Saturday, August 10, 2019

Pakistan to host World Tourism Forum

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan will be playing host to the World Tourism Forum (WTF) in 2020. The decision in this regard was taken during a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and a delegation of the WTF in Islamabad on August 9. 

The WTF delegation was led by the President of its executive board, Bulut Bagci while the chairman of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), Syed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, was also present in the meeting. 

Over 1,000 foreigners are expected to attend the five-day proceedings of the forum in Islamabad next year. The date of the event will be announced later.

The WTF is an Istanbul-based organization, dedicated to developing tourism around the world with its annual meetings. It was founded under Bulut Bağcı’s leadership in 2014. 

The WTF principally intends to develop tourism around the world. Accordingly, it was launched in 2015 following the extensive connections in 2014. 

The event is organized four times a year in global centers around the world under the auspices of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey. It brings together global tourism leaders and tourism industry representatives. Regional meetings are held three times a year in different cities around the world, and one annual Global Meeting is held annually in February, in Istanbul.

New tourist resorts planned in Balochistan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared that the government was making all out efforts for promotion of tourism in the country and new tourist resorts would be developed in coastal areas of Balochistan. 

Maintaining that there existed great potential in different areas of tourism in the country needs to be exploited, the Prime Minister made the announcement during his meeting with a delegation of the World Tourism Forum (WTF) which called on him in Islamabad on August 9. 

He informed the delegation that eight new tourism resorts would be developed in eight coastal areas in Balochistan, emphasizing that natural beauty, social values and environmental protection would be ensured for promotion of tourism.

Earlier this year, the government had announced a new visa policy for 175 countries to promote tourism and investments in the country. The visitors from these countries will be able to apply for an online visa. As per the new visa policy, e-visa facility will initially be provided to five countries namely Turkey, China, Malaysia, United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Friday, August 9, 2019

Think-thank launched at AKU

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The health professionals at Aga Khan University have launched a new think tank, AKUPI-NCD, in partnership with experts from a variety of sectors, in order to recommend novel, integrated approaches to address the threat of non-communicable diseases (NCDs): the leading cause of death in the country.

Approximately 80 million Pakistanis are living with one or more NCDs, a set of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, conditions caused by tobacco abuse, and mental disorders, that are predominantly caused by poor lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors such as pollution and urbanization. 

Despite being the country’s top cause of death and the leading cause of poor quality of life, the country continues to pursue a fragmented approach with little coordination among stakeholders, experts said. Pakistan is far from meeting the targets set by the WHO for the National Systems Response for NCDs. 

“NCDs aren’t a problem for the healthcare sector alone. These diseases have complex causes and long-lasting consequences and their costs to society extend far beyond lost productivity and stunted economic growth. That’s because of the cost of treating advanced cases of NCDs drive many families into poverty and makes them dependent on the government or other actors in society,” AKU’s Professor Zainab Samad, chair of the initiative, remarked.

The demographics of today’s Pakistan mean that NCDs are a particularly pressing problem. Speakers noted that the majority of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30 and warned that the coming decades could see a rising burden of these illnesses in an aging population. 

“NCDs are silent killers which continue to go unnoticed. The Airblue crash of 2010 claimed 125 lives and the public attention to the tragedy resulted in immediate regulatory action. NCDs cause 14 times as many deaths every day yet there is an absence of coordinated action from government and civil society on the issue,” Professor Wasay remarked. 

The think tank’s inaugural meeting brought together officials from the insurance, market research, non-profit, banking and public sector to discuss the creation of an integrated plan. The presence of this plan would demonstrate the think tank’s long-term vision and enable stakeholders to coordinate their efforts, speakers noted. 

AKU’s Professor Wasay, AKUPI-NCD co-chair, called on stakeholders to consider partnering on initiatives in three areas: education and training, policy advocacy and awareness, and research. 

“NCDs are preventable. Efforts to forestall their onset must begin at home at an early age. As a starting point, he noted that advocacy measures should revolve around lifestyle modification campaigns in which media organizations and schools can help disseminate information about the risks posed by tobacco use, a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits," he said.

