Sunday, June 19, 2022

Waqar Hashmi likely to become new KWSB chief

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
With the post of Managing Director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) having fallen vacant, the Sindh Government has started considering names of four officials for the lucrative posting as MD KWSB with Waqar Ahmed Hashmi, a Grade-20 officer working as Deputy Managing Director, being considered as the favourite. 

The names of the candidate for the new incumbent are under review at the Sindh Government level following the retirement of Farida Salam. Out of four names being given due consideration for the post, two officials are in Grade 20 while the remaining two are in Grade-19. 

The two Grade-19 officials are DMD Finance Rafiq Qureshi and Salahuddin who have started drumming their sources to clinch the coveted slot by hook or by crook. 

According to the sources, the name of Waqar Hashmi is being given top priority consideration keeping in view his capabilities and expertise besides his solid reputation of being an honest and committed officer throughout his career. He has vast experience of working at the KWSB in various cadres including Secretary Karachi Board, Principle Staff Officer, Director Revenue, Taxes and other important slots 

Meanwhile some of the former MDs of Water Board are learnt to have suggested those at the helm of affairs in Sindh Government about the name of Waqar Hashmi and pinpointed that being the most experienced officer he can play a pivotal role in resolving the water and sewerage problems of this ever sprawling city.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Digitization can reduce poverty, corruption: Former Estonian President

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“If the willingness is there, states can transform themselves through the use of digital technology, significantly reducing levels of poverty and corruption and simplifying government services that are otherwise bureaucratic and time consuming.” 

This was the core message delivered in a special lecture by Toomas Hendrik Ilves, former president of Estonia (2006-2016). He is recognized for implementing bold and innovative policies that led the Baltic state to becoming a global leader in digital governance, especially in the areas of voting, banking, healthcare, transportation and education. 

The event was hosted by Aga Khan University (AKU) Information and Communications Technology division, led by Chief Information Officer Shaukat Ali Khan, and attended by prominent CIOs from other leading institutions in Pakistan at the as special guests. 

Following his presidency, the Estonian leader has actively worked to advance understanding of how technology can be used to improve lives and create a safer world. He co-chairs the Global Future Council on Blockchain Technology, which examines how blockchain technology can be used to enhance cybersecurity, and recently advised the World Health Organization on technological solutions to address the COVID-19 pandemic. 

President Ilves, who was speaking remotely, shared his experiences spearheading Estonia’s digital transformation. He built on his familiarity with coding to explore innovative solutions to overcome a highly inefficient bureaucracy. Using the example of registering a birth in Estonia, he described a colleague’s frustration at having to manually apply to numerous individual departments to register the birth of a child, a process that took weeks and involved significant frustration. 

Digitization meant that as soon as a child was born, the hospital would enter it into the system, after which it would instantaneously be shared with every other relevant department so records would automatically be updated, expediting the entire process with no involvement from the parent. This ethos to simplify the citizen experience has continued to the point that even to file taxes, citizens usually just verify forms readily filled by the government. Though this process can be quite cumbersome in most countries, it takes mere minutes today for most Estonians. 

Moreover, the former Estonian president emphasized the IT talent existing in Pakistan, highlighting that there were many brilliant Pakistanis working in Estonia’s IT sector. He also suggested building proprietary government systems, and shared that many of Estonia’s systems are open source and can be freely shared for the benefit of other nations. 

Answering questions from the audience as to how a nation with low GDP per capita and limited exposure to computers managed to digitize, President Ilves shared Estonia’s solution of creating computer centres for the public to come and utilize the machines with assistance, so they could engage with the new digital governance systems. He also indicated that the focus of digitization must be on the citizens, and what makes their lives easier, despite how tempting it is to initially pursue projects that make things easier for the government. 

