Posts Tagged ‘Flood’

Around 15m voters may be registered at permanent addresses

ISLAMABAD: In a controversial move, around 15 million voters enrolled in areas other than their addresses on computerised national identity cards (CNICs) will be shifted by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to their permanent addresses, if they fail to decide where they want to be registered as voters by the deadline of Dec 31.

“A decision in principle has been taken to register all voters enrolled on a ‘third address’ on the permanent addresses mentioned on their CNICs after the expiry of the deadline”, a senior ECP official told Dawn on Saturday.

He said under Section 27 of the Elections Act, a person shall be deemed to be resident of an electoral area if his temporary or permanent address on their CNIC issued by the National Database and Registration Authority lies in the said electoral area.

Move can trigger litigation, but ECP says it has no option

He said a person who was in the service of Pakistan could apply to the registration officer for enrolment in the electoral area in which he temporarily resided for being in the service of Pakistan and the facility was also available to his spouse and children.

Sub-section 4 of Section 27 of the Elections Act reads: “Notwithstanding, anything contained in this section or any other provision of this Chapter, the registration of a voter at an address other than the permanent or temporary address mentioned in his National Identity Card shall remain valid till he applies for transfer of his vote or for modification or renewal of his National Identity Card in which case his vote shall be registered according to the temporary or permanent address mentioned in the National Identity Card.” While a proviso with the sub-section reads “Provided that this sub-section (4) including this proviso shall stand omitted on 31st December, 2018”.

The ECP official said this meant the persons registered as voter at an address other than the ones mentioned on their CNICs had less than a month to decide where they wanted to be registered. He said otherwise, they would be enrolled as voters at their permanent addresses. He agreed that the move would open a floodgate of litigation, but insisted that the ECP had no option.

He said the ECP had already launched a campaign to create awareness among the voters and had also published a public notice. At an event at Aiwan-i-Sadr to mark National Voters’ Day on Dec 7, President Arif Alvi would give a message to the voters, the official added.

After Dec 31, the district election commissioners (DECs) would prepare lists of such voters in their respective areas and send notices to them following which they would be registered as voters at the permanent addresses as mentioned on their CNICs, he said, adding that a targeted messaging campaign would also be considered for the purpose. The process of registering such voters at permanent addresses would be completed by March 31, 2019, the official said.

He said speakers of the national and provincial assemblies had also been asked to inform their voters about the requirement as well.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2018

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Aasia released to please the West, says Fazl

LAHORE: It is not the legality of arrest or release of Aasia Bibi that is bothering the nation, but the fact that she has been released under a deal with the West, says Maulana Fazlur Rehman, president of the Mutahidda Majlis-i-Amal (MMA).

Addressing the “million march,” which was very thinly attended when compared to the ‘figure’ mentioned in its title, he said the way the West had been celebrating the release of Aasia Bibi “showed the reality of the issue”.

“If Aasia Bibi’s release is only a legal decision, why is there flood of personal praises directed at the CJP and Imran Khan? It only proves that the decision was taken under a deal, which is now being praised in the West. What kind of legal decision is this which is being celebrated by the West and has caused anxiety in the Ummah?,”the Maulana thundered.

The call for the march was given by the All (religious) Parties Tahafuz-i-Namoos-i-Risalat.

The Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F head alleged that an EU delegation that visited Pakistan in run-up to the decision, offered the country membership of international financial clubs and linked the offer to the Aasia Bibi’s release.

“Misquoting the Islamic history of Misaq-i-Madina, the PTI parliamentarians are trying to justify the diplomatic recognition of Isreal as well,” Maulana told the small but emotionally charged gathering on The Mall.

“I have been arguing since long that Imran Khan is a Jew representative and has been anointed by the West to play its proxy. Now he has been brought to power only to play games of his masters and hurt the Ummah. The government is guilty of conspiring to alter the blasphemy law, setting blasphemers free and playing to Western tunes,”. he said, adding that the movement would continue till the PTI mended its ways.

He announced that the next protest on the issue would be held on Nov 25 at Sukkur.

Earlier, Prof Sajjad Mir, addressing the rally, said there might be sectarian differences among different parties but they all were one on the issue of blasphemy. He too alleged “This all was being done to please the West”.

Hafiz Idrees, the acting emir of Jamaat-i-Islami, declared that the blasphemers could not be pardoned, come what may.

Shah Awais Noorani was of the view that the parliamentary system was being rigged to replace it with presidential form of government. He warned the religo-political forces wont allow it.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2018

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India ‘likely to allow’ dams inspection next month

LAHORE: India is likely to fulfill its commitment of getting its two hydropower projects — 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnal — inspected by Pakistani experts next month after the local (Punchayat) elections in the held Kashmir end by Dec 15.

On the other hand, Islamabad is also set to send a reminder in-writing to New Delhi in a day or two, urging it again to fulfill its promise of allowing Pakistani experts inspect the projects at Chenab and Jhelum basins, according to a senior official of the ministry of water resources.

“We approached India’s Commissioner for Indus Waters Pradeep Kumar Saxena by phone a couple days ago and urged him to give us schedule for our tour to the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnal projects. He replied that it is not possible during first or second week of December due to local Punchayat elections in the state,” Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters Mehar Ali Shah told Dawn on Thursday.

“Following conversation with my counterpart, I am of the view that they (India) will surely get the projects at Chenab basin inspected by us after the elections. I am still very optimistic since India is legally and morally bound to do this under the treaty. So they cannot ignore this,” the commissioner maintained. About Kishanganga inspection, the official said it might be possible during next year.

Under the Indus water Treaty, both Pakistan and India are bound to inspect projects, share data related to water flow, storage and releases, floods.

