Saturday, September 26, 2020

Pakistan’s textile enterprises impress in Shanghai exhibition

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Several Pakistani textile enterprises took part in China Textile Joint Exhibition organized by China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC) at the National Exhibition and Convention Centre (NECC) in Shanghai to display a number of products made in Pakistan such as cotton yarn, socks and hats. 

Besides Pakistan, the exhibition was largely attended exhibitors from Austria, South Korea, France, Germany, Italy and other countries. 

A total of 4,500 exhibitors participated in the joint exhibition, with an exhibition area spreading 300,000 square meters.

“We have been working with China for ten years. China's textile technology is far ahead, the quality of products is excellent, and the prices are reasonable. Meanwhile the textile market in China is also massive,” Ather Iqbal, a Pakistani exhibitor, informed. 

“Under CPEC, both Pakistani and Chinese governments were implementing many favourable policies such as tariffs and trade procedures that have greatly enhanced our enthusiasm for cooperation,” he pointed out. 

“The COVID-19 epidemic in China has been very efficiently controlled and the measures to ensure the operation of economy have been well developed, so our cooperation with Chinese textile enterprises has not been greatly affected by the pandemic. In the future, we will further strengthen our cooperation with Chinese enterprises and expand our textile trade with them,” the Pakistani businessman added.

Coronavirus Update: Downslide in Sindh

Mukhtar Alam 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh, after a gap of a couple of days, witnessed a downslide in its daily numbers of COVID-19 cases on September 25, though the laboratories tested the samples beyond their collective maximum daily testing capacity of 14,940 during the last 24 hours.

Of the 16,976 samples examined during the last 24 hours, ending at 8 am on September 25, as many as 241 (1.42%) were declared new infections. The province’s daily infection rate was 2.5% on September 24 after being 2.22% on September 23. 

Sindh had registered 135,488 infections, since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country on February 26, while 129,396 (95.5%) have recovered from the diseases. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his routine COVID-19 statement, shared that four more patients died during the last 24 hours in the province, taking the tally of the disease's fatalities to 2,481 for the province, against Pakistan’s overall death figure of 6,451. 

He added that there were still 3,611 people infected people, who were receiving treatment at homes (3328), isolation centres (6), and hospitals 277, including 137 undergoing the critical phase of their health, while 13 were put on ventilators. 

Karachi reported 103 new cases, followed by Sujawal (18), Hyderabad (4), Dadu (4), Shaheed Benazirabad (3), Badin (2), Larkana (2), Matiari (2), Mirpurkhas (2), Sanghar (2), Shikarpur (2), Tharparkar (1), Thatta (1) and others.

Friday, September 25, 2020

PSCC established in Chengdu

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Pakistan-Sichuan Chamber of Commerce (PSCC) has been established in Chengdu, China to promote bilateral trade and to set up close synergy for socio-economic partnership. 

The former Consul General of Pakistan in Chengdu, Muhammad Mudassir Tipu, who is currently Director General (China), delivered a speech at the inaugural meeting in Chengdu in which he stressed that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a fruitful joint venture and the friendship between the two countries was unbreakable. 

In the future, Southwest China, represented by Sichuan Province, will play an important role in the CPEC. The PSCC will provide both Pakistani and Chinese enterprises a platform for resource sharing, service convergence, project alignment and advantage display. 

“A lot of economic opportunities are being created between the southwest of China and the northeast of Pakistan,” Mudassir Tipu, who has also been at a speaker at the World Economic Forum, reckoned. 

The inaugural meeting of the PSCC was held in Chengdu on September 25 upon the initiatives of the Sichuan enterprises invested in Pakistan. The chamber has been approved by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supported by the China Department of Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It has set up a secretariat in Islamabad and a representative office in Chengdu. 

“Sichuan province, in fact, the southwest of China is critically important region for Pakistan and the CPEC. A couple of mega projects have been brought into CPEC in this region, Azad Pattan Project and Kohala Power Project. The CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting to be held in October or November this year it will also be a key element to further deepen bilateral cooperation,” Mudassir Tipu stated. 

He believed that Pakistan already possessed certain ability in industrial and socio-economic field, and the business communities of the two countries should continue to deepen cooperation. 

“Pakistan now has a lot of talent, such as lawyers, doctors, technicians and so on, as well as a lot of mature enterprises in this sector. Therefore, Chinese and Pakistani companies should further cooperate to jointly complete projects in Pakistan,” he added.

Coronavirus Update: Sindh’s infection rate continues rising

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Sindh’s daily COVID-19 infection rate continued rising for the third day running as the authorities in the government on September 24 confirmed detection of 401 new cases, with six more related fatalities across the province during the last 24 hours.

According to the data, Sindh had the rate of new infections as 1.4% on September 22, which increased to 2.5% on September 24 morning, taking the overall infection tally to 135,246 for the province, 129,101 of which were reported to have recovered from the diseases, while 2,477 lost their lives. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his COVID-19 status statement on September 24, shared that as many as 3,668 patients were receiving treatment at homes (3,776), isolation centres (5) and hospitals (287). At hospitals, 135 were told to be critical condition, while 14 were put on ventilators. 

