. As a result of the Israeli security forces stepping up their West Bank operations in response to the increased levels of violence, at least 26 Palestinians have been killed, including the tragic shooting this week of renowned Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Most of the perpetrators of the attacks are not affiliated with any known Palestinian organizations; it is more a case of Hamas, for instance, giving its unhelpful retrospective blessing to killings of Israelis, rather than actively initiating them. On this occasion, the group’s leaders might well be dragged into a violent confrontation with Israel, and vice-versa, with no strategic objective in mind. In this current state of affairs between the Israelis and Palestinians, and in the absence of any diplomatic-political horizon of peace, developments are being dictated by events and not by the leaderships of Israel or the Palestinians in Ramallah and Gaza respectively. They are reacting to events they did not necessarily initiate — but they are still the actors responsible for circumstances that are conducive to violence rather than peace between the two peoples. As a result, the unorganized and diverse sources of the current flashpoints are perplexing them and they are being sucked into a dynamic that could lead them into new and potentially bloody confrontations, instead of pulling back from the abyss. Israel’s working assumption is that what looks like a random wave of terrorism with no specific group or groups behind it will continue. The security forces have no solution beyond killing or capturing the perpetrators in the aftermath of the attacks and, in the absence of enough intelligence to prevent them, attempting to restore some degree of deterrence, or even fear, by using excessive force and collective punishment against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. There is also a hope, which is not necessarily substantiated, that the increase in violence over the past few weeks was linked to the holy month of Ramadan and now that it has ended, things will calm down. Anniversaries and holidays might be contributing to the political violence but the root causes are, first and foremost, the occupation and the worsening political and economic conditions Palestinians, including those inside Israel, are living under and which, tragically, motivate some to resort to violence. More than anything else, it shows the level of despair among so many Palestinians who are being forced to live in unacceptable conditions. In a situation that requires the leaderships on both sides to calm things down, irresponsible politicians instead are fanning the flames and raising the political temperature. Hamas and its leader, Yahya Sinwar, are embracing and congratulating those who indiscriminately kill Israelis, taking some sort of ownership of these acts to position Hamas at the forefront of the armed struggle against Israel. By doing so, Sinwar is risking the relative calm along the border with Israel and the improvements, albeit insufficient, resulting from Israel’s easing of some restrictions on the movement of goods and people to and from Gaza, and on access to the sea. Exploiting the volatile situation at Al-Haram Al-Sharif and stating that “the battle to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque will begin after the month of Ramadan because the Zionists have a number of dates when they will try to breach the mosque” not only inflames the situation but plays into the hands of those in Israel who think that the only way to deal with Gaza is to economically strangle it. It has also led to suggestions that Israel might directly target Sinwar himself which, of course, could only lead to a fully fledged confrontation between Israel and Hamas. In the absence of a clear location to target with the aim of restoring some level of deterrence against terrorist attacks, Israeli authorities are shooting in the dark. They are resorting to old methods, not only the use of excessive force but also collective punishment, that are bound to exacerbate the situation, leading to greater malaise and anger among Palestinians and yet more violence. After all, since 1967 the very nature of the occupation has created a framework of relations between Israelis and Palestinians that is essentially violent and continues to breed violence. Entering Israeli towns and cities and randomly killing people can never be justified and it does not serve the Palestinian cause, either. Instead, it serves only those who oppose peace, coexistence and reconciliation between the two peoples, as it feeds hatred and fear and empowers those who believe in maximalist objectives in this conflict. However, the character of the ongoing occupation, with all its harshness, does exactly the same thing. The actions of the Israeli Defense Forces in rescinding work permits for Palestinians or closing crossings into Gaza are acts of collective punishment that are certain to worsen the poverty and general misery among those who live under occupation or blockade, and they will not prevent even a single act of terrorism.
The root causes are, first and foremost, the occupation and the worsening political and economic conditions Palestinians are living under.
Growing risks of EU’s deliberate failures in North Africa
Political crises and deepening structural and governance deficiencies throughout North Africa have become emblematic of a troubled EU approach to the region that emphasizes illusory ideals over difficult, albeit common sense, engagements. Over the past decade alone, puzzling stumbles in its attempts to navigate the region’s complex challenges have decimated any confidence in the ability of Brussels to confront the grave threats brewing right on its doorstep. Given the speed at which a new Middle East and North Africa is emerging, spurred by Washington’s “right-sizing” of its presence in the region, time is quickly running out for Europe to develop a coherent, sustainable approach to its engagements with its Mediterranean neighbors. Granted, much of the attention in Europe and the wider world currently is focused, rightly, on the troubles in Eastern Europe and their potential to spill over into a global landscape replete with woes. However, it should not be understated how a resilient democracy in Tunisia, the peace, prosperity and sustained stability of Algeria, Libya and Morocco are of similar strategic importance. Instead, the reality is a dismal, decade-long record of bumbling, knee-jerk reactions and gross strategic miscalculations that will continue to hamper EU institutions and the ability of the bloc to coordinate its responses to crises unique to North Africa. The Tunisian president’s dissolution of parliament and the shutting down of almost all political life, echoes the authoritarian rule that the Arab Spring aspired to undo. What first appeared to be remarkable decisiveness is now a jumble of incoherent, out-of-touch responses to a worsening socioeconomic crisis and the reintroduction of systemic repression by the security forces to curb opposition. Instead of a great turnaround, there is an accelerating slide into state bankruptcy, governance failures and a return to instability. Given the likelihood of such a worst case scenario, the EU could have applied indirect pressure on Tunis to wrap up this political project as soon as possible. However, the bloc would rather “reward” the president’s lunge for one-man rule by lending Tunisia about €450 million ($470 million) in budget support, in addition to maintaining its access to a €200 million fund, shared by Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, to mitigate disruption to global grain supplies. Libya, meanwhile, is spiraling into a self-inflicted festering mess the longer the will of its war-weary populace remains subordinated to the pursuit of extremely narrow interests by a gilded few and their external backers. What is left of the country’s tattered, ineffectual, multitrack transition processes are cults of personality vying to rewrite a long-overdue first chapter of Libya’s democratization in the post-Muammar Qaddafi era. The actual transition to a stable, democratic and unified state — capping off a multi-year standoff — remains a distant, elusive priority, if it happens at all. Europe must quickly come to terms with its undeniable role as a major actor in an increasingly multipolar world, and the first place to do so assertively would be in North Africa. Hafed Al-Ghwell This woeful state of affairs has only become more entrenched given the complete disinterest of Brussels in mounting serious, well-coordinated and well-managed interventions to correct the unraveling of Libya’s post-2011 order. France and Italy are the nations most actively engaged in very divisive roles in the shadow of broader European inaction over Libya, doubling down on the pursuit of narrow, often contradictory, interests prompting even more external meddling by Russia and Turkey. In Algeria, a promising Hirak protest movement has waned, crowded out by an incompetent ruling elite that is quicker to suppress dissent than initiate compelling reforms to make the “Algerian Dream” a reality. The risky gambit that should have led to Algeria’s “Tunisia moment” is now a sociopolitical hellscape, with the Hirak movement now reduced to a mere symbolic aspiration for democracy. What remains is a dysfunctional state, where neither a fractured opposition nor an incorrigible ruling elite can capably address Algeria’s glaring shortcomings ahead of what will likely be severe socioeconomic collapse. This growing list of the EU’s failures to deftly manage its relations with North Africa are a byproduct of a dysfunctional and misguided Southern Neighborhood Policy, officially known as ENP-South. On a broader level, what should have been a “privileged partnership” has so far devolved into an ambiguous project that eschews meaningful engagement, allows member states to pursue competing strategies, and ignores severe institutional deficiencies that are hobbling North African societies, economies and politics. In addition, the most dominant priorities on the EU’s southern borders are the propping up of a punitive border regime, and wonky diplomacy tinged with neocolonialist ideals, instead of coherent approaches focusing on securing longer-term stability. However, a decade or more of continued strategic miscalculations risks entrenching dangerous trends that eventually metastasize into the shared cultural spaces and deep links between every society along the Mediterranean’s shores
Europe must quickly come to terms with its undeniable role as a major actor in an increasingly multipolar world, and the first place to do so assertively would be in North Africa.
