Friday, October 30, 2020

SHRC orders to reinstate employees

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC), headed by Justice (Rtd) Majida Razvi, has ordered M/s Al-Ghazi Tractors Ltd to reinstate its two employees to their original cadres as their resignations were obtained illegally under duress and in violation of laws. 

The HR Commission issued the order on petitions filed by Muhammed Jahan Zaib and Ms Iffat Khan charging the company of obtaining their resignations under duress and later terminating their services during COVID-19 pandemic. 

The respondents, the Commission’s written order said, had clearly violated the law of Sindh COVID-19 Relief Ordinance 2020 and Sindh Terms of Employment (Standing Order) Act 2015 in the due course which also leads to violation of fundamental rights of the petitioners as they were not given the opportunity to be heard. 

The SHRC ordered that the two petitioners be also compensated financially for the time they stayed away from their jobs due to unlawful act of the respondent. The order further said that strict disciplinary action may be taken against the officers responsible for duress and harassment against the employees of AGTL. 

The Commission observed that the allegations leveled in the present cases clearly indicate the intention of the respondent as both the petitioners were shown two letters, one resignation and other termination and they had no choice but to choose one. 

It noted that knowing the general psyche of the employees that resignation was generally preferred over termination the respondent played with it and succeeded in obtaining the expected result. 

“Therefore it can be said that the resignations were obtained under force and as such are illegal and null and void,” it was ruled.

China’s new ambassador to present credentials next week

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The newly designated Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Nong Rong, is scheduled to meet President Dr Arif Alvi next week to present his credentials and deliver an important message from President Xi Jinping. 

The first non-career diplomat for Pakistan for 40 years, Nong Rong assumed his assignment in Islamabad last week and had important meetings with senior top officers, including that of the Foreign Office. 

He has brought a special message of goodwill of Chinese President Xi Jinping for the government and people of Pakistan that he would deliver to the President Dr Arif Alvi. 

Ambassador Nong Rong has been dealing in foreign trade and economic affairs for the past three decades besides in various capacities. He, however, was never associated with the Chinese Foreign Office but he’s known to be having tremendous skill of negotiating and comprehending trade and economic matters. 

Nong Rong, 53, belongs to the remote southern Chinese autonomous region of Guangxi Zhuang which is located near Vietnam’s border. 

The diplomatic sources said that Nong Rong would provide much needed impetus to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship gigantic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), connecting China with the whole world through new highways and routes. He is regarded among close aides of current Chinese leadership.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Author Asma Hasan showered with praise in Mayar-e-Zindagi’s felicitation ceremony

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), one of the pioneering non-governmental organizations of the country engaged in the field of education and research, befittingly hosted felicitation ceremony for Jumbo Publishing’s new book ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ at its record office, housed in Liaquat Memorial Library, Karachi, on October 28. 

Having been branded as ‘Dream Book by Dream Team’ the LPB event brought to light the various aspects of the book, authored by the Lahore-based Asma Hassan, as three eminent scholars generously praised the publication for its unique content and excellent production. 

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, Founder President, LPB, and a former chairperson of the Library and Information Science department at the University of Karachi, described ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ as a multi-faceted book which covered the different aspects of life and it possessed all the ingredients to the keep the readers engrossed. 

“It’s really fascinating to go through the various chapters which are precise and to the point. It’s a kind of a family book which could be read by all members regardless of their age. I will strongly recommend this publication to everyone who is fond of books because there’s a lot to learn from it besides obtaining pleasure of reading,” the living legend of library science complimented. 

Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, Chief Editor, Adab Wa Kutub Khana, and also the first lady chairperson of the Library and Information Science department at the University of Karachi, reckoned that Asma Hassan has done a service to the nation by bringing out such a wonderful book in the national language on the subject of sociology. 

“Asma Hassan represents the younger generation of writers and it’s very heartening to note that she has chosen to share her thoughts in Urdu which will allow the book to be read by the masses of the country. It’s also very encouraging to discover that she has penned her thoughts in very candid manner,” Prof Dr Nasim Fatima noted. 

Dr Amna Khatoon, Lecturer, Allama Iqbal Open University, and Editor, Pakistan Library & Information Science Journal (PLISJ), was equally impressed with high quality of production of book which will facilitate the readers in their quest for knowledge.

“While Asma Hassan’s articles illustrate wisdom and motivation, another major factor in making the book handy and useful is its neat printing which will not irritate the bookworms. Another plus point is the selection of optimum font size which makes the book reader friendly,” she noted. 

Having contributed foreword to the book, renowned social worker, Nasreen Masood, who was also the guest of honour in the ceremony, showered Asma Hassan with praise for starting her career as an author with a bang. 

“It’s not often that authors are able to earn this kind of reception and recognition in their first book but Asma Hassan has really done a marvelous work and she thoroughly deserves all this attention,” Nasreen Masood complimented. 

Addressing the ceremony via video link from Lahore, author Asma Hassan expressed her gratitude to the worthy speakers for lauding her book and boosting her spirits. 
 
“Although I have been passionate about writing since childhood, the publication of my first book ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ was certainly the fulfillment my most cherished dream in life yet. But I had never dreamed to be praised by such learned scholars. I am simply overwhelmed by the appreciation and I don’t have adequate words to reciprocate,” she observed. 