In all 16,093 samples were examined at COVID-19 laboratories across Sindh during the last 24 hours ending at 8 am on September 24, out of which the maximum 244 (61%) from Karachi’s six districts were registered as new positive cases. Hyderabad reported 19 new cases, followed by Badin (8), Dadu (5), Tando Mohammad Khan (4), Jamshoro (4), Larkana (2), Matiari (2), Sukkur (2), Mirpurkhas (1), Sanghar (1), Jacobabad (1) and other districts.

Families of PIA crash victims await justice, regret highhandedness

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The families of the victims of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK 8303, which had crashed in Karachi earlier this year, have condemned the highhandedness from the concerned authorities while seeking justice.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Imran Khan, dated September 22, 2020, whose copy was circulated on social media, some of the affected families have reported having been humiliated at every place where they have gone to seek entitlement during the past four months. 

Members of the affected families had also held a media conference at the Karachi Press Club a few months ago to bring to light their sufferings at the hands of the concerned departments when receiving the bodies of their loved ones.

It may be recalled that the PIA’s scheduled domestic flight from Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore to Jinnah International Airport in Karachi had crashed just before landing in the densely populated area of Model Colony on that fateful afternoon of May 22, 2020. 

The Airbus A320 in use perished a few kilometres from the runway, while on a second approach after a failed landing. Of the 91 passengers and 8 crew on board the aircraft (99 onboard), 97 were killed, and two passengers survived with injuries. Eight people on the ground were also reported to have been injured in the accident and one of them reportedly later died from injuries.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Country’s more than half infections in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The share of Sindh in the daily COVID-19 infections reported on September 23 across the country remained almost over a half, with two new related deaths.

Sindh reported 408 new infections during the last 24 hours ending September 23 morning, against Pakistan’s total 799 new positive cases detected out of 42,299 samples, with five deaths. 

The data revealed that Sindh, which was witnessing its daily COVID-19 infection rates fluctuating in recent days, registered a double of the cases recorded on the preceding day. 

With the new cases, coming out of 18,360 tests during the last 24 hours, Sindh’s overall infection tally reached to 134,845. 

Keen observer said that the province needed to exercise all precaution and apply its medical field forces to trace the lethal virus and detect the carriers well in time. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his COVID-19 statement on September 23, reported that there were still 3,410 active COVID-19 cases in the province, including 3120 those receiving treatment at homes, five placed in isolation centres and 285 in hospitals. 

“As many as 146 were told to be in the critical phase while 17 were placed on ventilators until September 23 morning,” he added. 

The two latest deaths were reported from Central and East districts of Karachi, taking the tally of COVID-19 fatalities to 2,471 for the province. 

The new infections were reported from Karachi (184), Badin (31), Larkana (6), Ghotki (4), Hyderabad (2), Jamshoro (2), Mirpurkhas (2), Sanghar (2), Shikarpur (2), Sujwal (2), Umerkot (2), Dadu (1) and others. 

In the meantime, a report pertaining to laboratory testing of samples drawn from students, teachers and other staff at public and private educational institutions across the province, during a period from September 12 to 22, revealed that as many as 127 samples, out of 21,999 samples were found positive for COVID-19.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

AKU launches teachers’ academy

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Aga Khan University (AKU), in order to recognize excellence in teaching in higher education, has launched the Teachers’ Academy, one of the first interdisciplinary academies of its kind in East Africa and Pakistan. 

“Rewarding and recognizing teachers promotes excellence in teaching, teaching that engages students in their own learning, in pursuing creative work and innovative ideas, and in reaching their full potential. In the rapidly changing environment that we now live in, teaching excellence prepares our students to be future leaders in their communities,” Vice Provost, Dr Tashmin Khamis, remarked. 

“The Academy will develop a community of faculty recognized for teaching excellence, who will be able to promote teaching, and inspire and mentor their peers. It will be developed on the foundation of outstanding AKU teachers, who are recognized for their contribution to teaching and learning in higher education, including those who have benchmarked their practice internationally and attained the UK’s Higher Education Academy Fellowship,” she added. 

Her remarks were reinforced by the AKU President, Firoz Rasul, who noted that the AKU was the first and only institution to be accredited by the Higher Education Academy in South Asia and East Africa. 

"The creation of the academy will enhance AKU’s position among the top universities globally. The Academy will provide tangible recognition to AKU teachers, who are the architects and guardians of the quality of teaching and learning in each of its schools,” Dr Haile T Debas, chair of the Academy’s Advisory Board and chair pro tem of AKU’s Board of Trustees, observed. 

Provost Dr Carl Amrhein lauded the launch of the academy as building on many years of work in improving higher education teaching. These efforts have helped the faculty transition AKU's teaching online without compromising on quality through the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Teaching has gone beyond 'chalk and talk' and video lectures to involve students in active learning. 

The inaugural call for membership to the academy was made at a virtual ceremony hosted by the University’s Network of Quality, Teaching and Learning (QTL_net), which supports the professional development of faculty and seeks to raise teaching standards across AKU’s six campuses around the world. The ceremony was attended by a large number of AKU faculty and staff from Pakistan, East Africa and the United Kingdom.

Coronavirus Update: Six more fatalities in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Sindh registered six more COVID-19 fatalities, the highest single-day deaths during the last two weeks, as authorities here confirmed 194 new cases during the last 24 hours, pushing the tally of infections to 134,243 for the province.

