Monday, August 31, 2020

Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee is dead

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pranab Mukherjee, a former Indian President, passed away at the Army's Research and Referral Hospital in New Delhi on August 31. He was 84. His health had deteriorated earlier in the day after suffering a septic shock due to his lung infection. 

He was admitted to the military hospital on August 10 and also tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the surgery. He later developed a lung infection 

He had himself tweeted having tested positive for COVID-19 and urged people who had come in contact with him in the previous week to isolate and get tested for the novel coronavirus. 

A powerful orator and scholar, Mukherjee was known to be a Congress stalwart before being elected as India's 13th President and serving from July 2012 to 2017 at the top post. 

“India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He has left an indelible mark on the development trajectory of our nation. A scholar par excellence, a towering statesman, he was admired across the political spectrum and by all sections of society,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Coronavirus Update: Sindh’s fatalities cross 2,400

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh' tally of ÇOVID-19 fatalities crossed 2400 on August 30 when it reported 80 new infections, with three new related deaths, during the last 24 hours across the province.

According to national COVID-19 dashboard, Sindh's total deaths came as 2401, while overall case tally for the province was 129,348 out which 122,939 recovered from the disease. 

The official report disclosed that Sindh in all tested 5,625 samples and found 80 new COVID-19 cases. 

On August 27, the number of new cases was 204, which decreased to 98, 89 and 80 on August 28, 29 and 30, respectively. 

LUMHS laboratory at Hyderabad handled 4,896 suspected samples, against its maximum capacity of testing 5000 samples per day, during the last 24 hours and found 46 positive cases, including 44 new infections. 

As many as 20 COVID-19 laboratories, out of 28 in the province, did not conduct any test during the last 24 hours ending on August 30.

The Karachi laboratories just examined 729 samples, including DUHS (11), CHK (44), AKUH (395), Dr Ziauddin Hospital (46), SIUT (41), JPMC (128) and PCMD-KU (64), and detected 49 positives, including 36 new cases.

As of August 30, the number of patients occupying the intensive care beds at different hospitals of Karachi remained 73, including 17 on ventilators. 

The latest district wise overall number of COVID-19 cases came as: Karachi (91,569), Badin (1,104), Dadu (1,243), Ghotki (3,533), Hyderabad (4,893), Jacobabad (1,001), Jamshoro (1,473), Kambar Shahdakot (1,022), Kashmore (978), Khairpur (1,254), Naushero Feroze (993), Sanghar (1,440), Shaheed Benazirabad (1,927), Shikarpur (1,778), Sujawal (547), Sukkur (3,815), Tando Allahyar (808), Tando Mohammad Khan (580), Tharparkar (1191), Thatta (949) and Umerkot (748).

As many as 37 were cured, while 174 were in critical condition, as of August 30 while three people lost their lives to COVID-19 in Sindh on August 29, including two at Karachi and one at Sujawal, according to the official report.

Xinjiang officials refute allegations

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The authorities of Northwest China Xinjiang have refuted rumors and termed as lies conjured up by Adrian Zenz, a scholar from Germany on population and family planning issues in the province.

A spokesperson for the information department of Xinjiang, Ilijan Anagyit, addressing press conference on August 29, clarified that in a woman named Zamira Dawut had given birth to her third child at the Maternal and Child Care Centre in Urumqi in 2013 after having voluntarily signed the requisite documents to have cesarean section and tubal ligation. 

Meanwhile Tursunay Abdurahim, an officer of Xinjiang Static Branch, explained that between 2010 and 2018, contrary of the false claims, the permanent population of Xinjiang has increased by 13.99 percent to about 24.87 million with ethnic minority population up by 24.14 percent to 15.86 million.

In the same way the population of Uyghur ethnic group rose by 25.04 percent to nearly 12.72 million.

Primary schools across China reopen

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The primary schools across China, including in Beijing, have reopened after summer vacations on August 31. 

