Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shahid Aziz Siddiqi leads State Life turnaround

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Shahid Aziz Siddiqi has lived up to his huge reputation by leading the turnaround of the State Life Insurance Corporation of Pakistan (SLIC) in a matter of five years. The corporation, under his dynamic leadership, has registered impressive growth in this period as reflected in the statistics shared with the media recently.

Having help important governmental posts, after topping CSS exams, Shahid Aziz Siddiqi has not only revived the SLIC during his tenure as its Chairman but he has succeeded in taking it to new level. 

“State Life is one of the few government-owned companies that are actually profitable,” he remarked while disclosing that the annual profits that the Corporation remitted to the government in 2012 were Rs750 million. 

Instead of just comparing the yearly figures with those of the preceding year, the SLIC Chairman summed up the five-year performance which highlighted the company’s growth since 2008. State Life had remitted Rs296.22 million to the government in 2008, which showed that its payouts to the government increased at an average rate of 26.1% annually between 2008 and 2012.

State Life’s investment portfolio in 2012 consisted of Rs289.9 billion after being Rs275.1 billion in 2011. Its investment income also increased from Rs18.7 billion in 2008 to 35.8 billion in 2012, showing an annual rise of 17.6%. 

The equity portion in the investment portfolio remained Rs28.8 billion in 2012, which generated an income of Rs4.7 billion for the company. 

State Life’s total income, which included premiums as well investment income, increased to Rs89.7 billion in 2012, which was 18% higher than the total income of Rs75.7 billion in 2011. 

The total income of State Life was Rs 41.8 billion five years ago, which represented an annual increase of 21% between 2008 and 2012 while the average inflation during the same period remained 14.3%. 

State Life paid its policyholders Rs 24.3 billion in 2012 in claims as opposed to Rs12.8 billion that its policyholders received in 2008. The most recent year-on-year increase in total claims paid by State Life was 25%, as it paid Rs19.49 billion in claims during 2011.

Similarly, individual life first-year premiums in 2008 were Rs4.9 billion which, after increasing at an annualised rate of 29.4%, reached Rs13.9 billion in 2012. The year-on-year increase in individual life first-year premiums during 2012 was 16%, up from Rs12 billion in 2011. 

The individual life renewal premiums in 2008 were Rs13.4 billion rose to Rs30.6 billion in 2012, reflecting an annual growth rate of 22.8% between 2008 and 2012. The year-on-year increase in individual life renewal premiums in 2012 was 13%, up from Rs28.2 billion in 2011. 

The network of 155,000 State Life agents selling different insurance products nationwide played the pivotal role as they increased the number of total policies that are in force to 4.25 million in 2012 from 2.57 million in 2008 with the number of new policyholders in 2012 alone being 752,448. 

The most significant increase was witnessed in group life premium income, as it increased from Rs3.8 billion in 2008 to Rs8 billion in 2012, showing an annual rise of 20%. After the year-on-year increase of 69% in 2012, the company’s group life premium income rose to Rs8 billion, up from Rs4.7 billion in 2011. The number of lives covered under State Life’s group life insurance also increased from 3.8 million in 2008 to 7.8 million in 2012.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SSUET’s students produce solar-electric operated car

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A group of students of the Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET), Karachi, has produced a solar-energy operated car which has been further modified to be used during night time.

The group members have developed this car as a project of their final semester with the cooperation of the university. The group comprises of Sajjad Jaffery, Abdul Rehman, Fahad Iqbal, Aamir Iqbal, Mohammed Farooq and Mohammed Awais Qureshi.

They have requested both the government and the industrial sector to provide help in the production of this car on commercial basis.

The production of the car on large scale basis will prove more beneficial in the wake of existing fuel crisis as well as will be highly cost effective, the talented engineering students felt.

After modification, the car can now be run both on solar energy and electricity and can be regarded as environment friendly.

“Besides use for long journey, the car can carry passengers from airport and transport commercial cargo from one factory to other and to the market,” the developers of the six-member group, stated.

The car derives energy from sun through solar panels fixed at the back of the car while electricity a 220 volt battery has been provided.

The car has DC Motor Controller, Solar Tracker, micro controller and modern LCD which gives indication of battery and solar panel charging as well as speed.