The experts noted that education and training initiatives can make an immediate impact in the area hypertension as the condition often goes undiagnosed until it leads to life-threatening complications such as stroke. 

Commenting on research initiatives, Professor Wasay added that market research firms, insurance companies and public sector institutions all have information that can be analyzed to determine the most effective course of action for each type of NCD. 

Besides pooling together data, experts noted that the establishment of a central data point would advance the study of the public health impact of NCDs. 

There were a number of other experts at the event from the finance, insurance, public health and data science industries as well as representatives from the National Institute of Health and Ministry of National Health Services and Regulation.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

AKU ranks among top global universities

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

In global rankings, the Aga Khan University (AKU) has been ranked among the top 100 universities for clinical medicine and among the top 200 for public health internationally in the latest Shanghai Ranking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2019 released by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU).

The AKU is the only university in Pakistan ranked in clinical medicine and public health in the top 500 universities. 

In clinical medicine, the AKU is in the group of universities ranked between 76th and 100th, a marked improvement from its 2018 position in the 151–200 group. 

The university is ranked 151–200 in the public health group. 

“This international ranking is recognition of the AKU as a role model for health and education in the developing world. Even places where resources are scarce, we aim to meet the global quality standards and demonstrate that excellence is a powerful force for transformation,” Firoz Rasul, President, AKU, stated. 

The Shanghai Ranking Consultancy is a fully independent organization dedicated to research on higher education intelligence and consultation. It has been ARWU’s official publisher since 2009. 

This year, Shanghai Ranking published its third round of subject rankings covering 54 subject areas. The ranking draws from Web of Science bibliometric data, InCites, and considers performance in five categories: publications, citations, top journal presence, international collaboration in publications and awards. 

An increase in papers published and indexed in major citation indices has improved AKU's ranking over the last three years. 

“Our clinical investigations are closely linked to teaching to innovate for better healthcare and to research for creating new knowledge. We take great pride in this ranking not only for ourselves but for Pakistan, and will work to use it as an opportunity to enhance clinical care and access to life-saving treatments in the country,” Dr Adil Haider, Dean of AKU’s Medical College, observed.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Jan Muhammad’s gold medals stolen, yet not recovered

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Karachi Police have not yet succeeded in finding any clue of the dacoits, who had barged into the North Nazimabad House of former international hockey player, Jan Muhammad, and decamped with cash, jewellary and other valuables after taking the inmates on gunpoint. 

But bigger agony for Jan Muhammed was that the bandits deprived him of his most precious and valuable asset, the medals he had earned in various international events during his 17-year career in the hockey field.

The incident had occurred in the last week of Ramazan, when in the broad daylight, four armed bandits barged into the house of Jan Muhammad, a member of the gold medal winning Pakistan team in the Hockey Junior World Cup of 1979.

It may be recalled that there was no male member in the house at that time as all had gone away on their jobs and the dacoits had made all female members hostage besides the lone lady tenant residing in the ground floor of the house as well as kids, and made good their escape with cash, jewellary and other valuables besides his medals earned during various international competitions. 

The wife and kids of Jan Muhammad's son Rauf Jan, a reputed chartered accountant, who recently returned from Toronto, Canada, to serve the country’s economy, were also taken hostage on gunpoint. 

The soft spoken Jan Muhammad recently retired from the United Bank Limited (UBL) after having served the institution with distinction for 42 years.

He remained posted at the UBL Sports Complex for quite some time. He was also the Vice President of the Karachi Hockey Association (KHA). 

Despite the lapse of a couple of months, there has not been any word or any clue from the North Nazimabad Police. Neither has any senior police officer of Karachi Police contacted Jan Muhammad. 

Engineers of Sindh press for demands

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

After having done it in Baluchistan, the engineers of Sindh also took to streets when, led by the Chairman of the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC), Javed Salim Qureshi, stageda protest demonstration outside Karachi Press Club (KPC) for the attainment of their long standing demands. 

Addressing on the occasion, the PEC Chairman affirmed that the council will continue to strive for the attainments of demands for engineers which are being pursued for a long time. 