Earlier, according to data, Sindh had reported six deaths on September 1, 2, and 9. Sindh’s six fatalities on September 22 were included in Pakistan’s total 8 of the day, while country’s new number of infections stood at 532. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his daily COVID-19 status statement on September 22, shared that a total 13,056 were tested during the last 24 hours, with a positivity rate of about 1.5%. 

He added that at present there were 3,286 active patients in Sindh, including 2,930 in home-isolation, five in isolation centre, 351 in hospitals, including critically ill 175 patients, while 20 were on ventilators. 

According to the official statement, Karachi registered 134 new cases, followed by Larkana (7), Jamshoro (3), Thatta (3), Sukkur (2), Dadu (1), Sujawal (1) and others.

CPEC medical corridor’s Cancer Centre to be functional in 2021

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
A signing ceremony of Pakistan-China biotechnology strategic cooperation was held at Beijing on September 22.

As the flagship medical corridor, Pakistani and Chinese companies will jointly build a cancer medical centre and laboratory. 

Initially the 50-bed centre and laboratory with state of the art faculties is expected to be functional by early next year as construction of the building is in full swing in Islamabad. 

The agreement was jointly signed by Dr Waqas Ahmed, CEO, Life Rehealth Technology Pakistan, and Beijing Anlong Gene Medicine Technology. Under the framework, the Pakistani and Chinese companies will jointly carry out exploration and research on cancer medical treatment, and Chinese companies will also share their existing medical technologies with Pakistan. 

Dr Waqas Ahmed , the CEO of Life Rehealth, who had been active in CPEC medical cooperation for a long time, observed in an exclusive interview that, the cancer rate in Pakistan was very high, especially lung cancer, liver cancer and so on. 

“Therefore, the cooperation between Pakistan and China in this medical area was very necessary and will bring great benefits to Pakistanis. China and Pakistan are iron brothers and the Pakistani people deeply trust Chinese. So to develop biotechnology, the best partner must be our good brother China," he observed. 

“The second reason is that China's rapid development in the medical field in recent years is well known to all, and the technology in oncology treatment has also been relatively mature. Therefore, we believe that through this cooperation, Pakistan can import advanced technology from China to help our patients,” Dr Waqas Ahmed, who graduated and settled in China, added. 

Dr Wei Yujun, general manager of Anlong Gene, acknowledged that Pakistan was a friendly neighbour of China and, under the framework of BRI, they should strengthen medical cooperation with their iron brother.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Landmark skyscrapers illuminated in Shanghai

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The landmark skyscrapers in Shanghai were illuminated on September 22 to mark one year countdown of the opening ceremony of the 46th WorldSkills Shanghai 2021 scheduled to be held at the China's Economic Hub next year. 

According to details, WorldSkills Shanghai 2021 will be held from September 22 to 27 in which more than 1,300 competitors from over 60 WorldSkills Member countries and regions will showcase their talents in 56 skills. 

The mega event is expected to attract over 1000 educators, ministers, government officials, leaders of business and industry, and youth together to share best practice and learn about global trends and issues found in Vocational Education and Training (VET), skills demand, skills of the future as well as skills excellence and development.

Beijing lauds Dr Arif Alvi’s CPEC remarks

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

China has lauded President Dr Arif Alvi’s remarks on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its role for boosting regional connectivity and benefits to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs).

“Just as President Alvi pointed out, the CPEC not only benefits the people of China and Pakistan but will also boost the development of other countries in the region and elevate connectivity and economic cooperation throughout the entire region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, observed in the regular press briefing at Beijing on September 22.

“We have noted President Alvi’s remarks. The CPEC is an important pilot program of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and a flagship in China-Pakistan cooperation,” he added. 

Tracing the background, he remarked that since its launch six years ago, major progress had been achieved with a large number of projects starting construction or being completed and more than $25 billion direct investment flowing into Pakistan. 

“The completed projects have greatly improved transportation infrastructure and electricity supply in Pakistan, created over 70,000 direct employment opportunities,” the spokesman said. 

“China firmly supports CPEC development and stands ready to work together with Pakistan to act on our leaders’ consensus and, on the basis of continued solid progress in infrastructure development, focus on cooperation in social welfare, industrial and agricultural cooperation, to turn the CPEC into a demonstration project for high-quality BRI development and deliver more benefits for the two countries and regional countries,” he elaborated. 

It may be mentioned that President Dr Arif Alvi in a telephonic talk with his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov had said that the CPEC would boost regional connectivity and particularly Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics would benefit from its road and railway infrastructure.

Coronavirus Update: Sindh’s cases fluctuate

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh, with its fluctuating daily COVID-19 infection rates, registered three of the four related deaths reported in the country on September 21 when authorities here confirmed 296 new infections, out of 15,211 samples, during the last 24 hours.

Pakistan’s fourth COVID-19 fatality of the day was reported from Punjab, which had 59 new cases on September 21. 

Sindh registered an average 284 cases daily during the week till September 21. 

The daily new case numbers ranged from 227 to 341, while its total positive case tally came as 134,243. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his statement related to the COVID-19 status, shared that as many as 128,494 patients had recovered from the diseases, while 3,286 more, including 2,930 in home isolation, five in isolation centres and 351 in hospitals, were receiving treatment for the disease. 

He further stated that condition of 175 patients was stated critical while 20 were put on ventilators, as of September 21. 