“Inspired by the success of my first book, I will continue improving my writing skills and I will try my best to author many more books in future aimed at serving the people,” Asma Hassan added. 

In his closing remarks, Syed Khalid Mahmood, on behalf of Jumbo Publishing, congratulated Asma Hassan for writing such wonderful and inspirational articles during the ongoing pandemic which were put together in book form and titled ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ which is now being promoted as Dream Book by Dream Team. 

He also thanked Library Promotion Bureau for having organized the ceremony which was a testimonial to the book of being high in quality and value. 

Published just a month ago, ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ has been widely hailed for its catchy name, the lively painting from emerging artist Beenish Khalid on the cover page, and the absorbing content between covers. The superbly printed hardbound book is being sold at a retail price of Rs 495 in Pakistan.

Hydroxychloroquine being tested for COVID-19

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
As the world waits impatiently for a COVID-19 vaccine, the Pakistani arm of the largest global study to test if hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine can prevent COVID-19 in vital healthcare workers has begun enrolling participants at Aga Khan University in Karachi on October 28. 

The study, COPCOV, is a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial which is considered to be the most robust method to prove the efficacy of a drug. 

The trial will see half of participants given hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine while the other half will receive a placebo. Selection will be at random.

In order to eliminate the chance of bias, neither study participants nor the administrators of the trial will know which group is receiving the drug or the placebo. Used for over 60 years to treat malaria, amoebic liver abscess and other diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine has been shown in the laboratory to kill the novel coronavirus. 

The AKU is the first centre outside of the UK to be participating in the study led by the University of Oxford in the UK and Wellcome-supported Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit (MORU) in Bangkok, Thailand. 

Although there is increasing evidence that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine could work as a form of preventive medicine for COVID-19 rather than when a person gets sick as the researchers are still not sure. 

“I don’t know if hydroxychloroquine can prevent COVID-19 or not. But I do know that we really need to find out, and quickly. We could be waiting a long time for an effective vaccine,” one of COPCOV’s co-principal investigators, Professor Sir Nick White, remarked. 

“If there is a chance that it can offer valuable protection against COVID-19 its imperative that the study finds out if it does,” Professor Asim Beg, the COPCOV’s principal investigator in Pakistan, added. 

The Pakistan COPCOV site at the AKU is the first site outside the UK, joining five COPCOV sites operating in the UK. COPCOV is the only non-vaccine COVID prophylaxis study deemed to be of urgent public health importance by the UK’s NIHR Clinical Research Network. 

In Pakistan, the study is being supported by AKU’s doctors Farah Qamar, Faisal Mahmood, Noshin Nasir, Momin Qazi and Sonia Qureshi as well as Professor Saeed Hamid, director of AKU’s Clinical Trials Unit.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Arab envoys praise Xinjiang’s development

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
A delegation comprising of Arab envoys posted in China, including diplomats from the African Union (AU), visited China’s Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region recently and spoke positively of achievements in the economic, social and human rights development in the province. 

“From October 19 to 22, diplomatic envoys posted in China from 20 Arab states and the AU visited Xinjiang. They spoke positively of Xinjiang’s achievements in the economic, social and human rights development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, shared in Beijing during his regular briefing. 

The delegation met with Shohrat Zakir, chairman of Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region and also visited local enterprises, schools besides poverty alleviation projects and grassroots communities. 

He said that they were invited to the households to talk face-to-face with villagers, gaining a deep understanding of the situation in Xinjiang in such aspects as social stability, ethnic equality and unity, improvement of people’s livelihood and economic development. 

The delegation also recached out Islamic institutes and mosques to learn about the situation on protection of freedom of religious belief. 

Zhao Lijian said that they spoke positively of Xinjiang’s achievements in the economic, social and human rights development. 

“Some envoys pointed out that what’s been said about human rights in China and Xinjiang by some external parties are nothing but baseless lies. Justice resides in people’s hearts. Xinjiang’s achievements in economic and social development and poverty alleviation are there for all to see,” he added.

LPB set to hold Mayar-e-Zindagi’s felicitation ceremony on October 28

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
All is set for Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), one of the most respected non-governmental organizations of the country, to organize felicitation ceremony for the newly published book ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ at its record office, housed in Liaquat Memorial Library, Karachi, on October 28. 

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, Founder President, LPB, and a former chairperson of the Library and Information Science department at the University of Karachi, will be the first speaker and he will be followed by Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, Chief Editor, Adab Wa Kutub Khana, and also the first lady chairperson of the Library and Information Science department at the University of Karachi. 

Dr Amna Khatoon, Lecturer, Allama Iqbal Open University, and Editor, Pakistan Library & Information Science Journal (PLISJ), will be the third and final LPB speaker to share her views about the book ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ having been authored by the Lahore-based writer, Asma Hassan. 

Renowned social worker, Nasreen Masood, who has contributed foreword to the book, to be the guest of honour in the ceremony, will also speak on the occasion. Author Asma Hassan will address the ceremony via video link while the closing remarks will be delivered by Syed Khalid Mahmood on behalf of Jumbo Publishing. 

‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ is being promoted as Dream Book by Dream Team by Jumbo Publishing and the book turned out to be one of the major attractions at the Online Book Fair organized by Paramount Books earlier this month. 

‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ has been widely hailed for its catchy name, the lively painting from emerging artist Beenish Khalid on the cover page, and the creative contents between covers. The superbly printed hardbound book is being sold at a retail price of Rs 495 in Pakistan.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

PLISJ completes 51 years of non-stop publication

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Pakistan Library and Information Science Journal (PLISJ), a quarterly publication of the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), Karachi, has successfully completed 51 years of its non-stop publication by bringing out its October-December 2020 issue (Volume 51, Number 4) recently. 

It has lived to the reputation of braving all challenges as the quarterly journal has come out in time once more even though the life in general still remained disturbed by the pandemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) whose second wave has already caused concerns in Pakistan and many other countries. 

Besides overcoming the unforeseen obstacles, as a result of the virus from the beginning of the current year, the LPB management has had to continuously tackle the lukewarm response from the library professionals in matters relating to subscription and its timely remittances. 

The PLISJ Chief Editor, Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, who is also the Founder President of the LPB, has pointed it out in nearly every issue of the journal but somehow the community of library professionals, having reaped enormous benefits from it, has remained sluggish in their response. 

Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, an ex-chairperson of the University of Karachi’s Library and Information Science department, alnogwith his trustworthy lieutenant and former student, Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, has been chiefly responsible for keeping the bureau as well as the journal afloat against the heaviest of odds.

800 Afghan students to get scholarships in Pakistan

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
As many as eight hundred Afghan students avail scholarship to get education in various universities of Pakistan. 

This was announced by the Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mansoor Ahmed Khan, during a ceremony at the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul. 

The event was attended by the group of 800 Afghan students, leaving for Pakistan for getting education under a scholarship scheme, according to a twitter message. 

The Afghanistan Minister for Higher Education, Dr Abbas Basir, was the chief guest on the occasion.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Pakistani movie to be screened across China

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
A Pakistani movie is a part of the hectic preparations having got underway to celebrate 2021 the year of Pakistan-China establishment of diplomatic relationship. 

‘Parwaaz Hai Janoon’ is a film, packed with action, romance and war, which would be screen across China from November 13. The movie was made in 2018. 

It’s going to be the first Pakistani film to be shown in China in last 45 years. It’s a contrast of action and romance being shown as part of commemorations of upcoming 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties between Pakistan and China next year. 

The relationship between Pakistan and China has been very strong over the years and it has also been referred to as iron clad brotherhood.

China-made Pakistan's Orange Line Metro Train being commissioned at Lahore on October 25

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Orange Line Metro Train, developed with financial and technical assistance of China, is scheduled to be inaugurated by the Punjab Chief Minister, Usman Buzdar, at Lahore on October 25. 

For the auspicious occasion, the new Chinese Ambassador, Rong Nong who arrived in Pakistan a couple of days ago, has also been invited. 

The metro train for the public will be available from October 26. A fare of Rupees 40 has been fixed initially and it will be reviewed after six months. The metro train will cover 27-km distance in 45 minutes.

In the first phase, the train would start operation from 7 in the morning and end operation at 8 in night. A team of Chinese experts has imparted training to Pakistani train drivers and other associated staff. 

The commissioning of metro train has fulfilled another project launched under the auspices of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Friday, October 23, 2020

New Chinese Ambassador arrives in Pakistan

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The new Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, Nong Rong, has arrived in Islamabad on October 22 to assume his responsibility. 

Pang Chunxue, Minister-Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, and Amin, Deputy Director of the Protocol Department of Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs greeted Ambassador Nong Rong at the airport, according to a statement issued by the Chinese embassy in Islamabad. 

On behalf of the Pakistani government, Amin warmly welcomed the ambassador to Pakistan and said that Pakistan and China are all-weather strategic partners and hardcore friends. 

Friendly cooperation with China has been the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy and the consensus of all sectors of Pakistani society. 

Pakistan expected that the relations with China will be further improved during the term of Ambassador Nong Rong known well as an expert in the field of agriculture. 

Ambassador Nong thanked the Pakistan authorities for warm welcome and regarded it as a great honour to be in Pakistan. 

"I look forward to strengthening all-round exchanges and cooperation with all walks of life in Pakistan, promoting the comprehensive and in-depth development of the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership, and jointly building a closer China-Pakistan community of destiny,” he remarked on the occasion.

Afghan parliamentary delegation heads for Pakistan

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
A delegation of Wolesi JIRGA (Afghanistan Parliament) led by Speaker Rahmani left Kabul for Islamabad to hold talks with Pakistani officials on the peace process, relations between parliaments of the two countries and other current topics, Abdul Qadir Zazai Watandost, head of the secretariat of the parliament, stated in Kabul on October 23. 

Watandost disclosed that the visit was being undertaken on the invitation of Asad Qaiser, the speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan. 

The parliamentary delegation will hold talks with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, Asad Qaiser, the Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, and the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi among other high-ranking officials. 

Watandost shared that three topics will be discussed in their meetings which include relations between parliaments of the two countries, the Afghan peace process and building coordination between Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

He added that the plight of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and the visa problem for Afghan citizens will also be discussed in their meetings with Pakistani officials.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

China begins COVID-19 vaccine shots

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
China has begun using COVID-19 vaccine among its nationals as a pilot project to ascertain its results on the human body. 