The treaty also empowers the two countries to mutually resolve their water related issues on their own or through arbitration and appointment of independent experts and other relevant forums.

India had earlier agreed during 115th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission held between the two countries from Aug 29 to 30 in Lahore to allow Pakistani experts inspect the projects at Chenab basin by end of September last. It also agreed to schedule visit of Pakistani experts for inspection of the Kishanganga project at a later stage.

Similarly Islamabad had agreed to allow New Delhi to carry out inspection of the Kotri barrage over the Indus after September. As a result, India agreed to a scheduled programme (Oct 7 to 11) for the visit of Pakistani experts. But, later, it postponed the same on the pretext of some local bodies elections.

Pakistan had also asked India during last month’s first week to immediately share the data showing inflow and discharge of water at the Kishanganga dam and water flows in different rivers. However, India is yet to do so.

According to the minutes of the 115th meeting of the PCIW held between the two countries in Lahore, Pakistan had also asked India to share information about potential projects at the planning stage for examination.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2018

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Thousands attend rally in support of ousted Lankan PM

COLOMBO: Tens of thousands of supporters of sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe blocked roads in Sri Lanka’s capital on Tuesday, stepping up a showdown with a former strongman accused of rights abuses — who also claims to head the country’s government.

Wickremesinghe left his official residence for the first time since Friday to condemn President Maithripala Sirisena for dismissing him and appointing Mahinda Rajapakse, a former president accused of grave human rights violations and corruption.

Wickremesinghe’s party said about 100,000 people flooded the streets, while police sources estimated 25,000 even as scores of buses brought more demonstrators to the biggest rally since the constitutional crisis erupted.

The army of followers chanted “Down With the Rogue PM” as they targeted Rajapakse, who Sirisena has brought back into frontline politics as his prime minister.

“We are against the sacking, the people did not vote for Sirisena to act in this manner,” Wickremesinghe told supporters from a makeshift stage. “We will resist what the president has done.” Parliament speaker Karu Jayasuriya has warned that the crisis could lead to a “bloodbath” on the streets if the assembly does not hold a vote.

But the rally remained peaceful, watched by more than 2,600 police and special task force commandos, before it dispersed. Behind the scenes, the rivals battled to tempt lawmakers from opposing sides to bolster their numbers if a vote is held.

Rajapakse, 72, gave four legislators from Wickre­mesinghe’s party ministerial portfolios in his cabinet after persuading them to defect on Monday.

Another defected on Tuesday and was made a state minister but Rajapakse was unable to name a full cabinet.

Wickremesinghe has also convinced at least two lawmakers from Sirisena’s camp to join his United National Party.

Following the latest defection, Wickremesinghe has 104 MPs in the 225-seat chamber while Rajapakse and Sirisena together have 99. A majority of the 22 remaining MPs are expected to back Wickremesinghe in any vote but the horse-trading is sure to intensify, observers said.

A deputy minister in Wickremesinghe’s administration, Ranjan Rama­nayake, accused China of paying for Rajapakse — who favoured a pro-Beijing policy during his decade-long tenure as president — to buy legislators.

“I am telling China not to spend their millions to buy MPs in Sri Lanka. They want to buy the country wholesale,” he said.

The Chinese embassy in Colombo denied the claims in a statement to AFP.

“Recent allegations about China by MP Ranjan Ramanayake are groundless and irresponsible,” the statement said, adding that Beijing follows “the principle of non-interference in other country’s internal affairs”. With Sirisena showing no sign of lifting the parliamentary suspension which runs until Nov 16, Wickremesinghe’s finance minister Mangala Samar­aweera said the president was trying to buy time to secure votes for Rajapakse.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2018

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Oman says time to accept Israel in region, offers help for peace

MANAMA: Oman described Israel as an accepted Middle East state on Saturday, a day after hosting a surprise visit by its prime minister that Washington said could help regional peace efforts.

Oman is offering ideas to help Israel and the Palestinians to come together but is not acting as mediator, Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanates minister responsible for foreign affairs, told a security summit in Bahrain.

“Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this,” bin Alawi said.

“The world is also aware of this fact. Maybe it is time for Israel to be treated the same [as others states] and also bear the same obligations.” His comments followed a rare visit to Oman by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which came days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas paid a three-day visit to the Gulf country. Both leaders met with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos.

“We are not saying that the road is now easy and paved with flowers, but our priority is to put an end to the conflict and move to a new world,” bin Alawi told the summit.

Oman is relying on the United States and efforts by President Donald Trump in working towards the “deal of the century” (Middle East peace), he added.

Bahrain voices support for Oman

Bahrain’s foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa voiced support for Oman over the sultanate’s role in trying to secure Israeli-Palestinian peace, while Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir said the kingdom believes the key to normalising relations with Israel was the peace process. The three-day summit was attended by Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, and his counterparts in Italy and Germany also participated, but Jordan’s King Abdullah cancelled his appearance after a flood that hit the Dead Sea region killed 21 people.

Trumps Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt welcomed the “warming ties & growing cooperation between our regional friends” in a tweet late on Friday.

“This is a helpful step for our peace efforts & essential to create an atmosphere of stability, security & prosperity between Israelis, Palestinians & their neighbours. Looking forward to seeing more meetings like this! Greenblatt said.

Israel and some Gulf states share an interest in curbing Iran’s influence in the region.

Oman has long been to the Middle East what neutral Switzerland is to global diplomacy. The country helped to mediate secret US-Iran talks in 2013 that led to the historic nuclear deal signed in Geneva two years later.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2018

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Corruption hampers efforts to end power cuts, admits minister

ISLAMABAD: Federal Power Minister Omar Ayub Khan on Tuesday confirmed the existence of an entrenched culture of corruption and inefficiencies in the power sector that hampers ending loadshedding even if floodgates of supply have been opened.