As it was raining on the first day of reopening after vacations in Beijing, teachers in one of the schools were holding colourful umbrellas so that pupils could not get wet from rain. It was a sign of mutual care and respect. 

The summer vacation in China generally starts around July 1 and ends around August 31 while the winter vacation usually take place in January or February depending on the date of the Spring Festival.

Examination, mother’s love in tandem

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The mother of an infant baby, while appearing in her graduation examination, was being helped by invigilator soothing her offspring. 

The photo went viral in which it’s visible that the student of Kabul University the other week, when busy in solving her examination paper, was being sought by her four-month old hungry baby crying for milk. 

When a teacher, apparently an invigilator, came across the situation, he came to rescue the young mother and took the boy in his hands to feed the tiny tot with bottle milk to let her continue taking the paper without interruption. 

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Sindh ahead in fatalities

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Amidst a rain interrupted field activities, Sindh added three more COVID-19 deaths to the national tally on August 29 when it registered 89 infections during the last 24 hours across the province.

According to the national COVID-19 dashboard managed by the government, country had in all four related deaths reported by Sindh (three) and Punjab (one). 

The provinces that reported new confirmed cases on August 29 were Sindh (89 cases), Punjab (42), KPK (46) and Balochistan (38). 

Sindh’s overall number of infections came as 129,268, with total 2,398 relevant deaths, while the number of people cured of COVID-19 in the province stood as 122,902, including 67 who recovered from the disease on August 29. 

There were still 3,968 patients receiving treatment at homes, hospitals and isolation centres in the province.

China's resilience lauded

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Iranian Ambassador to China, Mohammad Keshavarzzadeh, has praised Beijing’s resistance against the US desire to impose its will on other nations. 

Keshavarzzadeh lauded China’s standing against the US bullying at the United Nations Security Council to exert more pressure on Iran, according to a report. 

He wrote on his twitter page on August 29 that China’s position was actually rejection of the US unilateral policies. 

In relevant remarks, the Iranian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, was critical of the US violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and the UNSC Resolution 2231, claiming that Washington's unilateralism was threatening the UN's authority. 

The US President, Donald Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, had unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018 and unleashed tough sanctions without being able to push Tehran to the negotiating table.

UAE, Israel mull setting up banking ties

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

After agreeing on setting up diplomatic relations, talks for potential business partnership is underway between Dubai’s leading bank Emirates NBD and Bank Leumi of Israel, an Arab newspaper quoted market sources.

“The fact that Emirates NBD has not denied earlier reports of talks with the Israeli bank and the recent normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries point to something really happening between two entities,” an insider reckoned. 

Although the talks between the two entities were significant as a first step towards the normalization of business between the two countries, any deal of cooperation will require board level approvals of both banks and regulatory approvals of the central banks from both countries. 

“The formalization of ties with the state of Israel through this new law will pave way for more businesses in both countries to explore business opportunities,” the sources added. 

The analysts were of the opinion that the normalization of ties would be mutually beneficial to both countries in terms of business and scientific cooperation.

KFC to gift chicken for school teachers

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

In order to pay respect to the dedication of their job, the KFC has announced donation of one million pieces of chicken for the school teachers that go back after the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. 

For this noble cause the world renowned fast food entity in its social media account announced that this time they will be supporting teachers across the country as they head back to school, people can help KFC recognize the dedicated teacher in their life time by hashtag # KFCback2School. 

Historically, KFC was founded by Colonel Harland Sanders, an entrepreneur who began selling fried chicken from his roadside restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression. He had identified the potential of the restaurant franchising concept and the first Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise was opened in Utah in 1952.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Solitary fatality from Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s solitary COVID-19 fatality on August 28 was reported from Sindh, which registered its all days’ lowest number of infections for August during the last 24 hours, bringing the tally of infected people to 129,179.

According to an official report Sindh tested a total 5,247 samples, out of which 98 were declared new COVID-19 infections for the last 24 hours ending at August 28 afternoon. 

Before this, the all days’ lowest 172 infections were reported by Sindh on August 24. 