According to official data, six districts of Karachi division reported 143 new cases, followed by Badin (25), Hyderabad (5), Matiari (4), Shikarpur (3), Sanghar (2), Shaheed Benazirabad (2), Umerkot (2), Dadu (2), Jacobabad (2), Larkana (1) and Sukkur (1).

The fluctuation in cases, particularly in the province of Sindh, has caused alarms and people have been under some kind of pressure in performing their duties at a time when almost every business activity has resumed.

Phase 3 trials for COVID-19 vaccine start in Pakistan

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), on September 22, has announced the launch of phase 3 clinical trials in Pakistan for a potential vaccine being developed by China’s CanSino Biologics for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The trials for the first couple of phases for the vaccine were held in China. Pakistan, under a public-private partnership between the National Institute of Health (NIH) and CanSino, is among the countries which will carry out Phase 3, the NCOC declared. 

The NIH Executive Director, Maj Gen Aamer Ikram, and the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Dr Faisal Sultan, during their joint press conference, described the trial as an important step in which the Pakistanis will also be taking part.

“The entire world is looking towards a vaccine right now. There are seven vaccines for which trials are being conducted, three of them developed in China. This CanSino vaccine is based on recombinant technology in which an adino-vector is made deficient. The virus vector and cell culture has been procured from Canada," Maj Gen Aamer Ikram remarked. 

Meanwhile the Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister, Asad Umar, also shared information on the subject. “Just launched the phase 3 trials for COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan. Vaccine has been developed by a Chinese company. A total of 40,000 people will participate in this trial in seven countries, of which 8 to 10,000 will be Pakistanis. Initial results expected in 4 to 6 months,” he tweeted.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Karachi registers 70% of Sindh infections

By Mukhtar Alam 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Karachi division recorded 70% of the new COVID-19 cases detected across the province of Sindh on September 20 when one more patient was reported expired due to the virus during the last 24 hours.

Official reports revealed that in all 321 new cases were registered in 18 districts during the last 24 hours ending September 20 morning, with an overall daily infection rate of 2.43%, against 1.83% calculated on September 19. 

According to official COVID-19 data, Karachi registered an average 157 new cases every day during the week ending September 20. 

Its share in the total new cases reported across the province remained 53% on September 17, which increased up to 73% by September 19. 

Karachi’s different districts have so far added 86,512 COVID-19 cases to the overall Sindh’s tally, including the maximum 25852 from East district where a total 684 patients lost their lives due to the diseases in hospitals and homes, so far. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his statement related to COVID-19 status, shared that the new cases were found out of 13,198 samples, pushing the overall number of infections to 133,947 for the province. 

He informed that 2,793 infected persons were at present isolated in homes, while five at the isolation centres and 282 at various hospitals, including 179 critically ill patients, with another 168 people having recovered from the diseases during the last 24 hours. 

The reports said that 24 patients were receiving the ventilator intervention at various hospitals, including six at AKUH, five at CHK, four each at the Infectious Diseases Hospital and Research centre and Indus Hospital Karachi, on September 20. 

The new solitary fatality was reported from Badin which has registered a total 12 COVID-19 deaths, while there are still 152 active patients in the district. Earlier, Badin had reported one death, along with Karachi (three deaths), on September 18. 

The district wise breakdown of new infection remained as: Karachi (225), Dadu (97), Tando Allahyar (7), Hyderabad (6), Thatta (5), Jamshoro (5), Badin (3), Sujawal (3), Matiari (3), Tando Mohammad Khan (3), Larkana (2), Mirpurkhas (1), Shaheed Benazirabad (1) and others. 

In the meantime, an official summary related to samplings done in different targeted areas revealed the highest rate of COVID-19 infection, two percent, was found among people visiting shrines and attending urs/mela (congregations).

Sunday, September 20, 2020

China lunar exploration on course

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The deputy chief designer of China's lunar exploration programme, Yu Dengyun, has said that the preparations were progressing smoothly and the Chang'e-5 probe will make a soft landing on the moon and bring samples back to earth by end 2020. 

Yu revealed this at the ongoing 2020 China Space Conference in Fuzhou, capital of east China's Fujian Province which concluded on September 19. 

China's current lunar programme involves three phases, comprising of orbiting, landing, and return. The first two phases have been completed successfully, Yu informed.

The Chang'e-5 probe is expected to realize lunar sample collection, takeoff from the moon, rendezvous and docking on lunar orbit and high-speed reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, marking breakthroughs in China's aerospace history, he added. 

According to Yu, China was conducting a further verification study for the research and development of space station and the manned lunar mission, and it planned to set up an unmanned lunar research station for manned landings on the moon.

Pakistan-China friendship above CPEC: Ambassador Yao

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, remained convinced that Pakistan-China friendship was much above the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

"CPEC is not the whole thing. We were friends even before the CPEC. There is no doubt CPEC has strengthened the bonds further but the brotherhood is much above a project," he said to a loud applause by the journalists who had come to say good-bye to a friend of Pakistan. 

Ambassador Yao has completed his tenure in Pakistan and will soon leave for Beijing. He has been replaced with the nomination of Nong Rong, Head of Ethnic Affairs Commission of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 

Speaking at the farewell reception, with an emotional and victorious voice, the senior diplomat remarked that CPEC could not be stopped or delayed on the wishes of the conspirators. 

"Yes, there are conspiracies but CPEC is going on smoothly. I am very satisfied with the pace of work. Let the conspirators do their job as we focus on development and prosperity," he asserted. 

The envoy said he will miss Pakistan as he had spent 11 years of his career in the country under different capacities. "When I first came to Pakistan, I was a junior diplomat. And as I complete my tenure now as the ambassador, I am more in love with Pakistan. I don't know when I will return to Pakistan but my heart and soul will remain in Pakistan," he declared amid the thumping of desks and clapping.

Coronavirus Update: No fatality day in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh for the third time reported no COVID-19 fatality on September 19 when authorities confirmed 264 new cases during the last 24 hours across the province.

Since the outbreak of the lethal virus in the country, the province registered deaths among the virus infected patients every day, excepting September 5, 14 and 19. 

As of morning of September 19, according to official data, Sindh’s total of COVID-19 laboratory tests stood as 1,214,790, out of which 133,626 were found positive. 

The province’s overall infection rate remained 11%, against 9.67% of Pakistan. National dashboard on COVID-19 revealed that Sindh’s 264 (1.8%) positive cases came out of 14,352 samples examined during the last 24 hours. 

With 94 more patients recovered from the disease on September 19, taking the total of cured people to 128,239, while the death tally remained unchanged at 2,459, for the province. The district wise breakdown of new cases in Sindh was not made available by the provincial government, however.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Indus Water Treaty turns 60

By Tariq Asad 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The controversial boundary demarcation of the sub-continent in 1947 by Sir Cyrill Radcliffe germinated the seeds for unrelenting water conflict between the new-born states that have persisted till-date. 

Awarding the Muslim-majority areas like Ferozepur, having headworks for Sutlej River, to India accrued aggression from her by blocking water flow into all the canals entering Pakistan on April 1, 1948. 

Though a Standstill agreement was concluded between the two neighbours but India cropped out in a highly commanding position on water-front. The matter was resolved by the mediation of the World Bank in the form of Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) as India and Pakistan were given exclusive rights on three eastern (Sutlej, Ravi and Bias) and three western rivers (Indus, Jehlum and Chenab) rivers respectively.

September 19, 2020 marks the completion of six decades of the IWT, signed by the then President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Ayub Khan, and the then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1960 at Karachi, under the auspices of the World Bank. 

A terse treaty, with 12 articles and 8 appendices (A-H), provided a detailed framework not only for bifurcation of rivers but entails provisions regarding exchange of data, future cooperation, creation of Permanent Indus Commission, settlement of differences and disputes and its modification. 

The treaty has shown remarkable resilience during three scores of its life as it sailed through the war period of 1965, 1971 and Kargil crisis (1999) besides numerous other diplomatic crises between Pakistan and India that abysmally hit the bilateral relations. 

Nevertheless, India’s debatable and objectionable use of permissive features in Article III (2) that allows unrestricted use of western rivers’ waters to Pakistan besides permitting India the limited domestic, non-consumptive, agricultural and hydropower generation use has affronted the treaty provisions. 

Violation from India has been seen, time and again, in construction of engineering works on Jhelum and Chenab in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Engineering works there are to be notified to Pakistan well before their initiation so that the design features be mutually agreed upon by the two states under the treaty provisions. Only the design provisions of Salall hydroelectric project were amicably settled in 1978 after some objections raised by Pakistan. 

Bilateral diplomacy could not compel the two intractable Indian governments for stopping the construction of Baghliar and Kishanganga dam in 1999 and 2007 respectively. 

Questions became differences in case of Baghliar Dam on the Chenab River with the unprecedented appointment of Neutral Expert (NE) under Article IX (2a). The NE resolved the matter in February 2007 such that a win-win situation appeared for both parties. 

However, the filling of Baghliar dam gave a severe blow to Pakistan savage reduction of water flow from Marala headworks in September and October affected millions of acres of arable land causing billions of loss to agriculture sector in 2008. 

Kishanganga dam excelled a step further in underscoring India’s grave violations of the IWT. The project envisions diversion from the Kishanganga River through a 22 kilometre long tunnel towards the Bunar Madumati Nullah of River Jehlum for 300 MW hydro-power generation and then its re-route to Jehlum via Wullar lake. The project also fulfills the gains from constructing Wullar Barrage on Wullar River that was objected to by Pakistan in 1985 resulting in halting of engineering work in 1987. 

All kinds of diversion from the western rivers entering into Pakistan from IOK are absolutely barred in the IWT. Kishanganga River is termed as Neelum-Jehlum River when it enters Pakistani-administered Kashmir and is an input source of Pakistan’s 969 MW Neelum-Jehlum project. 

The Indian design will drastically curtail the power generation from the project besides impacting severely on agriculture production and local demography. The construction work started in 2007 but stopped in October 2011 by the Court of Arbitration (CoA) under Pakistan’s request for arbitration. Some other projects on western rivers are also disputed between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours. 

The treaty grapples with the challenge of climate change that was utterly unknown during its negotiating years (1954-1960); the deleterious effects of climate change were unimaginable at the time of signing moment of this historic accord. 

The Swiss NE in Baghliar dam case Professor Raymond Laffitte also hinted and based his decision on multiple factors related to climate change. India, being the upper riparian, is in an advantageous position. The reduction in water flow owing to the causes of climate change must be shared by both the countries and not by Pakistan alone as in the past. 