“The dilemma is that even if we open floodgates of electricity, we cannot end loadshedding and this will devastate the national economy,” he said while testifying before the Senate Standing Committee on Power.

The minister said electricity theft was widespread across the country which was not possible without involvement of officials of the power companies.

The committee headed by Senator Fida Muhammad expressed concern over conditions prevailing in the power sector. Senator Nauman Wazir deplored that circular debt now hovered around Rs1.3 trillion ($10 billion) — incidentally equal to the amount that Pakistan is seeking from the Inter­national Monetary Fund and others. “You would not need a bailout if you are able to recover unpaid electricity bills,” he said.

The minister said it was his top priority to get inefficiencies out of the distribution network for which engineers would need to be recruited and technology introduced on urgent basis. He said the transmission and distribution system required an investment of about $5bn to control system losses and ensure stable power supply.

Omar Ayub says electricity theft not possible without involvement of officials of power companies

The minister said the power division was engaging with the provinces on creation of special task forces with the support of the provincial governments and local authorities and law enforcement agencies for crackdown against power theft. He said he himself and the power secretary would visit various parts of Balochistan next week and take the provincial government on board in this regard.

He said the power division was currently working on a mechanism to deal with power theft) with the support of the power companies, provincial authorities and notable consumers to ensure that suspension of electricity supply in high-loss areas was limited to transformer level, instead of closure of grid stations.

Power Secretary Irfan Ai said anti-theft operations were so difficult that consumers resisted removal of installations. He said a team of the Quetta Electric Supply Company was held hostage by Frontier Constabulary personnel a few days ago when it was removing a high-loss transformer in Mastung. The team members were released only after intervention from Islamabad through the chief secretary and high ups of the paramilitary force.

The minister admitted that there was fictitious billing even his own constituency, besides kundas, theft and non-recoveries. “But that is not enough. There are a number of islands of corruption. Meter workshops is one, transformers is another, supply of materials yet another and all these have to be blocked at the earliest.

For this, he said, the enterprise resource system was being made part of the financial models of the power companies.

The minister said given the fact that power theft was not possible without officials of power companies who were more prone to help big commercial and industrial consumers, the government had now decided to launch an anti-theft campaign from big thieves and defaulters.

He said shortage of staff was a serious challenge and, giving an example, added that there was only one meter reader in his constituency for 20,000 connections which meant it was practically impossible for him to ensure meter reading even if a helicopter was on his disposal.

He said the aerial bundle cables were being introduced in the distribution companies to minimise kunda culture by ensuring actual measurement of power supply between a grid and a feeder and down to transformer level and then move on to advance meter reading at consumer stage.

Senator Wazir proposed making recoveries, correct billing, reduction in losses and similar other benchmarks part of the key performance indicators of the staff of the power companies for promotions and incentives. He said the contractors should be hired in high-loss areas, who should get returns on incremental reduction in losses and increase in recoveries.

The meeting was told that there were more than 6,000 illegal tubewells in Balochistan besides about 29,000 registered tubewells against which neither the consumers nor the federal and provincial governments were clearing their dues.

The chief executive officer of the Lahore Electric Supply Company said there was no mechanism in place to exactly know distribution losses in domestic and industrial sectors. He said an electricity theft of 4 million units was unearthed at an industrial unit and legal course was currently in progress.

Secretary Ali said the government had linked clearance for materialisation of Shanghai Electric and Abraaj deal for transfer of K-Electric shares to clean and clear settlement of liabilities payable by KE to the National Transmission and Dispatch Company. He said the parties had not been able to reconcile these liabilities, particularly late payment mark ups.

The committee was informed that Diamer-Bhasha dam involved land acquisition of 37,500 acres and 83pc land acquisition had been completed. The construction on the dam was expected to begin in April 2020 and complete in 2028. Likewise, the construction of Mohmand dam was expected to start in April 2019 and complete in 2025.

The meeting was told the delay in land acquisition was mostly because of boundary issues. It was reported that Basha dam would have two power houses and they would be situated one each in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2018

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Devaluation pushes up total debt by Rs900bn

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s total debt and liabilities have increased by almost Rs900 billion in a single day and Rs1.4 trillion since Aug 18 because of steep currency devaluation.

Informed sources said the erosion in exchange rate by about Rs9.50 against dollar on Tuesday was a signal that the government was completing prior actions to secure another programme from the International Monetary Fund that required Pakistan to allow a full free float exchange rate and increase policy rate and utility tariffs.

The government has already increased gas prices by a record 35pc last month and is in the process of finalising increase in electricity tariff, proposed by the regulator at Rs3.90 per unit or about 33pc from the existing rate. The cost of production would go up with all these factors over the coming months.

These sources said the government had signalled devaluation after consecutive meetings with the prime minister, including one before the departure of Finance Minister Asad Umar to Bali, to request an IMF support package. There was no reason for the dollar to appreciate so much in a day when there was no hefty repayment due.

Officials said the latest exchange rate would help contract import bill that stood at $55bn last year and help contain the current account deficit.

At the same time, the increased cost of essential imports like oil and liquefied natural gas would impact industrial, commercial and transport costs significantly. The imports of oil and LNG alone are estimated at about $18bn.

On the other hand, the stock market fluctuation also had the political dimension that was not the case with currency rate except that of the cost of indecisiveness of the government to delay a policy decision on IMF programme for so long as the foreign exchange reserves kept on declining to about $8.4bn or six weeks of imports. “There is a visible cost of indecision”, a former secretary finance said.

Officials said the initial pronouncements about foreign exchange coming from Saudi Arabia and China and then the inability of the government to translate such announcements into reality played a part also. The expectations were raised to the extent of $10bn inflows from Saudi Arabia and yet not a single MoU could be signed during the visit of its business delegation.

