Monday, March 29, 2021

Haseena Moin’s tribute to Jumbo Karachi Guide

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s legendary playwright and dramatist, Haseena Moin, who passed away recently, had lavishly praised Jumbo Karachi Guide, the first-ever travel guide of its kind launched by Jumbo Infomedia in 2011. 

“Any effort aimed at promoting Karachi has to be appreciated and it’s very thoughtful of those working journalists to have produced Jumbo Karachi Guide which is destined to become a successful publication,” Haseena Moin had remarked in her comments which were published in the Words of Encouragement section of the guide in its third edition in 2013. 

Jumbo Karachi Guide has lived upto the expectations and its successive annual editions have been playing monumental role in promoting the soft image of the country during the past one decade.

Dr Riffat Parveen debuts as author

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Dr Riffat Parveen Siddiqui, who has been teaching at University of Karachi’s Library & Information Science department since 1999, has been a prolific writer for the past many years and she has debuted recently as an author with ‘Pakistan Kay Urdu Hawalajati Makhuzat’ being first book which has been published by the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB). 

The LPB, since its inception in 1966, has been providing a platform to the teachers and scholars in particular to get their works published in book form and the bureau is credited to have launched many new authors, with Dr Riffat Parveen being the latest addition to the elite list. 

Dr Riffat Parveen has had a brilliant scholastic record as she secured as many as three gold medals for her accomplishments. She has worked under the guidance of Prof Dr Tahir Masood for her doctorate degree and the book ‘Pakistan Kay Urdu Hawalajati Makhuzat’ is actually derived from her thesis. 

Although it’s her maiden book, quite a few of her articles have been published in renowned journals. Besides being passionate about her chosen field of library and information science, she has interest in Urdu literature, both prose and poetry. 

‘Pakistan Kay Urdu Hawalajati Makhuzat’ which could be translated as Urdu reference sources from Pakistan is spread over 130 pages and the hardbound book has been priced PKR 500 per copy which looks quite reasonable in the current circumstances. 

The book can serve as a useful reference tool for carrying out research and it should be of immense benefit to the students in general. The book carries precious information and data about key subjects which have been neatly and precisely listed between its covers.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Philosopher’s poetic collection Pyar Kay Rung spreads love

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
Pakistan News & Features Services
It’s not often when the philosophers choose to share their poetic prowess publicly but Dr Shafqat Bukhari has done it by getting a book published which has been very appropriately titled as ‘Pyar Kay Rung’ as her poetry has revolved around love. 

Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), which has been instrumental in persuading lots of scholars to engage into practice of writing books to preserve their own works for posterity, was at work again and the Karachi-based organization has produced another worthy book ‘Pyar Kay Rung’ which is a poetic collection of Dr Shafqat Bukhari.

“Dr Shafqat Bukhari is a renowned personality in the philosophical circles of Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular. After doing masters in philosophy from the University of Karachi in 1979, she had done PhD in same subject. She continued teaching at St Joseph College, Karachi, for more than three decades while she taught at Muhammad Ali Jinnah University (MAJU) until 2017,” Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, heading the LPB operations at Karachi, wrote while introducing the philosopher poet. 

‘Pyar Kay Rung’ is the maiden compilation of Dr Shafqat Bukhari Shafaq, the poet, to be published in book form but there are indications of more to come in future as she gets a break after a long teaching career.

In the foreword to the book, the poet has acknowledged with thanks the overwhelming support of Prof Dr Nasim Fatima in facilitating the publication of the book. 

The 148-page hardbound neatly printed book, with a simple title instead of colourful one, has been priced PKR 200 which seemed on the lower side in view of the high quality offset paper used.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Sajid Hasan heartbroken with Haseena’s demise

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Versatile actor Sajid Hasan has felt devastated and heartbroken with the demise of the legendary playwright and dramatist, Haseena Moin, on March 25. 

“Words fail me. In deep mourning…. Please don’t call me to say anything,” was his instant response on twitter soon after the tragic news was broken.

“Haseena Apa was family to me. I couldn’t go to her funeral. But I can’t stop my tears knowing I will not meet her again. She had a humungous influence over my entire career. I never knew what power she had as a writer when I joined Dhoop Kinaray,” Sajid Hasan observed after controlling his emotions. 

“Most people only know me through that one play. She was also like most artistes a very innocent and extremely humble soul. Never did I hear her raise her voice or be angry or be derogatory to any individual. She was always well dressed, always smiling. The last I met her was at the Arts Council, during elections. She was tired but still participated. Never did she complain about the cancer she suffered from for years and years. She was always lively. She was the best friend anyone could ever have,” he narrated. 

