Posts Tagged ‘Flood’

PTM Lahore rally: Manzoor Pashteen announces to take grievances to Karachi on May 12

  • ,Manzoor Pashteen addresses charged crowd,
  • ,Bilawal, Maryam back PTM’s right to protest,

The Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) rally at Lahore’s Mochi Gate kicked off on Sunday as planned, despite Punjab government’s refusal to issue a permit for the event.

During the gathering it was announced that PTM will now hold a rally in Karachi on May 12 to condemn the violence that the city witnessed in 2007.

Among those who took the rostrum were Tahera Jalib — daughter of revolutionary poet Habib Jalib — who read out Dastoor, a famous poem of her father; and Amina Masood Janjua of the Defence of Human Rights Pakistan, whose husband has been missing since 2005.

PTM rally was attended by people from all walks of life. —Aima Khosa

PTM rally was attended by people from all walks of life. —Aima Khosa

Advocate Fazal Khan, father of a student martyred in the 2014 Army Public School attack, also spoke at the event, repeating his demand of formation a judicial commission to investigate the attack.

Awami Workers Party President Fanoos Gujjar, while addressing the crowd, said: “Yesterday when PTM leaders were arrested, we were asked: ‘There is peace in Lahore and you are anti-state traitors. What will the traitors do here? Pakhtuns here are studying and conducting trade, why are you taking their peace away?’”

He went on to claim that Pakhtuns in Punjab face atrocities at the hands of the Punjab police which extorts money from labourers, and that many people are still being picked up in broad daylight from Lahore.

PTM’s central leader Ali Wazir said, “The movement has come to Lahore so that if something [untoward] happens in the future, nobody can say ‘You never reached out to us’.”

A view of PTM rally in Lahore. —Mohsin Dawar

A view of PTM rally in Lahore. —Mohsin Dawar

Manzoor Pashteen addresses charged crowd

Manzoor Pashteen then took to the stage, saying it was the PTM’s “heartfelt wish” to present the situation hidden from the media and the eyes of the public to the people of Lahore.

He explained why the PTM had included the arrest of Rao Anwar and recovery of missing persons in their demands.

He said the whole country had seen the result of PTM’s first demand: the arrest of former SSP Malir Rao Anwar. “Now even the court is saying Anwar is a terrorist and Waziristan native Naqeebullah Mehsud, who was shot dead in a police encounter, has been declared innocent.”

He then narrated stories of innocent people who were killed in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) without naming who was responsible for their deaths.

“When they can sell 4,000 people, they can do a lot more,” Pashteen said, referring to a recent claim by Justice Javed Iqbal, the head of the missing persons commission, who had accused former president Pervez Musharraf of handing over 4,000 Pakistanis to United States.

“We demand that we should be told the amount for which they [missing persons] were sold. We will collect that money and give it to you so you can bring them back. Do not release them, just give them to the courts if they have committed a crime.”

He also demanded that first information reports against students in Lahore, who are PTM supporters, should be withdrawn. “We are very peaceful but do not forget that we are young, and young people do not have a lot of patience.”

“Now that we have risen up against oppression, we do not fear for our heads,” the PTM leader asserted.

Pashteen announced that the next stop for the movement would be Swat following which a gathering would be held in Karachi on May 12 — to mark the day when over 40 people were killed in the metropolis in 2007.

He also took on the media, which he said was covering the PTM in a biased manner. “We respect you, but you are being hypocritical.”

The district administration had earlier rejected an application by the Lahore Left Front for the PTM rally citing security concerns.

Ali Wazir, one of the main PTM leaders, had earlier appealed to Lahore’s residents to join the gathering to learn about the ordeal residents experienced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He said the gathering was aimed at uniting the exploited and oppressed masses of KP and Punjab in general, and highlighting woes of ordinary Pashtun labourers in Lahore in particular.

Punjab police officials — both male and female — provided security at the venue to ensure that no one entered the ground with weapons or sharp objects.

A number of PTM leaders were ,briefly detained, on Saturday while workers found the venue of the rally flooded with water when they arrived to kickstart preparations today. Both the instances, the PTM claims, were attempts to coerce them into not holding the rally.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Haider Ashraf on Sunday denied arresting any PTM leaders, saying they had only been called to the police headquarters to negotiate on security for the event as the district administration has refused them permission to hold the rally. They were later released after 3-4 hours.

A day earlier on Saturday, DIG Ashraf had said the PTM leaders had been engaged to get affidavits that they would not take part in any anti-state activity.

The refusal of Punjab government to grant permission to the PTM for its rally, combined with the detention of its workers, was criticised by Maryam Nawaz, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, all of whom backed the movement’s right to protest.

The Lahore rally had been announced earlier this month when the movement held its first power show in Peshawar, demanding all missing persons be produced in courts and provision of basic rights to the people of Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Bilawal, Maryam back PTM’s right to protest

PML-N’s leaders Maryam Nawaz and Senator Pervaiz Rasheed both said that the rally should have been allowed while Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned the “high-handedness and disregard for the constitutional rights of the people” shown by the Shahbaz Sharif-led provincial government.

In a tweet early Sunday, Maryam said that the arrested activists should be released and the PTM should be allowed to hold its rally. “This country is as much their’s as it is our’s,” she said.

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“Attempts to suppress voices rising against oppression and excesses can never have never been successful, nor will they ever be,” she added.

In his statement, Senator Rasheed said that the ban on the rally was a painful act and that the Punjab government should not only listen to the pain and misery of the protesters but also play their part in alleviating them. “This is not the time to repeat bitterness of the past, but to learn from them and strengthen national unity.”

Bilawal, in a tweet, said that every Pakistani citizen has a right to protest and “PTM are no different”, concluding with #VoterKoIzzatDo, in a reference to PML-N’s slogan demanding respect for vote.

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Zardari and Imran are ‘brothers’, Maryam tells crowd in Swat

  • ,’Do not make the same mistake again’,

PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz on Sunday said that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari are brothers that have joined hands under a banner that does not represent the people.

In a fiery speech made while addressing a huge crowd at Kabal in Swat, Maryam said, “These two brothers have joined hands under a banner that does not represent the people of Pakistan.”

“You people voted for his party [PTI] in the 2013 election and he took your vote and placed it at Zardari’s feet during the Senate elections,” Maryam said adding that if Imran has to do the same next time, “he should just tell people to vote directly for the arrow instead of getting them to vote for the bat.”

“When you voted for the PTI in the last election, you hoped Imran will work for you, make new roads in Swat, however, he spent the whole term in blocking roads in Punjab and the federal capital.”

She added: “Where was Imran when floods hit Swat, or when the dengue infection was prevalent here? Let me tell you where he was, he was in the federal capital being a pawn in someone else’s efforts to topple the government.”

‘Do not make the same mistake again’

Addressing the crowd in Swat, PML-N supreme leader and ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif said that the people of Swat are very brave for having fought terrorism in the area.

“You people had to leave your homes in the past, but who managed to bring you back?” Nawaz asked the people.

“We managed to bring you back to your homes, just like we brought peace back to Karachi. These were the things your elected leader was supposed to do for you, however, he did not,” he said in a reference to Imran Khan, whose party leads the governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Malala has come back to Pakistan because of the peace that has returned to your area, tell me, do I lie when I say that we have brought peace back to Swat?

“Oh people of Swat, do not make the same mistake again, do not elect a leader who does not care for you,” Nawaz said during his speech.

He added: “I know that the people of Swat will make a different decision this time around, they will choose leaders that care about them and their problems.”

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Sri Lanka’s police, politicians accused of joining anti-Muslim riots

  • ,Trigger for violence,
  • ,‘Monster beyond control’,
  • ,‘Can you believe it?’,
SRI LANKA’S Special Task Force soldiers walk past a damaged mosque after a clash between two communities in Digana, central district of Kandy, in this file picture taken on March 8.—Reuters

SRI LANKA’S Special Task Force soldiers walk past a damaged mosque after a clash between two communities in Digana, central district of Kandy, in this file picture taken on March 8.—Reuters

KANDY: Police and politicians backed by the country’s former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa joined ,anti-Muslim riots that rocked Sri Lanka’s Kandy district, this month, according to witnesses, officials and CCTV footage reviewed by Reuters.