Biden setting his foreign policy sights far beyond Ukraine
When Joe Biden began his presidency about 15 months ago, Asia-Pacific was the North Star of his foreign policy. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has recast his international priorities. The US president is now making the final preparations for an important trip to Japan and South Korea, which will take place from May 20-24. It is his first to the region since he entered the Oval Office last year. The trip will see a determined effort to refocus US attention, including the expected launch of a new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework strategy. While Russia remains the major immediate threat to Washington’s security interests, recent developments have done little to alter the administration’s view that China remains the paramount, longer-term challenge. While Biden will promote important bilateral agendas in Japan and South Korea, the main focus of attention will be the leadership meeting of the Quad powers of India, the US, Japan and Australia, which will be hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Although the Quad, or Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, was initiated in 2007, it has come into much greater focus in the past few years. The importance that the Biden team places on this loose alliance was illustrated last year when the White House organized and hosted the first-ever in-person leadership meeting of the four powers, which was attended by Scott Morrison, Narendra Modi and Yoshihide Suga, the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan respectively. While some have played down the importance of the group, its relevance as an emerging anti-China alliance was buttressed by the announcement last year by London, Washington and Canberra of a trilateral security partnership to defend “shared interests in the Indo-Pacific,” with Beijing again the unstated key focal point. The main goal of the upcoming Quad meeting is to advance a shared vision for a free and open Asia-Pacific, with all the leaders in agreement about the threat from China. This is despite the lack of unanimity within the group on Russia, with India an outlier given its refusal to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. While his immediate foreign focus is Ukraine, Biden knows that relations with Japan, India and Australia are among the most pivotal in current international relations. Andrew Hammond So, top of the agenda will be Beijing and its growing assertiveness, which all four leaders perceive is undermining their vision of a free and open regional landscape. Take, for example, the ongoing tensions in the South China Sea, where not only Japan and the US but also other countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei are in dispute with China about waters through which about $5 trillion of shipping trade passes each year. There will be several aspects of the Quad discussions that will be particularly sensitive from China’s perspective, including the security of Taiwan and its future as a democracy. The group’s leaders will reportedly discuss the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait, a move that China claims will impair its national interests. Beijing claims sovereignty over Taipei, which now counts Tokyo among its closest allies. Any future cross-Straits conflict would affect Japan, whose westernmost inhabited island, Yonaguni, lies less than 70 miles off Taiwan’s east coast. The island is home to about 1,700 citizens and 200 soldiers, and Tokyo is planning to increase its troop presence there. These developments will only heighten the tensions in China’s relations with the Quad nations, especially the US, which could yet flare up very badly. Ever since a meeting in Alaska last year between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, the mood music has been muted at best, with the Biden administration retaining the tougher foreign and economic policies on Beijing that were introduced by President Donald Trump. China will not be the only focus of the Quad meeting, however. North Korea is also causing fresh concerns following the missile tests it has carried out this year, the most recent of which was on Thursday. The Quad will not only condemn those tests, which violated UN Security Council resolutions, but also reiterate calls for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. On the economic front, Kishida will discuss with Biden whether he might reverse Trump’s decision to withhold US participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is a trade and investment deal originally intended to lock Washington into a deeper partnership with its allies in the region.
While his immediate foreign focus is Ukraine, Biden knows that relations with Japan, India and Australia are among the most pivotal in current international relations.
Northern Ireland Protocol must be renegotiated to preserve peace
DR. AZEEM IBRAHIM
The results of last week’s Northern Ireland Assembly elections were shocking, even though they were not surprising. The nationalists of Sinn Fein had been polling increasingly well since Britain voted to leave the EU in 2016. Compared with the previous assembly elections, however, its votes barely increased. Meanwhile, the main unionist party, the Democratic Unionists, has lost popular support — in part because it propped up a minority Conservative UK administration several years ago, in part because of the wear and tear of government — a situation made more difficult because of the political climate across the island of Ireland. That is why Sinn Fein has finished in first place in the elections and now looks poised to introduce major political disruption to the system of power sharing in Belfast. This system was always perilous and has been dissolved several times. But this is the greatest challenge to peaceful self-government in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. Many observers would blame the outcome of this election solely on Britain’s decision to leave the EU. But there is much blame to go around. It is true that Northern Ireland has suffered over the past six years — but the blame is significantly placed on the workings of the EU and the terms it has attempted to force on Northern Ireland. Commerce between Northern Ireland and Great Britain has been seriously held up as part of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a piece of deal-making that has introduced customs restrictions between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. This has placed specific industries and their supply chains under threat and is continually at risk of breaking down. Meanwhile, it has eroded Northern Ireland’s link to Great Britain by placing Northern Irish affairs under European courts and subjecting them to a de facto European veto. This arrangement was always meant to be temporary. All sides have claimed that it is both unsatisfactory and a real threat to economic prosperity and political harmony in Northern Ireland. Yet it persists, in no small part because of EU inflexibility. Dr. Azeem Ibrahim One gets the impression that for the EU, the fate of Northern Ireland has always been as much about causing diplomatic discomfort to the UK as it has been about attempting to honor the Good Friday Agreement and secure prosperity and development for Northern Ireland. Numerous gambits have been tried during negotiations to alleviate the worst effects of the protocol. The UK has been engaging with the EU on this precise point for a long time. Article 16 of the protocol allows for it to be terminated if one party declares it has utterly failed. On the UK side, the protocol has long been considered a failure. Since July 2021, when the UK declared that the threshold for triggering Article 16 had been reached, the protocol has been entirely sustained by British good faith. Yet since then there has been no sign of movement and Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president for interinstitutional relations, has repeatedly said that he has no mandate to renegotiate the protocol. The effect is not cooperation but an unhappy stalemate. The UK still wants a solution, one that is worked out through dialogue with the EU. This has not been forthcoming. With Northern Ireland experiencing the sort of turmoil last week’s election has brought, the UK cannot stand by and do nothing forever. Many companies that operate from Great Britain have publicly declared their unwillingness to supply Northern Ireland because of the restricted movement of goods — within a sovereign state — because of the costs of paperwork levied by an outside bloc. The protocol itself is also a source of contention within Northern Irish politics. The Democratic Unionists, who had no power to affect the EU’s bargaining, could only warn in increasingly dire tones that the continuing restrictions threaten the integrity of Northern Ireland within the UK, and the very possibility of its economy continuing to recover post-pandemic. The protocol is unpopular, and its popularity or lack thereof is sectarian as it simply does not command cross-community consent. A new, divisive “wedge issue” such as this is something Northern Irish politics hardly needs. Indeed, the protocol is starting to undermine the very spirit of the Good Friday Agreement that it was intended, as a short-term measure, to protect. In London, the gears are moving. Early in his term, Prime Minister Boris Johnson created a new ministry for himself, the Ministry of the Union. Similar moves are afoot in light of last week’s election results.