An official said Pakistan’s total external debt and liabilities stood slightly over $95bn as of June 30. This translated into Rs11.685tr on Aug 18 when the new government came to power and exchange rate was Rs123. The exchange rate jumped close to Rs139 per dollar on Tuesday that translated into a total debt and liabilities of Rs13.11tr, resulting in a total gap of Rs1.42tr.

He explained that exchange rate was around Rs128 on Monday which meant the total burden of external debt and liabilities was about Rs12.2tr which soared by Rs902bn to Rs13.11tr.

Former director general debt Zafar Shaikh said the impact of devaluation was more devastating than the enemy’s missile attack. He said the external debt and liabilities had increased by Rs900bn, and domestic debt cost by Rs220bn, because about Rs11tr out of total Rs17tr domestic debt was of short duration.

He said the combined impact of proposed increase in policy rate and devaluation are set to open a floodgate of inflation and would increase industrial cost of production and the debt servicing cost by 40pc.

The former DG debt in the Musharraf regime said the country’s total foreign exchange reserves had dropped to as low as $1bn in 1999, from where these were improved to $14bn in four years, and expensive debts of $1.3bn were repaid to the ADB without resorting to tactics the present government had resorted to in a much comfortable position.

He said the immediate impact of devaluation would be on imports, importantly increasing the cost of industrial supplies and it would be difficult for the importers to meet their orders made before the devaluation. He said the latest devaluation was a sleeping pill for exporters and a wakeup call for importers and is likely to distort the entire foreign exchange flow.

Shaikh said the government should immediately appreciate currency by 15pc, reduce discount rate and convert all national savings schemes into dollar denomination with some sweetner and announce a scheme under which all banks should collect dollars from the public at a premium and surrender foreign exchange to the central bank.

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2018

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Heatwaves can become yearly affair if global climate not controlled, warns UN report

The landmark United Nations (UN) report on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius was released in South Korea on Monday after a week-long meeting of the 195-nation Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

More than 90 scientists wrote the report, which is based on more than 6,000 peer reviews.

A “Summary for Policymakers” of the 400-page tome underscores how quickly global warming has outstripped humanity’s attempts to tame it, and outlines stark options — all requiring a makeover of the world economy — for avoiding the worst ravages of climate change.

“Things that scientists have been saying would happen further in the future are happening now,” Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, told AFP.

Before the Paris Agreement was inked in 2015, nearly a decade of scientific research rested on the assumption that 2C was the guardrail for a climate-safe world.

The IPCC report, however, shows that global warming impacts have come sooner and hit harder than predicted.

1.5C vs. 2C

A raft of recent research shows that 2C is not the guardrail it was previously assumed to be.

“Climate impacts are exponentially more dramatic when we go from 1.5C to 2C,” said Henri Waisman, a scientist at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, and a coordinating lead author of the IPCC report.

What used to be once-a-century heatwaves in the northern hemisphere, for example, will become 50 per cent more likely in many regions with an extra half-degree of warming.

Some tropical fisheries are likely to collapse somewhere between the 1.5C and 2C benchmark. Staple food crops will decline in yield and nutritional value by an extra 10-15pc. Coral reefs will mostly perish. The rate of species loss will accelerate “substantially”.

Most worrying of all, perhaps, are temperature thresholds between 1.5C and 2C that could push Arctic sea ice, methane-laden permafrost, and melting polar ice sheets with enough frozen water to lift oceans by a dozen metres, past a point of no return.

The stakes are especially high for small island states, developing nations in the tropics, and countries with densely-populated delta regions already suffering from rising seas.

Read: ,Climate change a ‘threat multiplier’ for Pakistan, says researcher,

Meeting the tougher-to-reach goal “could result in around 420 million fewer people being frequently exposed to extreme heat waves, and about 65 million fewer people being exposed to exceptional heat waves,” the report says.

The deadly heat waves that hit India and Pakistan in 2015 will become practically yearly events if the world reaches the hotter of the two goals.

“We have only the slimmest of opportunities remaining to avoid unthinkable damage to the climate system that supports life as we know it,” said Amjad Abdulla, chief negotiator at the UN climate talks for the Alliance of Small Island States.

“We have done our job, we have now passed on the message,” Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London’s Centre for Environmental Policy and an IPCC co-chair, said at a press conference. “Now it is over to governments, it’s their responsibility to act on it.”

Here are some key findings.

‘Unprecedented changes’

Capping global warming at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”, the IPCC said.

Earth’s average surface temperature has already gone up 1C — enough to unleash a crescendo of deadly extreme weather — and is on track to rise another 2-3C in the absence of a sharp and sustained reduction in carbon pollution.

At current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, we could pass the 1.5C marker as early as 2030, and no later than mid-century, the report finds with “high confidence”.

To have at least a 50-50 chance of staying under 1.5C without overshooting the mark, the world must, by 2050, become “carbon neutral”.

“That means every tonne of CO2 we put into the atmosphere will have to be balanced by a tonne of CO2 taken out,” said lead coordinating author Myles Allen, head of the University of Oxford’s Climate Research Programme.

Emissions of carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas — should peak no later than 2020 and curve sharply downward from there, according to scenarios in the report.

Easier said than done: humanity dumped a record amount of CO2 into the atmosphere last year.

A contrasting “pay later” scenario compensates for a high-consumption lifestyles and continued use of fossil fuels with a temporary breaching of the 1.5C ceiling.

It depends heavily on the use of bio-fuels. But the scheme would need to plant an area twice the size of India in biofuel crops, and assumes that some 1,200 billion tonnes of CO2 — 30 years’ worth of emissions at current rates — can be safely locked away underground.