With the latest death, Sindh’s number of COVID-19 fatalities reached to 2,395 on August 28. Sindh had one death each on August 2 and 22. 

The report revealed that 10 laboratories at Karachi handled 1,471 samples, with 90 positive cases on August 28, against three laboratories operating in the interior districts of Sindh which examined 3,776 samples and found 32 positives for COVID-19. 

A total of 93 patients were receiving treatment in the intensive care units of the various COVID-19 hospitals of Karachi.

On August 28, the district-wise breakdown of newly detected COVID-19 infection in Sindh was: Karachi (51 new cases), Badin (8), Dadu (1), Ghotki (7), Hyderabad (1), Jacobabad (1), Jamshoro (2), Kambar Shahdadkot (1), Matiari (9), Mirpurkhas (1), Shaheed Benazirabad (6), Shikarpur (2) and Thatta (7). 

In the meantime, 101 patients were reported having completed their treatment during the last 24 hours, pushing the tally of the cured patients to 122,835 for Sindh.

PKR 10.5 billion allocated for rehabilitation, implementation of KCR

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The government has allocated an amount of PKR 10.5 billion for rehabilitation and implementation of the Karachi Circular Railways (KRC) project under the auspices of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

According to details, the amount will be spent in phases in the identical manner as the ML-1 project, with the first phase to be followed shortly by the second phase. 

For the restoration of KCR, the most pressing demand of the people of the mega city, the Project Director, Amer Muhammad Daudpota, has informed that there was complete unanimity between the federal government and the provincial government. 

All bottlenecks in restoration of the much awaited KCR has finally been removed, he declared, much to the relief of the residents of Karachi.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Sindh cases upto 129,000

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh witnessed its overall COVID-19 cases surpassing 129,000 on August 27 as authorities declared detection of another 204 positive cases, with six related deaths, across the province during the last 24 hours.

According to the national COVID-19 dashboard, Sindh’s number of infections reached to 129,081, against the country’s overall infection figure of 295,053.

The provincial authorities told a meeting on August 28 that as many as 3,953 infected people were under treatment at homes (3,637 patients), seven at isolation centres and 309 at the various hospitals. 

The meeting was further told that 210 patients were in critical condition, while 31 of them had been put on ventilators during the last 24 hours ending August 27 afternoon. 

As of August 27, the district-wise breakdown of overall COVID-19 cases in Sindh came as: Karachi (91,463 infections), Badin (1,095), Dadu (1,236), Ghotki (3,518), Hyderabad (4,785), Jacobabad (999), Jamshoro (1,430), Kambar Shahdadkot (1,017), Kashmore (973), Khairpur (3,024), Larakana (2,152), Matiari (593), Mirpurkhas (,1241), Naushero Feroze (989), Sanghar (1,432), Shaheed Benazirabad (1,913), Shikarpur (1,768), Sujawal (545), Sukkur (3,812), Tando Allahyar (806), Tando Mohammad Khan (573), Tharparkar (1,191), Thatta (939) and Umerkot (744). 

An official report, in the meantime, revealed that 6,337 samples were tested across the province during the last 24 hours, out of which 259 were found COVID-19 positive, including 204 new infections.

On August 26, the testing rate was around 43% of the maximum collective capacity of 14,950.

A source in the provincial health department confided to this scribe that the overall COVID-19 surveillance and testing activities were affected due to the heavy monsoon pour.

It was further learnt that only 100 of the 409 intensive care beds were occupied by critically ill patients at Karachi hospitals on August 27. According to a report, the four COVID-19 patients who lost their lives on August 26 included three from Karachi and one from Hyderabad.

Is PIA mandated to carry out civil work at airport, runway?

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), on August 24, is reported to have signed the construction contract of the main runway upgrading project of Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, with a joint venture led by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). 

The main works of this project include refurbishing the runway and upgrading the drainage ditch and avionics system. 

According to an official of the CCECC, advance techniques and professional experts will be deployed into the upgrading so that the condition of Allama Iqbal International Airport will be improved significantly. 