According to the reports on October 20, Shaoxing in East China Zhejiang province has launched the voluntary emergency COVID-19 vaccine use drive for the city residents. It is being followed by Jiaxing and Yiwu cities of the same province. 

Meanwhile, China has declared that the country was following the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines in COVID-19 emergency rules. 

"Only people with high exposure to COVID-19 have received vaccine for emergency use in China without showing any serious adverse effects,” a Chinese official was quoted as saying. 

The Chinese major vaccine producer, China National Pharmaceutical Group of Sinopharm, has informed that it had only started its urgent use of vaccine in China. It further said that Sinopharm was fully prepared for massive production of vaccine as soon as it gets a go-ahead signal.

Moeed Yousaf’s remarks about Xinjiang lauded

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
China has lauded the remarks of Prime Minister's Advisor on National Security, Moeed Yusuf, on the Xinjiang situation for upholding a fair and objective stance on the relevant issue. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, in his regular briefing in Beijing on October 20, remarked that China commended Pakistan's support. 

The spokesperson explained that in fact, the international community knew and understood clearly the truth on Xinjiang related issues. 

Lijian pointed out that as many as 48 countries had made a joint statement at the third committee of the UN General Assembly expressing just stance on relevant issue. 

He added that these countries showed their understanding and support to China's position and opposed politicizing and applying double standard on human rights issues and also opposed groundless accusations against China.

Khawaja Naveed recognized for human rights contributions

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Noted lawyer and a former judge of the High Court of Sindh, Khawaja Naveed Ahmed, was presented a gold medal in recognition of his professional services as well as his contribution in the domain of human rights. 

He was awarded the medal by the Federal Law Minister, Farogh Naseem, at the 5th National Judicial Conference, organized by Justice Shahab Sarki under the auspices of Justice Help Line in the city of Karachi. Gold medals were also awarded to people belonging to different fields for their meritorious services.

In his speech, Khawaja Naveed spoke about the relationship between bar and bench as well as the role of lawyers fraternity towards human rights in the present day conditions.

Other eminent speakers on the occasion included former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Barrister Murtaza Wahab and others. The function was presided over by the Federal Minister, Farogh Naseem, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed.

Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas-Khokhrapar train resumption demanded

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The two-day DS Special inspection from Marvi station near Khokhrapar to Hyderabad was carried out by the Railways' officers under the supervision of Divisional Superintendent, Pakistan Railways, Karachi, Arshad Salam Khattak, on October 20. 

During an inspection of every station enroute, the Divisional Superintendent came across a large number of citizens demanding urgent resumption of Hyderabad-Mirpurkhas-Khokhrapar train service in their area. 

"The region is poverty-stricken and bus fares have gone up in the aftermath of COVID-19,” people having gathered at Khokhrapar station complained, believing that railway served the local population with the cheapest possible mode of journey". 

Shah Abdul Latif, Marvi and Mehran Express were the trains which operated between Hyderabad and Khokhropar prior to suspension of train operation earlier this year. 

The entire railways infrastructure along the 200 km track from Marvi station, former Zero Point to Hyderabad was extensively examined in two days.

The office records available at all the stations, conditions of level crossings, manned as well as unmanned, and durability and strength of bridges were paid special attention. 

During inspection as per customary practice, the deputed staff was inquired about accidental scenarios and troubleshooting techniques in order to judge their preparedness for coping with untoward scenarios. Cash prizes were awarded to officials who displayed command and masterful skills in their respective domain. 

To a question regarding settlement of post-retirement payments of employees, Arshad Khattak disclosed that the Ministry of Railways had approached the federal government in this regard and very soon all the liabilities falling under different heads of post-retirement payments would be cleared.

Olive saplings distributed in KP

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa (KP) government has distributed over nine thousand saplings of olive free of cost to the Bajore districts in order to boost its production. 

The KP government has planned to plant olive saplings in 15,000 acre of land that would help create jobs, generate income for the local population as well as the country could save a lot of precious foreign exchange being spent on import of edible oil made of olive. 

The federal government has also been proactive in this matter and efforts are being made for boosting this particular sector.

Olive harvest reaches 11,000 tons

By Masood Sattar Khan 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The local olive harvest cultivation in the country during the current season is projected to cross 11,000 tons, showing a significant development towards reducing reliance on the imported edible oil as well as to exploit the export potential of this particular agriculture produce.

“The country is expecting to extract about 13,000 tons of extra virgin olive worth millions of dollars that would help to boost the farm income with less investment and use of inputs,” Project Director of Olive Cultivation on Commercial Scale in Pakistan, Dr Muhammad Tariq, disclosed in an interview. 

He pointed out that olive has been successfully cultivated over 27,000 hectares of land across the country and it was set to extend its cultivation to over 70,000 hectares to turn the marginal lands into productive for enhancing the income of small scale growers. 

Under the olive cultivation project the farmers were provided about 550,000 plants last year and this year over 675,000 more plants would be distributed. 