The group members have also provided GPRS system in the solar and electric operated car.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mehnaz remembered at Karachi Fashion Week 2013

Pakistan News & Features Services

Mehnaz Begum, one of the melody queens who passed away recently, was remembered during the second day’s proceedings of the Karachi Fashion Week 2013, being held at the Expo Centre.

It was a touching segment for the participants and organizers of the glittering event as the tribute to Mehnaz courtesy Shabs Couture commenced by observing a moment of silence and prayer for the departed soul. 

“What ensued not only warmed hearts and tugged at the heartstrings and was an intensely emotional moment for all and sundry while remembering the legacy left behind by the indomitable singer, and also in many ways symbolizing the undying, resilient spirit of Karachi which the late singer called home,” a covering journalist felt. 

Mehnaz died earlier this month at the age of 55 but her soulful voice will continue to ring for another life-time in the memories of her admirers. She had been suffering from diabetes and was on her way to the US for treatment when she breathed her last.

She had entered the music industry with a bang as her unique tonal quality and magnificent expression which drew comparison with illustrious contemporaries like Naheed Akhtar. 

Mehnaz went on to become an essential cultural representative of Pakistan along with talented friends and contemporaries like Tina Sani, Nayyara Noor and Abida Parveen. 

She ruled the music industry for quite a while and a lot of her meledious songs went on to become hits.

Meanwhile Pink Chiffon, Eden Robe and Vasim Asghar presented their collection in Act One of the second day of the Karachi Fashion Week 2013.

Pink Chiffon presented a puritanical pallete with lace trimmings and then moving on to a more colourful presentation with Indian motif block print in classic eastern wear. 

A one-off was an off-shoulder silk leopard skin print dress worn by model Fouzia. 

Eden Robe for kids had tiny tots in smart jackets in deep, formal colours with waistcoats and shalwar kurtas while Eden Robe for men featured the same attire in slightly mature form and colours as well as pattern. 

Velvet pajamas, jamawar sherwanis, Kashmiri embroidered kurtas, Chinese collar jackets, tux with velvet collars, rough-cut jackets and moonlight shimmer fabric were just some of the designs and elements used in creating the collection.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Karachi Fashion Week 2013 gets underway with a bang

Pakistan News & Features Services

The fourth edition of the Karachi Fashion Week 2013 got underway with a bang at the Karachi Expo Centre, located in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, on January 27. The mega event will be spread over three successive days.

The movers and shakers of the fashion industry have converged to Karachi for what has become one of the most significant occasions where the local fashion designers, fashion houses and manufacturers showcase their talents to catch the imagination of the prospective foreign buyers. 

The event is being organized by the Triple-E, Excellent, Events & Entertainment (Pvt) Ltd with the support of the International Pakistan Fashion Council (IPFC). 

Apart from the market leaders in fashion trade, the presence of the emerging talent adds value to the Karachi Fashion Week 2013 in which around 25 shows will be demonstrating as many designers. 

Some of the big names of the industry like Munib Nawaz and Usman Dittu will be watched with awe alongwith the works of the newcomers who also attract the buyers with their creativity.

A special show has also been planned to acknowledge the contribution made to the fashion industry by the living legends. 

The KFW Red Carpet area features an exhibition space with stalls set up by the likes of Brands Just Pret, Gul Ahmed, Borjan, Turkish Airlines and Indian designer Karma. 

Imran Kureishi will be the choreographer for all the shows with hair and make-up by Huma Tahir of Huma and Zara’s Salon assisted in male grooming by Bilal Khan, backstage management by Moiz Kazmi and model-cum-designer coordination and management by Sheharyar Shaukat and Muneer Mohammed.

Joseph Adebayo of Modela Couture opened the opening day’s first show by displaying a spectacular fusion of synthetic foliage and fabric weaved together into full and short-form western silhouettes for both men and women with head pieces in customary Nigerian form. 

Model Iraj Manzoor was the show opener in this segment. It reflected the designer’s creativity with practicality weaved into its very essence for fun and friskiness. 

Seh Rung showed basic black, gray and beige with Nadia in a fetching black handkerchief dress. Zeeshan Karim of Brands Just Pret showed an impressive collection with Zeeshan Bari having closed the segment.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy presented Crystal Award

Pakistan News & Features Services

Another feather was added to the cap of Pakistan’s renowned filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy when the Academy Award winner was presented the Crystal Award by Hilde Schwab at the 2013 World Economic Forum meeting in recognition of her efforts in promoting human rights and women’s issues through film.