The implementation of the project will further expand external connectivity window of nation. Meanwhile, it is also expected to promote local employment and economic development as well. 

The question to be asked, however, is that if the PIA was mandated to carry out repair, maintenance and upgradation of runway or airport building or it’s the domain of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Pakistan plan to set up Railway University

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan is ready to establish, in cooperation with China, the most modern international standard Railway University in Rawalpindi. 

This university will be the biggest-ever educational institution of high learning in the entire South Asia and it will be funded by China, the Railways Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, announced. 

One of the most popular political leaders to have emerged from Rawalpindi, he has been in the headline news quite frequently of late as he revealed that tender for the much talked about ML-1 will be issued either at the end August or next month.

Coronavirus Update: No death in Punjab on August 27

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

No COVID-19 death was reported although 74 new infections were confirmed across the province of Punjab on August 27, according to a report issued by the Primary and Secondary Healthcare (P&SH) Department in Lahore. 

The toll of fatalities stayed at 2,193 in Punjab, while confirmed cases reached 96,540 in the province. Out of a total of 96,540 infections in Punjab, as many as 93,760 citizens have contracted the virus through local transmission. 

According to the official figures, 9,838 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, which raised the total number of tests to 916,174 in Punjab. After 2,193 fatalities and recovery of a total of 92,393 patients, as many as 1,954 cases remained active who were being treated either isolated at homes or at different quarantine centres and health facilities.

China's top film festival missing Bollywood stars

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The cooperation between Chinese and foreign filmmakers which suffered hugely since the COVID-19 pandemic is getting a morale boost with the 10th Beijing International Film Festival which opened on August 24. 

 According to the details, the number of co-productions between China and other countries in 2020 will be far fewer than the 95 co-production applications received in 2019. 

The cooperation between the Chinese mainland filmmakers and Hong Kong and Taiwan studios has not been greatly affected according to Liu Chun, manager of the China Film Co-production Cooperation at the Sino-Foreign Film Co-production Forum. 

The data showed that as of August 26, the Chinese film authorities had received 39 China-foreign co-production applications including one with the US, one from UK and two with Japan.

As many as applications have been filed for co-productions between mainland filmmakers and those based in Hong Kong.

Amazingly no Indian guests had been included on the guest list despite the growing influence of Indian films in China.

It may be recalled that the China-India Film Co-production Dialogue was held in 2019 and the event was attended by the Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan and Kabir Khan. An exhibition of Indian films posters was also held during the festival.

Several Chinese film experts reckoned that the China-India border clashes in the recent past played the key role in the non-presence of Indian guests. Shah Rukh Khan, also known as King Khan, had taken the Chinese crowds by storm during the event last festival. 

Pakistan Railways undertaking three CPEC projects

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan Railways has three Main Line projects by the name of ML-1, ML-2 and ML-3 and the upgradation of all these will be carried out in phases under the auspices of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

The first phase upgradation and doubling of 1872 Kilometers long ML-1 starts from Karachi and will pass through country's major cities and culminate in Peshawar. 

However, it will pass through Havalian dry port to be built with an estimated cost of USD 40 million. 

The distance between Havalian to Kashi (China) by railway is around 1,059 kilometers. This railway connection between Pakistan and China would be the shortest and most convenient particularly for traders of the two countries. 

There is an alternate scheme of Gwadar Port passage that will connect Gwadar with Karachi to facilitate goods services. 

Meanwhile, the Railways Minister, Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, has recently disclosed that after approval from Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and tendering work on the ML-1 project will be initiated in next two months.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Electric buses to ply in metropolitan cities

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Electric buses are planned to be imported from China for plying them in Pakistan’s major cities in order to overcome the transport problems and improving the system. 

A signing ceremony of strategic alliance agreement between Daewoo Pakistan and Skywell Automobiles China has already taken place in this regard. 

The agreement entails setting up electric vehicles value chain in Pakistan. These electric buses will help reduce environment pollution. 