Scores of Muslim mosques, homes and businesses were destroyed as mobs ran amok for three days in Kandy, the central highlands district previously known for its diversity and tolerance. The government declared a state of emergency and blocked social media platforms for a week to control the unrest.

The role of police and some local Buddhist politicians suggests the Sri Lankan government lost control of elements of its security forces, and that the violence was more than a spontaneous outbreak fuelled by fringe Buddhist extremists and hate-speech spread on social media.

Rajapaksa has denied that he or other leaders of his party were involved. Police said the allegations against officers and politicians were being investigated.

Victims and witnesses, whose accounts were partly backed by CCTV footage seen by Reuters, described members of an elite paramilitary police unit, the Special Task Force (STF), assaulting Muslim cleric and leaders. Local STF commanders declined to comment.

“They came to attack,” said A.H Ramees, a cleric at a mosque where worshippers say they were beaten by police who were supposed to be protecting them. “They were shouting. There was filthy language. They said all the problems were because of us, that we were like terrorists.”

Ruwan Gunasekera, a spokesman for the national police force, including the STF, said a special investigation unit was “probing the deficiencies of the police in the incident”. A second unit was examining the role of political actors, he said.

The riots were the latest example of rising Buddhist nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiment in the region and have unnerved Sri Lanka’s multi-ethnic coalition government, which ousted Rajapaksa in an election in 2015, according to analysts and two sources familiar with the government’s deliberations.

Read: ,Rise of violent Buddhist rhetoric in Asia defies stereotypes,

Buddhists make up about 70 per cent of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people. Tamils, most of whom are Hindu, account for 13pc while Muslims make up about 9pc of the population.

Sri Lanka’s Law and Order Minister Ranjith Madduma Bandara has said the violence in Kandy was “well organised” and pointed the finger at members of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a political party backed by Rajapaksa that scored a huge victory in local elections last month.

At a press conference flanked by senior leaders earlier this month, Rajapaksa said the accusations were politically motivated. In fact, the government fomented the violence to “get the Muslim vote” and to distract from its inadequacies, he said.

Trigger for violence

The violence in Kandy was triggered by an attack on a Buddhist truck driver, H.G Kumarasinghe, by four Muslim men after a traffic dispute on Feb 22.

As Kumarasinghe lay in a coma, calls for retribution and anti-Islam polemics flooded social media and the government ordered the deployment of 1,000 members of the STF.

Rioting erupted after his funeral 11 days later.

An excerpt of CCTV footage from the first day of attacks reviewed by Reuters showed police letting a large group of men through the cordon protecting the Noor Jummah mosque in Digana, a Kandy township.

The men rush into a multi-storey building opposite the mosque. A local SLPP politician, Samantha Perera, can be seen pointing at the higher floors of the building.

Perera confirmed he was the person shown in the footage. He said he was trying to calm the rioters and only found out later the mosque had been attacked. “I am a good Buddhist. I am not instigating violence against anybody,” he said.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said Perera was under investigation for “attacking Muslim-owned shops and mosques with stones”.

At least three other SLPP politicians, including a national politician, were being investigated and another SLPP councillor has been arrested for setting fire to a mosque, he said. All deny any involvement in the violence.

“There’s a political motive to discredit me, Mahinda Rajapak­­sa and the party,” Perera said.

‘Monster beyond control’

Anti-Muslim sentiment has surged in Sri Lanka since 2009, when a long civil war against Tamil insurgents was brutally ended by Rajapaksa amid charges by a United Nations panel of experts of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings by the military and STF.

Editorial: ,Sri Lanka violence,

As in Myanmar, from where 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled an army crackdown in recent months, Buddhist hardliners in Sri Lanka have argued that Islam is a threat to the Buddhist way of life.

Though the level of violence is not comparable, the Sri Lankan Secretariat for Muslims, a civil society group, logged more than 600 attacks and threats to Muslims in the past five years, according to director Hilmy Ahmed, who added the rate of anti-Muslim violence had accelerated in the recent years.

“The fear that Muslims are going to take over, are going to deprive you of your welfare, is so widespread,” he said.

Veteran political analyst Jayadeva Uyangoda said Buddhist chauvinism in Sri Lanka was a “monster beyond control”, as local activists draw inspiration from the Buddhist extremists in Myanmar and Hindu radicals in India hostile to Muslims.

‘Can you believe it?’

About 10 minutes after the incident near the Noor Jummah mosque shown in the CCTV footage, the mob returned via a back road, out of the line of sight of the mosque’s exterior cameras, and threw a petrol bomb into the mosque’s first floor office, according to witnesses Mohamed Niyaskhan, who said he was beaten and left bloodied, and the mosque secretary M.I.M Shukry.

Niyaskhan said earlier that day he had prepared food and drinks for STF members protecting the mosque, but they had left shortly before the attack.

“No STF, no police were there,” he said. “They had gone around the corner. Can you believe it?”

Later that day, eight to 10 members of the STF rushed the Hijrapura mosque, also in Digana, according to clerics and worshippers.

The police assaulted worshippers with batons, according to Ramees, the cleric.

CCTV footage shows police in riot gear striking Ramees and another cleric, M.S.M Nizam, four times with batons. A local Buddhist monk, Gerendigala Chanda Wimala, told Reuters he saw the men being manhandled by police and successfully demanded their release.

At about the same time, a local Muslim politician, Abdul Saleem Mohamad Fazil, and a friend Mohamad Faizal, were also attacked by members of the elite police unit, according to the victims and a witness, Father Christy Paul, the prelate at Digana’s Catholic church.

“Three STFs came through the back entrance of the house and started beating us,” said Fazil, who suffered a deep head wound and said he spent a night in prison after being refused medical treatment. “They grabbed some bottles from the landing and put them in a bag and said we were making petrol bombs.”

Father Christy said he heard the men’s screams and saw the police hitting them with batons. The men were cowering on the ground and not offering any resistance to the police, he said.

Police say they have arrested more than 300 people involved in the riots.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2018

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EOBI funds to be returned soon, govt assures SC

ISLAMABAD: The federal government assured the Supreme Court on Thursday that it would return to the Employees Old-Age Benefits Institution (EOBI) the funds which were earlier transferred to the Pakistan Baitul Maal and the climate change ministry for earthquake and flood relief activities.

Finance Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan told a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed that Rs2.4 billion would soon be handed back to the EOBI, which had to be used for disbursing pension among the workers at a rate of Rs5,250 per month.

Likewise, Rs1.1bn would also be returned to the EOBI that had gone to the climate change ministry for flood and earthquake relief activities, the secretary said, but requested for some time in view of the present state of fiscal deficit in the country.

However, the secretary hastened to add that the funds would be returned within a day or two when the court reminded him that the money belonged to the old-age workers who had toiled day and night and not to the federal government.

Court warns finance secretary of consequences if government does not honour its commitment

At the last hearing on March 6, the court had taken exception to the taking out of huge funds from the EOBI at the behest of the federal government that were handed over to different departments.

The court then ordered the government to pay pensions of retired employees by returning the properties purchased on higher prices by the EOBI and immediately returning the funds taken out the EOBI.

On Thursday, the court said that the funds should be given back to the EOBI immediately, adding that it was avoiding giving instructions to the government to pay interest for utilising the funds and that the court could also employ other options by asking other agencies (read NAB) to look into the matter.

The court asked for proper utilisation of the funds belonging to the EOBI especially as the situation would become graver since the institution currently had 400,000 pensioners, whereas 40,000 added up every year.

The court also stressed the need for cutting the annual administrative cost of the EOBI from Rs1.4bn.

“Don’t let us observe that EOBI is not in the safe hands since its funds are being squandered,” Justice Saeed warned.