She received the coveted prize at the official Crystal Award ceremony held at the World Economic Forum Congress Centre, Congress Hall in Davos, Switzerland. 

The World Economic Forum had introduced the Crystal Award in 1995 to honour personalities who are highly regarded as both cultural leaders and global citizens committed to improving the state of the world. 

Alongside Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, the session awarded Charlize Theron, actress and founder of the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and Vik Muniz, artist and member Global Agenda Council, on the Role of the Arts in Society.

The ceremony was chaired by Hilde Schwab, Chairperson and Co-Founder, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. 

The past winners of the award include A R Rahman, Amitabh Bachchan, Mohammad Ali, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Richard Gere. 

“I am humbled by the opportunity to represent Pakistan on such a prestigious platform. The Crystal Award embodies the sentiments that guide my work as a filmmaker, and I firmly believe that the pursuit of art and film can change the world by promoting dialogue and acting as a catalyst for change,” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy remarked at the event after receiving her award.

“The Crystal Award is special because this is the first time a Pakistani is being honoured at the World Economic Forum. I feel proud to represent my country and showcase the fact that educated empowered women are making strides in Pakistan,” she observed in a newspaper interview. 

She felt humbled by the opportunity to represent Pakistan, and that the award embodies the sentiments that guide her work as a film-maker. 

“I firmly believe that the pursuit of art and film can change the world by promoting dialogue and acting as a catalyst for change,” she added.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sir Syed University’s new semester set to start on January 21

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

All arrangements have been finalized for the Orientation Day to mark the start of academic session 2013 on January 21 for new entrants at the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi. 

The physical arrangements made for the purpose were reviewed at a meeting held under the chairmanship of Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Jawed H Rizvi.

The meeting was attended by Registrar Shah Mahmood Hussain, Dean Faculty of Engineering, Chairpersons of all the engineering departments, Director Student Affairs, Controller of Examination and others. 

It was decided that this year orientation day will be held department wise to properly guide the new entrants about their academic responsibilities. 

It was informed that timetable for all the departments including Computer, Electronics, Civil, Bio-Medical and Telecom Engineering and Computer Science with outline of courses will also be distributed. 

The meeting was told that the laboratories of all the engineering departments have been upgraded. 

The Controller of Examination reported that the results of eighth Semester will be completed by February 20 while those of semesters 2-7 will be ready by January 31. 

The meting was communicated that after the start of new academic session on January 21, the higher semester classes will commence from January 24.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Saif-ur-Rahman Grami passes away

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Saif-ur-Rahman Grami, acclaimed as one of the leading cultural personalities of country died during an open heart surgery in Karachi on January 15.
He was a former Vice President as well as Secretary of the Arts Council of Pakistan, having worked for the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) for over quarter of a century before retirement a few years ago.

According to the family sources, he was having cardiac problems of late and was admitted at the Karachi Institute of Heart Diseases (KIHD) for an open heart surgery that was originally scheduled to be held on January 14 but it was postponed for a day. He was 66.

Saif-ur-Rahman Grami, who was a student of the 1958 batch at Cadet College Petaro, remained active professionally and socially all his life.

He had started his career as a journalist before joining government service as a Public Relation Officer. After a stint with the Information Department of the Government of Sindh, he joined the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) where he served as Director Information before being posted as Director Culture and Sports.  

He was credited to have conceived and built the cultural complex by the name of Aiwan-e-Riffat possessing an auditorium with a capacity of 1800 seats, a permanent picture gallery for artists and an exhibition hall.

He was instrumental in setting up many libraries and reading rooms in various localities of Karachi.

He worked overtime to mobilize the resources to hold various epic programmes like the Sunday Book Bazar at the Frere Hall and the Koocha-e-Saqafat at the M R Kiyani Road.  

Saif-ur-Rahman Grami had a vision to promote the cultural and sports activities in a big way.

He pioneered the idea of establishing a sports village at the Kashmir Road while he also desired to turn the M R Kiyani Road into a cultural village. 

He was the motivating force behind the launch of the Sadaqain Award. He revived the Arts Council of Pakistan which was receiving meager government grants before he and his team took over its leadership.