The Chief Executives of Daewoo Pakistan, Faisal Siddiqui, and Skywell China, Howang Hangxin, signed the agreement in which the Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Chaudhary Fawad, was the chief guest. 

According to reports, initially these buses will be imported from China with the provision of transfer of technology. In the first stage, a plan has been prepared to ply these buses in three mega cities of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Interiors Sindh labs more efficient

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The COVID-19 laboratories in the interior districts of Sindh appeared more energetic in term of sample testing than their counterparts in Karachi on August 26 when the authorities registered 201 new infection, with four related deaths during the last 24 hours across the province.

The LUMHS and Sasims laboratories at Hyderabad and one laboratory each at Larkana and Sukkur handled 3,934 samples and declared 116 (2.94%) of them positive for COVID-19.

During the same time, Karachi’s 11 testing laboratories run by the government and the private sectors which examined 2,455 samples and found 85 (3.46%) infection, according to an official report. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, said that overall 6,389 samples were tested across the Sindh during the last 24 hours, ending August 26 afternoon, out of which 201 (3.14%) were declared as new cases. 

He shared that as many as 122,551 patients of Covid-19 have recovered from the diseases, while 3,938 were still active at homes (3,625), isolation centre (7) and hospitals (306), including 214 in critical condition.

With the latest reporting of cases the total number of infections in Sindh reached to 128,877 (13.19%), against the country’s infection rate of 11.61%.

The official data further suggested that 47 % of the people infected by COVID-19 were in the age brackets of 21-40 years, followed by groups of 41-50 years and 11 to 20 years among whom the infection percentage was 14% and 8% respectively.

While the Chief Minister’s statement did not reveal the area of living, age, gender and place of treatment of the deceased people, a report said that 60 out of 163 COVID-19 patients who lost their lives in August till 25 were in home-isolation.

As many as 102, including 98 on ventilators, died at hospital during the same period. Nine of the 11 patients to perish due to COVID-19 on August 25 in Sindh belonged to Karachi while two of them were from Hyderabad. One of these died at home.

The breakdown of new infections reported on August 26 remained as Karachi (85), Thatta (39), Badin (9), Jamhsoro (8), Thatta (7), Tando Allahyar (7), Umerkot (5), Hyderabad (3), Matiari (3), Larkana (3), Sanghar (3), Shaheed Benazirabad ( 3), Shikarpur (2), Ghotki (1), Kambar Shahdadkot (1), Kashmore (1), Mirpurkhas (1), Naushero Feroze (1) and Sukkur (1).

The infections and deaths have continued in the province of Sindh while there has been decline in these numbers in the other provinces and regions of the country.

It's being hoped that Sindh's cases will also start going down in the coming days to bring relief to its people.

Karachi, which has been receiving huge amount of rain during the month of August, is also expected to contain the virus which has seriously disrupted the life since the month of March.

Work on ML-1 to start in two months

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Railways Minister, Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, has disclosed that after approval from Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) and tendering work on Main Line 1(ML-1) project will be initiated in next two months. 

Participating in a television talk show, he informed that ML-1 will further be expanded to connect it with China and Afghanistan. 

Highlighting the importance of Gwadar Port, Shaikh Rashid said that it will be a mega project where as many as 400 ships could be accommodated, whereas in Iran's Chabahar Port can anchor only 200 MNTS ships. 

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan has accorded approval of expanding ML-1 network upto Turkham. The Prime Minister was believed to have granted the approval upon the request of the Federal Religious Minister, Noor-ul-Haq Qadri during a recent cabinet meeting.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Coronavirus Update: No respite in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Sindh was failing to witness respite from coronavirus-related deaths as the authorities added 11 more fatalities to the list on August 25, with detection of 220 more cases of the infection during the last 24 hours across Sindh.

The province had an average seven COVID-19 deaths daily during the week up to August 25. 

It has reported 92% of the total deaths that occurred in the country on August 25 had the case fatality rate at 1.9%, against the country’s 2.1%. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his routine COVID-19 statement, shared that the tally of deaths had reached to 2,384 during the last 24 hours ending August 25 afternoon. 