With Northern Ireland experiencing the sort of turmoil last week’s election has brought, the UK cannot stand by and do nothing forever.
Can the international community still do big things?
When US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau opened the Bretton Woods Conference almost 80 years ago, he reminded delegates that failures of international cooperation had led to the Great Depression, social division and, ultimately, war. “Prosperity, like peace, is indivisible,” he concluded. “We cannot afford to have it scattered here or there among the fortunate ... Poverty, wherever it exists, is menacing to us all.” That message speaks across the ages. We are once again facing global challenges that can be met only through international cooperation. Large swathes of the developing world are being excluded from global prosperity. Extreme poverty is rising. Hard-won gains in health, education and nutrition are under threat. Already obscene economic inequalities between and within countries are widening. The window of opportunity for averting a climate catastrophe is about to slam shut. And yet multilateral cooperation is paralyzed by complacency, petty rivalries and inward-looking nationalism. Consider this year’s International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings, which offered an opportunity to mobilize the finance needed to prevent wholesale reversals of progress toward the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Instead, Western governments and the G20 arrived with no shared agenda, spent a week swapping platitudes, and left the world with a set of vague and incoherent declarations. We cannot afford leadership failures on this scale. The IMF and the World Bank, the twin pillars of the Bretton Woods system, should be at the heart of international cooperation in responding to the defining challenges facing our generation, starting with the two-tier recovery from the economic downturn triggered by COVID-19. Unlike advanced economies, which have recovered on the back of vast government financing and vaccination programs, many developing economies have suffered deep scarring. Growth has slowed, tax revenues have fallen and two-thirds of low-income countries are either in, or at risk of, debt distress. The IMF estimates that the poorest countries will need an additional $450 billion to return to their pre-pandemic development trajectories. Budget pressures are limiting the capacity of governments to defend human development gains. The pandemic pushed almost 100 million people into extreme poverty. That figure is set to rise as safety nets are cut and Russia’s war in Ukraine fuels food price inflation, raising the specter of increased malnutrition, or even famine, in some parts of the world. More than 40 of the poorest countries are spending more on servicing their debts than on public health.
The PTI has failed to control inflation. Even basic commodities are beyond the reach of ordinary people who are finding it difficult to arrange for even one meal a day. The country has been driven to a point where people are at their wits ends. The prime minister had promised that he would reduce prices of basic necessities, but he has once again defaulted on his promises. One day he reportedly claimed that petrol prices would not increase, the next, he announces to the nation that they would and there would be a gas shortage. First the prime minister claimed that inflation was a result of the policies of the previous government, then he blamed the Covid-19 pandemic, now it is the fault of inflation in the international market. Saman Amjad, Sheikhupur
According to a study titled ‘Cruel numbers 2020’ by an NGO, Sahil, eight children are abused every day in Pakistan. These children are between the ages of six and 15 years, and 51 percent of them are girls while the remaining 49 percent are boys. More alarming still is the fact that there has been an increase of four percent in child abuse cases between 2019 and 2020. These statics are heart wrenching. Some victims are as young as one. To make matters worse, most of the abusers are reported to be relatives and neighbours of the victims. In 2020, after the country was rattled by the case of seven-year-old Zainab, a law was passed against child abuse by parliament. However, the number of cases seems to be rising. Children are abducted, abused – even murdered – and their bodies discarded. Most perpetrators roam free even today. Sometimes families of victims do not come forward because the culprit is also from the family. At other times, authorities fail to take due measures. Child abuse will not decrease until the authorities concerned take firm and immediate action against the offenders.
Waseem Ahmed, Hub
This refers to the article ‘A real change?’ by Kiyya Baloch (November 6). The writer has perfectly crafted the picture of the two political giants of Balochistan. Jam Kamal of Lasbela and Mir Abdul Quddus Bizenjo of Awaran have both failed to facilitate their respective areas. Awaran's deprivation is not news to anyone, and this blatant indifference gives a good idea of what importance the locals hold for those in power. Similarly, the situation in Jam's hometown, Bela, is also bleak. Now that Bizenjo has replaced Jam, one can only hope that he will solve socio-economic and socio-political issues of the province. Additionally, the ruling party and the opposition should sit together to solve the issues of their respective constituencies and the province as a whole. If all the political stakeholders in Balochistan forget their differences and work for human development, Balochistan can surely prosper like any other province.
Zohaib Ahmed, Hub
This refers to the news report ‘Petrol up by Rs8.03 per litre, diesel by Rs8.14’ and the editorial ‘Another package’ (November 5). After holding out for a few weeks, the government has finally bowed to the pressure of the IMF and announced immediate increase in the prices of petroleum products. This was one of the most recent conditions put by the international body before formalising the revival of the $6 billion loan. It seems that the government has run out of ideas and has put all its eggs in the IMF’s basket. The government should also realise that relief packages are not a substitute for tangible measures. Pakistan needs a robust economic plan with achievable milestones that can uplift the economy and mitigate poverty. Relief packages, in the absence of available resources, are mere eyewash and serve only to discredit the government in the eyes of the people.
Shoaib A Majeed, Karachi
TikTok is an excellent platform through which hundreds of young Pakistanis exhibit their talents. However, it has been banned twice across Pakistan due to different reasons. Since the app was banned, young TikTokers have been deprived of the opportunities to make money, which is extremely unfortunate, given the state of the economy. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has agreed to establish a mechanism with TikTok to ensure that all content uploaded on the platform is lawful and safe. As many as 9.85 million videos from Pakistan were removed from the app between April and June 2021. It is hoped that the two will come to an agreement and that the app will be up and running in Pakistan soon.
Abdul Rahman Shahbeer, Turba
Stealing from the poor
The Rs3.7 trillion Kamyab Pakistan Programme (KPP), interest-free loans for seven million families, is considered to be the best micro-credit program ever planned in Pakistan. But unfortunately a vast majority of the application forms for the loans were rejected recently. According to some news reports, of a total of 1,237,977 applications for the Kamyab Jawan Programme, 695,655 were rejected. It is unfortunate that such a large number of applicants couldn't benefit from this loan. One wonders on what grounds the applications were rejected. One fears that this scheme, like many before it, will become a tool in the hands of the already-wealthy and well-connected to amass more wealth. In 2020, SAPM on Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar admitted that several government officials of Grade 17 and above had registered for the BISP and benefitted from it, cutting off those who were more deserving. The government should ensure that a transparent system of merit is established in the case of the current schemes.
Umar Javed, Rahimyar Khan
This is to draw the attention of the authorities to the devastating problem of broken roads in Gichk, Balochistan. These roads have led to numerous accidents, which have resulted in loss of lives as well as financial losses. Recently, a truck got into an accident and the driver lost his life. But for the local and provincial governments, the matter is of no concern. Authorities were allocated funds for development, but there is none to be seen. Both the federal and provincial governments should pay immediate attention to making new roads to ensure that no more lives are lost.
Ameenullah Qamar Baloch, Karachi
The PTI-led government initially claimed that it would not be accepting the TLP’s demands. The major demand of the TLP – amongst many others – was that the government remove its proscribed status, and the government did just that. In doing so, the government has lost its credibility, and U-turn after U-turn is making weaker by the day. It was this weak writ of the incumbent government that ultimately translated to uncontrolled inflation and poverty.