“After the bypass I was waiting for my chest wounds to heal so that I could call her and we would talk. Like all good Pakistani she was always worried about what was happening to the world of writing that she adored but all her worries ended now,” Sajid added. 

“Life won’t be the same without Haseena Apa now but death spares no one. With her we have lost perhaps the most amazing miraculous writer. I am forever her mourner and will miss her till my end,” he declared. 

Although his first major drama series was Khaleej, he became a star and a household name with his epic performance in Haseena Moin’s blockbuster play Dhoop Kinaray in which he had played a comedic role.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Legendary playwright Haseena Moin passes away

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Haseena Moin, the legendary Pakistani dramatist and playwright, passed away in her home city of Karachi on March 25. She was known to be battling cancer for the past few years but the cause of her death was not disclosed immediately. She was 79. 

She had passionately participated in the Pakistan Day event at the Arts Council of Pakistan (ACP) in Karachi on March 23 which turned out to be her last public appearance. Only a day earlier, she got her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the ACP’s vaccination centre where she hailed the professionalism of the staff present on the occasion. 

Having written several plays for stage, radio and television which gained international repute, she had become a legend in her own lifetime. She had also penned a congratulatory message for Jumbo Karachi Guide which was published in the Words of Encouragement section of its third edition.

Haseena Moin had immortalized herself by writing numerous blockbuster dramas like Ankahi, Tanhaiyaan', Kiran Kahani, Dhoop Kinaray, Aahat, Uncle Urfi, Shehzori, Kohar, Des Pardes, Pal Do Pal, Aansoo, Kasak, Parchaiyan and Parosi. 

Born at Kanpur, India, on November 20, 1941, she and received her early education at her ancestral place. She migrated to Karachi in the 1950s where she graduated from the Government College for Women and earned a Master of Arts in History from the University of Karachi in 1963. 

She earned the distinction of writing Pakistan's first original script 'Kiran Kahani' which was aired in the early 1970s. The dramas written by her were instrumental in adding value to the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and some of the characters of his plays have remained famous even after half a century. 

Hailed and recognized at various reputed forums, she was a worthy recipient of the prestigious Pride of Performance award for her services towards performing arts in Pakistan. She will be remembered for her works for a long time to come as the social websites were flooded with condolences soon after the announcement of her death.

Karachi Literature Festival 2021 launched virtually

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The 12th edition of the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF), having the theme of Imagining New Frontier, has got underway digitally on March 26. It began with a documentary, showcasing highlights of the previous edition of the event founded by the Oxford University Press (OUP) in 2010. 

The KLF 2021, being organized online due to the pandemic of COVID-19, is open to be accessed on their YouTube channel and Facebook page. The festival will continue until March 28. 

It will feature more than 140 speakers including, Zehra Nigah, Tarik Ali, Maleeha Lodhi, Ben Okri, Ahdaf Soueif, Victoria Schofield, Ishrat Hussain,and Anita Weiss to name a few, who are representing 12 different countries including Pakistan, UK, USA, Australia, Bangladesh, Iran, Egypt, France, Germany, Dubai, India, Kenya.

There are going to be 42 sessions with debates/discussions, talks, mushairas (poetry recitals) in both Urdu and English, book launches, and readings on subjects such as education, COVID-19,science fiction, and current affairs have been lined up for the three-day festival. 

The corporate support will continue with Bank of Punjab being the lead sponsor for the event while Getz Pharma will be giving away literary prizes sponsored by them in the categories of Urdu Prose, Urdu Poetry and English Fiction. 

“The pandemic has compelled us to imagine new frontiers of medicine, vaccines, digital learning and working from home. The pandemic has brought world closer together to find out of the box creative solutions. Vaccines have been developed in record time, schools have overcome lock downs through technology and use of electronic mediums. We need to re-imagine safe work environment whether in office, home or in schools. The world is already re-structuring delivery methods with digital and blended tools of learning,” Arshad Saeed Husain, Managing Director, OUP, observed.

It was stated that the aims of the current virtual edition of KLF remained the same as the previous ones which were to develop interaction between writers, intellectuals, and artists within Pakistan and across borders, cultures, and languages, and to nurture and promote books and inculcate the habit of reading. Despite the pandemic, the virtual edition will continue to put Pakistan on the map as a country rich in culture, creativity, and exchange of ideas and opinions.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Dr Faisal Mahmood, others receive civil awards

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi has conferred three civil awards on AKU faculty and alumni for their contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic in Sindh and Balochistan. 