He disclosed that 280 more patients recovered from the diseases, while 2,831 people were still suffering from the infections at homes (3,525), hospitals (300) and isolation centre (six). Of the 211 critically ill patients, 32 were put on ventilators, he added. 

Karachi’s COVID-19 patient-load increased again on August 25 as 134 (61%) new cases were detected in the metropolis which has also been receiving lots of rain during the monsoon season.

The other districts which reported new cases were Umerkot (14), Hyderabad (12), Jamshoro (9), Sujawal (7), Shaheed Benazirabad (5), Shikarpur (5), Naushero Feroze (3), Tando Allahyar (3), Ghotki (2), Kambar Shadadkot (2), Khairpur (2), Sanghar (2), Sukkur (2), while Badin, Dadu, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Matiari, Mirpurkhas and Tando Mohammad Khan registered one case each.

As many as 16 COVID-19 laboratories tested 8,214 samples, against their collective capacity of 14,940 tests, during the last 24 hours, while the overall positive cases were numbered as 128,676 for the province since February 26 when the province got its first infection registered at Karachi.

220 KV Grid Station inaugurated in Lahore

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Federal Education Minister, Shafqat Mahmood, inaugurated the 220KV Grid station in Ghazi Road Lahore that will help bring improvement in transmission and reliability in the system. 

The National Transmission and Dispatch Company (NTDC) has successfully commissioned the grid station completed with a cost of RS 5664 24 million. The major portion of the cost has been provided by a German firm. 

The project has strengthened the NTDC Transmission network along with reduction in load on 220/132 KV transformers. With the commissioning of the new grid station the voltage profile and system reliability will improve in different areas of Lahore.

Pompeo hopeful of more Arab states establishing ties with Israel

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The US Secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, arrived in Israel on August 24 and expressed the hope that more Arab states would establish ties with the country, a Middle East newspaper reported. 

"I'm very hopeful that we will see other Arab nations join in this," he observed in Jerusalem, standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The deal with the Emirates, brokered by US President Donald Trump is a boon to peace and regional stability. I think it heralds a new era where we could have other nations join. I hope we'll have good news in the future, maybe in the near future," Netanyahu remarked. 

Pompeo spoke of the opportunity awaiting future partners to work alongside to recognize the state of Israel. 

The US Secretary of state is on the first leg of his Middle East visit to press the momentum of the Trump administration’s Arab-Israeli peace push.

Deepening Pak-China business ties Pakistan’s foremost priority: Imran Khan

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan accorded great importance to strengthening its relations with China as both countries had shared destiny. The strengthening of business-to-business ties of the two people was the foremost priority, Prime Minister Imran Khan informed a Chinese delegation on August 25. 

He was talking to a delegation of 10 leading Chinese companies, undertaking business ventures in vital sectors including energy, communications, agriculture, science and technology, financial sector and industry which called on him in Islamabad. 

The delegation comprised of representative of Power Construction Corporation of China (Power China), China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), China Gezhouba (Group) Pakistan, China Three Gorges South Asia Investment Company Ltd, China Railway Group Limited, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Machinery Engineering Corporation and China Mobile Pakistan Limited. 

The Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, and Javed Afridi, CEO Haier, were also present on the occasion alongwith Minister for Communications, Murad Saeed, Minister for Industries Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Planning Minister Asad Umar, Finance Advisor Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Commerce Advisor Abdur Razaq Dawood, Chairman Board of Investment, Atif R Bokhari, and Chairman CPEC Authority, Lt Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa.

The Prime Minister assured the Chinese investors that the Pakistan government would accord highest priority for the provision of every possible facility to the Chinese investors. He also suggested to the Chinese business houses to establish their regional offices in Pakistan. 

The Chinese investors thanked the Prime Minister for his personal interest in facilitating Chinese investors and business community in Pakistan. They expressed satisfaction over the business-friendly policies of the present government, especially in improving ‘ease of doing business.’ 