Dr Tariq added that the government intended to provide about 2.2 million plants and bring about 50,000 hectares under olive cultivation by end of 2022-23, adding that if continued with same spirit, the country would be included in the list of potential exports of extra virgin olive oil. 

Meanwhile, the provincial governments of Punjab and Balochistan have also installed three units each in different districts, whereas the private sector was also active and had installed its mobile plants in Fasilabad and Chakwal. 

In order to facilitate the local growers of Balochistan, five oil processing units have been installed there, besides the farmers were also provided training of value addition of the product and processing. 

This year, he said that the government had decided to organize two-day International Olive Conference in Khuzdar, which would be virtually participated by experts from Greece, Italy and Spain, adding that local scientists and experts would also take part in the event. 

The conference to be held from October 21 is aimed to encourage olive cultivation in the province which have a brighter scope in back drop of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Monday, October 19, 2020

LPB to organize felicitation ceremony for Mayar-e-Zindagi on October 28

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), one of the oldest serving non-governmental organizations of the country, will be organizing felicitation ceremony for the newly published book ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ at its research office, housed in Liaquat Memorial Library, Karachi, on October 28. 

According to details, Prof Dr Ghani-ul-Akram Sabzwari, Founder President, LPB, and a former chairperson of the Library and Information Science department at the University of Karachi, Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, Chief Editor, Adab Wa Kutub Khana, and also the first lady chairperson of the Library and Information Science department at the University of Karachi, and Dr Amna Khatoon, Lecturer, Allama Iqbal Open University, will share their views about the book ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ having been authored by Asma Hassan. 

Eminent social worker, Nasreen Masood, who has contributed foreword to the book, will be the guest of honour on the occasion while its author Asma Hassan will join the action from Lahore via zoom. 

Having been brought out by Jumbo Publishing, ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ is being promoted as Dream Book by Dream Team and it has already caught the imagination of the masses as it made a worthy appearance at the recently concluded Online Book Fair organized by Paramount Books. 

‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ has been recognized for its catchy name, the attractive painting from emerging artist Beenish Khalid on the cover page, and the high quality contents between covers. The neatly printed hardbound book has a retail price of Rs 495 in Pakistan.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

KCCI chief tributes Hakim Said

By Syed Sajid Aziz
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“The whole world knows about Hakim Muhammad Said as a legendary scholar, author, researcher and philanthropist but let’s not lose sight of the fact that he was also a visionary entrepreneur who created jobs for millions of people during his lifetime by founding an organization like Hamdard Laboratories,” Shariq Vohra, President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), complimented on the occasion of the death anniversary of Hakim Muhammad Said on October 17. 

“The services of Hakim Muhammad Said the great in trade and commerce have not been particularly highlighted because of his awesome stature in the fields of tibb, medical science, literature, education and social work,” he added.

“We salute him and we remember him for his accomplishments which continue to be the source of inspiration for all of us,” the KCCI President acknowledged. Hakim Said was born at Delhi on January 9, 1920. 

He was a quick learner from the outset and he had acquired command in the languages of Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English from a young age. 

Although his family had an established herbal medical business in India, he chose to migrate to the newly founded country of Pakistan in 1948. 

Upon arrival he began his practice of tibb at Karachi before setting up Hamdard Dawakhana at a later stage from where he started manufacturing of herbal medicines. 

The establishment of Hamdard Laboratories turned out to be a masterstroke as it produced, among others, the flagship syrup of Rooh Afza which became one of the leading brands of the country. He started Hamdard Foundation to extend his philanthropic works. 

Hailed as one of the most respected personalities of the country, Hakim Said was appointed the Governor of Sindh in 1993. He was assassinated in Karachi on October 17, 1998.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Former SSUET VC passes away

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Prof Dr Jawaid Hassan Rivzi, a former Vice Chancellor and Dean Applied Sciences of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET) passed away on October 16. 

A learned mathematician and a proactive administrator, he had earned the reputation of being a thorough gentleman man and a kind human being whose forte was courteous attitude towards his associates and fellow professionals. 

He’s recognized for having played a pivotal role in the progress, success and development of the SSUET and his services will be remembered for a long time. 

Sports in general and cricket in particular were among his favourite pastimes and he followed the big events very keenly despite his preoccupations at the SSUET.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Climate change documentary series developed

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
In a bid to spotlight the dire consequences of climate change in Central and South Asia, the Aga Khan University (AKU), the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) and the University of Central Asia (UCA) have launched a film series focusing on the catastrophic impact of the rapid melting of the world’s largest repository of ice outside the polar regions. 

Echoing the call to action of the #EarthshotPrize, Voices from the Roof of the World (VRW) will help local filmmakers produce impactful documentaries about the consequences of global warming for the wildlife and the 240 million people living among the world’s highest mountains and the almost two billion people dependent on the great rivers that all begins at www.aku.edu/vrw 

“The future of South and Central Asia will be decisively shaped by environmental conditions in the mountainous region stretching from Nepal to Kyrgyzstan.We believe it is crucial to draw attention to what is happening, what is at stake and what can be done to address this looming crisis. We aim to reach millions of people through Voices from the Roof of the World, and to build support for efforts to protect the region’s environment both for its inhabitants and the countless people who depend on its waters,” the AKU President, Firoz Rasul, observed. 