“What to say when the federal government has taken funds out of EOBI for its coffers,” the court regretted.

Referring to the monthly pension of Rs5,250 to the employees, the court wondered whether someone could make both ends meet on such a meagre amount and warned of a human tragedy looming around the corner if something was not done timely since the present funds of the EOBI would be depleted in 2022 when nothing would be left for disbursements among the retired employees.

The court warned the finance secretary that commitment made before the court had to be honoured, otherwise it might entail serious consequences.

Published in Dawn, March 16th, 2018

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Pakistan loses 50pc market share in Kabul

KARACHI: India has succeeded to penetrate in Kabul slashing the market share of Pakistan by more than 50 per cent in the last two years, Chairman Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry Zubair Motiwala told Dawn on Friday.

Motiwala who recently visited Kabul said the penetration of India and China has limited Pakistan’s option to retain its market share while India subsidises heavily on its exports. He said Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan fell to $1.2 billion from $2.7bn within in the last two years and the country has been losing even the traditional markets of flour, men and women’s clothes and red meat.

India has been providing goods at subsidised rates to capture the market and are providing air tickets with a 75pc rebate, said Motiwala, adding that Afghans find it easy to travel to India with cheap tickets and free multiple visas without police checks.

Kabul has been the natural market for Pakistani exports but that is changing as cheaper products from China and India flood the country. According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, exports to Afghanistan dropped to $1.271bn in FY17 from $1.437bn in FY16. Exports in the first quarter of 2017-18 stood at $319 million.

Each year thousands of Afghans used to visit Peshawar for medical treatment but now they prefer India due to cheaper treatments and other attractions like concessional treatments. “Medical tourism of Peshawar, which was mainly due to Afghans, is now at zero level; hospitals in Hayatabad are empty,” he continued.

He said Peshawar is the main victim of the declining trade with Afghanistan where people have lost their businesses on a large scale. Out of 200 flour mills, about 100 have been closed down due to a drastic fall in the export of flour to Afghanistan, he added.

He also referred to the decreasing containers’ traffic from Pakistan to Afghanistan. He said 70,000 goods containers were used to pass through between the two countries which has now dropped to just 7,000, reflecting the change of routes for imported goods to Afghans.

Pakistan was the biggest supplier of shalwar qameez suits to Kabul but that too has changed since both India and China are now supplying the readymade suits which are traditionally Pakistani products.

State Bank’s data showed that the imports from Afghanistan increased to $68m in FY17, compared to $40m in FY16.

Published in Dawn, March 4th, 2018

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Watan cards to be replaced by CNICs in Fata

RAWALPINDI: People of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) can now use Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) for identification instead of Watan cards which were issued earlier as identification documents for payment of compensation to Temporarily Displaced Persons (TDPs).

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday directed for “facilitation to the tribal brethren in the Federally Adminis­tered Tribal Areas”.

“Henceforth, CNICs will now count as ID. Those without CNICs can use the Watan card till May 31 and obtain a CNIC by then,” said an Inter-Services Public Relations press release issued on Thursday.

Till this directive, the CNIC was not a valid document to enter areas like North Waziristan, Mehsud area of South Waziristan, and de-notified parts of Khyber, Orakzai and Kurram agencies.

The local people had to show a Watan Card at security check-posts otherwise they were not allowed to travel to their native areas.

In response to the flood crisis in 2010, the government of Pakistan in collaboration with the provincial governments launched the Citizens’ Damage Compensation Programme to support affected households with cash in their recovery efforts in all four provinces as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The Council of Common Interests made an immediate one-off payment of Rs20,000 to each affected family. The programme was mutually financed by the federal and provincial governments under the Watan Card scheme to support the flood-affected families, and provide some relief to the affected people.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2018

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Qazi Wajid profile: A restless soul with a flair for acting

This article was originally published in Dawn on August 12, 2012.

“I can never forget the day when we were performing a theatre play for General Musa and a fire broke out backstage. A few of us tried to extinguish it with water while the play continued as if nothing had happened. Soon there was water everywhere and General Musa, who was a sport, continued to watch the play with his feet up ignoring the flood-like situation,” says Qazi Wajid, laughing while remembering the incident.

The actor admits that he gives the impression of being funny but is actually a very serious person in real life. “I don’t read humorous books or see comedy films. I only read serious books because I like them. I love antiques and paintings and am an avid reader of poetry.”

Wajid was one of the busiest persons on PTV during its heyday, doing the highest number of plays from Karachi. He emphasises that they were all quality plays then. “I don’t know how I did it, it was a ‘kefiyat’, an urge to do things, and as I was young, I had the energy too. My talent is inherent and I have honed it with the director’s guidance.”

His colleagues, too, were extraordinary. People like Shakeel who while being religious was worldly as well, Mahmood Ali who did a lot of theatre with him and Subhani ba Younus who was a versatile artist. “I have lost good friends. The radio team has totally gone, along with S.M. Saleem who was a great actor and teacher. In those days there were values, and hard work was appreciated. Now things are done instantaneously, without homework and hard work.”

The man who had people lining up at his door in the past, is now willing to do any role as offers have dwindled considerably. “As you grow older, regardless of how good you are, you are pushed to one side. In other countries, good artists keep getting good roles,” he says in a slightly bitter tone.

It all began when he was a young boy. Seeing skits in a scout jamboree stirred the little actor in him. A friend took him to Radio Pakistan and Wajid’s first programme Naunihal, a weekly drama for children made him popular. Later Hamid Mian Kay Yahan, the longest radio serial spanning 30 years, came along, and then Qazi Ji Waghera Waghera, written by Shaukat Thanvi.

Wajid then stepped into films and theatre. “I did not like films much, and as I was a Karachiite and films were made in Lahore, I bid goodbye to them soon.” In theatre, at that time, Khawaja Moinuddin’s Taleem-i-Balighan, Mirza Ghalib Bunder Road, Wadi-i-Kashmir, Lal Qila Say Lalukhet were classic plays in which he acted.

Bedari was his first film on children — a copy of the Indian film Jagirati — produced by Ratan Kumar’s father. Ratan Kumar made this film when he migrated to Pakistan. Its songs Chalo Chalain Maan and Youn Di Hamain Azadi were the talk of the town. “I did the role of a stammering child to perfection,” reminisces the artist. When he got the role, his parents were not too worried thinking it was a phase that would soon pass.

When TV was officially introduced in 1967, he was in Lahore doing Mirza Ghalib Bandar Road Pey. Returning to Karachi, Wajid did his first TV series Aaj Ka Shair in which a poem of a famous poet would be the base of the story. The next popular serial was Khuda Ki Basti in which he played the role of Raja.

He remembers those days when artists had to do the programme in one take because there was no editing back then. With only one studio there were time constraints as well. “In 1969 when we finished Khuda Ki Basti, we went to Pindi to record Taleem-i-Balighan for PTV. During this time, I also did cassette stories for children called Cassette Kahaniyan by Farid Ahmed (W.Z. Ahmed’s son) which were very popular. Even today people come up to me saying they grew up listening to those cassettes.”

Hawwa Ki Baiti and Khuda Ki Basti gave him unforgettable characters. In Hawwa Ki Beti, he did the role of a tabla man selling his stepdaughter and in Sauda, which Seema Tahir directed, he played the character of a Bandar Ka Tamasha man. “It was a very unusual role and I enjoyed doing it. You have to put in your feelings to create a character.” He has a penchant, he says, for doing negative roles though they have been few and far between.

Having travelled abroad extensively for shows, Wajid says that expatriates love their artists and Anwar Maqsood’s Loose Talk and Loose Mushaira have been the most popular for him. “People enjoyed it immensely and everything went smoothly which is a godsend on such trips, and we were treated royally too,” he adds. He went to China to do a play Rishtay or Rastay in 1986, a joint venture of Pakistani and Chinese governments based on the Silk Route, an experience that he says he will not forget as the Chinese were very courteous and the country was beautiful.