He was hailed for having played an active role in promoting Karachi as a city of peace and a symbol for arts and culture.  

After retirement from government service, he had joined a media organization in the capacity of a consultant . 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jamshed Rizvi vows to make IEP proactive forum for engineers

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The newly elected President of the Institution of Engineers Pakistan (IEP), Syed Jamshed Ali Rizvi, has vowed to make the institution a real forum for the progress of engineers of Pakistan. 

In a chat, soon after his election as President in which he secured 1465 votes as against over 1100 bagged by his closest rival, Jameshed Rizvi expressed his desire to make the institution more proactive. 

“I have chalked out an active program for the Institution to infuse a new spirit into its body,” he said, adding that the IEP will be made a real engineer’s voice at the national level. 

He pointed out that the IEP today has a total membership of about 28,000 engineers of Pakistan whom it will represent in a more effective manner to get their immediate problems solved.

Jamshed Rizvi, who held the office of Chairman IEP, Karachi Chapter, for the last three years, regretted that non-engineers are being preferred over engineers in various ministries and departments and he will launch a struggle to get the engineers their due rights. 

He remarked that the various departments which should be headed by engineers are being headed by non-engineers and as such these departments were not producing the required results. 

Jamshed Rizvi was of the opinion that the qualified engineers were not being paid the salary in accordance with their qualification and experience while the non-engineers working on their seats were being paid highly. 

He said that when an engineer joins any department in Grade 17 he or she retires either in the same grade or just a grade higher. 

“It has been the practice for the last many years. It’s about that the efforts should be made at the relevant levels to press for the just rights of the engineers,” the IEP President stressed. 

He said that he was in the process of preparing a calendar of events to be organized during his three-year term. 

As Chairman IEP Karachi, Jamshed Rizvi had organized the 45th Convention of Engineers which was attended by 28 foreign delegates from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Canada, Italy, UK, and USA besides delegates the delegates from Pakistan. 

He said that during his three-year term he will also focus on having a separate new building for Karachi IEP to be constructed either in place of present building or on the space at the back of present premises for which renowned architects will be hired.

Jamshed Rizvi also revealed that the IEP offices in Lahore, Islamabad and Quetta will be renovated while the Peshawar office was under construction and will be completed in due course of time.

Train operation from Karachi Railway Division shows improvement

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The punctuality of train operation from Karachi has achieved considerable improvement during the last 2-3 months with almost all the trains except one or two running on time. 

“The couple of trains which are facing late departures for about half an hour to two hours is because of certain unavoidable reasons,” Anzer Ismail Rizvi, Divisional Superintendent, Pakistan Railways Karachi Division, disclosed in an interview on January 6. 

He revealed that the punctuality improvement has been achieved due to strict monitoring of train operation and motivation which resulted in improved maintenance of locomotives, coaches, signaling system as well track in the Division. 

He stated that notwithstanding the ongoing financial crunch, the Railways Divisional authorities did this within their own resources. He pointed out that 57.5 Km of speed restrictions have now been normalized without spending any money thus resulting in running of trains with normal speed. 

The Divisional Superintendent maintained that although the Railway Division has allotted 102 locomotives, it was operating 42 locomotives. 

However, their maintenance has been improved bringing normalcy in the train operation. It also resulted in operating on an average two freight trains daily from Karachi. 

He informed that the Railway Division earned 346 million rupees in excess during the last six months of the current financial year as compared to the same period of last financial year. 

Anzer Ismail spoke about what he called a significant achievement and said that after a gap of 20 months with effect from January 12013, the Sukkur Express was now running with full composition after attachment of one Air-condition Sleeper and two Lower AC coaches which were withdrawn from service in May 2011 due to non-availability of power plant. He said these plants have now been made available after a lot of efforts and follow-up. 

He said AC Sleeper Coach has a seating capacity of 16 while Lower AC coaches have a capacity of 76 each and will greatly facilitate the passengers intending to travel to Sukkur and Jacobabad. 

As regards the future plans, DS Karachi Railways informed that efforts are being made to re-introduce Mehran Express which was a popular mode of journey from Karachi to Mirpurkhas and was closed due to non-availability of locomotives. 