“Is it fair for the next generation to pay to take the CO2 out of the atmosphere that we are now putting into it?”, asked Allen. “We have to start having that debate.”

The steep cost of inaction

The 30-page executive summary also details humanity’s “carbon budget”, i.e., the amount of CO2 we can emit and still stay under the 1.5C ceiling.

For a two-thirds chance of success, that is about 420 billion tonnes, an allowance that would — according to current trends — be used up in a decade.

The share of electricity generated by renewables — mainly hydro, solar and wind — would have to jump by mid-century from about 20 to 70 per cent. The share of coal, meanwhile, would need to drop from 40 per cent to low single digits.

Limiting global warming to 1.5C will require investing about $2.4 trillion in the global energy system every year between 2016 and 2035, or about 2.5 per cent of world GDP.

This price tag, however, must be weighed against the even steeper cost of inaction, the report says.


IPCC authors say the 1.5C goal is technically and economically feasible, but depends on political leadership to become reality.

The report lays out four 1.5C scenarios that shadow current and future policy debates on the best way to ramp up the fight against climate change.

One pathway, for example, relies heavily on a deep reduction in energy demand, while another assumes major changes in consumption habits, such as eating less meat and abandoning cars with internal combustion engines.

Two others depend on sucking massive amounts of CO2 out of the air, either though large-scale reforestation, use of bio-fuels, or direct carbon capture.

“Radical change”

Special Representative on Water Affairs for the Netherlands, Henk Ovink, while talking to reporters in Hague about the alarming UN report, stressed that countries must work urgently to solve water issues caused by climate change.

“We need a radical change,” said Ovink.

“There is this urgent need to change, the IPCC report is right, we are not heading in the right direction,” he told a small group of international journalists.

The UN’s IPCC said in a landmark report on Monday that warming is on track toward an unliveable 3C or 4C rise and avoiding global chaos will require a major transformation.

Ovink — who travels the world spreading the know-how gleaned by the low-lying Netherlands in its millennium-long battle against the seas and is billed as the world’s only “water ambassador”— said the report shows “we all need to do more”.

Recent events such as the disastrous flooding caused by Hurricane Florence in the United States, Japanese typhoons and the Indonesian tsunami showed that “the world isn’t ready for these challenges, and is responding after these crises, not before”.

He said one important area was fostering “collaboration” — within and between countries, agencies and the UN — citing the example of the Netherlands where “water democracy is nearly 1,000 years old”.

But while United States President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate pact caused international dismay, Ovink said that there was no need to be unduly pessimistic.

“I don’t despair only because of Trump,” said Ovink, who previously served on a task force on hurricane rebuilding created by Trump’s predecessor, president Barack Obama.

“The world is not dependent on one nation. It wasn’t easy before Trump. “

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Hashmi sees five groups within PTI

MULTAN: PML-N leader Javed Hashmi says the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is divided into five groups. He, however, chose not to offer any explanation of PTI groups. He said the division would be obvious within a couple of months and at that point, PTI Chairman and Prime Minister Imran Khan would not be able to handle the affairs of the party.

Mr Hashmi, who joined the PML-N before the polls but failed to get its ticket, told reporters on Tuesday PML-N quaid Nawaz Sharif was a revolutionary leader who never took cover to hide anything. Justifying his silence after his release on bail from the Adiala Jail, Mr Hashmi said Mr Sharif would reveal the facts after the chehlum of Kulsoom Nawaz.

He said parliament should complete its tenure but it would be the success of Imran Khan’s government if it completed one year and a half. He said the PTI that used to promise to provide relief to the masses once into power, had brought a flood of dearness just in the first two months of power.

Mr Hashmi demanded across-the-board accountability, saying that if a prime minister could be put on trial, others, including generals, should also face accountability. He criticized the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), saying that it was unable to hold accountable everyone. He said that four retired army commanders of the country had been residing outside the country.

“What’s Musharraf doing in Dubai?” he said. He said assets of the generals should also be disclosed to the public.

Not only NAB, Mr Hashmi also criticised decisions of courts, saying that Bani Gala residence of Imran Khan was constructed illegally, but decisions (of the court) were different.

Mr Hashmi, who once presented himself to lead a movement for the Seraiki province, said the PTI government would not go for the establishment of south Punjab province even if Shah Mehmood Qureshi was made Punjab chief minister.

He said that retired Gen Shuja Pasha and Gen Zaheerul Islam were behind the 2014 sit-in in Islamabad.

He said Imran went to London (in 2014) on the pretext of meeting his sons, but, in fact, he went there to meet Tahirul Qadri on the instruction of hidden hands. He said that Imran Khan told him that martial law would not be imposed if the sit-in mob attacked Parliament building and as a consequence only elections would be held. Those were the days when Imran Khan was dying to become prime minister.

He said that Nawaz Sharif was made leader by the establishment but later it was the establishment which did not allow him to run the affairs of the country.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd , 2018

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SC allows change of dam fund title

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the change of title of a special fund to the ‘Supreme Court of Pakistan-Prime Minister Diamer Bhasha-Mohmand Dams’ created to collect donations for the construction of vital dams in the country.

“The Supreme Court has no issue if the earlier title of the dam is changed on account of the speech of Prime Minister Imran Khan for the purpose of raising funds,” observed Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

The chief justice was heading a four-judge special bench constituted to consider the change of title from the Supreme Court Diamer Bhasha-Mohmand Dams to the Prime Minister-Chief Justice Diamer Bhasha Dams.

The chief justice recalled that the prime minister in his speech to the nation had stated that he wanted to join the initiative, adding that whosoever wanted to join in the effort to build dams was their partner.