Javed Qureshi urged the authorities to order for the release of payment of technical allowance to engineers as being practiced in Khyber Pakhtoonkhawa, Punjab and Azad Kashmir. 

He said that the government should forthwith remove non-engineers from the slots of engineering professional seats and they should be replaced with qualified engineers.

The PEC Chairman demanded that all vacant engineers’ seats be forthwith filled engineers in the province of Sindh. 

He was of the opinion that only engineers can take the country to path of prosperity if they were given their due role in policy making with their induction into grades 21 and 22. 

The demonstration was largely attended by the PEC member engineers and addressed besides the PEC Chairman, also by Mohammed Shafiq, Vice-Chairman PEC (Sindh).

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Shanta Zaibunnisa Bukhari remembered

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Glowing tributes were paid to late Comrade Shanta Zaibunnisa for her services for the downtrodden society and specially tilling women on the occasion of her death anniversary observed at the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi. The speakers on the occasion included comrade leaders, intellectuals, law makers, members of teaching community and people from various walks of life.

They hailed Shanta Zaibunnisa Bukhari as first comrade leader of South Asia who struggled her whole of life in advocating the cause of women particularly the downtrodden. 

They pointed out that Shanta Bukhari launched her struggle for tilling women in her young age when there ‘satti’ tradition used to be followed in India. 

The speakers described her role for working and downtrodden women as most important, particularly in organizing and motivating them to get them a respectful place in the society and putting forward the concept of freedom for such women of the subcontinent. 

She struggled rest of her life in creating awareness and organizing the women working in factories, women working in bangles-making units, working in the field of garbage collection and sweeping, home maids and those working in the field of agriculture and domestic units. 

The speakers admitted the big role played by Shanta Zaibunnisa and her comrade husband, Jamaluddin Bukhari. They said that history will never forget the struggle waged by Shanta for the welfare of women and their rights.

Noted intellectual, Dr Jaffer Ahmed, recalled that Shanta was a women who created awareness among working women for carrying out struggle for their rights and stood fast against extortionist forces. 

He said this very awareness brought her close to Comrade Jamaluddin Bukhari and truned into Zaibunnisa from Shanta. 

He said that our today’s society strongly needed such volunteers. 

Noted social worker, Mehnaz Rehman, reckoned that Shanta enjoyed the status of a mother for communists and such personalities do born in centuries. 

She said it was because of personalities like Shanta who created an awareness among women to come forward to lead the society and where they still face a discriminatory treatment. 

Former Commissioner Karachi, Shafiqur Rehman Paracha, considered himself fortunate for having had the opportunity of meeting Comrade Jamaluddin Bukhari when he was serving as Assistant Commissioner Larkana and always followed Comrade’s advice in administrative matters during his different postings. 

Jamaluddin had told him that government officials should always keep their doors open to help the helpless, he recalled and said that during visiting hours who would always come out of his office and meet the needy visitors.

Comrade Roochi Lal, advocate, disclosed that late Z A Bhutto would seek guidance from Jamaluddin Bukhari to learn the philosophy of socialism. He said history will always remember the services of Comrade Jamaluddin and his wife Shanta Zaibunnisa for the rights of tillers and working women. 

Dr Tausif Ahmed described the struggle waged by Shanta Zaibunnisa for the release of her husband as an important chapter of history. Researcher Aslam Khawaja told the audience that he ddin’t find any instance with regard to the struggle except the one waged by Shanta for development of women of Sindh. 

He asserted that there is need to carry out more research with regard to Shanta’s services and struggle for women of Sindh. Dr Riaz Shaikh noted that at the time when there existed the tradition of ‘satti’ in India, the women lacked the concept of equality in their rights and such an awareness was created by Shanta Jamaluddin. 

Former Ambassador and retired DIG, Jamil Ahmed Kha, regarded late Shanta Zaibunnisa as a woman with great farsightedness and it was her vision that she raised voice for women at a time when they were only restricted within boundary walls of their homes. 

Syed Munawar Bukhari, son of late Shanta Jamaluddin, said that her mother had dedicated her entire life in championing the cause of social welfare and particularly welfare of down trodden women.