Dr Faisal Mahmood, an associate professor at AKU, and two graduates of AKU’s postgraduate medical education programme, Dr Muhammad Farooq Uyghur, and Dr Shereen Khan received the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Medal of Distinction, during ceremonies in Karachi and Quetta. 

Dr Mahmood, who treated Pakistan’s first coronavirus patient in February 2020, has been at the forefront of public advocacy and public awareness efforts during the pandemic. 

He continues to be involved in provincial and national programs on the COVID-19 response providing technical advice on patient care and management, risk mitigation and policy matters. 

Dr Shereen Khan, head of the pulmonology department at Fatima Jinnah General and Chest Hospital, Quetta, and Dr Muhammad Farooq Uyghur, a pulmonologist at the same hospital, played a key role in setting up intensive care facilities across the province during the pandemic. 

Like Dr Mahmood, they also served as frontline healthcare workers to COVID-19 patients. All three award winners completed their education at AKU. Dr Mahmood is an alumnus of the Medical College’s MBBS class of 1997 while both Dr Uyghur and Dr Khan completed their residencies in pulmonology at the AKU.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Prof Justice Shahzado Shaikh’s address on World Speech Day

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“Today humanity is straddling on the cross, at the crossroads of unfolding expanses of sciences and humanities, increasingly mutilating the very complexion of human being and 'being human,” the Houston-based Prof Justice Shahzado Shaikh remarked in his address on the World Speech Day. 

“Today, some of the biggest challenges to the very survival of humanity emerge mainly from the man's own making, that is through reasoning and research, for example, the artificial intelligence, and the genetics, with the immense potential to re-engineer the behavioral and physical frame of mankind,” he remarked humanity at crossroads being the theme of his speech. 

“Critical thinkers like Henry Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, and Daniel Huttenlocher, are apprehending even end of enlightenment. Henry Kissinger goes on further to warn that Artificial Intelligence will fundamentally alter human consciousness,” he added. 

“The assent of advancement without laws of regulating social gravity has the potential features to catapult mankind into virtual culture, tending further into virtual civilization to virtual life. That's it! It could mean the termination of human evolution into a non-human virtual entity, not a humane living being,” the Professor opined. 

“Fiction of today may be science of tomorrow! In the 21st century, mankind is facing these existential challenges along with the sufferings of all sorts from moral decadence, wars, poverty, hunger, to disease, and so on. The worst of all is the accelerating process of dehumanization devoring the human being to the state of being humane is dissolving, which otherwise is supposed to hold human beings together in its compassionate cast,” he stated.

“Humanity is threatened all around, over the globe, whether it be territorial, trade or finance policies of great powers, or the state of human rights, in different countries where the humanity has been forgotten in the name of national interest, power politics and insatiable greed of all kinds,” Prof Justice Shahzado Shaikh felt. 

“Without losing further time, the mankind has to make conscious decisions on preferences for humanity over race, peace over war, compassion over callousness, affluence along with humanity, distinct from animality, modernity along with human morality, and so on,” he concluded.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Eminent women’s letters to Dr Jamil Jalibi published in book form

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
 (Pakistan News & Features Services)
Letters written to and from famous personalities to their contemporaries have often been most sought after ones and the publication of its collection in book form is welcomed warmly by the literary circles. 

‘Khutoot-e-Ghalib’ which is a collection of letters written by Mirza Asadullah Ghalib, arguably the greatest-over poet of Urdu language, remains a precious gift for literary minded people in particular. 

Prof Dr Nasim Fatima, a renowned scholar and library scientist, has undertaken the arduous task of arranging the most significant letters written to Prof Dr Jamil Jalibi, one of the literary legends to have emerged from Pakistan, who passed away in April 2019 at the age of 90.

The 184-page hardbound book is titled ‘Doctor Jamil Jalibi Kay Naam Namwar Khawateen Kay Khutoot’ with his son Dr Khawar Jamil being its co-compiler. It’s priced PKR 500 per copy. 

Amna Abul Hasan, Ada Jafri, Altaf Fatima, Saqiba Rahimuddin, Surayya Hussain, Samina Raja, Samina Shoukat, Jamila Hashmi, Jilani Bano, Humaira Khatoon, Khadija Mastoor, Rabia Nehan, Rukhsana Seham Mirza, Rubina Shaheen, Razia Fasih Ahmed, Zahida Baqai, Zahida Hina, Zehra Nigah, Sultana Bakhsh, Sultana Mehar, Syeda Jaffar, Shaila Akhtar, Siddiqa Arman, Ayesha Siddiqa, Ismat Chughtai, Iffat Mohani, Saira Hashmi, Farkhanda Lodhi, Fahmida Riaz, Qurrat-ul-Ain Haider, Kishwar Naheed, Muazzama Tabassum, Mumtaz Shirin, Nasim Fatima, Nasima Binte Siraj, Wajida Tabassum and Hajira Masroor are the 38 eminent women whose letters to Dr Jamil Jalibi have been published in the fifth book of the series brought out by the Dr Jamil Jalibi Research Library.