Says it will continue supervising and monitoring donations

The court also observed that since the prime minister enjoyed certain status, it had no objection on the change of title.

But Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan made it clear that while the prime minister’s joining of effort in the construction of dams was a welcome step, the apex court would continue supervising and monitoring the entire funds.

During the proceedings, the chief justice recalled that the prime minister before his speech to the nation had talked to him to seek permission but the matter had been fixed before the bench because no such permission was obtained from the court. “But we have no issue of ego or personality clash,” CJP Nisar observed.

Earlier, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Nayyar Abbas Rizvi told the court that due to the change of the title by the finance ministry on the instructions of the State Bank of Pakistan, problems cropped up since media advertisements already developed had to be changed again.

Since the title of the fund was made under a court order, the same should be changed only through a court order, the AAG argued, adding that an amendment bill had also been placed before parliament by the Federal Board of Revenue for maintaining the dam fund.

He also said that all cellular companies would also launch a campaign to repeat the message for collecting donations from the mobile phone users, adding that over Rs60 million had already been collected by the cell companies from their consumers.

Meanwhile, the same bench issued notices to the Planning Commission, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) and the provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan on a petition moved through senior counsel Rasheed A. Razvi highlighting the snags that had hit the development of Nai Gaj dam in Dadu district (Sindh).

The petitioner has sought a directive for allocation of sufficient funds to complete the dam as early as possible.

Gaj is a hill torrent that emanates from Khuzdar district of Balochistan and after passing through the plains of Kutch, eventually enters Manchhar Lake. The Nai Gaj area remains dry for eight months and gets water in four months during the monsoon. Nai Gaj flows often devastate flood protective bunds and inundate agricultural lands when Manchhar Lake is not in a position to receive flows after attaining peak level during the monsoon. Monsoon water, after inundating agricultural lands and devastating houses and standing crops, falls into the sea and, as such, a huge amount of water is wasted, the petition said.

Apart from serving as continuous flow of fresh water to Manchhar Lake, which will improve the ecology of the lake, the Nai Gaj dam will also serve as a lifeline for the people of this mountainous region with the potential of changing their socio-economic conditions.

Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2018

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Weather systems, not Indian ‘water warfare’, behind slight rise in water levels in rivers: PMD

The Pakistan Meteorological Department’s (PMD) Chief Meteorologist, Muhammad Riaz, on Monday dismissed local media reports that India had ‘released water’ into Pakistani rivers, resulting in flooding.

According to ,local media,, “several villages in Pakistan were flooded after India released water in River Ravi, River Sutlej, and River Chenab on Sunday”.

Riaz explained that heavy rainfall had occurred in the Pakistan-India border region, which was the reason behind the increased flow of water in the rivers. He also clarified that PMD had not received any reports of water being released into Pakistani rivers.

The PMD official said that the weather systems had generated floods across the border, mainly in the watershed areas of the Chenab, Sutlej and Ravi rivers.

Riaz said India had followed its usual procedure and accommodated water in its dam reservoirs. He said the water that subsequently entered Pakistani villages was not ‘extra-ordinary’, and the water which did enter the Sialkot and Narowal areas was dealt with by the districts’ own officials.

According to ,Indian media,, heavy rains have lashed parts of the north of the country, including Punjab, Haryana, ,Himachal Pradesh, and Chandigarh, for three consecutive days. The Indian Meteorological Department has also issued a red alert for various areas.

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Hurricane Florence smashes into US East Coast, rescuers scramble

Hurricane Florence smashed into the US East Coast on Friday with howling winds, torrential rains and life-threatening storm surges as emergency crews scrambled to rescue hundreds of people stranded in their homes by flood waters.

Forecasters warned of catastrophic flooding and other mayhem from the monster storm, which is only Category 1 but physically sprawling and dangerous.

The port city of Wilmington woke on Friday to the sound of exploding electrical transformers with strong gusts throwing street signs and other debris as well as water in all directions, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

The storm officially made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina at 7:15 am (1115 GMT), the National Hurricane Centre said.

Ken Graham, the NHC’s director, warned the slow pace of the storm exacerbated its danger even to areas outside its immediate path. “The longer you have this hurricane wind flow, the longer you push that water well inland,” he said.

Rescue workers in North Carolina meanwhile were scrambling to save people stranded in their homes. Video footage showed parking lots in the riverfront town of New Bern turn into shallow lakes of dirty gray water as heavy rain fell.

New Bern Police Lt David Daniels said early Friday morning that between 150 and 200 people had been rescued so far, with others still waiting for help.

“Currently 150 awaiting rescue in New Bern,” City Hall said on Twitter.

Nearly 300,000 customers in North Carolina were meanwhile reported to be without power as the outer band of the storm approached.

In its 1200 GMT advisory, the centre said Florence was packing winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph) and moving northwest at six miles per hour (10 kilometers per hour).

It added the greatest threats to life came from storm-surges while “catastrophic flash flooding and prolonged significant river flooding” was expected, with some areas receiving up to 40 inches of rainfall.

In a display of the early effects of the storm, one flood gauge on the Neuse River in New Bern, North Carolina, showed 10 feet (three metres) of flooding, the NHC said.

With winds picking up along the coastline earlier on Thursday, federal and state officials had issued final appeals to residents to get out of the path of the “once in a lifetime” weather system.

“This storm will bring destruction,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. “Catastrophic effects will be felt.”

Monster storm surge expected

The NHC said hurricane-force winds extended outward 80 miles from the center of the storm and tropical storm-force winds extended nearly 195 miles out.

A tornado watch was also in effect for parts of North Carolina.

Brock Long, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), warned the danger was not only along the coast: “Inland flooding kills a lot of people, unfortunately, and that’s what we’re about to see,” he said.