Engr Asim Nawab, Islamabad
Crisis-hit Sri Lanka lifts curfew for Buddhist festival
Colombo: Sri Lankan authorities lifted a nationwide curfew Sunday for an important Buddhist festival, but celebrations were muted as the island nation's new premier struggled to find his footing and tackle a worsening economic crisis. A countrywide stay-home order has been in place for most of the week after mob violence left nine dead and over 225 wounded, sparked by attacks on peaceful demonstrators by government loyalists. Protesters across the Buddhist-majority nation have for weeks demanded the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over Sri Lanka's worst-ever economic crisis. Shortages of food, fuel and medicines, along with record inflation and lengthy blackouts, have brought severe hardships to the country's 22 million people. Sunday marks Vesak, the most important religious event on Sri Lanka's calendar, which celebrates Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. The government has declared a two-day holiday and announced it was lifting the curfew for the day without saying when or whether it would be reimposed. But the ongoing crisis prompted the government to cancel its plans to celebrate the festival, which had been scheduled at a temple in the island's south. "Given the economic situation of the government and other constraints, we are not having this year's state festival at the Kuragala temple as planned," a Buddhist Affairs ministry official told AFP. The official said Buddhists were free to hold their own celebrations, including the mass meditation and Buddhist sermons traditionally held during the festival. Worshippers traditionally set up soup kitchens, lanterns and "pandal" bamboo stages bearing large paintings depicting stories from Buddha's life. Vesak celebrates Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death Vesak celebrates Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death Ishara S. KODIKARA AFP But Sri Lanka has been unable to properly stage Vesak for years, with the Easter Sunday attacks dampening celebrations in 2019 and the last two years affected by the coronavirus pandemic. AFP
New UAE president meets Macron as world leaders stream in
Abu Dhabi: The UAE's new president, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, held talks Sunday with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron as world leaders streamed in to the oil-rich Gulf state to pay tribute to his late predecessor. Macron, on his first foreign trip since his second term started last week, expressed his condolences to the leader dubbed "MBZ" following the death of his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa on Friday after a long illness. Macron, the first Western leader to pay his respects, will be followed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Israel's president and the king of Spain, among a long list of dignitaries. The United Arab Emirates has begun wielding increased influence in the Middle East and further afield due to its wealth, oil resources and strategic location.
Ukraine youth seek respite from war where they can
Lviv: Saturday night was always time for the trendy youth of Lviv to sip cocktails on the terrace or lose themselves in the rhythms of the basement DJ at "People Place". Yet while the nightlife on offer to urban cool cats ostensibly caters to typical young adult tastes, some customers are in contrast seeking refuge from the war on their doorstep which has shattered normality. In almost three months of conflict, Lviv, some 70 kilometres (45 miles) from the Polish border, has not experienced the destruction of large swathes of Ukraine's east. Yet the city has just suffered its first air strike in more than a week -- and the shadow of the war hangs heavy over a city of some 700,000 which has seen major inflows of refugees from areas hit by fighting. Saturday night is therefore a chance for young residents to seek respite where they can and enjoy the rising temperatures of early summer while teasing out a semblance of pre-war "normality" in clubs, eateries and watering holes. Cradling a Spritz cocktail at "People Place", 25-year-old Bohdan Sharhulenk drinks in a moment's calm a month on from his own arrival in Lviv after the hellish experience of seeing his southern hometown of Mykolaiv, near the frontline, bombarded. "It's very hard to have a normal life when you know your friends are fighting with the Russian aggressor," he explains, dragging nervously on a cigarette. But, he adds, "it's important to party, your mind can relax. "Once, I danced a bit of techno." Since his arrival in town he has spent several evenings with a clutch of acquaintances from across the country -- most of that time spent in houses or apartments as the city is subject to an 11 pm curfew. AFP
In blast-hit Lebanese capital, voters want new faces
Beirut: After voting in Lebanon's elections Sunday, Beirut blast survivor Nessrin hoped the ink on her finger would be a toe in the door of parliament for new candidates fighting corruption. The capital's Karantina district where she cast her ballot was one of the worst hit by the August 2020 explosion that killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and devastated swathes of the city. "My heart is consumed by all this destruction, all this blood and my children's future," the 40-year-old said as she exited the polling site, next door to a fire station adorned with pictures of the 10 firefighters killed in the blast. "If the elections can achieve even five percent change, it'll be a first step." Some 3.9 million Lebanese were eligible to vote in the first legislative elections since multiple crises have dragged the small country to the brink of becoming a failed state. The portside blast, considered the largest non-nuclear explosion in modern history, was widely blamed on negligence and corruption by the ruling political elite. Nobody has yet been held accountable, nor have any leaders faced court for the financial mismanagement that led the state to default two years ago and plunged four out of five Lebanese into poverty. Voters queue to cast their ballot in the parliamentary election at a polling station in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, on May 15, 2022 Voters queue to cast their ballot in the parliamentary election at a polling station in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, on May 15, 2022 Ghassan SWEIDAN AFP Opposition candidates are running who emerged from a large anti-establishment protest movement in 2019. But few voters expect them to deliver major change to a system that has been dominated by traditional sectarian parties for decades.
Palestinians mourn Israel's creation amid outcry over funeral raid
Jerusalem: Palestinians rallied Sunday to mark the "Nakba," or catastrophe, 74 years after Israel's creation, with condemnation spreading over a police raid on the funeral of a slain journalist. The annual demonstrations across the occupied West Bank, annexed east Jerusalem and inside Israel came with tensions high over the killing of 51-year-old Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh. The Palestinian-American was shot dead Wednesday during an Israeli raid in Jenin, a West Bank flashpoint. A prominent Palestinian militant leader wounded in clashes there, Daoud al-Zubaidi, died from his injuries in an Israeli hospital Sunday. Israeli police have vowed to investigate the chaos that marred the day of Abu Akleh's funeral, after television footage seen across the globe showed pallbearers struggling to stop the casket from toppling to the ground as baton-wielding police descended upon them, grabbing Palestinian flags. The scenes Friday sparked international condemnation, including from the United States, European Union and United Nations. Late South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu's foundation said Israeli police "attacking pallbearers" was "chillingly reminiscent of the brutality" seen at the funerals of anti-apartheid activists. As Israel reopened following the Shabbat pause, local commentators joined the chorus lambasting the raid as Abu Akleh's coffin emerged from Jerusalem's St Joseph's hospital. "The footage from Friday," wrote Oded Shalom in leading Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, "documented a shocking display of unbridled brutality and violence". "The Jerusalem District Police decided to come down like a tonne of bricks on anyone who dared to hold a Palestinian flag," Shalom wrote. Violence erupts between Israeli security forces and Palestinian mourners carrying the casket of slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 13, 2022. AFP
2,000 attend new Tunisia opposition alliance demo
Tunis: A crowd estimated at more than 2,000, lower than expected, took part Sunday in the first demonstration of a new alliance to oppose a power grab by President Kais Saied. "We shall overcome," and "We are united, not divided," read banners of the National Salvation Front protesters gathered in front of the municipal theatre on Bourguiba Avenue, a traditional hub of demonstrations in central Tunis. "The people want... respect for the constitution and a return to democracy," they chanted. Veteran opposition figure Ahmed Nejib Chebbi announced the formation of the new alliance on April 26 to "save" Tunisia from deep crisis following Saied's power grab last year. Chebbi, 78, was a prominent opponent of dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali's rule. Demonstrators said they were disappointed by the numbers that turned out for the first public show of support for the alliance. "A larger crowd" was expected, said Salah Tzaoui, a 57-year-old teacher, especially by those who had lived under Ben Ali who was ousted in a 2011 popular uprising that sparked the Arab Spring revolts around the region. Saied -- a former law professor elected in 2019 amid public anger against the political class -- on July 25 sacked the government, suspended parliament and seized wide-ranging powers. Demonstrators said they were disappointed by the numbers who turned out to the first public show of support for the National Salvation Front Demonstrators said they were disappointed by the numbers who turned out to the first public show of support for the National Salvation Front FETHI BELAID AFP He later gave himself powers to rule and legislate by decree, and seized control over the judiciary. "He wants to govern alone. It's not possible. I'm here for my children and grandchildren," Tzaoui told AFP. Khaled Benabdelkarim, a 60-year-old fellow teacher who voted for Saied three years ago, said the president had "betrayed the people and stolen democracy. He has no political project, no economic project." The National Salvation Front comprises five political parties including Saied's nemesis the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, along with five civil society groups involving independent political figures. Saied's initial power grab was welcomed by many Tunisians sick of the often-stalemated post-revolution political system. But an increasing array of critics say he has moved the country down a dangerous path back towards autocracy in what was the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring. Saied has argued that the North African country's 2014 constitution allowed him to take "exceptional measures".