The book has been dedicated to Dr Jamil Jalibi's daughter Sumaira Jamil, son-in-law Muhammad Abdullah and their children Shafaq Abdullah, Bilal Abdullah, Farooq Abdullah and Rafay Abdullah.

Co-authors Prof Dr Nasim Fatima and Dr Khawar Jamil have written a detailed foreword of the book.

"A lot of books have been written on Dr Jamil Jalibi but none of them have covered the aspects of his letter-writing and his correspondence with various learned ladies. The basic reason was the inaccessibility to the heaps of letters which were there  to be seen," they noted.

"We have carried out a research and we have found out that he had exchanged letters with no less than 200 ladies, some of whom were famous and a few of them were not so much known," they disclosed.

"The highest number of letters (286)  were from Jamila Hashmi, follow by Qurrat-ul-Ain Haider (124) and Nasim Fatima (70). Among others he had regular correspondence with Jilani Bano, Razia Fasih Ahmed, Shakila Akhtar, Sultana Bakhsh, Amber Hashmi, Mumtaz Shirin, Wajida Tabassum and Hajra Masroor," they revealed.

NLA to organize felicitation ceremony for Mayar-e-Zindagi

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The National Library Association (NLA), during its Executive Committee meeting held in Karachi on March 13, has decided to organize felicitation ceremony for Asma Hassan’s book Mayar-e-Zindagi, later this month. 

After deliberations, the NLA has chosen to hold the ceremony in the last week of March with its date and venue to be finalized during the next couple of days. 

The NLA office-bearers unanimously reckoned that Mayar-e-Zindagi, being such a nicely written book, deserves a big audience and they would prefer to hold the felicitation ceremony in a befitting manner.

“We are honoured to be provided an opportunity to engage into such kind of activity and we desire to make it count. We are grateful to the management of Jumbo Publishing for having accepted our request and we will finalize the date with mutual consent shortly,” Muzaffar Ali Shah, President, NLA, announced. 

The NLA Secretary General, Anwar Hussain, praised the content of ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ as the meeting was also attended by Muhammad Younis Hashmi and Mahmood Sultan besides Syed Khalid Mahmood, a member of the Association’s Advisory Committee. 

It may be recalled that the Library Promotion Bureau (LPB), one of the oldest non-governmental organizations of the country, had organized the first felicitation ceremony of ‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ last October while the book, authored by the promising Lahore-based writer Asma Hassan, was launched by the Karachi Press Club at their auditorium a couple of months later. 

‘Mayar-e-Zindagi’ is being promoted as Dream Book by Dream Team by Jumbo Publishing and it has been hailed as one of the best books of the recent times. The hardbound book is available at a retail price of Rs 495 in Pakistan and it can be ordered online as well.

Friday, March 12, 2021

ESUP hold maiden hybrid event

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The English Speaking Union of Pakistan (ESUP), headed by Aziz Memon, organized a hybrid meeting for the first time on March 11 as besides hosting a function at the Beach Luxury Hotel in Karachi, it also allowed participation via Zoom. 

It was also for the first meeting of the ESUP after their President, Aziz Memon, had been elected as Vice President of the English Speaking Union (ESU) International for a term of next couple of years. 

Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey, who was the guest speaker, joined the meeting from Islamabad and talked at length on the foreign policy of Turkey and Turkey-Pakistan bilateral relations. 

“Our foreign policy is based on respect for international law, helping ease regional conflicts, extending cooperation with other countries and taking up of positive initiatives and partnering with key countries for the welfare of countries such as Somalia or Afghanistan. Turkey makes its contributions relevant in the European Union as a strategic partner,” he observed.

“Unity in diversity will certainly go a long way in harmonious societies, and Turkey contributes constructively for dealing with multiple challenges while upholding common values and cooperation. We shall never lose our optimism,” he added. 

“It is more like a bond than a relationship. For friendships and relationships, you have a distance over which you can relate. But here we have a unique bond of which the most effective happens to be our people-to-people relations,” the Ambassador remarked while referring to bilateral relations between Turkey and Pakistan. 