As people notice and feel the benefits of digitization, there is a ‘halo effect’ which leads to greater adoption of other related digital services. Extolling the virtues and necessity of digitization, the President highlighted that Estonia only 30 years ago was a newly independent country with high levels of poverty and corruption. Today, it has a reputation as a digital leader with the most unicorns (companies valued above US$1 billion) per capita in Europe and the sixth lowest corruption levels in the world, a startling achievement. It is a transformation journey upon which any country can embark if the willingness exists. 

The AKU is engaged in its own transformation journey, as it implements a globally leading Electronic Health Records (EHR) system across its hospitals to enhance patient experience, care quality, and research capability. Shaukat Ali Khan thanked President Ilves for sharing his wisdom and experience with the audience, and expressed his gratitude to all the participants, as well as the University of Central Asia (UCA) and the CxO Global Forum, for helping make the event possible.

NLA officials sprint across Karachi libraries

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The top officials of the National Library Association (NLA) recently undertook visits of some of the educational and research institutions of Karachi to obtain first-hand information about the libraries working. 

The NLA President, Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah, and its Secretary General, Anwar Hussain, managed to sprint across no less than half a dozen such establishments in a matter of just two days. They were warmly greeted by the working librarians and almost all of them pledged support to the cause of the Association. 

Bahria University, Karachi School of Business and Leadership, University of Karachi, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transportation, Sindh High Court and Dow University of Health Sciences were among the institutions visited by the NLA delegation.

“It was both a fact finding mission as well as a reunion. Besides learning about their latest engagements and activities, we also brainstormed about doing things for the further progress of our fellow library professionals. It was unanimously agreed that coordinated efforts were needed to bring about meaningful changes,” the NLA President remarked. 

“The NLA was appreciated for its proactive approach and we have been assured cooperation and support of various kinds by the institutions we visited. On our part we urged all the library professionals to contribute their bit in this movement in whatever way it was possible for them. We made them understand that every effort, minor or major, will go a long way in further strengthening the NLA and let us achieve our cherished goals,” Muzaffar Ali Shah concluded.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Railways to undertake ML-1 project in phases

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan Railways has decided to take up ML-1 project, which was earlier to be carried out as a part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), at its own and it will be completed in different phases 

This was disclosed by the CEO of Pakistan Railways, Farrukh Taimur Ghilzai, while addressing the officials of the Karachi Division during his latest visit. 

Earlier he held a meeting with the Divisional officers at the Divisional Superintendent Office upon arrival here from Lahore during his two-day tour of Karachi. 

Upon arrival at the Karachi Cantonment Station, the CEO was welcomed by the DS Karachi, Kashif Rasheed Yusufani, and other senior divisional officers. 

In the meeting, the CEO was given a detail briefing on the attainment of targets in Karachi Division during the current financial year. 

The CEO informed that the ML-1 project will be completed from Karachi to Hyderabad in the first phase to be followed from Hyderabad to Tando Adam and Tando Adam to Rohri in the second and Rohri to Khanpur in the third phase during which the tracks will be fully upgraded. 

The Railways chief shared that their organization was fully aware of the problems of travelling public and they have decided not to raise the railway fares despite fuel prices hike. 

He called upon the officials to serve the people with true dedication and honesty to bring improvement in the railway’s credibility and quality of public service. 

After presiding over the meeting at the DS Office, the Railways CEO also met Engr Nisar Memon, Chief of PRFTC Chief, obtaining first-hand information from him about goods trains. He later went around the South-Asia Pakistan Terminal where he was given a detailed briefing by the CEO of Hohisin Company, Capt Rashid Jamil.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

NLA workshop to educate digital aspects of special libraries

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

With digitalization having become the name of the game, the National Library Association (NLA) has taken up the initiative to hold a workshop titled ‘Special Libraries: Challenges in digital era’ in Karachi during the month of June.

“Our librarians need to be well versed with the digital aspects to be able to discharge their duties more effectively. We need to educate them about the developments which have actually redefined the profession of librarianship,” Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah, President, NLA, stated after having presided over a specially convened meeting on June 6. 