Wajid’s association with radio has been a special one, as he feels strongly that radio is a place where one acquires acting talent. All the outstanding artists of the past have been radio artists and did well on TV because of their training in radio. But with the advent of TV, radio unfortunately started declining and has almost disappeared. “After the death of the experienced radio artists, radio is now officially dead for me,” he says bluntly.

Though outwardly calm, Wajid has a restless soul and thus can never watch his films, TV or radio programmes, even of other artists for that matter. “Perhaps this is because I can’t sit still in one place or see something continuously. Ask my wife, she will vouch for it.” Married for more than 30 years, he has a very content home life. They have a daughter who is now married.

The downfall of PTV, in his opinion, is due to the fact that its good producers are either dead or work somewhere else now, and the new producers are not that experienced, “The channel should focus on good directors to make good serials if they are interested. They should call back their previous directors and pay them well instead of buying serials when they have all the facilities available.”

Private channels, he adds, are doing a good job because they are working hard. But even they have not been able to produce serials of calibre equal to PTV shows such as Tanhaiyan. The network should also bring down its censorship a bit and conform with the times, opines Wajid.

A mild and soft person, Wajid says he is easy to get along with but he is strictly particular about his etiquettes. “I don’t like lecherous words or behaviour that goes against values. So I am careful in not using them in my dialogues.”

He got the news of having received the Pride of Performance in Lahore while staying at Qavi’s house. “My friendship with him goes back to 1967 while doing Khawaja Moinuddin’s play there. I have had good friends all my life and they have made my life worthwhile.”

Wajid is thinking about writing an autobiography as people keep asking him to do it. He has not been very interested so far because of his lack of patience. But his sense of humour and a fulfilled life will help him, he says, when he does decide to work on it.

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ADB climate change report paints apocalyptic scenario for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: It is anticipated that Pakistan’s greenhouse emissions will double in two years and surge 14 times by 2050 — much higher than the world average. This will pose serious threats to the country’s population, as well as lower agricultural and energy outputs.

These dire warnings were a part of the Climate Change Profile of Pakistan, prepared by Dr Qamar Uz Zaman Chaudhry, an international climate technology expert and former director general of the Pakistan Meteoro­logical Department. The report has been launched by the Asian Development Bank.

“Pakistan potentially faces a major climate change,” says the report, while warning that the impact of global warming in Pakistan is likely to be above the global average. It adds that climate change will impact the glaciers’ melting rate and precipitation patterns, particularly affecting the timing and strength of monsoon rainfall.

“Consequently, this will significantly impact the productivity and efficiency of water-dependent sectors such as agriculture and energy,” says the report, which also suggests concerted efforts by the government and civil society at all levels to mitigate these threats.

Over the last 50 years, Pakistan’s annual mean temperature has risen by roughly 0.5 degree centigrade. The duration of heat waves per year has increased by nearly fivefold over the last 30 years. The sea level along Karachi coast has risen by about 10 centimetres in the last century.

By the end of this century, the annual average temperature in Pakistan is expected to rise between 3C and 5C in a scenario with central global emissions, while higher global emissions may yield a rise of between 4C and 6C. The average annual rainfall is not expected to have a significant long-term trend, but is expected to exhibit large inter-annual variability. The sea level is expected to rise by a further 60cm by the end of the century and will most likely effect low-lying coastal areas south of Karachi toward Keti Bander and the Indus River delta.

Under future climate change scenarios, Pakistan is expected to experience increased variability of river flows due to increased precipitation and the melting of glaciers, the report says. Demand for irrigation water may rise due to higher evaporation rate. Yields of wheat and basmati rice will decline and could drive production northward, subject to water availability. It says that water availability for hydropower generation may also decline.

Hotter temperatures are likely to increase energy demand due to increased air conditioning requirements. Warmer air and water temperatures may decrease the efficiency of nuclear and thermal power plant generation. Mortality rates may increase due to extreme heat waves. Urban drainage systems will be further stressed by high rainfall and flash floods, while sea level rise and storm surges may adversely affect coastal infrastructure and livelihoods.

According to the national GHG inventory of Pakistan, for the year 2011-12, total GHG emissions were at 369 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) with 45.9pc share of energy, 44.8pc share of agriculture and livestock sectors, 3.9pc share of industrial processes, and 2.6pc share of land use change for forestry sectors. Energy, agriculture and livestock sectors alone account for 90.7pc of the total emissions pool and have thus far remained the biggest emitters of GHGs since 1994.

Over the last century, Pakistan’s average annual temperature has risen by 0.57C, compared to 0.75C for South Asia, and average annual precipitation has increased by 25pc. The warming is mainly due to an increase in winter temperatures. Heat wave days per year have increased by 31 days between 1980 and 2007.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2018

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Quake tremors jolt various parts of Pakistan, 1 girl killed

  • ,2018 a deadly year for quakes, scientists fear,
  • ,'Hindu Kush quakes may have long-lasting effects',

A minor girl was killed and at least 15 others injured as a 6.1-magnitude earthquake jolted various parts of the country on Wednesday, DawnNews reported.

Tremors were reported in Quetta, Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Charsadda, Murree, Sargodha, Shangla, Haripur and Gujranwala, as well as parts of India, Kashmir and Afghanistan.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicentre of the 6.1-magnitude earthquake is 35 kilometres south of Jarm in Afghanistan. The depth of the quake was estimated to be 191.2km, USGS added.

Jarm, was hit by a devastating 7.5 magnitude quake in October 2015, triggering landslides and flattening buildings, killing more than 380 people across the region. The bulk of the recorded casualties were in Pakistan, where 248 people were killed, including 202 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and more than 1,600 injured.

Panicked locals rush out of their homes as the tremors are felt in Hub. ? DawnNews

Panicked locals rush out of their homes as the tremors are felt in Hub. ? DawnNews

Following today's quake, officials dispatched teams to Balochistan and KP to assess reports of damage, but the National Disaster Management Authority does not expect serious losses, a spokesman said.

No loss of life has been reported except in Lasbela, where a girl died when the roof of her house collapsed during the shocks. Nine members of her family received injuries.

According to Lasbela Deputy Commissioner Shabir Ahmed Mengal, rescue teams were dispatched to affected areas. Several villages in Balochistan felt the tremors of the quake, the deputy commissioner added.

"The injured have been rushed to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. An emergency has been declared in all hospitals", Mengal said.

In Peshawar, Lahore and Parachinar, panicked locals ran out of their homes and came out onto the streets as the quake's tremors were felt.

Four girls received minor injuries at a primary girls school in Peshawar during a rush to evacuate the premises, Rescue 1122 sources told DawnNews. The girls were rushed to Lady Reading Hospital for treatment.

Locals come out onto the streets in Peshawar. ? DawnNews

Locals come out onto the streets in Peshawar. ? DawnNews

In Landi Arbab, a village near Peshawar, two children were injured as they were running out of their school in a panic, Peshawar District Nazim Muhammad Asim Khan told DawnNews.

A control room has been established and emergency services have been activated by the Chitral deputy commissioner to aid those affected by the quake.

In Islamabad, the windows and doors of the Supreme Court shook during the quake.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who was hearing a case at the time, told observers and lawyers present in the courtroom to remain seated as the "earthquake would subside after the initial shocks".

Cellphone signals were temporarily disrupted in Islamabad and Peshawar due to the quake.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

Aid agencies have stressed the need for greater disaster preparedness in the war-torn country, which remains extremely susceptible to recurring natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and landslides.

But deteriorating security has seen international NGOs such as the Red Cross and Save the Children downgrade their operations across the country, making it even more difficult to deliver crucial help to its most vulnerable citizens.

2018 a deadly year for quakes, scientists fear

Scientists have ,warned of a significant increase, in the occurrence of potentially deadly earthquakes in 2018.

The assessment was made on the basis of the Earth's movement data which shows a significant uptick in earthquakes after a certain period of slowdown in the Earth's rotation.

,According to the report,, geophysicists are able to measure the rotational speed of Earth with extreme precision, calculating slight variations on the order of milliseconds.