Cartoon alien aims to ease World Cup culture shock in Qatar
Doha: A cartoon series on an alien who crash-lands in World Cup host Qatar aims to ease a culture clash between more than a million foreign football fans and the conservative state's residents. Like the arriving fans, Kawkabani, star of the series launched by Qatar's first animation studio, has to learn Arabic pronunciation, how to drink coffee -- and to discover that Qataris prepare way too much food for their guests. Creators Hossein Heydar and Amal al-Shammari hope the series will help Qataris to be more understanding of the 1.4 million football fanatics expected to besiege them in November and December. Conservative Qataris prefer sipping on speciality coffee and fruit juices while European football fans are known for their beer fuelled good times in the street. Kawkabani seeks "to explain to Qataris that there must be acceptance of these cultures... and help them (visitors) coexist or understand the Qatari culture as well," said Shammari, who wrote the scripts. The first two 10-minute episodes of "Kawkabani" -- which means "The Planet Person" in Arabic -- have already been launched on YouTube by their company, Nefaish Animation. "As an animation studio, we looked at content in the region, even in Qatar, and we felt there was a lack of content that represents Qatari culture," said Shammari, Nefaish's creative director. Arabic words were sometimes garbled and costumes not always quite right. "We felt like we need a studio in Qatar that pays attention to all these details and represents Qatari culture in the right way," he said. Tiny Qatar's triumph in securing the right to host the World Cup gives it the opportunity to show off its customs and idiosyncrasies. "When the Alien falls into Doha, again he is an alien so he doesn’t know anything so we are not expecting him to understand the Qatar society and in the Qatar society we have," said Shammari, who wrote the script. "We want to explain a lot of things and share our culture with the visitors." Nefaish only hired artists from the Middle East with knowledge of Arabic culture, added Heydar, in charge of animation. Besides Kawkabani, the series has three main Qatari characters representing what the creators consider to be the main strands of the 270,000-strong indigenous community, which lives alongside more than 2.5 million foreign workers. Coffee culture Faisal is a traditional bedouin, the community that used to inhabit the desert. "You know they're more proud of their culture, and then they sometimes overreact," said Shammari. But "they would support you no matter what. They'll always be there for you." Saad, another of the Qatari characters, is a more "modern" city dweller. "He is open to different cultures, he's open to people, he wants to be a businessman," said the writer. As for Khalifa, he represents the growing mixed community in Qatar. A vegan, his mother is British and father Qatari. Each of the five episodes in the first series -- translated into English, French, Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese and Japanese on YouTube -- shows the Qatari way of life, especially food and drink. Kawkabani runs into trouble for not knowing the right-handed gesture used to indicate having drunk too much coffee. But the series also pokes fun at Qataris. Kawkabani was part-financed by Qatar's World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, as well as the Doha Film Institute and telecoms giant Vodafone. While the first programmes do not touch on controversial issues such as rights of migrant workers and women, Heydar insisted there had been complete artistic freedom. AFP
Bastianini wins French MotoGP for third win of the season
Le Mans: Enea Bastianini grabbed his third MotoGP victory in seven races this season as he took the French Grand Prix on Sunday. The Italian, riding a Gresini Ducati, cruised home 2.718 sec ahead of Australian Jack Miller on a factory Ducati. Bastianini overtook compatriot Francesco Bagnaia in the late stages when the factory Ducati rider made an error. Bagnaia reacted to his first mistake by at once making another, falling off his bike as he tried to hit back in the 20th lap. At one stage there had been a three-way battle for first, but Joan Mir rode his Suzuki off the track in the 13th lap, managed to steer the bike back onto the tarmac but then immediately fell off. "I'm really happy with this race because this victory is unexpected," said Bastianini. "During the race I saw that my rhythm was really good." Spaniard Aleix Espargaro, on an Aprilia, was third after holding off championship leader Fabio Quartararo over the closing laps. "I knew Fabio was behind me but I knew it was difficult for him to overtake me," said Espargaro. "The race was about not making mistakes." "It was a very difficult race, the most difficult of the season so far," said Espargaro. Frenchman Quartararo retained the championship lead, but his advantage was reduced to four points over Espargaro and eight from Bastianini. The other French rider of the race, Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac), who started ninth on the grid, finished fifth after having overtaken the multi-world champion, Marc Marquez to the cheers of the huge crowd. In addition to Bagnaia and Mir, the other Suzuki rider, Alex Rins, the two KTM-Tech3 riders, Australian Remy Gardner and Spaniard Raul Fernandez all crashed while Jorge Martin (Ducati-Pramac) and Miguel Oliveira (KTM) dropped out.
Sho' goes on as Ohtani blasts 100th home run
San Francisco: Japanese star Shohei Ohtani blasted his 100th Major League Baseball home run on Saturday as the Los Angeles Angels cut loose in their road game against the Oakland Athletics. Ohtani, the reigning American League MVP, crushed a two-run home run into center field in the top of the fifth inning to give the Angels an 8-1 lead at the Oakland Coliseum. The 27-year-old two-way ace is only the third Japanese player to pass 100 MLB home runs, joining an exclusive club alongside former New York Yankees star Hideki Matsui (175 home runs) and hit king Ichiro Suzuki, who finished his career with 117 homers. Ohtani’s 100th homer was another notable milestone for the Angels ace, who earlier this month blasted the first grand slam of his career in a win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Ohtani has earned comparisons to Babe Ruth during his meteoric rise to superstardom in Major League Baseball for his talent both on the mound as a pitcher and at the plate as a formidable slugger. He has captivated American fans during his four seasons in the majors, with Time magazine last year placing him on its list of the 100 most influential people of the year. Although injuries hampered his first few years in the US, he missed only four of his team's 162 games in the 2021 season and hit 46 home runs -- just two short of the MLB lead -- to earn the American League's Most Valuable Player award.