“The people of the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, Karakoram and Pamir mountains live on the frontline of climate change, much like Pacific islanders and residents of the Bay of Bengal. The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat works with them to protect their habitat and to ensure that they can thrive, even with the mounting danger. By developing solutions and studying climate change adaptation, our work will benefit other people under similar threat, now and in the future. Not only will this project give vulnerable communities a voice, it will help others feel the starkness of the climate-change challenge,” Onno Rühl, General Manager of the AKAH, stated. 

“Global warming is not coming. It is already here, and the University of Central Asia, through its Mountain Societies Research Institute, is uniquely placed in the region to respond to the challenges of climate change. Voices from the Roof of the World can help in creating urgently needed awareness of issues such as water management and food security, and the potentially devastating impact of climate change on mountain communities,” Dr Bohdan Krawchenko, Dean of the Graduate School of Development at the UCA, remarked.

Voices from the Roof of the World (VRW) is based on an award-winning series of 52 half-hour documentaries called Giving Nature a Voice, created at the Aga Khan University’s Graduate School of Media and Communications in Nairobi, Kenya (https://www.aku.edu/gnv/Pages/home.aspx). That series has already prodded policymakers, business leaders and citizens to take action, including banning plastic bags, stopping new coal fired energy plants and passing legislation to protect unregulated fisheries. VRW will use this proven model on the roof of the world. 

“We are literally seeing the earth’s future go up in flames. Only by working together across borders and cultures can we hope to stop this impending disaster. From farmers to filmmakers, from scientists to students, we can all play an important role in saving our planet,” Andrew Tkach, director of the Voices from the Roof of the World project, reckoned.  

Pakistan’s first e-bike service launched

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Pakistan's first-ever electric bike-sharing service has been launched that will be available in first phase in twin cities of Rawalpindi-Islamabad followed by all major cities. 

The Minister for Information Technology and Telecom, Syed Amin-ul-Haque, while performing the launching said that ezBike would be a great option, especially for working women. 

The bikes would be available near stations of the metro-bus service in the twin cities. 

Launched by Roamer Technologies, an Islamabad-based startup, ezBike is an app-based service that deploys electric bikes around the city. The entire procedure from registration to booking and payment is digital. Users pay Rs 5 to unlock the bike and Rs 5 per minute will be charged on their ride. 

Mohammad Hadi, CEO, Roamer Technologies, remarked that only 10 percent of the Pakistani population owned a vehicle and mobility was still a largely unsolved problem. 

He disclosed that ezBike planned to deploy over 2,000 electric bikes within the next year.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Relief in Karachi?

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
To the disbelief of many, Karachi, the worst affected, among big cities of Pakistan, due to COVID-19 reported its daily new cases very marginally on October 11, which was 22 during the last 24 hours, taking the tally of the infections to 140,294 for the entire province.

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his daily COVID-19 statement on October 11, shared that in all 163 new cases were detected out of 8,497 tests across the province. 

According to him, Karachi division’s four districts registered a total 22 new cases, while two others, South and Korangi, did not report any cases during the last 24 hours ending October 11 morning. 

Karachi was the city which reported the first COVID-19 case of the country on February 26 and since then there had been no letup in term of the infection here. Since the outbreak the city reported on an average 400 new cases daily until October 10. 

Keen observers were of the view that the October 11 figure was not any true reflection of the disease’s prevalence in Karachi. 

According to official data, there were 4,810 active patients of COVID-19 in the province by October 11, including 4,506 receiving the treatment at homes, six in the isolation centres and 298 in hospitals, including 148 critically ill and 22 put on ventilators. 

In the meantime, six more expired in the province during the last 24 hours, taking the total of COVID-19 fatalities to 2,555. 

The breakdown of the new cases remained as Karachi (22), Hyderabad (9), Dadu (8), Jamshoro (6), Sanghar (4), Ghotki (3), Larkana (3), Matiari (2), Mirpurkhas (2), Sujawal (2), Tando Allahyar (2), Shaheed Benazirabad (1), Shikarpur (1), Tando Mohammad Khan (1), Umerkot (1) and Badin (1). On the other hand, 137 patients recovered from the diseases, taking the tally of cured people to 132,933.

Railways to mobilize all resources to overcome train derailments: DS Karachi

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Divisional Superintendent of Pakistan Railways, Karachi, Arshad Salam Khattak, has vowed that their institution will mobilize all resources to overcome train derailments and prevent accidents. 

He conducted an extensive inspection of railways infrastructure from Karachi City to Karachi Bunder, commonly called KBX yard, on October 12. 

He was accompanied by Divisional Transportation Officer (P) Ghulam Farid Asad, Divisional Engineer-1, Khadim Hussain Bhambro, Divisional Medical Officer Dr Abdul Samad, Assistant Officers and related staff. 

The pedestrian inspection, primarily focused on the track, was so holistic that it took four hours in covering almost one mile distance. 

The staff deputed enroute was inquired about the recent derailments happened in yards. 

The DS pinpointed the spots of derailments along the track and directed the concerned officers for utilizing all the available resources for concluding a smooth and steady freight train operation. 