They reaffirmed commitment to further expand their investments and explore more business opportunities in various sectors of the economy. 

“Various reforms introduced at policy and implementation levels have enhanced confidence of the Chinese business community and Pakistan is being looked upon as a major partner in development in the post COVID-19 environment,” the Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing stated.

Railways inspection of Karachi division concludes

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The two-day annual inspection by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Federal Government Inspector of Railways (FGIR) for the Karachi division concluded on August 25. 

The FGIR Special team comprised of FGIR Asif Mateen Zaidi, Chief Engineer (Open Line), Shahrukh Afshar, Divisional Superintendent Karachi, Arshad Salam Khattak, Chief Commercial Manager, Rubina Nasir, besides representatives of different branches from the Railways headquarters at Lahore and divisional officers from the Karachi division. 

The annual CEO & FGIR inspection is the highest level inspection of railway infrastructure, especially its track, followed by annual DS Special, quarterly inspection by Divisional Engineer, monthly by Assistant Executive Engineer and weekly by Permanent Works Inspector and daily by mates. 

Almost 408 km of railways' track of Karachi division, 227 km from Karachi to Tando Adam on ML-I and 181 km from Kotri to Dadu on ML-II, along with different stations, manned and unmanned level crossings and bridges were thoroughly inspected.

The level between the rails was repeatedly examined during the CEO & FGIR inspection with special focus at curvatures, level crossings and bridges.

Preparedness of staff at level crossings was judged by inquiring them the troubleshooting of accidental and tricky scenarios. Cash prizes were also given to the staff possessing expertise and skills in coping with risky situations.

The paraphernalia available to the level crossing staff was checked and works stores en route were visited by the CEO & FGIR special team. The strength and durability of bridges were also gauged. 

The CEO Pakistan Railways, Dost Ali Laghari, said that provision of safe journey to the passengers was the top priority of Pakistan Railways. He directed the officers for ensuring a fully safe and secure journey besides overcoming the loopholes in the system.

Waseem Asghar elected ACEP President

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Engr Muhammed Waseem Asghar of KASIB Associates was elected as the President of the Association of Consulting Engineers Pakistan (ACEP) in its Annual General Meeting held at the Osmani House in Karachi. 

The AGM also elected Engr Khalid Mirza of Engineering Consultants International as Vice President.

Engr Wasif Nazar Siddiqi of Asif Nazar (Pvt) Ltd and Engr Muhammed Shafiq of MS Engineering Associates were elected as Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer of the ACEP respectively. 

A five-member Executive Council of the ACEP comprising Engr Asim Inam Osmani, Engr Rehan ul Ambia, Engr Kamran Siddiqi, Engr Muhammed Zia-ul-Mustafa and Engr Fahad Hasan was also elected.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Sindh having highest fatalities among provinces

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Sindh registered six more deaths related to COVID-19 on August 24 when the authorities concerned confirmed 172 new infections during the last 24 hours across the province, pushing the overall infection tally to 128,456 for Sindh.

No detail about the hospitalization, gender, age and localities of the deceased persons was made available. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his daily disease related statement, shared that the number of COVID-19 patients who lost their lives in the province, so far, had reached to 2373 on August 24. 

He further said that there were at present 3,902 active patients of COVID-19 in the province, out of which 300 were at the various hospitals, including 222 in critical condition and 37 occupying ventilators. 

An official report revealed that all the new deaths Pakistan reported on August 23 were from Sindh with eight registered at Karachi and one at Khairpur.

All the deceased persons were hospitalized and they died on ventilators. Their average stay in hospital was 13.4 days, while on ventilators for 13 days. As many as six of them were males whose age ranged from 35 to 87 years, the report added.

The district was breakdown of new cases came as: six districts of Karachi (76 cases), Hyderabad (9), Mirpurkhas (8), Umerkot (8) Tando Mohammad Khan (7), Thatta (7), Dadu (7), Shaheed Benazirabad (6), Shikarpur (6), Ghotki (5), Larkana (4), Sujawal (4), Jamshoro (3), Tando Allahyar (3), Jacobabad (2), Kambar Shadadkot (2), Khairpur (2), Badin (1), Naushero Feroze(1) and Sanghar (1).