Geophysicists believe Earth's rotation is cyclical, slowing down by a few milliseconds per day then speeding up again, a geologist Trevor Nace said in the report.

Researchers found that roughly after every 32 years there was an uptick in the number of significant earthquakes worldwide.

A team of researchers found this conclusion after analysing every earthquake which occurred since 1900 at a magnitude above 7.0.

The research concluded that after almost every 30 years, Earth experiences a slowdown in its rotation.

The slowdown lasts for five years, with the last year triggering an increase in earthquakes globally.

“In these periods, there were between 25 to 30 intense earthquakes a year,” Bilham, a researcher, said last year.

“The rest of the time the average figure was around 15 major earthquakes a year,” he added.

Based on the calculations, 2017 was the fourth consecutive year that witnessed a slowdown in Earth's rotation. So scientists are expecting more earthquakes in 2018.

The correlation between Earth’s rotation and earthquakes was recently highlighted at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America.

'Hindu Kush quakes may have long-lasting effects'

The USGS has termed the Hindu Kush “one of the most seismically hazardous regions on earth”. However, nearly all of the recent tremors felt in the region originated deep in the earth’s crust, nearly 200km below the surface.

Read more: ,Hindu Kush quakes may have long-lasting effects,

In a report on earthquakes in this region, the USGS had noted that “the Hindu Kush shares this high-stress configuration with a seismically active area in Colombia, South America.” These two regions have some of the world’s highest rates of deep earthquakes.

However, scientists admit that they do not know a great deal about the forces that are in play at such depths. The USGS has stated that most such earthquakes are caused by tectonic plates rubbing together.

According to a report by the National Geographic Society, the two plates are colliding at a rate of about 1.5 inches a year, pushing up the Himalayan mountain range in the process.

Due to friction along the plate boundaries, the collisions are not smooth or even. When the rocks finally give way under the strain, the plates jerk rapidly, releasing the energy that causes an earthquake.

With the collision of plates pushing land upwards, nearby regions including Islamabad may gradually end up gaining altitude.

Or conversely, “Some areas can start sinking too. For example, La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, is sinking lower because mountains around it are rising,” Met Office DG Dr Ghulam Rasul told Dawn earlier.

Most earthquakes arise along fault zones; the ground first bends and then snaps, and an earthquake is generated to release the energy.

The earthquakes arising out of Hindu Kush region are said to be the result of slow collisions between the Indian subcontinent and the Eurasian tectonic plate.

The massive 2005 Kashmir earthquake was also the result of collisions between these two plates.

Even the deadly Nepal earthquake of 2015, that triggered a massive avalanche on Mount Everest, was caused by a sudden release of built-up stress along the same fault line, USGS reported.

Experiments conducted at Stanford University mimicking pressures at such depths indicate that rocks should deform and not break rapidly enough to generate seismic waves.

It is suspected that rocks at such depths may chemically rearrange themselves into denser forms to cope with the tremendous pressure. In doing so, they may release water that can lubricate the movement of the fault.

Deep earthquakes can also be caused by friction; if a small area deep inside a fault moves, it generates heat.

The hotter it gets, the more it is able to move, and the more heat is created. This sets off a loop that has the potential to destabilise the whole fault, causing a massive quake.

The 8.1 earthquake that occurred on October 26, 2015 was also part of the same series of tremors.

In fact, there have been at least 12 aftershocks of that quake, some of which felt like mini-quakes.

The Met Office said earlier that smaller earthquakes were a good sign as they help dissipate seismic energy without causing a sudden underground jerk that may cause far more widespread damage.

Dr Rasul had said that while most earthquakes were not dangerous, the earthquakes occurring in the Hindu Kush region could prove to be dangerous.

He said that the tectonic plates too are not made of consistent material, rather there are hard rocks and even pockets of ancient water bodies.

Dr Rasul said that there was sufficient evidence of marine life having existed in the Himalayas before the formation of the mountains, as is evidenced by the presence of snails and other creatures that have evolved to survive in the new environment over time.

“Since the Indian Plate is sliding under the Eurasian plate, there could be friction caused by the presence of a massive rock formation, either under the Indian plate or the Eurasian plate,” he said.

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At least 11 soldiers killed in attack near Kabul military academy

  • ,High alert,

Gunmen and suicide bombers launched a pre-dawn attack claimed by the Islamic State group on a military compound in Kabul Monday, killing 11 soldiers in the third major assault in the Afghan capital in recent days.

The series of assaults, including one of the deadliest bombs in Kabul in recent years, have left already war-weary citizens grief-stricken and angry as the Taliban and IS escalate their offensive.

Monday's attack on an Afghan army battalion killed at least 11 soldiers and wounded 16, a defence ministry spokesman said.

“Two bombers detonated themselves and two were killed by our forces and one was detained alive,” the spokesman, Dawlat Waziri, told AFP, adding that the attack was over.

Officials said the men, armed with a rocket, two Kalashnikovs and at least one suicide vest, had attempted to breach an army battalion near the Marshal Fahim military academy, where high-ranking officers are trained.

An officer at the academy told AFP he could hear an explosion and gunfire, while other witnesses said the first blasts and gunfire came around 5:00 am (0030 GMT).

The gunmen did not enter the heavily fortified compound on the western outskirts of the city, an Afghan security source said. Security forces have swarmed into the area and blocked roads leading to it.

In October a Taliban suicide bomber killed 15 Afghan army trainees as they travelled home from the Marshal Fahim academy.

Militants including the Taliban and IS have stepped up their attacks on beleaguered Afghan troops and police in recent months, sapping morale already hit by desertions and corruption.

Afghan troops have taken what the UN describes as “shocking” casualties since international forces ended their combat role at the end of 2014, though troop casualty figures are no longer released.

High alert

Last Saturday a Taliban suicide attacker driving an explosives-packed ambulance blew it up in a crowded area of the capital, killing at least 103 people — mainly civilians — and wounding 235 in one of the worst bombings in the city in recent years.

The blast was a chilling demonstration of the militants' ability to penetrate the heart of Kabul despite stepped-up security since a massive truck bomb killed some 150 people and wounded hundreds last May.

The government has blamed Saturday's attack, which was followed by a national day of mourning, on the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network.

Afghans flooded social media with grief and anger. “May God destroy their houses,” Kabul resident Aftab Ali wrote on Facebook, adding: “(T)hey are killing innocent humans.”

On January 20 Taliban fighters stormed Kabul's landmark Intercontinental hotel and killed at least 25 people, the majority of them foreigners, in an assault lasting more than 12 hours.

But there is still confusion over the true toll from that attack, with conflicting figures given by officials and Afghan media reporting higher numbers.

Kabul remains on high alert as the city braces for further violence. On Sunday, usually a working day, the capital was unusually quiet, while Monday was a national holiday.

Security warnings sent to foreigners in recent days said IS militants were planning to attack supermarkets, hotels and shops frequented by foreigners.

Several foreign organisations, including humanitarian groups, are reassessing their operations after a particularly deadly week in the country.

IS fighters also attacked Save the Children's office in Afghanistan's east on Wednesday. Five people were killed and 26 wounded while the organisation was forced to suspend operations across the country.

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After 15 years, Lyari Expressway finally becomes fully operational

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Sunday inaugurated the Lyari Expressway in Karachi, marking it as fully operational 15 years after work on the project first began.

The project which was estimated to be completed in 2003 for Rs3 billion is now costing around Rs23bn, according to information provided to the ,Sindh High Court, earlier.

This includes four interchanges and 20 bridges, and is expected to alleviate the rush caused by a large volume of traffic in the megacity, ,Radio Pakistan, reported.

However, people who surrendered their residential properties for construction of the project have not been duly compensated. Earlier in January, the ,Sindh High Court directed authorities to compensate citizens, for their troubles at the earliest.

PM Abbasi is also expected to inaugurate the Northbound Carriageway in Karachi today.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony, PM Abbasi explained the project had taken over 10 years to complete due to "technical difficulties and encroachments". He thanked Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah and others for their efforts to remove the hurdles in the way of the Expressway becoming fully operational.

Although parts of the Lyari Expressway are open to traffic, a section of it remained incomplete for a number of years, rendering a vast portion inoperational.

He observed that the project had become more expensive the longer it had taken to complete. "The PML-N leadership not only starts projects but also finishes them," he claimed, adding that the norm is for one government to start a project and a third government to come and complete it.

In Davos, representatives of many countries asked us how we had been able to complete work on such large motorways so quickly, PM Abbasi told his audience. "Our enthusiasm has borne fruit and all projects will be completed in time and within the budget," he assured.

With the operationalisation of the Expressway, traffic to and from Karachi port will decrease and the flooding of the Lyari river will also be more manageable, the premier said.

We must all work together to solve Karachi's problems. It is the country's commercial hub and if it doesn't progress, then Pakistan will not be able to progress, Abbasi added. "That's why we are committed to Karachi's progress."

PM Abbasi said he had tasked his economic adviser, Miftah Ismail, to be attentive to the city's development "so that Karachi's problems are decreased."

The development of infrastructural projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will stimulate job creation, which in turn will lead to more tax revenue, therefore enabling the economy to grow, the premier said.

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Sharif strikes defiant note in Abbottabad

ABBOTTABAD: Ousted prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif struck a defiant note on Sunday, declaring that the only court he was answerable to was the 200 million people of Pakistan.

Kicking off his mass-contact campaign from the province ruled by his arch-rival Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the ex-premier repeatedly lashed out at the judiciary, specifically the Supreme Court bench that had disqualified him, and co-opted a variety of legal terms to punctuate his speech.

Taking exception to a couplet, quoted by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan in the decision rejecting his review petition before the apex court, Mr Sharif said that nobody had ever challenged the rahzan (waylayers) such as Musharraf and many others, who came to power by force over the past 70 years and were never held accountable.

He was referring to the line Idhar udhar ki na baat kar, yeh bata keh qafla kyon luta. Mujhe rahzanoon se gila nahin teri rehbari ka sawal hai (Don’t beat about the bush, explain why the caravan was robbed. I have no grudge with the waylayers, but doubt your leadership); used by Justice Khan to illustrate his point.

Says he’s only answerable to ‘people’s court’; criticises PTI’s billion tree project

But, Mr Sharif insisted, all those who came to power through the ballot were ousted every time, adding that his review petition was now pending before the “court of public opinion”.

Although the Hazara belt is generally considered to be a PML-N stronghold, the former PM’s choice of Abbottabad invited comparisons with Mr Khan’s own public meeting, which was held here in May this year.

Even though the PML-N’s show was impressive, locals said that most of those in attendance were part of rallies brought in from Havelian, Mansehra, Haripur and other parts of Hazara.

Mr Sharif recounted his many achievements, saying that the name ‘Nawaz Sharif’ had now become an ideology, which was synonymous with development.

“The general public is neither deaf nor blind, and will carry on the accountability of all those who denied justice to their leader, who came to power through the ballot.”

He asked all those talking about a minus-Nawaz Sharif formula should look at the flood of people who had rejected the decision to oust him from office, adding that he lived in the hearts of his supporters.

The PML-N leader said that despite the negative tactics used by his opponents, they were unable to prove a single penny’s worth of corruption against him. Despite this, he said, he and his family were repeatedly being dragged before the courts in the name of accountability.

“I will never run away from the country and will face all charges, no one can stop me from serving the country,” he said.

The former prime minister also took aim at former dictators, saying that they were allowed to rule and overrule the public, adding that the judge who had taken oaths under the Provisional Constitution Order to give cover to the “power-grabbers” were sitting at the helm of justice.

He claimed that his disqualification was a plot to destabilise the country and derail the economic growth that had been seen in recent years.

“When we came into power, there were 20 hours of loadshedding daily, the country was on the brink of bankruptcy, and terrorism was at its peak. Now, people are saying goodbye to loadshedding, terrorist activities are at their lowest ebb and peace is taking root in the country once again.”

However, those who are working for hidden agendas and promoting dharna culture have ruined the country’s progress, he maintained.

He also called out the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, saying that it was worst example of corruption. Criticising irregularities in the billions tree tsunami project, he said that the people will hold the rulers to account and recover their looted money.

“PTI has failed to deliver,” he claimed, and said that the people of the province were fed up with their present rulers.

Mr Sharif was accompanied by Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, PM’s adviser on aviation Mahtab Ahmed Khan, PML-N provincial president Amir Muqam, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Senator Asif Kirmani, Marvi Memon, Pir Sabir Shah and others.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2017

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Mugabe ousted as Zimbabwe’s ruling party chief

  • ,Historic week,

Robert Mugabe has been removed as president of Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party and replaced by his former vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a party delegate told AFP on Sunday outside a meeting in Harare.

“A resolution has been adopted to recall the president and elevate Mnangagwa as the party president,” said the delegate, who declined to be named.

With the latest development, President Robert Mugabe was set to face the imminent collapse of his 37-year regime.

Mugabe's grip on power was broken last week when the military took over after his wife Grace emerged as the leading candidate to succeed the 93-year-old president, who is the world's oldest head of state.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of overjoyed protesters flooded the streets of Zimbabwe in peaceful celebrations marking the apparent end of his long and authoritarian rule.

“We meet here today with a heavy heart,” party official Obert Mpofu told the ZANU-PF meeting in Harare on Sunday, referring to Mugabe as “the outgoing president”.

“[Mugabe's] wife and close associates have taken advantage of his frail condition to usurp power and loot state resources,” he said.

“Our people are demanding… the recall of the president and first secretary of ZANU-PF from his position in the party,” he added.

Earlier in the day, the influential ZANU-PF Youth League reversed its previous devotion to Mugabe, saying that he must resign and Grace must be expelled from the party.

Historic week

Zimbabweans have experienced a historic week in which the military seized power and put Mugabe under house arrest in response to his sacking of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa, the chief rival of Mugabe's powerful 52-year-old wife Grace.

On Saturday, in scenes of public euphoria not seen since Zimbabwe's independence in 1980, huge crowds marched and sang their way through Harare and other cities.

The demonstrations included citizens of all ages, jubilant that Mugabe appeared to be on his way out.
In central Harare, a group of young men tore down a green metal street sign bearing Robert Mugabe's name and smashed it repeatedly on the road.

Such open dissent would have just a week ago would have been routinely crushed by security forces.

Sources suggest Mugabe has been battling to delay to his exit and to secure a deal guaranteeing future protection for him and his family. The succession race that triggered Zimbabwe's sudden crisis was between party hardliner Mnangagwa — known as the Crocodile — and a group called “Generation 40” or “G40” because its members are generally younger, which campaigned for Grace's cause.

“She is very acceptable. Very much accepted by the people,” Mugabe said of Grace in a faltering interview to mark his 93rd birthday last February.

The president, who is feted in parts of Africa as the continent's last surviving liberation leader, is increasingly fragile health, but previously said he would stand in elections next year that could see him remain in power until aged nearly 100.

He became prime minister on Zimbabwe's independence from Britain in 1980 and then president in 1987.

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Pakistan 7th most vulnerable country to climate change, says Germanwatch

  • ,Countries most affected in the Long-Term Climate Risk Index,
  • ,'Pakistan frequently affected from heavy monsoons',
  • ,Lives lost due to climate change,
  • ,'Need to act in the face of clear and present danger',

Germanwatch, a German think-tank advocating for the ,prevention of dangerous climate change,, has just launched its latest Global Climate Risk Index 2018 report on the sidelines of COP23 in Bonn, Germany today.

World leaders, civil society members, investors, corporates, indigenous communities and media have gathered to boost climate action which will help limit global warming below 2 degrees Celsius and ideally to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as promised in the Paris Agreement.

This year's 13th edition of the analysis further confirms the fact that less developed nations are more vulnerable to the phenomenon. "The Climate Risk Index may serve as a red flag for already existing vulnerability that may further increase in regions, where extreme events will become more frequent or more severe due to climate change," reveals the report.

See: ,Combating climate change: why it matters,

The Global Climate Risk Index 2018 analyzes to what extent countries have been affected by the impacts of weather-related loss events, i.e. storms, floods, heat waves etc., while referring to the available data of 2016 and from 1997 to 2016.

According to the Climate Risk Index for 2016: the 10 most affected countries of the report, the countries most affected in 2016 are Haiti, Zimbabwe and Fiji, which were previously not in the list — thus showing how unpredictable climate change is. Pakistan is ranked 40th in the list, suffering 566 casualties, losing US $47.313 million — equivalent to 0.0048 per cent of the GDP.

Nine out of ten countries who made it to the list of top ten climate affected nations in 2016 were not ranked in last year’s index, which shows how the human-induced climate change is bound to affect everyone regardless of race, colour and religion. Surprisingly, the United States of America is in the list on the 10th spot and it suffered 267 casualties, losing the highest amount of financial losses of more than US $47 billion — equivalent to 0.255 per cent of its GDP.

Countries most affected in the Long-Term Climate Risk Index

Whereas in the Long-Term Climate Risk Index (CRI): the 10 countries most affected from 1997 to 2016 (annual average) of the report, Honduras, Haiti and Myanmar top the list. The top three countries in the long-run (1997-2016) have been due to Hurricane Mitch in Honduras in 1998, Hurricane Sandy in Haiti in 2012 and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008.

Also read: ,Cities, climate change and Pakistan’s extended urbanisation,

Pakistan is ranked on 7th position, with a death toll of 523.1 lives per year i.e. 10,462 lives lost in 20 years and economic losses worth US $ 3.8 billion — equivalent to 0.605 per cent of the GDP in the 20 year period. During this time, Pakistan had suffered from 141 extreme weather events — let it be cyclones, storms, floods, Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) and heatwaves, etc. In last year’s long-term index (1996 to 2015 average), Pakistan held the same 7th position.

Most of the countries affected in the long-term from 1997 to 2016 hold the same position as of last year’s long-term index (1996 to 2015), such as Honduras, Nicaragua, Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam are on 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 positions, respectively. Furthermore, of the ten most affected countries (1997–2016), nine were developing ones in the low income or lower-middle income country group.

'Pakistan frequently affected from heavy monsoons'

David Eckstein, one of the main authors of the study said that over the past many years, Pakistan has been one of the most affected countries vulnerable to climate change. He said, "Pakistan because of its geographic location has been frequently affected from heavy monsoons in the past. Over the past 20 years, if we look at the extreme weather events in Pakistan, heavy rainfalls and flooding has severely affected the lives and livelihoods of people. Floods have badly affected the agriculture sector which has compromised the GDP targets too. In the past, heatwaves and possible cold waves have also posed a threat to the people."

Speaking on Pakistan’s love for coal, David shared his worst fears that the perception is common in under-developed and developing countries that since the western world has progressed using coal, it is made an excuse to develop coal power plants in third-world countries — such decisions can entail dangerous consequences.

David also said, "Pakistan should think of reducing its emissions, which can help to reduce the risk of extreme weather events in its country. Emission reduction is a responsibility not only of developed countries but also of under-developed and developing ones, as it’s in their own benefits, and it offers a lot of co-benefits too."

Lives lost due to climate change

The Germanwatch report has further stated that more than 524,000 people have died as a direct result of over 11,000 extreme weather events and losses between the time period of 1997 to 2016, amounting to around US $3.16 trillion (in Purchasing Power Parities).

This year’s COP presidency is held by the Republic of Fiji, which along with other Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is severely affected by climatic shocks and also ranked in the short and long-term index of Germanwatch.

Dr Tariq Banuri a senior environmental expert, has recently joined Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) as the Executive Director. Dr Tariq was also the Coordinating Lead Author of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

While commenting upon the report Dr Tariq Banuri said, "Between 1997 and 2016, Pakistan lost an average of 523.1 lives per year i.e. 10,462 lives in 20 years, which comes to 3.27 lives per million population. As such Pakistan was ranked 4th in terms of property damage and the largest contribution to these damage numbers came from the 2010 floods. Besides this, the country has suffered from prolonged droughts (1998-2002, 2014-17), heat waves (2011, 2014), the 2014 cyclone Nilofar, and GLOF events".

Dr Banuri also cautioned of the ominous long-term threat to the country’s water resources. According to him, "The high rate of population growth has reduced per capita water availability from an ample 5,200 cubic meters per person per day to less than 1,000. Future projected population growth will reduce this to less than 500 by mid-century, which will make the country dependent on others for its food security. Climate change may reduce the water resources even further and this will affect lives, livelihoods and civic peace."

'Need to act in the face of clear and present danger'

Pakistan is getting recurrently affected from extreme weather events both in the short-term and long-term index. The super floods of 2010 placed Pakistan on the top slot among the countries most affected by climate change as it lost US $25.3 billion and 5.4 per cent of the GDP, according to Germanwatch.

Dr Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, rightly says that Pakistan doesn’t need any such reports to tell that it faces serious climate challenges. "The problem is that we continue to refuse to act in the face of clear and present danger. Another report. Another list. Another ranking. Another seminar. Another talk. That will not help as much as action will," he said.

"Unfortunately, our politics and our media is too caught in immediate trivialities – tamashas, really – to pay heed to things that could actually imperil their own and their children’s future. More than anything in this report, this is the saddest finding of all," concluded Najam.

COP23, scheduled to end on November 17, 2017, is a good opportunity for Pakistan to showcase its high climate vulnerability and successful stories of adaptation to the world, so that its case is effectively portrayed, along with building pressure on the developed countries to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.


Syed Muhammad Abubakar is an international award-winning environmental writer with an interest in climate change, deforestation, food security and sustainable development. He tweets ,@SyedMAbubakar, and can be reached via [email protected]

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2017 set to be hottest year: United Nations

  • ,Developing countries hardest hit,
  • ,Shrinking ice caps,

The year 2017 is on track to be the hottest year on record except for two warmed by El Nino phenomena, the United Nations' World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Monday.

Even if the cyclical weather events — which bump up global temperatures every three to seven years — are included, this year will still be one of the three warmest ever, the WMO said as it issued its annual State of the Global Climate report at talks in Bonn.

Average temperatures from 2013 through 2017 are also likely to be the highest since accurate measuring began more than a century ago, constituting strong evidence of a long-term trend.

Some 30 per cent of the world's population now experience “extreme hot temperatures” for at least several days each year, the UN agency said.

Meanwhile, the number of vulnerable people exposed to potentially lethal heatwaves has increased by 125 million since 2000.

“The past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

So far, 2017 has also seen record-breaking hurricanes in the Caribbean and Atlantic, with one reaching as far as Ireland; deadly monsoon flooding in the Indian sub-continent; and a quarter of a million people in Somalia driven from their homes due to persistent drought, the WMO found.

Developing countries hardest hit

“Many of these events … bear the telltale sign of climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas concentrations from human activity,” Taalas said in a statement.

Negotiators at the 12-day, 196-nation talks are tasked with fleshing out the 2015 Paris climate treaty, which calls for capping global warming at “well under” two degrees Celsius (C), or even 1.5 C if possible.

Another report last week from UN Environment said the trajectory of current national efforts to reduce carbon pollution fall far short, and would see the world heat up a scorching 3 C by the end of the century.

Earth's surface has already warmed by 1 C compared to pre-industrial levels.

“The impacts of extreme weather this year give us a taste of things to come under a warming climate,” said Richard Betts, a professor of climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre in England, commenting on the report.

Nowhere will be spared, but “developing countries will be hit the hardest in terms of human impact,” he added.

Long-term climate trends tracked by the WMO all showed movement in the wrong direction, the UN agency said.