The office record available at SS office City Station and Divisional Transportation Manager (Dry Port) office was also examined thoroughly. The DS was apprised about some major requisites by the staff working at the site. He directed the officers for providing them at the earliest.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

China joins global effort to ensure COVID vaccine access for all

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
China has placed itself among three additional countries to have signed on to a global initiative aimed at ensuring fair and equitable access to a coronavirus vaccine once developed, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), a UN specialized agency. 

Together with South Korea and the tiny Pacific island of Nauru, China joined the COVAX Facility this week, bringing the total number of participating nations and economies to 171, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has announced during his regular media briefing in Geneva on the pandemic. 

“The world is eagerly anticipating the results of trials of vaccines against COVID-19, which are needed for WHO authorization. Once we have an effective vaccine, we must also use it effectively, and the best way to do that is by making sure it’s available to all countries equitably through the COVAX Facility,” Tedros said. 

The global mechanism will work to deliver two billion doses by the end of next year. It currently has the largest portfolio of potential vaccines, with several in advanced human trials. 

“The more countries that participate in the COVAX Facility, the greater opportunity of being able to roll out vaccines as rapidly as possible, as fairly as possible, to reduce the risk of severe COVID disease globally,” Dr. Bruce Aylward, Senior WHO Advisor, added.

Coronavirus Update: Spike halted?

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Though there was an impression that cases of COVID-19 were on increase again in Sindh, the authorities on October 10. confirmed an almost 50% decrease in number of samples tested for the virus across the province during the last 24 hours.

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his COVID-19 status statement, revealed that as many as 7,515 suspected samples were examined at different laboratories by October 10 morning, against the collective daily maximum capacity of 14,940 tests. 

No reason was given for the reduced testing activities, while the daily new infection rate remained static around 3%. 
The designated COVID-19 testing services had handled 11,138 samples during the 24 hours ending on October 9 morning, out of which 376 (3.37%) were found positive for the lethal virus. 

According to the chief minister’s statement, as many as six new relevant fatalities were registered on October 10, while the number of patients actively suffering from the virus stood at 4,787, out of which 4,491 were in home-isolation, six in the isolation centre, while only 289 were hospitalized, including 187 those undergoing the critical phase of their health and 32 put on ventilators. 

As far as the breakdown of 221new cases were concerned, Karachi headed the table once with 59 cases (27%) followed by Hyderabad (11), Jamshoro (8), Larkana (5), Sukkur (5), Ghotki (3), Mirpurkhas (3), Shaheed Benazirabad (2), Tando Mohammad Khan (2), Jacobabad (2), Dadu (1), Umerkot (1) and others. 

Of the laboratories designated for the coronavirus detection at Karachi, five each from the private and public sector facilities conducted 3,075 tests during the last 24 hours, against 4,440 samples examined by two public sector laboratories at Hyderabad and Larkana. 

According to official reports, six deaths registered by Sindh on October 10 included five from Karachi and one from Shaheed Benazirabad. It was learnt that the two persons who lost their lives due to the virus infection on October 9 belonged to Karachi while two of the eight people, who expired on October 8, were reported receiving treatment at homes.

Dream book ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ brightens Paramount’s Online Book Fair

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Jumbo Publishing’s recently published dream book ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ happens to be a star attraction in the Online Book Fair 2020 being organized by Paramount Books, the market leaders in bookselling industry of Pakistan. 

The ongoing event, having started on October 9, will continue until October 18. ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ is a compilation of articles and write-ups authored by the Lahore-based Asma Hassan, who has been launched as an author by Jumbo Publishing, having the reputation of promoting and supporting budding intellectuals besides working with the literary bigwigs. 

‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ is a kind of book which will captivate the readers with its subjects which they come across in day to day life routinely.

It’s quite refreshing to go through the observations of a young writer who has also offered possible solutions for the problems which keep confronting people of all ages. 

‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ has been very rightly classified in the sociology section by Paramount Books and, as it could be seen on the website, it’s probably the only such book in its category available in Urdu at the moment. 

‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ has already been acclaimed for its name, the eye-catching painting from promising artist Beenish Khalid on the cover page, and the contents. 

The hardbound book, having a retail price of Rs 495 in Pakistan, is available for Rs 446 during the ongoing Paramount’s Online Book Fair which can be accessed by clicking www.paramountbooks.com.pk 

Once reaching the website of Paramount Books, one can find a huge number of titles, besides Asma Hassan’s Mayar-e-Zindagi, on every conceivable subject and the attraction of generous discounts during the Online Book Fair should make it one of the most visited portals during the next one week or so.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Coronavirus Update: Karachi under siege again

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Karachi division’s COVID-19 related fatalities reached to 2,184 on October 8 when the authorities confirmed detection of another 376 infections, with six new deaths, across the province during the last 24 hours.

According to official data, five of the new coronavirus related fatalities were registered in Karachi’s districts, West (3), Malir (1) and South (1), while one was from Tando Mohammad Khan.

The case fatality rate in the case of Karachi remained 2.43%, with a total 90,431 infections, as of October 8. 

The maximum COVID-19 deaths reported in Karachi were from its East district (711 deaths), with a total 27,337 cases of the lethal virus. 