It was further learnt that about 17 COVID-19 testing laboratories in the province did not conduct any tests during the last 24 hours.

On the other hand, as of August 24, 258 patients were occupying intensive care, high dependency and isolation beds in 16 hospitals of Karachi.

TikTok sues US government

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

TikTok, the video-sharing application owned by China-based ByteDance, announced on August 24 that it was filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's attempt to ban the company in the US, claiming it posed no security threat and the administration's decisions were heavily politicized.

In a statement on its official website the company said that it strongly disagreed with the administration's assertion that TikTok was a national security threat, arguing that the administration ignored the firm's extensive efforts to address its concerns, which it had conducted fully and in good faith even as they disagreed with the concerns themselves.

"Now is the time for us to act. We do not take suing the government lightly, however we feel we have no choice but to take action to protect our rights, and the rights of our community and employees," the firm was quoted to have stated. 

The lawsuit came after the US President, Donald Trump, issued two executive orders against the firm in 10 days. On August 6, Trump issued an executive order banning any US transactions with ByteDance, set to take effect in 45 days. On August 14, Trump signed another executive order, requiring ByteDance to divest its interests in US with a deadline of 90 days. 

It is also the first Chinese corporation to fight in US courts, President Trump's clampdown on Chinese social media and technology amid an escalating tech war.

Gwadar-Chabahar ports considered win-win for Pakistan, Iran

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A group of diplomats and experts on foreign relations from Pakistan and Iran have called for cooperation between Iran’s Chabahar and Pakistan’s Gwadar ports that would bring prosperity and enhance ties between the two neighbouring countries.

The diplomats and experts expressed the views during the webinar on the subject of Iran-Pakistan Economic Partnership in the Post-Corona era which was hosted by Golden Ring Economic Federation (GREF) in Lahore with the cooperation of the embassy of Iran. 

The speakers from Iran called for the use of the capacity of regional economic cooperation organizations, including ECO, and said that the Islamic Republic of Iran was ready to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

The Pakistani experts stressed the importance of Iran’s joining CPEC project, saying that it would strengthen the long-term cooperation between Tehran and Beijing. 

At the webinar, Mashallah Shakeri, Advisor to the Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran and former Ambassador to Pakistan, and Madoud Mohammad Zamani, senior expert from the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), shared their thoughts on the bilateral cooperation between the two neighboring countries through video link. 

The other speakers at the webinar were Hasanin Reza Mirza, director of the Golden Ring Economic Research Institute, Defence Analyst Lieutenant General Sikander Afzal (retd), Arif Kamal, and Sanaullah former Pakistani ambassadors, and Qandil Abbas, Professor of international relations at the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad. 

The participants explained the important and key policies of the two countries, especially in the geopolitical scenario in the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, the developments of the subcontinent, and their impact on security and economic stability in the region. 

Emphasizing the Islamic Republic’s effective vision for the development of economic relations with Pakistan, China, and Russia, the Iranian experts pointed to obstacles noting a delay on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project from Pakistan, they said Iran was ready to export gas to the neighboring country. 

The Iranian diplomats considered the development of cooperation between the private sectors of the two countries as a key factor in the expansion of Iran-Pakistan relations and said that linking the ports of Chabahar and Gwadar will pave the way for regional cooperation between the two neighboring countries. 

They stressed the importance of advancing energy projects in the region, including the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project with China, to avoid the US pressure and sanctions. 

The Pakistani speakers called for the establishment of a joint working group with the participation of the two countries’ private sectors to find ways of development, the establishment of excellent joint centers for advanced research and development, and the acceleration of exchange programs between Iran and Pakistan. 

The participants in the webinar also suggested to develop and expand public relations between the two countries, especially in the fields of culture and tourism.