Steven Mullaney, Luke Fletcher leave Middlesex facing hefty defeat Middlesex 195 and 69 for 3 (Robson 51*, Fletcher 2-6) trail Nottinghamshire 415 and 295 for 5 dec (Mullaney 100*, Clarke 66*, Fletcher 51) by 446 runs Steven Mullaney and Luke Fletcher left Middlesex facing the prospect of their heaviest ever runs defeat at Lord's on a sobering third day of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash. Mullaney plundered a magnificent unbeaten 55-ball hundred littered with mighty blows while Fletcher scored his second 50 of the match and Joe Clarke hit 66 not out before the visitors declared on 295 for 5, some 515 runs ahead. Fletcher wasn't done there either, ripping out both Middlesex openers for ducks among figures of 2 for 6 as the host struggled to 69 for 3 at the close. They need to reach 216 to avoid rewriting the record books, having lost by 301 runs to Ray Illingworth's Leicestershire at the home of cricket in 1976. First-innings centurion Haseeb Hameed departed early after slashing a wide ball from Toby Roland-Jones to Sam Robson at slip. Fletcher, however, revelled in his role as night-watchman, picking up where he'd left off 24 hours earlier to plant a rare half-volley from Tim Murtagh into the grandstand. The shot travelled down the stairs of the stand meaning Middlesex opener Mark Stoneman was forced to temporarily leave the field to retrieve the ball from the spectator concourse. While Ben Slater took 28 balls to get off the mark, Fletcher made hay in the sun, forging on to make his second 50 of the match, the first time he'd ever achieved the feat in his professional career. As in the first innings he departed to his next ball, trapped lbw by Martin Andersson. Ben Duckett continued the momentum, hitting Luke Hollman for three fours in an over before attempting to reverse sweep the leg-spinner only to send it down the throat of skipper Peter Handscomb at long leg. Hollman, who returned three for 77, struck again in his first over after lunch with a superb caught and bowled to remove Slater and he later dislodged Lyndon James' off-bail with one which proved too close to cut. The remainder of the innings however was batting carnage, Joe Clarke pulling a short ball from Murtagh into the Grandstand as he moved to 50 in 73 balls. This though was snail-like compared to skipper Mullaney, who first hit Hollman out of the attack before planting his replacement Josh De Caires into the Warner Stand over cover as his half-century came in 31 balls. Incredibly he then accelerated, racing to 100 in another 24 deliveries, smiting Andersson for two sixes in an over and then belting Hollman back over his head with a shot which struck the pavilion sightscreen. The declaration came leaving Middlesex facing a record chase for 516 or pragmatically four sessions to bat for a draw. Fletcher all but ruined those hopes with his opening salvo, removing Stoneman caught a slip for a second ball duck before bowling De Caires, also without scoring, the ball deviating from the glove to the wicket, the youngster's decision to withdraw the bat having come too late. Handscomb somehow survived 46 torturous minutes before edging James Pattinson to Duckett at second slip to leave the Seaxes 32 for 3.ESPN
England’s multi-format cricketers likely to miss Pakistan tour: report
LONDON: England’s multi-format cricketers are likely to miss an upcoming tour of Pakistan to rest amid their busy cricket schedule, according to British media. According to a report published in the Mail Online, England’s white-ball specialists are to head to Pakistan for seven T20 matches on September 15, just 72 hours after the home international summer concludes against South Africa, and then on to Australia for three further T20s to acclimatise for the T20 World Cup. The publication said that multi-format cricketers are likely to miss the Pakistan series as there is no let-up from the start of the T20 matches until December 22 — and will therefore travel directly to Australia on October 1. As per the schedule, immediately after the trio of ODIs finish on November 22, England return to Pakistan to play three Tests. England’s final Super 12 fixture is scheduled for November 5, when they will take on the winners of qualifying Group A, most likely Sri Lanka. But the presence of three Australia v England one-day internationals, starting on November 17, four days after the World Cup final at the MCG, mean that in the event of early elimination those who feature in both T20 and 50-over squads will either be forced to spend some downtime Down Under or potentially dash home for the shortest of breaks in what is an unforgiving 2022-23 calendar, read the publication. It is worth mentioning here that after cancelling the Pakistan tour, England and Wales Cricket Board had agreed to play seven T20 matches in the country in September this year.
Kane sends Spurs into the top four
London: Harry Kane's penalty moved Tottenham into the Premier League top four as Antonio Conte's men held their nerve to beat Burnley 1-0 on Sunday. Spurs move two points ahead of north London rivals Arsenal, who travel to Newcastle on Monday, in the battle for fourth place. Tottenham still need a slip up from the Gunners to return to the Champions League next season, but upped the pressure on Mikel Arteta's men. Defeat leaves Burnley outside the relegation zone only on goal difference with two games of the season to go. Buoyed by Thursday's 3-0 win over Arsenal to keep the race for a place in the Champions League alive, Spurs flew out of the traps. Kane had a goalbound header cleared off the line by Nathan Collins before Nick Pope produced the first of a string of saves by pounced on his England teammate's header. Burnley are only still in the fight for their place in the top flight thanks to a run of 10 points from a possible 12 in the first four games after sacking Sean Dyche. Defeat at home to Aston Villa last weekend ended that unbeaten run, but there was plenty of encouragement for the Clarets they can do enough to survive in the final week of the season. Hugo Lloris needed to make a fine save to deny Maxwel Cornet giving the visitors the lead on 27 minutes. However, a brave Burnley performance was undone by a stroke of misfortune deep into first half stoppage time. Davinson Sanchez's flick brushed off the outstretched arm of Ashley Barnes. There was barely an appeal inside the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in real time, but the incident was picked up by VAR and given after a review. Kane was deadly as usual from the spot as the England captain converted his 21st consecutive successful penalty.
Flamboyant Australia cricketer Andrew Symonds dies in car crash
Sydney: Australian cricket was reeling Sunday after swashbuckling former all-rounder Andrew Symonds was killed in a car crash -- another tragic blow after the recent deaths of fellow greats Shane Warne and Rod Marsh. The 46-year-old, who played 26 Tests and 198 one-day internationals from 1998 to 2009, was involved in a single-car accident outside Townsville in Queensland state on Saturday night. Police said emergency services attempted to revive him, but he died from his injuries after the car left the road and rolled. Pictures published by the Brisbane Courier-Mail showed a vehicle on its roof and skid marks on the road. "We are still in shock -- I'm just thinking of the two kids," his tearful wife Laura told the newspaper, referring to their young children. "He was the most laid-back person. Nothing stressed him out." Cricket Australia chairman Lachlan Henderson said the sport had lost "another of its very best". "Andrew was a generational talent who was instrumental in Australia's success at World Cups and as part of Queensland's rich cricket history," he added. "He was a cult figure to many who was treasured by his fans and friends." Symonds' fatal crash comes just months after the deaths of fellow Australian greats Warne and Marsh, who both died unexpectedly from heart attacks. Andrew Symonds (left) attended the state memorial service for Shane Warne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March Andrew Symonds (left) attended the state memorial service for Shane Warne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March William WEST AFP "Unfortunately I've been here too often this year under these circumstances. I actually can't quite believe it, to be honest," former Australia captain Mark Taylor told Channel Nine. "Another tragic day for cricket." The larger-than-life Symonds was hugely popular, not only for his hard-hitting approach to the game but also for his easy-going personality. He was widely considered one of the most skilled all-rounders Australian cricket has seen, bowling both off-spin and medium pace, while playing many match-winning hands with his explosive middle-order batting. AFP
Joe Root scores century going toe-to-toe with James Anderson
Yorkshire 356 for 8 (Root 147, Bailey 3-56, Parkinson 3-79) trail Lancashire 566 for 9 declared (Jennings 238, Croft 104, Vilas 82) by 210 runs Should it be announced that by some miracle Len Hutton 'in his prime' would be playing at Headingley tomorrow, one imagines Yorkshire's ground would not be anything like big enough to accommodate the spectators wanting to watch him bat. If it was further disclosed that Hutton would be facing the bowling of Brian Statham, the crowds from Sheffield, Bradford and elsewhere in the kingdom would have to compete with even more folk coming across the M62. So what might we make of the fact that in today's common sunshine we saw Joe Root make 147 against a Lancashire attack that included James Anderson? This afternoon, such a sight was familiar; we may see it again tomorrow as Yorkshire look to avoid defeat. But in three summers' time…? Let us be cautious. Hutton and Statham epitomised their county's best qualities and combined to wonderful effect on a famous Ashes tour. On top of which, there was an essential integrity about the two men that ennobles their posthumous reputations. Not for nothing was Malcolm Lorimer's collection of tributes to Statham entitled Glory Lightly Worn. Root, though, is only 31 and may have five years of first-class cricket ahead of him. And while Anderson will be 40 in July, it seems clear he will play on as long as he retains both his fitness and his private fire. We cannot yet definitively assess the career of either of our current champions. AFP
Unbeaten Mathews century gives Sri Lanka first-day honours
Angelo Mathews' 12th Test century headlined Sri Lanka's fine first day against Bangladesh in Chattogram. His century, and 92-run stand for the third wicket with Kusal Mendis, revived Sri Lanka in the second session before keeping things locked in their favour till the end of the day. Bangladesh would rue dropping Mathews on 69, but it was an otherwise tight contest for the Sri Lanka batters against the steady home spinners. After the big stand with Mendis, Mathews added another 75 for the unbroken fifth wicket with Dinesh Chandimal, who was unbeaten on 34 at stumps. Mathews was on 114, using all of his experience to hit his first century against Bangladesh. Only the Bangladesh spinners took wickets, with Nayeem Hasan taking two and Taijul Islam and Shakib Al Hasan one each. Mathews' most fruitful zone was in front of the wicket, mostly driving straight on a pitch that had low bounce but was good for batting from the second session. Between extra cover and midwicket, he struck 11 boundaries and hit a straight six too. The rest of Mathews' boundaries were hit towards fine-leg. When he was on 69, in the 65th over, Mahmudul Hasan Joy dropped Mathews at slip off Taijul, and although Mahmudul made it up with a good grab in the next over to get rid of Dhananjaya de Silva, it proved to be a costly drop. The third session started poorly for Sri Lanka, when Mendis pulled Taijul's long-hop to Nayeem at short midwicket. They had earlier gone wicketless throughout the second session as Mathews and Mendis bedded in for the long haul. Mendis batted quite conservatively, only hitting a couple of cover drives and another boundary through midwicket, as he allowed Mathews to thrive. They had come together late in the first session after Nayeem had taken two wickets. The offspinner, playing his first Test in more than a year, removed Dimuth Karunaratne in his first over, before getting Oshada Fernando caught behind. Bangladesh, though, lost two of their reviews with ordinary lbw appeals.
China’s handling of COVID-19 pandemic set high standards for world: Bilawal
By Staff Reporter
BEIJING: Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that China’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic by adopting a dynamic zero-COVID approach has set high standards for the world. “The way the leadership of China relies on science and facts, and is still doing everything possible to ensure the safety and health of every single citizen has set excellent standards internationally,” the foreign minister told Xinhua news agency. He said Pakistan has learned a lot from the Chinese experience in its fight against the pandemic, adding that China was the first country to send assistance to Pakistan despite facing dire challenges at home. “We will never forget the way that the government and the people of China have assisted us not only through expertise but also through vaccines and other relief,” Bilawal said. The foreign minister said that after the very first COVID-19 case was reported in Pakistan, the country adopted a strategy of smart lockdowns which gave the opportunity to set up the infrastructure to control the spread of the disease.
3000 nomination papers submitted for Sindh LG elections: ECP
By Staff Reporter
KARACHI:As many as 3,000 nomination papers have been submitted for first phase of local government elections in the Sindh province, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said. According to the ECP, the nomination papers could be submitted by May 16 for the first phase of the elections scheduled for June 26. It is pertinent to mention here that the Election Commission of Pakistan had conveyed Sindh government that the local bodies elections in Karachi and Hyderabad would be held on July 24. “The first phase of local bodies election will be held on June 26 in Sukkur, Larkana, Shaheed Benazirabad, and Mirpurkhas,” Aijaz Chohan said, adding that elections in second phase will be held in Karachi and Hyderabad on July 24. The nomination papers for the second phase of local government (LG) polls in Sindh will be submitted to the returning officers (ROs) concerned from June 8 to 11. As per schedule, the public notices will be issued by the ROs on June 3 while the publication of the names of nominated candidates will be on June 13. The scrutiny of nomination papers by ROs will be during June 15-17. The date for filing appeals against the decision of ROs will be June 18-22 while the last date for deciding appeals by the appellate authority will be June 25. The date for publication of the revised list of candidates will be June 27 while the last date for withdrawal and publication of the revised candidate list will be June 28.
Islamabad: Federal Minister for Communications Asad Mehmood and Federal Minister for Housing and Works Maulana Abdul Wasay addressing a Press Conference.
Sh Rashid demands NSC meeting to elect interim prime minister Says govt is left with no choices, Imran Khan has become a hero
By Staff Reporter
FAISALABAD: Former Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid on Sunday demanded to hold the National Security “Council” (sic) meeting to elect an interim prime minister, saying that the politics of 11 parties have failed. He was addressing a press conference in Faisalabad. The National Security Committee (NSC) is the country’s top body on security issues and includes the three services chiefs among its members, besides the prime minister and federal ministers. Talking about the elections, Rasheed said that a delay in the election would only benefit Imran Khan but before the elections the meeting of the National Security Council (sic) should be held to elect an interim prime minister. He also said if the current government arrested Imran Khan “the country would turn into a Sri Lanka.” However, in the same breath, he said that Khan’s arrest would not prove a big problem for the PTI as it had already prepared a plan. Sheikh Rashid mocked the PML-N government now desperately calling Nawaz Sharif. The politics of 11 parties died, political funerals will be held soon, he said. He further mentioned that the turncoats from Faisalabad were the most expensive. He said that what happened in Sialkot was the worst, it was planned. Talking about the other party leaders he added that they were afraid to visit their constituencies. The former interior minister targeting the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he should go home.
US knows where Bilawal, Zardari keep their money: Imran Khan
PTI Chairman Imran Khan says if something happens to him, Pakistani nation will seek justice on his behalf
By Staff Reporter
FAISALABAD: PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday criticised Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and said that since he is now going to meet United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, he will "beg him for money" so that "Imran Khan could not come back into power." The former prime minister claimed that Blinken knows well where Bilawal and his father, Asif Ali Zardari, have stored their money across the globe. Since all of Bilawal's wealth is stored outside of the country, he cannot dare to upset the US, otherwise he will lose everything," Khan said. Khan said that the United States never helps any country without seeing its own interest. "The US will tell Pakistan to stop talking about Palestine," he said, adding that the US cannot dare to dictate to India because it was a free country. "The US has made Pakistan a slave without having to invade it," Khan said. "The people of Pakistan will never accept the imported government". 'If something happens to me, Pakistani nation will seek justice on my behalf' During his jalsa, the former prime minister also said that if anything happened to him, the Pakistani nation will seek justice on his behalf. Khan was referring to a statement he had issued a day ago in Sialkot, where he had claimed that he had recorded a video of the characters behind the "conspiracy" against his government, and if something happens to him, it will be released. Khan had said a "conspiracy" was being hatched to take his life — and despite knowing about it earlier, he has now enough evidence to confirm it. Reiterating his belief that there was a US-backed plan that made the no-confidence motion against his government successful, Khan on Sunday said that he already knew that plotting related to his ouster was taking place behind closed doors. He then questioned the incumbent coalition government whether it was capable enough to take care of the prevailing situation, referring to the rising price of the dollar against the Pakistani rupee and the ensuing inflation in the country. "I ask the media of the country to inquire from a common man the rates of potatoes and tomatoes," he said.