“We have $900 million worth of trade annually and we still have more room to increase as our investors and entrepreneurs want to do more business with Pakistan. There is potential for investment of over a billion in Pakistan between the next 20 to 25 years in things such as hygiene products and construction material,” he reckoned. 

“Culture and tourism is like fertilizer for our bond. Our television dramas are a huge success in Pakistan. Their ratings here are much higher than in Turkey. An example of this is the serial Ertugrul. We share a Muslim history that we are proud of. All these things are good for bringing us together,” Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul highlighted. 

“Pakistan is definitely a beautiful and unique country, which people should be visiting. But tourism is not an easy thing. It needs the whole nation’s resolve. There needs to be a culture of education, a culture of service for which you need to train hundreds of people in the hospitality sector. Otherwise, it should not be difficult for Pakistan to get known as a tourist-welcoming nation as Pakistanis are welcoming and friendly by nature,” the Ambassador explained. 

Meanwhile Aziz Memon, President, ESUP, presented a plaque to Tolga Ucak, Consul General of Turkey, on behalf of Ambassador Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul. The ESUP Treasurer, Husain Basrai and Secretary General, Majyd Aziz were also present on the occasion alongwith Moin M. Fudda, member NCEC.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Rotary Darakhshan celebrate International Women’s Day

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Rotary Club of Karachi Darakhshan (RCKD), having a large number of women members in its folds, organized a ceremony to celebrate International Women’s Day in Karachi on March 8. 

Engr Asim Murtaza Khan, President, RCKD, in his welcome address, acknowledged the role of the women members in making the club as one of the very best in the country. 

Jahangir Moghul, Charter President, RCKD as well as a Past District Governor of Rotary International, also paid tributes to the women members of the club for having lent invaluable support at all times.

Kousar Moghul, Ghazala Khan, Natasha Waqas and Farzana Awais, the women members of the club present on the occasion, shared their experiences and stories to explain how passionately they have served the cause of Rotary by actively participating in various humanitarian projects from time to time. 

Barrister Sarah Khan, who was the RCKD President in 2018-19, also recalled her glorious tenure in which lots of activities were held throughout the year to serve the humanity.

The RCKD's women folks expressed their desire to contribute even more enthusiastically in future projects and they expected the club leadership to do more in ensuring bigger role for them.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

New Lancet series highlights under-nutrition issues

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Lancet has recently published the latest Series on Maternal and Child Under-nutrition Progress, including three new papers that build upon findings from the previous 2008 and 2013 Series, which established an evidence-based global agenda for tackling under-nutrition over the past decade. 

The faculty members from the Aga Khan University (AKU) are among the authors of the series of papers which conclude that despite modest progress in some areas, maternal and child under-nutrition remains a major global health concern, particularly as recent gains may be offset by the COVID-19 pandemic. AKU’s Professor Zulfiqar A Bhutta and Dr Jai K. Das are senior and lead authors of two papers in the series. 

The series found that the prevalence of childhood stunting rates fell in low-income countries from 47.1 per cent to 36.6 per cent from 2000 to 2015, but less so in middle-income countries where rates fell from 23.8 per cent to 18.0 per cent. Yet, the world is falling short of achieving the World Health Assembly Nutrition Target of reducing stunting by 50 per cent by 2025. By comparison, there was little progress in the percentage of children who are wasted in both middle- and low-income countries. 

A new finding also shows that nearly 5 (4.7) percent of children are simultaneously affected by both stunting and wasting, a condition associated with a 4.8-times increase in mortality. The incidence of stunting and wasting is highest in the first 6 months of life, but also exists in part at birth. For maternal nutrition, although the prevalence of under-nutrition (low body mass index) has fallen, anemia and short stature remain very high. 

The series reiterates that previously highlighted interventions continue to be effective at reducing stunting, micronutrient deficiencies, and child deaths and emphasizes the importance of delivering these nutrition interventions within the first 1,000 days of life. However, despite this evidence, programme delivery has lagged behind the science and further financing is needed to scale up proven interventions. 

“Governments and donors must recommit to the unfinished agenda of maternal and child under-nutrition with sustained and consistent financial commitments,” AKU’s Professor Zulfiqar A Bhutta, who also serves as the co-director at the Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, and is the Series coordinator and senior author of the interventions paper, remarked. 

“Governments must expand coverage and improve quality of direct interventions—especially in the first 1,000 days; identify and address the immediate and underlying determinants of under-nutrition through indirect interventions; build and sustain a political and regulatory environment for nutrition action; and invest in monitoring and learning systems at national and subnational levels,” he added. 