About 1.7 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders and millions of others live in areas likely to be affected by the storm.

Myrtle Beach, a South Carolina beach resort, was deserted with empty streets, boarded up storefronts and very little traffic.

A state of emergency has been declared in five coastal states — North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.

Duke Energy, a power company in the Carolinas, estimated that one million to three million customers could lose electricity because of the storm and that it could take weeks to restore.

‘I’m not worried at all’

Not everybody was heeding orders to evacuate, however.

Antonio Ramirez, a construction worker from El Salvador living in Leland, North Carolina, said he planned to ride out the worst of the weather with his dog Canelo.

“The shelters are not taking dogs,” Ramirez said. “I’m not leaving him here.”

In Wilmington, residents who had decided not to evacuate were lining up to get ice from a vending machine — $2 for a 16-pound (7.2-kilo) bag.

“I have no generator,” said Petra Langston, a nurse. “I learned from the past to keep the ice in the washing machine.”

Perched on the porch of his home, carpenter Tony Albright was calmly awaiting Florence’s arrival, beer in hand.

“I built this house myself, so I’m not worried at all, I know it’s solid,” he said. “I charged the batteries of my electronic devices, I have beers and video games.”

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Number of hungry people has risen to 820m, says UN report

NEW YORK: There is new evidence signalling that the number of hungry people in the world is growing and rose around 820 million in 2017, according to the United Nation’s “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 report” released on Tuesday.

The report also highlighted that there was limited progress in addressing the multiple forms of malnutrition, ranging from child stunting to adult obesity, putting the health of hundreds of millions of people at risk.

With hunger on the rise over the past three years, returning to levels from a decade ago, the report warned that more must be done and urgently if UN’S Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of hunger eradication is to be achieved by 2030.

The UN said the situation is worsening in South America and most regions of Africa, while the decreasing trend in undernourishment that characterised Asia seems to be slowing down significantly.

The annual UN report found that climate variability affecting rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and climate extremes such as droughts and floods are among the key drivers behind the rise in hunger, together with conflict and economic slowdowns.

“The alarming signs of increasing food insecurity and high levels of different forms of malnutrition are a clear warning that there is considerable work to be done to make sure we ‘leave no one behind’ on the road towards achieving the SDG goals on food security and improved nutrition,” the heads of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in their joint foreword to the report.

“If we are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, it is imperative that we accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people’s livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes,” the leaders said.

Analysis in the report shows that the prevalence and number of undernourished people tend to be higher in countries highly exposed to climate extremes.

Undernourishment is higher again when exposure to climate extremes is compounded by a high proportion of the population depending on agricultural systems that are highly sensitive to rainfall and temperature variability.

Temperature anomalies over agricultural cropping areas continued to be higher than the long-term mean throughout 2011–2016, leading to more frequent spells of extreme heat in the last five years.

The nature of rainfall seasons is also changing, such as the late or early start of rainy seasons and the unequal distribution of rainfall within a season.

The harm to agricultural production contributes to shortfalls in food availability, with knock-on effects causing food price hikes and income losses that reduce people’s access to food, the report said.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018

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Sarfraz wants Pakistan to post 300-plus in every Asia Cup game

LAHORE: Pakistan cricket captain Sarfraz Ahmad on Monday expressed his satisfaction at the team’s preparations for the upcoming Asia Cup and said his desire is to see his team setting winning targets of 300-plus in every match of the event.

Talking to journalists here on Monday before the Pakistan team’s departure for the UAE, which is scheduled in the wee hours on Tuesday, Sarfraz said:” Our preparations went well in the hectic camp set up in Lahore amid hot weather. We did five days practice and then played one practice match and assessed the shortcomings.”

“In the UAE, due to hot weather and humidity, it is hard to bat in the night under floodlights and so every team will be keen to bat first,” he said. “I want my batsmen to score 300-plus while batting first as our bowling attack is really good and quite capable of defending it.”

“First priority is to get early momentum in the Asia Cup as we got it in the ICC Champions Trophy in the matches against Sri Lanka and South Africa and successfully carried it till the final,” he recalled.

“Indeed, the match against India is important and if both the teams play the final then it will be a great spectacle.”

Sarfraz admitted that besides India all other teams were also strong and no one should take any team lightly. “I looked at the list of the players of all the teams and feel that every team is competitive. Hong Kong has qualified after winning the final of the qualifying round while Afghanistan is also carrying a good number of talented players. So we have to take every contest seriously if we want to win the cup,” observed Sarfraz.

To a questions regarding his own poor performance with the bat, Sarfraz said he is doing his best to improve in every game improving get over the lean patch. “In Zimbabwe, I tried hard and showed improvement in batting. Inshallah, I will try to perforwell with the bat in the coming days,” he said.

It may be mentioned here that chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had also expressed his concern about Sarfraz’s poor run with the willow.

Moreover, replying to a question about not grooming a second wicketkeeper as his replacement in case of any injury, Sarfraz said it was not necessary to groom a wicketkeeper with the national team. “Muhammad Rizwan and M Hasan are being groomed with the national A team as wicketkeepers,” he disclosed. “The A teams have a hectic schedule of activities in coming two and half months in the UAE against different teams. And in case of injury to me, the team can call any of them as both the teams will be in the UAE for most of the remaining year,” he said.

“Besides, since the time I have been elevated to captaincy, Pakistan have never played a full series of four rr five Tests But whenever we will be playing a long series, we will surely take along a second wicketkeeper,” he added.

Sarfraz admitted that since the World Cup is drawing nearer, Pakistan team will have to find a winning combination and show better results in the Asia Cup.

He said seasoned all-rounder Muhammad Hafeez is still part of the World Cup’s pool of players and whenever the team would need him he would get his place in the team.