Besides the NLA Advisor, Syed Khalid Mahmood, and Secretary General, Anwar Hussain, the meeting was also attended by the Association’s Bulletin Editor, Nasir Mustafa. 

“While the date and the venue were expected to be finalized later in the week, we have decided in principle to organize the workshop in Karachi during the last week of June. The participants will be encouraged to pre-register as the seats would be limited. There will be no registration fee, however,” the NLA President added.

He further disclosed that some of the leading professionals, having vast experience in their respective fields of special libraries, will be sharing their information about digital processes. Special libraries generally are known to be having a more specific audience than libraries in traditional, educational or public settings, as they deal with more specialized kinds of information. They are developed to support the mission of their sponsoring organization and their collections and services are more targeted and specific to the needs of their users.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

NLA ponders over street libraries chains

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The National Library Association (NLA) has started pondering on establishing a chain of street libraries throughout the country and it has already shortlisted the sites which could be turned into places of learning. 

“We recognize the initiatives of a few individuals and organizations in relation of development street libraries in some parts of the country but we consider it just a drop in the ocean. We don’t need just one two or three street libraries but we require it in hundreds and thousands across the country to cater to the needs of the big population,” Syed Muzaffar Ali Shah, President, NLA, remarked after presiding over a couple of meetings in this regard in as many days. 

 The first meeting was held at the historic D J Science College in Karachi where the waiting area in the newly constructed site on Burns Road has been proposed by the NLA by for the development of a street library in the densely populated locality. 

It was followed by another midnight meeting hosted by the Syed Sultan Ali, Member, Executive Committee, NLA, who volunteered to look into the possibilities of establishing a street library in the lawn of his corner bungalow, located in Gulshan-e-Iqbal. 

Besides the NLA President, Muzaffar Ali Shah, the meeting was also attended by its Advisor, Syed Khalid Mahmood, and Secretary General, Anwar Hussain, who appreciated the spirit of fellow member Sultan Ali, who has actively participated in the other events as well.

The high energy of the NLA top functionaries augurs well for the community of librarians in the country which didn't have the kind of leaders needed to motivate and drive them.

Railways authorities regret ghastly act

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Railways authorities have regretted the ghastly act of molesting a woman passenger who was travelling aboard the private sector Multan-Karachi Zakaraia Express whose contractor has been issued showcause notice. 

The CEO of the Pakistan Railways, Farrukh Taimur Ghilzai has reiterated that safety and security relating to travelling railway passengers would not be compromised at all as directives have been issued to contractors of private sector operating various trains to check recurrence of such disgraceful acts. It has also been decided that the credentials of all the private sector trains will be verified through concerned agencies. 

According to details, the molested woman had not reported the matter at Police Helpline Desk upon arrival at Karachi Cantonment Railway station. It was only after persuasion by DCO Karachi who, along with ladies police, visited the house of victim woman a day after the incident was reported in newspapers, on the directive of Divisional Superintendent, Kashif Rasheed Yusfani, the woman lodged a complaint to railway police. 

The DCO and ladies police had convinced the victim woman to report the matter after which railway police started raids and arrested the three nominated accused from Sumandari, Jahanian and Shorkot. 

A railway spokesman revealed that the victim woman, a resident of Orangi Town, was travelling in Multan-Karachi Zakaria Express, when one Zahid, ticket checker, offered her to travel in AC Compartment where train manager Aqib was already present. Both of them were accused of having molested the woman. 

When the train reached Karachi City Station, no one from woman’s family came to receive her as she kept waiting while sitting on a bench at the platform. A police constable on duty tried to inquire from her about her problem but she did not divulge anything. 

After sometime the railway lady police took her to police station help center and informed her sister Hina who later came to station alongwith husband and took her home. On this occasion the victim woman neither reported the incident not requested for any legal action. It was only after the incident appeared in the press, the DS Railways contacted her and requested to report the incident which she reported and got her statement