They noted that Pakistan, like many developing countries, faces the challenge of the triple burden of malnutrition where stunted growth and deficiencies of essential nutrients are prevalent alongside a trend of rising overweight and obesity. 

“More than half of Pakistan’s population is food insecure and many essential nutritional interventions such as breastfeeding and complementary feeding indicators are far below the desired levels. Pakistan needs to reinvigorate its focus with a sustained viable strategy for ensuring improved health and nutrition for all to meet global targets in the near future,” they reckoned. 

“While there have been small improvements, specifically in middle-income countries, progress remains too slow on child wasting and stunting. The evidence also reinforces the need to focus on delivering interventions within the first 1,000 days, and to prioritize maternal nutrition for women’s own health as well as the health of their children,” Dr Victora of the International Center for Equity in Health, Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil remarked. 

Since the 2013 series, evidence on the efficacy of 10 recommended interventions has increased, along with evidence of newer interventions. New evidence strongly supports the use of preventive small-quantity lipid-based nutrient supplementation (SQ-LNS) for reducing childhood stunting, wasting, and underweight. It also supports the scale up of antenatal multiple micronutrient supplementation for preventing adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes and improving maternal health. 

Based on this new evidence, the Series presents a new framework for categorizing nutrition actions into direct and indirect interventions as well as health and non-health-care sector interventions. This framework highlights that evidence-based interventions continue to be a combination of direct interventions (e.g., micronutrient supplementation and breastfeeding counselling), and indirect interventions to address the underlying determinants of malnutrition (e.g., family planning and reproductive health services; cash transfer programs; and water, sanitation, and hygiene promotion). Nutritional interventions delivered within and outside the healthcare sector are equally crucial for preventing and managing malnutrition. 

“Our evidence supports the continued effectiveness of all the interventions from the 2013 Series. New evidence further supports the scale up of multiple micronutrient supplementation for pregnant women in favor of iron-folic acid supplementation and the inclusion of SQ-LNS for children, which brings us to 11 core interventions,” Dr Emily Keats of the Centre for Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, noted. 

“We now need to focus on improving intervention coverage, especially for the most vulnerable, through multi-sectoral actions,” Dr Jai Das of the Center of Excellence in Women and Child Health at Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, added.

An additional paper in the Series finds that coverage of direct nutrition interventions showed little improvement over the last decade and that renewed commitment, new insights from implementation research, and fast-tracked funding to increase coverage and improve quality of service delivery is desperately needed. 

It also highlights how both the evidence-base for and the implementation of interventions spanning nutrition, health, food systems, social protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene has evolved since the 2013 Lancet Series. The authors conclude the Series with a global call to action to recommit to the unfinished agenda of maternal and child under-nutrition. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cripple health systems, exacerbate food insecurity, and threatens to reverse decades of progress. For both the pandemic response and the rapidly approaching World Health Assembly 2025 global nutrition target deadlines, nutrition actors at all levels must respond to the call to action to bring together resources, leadership, and coordination, along with data and evidence, to address the worldwide burden of under-nutrition,” Dr Rebecca Heidkamp of the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, thought. 

In an accompanying commentary to the Series, Dr Meera Shekar, Global Lead for Nutrition at The World Bank and co-authors noted: “Progress on delivering what is known to work is unacceptably slow. To change this dynamic, we strongly believe that beyond prioritizing what to do, countries need much better guidance on how to do it at scale, with insights into how much financing is needed and how best to allocate resources to maximize impact.” 

In the last decade, nutrition has risen on the global agenda, spurred in part by the findings from the 2008 and 2013 Series. This new Series comes at a critical time, as 2021 has been deemed the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Year of Action, which will culminate in the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and the Tokyo N4G Summit in December 2021.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Railways officers trained as part of capacity building

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Capacity building of its human resource has become a priority with Pakistan Railways these days. Under its approved Triple Helix Model Project, Pakistan Railway has gone into an understanding with Pak Austria Fachhochshule-Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology at Mang, Haripur, to impart training to its officers of different disciplines including engineers from mechanical, civil, electrical, and signal and telecom engineering and also from stores, medical, traffic and commercial departments. 

A one week training course ‘An introduction to Rail Transport Economics and Financial Sustainability of Train Operations’ has already been organized at the Center of Excellence in Railway Engineering at PAF-IAST today. 

Speaking at the certificate distribution ceremony, Nisar Memon, CEO/Senior GM, Pakistan Railways, observed that such training courses conducted by professionals and experts at the modern teaching facilities of the institute would go a long way in bringing about a positive change in current ailing financial position of Pakistan Railways. There were a total of 15 participants who successfully completed the course. 