Concentrations in the atmosphere of the major greenhouse gases that drive global warming continued to increase, with carbon dioxide (CO2) at 403.3 parts per million (ppm), the highest level in at least 800,000 years.

The second-most polluting greenhouse gas — methane (CH4) — has also shot up over the last decade, driven by leakage from the gas industry's fracking boom, and growth in global livestock.

Shrinking ice caps

Compared to 1750 levels, current concentrations of CO2 and CH4 are 1.5 and 2.5 times higher, respectively.

Earth's frozen zones continued to contract, especially in the Arctic, where sea ice cover could disappear in summer by as early as 2030, and in high-altitude regions where glaciers supplying a billion people downstream with life-sustaining water continued a four-decade decline.

Even Antarctic sea ice — which has remained stable or even expanded in recent years — “started shrinking since last year,” the report said.

The WMO also sounded an alarm about the world's marine environment.

“The ocean absorbs up to 30pc of the annual emissions of anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 in the atmosphere,” it noted.

“However, this comes at a steep ecological cost.” All that absorbed CO2 is turning the seas acidic, with potentially dire consequences for coral reefs, aquaculture, and basic ocean chemistry.

“A decade ago the task was characterised as 'avoiding the unmanageable, managing the unavoidable',” said Chris Rapley, a professor of climate science at University College London.

In light of the WMO report, “Now it might be better phrased 'confronting the unimaginable',” he said.

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Saudi Arabia arrests princes, ministers in sweeping purge

  • ,Widening crackdown,

Saudi Arabia arrested 11 princes, including a prominent billionaire, and dozens of current and former ministers, reports said, in a sweeping crackdown as the kingdom's young crown prince consolidates power.

Separately, the head of the Saudi National Guard, once a leading contender to the throne, as well as the navy chief and the economy minister were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings that sent shock waves in the kingdom.

The crackdown was reported immediately after a new anti-corruption commission, headed by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was established by royal decree late Saturday.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television reported that the princes, four current and dozens of former ministers were arrested as the commission launched a probe into old cases such as floods that devastated the Red Sea city of Jeddah in 2009.

State-run Saudi Press Agency said the commission's goal was to “preserve public money, punish corrupt people and those who exploit their positions”.

Saudi billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal was among those arrested, Saudi news websites said though there was no official confirmation. The prince was not reachable for comment.

An aviation source told AFP that security forces had grounded private jets in Jeddah, possibly to prevent any high-profile figures from leaving.

Meanwhile, the kingdom's top council of clerics tweeted that anti-corruption efforts were “as important as the fight against terrorism”, essentially giving religious backing to the crackdown.

“The breadth and scale of the arrests appears to be unprecedented in modern Saudi history,” said Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.

“The reported detention of Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, if true, would send shock waves through the domestic and international business community,” Ulrichsen told AFP.

Widening crackdown

The purge comes less than two weeks after Prince Mohammed welcomed thousands of global business titans to Riyadh for an investment summit, showcasing his economic reform drive for a post-oil era.

It follows a wave of arrests of influential clerics and activists in September as the 32-year-old prince, often known as MBS, cements his grip on power.

Analysts said many of those detained were resistant to Prince Mohammed's aggressive foreign policy that includes the boycott of Gulf neighbour Qatar as well as some of his bold policy reforms, including privatising state assets and cutting subsidies.

The latest purge saw Prince Miteb bin Abdullah sacked as the head of the National Guard, an elite internal security force. His removal consolidates MBS's control of the kingdom's security institutions.

To analysts, MBS's meteoric rise has seemed almost Shakespearean in its aggression and calculation. In June, he edged out a 58-year-old cousin, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, to become heir to the throne.

At the time, Saudi television channels showed the bearded MBS kissing the hand of the older prince and kneeling before him in a show of reverence.

Western media reports later said that the deposed prince had been placed under house arrest, a claim strongly denied by Saudi authorities.

Already viewed as the de facto ruler controlling all the major levers of government, from defence to the economy, the prince is widely seen to be stamping out traces of internal dissent before a formal transfer of power from his 81-year-old father King Salman.

At the same time, he has projected himself as a liberal reformer in the ultra-conservative kingdom with a series of bold moves including the decision allowing women to drive from next June.

Foreign diplomats predict MBS, set to be the first millennial to occupy the Saudi throne, could well be in control of Saudi Arabia for at least half a century.

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Pictures of the day: November 4, 2017

Workers are seen in a tunnel for the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high speed railway under construction in Beijing, China. PHOTO: REUTERS

Workers are seen in a tunnel for the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high speed railway under construction in Beijing, China. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tourists ride in vintage cars at the seafront Malecon in Havana, Cuba. PHOTO: REUTERS

Tourists ride in vintage cars at the seafront Malecon in Havana, Cuba. PHOTO: REUTERS

US President Donald Trump sports a flower lei he was given as he and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, US. PHOTO: REUTERS

US President Donald Trump sports a flower lei he was given as he and first lady Melania Trump arrive aboard Air Force One at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, US. PHOTO: REUTERS

The owner of a rooster sprays water on the head of his bird to help it cool down after a cockfight in Fateh Jang, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

The owner of a rooster sprays water on the head of his bird to help it cool down after a cockfight in Fateh Jang, Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

A Rohingya refugee child is carried to a refugee camp after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Palong Khali, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. PHOTO: REUTERS

A Rohingya refugee child is carried to a refugee camp after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Palong Khali, near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. PHOTO: REUTERS

Hindu saints perform rituals to celebrate Akshardham temple's silver jubilee in Gandhinagar, India. PHOTO: REUTERS

Hindu saints perform rituals to celebrate Akshardham temple’s silver jubilee in Gandhinagar, India. PHOTO: REUTERS

People ride a chairlift on the Stubaier glacier in Mutterberg, Austria. PHOTO: REUTERS

People ride a chairlift on the Stubaier glacier in Mutterberg, Austria. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pope Francis blesses the altar as he leads a Mass for cardinals and bishops who have passed away over the past year, at the St. Peter's basilica in Vatican. PHOTO: REUTERS

Pope Francis blesses the altar as he leads a Mass for cardinals and bishops who have passed away over the past year, at the St. Peter’s basilica in Vatican. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Akshardham temple is illuminated during a laser light show to celebrate the temple's silver jubilee in Gandhinagar, India. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Akshardham temple is illuminated during a laser light show to celebrate the temple’s silver jubilee in Gandhinagar, India. PHOTO: REUTERS

The first customers to buy the iPhone X hold it aloft during the global launch of the new Apple product in central Sydney, Australia. PHOTO: REUTERS

The first customers to buy the iPhone X hold it aloft during the global launch of the new Apple product in central Sydney, Australia. PHOTO: REUTERS

This undated file handout picture released on October 8, 1997 by the Quaid-e-Azam House shows Dina Wadia (R) at an undisclosed location with her father Mohammad Ali Jinnah (C), the founder of Pakistan, and aunt Fatima Jinnah (L). PHOTO: AFP

This undated file handout picture released on October 8, 1997 by the Quaid-e-Azam House shows Dina Wadia (R) at an undisclosed location with her father Mohammad Ali Jinnah (C), the founder of Pakistan, and aunt Fatima Jinnah (L). PHOTO: AFP

A crowd releases lanterns into the air as they celebrate the Yee Peng festival, also known as the festival of lights, in Chiang Mai. PHOTO: AFP

A crowd releases lanterns into the air as they celebrate the Yee Peng festival, also known as the festival of lights, in Chiang Mai. PHOTO: AFP

People walk through a flooded area of Marina Beach on the Bay of Bengal coast after heavy rains in Chennai. PHOTO: AFP

People walk through a flooded area of Marina Beach on the Bay of Bengal coast after heavy rains in Chennai. PHOTO: AFP

People walk through a flooded area of Marina Beach on the Bay of Bengal coast after heavy rains in Chennai. PHOTO: AFP

The Mount Sinabung volcano eruption is seen from Tiga Pancur village, in Karo in North Sumatra. PHOTO: AFP

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