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his routine statement on coronavirus status, issued on October 8, shared that there were 4,653 active cases of COVID-19 in Sindh, out of which 4,347 were kept in home-isolation, while another six were receiving treatment at the isolation centres. 

“Of the 300 patients admitted at various hospitals, 190 were undergoing the critical phase of their health, while another 21 were put on ventilators,” he added. 

The breakdown of new COVID-19 cases came as: Karachi (207), followed by Dadu (13), Tando Allahyar (13), Hyderabad (13), Khairpur (12), Sukkur (11), Jamshoro (10), Tando Mohammad Khan (6), Badin (5), Larkana (4), Umerkot (3), Jacobabad (2), Mirpurkhas (2), Thatta (2) and others. Ghotki, Kashmore, Naushero Feroze, Sanghar, Shaheed Benazirabad and Sujwal registered one new case each during the last 24 hours. 

In the meantime, as revealed in an official data, one of the eight deaths that occurred in Sindh on October 6 included a deceased who lost his or her life at home. Sindh’s total number of infections reached to 139,571, with 2,541 fatalities, on October 8.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Drone technology policy next week

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Fawad Chaudhary, has declared that the government would announce its drone technology policy sometime in the coming week.

“At present three companies in Pakistan are manufacturing drones for agriculture use,” the minister remarked in an interview. 

He regretted that countries around the world expand their budget on research and innovation but, on the contrary, Pakistan has had to slash it because of the financial constraints. 

Minister Fawad Chaudhary continued to point out that the United States (US) alone was spending something around three billion Pakistani rupees on development of COVID-19 vaccine.

Coronavirus Update: Infection rate rising unabated

By Mukhtar Alam 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Sindh’s daily COVID-19 infection rates continued rising on October 7 when authorities confirmed 304 cases, out of 9,094 samples, with four new related fatalities during the last 24 hours.

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his daily coronavirus status statement on October 7, reminded that people should understand the gravity of situation and observe the standard operating procedures relevant to COVID-19. 

He shared that the health condition of 189, out of 268 admitted at hospital, was told critical, while 21 were put on ventilators during the last 24 hours ending at October 7 morning. 

There were still 4,477 active patients of COVID-19, including 4,203 isolated at homes across the province, while 282 recovered from the diseases during the last 24 hours. 

Sindh’s daily infection rate came as 3.34% while the district-wise detection of cases remained: Karachi (198), Ghotki (18), Hyderabad (17), Jamshoro (10) Mirpurkhas (8), Matiari (6), Shaheed Benazirabad (5), Badin (3), Dadu (2), Naushero Feroze (2), Tando Allahyar (2), Thatta (1), Umerkot (1) and others.

Pakistan spearheads support to China at UNGA on HK, Xinjiang

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Spearheaded by Pakistan, China has earned the support of around 70 counties for its stance and policies on Hong Kong and Xinjiang-related issues at the Third Committee of the 75th UN General Assembly. 

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Hua Chunying, in a briefing in Beijing, remarked that Pakistan had made a joint statement on issues related to Hong Kong on behalf of 55 countries, and Cuba made a joint statement on issues related to Xinjiang on behalf of 45 countries, supporting China’s position and measures.

“These countries believe that China’s enactment and implementation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region National Security Law is conducive to the stability and long-term development of “One Country, Two Systems” and is conducive to maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and noted that the legal rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents can also be better protected in a safe environment. 

Hua said these countries appreciated that China’s Xinjiang had taken a series of measures in accordance with the law to deal with the threats of terrorism and extremism and protect the human rights of the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang. 

“These countries emphasized that non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states was an important principle of the UN Charter, and they firmly opposed the politicization of human rights issues and double standards, and they opposed unwarranted accusations and unreasonable interference in China,” she added.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Coronavirus Update: No respite in Sindh

By Mukhtar Alam
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Sindh had no respite from COVID-19 as it registered another eight relevant deaths six at Karachi and two in other districts, with 298 new infections out of 9754 samples, during the last 24 hours ending on October 6 morning.

The Sindh Chief Minister, Syed Murad Ali Shah, in his daily COVID-19 status statement, shared that there were 4,529 active cases of the virus in the province, as of October 6, out of which 4,250 were in home-isolation, six in isolation centres and 273 in hospitals, including 182 those in critical condition, while 25 were put on ventilators. 

As many as 131,831 patients have recovered from the disease while 2,531 lost their lives due the infection. 

Eight new deaths were reported from the province comprising of Karachi (6), Badin (1) and Tando Allahyar (1). 

Karachi Central reported the maximum two new deaths, taking its tally of COVID-19 fatalities to 467 out of 15,421 cases. 

During the last 24 hours, four COVID-19 testing laboratories in the interior districts of Sindh performed 5,152 tests against 4,602 conducted by laboratories in Karachi, where the new positivity rate came as 3.69% against Sindh’s overall daily positivity rate of 3.05%. 

The district-wise breakdown of cases on October 6 remained: Karachi (170), Larkana (24), Kashmore (13), Hyderabad (12), Jamshoro (9), Matiari (7), Dadu (3), Sukkur (3), Naushero Feroze (3), Badin (2), Kambar Shahdadkot (2), Shikarpur (2), Tando Allahyar (2), Shaheed Benazirabad (1) and others.