Nawaz speaks with leaders of coalition partners, discusses giving relief to masses
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) supremo and former Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif telephoned the leaders of the coalition parties on Sunday. Sources privy to the development said that PML-N Chief took allies into confidence over the decisions of PML-N regarding electoral reforms while giving relief to the people and limiting subsidies were also discussed. Sources added that Nawaz Sharif telephoned Asif Ali Zardari, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Khalid Magsi, Mahmood Achakzai and others. The former PM Nawaz Sharif also directed PM Shehbaz Sharif to take all the allies into confidence and said that the PM should work out a common strategy. On the other hand, it is also expected that PM Shehbaz to address the nation in the next two days.
CPEC serving Pakistan to achieve SDGs 2030 Agenda
By Staff Reporter
BEIJING: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been contributing to the United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda in Pakistan to achieve its SDGs goals. Although it is expected that CPEC will empower Pakistan to move forward economically, it also has a high potential to achieve a number of SDGs. Three out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030 are highly relevant to the construction and running of CPEC, according to a report published by China Economic Net (CEN). As it is important to know that developing countries need great resources of funding to achieve SDGs in their countries, CPEC has been proven as the best economical resource for Pakistan. Chinese FDIs are also identifying actionable measures in terms of CPEC investments, developments, business opportunities, jobs creations abilities, and innovation in social services in Pakistan. Pakistan has to achieve Sustainable Development Goals as per the 2030 Agenda, and it requires substantial financial resources and also non-financial support. Pakistan has already faced severe consequences of terrorism. These war costs have led to a reduction in exports and inflow of foreign investment including other financial damages. During these crucial and toughest times, China came forward and offered CPEC to Pakistan. Pakistan has a long-term development plan called Vision 2025, which has identified 7 priority areas or pillars. Each of these finds resonance with one or more of the latest proposals for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Currently, it is only possible through the mega projects of CPEC which offers a full opportunity for Pakistan with all resources to move forward not only with its Vision 2025 but also to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda and many of the SDGs in the Pakistani context. The UN’s 2030 Agenda key objectives and CPEC core goals or objectives are very similar and connected. CPEC will help facilitate the work on poverty alleviation in Pakistan and neighbouring countries, and on economic prosperity with advanced and highly infrastructural regional connectivity.
Miseries of families continue unabated in IIOJK
By Staff Reporter
ISLAMABAD: As the world is observing the International Day of Families, today, the miseries and victimization of the Kashmiri families at the hands of Indian troops and police personnel continue unabated in Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir. According to a report released by the Research Section of the Kashmir Media Service on the occasion of the International Day of Families, today, Jammu and Kashmir, being the most militarized zone in the world, has witnessed killings, enforced disappearances, torture cases, rapes and other brutalities by the Indian forces over the three decades.
Heat Alert for AJK issued, educational institutes in Mirpur closed
By Staff Reporter
MIRPUR: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Health Department on Sunday issued a heat alert for healthcare units and educational institutes to change working hours. The district administration of Mirpur has also decided to close the schools and colleges in the division due to the extreme heat in the area. The Director-General of the Public Health Department Dr Sardar Aftab Hussain has directed the Medical Superintendents and District Health Officers to keep their staff alert in all health units. The health department also advised the educational institutes to change the working hours to protect the student and the academic staff from the extreme heat of the summer season. The department has also given instructions to the health officials to allocate wards and beds for the affected persons in Rural Health Centres and Tehsil and District Headquarters Hospitals. The SDMA Director Raja Amir has advised all the public and private schools in Azad Kashmir to change the working hours so now the schools will open at 7:30 am and close at 12:30 pm. The channel said that the AJK government has also issued a notification of the change in working hours in educational institutes. While the administration has taken a decision to close educational institutions in Azad Kashmir Division Mirpur due to extreme heat. The Elementary & Secondary Education Secretary has directed all public and private institutions to close in view of an extreme heatwave. The secretary said that the heatwave is high in the area of Mirpur division so as a precautionary measure, heads of institutions and district education officers should keep educational institutions closed after consultation with the district administration
IIOJK HC quashes PSA detention of two persons
By Staff Reporter
SRINAGAR: The High Court of Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir has quashed the illegal detention of two persons booked under black law, Public Safety Act (PSA), and directed the authorities to release them immediately. According to Kashmir Media Service, the court quashed the detention order of Mohammad Jalal Sheikh of Solina, Srinagar, and Abdul Majid Khan of Budgam. They were detained by District Magistrates of Srinagar and Budgam on February 28, 2022 and October 18, 2021 respectively. The court, while quashing the detention of Abdul Majid Khan, said that neither in the order of detention nor in the ground of detention was the detenu informed that apart from his right to make a representation to the Government, he had also a right to make a representation to the detaining authority against the order of detention. Dealing with the case of detenu Mohammad Jalal Sheikh, Justice M A Chaudhry said the detenue had filed the representation against his detention to the detaining authority and the same has not been considered by the respondents till date as there is no mention with regard to the said representation filed by the detenue, either in the reply affidavit or in the detention record. “As such, this Court is left with no option but to accept the stand of the detenue that he has moved representation against his detention, but the same has not been considered”, the court said.
Concern expressed over Inqilabi’s deteriorating health in jail
By Staff Reporter
SRINAGAR: In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the family of illegally detained Hurriyat leader, Abdul Samad Inqilabi has expressed serious concern over his deteriorating health in jail and demanded his immediate release. According to Kashmir Media Service, Abdul Samad Inqalabi's elder brother Muhammad Yousuf told media men in Srinagar that Samad Inqalabi was already suffering from various ailments and it was heard that he was being transferred to a remote prison in India. He appealed to the world community and international human rights organizations to play their role in his release.
People witnessing unspeakable atrocities by Indian troops in IIOJK ISLAMABAD: Indian brutalities are at its peak in illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir as the people in the territory are witnessing unspeakable atrocities at the hands of Indian troops. Killings, arrests and torture are widespread in IIOJK and besides killing the Kashmiris, the Indian troops are destroying their properties and demolishing their homes in the occupied territory, said a report released by the KMS, Sunday. It deplored that the Indian atrocities against the Kashmiris had increased manifold since Aug 5, 2019 when the Modi-led fascist Indian government repealed Kashmiris’ special status and imposed military siege in the territory. The report said, unending stories of tragedy and trauma are surfacing every other day, adding that over 96,000 killings since 1989 are testimony to Indian barbarism in IIOJK. It lamented that the Modi regime was using every undemocratic method to fortify its military hold in the occupied territory. It said thousands of Kashmiris are languishing in Indian jails under black laws and they are not even provided hygienic food and medical facilities in jails.