Anzar Rizvi further informed that railway track from Karachi to Kotri has been rehabilitated while that of Down track was in progress which has brought improvement in speed and running time. 

According to him the track rehabilitation from Hyderabad to Mirpurkhas was also in progress and will be completed in about six months which will reduce running time between the two destinations bringing it down from 90 to 60 minutes.

Friday, January 4, 2013

ABAD Chairman felicitates Sindh Governor on completing second term

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Chairman of the Association of Builders & Developers of Pakistan (ABAD), Anwar Gagai, has congratulated Dr Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan on completion of second successive term at office as the Governor of Sindh. 

“It is a distinctive occasion in the history of Pakistan that Governor of a province has completed the second term of his office which is due to his wisdom, perception and business acumen,” Anwar Gagai stated in his message of felicitation. 

He specially referred to Governor’s support to the construction industry, acknowledging that it provided impetus to boost the housing and construction activities. 

The ABAD Chairman appreciated the Governor’s efforts for the revival of the economy of Sindh and for making attempts to raise the standard of living for a common man. 

He congratulated the Governor for his efforts in resolving a number of issues faced by the construction industry an important sector of the economy and hoped that Dr Ishrat--ul -Ebad Khan will continue his efforts to address the issues hindering the path of development of the construction industry. 

The ABAD Chairman wished the Governor of Sindh more success in future and prayed for his long life. 

The Association of Builders & Developers of Pakistan (ABAD) is a national level representative organization of Builders and Developers, registered under the Companies Ordinance, 1984, and licensed under Trade Organization Ordinance, 2007. 

It is affiliated with the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of commerce and industry (FPCCI). It was formed in the year 1972 with the aim and objective of unifying and streamlining the construction activities of private sector.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

SSUET Orientation Day on January 21

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

All is set for the start of the new academic year at the Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET), Karachi, with the new classes on commence later this month. 

While admission process has completed, the university has decided to start the new first semester session from January 21 while classes for rest of the semesters will commence from January 24. 

The university has started making arrangements for the Orientation Day, a ceremony which marks the beginning of new semester, on January 21. 

On this day the students, as in the past, will be addressed by the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, chairpersons of the various departments and the Registrar who will educate the new entrants about their responsibilities and guide them about their academic activities. 

The SSUET conducts courses in the engineering disciplines of Computer, Electronics, Civil, Bio-Medical and Telecom besides Computer Science. 

The university at present has over 6000 students in these engineering fields on its roll. It has been granted the highest category by Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) as well as by the Higher Education Commission (HEC). 

The SSUET, following the traditions of great reformer and educationist, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, has been recognized as the biggest centre of engineering excellence in the private sector having collaboration with over a dozen foreign universities.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Oldest living Aligarhian dies, AMUOBA grieved

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi  
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Saeed Siddiqi, the oldest survining Aligarhian, passed away in Karachi on December 30 at the age of 96 years after a brief illness. He was laid to rest at the Paposhnagar graveyard after the Namaz-e-Janaza at Paposh Jamia Masjid. His burial was largely attended by the Aligarhians including Ali Zafar Afridi, Mukhtar Naqvi and Gulzar Muhammed Khan. 

He was born at Ghaziabad, India, in 1916 and obtained his degree from the Aligarh Muslim University in 1935 before entering government service. Later he joined the Pakistan Movement where he had frequent meetings with Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Quaid-e-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan. 

In recognition of his meritorious services to the Pakistan Movement, Saeed Siddiqi was presented a lifetime achievement award in 2012. 

He was a known orator in the academic and literary world and had close relationship with history of Pakistan. He used to be specially invited in the functions of the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA) of which he was a life member. 

Besides being a famed orator, Saeed Siddiqi was a famous columnist who used to write for a largely circulated Urdu newspaper. He was also a regular contributor to monthly ‘Tehzib’ published by the AMUOBA. 

His speeches used to be punctuated with a sense of humour, reflecting his special affiliation with Aligarhians. The AMUOBA has expressed its profound grief and sorrow over the departure of their oldest surviving colleague. 

The President of AMUOBA and the Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Engr Z A Nizami, has expressed deep grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Saeesd Siddiqi, saying that in his death the AMUOBA has been deprived of a sincere and dedicated Aligarhian. 

The AMUOBA President prayed to Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant fortitude to bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss.