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.

Chaudhary Abdul Sattar laid to rest

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Chaudhary Abdul Sattar, an enthusiastic social worker and an agriculturist, was laid to rest at the Gulistan-e-Jauhar graveyard in Karachi as he passed away, after protracted illness, on the midnight of September 13. 

Remembered as a most loving, sincere personality and friend of friends, his burial was largely attended by relatives, friends, his well-wishers and people from various places of Sindh and Punjab. 

Quran Khawani for the departed soul was held at his Gulistan-e-Jauhar residence which was followed by a soul stirring sermon by Mufti Najeeb of Darul-Uloom, Korangi, 

Mufti Najeeb spoke on the topic of death and the life thereafter. After the sermon he offered dua for the departed soul and led Maghrib prayers. 

Chaudhary Abdul Sattar belonged to Punjab’s city of Gojra but had settled in Nawabshah, Sindh. He has left behind two daughters and sons-in-law Dr Anwar, Principal, Dow College of Dentistry and Kashif Arain, Senior Deputy Director, State Bank of Pakistan.

Coronavirus Update: Rare no-fatality day in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh remained third in the list of provinces in terms of daily COVID-19 cases on September 14 when the authorities in Karachi confirmed registration of 166 (1.37%) new infections, out of 12,093 tests, during the last 24 hours across the province, with no new fatality.

According to data, the COVID-19 testing laboratories in Sindh conducted 44% of Pakistan’s total 27,277 tests during the last 24 hours ending on morning of September 14. 
Balochistan topped the list by reporting 11.45% new cases out of 227 tests, followed by KPK (4.05% new positivity rate) followed by Punjab (0.62%). 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his daily COVID-19 status statement, shared that the overall provincial infection figure had reached to 132,250, including 127,626 cured patients and 2,445 who lost their lives. 

According to his statement, 2,179 patients were still receiving treatment at homes (1,897), in isolation centre (six), and at hospitals (276) while the condition of 163 patients was stated critical with 19 being on ventilators. 

The district wise breakdown of new cases came as: Karachi (74), Hyderabad (16), Badin (13), Umerkot (9), Ghotki (8), Thatta (5), Kambar Shahdadkot (7), Khairpur (2), Larkana (2), Naushero Feroze (2), Shaheed Benaziarabad (2), Shikarpur (2), Sujawal (2), Sukkur (2), Tando Allahyar (2), Jamhsoro (1), Tharpakar (1), Dadu (1) and others.

According to an official report, the Field Healthcare Centre at Karachi Expo had no patients in its intensive care unit while two patients were admitted at its high dependency unit, in addition to one patient being treated in its massive 1,200-bed isolation centre.

In the meantime, a meeting of the Coronavirus Emergency Fund (CEF), held with the Sindh Chief Secretary, Syed Mumtaz Ali Shah, in the chair, on September 14 decided to close down the field isolation centres established months before at the Karachi Expo Centre and PAF Museum Karachi. An official summary will be sent to the Chief Minister, seeking his approval for the closure of the two centres, soon, according to a government handout.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Librarians’ body pledge to resume activities

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The National Library Association (NLA), which had started making its presence felt on the scene last year, has decided to resume its activities after having maintained silence on account of the coronavirus-related lockdown. 

Some of the key officials of the NLA met again in Karachi recently to chalk out plans for the immediate future which include publication of the introductory brochure of the association besides some literature about library science. 

They have planned to celebrate the Library Day in a befitting manner and also hold a grand function to honour eminent library professionals and supporters. They also looked into the possibilities of arranging study tours for working librarians. 

The NLA meeting was organized by its core team comprising of Anwar Hussain and Muzaffar Ali Shah, the senior librarians working at the Board of Intermediate Education and State Bank of Pakistan respectively. A few participants also joined the meeting via video link.

Halal food exporters seek government help in exploring market

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The exporters of halal meat have demanded to help them identify more avenues for export of their products. 

They have urged the government to help them explore more potential export markets such as China, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and Central Asian states in order to enhance the country's halal meat products to these countries and regions. 

The exporters were of the view that they have to come out from focussing only on Islamic countries as many other countries could also be interested in halal meat for catering needs of their Muslims population.

Coronavirus Update: Higher testing rate in interior Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The COVID-19 laboratories located in the interior districts of Sindh handled samples two-fold more than their counterparts in Karachi on September 13 when the health functionaries confirmed 204 new cases, with two related new fatalities during the last 24 hours across the province.

According to official data, three designated government laboratories, working beyond their maximum daily capacity, examined 8,370 suspected samples, with a COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.68%, while 10 public and private sectors laboratories handled 4,544 samples and got 250 (5.5 %) positive cases. 

Sindh’s death tally reached to 2,445 on September 13 morning against total 132,084 COVID-19 cases while 127,449 patients recovered from the diseases so far. As of September 13, there were 1,907 patients were receiving treatment in home-isolations, six in government designed isolation centre and 277 at hospitals, including 146 stated in critical phase of diseases, in addition to 19 put on ventilators.

The breakdown of new infection during the last 24 hours, according to official data, remained: Karachi (120), Jamshoro (18), Shaheed Benazirabad (11), Thatta (7), Badin (6), Hyderabad (5), Tando Allahyar (4), Kambar Shahdadkot (3), Jacobabad (3), Ghotki (3), Shikarpur (2), Sanghar (2), Matiari (2), Larkana (2), Sukkur (2), Khairpur (2) and others.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

President Arif Alvi meets investors, tycoons

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

President Dr Arif Alvi has said that investors have expressed full confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan's initiated taken for revival of construction industry.

“The Ravi City and Bandle Island projects are big attractions for foreign investors,” the President informed the participants while chairing a high-level meeting which was largely attended by prominent personalities belong to business community. 

The meeting, held at the Governor's House in Karachi, was also attended by the Sindh Governer, Imran Ismail besides business tycoons Malik Riaz Hussain, Aqeel Karim Dhedi, Arif Habib and Mahmood Moulvi. 

Fawad Mukhtar, Gohar Ejaz, Shahid Abdullah, Mian Muhammad Ahsan, Tariq Rafi, Ahmad Tabba and Nadeem Feroz from the business arena were also present in the meeting.

Pegasus set to launch Karachi-Istanbul flights at low cost from September 25

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Low-cost Turkish airline Pegasus has planned to launch flights from Karachi to Istanbul starting on September 25. 

The flights from the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, to Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport will depart every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 04:55 am. 

Pegasus Airlines will connect passengers from Karachi to its destinations in Manchester, London, Zurich, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Stockholm, Frankfurt, Berlin, Vienna, Rome, Cologne, Brussels, Kyiv, Bucharest, Kharkiv, Moscow, Stuttgart, Geneva, Barcelona, Marseille, Zaporizhia and Prague, via Istanbul. 

The airline was founded in 1990 and is Turkey’s first low-cost airline. It has partnered with Gerry’s Group in Pakistan, according to a press release. The airline also plans to operate from Islamabad in future.

Coronavirus Update: Karachi tops in death, infection

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh constituted 39% of 526 new COVID-19 cases reported countrywide on September 12 when the authorities in Karachi confirmed detection of 205 more infections, with three related deaths during the last 24 hours across the province, taking the overall tally of the infections to 13,880 and the deaths to 2,443 for the province.

According to the data, as many as 13,797 samples were tested during 24 hours ending at 8 am on September 12 in the province.

A total of 9,091 persons were tested by the four laboratories operating in the interior districts of Sindh, with a positivity rate of 0.42%.

Meanwhile the laboratories functioning in Karachi, conducted 4,706 tests, with a positivity rate of 5%, during the same period.

It was further learnt in the case of Sindh that the maximum of people (62,657) infected by COVID-19 here fell in the age brackets of 21 to 40 years.

They were followed by group of people aged 41 to 70 years (47,788), people aged one to 20 years (13,960) and people aged 71 to 100 (3,512). 

The male-female ratio of infected people remained 69.9%: 30.1% on September 12, while new infection rate was 1.48% and case fatality rate 1.9%.

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his daily COVID-19 status statement, shared that as of September 12, there were 2,019 active patients of COVID-19 in the province, including 1,737 isolated at homes, six placed in the quarantine centres and 276 at hospitals, adding that there were 144 patients in critical condition, including 17 put on ventilators.

He further said that 557 patients recovered from the diseases in the last 24 hours, taking the tally of cured patients to 127,418 for the province.

Karachi reported 123 (60%) of the new cases detected in the province during the last 24 hours, followed by Badin (17), Shikarpur (8), Hyderabad (4), Jacobabad (4), Kashmore (4), Larkana (3), Matiari (3), Mirpurkhas (3), Sanghar (3), Thatta (3), Dadu (2), Sukkur (2), Naushero Feroze (2), Shaheed Benazirabad (2), Sujawal (1), Tando Allahyar (1), Khairpur (1) and others. Three new deaths were registered in Karachi East (2) and Karachi South (1), which had 402 and 399 active patients, respectively, as of September 12. Karachi has reported in all 2,034 deaths, as of September 11.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

200 Pakistani women growers trained

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, Islamabad (TIKA) has trained over 200 Pakistani women to grow vegetables by themselves. 

Under the Turkey-Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Programme, the project will vastly contribute towards poverty alleviation and women empowerment in Pakistan. 

A housewife, who received training under TIKA, disclosed that she grew various vegetables at her home. After consumption of fresh home-grown vegetables, she sold the remaining in the market to earn around PKR 6,000 per month.

According to the information made available by those having been trained by the TIKA, the gardeners were also educated how to grow maximum vegetables.

Nong Rong appointed as China’s new ambassador

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Nong Rong has been appointed as China’s new Ambassador to Pakistan, according to an announcement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing on September 11. 

A native of Guangxi, Nong Rong was holding the post of provincial minister before being named as the Ambassador to Pakistan. 

He holds vast experience in trade that would greatly help in implementation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects on fast track. 

His predecessor Yao Jing is scheduled to return to Beijing a couple of months before the completion of his three-year tenure to assume new responsibility in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

PM to attend Rashakai SEZ opening

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Prime Minister Imran Khan will specially participate at the signing ceremony of development of Rashakai Special Economic Zone in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa next week. 

The Rashakai SEZ, being developed under the auspices of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is spread over one thousand acres and is located on M-1 Nowshera. 

It would be developed in three phases. It will house garment, textile industries, building materials, different merchandise, electric and electronic equipment, automobile and mechanical units.

Coronavirus Update: Sindh’s numbers fluctuate

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

While Sindh’s daily COVID-19 numbers kept fluctuating during the week, Karachi registered 75% of the total new cases reported across the province during the last 24 hours ending at 8 am on September 11.

The official data showed that Karachi reported in all 203 infections, against Sindh’s 271, on September 11. 

The six districts of the division on average registered 121.5 cases per day during a period from September 5 to 11, while their share in the total daily infection figure ranged from 46% to 75% during the same period.  
The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his daily COVID-19 status statement on September 11, confirmed that Sindh detected 271(2.45%) positive cases out of 11,042 samples during the last 24 hours. 

He further shared that there were 2,374 active COVID-19 patients in the province, including 2,075 staying at homes, six admitted at the isolation centres and 293 at the various hospitals, adding that there were 148 patients whose health condition was critical while another 17 were on ventilators. 

Sindh’s total infection rose to 131,675, with 2,440 deaths, including one registered on September 11, and 126,861 having recovered from the diseases. The province has tested a total 1,095,416 samples since February 26 when it reported first COVID-19 cases. 

The districts wise breakdown of new infection on September 11 came as: Karachi (203), Jamshoro (8), Badin (5), Dadu (5), Hyderabad (4), Tando M Khan (4), Sukkur (4), Thatta (4), Ghotki (3), Mirpurkhas (3), Shaheed Benazirabad (3), Kambar Shahdadkot (2), Tharparkar (2), Larkana (1), Naushero Feroze (1), Sujawal (1), Umerkot (1), and others. 

In the meantime, according to an official report, the six patients whose deaths due to COVID-19 were confirmed on September 9 having been hospitalized in Karachi while another patient died at home on September 8.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Beijing to have driverless cabs

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Baidu, a leading Chinese internet search and artificial intelligence company, plans to launch its driverless taxi service in Beijing. 

The Beijing-based company will put 40 Apollo Go Robo taxis onto the capital’s roads. The users can book through Baidu maps or Apollo's official website. 

The total mileage under test this time is about 700 kilometers, covering nearly 100 stations in residential and business areas of Yizhuang, Haidian, and Shunyi which makes it China’s biggest for mileage and area. 

Baidu brought Apollo Go to Guangzhou in Hebei province last month, making it the second city to have welcomed the service following Changsha in April last year. Baidu Apollo Go has since entered multi-regional operation stage.