Earlier, Ishfaq Khattak, Advisor, Center of Excellence in Railway Engineering, explained the importance of such focused training course and reckoned that the relationship between PAF-IAST and Pakistan Railways would definitely grow in times to come. 

He said that the train operations were the bread and butter of railways and to understand the financial of trains was essentially required by every railway officer irrespective of discipline. 

Ishfaq Khattak, an experienced railway expert, added that the Center would be starting an MS Degree Program in ‘Railway Systems Engineering’ from fall semester this year. This would be in collaboration with Beijing Jiatong University, China, and the students would be given the option of getting dual degrees from PAF-IAST and Beijing University. In this regard, a MOU and an agreement has already been signed between the two universities. 

Dr Muhammad Mujahid, Acting Rector, while explaining the concept behind Pak Austria Fachhochschule said that the engineering studies at the Institute stress on skill development along with classroom and laboratory studies. He shared that they were under obligation to follow the Austrian Fachhochschule model being followed in their engineering university. 

The ceremony ended with distribution of certificates by Nisar Memon amongst the 15 participants, who were mostly from Karachi, Sukkur and Quetta divisions and from Ministry of Railways at Islamabad. The next course is expected to commence after a week’s gap.

SPARC to organize media dialogue on March 10

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The Society for Protection of Rights of Children (SPARC) is organizing a one-day workshop for media dialogue journalists and representatives on March 10.

The seminar, expected to be attended by some 30 journalists mostly from Karachi as well as from Lahore and Islamabad, is being held in the emerging harbour town of Gwadar. 

The seminar is aimed at dialogue on developing Karachi as a model tobacco-free city, an important issue confronting the metropolis making it a most hazardous international city. 

The SPARC, it may be recalled, was founded and registered in 1992. The idea for creating Pakistan’s leading child rights organization had come to fruition following a discussion between the SPARC founder, Anees Jillani, and the then UNICEF Program Officer in Islamabad.

Experts warn of more fatalities from treatable common surgical conditions

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
While the need for surgical care has been rapidly increasing in Pakistan, the capacity of the healthcare system has not expanded at the same pace to cater these needs. COVID-19 has widened the gap further with financial implications on healthcare system, education and research. 

It means, more people could die from treatable common surgical conditions, the experts warned while speaking at the inaugural session of the 6th AKU Annual Surgical Conference, Surgical Education and Training: Developing Standards. 

The College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan, is the main certifying institution for surgeons, while public and private teaching hospitals bear the burden of responsibility for surgical education and training.

“Long-term and short-term commitments are needed by the government bodies as well as private sector to address the shortage of trained surgical specialists, non-uniform presence of trained surgeons in urban and rural areas and absence of a centralised structured training body,” Hammad Ather, Professor of Surgery at Aga Khan University and the chair of the event organising committee, observed. 

“The need of the hour is to make surgical education and training curriculum compatible with national needs and global trends and develop cost-effective systems to produce an adequate number of skilled surgeons,” he added. 

Research from the conference was published in a special supplement of the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA). A study published in the supplement showed that a large proportion of surgical trainees in Pakistan experiences harassment, most frequently verbal and mental, with most cases passing unreported to the administration. Although overall harassment is similarly prevalent among male and female trainees, women are at a greater risk of sexual harassment. 

Additionally, many surgical trainees also face burnout and depression, which may be associated with certain forms of harassment, such as bullying. The researchers involved in the study were of the opinion that there is an overwhelming need for trainee surgeon support groups and other policies and interventions targeted at improving the workplace environment for surgical trainees in the country.

Julie A. Freischlag, AKU Trustee and Executive Vice President, Health Affairs and Dean, School of Medicine, Wake Forest University explained that the bravery is the quality or state of being brave, resolute in facing odds and able to meet danger or endure pain or hardship without giving in to fear. 

“During this pandemic, who you’re and wherever you’re, you need to speak up. You need to say that you’re not comfortable. You need to say something that perhaps isn’t popular, but that’s the only way you’re going to be able to make a change. When you’re brave, you empower others around you to be brave too. Be brave!” she stressed. 

“The global crisis has led to a few constructive adaptations in healthcare systems, including the development of tele-clinics, virtual academic sessions and conferences, increased usage of simulation and well-being of healthcare providers,” Adil Haider, Dean of AKU’s Medical College in Pakista, stated.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Aziz Memon first Pakistani to be elected ESU International’s VP

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
The widely respected figure of Aziz Memon, an eminent entrepreneur and philanthropist, earned another singular honour as he has been elected as Vice President of the English Speaking Union (ESU) International for a term of next couple of years. 