Former UNSC Secretary General, Boutros Ghali, once famously remarked during his tenure in 1991: “Wars will now be fought over water, neither politics nor oil.” His statement validates the current water conflict between Pakistan and India. 

The incumbent Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has repeatedly threatened abrogation of IWT as well as stopping the flow of water into Pakistan territory. The successive Indian governments during the last 40 years have devised controversial projects on the upstream sides of the western rivers in absolute contradiction to the clauses of IWT. The third party dispute-settling mechanism by NE or CoA is also an exorbitant process draining millions of dollars out from the national exchequer. 

India’s controversial step of annexing the occupied Kashmir last year has exacerbated the situation further. Though voices have been raised from both states in the recent past for revisiting/amending the treaty but in near future it seems almost impossible keeping in view their current state of bilateral relations. Evidently, the status quo will prevail in the years to come.

***The writer is Deputy Director at Pakistan Railways

Sindh delays middle schools reopening

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Sindh Minister for Education and Labour, Saeed Ghani, announced that the government has decided to defer the reopening of middle schools until September 23 as there were reports confirming the COVID-19 infections among teaching staff. 

"Unfortunately, educational institutions, both private and public, are not fully implementing the prescribed standard operating procedures," he observed in a press statement, while referring to his visits to some of the institutions allowed to resume teaching for Class IX and above classes from September 15 in the province. 

“Despite our efforts, we are seeing a lot of flaws and violations. Therefore we are delaying the second phase of resuming grade 6-8 classes. These classes were slated to resume on September 21 but now it will be pushed back to September 28, if the situation concerning the virus improves. But if the situation remains the same, we might review the decision on Sept 28 again," he added.

Coronavirus Update: Infections increase by 17% in Karachi

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Karachi witnessed a 17% increase in its daily new COVID-19 cases, compared to the preceding day’s numbers, on September 18 when authorities in the government confirmed 237 new cases across the province, with four more related deaths, during the last 24 hours.

Karachi had a share of 163 (53%) new infections in the total 307 cases reported in Sindh on September 17, which increased to 165 (70%), out of 237 cases registered at 8 am on September 18.

The six districts of Karachi had reported its lowest (45% of the Sindh’s overall daily new cases), during the last week, on September 14. 

The other districts which reported new COVID-19 infections by September 18 morning included Badin (11), Hyderabad (9), Tando Mohammad Khan (5), Jamshoro (4), Khairpur (4), Shaheed Benazirabad (4), Ghotki (3), Naushero Feroze (2), Dadu (1), Larkana (1), Mirpurkhas (1), Sanghar (1) and Tando Allahyar (1). 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his daily COVID status statement, shared that as many as 154 patients recovered from the diseases, pushing the tall of cured patients to 128,145, against overall 133,362 infections, for the province on September 18. 

He further said that 2481 of the 2758 active COVID-19 patients were isolated at homes, while another five at the isolation centres and 272 at hospitals. “The number of critically ill patients stood at 171, while 23 patients were being given the ventilator intervention,” he mentioned. With four new deaths, the total death tally has reached to 2,459 on September 18.

Friday, September 18, 2020

China to assist in developing agriculture sector

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
China has decided to assist Pakistan in developing dates processing plants and onion cold storages in Southern Balochistan 

The consensus was reached when the Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research, Syed Fakhar Imam, had a farewell meeting with the outgoing Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, on September 18. 

The minister appreciated Ambassador Yao Jing for his contributions in further fostering bilateral ties between the two brotherly countries. 

Fakhar Imam acknowledged the need of expanding the friendly relations between the two Asian nations and reiterated the importance Pakistan attaches to its relations with the People’s Republic of China. 

The Federal Minister stated that the high level visits from both sides have opened up new horizons for our bilateral cooperation, particularly in the field of agriculture. 

He hailed the appointment of an Agricultural Counselor in the Chinese Embassy, which has helped in effective coordination in all areas of agricultural cooperation. 

He reckoned that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will go a long way to further strengthen relations as well as development of Agriculture and livestock sector in Pakistan.

Coronavirus Update: 307 new cases in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh, being unable to witness any consistency in its COVID-19 infection rates had its daily infection rate crossed 2% on September 17 when authorities confirmed detection of 307 new cases, with four more related fatalities, during the last 24 hours in the province.

The provincial figures of the new cases increased by 35% against the daily cases reported on September 16. The daily infection rate was recorded at 1.37% on September 14, which changed to 2.49%, 1.70% and 2.20% on September 15, 16 and 17, respectively. 

The COVID-19 data suggest that the province has been unable to witness any mark difference in terms of new infection during the last about one month. 

The province, which had been reporting over 300 new cases per day in the mid-August, even registering about 300 cases after a lapse of one month, keen observers noted and cautioned extra vigilance and preventive measures to avert any untoward, particularly when the market activities were in full swing and educational institutions and marriage halls had been allowed to resume their long-halted activities. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his routine COVID-19 statement, shared that with the addition of new cases on September 17 morning, the provincial overall tally of infection had risen to 133,125, while 127,991 patients recovered from the diseases. 

He further stated that of the 2,679 active patients, 2,410 were in home-isolation, four in isolation centres and 275 in hospitals, including 173 in critical condition and 23 put on ventilators. 

All the four new deaths were registered in Karachi. There were a couple of casualties in Karachi East while one person each passed away in Karachi Central and Karachi Korangi. The tally of deaths, so far, for East, Central and Korangi districts of Karachi stood at 687, 457 and 254, respectively. 

The district-wise breakdown of new cases came as: Karachi (163), Jamshoro (28), Matiari (18), Khairpur (14), Dadu (10), Hyderabad (9), Larkana (4), Kambar Shadadkot (3), Sujawal (3), Sukkur (3), Mirpurkhas (2), Tando Mohammad Khan (2), Shaheed Benazirabad (2), Naushero Feroze (1), Kashmore (1), Thatta (1), and Umerkot (1).

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Rotary Darakhshan review designated months plan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan, in its weekly meeting on September 16, held at Food Inn, housed in the famous food street of the Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society (SMCHS), reviewed its plan to hold programmes in accordance with the designated months of Rotary International. 

The meeting was chaired by the club President, Engr Asim Murtaza Khan, and it was attended by the former Presidents, Jahangir Moghul, Syed Khalid Mahmood, Barrister Sarah Asim Khan and Waqas Moghul besides other office-bearers and members of Rotary Darakhshan. 

Having held the installation ceremony with great fanfare in July, despite the threats of COVID-19, they had participated actively in the membership and new club development month in August.

As part of the current month being highlighted for basic education and literacy, Rotary Darakhshan has approved holding a seminar with the collaboration of one of the librarian bodies in the end of September. 

Next month they will be engaged in an activity in relation with economic and community development besides celebrating World Polio Day by organizing a free medical camp on October 24. 

Rotary Darakhshan will take part in the Rotary Foundation Month as well as the World Interact Week in November while they have also chalked out plans for disease prevention and treatment month. 

The Board of Directors of Rotary Darakhshan will be getting in touch with the relevant authorities and departments to finalize their projects for the period from January to June 2021.

IBA suspends classes; campuses remain open

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, taking into account the COVID-19 related concerns, has suspended its academic activities for a couple of days, starting from September 17.

The main campus, housed in the premises of the University of Karachi, as well as the city campus, located in the Garden area, will remain open for operational matters throughout this period, however. They will continue providing the normal facilities.

The IBA Academic Board has decided that all classes for the various undergraduate degree programs would be based on flexible learning system for the time being. 

“Flexible learning system is where the classes would be conducted online while all IBA facilities would remain open and available to the undergraduate students including the classrooms. However, the Graduate programs students will attend the classes on campus,” it was announced. 

As part of the Flexible Learning System, it was also decided that attendance policy would be relaxed for the time being and situation would be monitored and policies may evolve over time. The hostel residents would be recommended to stay since assessments including the final examinations would be held physically. 

It was also decided to further increase the COVID-19 testing of the students, staff and faculty and enhance our SOPs to ensure the well-being and safety of the IBA community. 

The IBA, in coordination with District Health Office, has carried out hundreds of COVID-19 PCR tests for students, staff and faculty since September 14. Before the commencement of the session, detailed guidelines under the government directives were formulated and disseminated to students, staff and faculty. 

As a precautionary measure, isolation rooms at both the campuses and boys and girls hostels have been designated for individuals exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

Chinese brands invited to target Pakistan tea market

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Inviting Chinese popular tea brands to explore Pakistan’s tea market, Dr Sajid Khursheed, a doctorate from Beijing, has reckoned that the Pakistanis, especially youths, were very fond of drinking tea. 

“There is big potential for Chinese investors in Pakistan’s tea market,” he declared while participating in a TV talk show of CPEC Face to Face at the China Economic Network Television on the subject of China's milk tea craze. 

"Pakistan people love tea and have a long history of tea culture", Dr Sajid Khursheed, a teacher at the Canadian International School in Beijing, remarked. 

He pointed out that Pakistani population comprised a majority of youths having huge potential for Chinese in the tea consumer market. 

Explaining how the different ways black tea mixed with milk was prepared in Pakistan, he urged the Chinese milk tea brands to avail this opportunity of targeting the market.

Pakistan to start producing solar panels, lithium battery

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan will start manufacturing solar panels and lithium batteries of busses locally. The solar panel indigenous production is expected to start within 18 months. 

According to the information shared by the Federal Minister for Science & Technology, Fawad Chaudhary, the buses to be run on batteries will also be made in Pakistan. 

The Chinese companies are all set to establish solar panel manufacturing plants in Pakistan and another major Chinese battery maker will set up a lithium battery manufacturer in Pakistan.

Coronavirus Update: Sindh continues to have lion’s share in fatalities, infection

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Sindh registered yet another 227 cases of COVID-19 infection, with three related fatalities during the last 24 hours, taking the overall tally of infection to 132,818 for the province on September 16.

According to the national dashboard on COVID-19, Sindh reported 42% of the total of 545 new cases across the country on September 16, while Sindh added three of the four to the overall daily tally in Pakistan. 

The COVID laboratories in the province collectively tested 13,314 samples, against Pakistan’s 31,808, during the last 24 hours ending September 16 morning. 

An official report said that the LUMHS laboratory at Hyderabad tested the maximum 8,155 samples, out of which 55 were positive for coronavirus, including 47 new infections, followed by Indus hospital laboratory at Karachi, which examined 1,589 samples and found 41 positive. 

The report revealed that among the targeted areas, shopping malls presented the highest rate of COVID-19 infection during a period from August 12 to September 16 being 2.1% cases out of 3,773 samples. 

About COVID-19 fatalities, it was said that three of the patients who lost their lives in the province belonged to Karachi’s East and South districts and Thatta. 

Karachi East has in all reported 683 deaths, against Karachi South (340) and Thatta (10). Earlier, the three persons who were reported dead due to COVID-19 on September 15 included a patient who lost his life at home. 

Over 96% of the COVID-19 patients were recorded as having recovered the diseases while about two percent could not survive the disease, as of September 16, according to official data. 

On the other hand, there were 2,554 (1.9%) active patients, as of September 16, including 2,276 in home-isolation, four in isolation centres, 274 in hospitals, including 149 declared critically ill, while 23 were put on ventilators. 

The new COVID-19 infections were registered at Karachi (106), followed by Jamshoro (16), Sanghar (8), Shaheed Benazirabad (6), Kashmore (6), Hyderabad (6), Matiari (5), Tando Allahyar (4), Umerkot (4), Badin (3), Naushero Feroze (3), Thatta (3), Tando Mohammad Khan (2), Mirpurkhas (2), Ghotki (2), Dadu (2), Jacobabad (1), Shikarpur (1) and others.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Pakistan’s envoy calls on Chinese VFM

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Moin-ul-Haque called on the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Luo Zhaohui, in Beijing on September 15. 

VFM Luo warmly greeted the incoming diplomat for taking charge as the Ambassador of Pakistan in China. 

Both sides exchanged in-depth views on China-Pakistan relations, besides regional situation and other topics. 

On the occasion a ceremony was held to sign the Protocol for the Exchange of the Instruments of Ratification of the Treaty between Pakistan and China on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Senior officials from the Embassy of Pakistan and Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs were present at the ceremony.

Chinese Ambassador holds farewell meetings

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, paid a farewell call on Minister of Port and Shipping, Ali Zaidi, in Islamabad on September 16. 

The Ambassador expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs for getting Gwadar Concession Agreement approved that led to economic activities there, it was tweeted. 

On the occasion, Minister Ali Zaidi lauded the services of the outgoing Ambassador and complimented him for further bolstering Pakistan-China ties. 

The Ambassador also had a farewell meeting with the Chairman of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority, Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa. 

It may be noted that on September 11, a spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry had announced that Nong Rong, a native of Guangxi, has been appointed as China’s new Ambassador to Pakistan in place of Yao Jing who had completed his three years terms.

Coronavirus Update: Sindh’s infection rate rises again

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh’ number of new COVID-19 infections doubled on September 15, compared to the preceding day’s data, as the authorities concerned registered 341 new cases, with three more related deaths, during the last 24 hours across the province.

As per the official COVID-19 data, the daily infection rate also increased to 2.49% against 1.4% of September 14 and 1.9% of September 13. 

The overall tally of cases reached to 132,591 for the province, while 127,727 recovered from the disease. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his COVID-19 status statement, shared that there were 2,416 active patients by September 15 morning, out of which 2,137 stayed at homes, five at the isolation centres and 274 at various hospitals. As many as 165 patients were undergoing the critical phase, while 19 were put on ventilators. 

No details about the three latest fatalities and locations and hospitals as well as their age were made available to media. The tally of COVID-19 fatalities reached to 2,448 on September 15. 

According to the official figures, Pakistan has had a total 303,089 COVID-19 infected people, with 6,393 deaths by September 15.

Karachi reported 51% (173 cases) of the new infections in Sindh, followed by Dadu (34), Jamshoro (33), Sukkur (17), Shaheed Benazirabad (9), Hyderabad (7), Tando llahyar (4), Tando Mohammad Khan (3), Sujawal (3), Larkana (2), Matiari (2), Mirpurkhas (2), Sanghar (2), Thatta (2), Khairpur (1) and others.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Railways CEO stresses on achieving fiscal targets

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The newly appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Senior General Manager of the Pakistan Railways, Nisar Ahmad Memon, visited the Divisional Superintendent office at Karachi and chaired a meeting regarding operational and freight issues. 

The meeting was attended by Divisional Superintendent, Arshad Salam Khattak, Managing Director, PRFTC, Ghulam Dastagir Baloch, Chief Mechanical Engineer Carriage and Wagons), Ghulam Qasim, and all the Deputy DSs and divisional officers of Karachi railway division. 

The CEO was briefed at length about the operational and freight issues confronted by the Karachi division particularly after the record-breaking rains last month. Matters pertaining to administrative domain like recruitment, and outstanding payments were discussed in depth with the visiting CEO who had served this Karachi division as DS some five months back before his transfer to Railway Headquarter at Lahore as Additional General Manager. 

The CEO directed the officers to work in close coordination with each other and devise a comprehensive strategy for achieving fiscal targets this year.

"Concerted efforts and hardworking is required from them to achieve the revenue targets as the department's revenue generation has declined in the last few months because of two-month suspension of passenger train operation followed by three months of COVID-19 SOPs governed train operation" he remarked.

He added that railways could reach the nearby ideal conditions status should its officers wholeheartedly assume the ownership of affairs and get physically involved in the matters.

He assured full support to the division from the headquarters on all the matters that would lead to accomplishment of a smooth passenger and freight train operation.