Sarfraz denied that he had gained weight and claimed that his last fitness test proved to be quite good.

About India’s decision to give rest to their captain Virat Kohli, Sarfraz said it was their own decision. However, when asked if he would consider taking rest at some point of his career, he replied: “It is just the start of my career, so there should be no question about taking rest at this stage.”

To a question he said pitches in the UAE were expected to be slow and the spinners could play a vital role there.

He praised the work of the foreign coaches and trainers and said the team is showing definite improvement in all departments of the game including fitness and fielding.

He said though Pakistan lacked fast bowlers who could bowl at nearly 150km, Pakistan had a very good mix of genuine pacers and medium pacers to challenge any team.

Meanwhile, the PCB retained almost the same team management for the Asia Cup and Talat Ali Malik will continue to act as manager.

The team management comprises Talat Ali Malik (manager), Mickey Arthur as head coach, Azhar Mahmood as bowling coach and Grant Flower as batting coach while Grant Bradburn will be the fielding coach. Grant Luden is the team trainer while thep physio is Cliffe Deacon. Assistant manager of the team is Manzoor Rana while Talha Butt is the analyat. Security Manager of the team is Azam Khan and media manager is Emmad Hameed.

The Asia Cup is being held in the UAE from Sept 15 to 28. Besides Pakistan and India, the other participating teams are Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Hong Kong.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018

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PM Imran Khan offers humanitarian assistance for people in India’s flood-hit Kerala state

Prime Minister Imran Khan, on behalf of people of Pakistan, on Thursday offered to provide humanitarian assistance in the wake of devastating floods in the Indian state of Kerala.

The premier said this as he extended “prayers and best wishes to those who have been devastated by the floods in Kerala, India”.


Meanwhile, more than 1.3 million people have now been packed into temporary camps in Kerala as more people entered relief camps to escape the devastation carried out by the floods, which have left at least 420 dead and missing so far, are fast receding.

Earlier in the day, the leaders of flood-stricken Kerala state angrily hit out at India’s national government for ,rejecting a $100 million aid, offer from the United Arab Emirates.

The New Delhi government infuriated the Kerala administration by rejecting the cash offer from the wealthy Gulf state.

About 50,000 homes have been destroyed, according to one Kerala legislator, and people are flocking to the camps as the scale of the desolation is revealed by receding waters.

A total of 1,028,000 people were now recorded in about 3,200 relief camps across the state.

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Flood-stricken Kerala angry after India rejects UAE $100m offer

Leaders of flood-stricken Kerala state angrily hit out at India’s national government Thursday for ,rejecting a $100 million aid offer from the United Arab Emirates, as more people entered relief camps to escape the devastation.

More than 1.3 million people have now ,packed into temporary camps, even though the floods, which have left at least 420 dead and missing, are fast receding.

The New Delhi government infuriated the Kerala administration by rejecting the cash offer from the wealthy Gulf state.

Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaac accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of adopting a “dog-in-the-manger” policy by refusing the money.


The communist minister added in a Twitter attack that if the right wing national government takes a “negative stance” on the UAE offer “they should compensate Kerala”.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan called for “high level” talks with the national government on the dispute.

There are an estimated three million Indians in the UAE, with many from Kerala which has a large Muslim population.

India’s foreign ministry announced late Wednesday, however, that the government would stick to its policy of “meeting the requirements for relief and rehabilitation through domestic efforts” and not accept money from foreign governments.

It added that outside money could only be donated through Indian-origin individuals or foundations.

India has a record of refusing foreign aid after disasters, turning down foreign help after the 2004 tsunami, which killed thousands in India. Experts said Indian governments want to prove they can handle any emergency themselves.

The UAE offer was higher than the $97 million so far given by the central government to handle the floods which state authorities estimate have caused damage worth more than $3 billion.

They say 10,000 kilometres (6,000 miles) of roads have been destroyed or damaged, while estimates of the number of houses to be rebuilt vary from 20,000 to 50,000.

Many of the new arrivals in relief camps are people who have returned to their homes to find them uninhabitable.

One 68-year-old man committed suicide on Wednesday after seeing the state of his home at Kothad in Ernakulam district. A 19-year-old boy took his own life earlier this week because his school certificates were destroyed by the floods, police said.

Vijayan said there were now 1.34 million people in 3,300 relief camps, up 300,000 in two days.

In another sign of the extent of the chaos, the reopening of Kochi international airport, the state’s main airport, has been put back three days to August 29.

However Tom Jose, the state’s top civil servant, told AFP the situation across the state had improved with only isolated pockets of water remaining.

“If it does not rain in the coming days then we can start getting back on track soon,” he told AFP after an aerial tour of flood-ravaged areas.

“Rescue operations are almost complete. Our priority now is to provide relief and rebuild the damaged infrastructure,” he added.

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Goals galore as Pakistan thump Thailand 10-0 in Asian Games opener

Pakistan national hockey team kicked off their Asian Games campaign in style, thumping Thailand 10-0 in their match played at the Gelora Bung Karno (GBK) Sports Complex in Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday.

The national team took their team to open their account, with the opening goal not coming till the last minute of the opening quarter when Tauseeq Arshad converted a penalty corner.

That first breach of the goal opened up the floodgates as Pakistan scored thrice in the second quarter.

They kept up their scoring spree in the second period as well, finding the net an astonishing six times to finish the game with an overall 10-0 win.

Atiq Arshad was the most prolific of all scorers as he hit a hat-trick of goals. His sibling Tauseeq was among the trio who scored a brace each.

Mubashar Ali was the odd man out among all the goalscorers, with him scoring just once in the goal-fest.

Next up for the Green Shirts is Oman, whom they face off with on Wednesday.

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