According to the results of recent election, declared by Jane Easton, the ESU’s Director General, Jonathan Callund from Chile has been elected as the President while Aziz Memon from Pakistan was elected as the Vice President. 

Aziz Memon has become the first Pakistani to be elected to this coveted post of the international body. He has been heading the Pakistan chapter of the ESU for the past six years. 

The ESU, an educational charity, was founded on June 28, 1918 at the initiative of an English writer and journalist, Sir Evelyn Wrench. During its long history, the ESU has played an important part in fostering cultural links between people of different nationalities. 

The original ties between Great Britain, the United States of America and Commonwealth countries have, in recent decades, been extended to most countries throughout the world. It is an independent, non-political body, operating with the support of many distinguished public figures. Corporate members support the ESU’s activities through sponsorship of individual awards and events. 

The mission of the ESU is to promote international understanding and human achievement through the English language. These aims are achieved through scholarships, awards, debating and public speaking competitions that encourage speaking skills and a variety of educational programmes for young people from all over the world. School children, students and young professionals are their main focus while the centre of their activities happens to be the international headquarters at Dartmouth House in London, which not only manages the international programmes but also provides advice and support for ESU, both nationally and internationally. 

Besides Aziz Memon, who heads the ESU in Pakistan, its other prominent members are Ahmed Jaffer, Gen. Atiq-ur-Rehman, Dinshaw Avari Sr, Kader A. Jaffer, Behram Avari, Shahid Hamid Maj. Gen. (R) Ali Masood Akram, Hussain Haroon, Shahida Jameel and Jahangir Moghul. 

A recipient of the prestigious President of Pakistan Pride of Performance Award, Aziz Memon has been recognized by USA Congressman Hon. Daniel M. Donovan while also receiving Louis Pasteur Medal by Pasteur Institute, France. 

Having served the Rotary cause with tremendous selflessness and intense compassion for decades, Aziz Memon was selected by acclamation as Rotary Foundation Trustee for a period of four years starting from July 1, 2020. It had taken 92 years for a Pakistani to acquire a position on the Rotary Board of Trustees. 

He has worked particularly hard to eradicate Polio from Pakistan as Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee member and Chair of National PolioPlus Committee. He has played a pivotal role in restricting the transmission of polio virus through myriad interventions, which also include the provision of safe drinking water to the residents of low-lying areas in the form of solar water filtration and reverse osmosis plants.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Plea to stop maltreatment of PIA retirees

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
A former General Manager of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has urged the Prime Minister to take action on maltreatment with the retired employees by the national airline. 

“The national airline has not increased pensions of retired employees since long and the retired employees are not being given any relief by the management of PIA,” Bashir Ahmad, who served and headed the Public Affairs department of the national carrier with distinction, pointed out. 

He recalled that there were only two increments in their pensions from 2009 to 2020, having been done in 2013 and 2019. 

 According to the Admin Order No 21/2016 dated July 26, 2016 the salaries of General Managers and above were increased with effect from October 1, 2015 (Rs 74,000) and then further increased with effect from January 1, 2017 (Rs 56,000), making the total increase of Rs 130,000 approximately. 

“The management should increase the pension of retired employees as per its circular No 21/2003 dated July 31, 2003. It is mentioned in this circular that ‘in future revision/suitable increase in pension shall be linked with salary revision of serving employees’ which makes it very clear,” Bashir reckoned. 

He added that the ground reality is that almost every year there is plausible increase in the pensions of federal and provincial government employees at the time of budgets but this doesn’t happen at PIA. 

 “The national airline gives its employees 32 percent of their total salary as pension but the formula (which was adopted in 2003) it applies in the end makes the pension calculated on their basic pay. This is not fair,” he reasoned. 

As per rules, he added, all other governmental organizations give their retired employees 50% of their salaries as pensions. “This was also in practice at PIA till the end of 2003 so the management should restore that practice,” the former General Manager stated. 

He said the retired employees have been demanding since long that the airline should either give them 50 percent pension on the basic pay or make the 32 percent pension to be given on their total salaries without applying the said formula. 

Moreover, he added, the payment of commuted amount must be given to the retired employees after attaining the age of 70 years as in practice in all government departments. 

“On behalf of all retired employees of PIA, I request the Prime Minister to direct the management to increase pensions in line with the salary increase with the ratio of serving employees, and in future pension increases should be made as per increase in federal budget every year by the government,” he concluded.