Friday, August 28, 2015

Music Video - Agar Tum Mil Jao - Tassawar Khanum

Can China Assert Itself in Afghanistan?

Phantom Official Trailer | Saif Ali Khan & Katrina Kaif | Releasing August 28

Three reasons why Pakistan is afraid of Phantom’s release

Phantom, based on the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, is adapted from S Hussain Zaidi's book, Mumbai Avengers. The action-thriller is banned in Pakistan on the plea of the Jama'at-ud-Da'wah chief and notorious terrorist, Hafiz Saeed. The film's producers, Sajid Nadiadwala and Siddharth Roy Kapur, are shocked that a court in Pakistan has admitted a plea by Saeed, who is reportedly the mastermind behind the 26/11 attacks. 

What's more distressing for director Kabir Khan and lead actors Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif is that the Censor Board of Pakistan hasn't even seen the film before banning it. The makers feel that Pakistan could be afraid to release this film, that releases in the rest of the world today, because:

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1. The four masterminds behind the 26/11 Mumbai carnage — Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, David Headley and Sajid Mir — allegedly have origins in Pakistan, though the country has been clearly denying their involvement.

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2. The Pakistan connect of these four masterminds could be making the country uncomfortable and hence, it has asked for the ban on Phantom, that shows how the 26/11 terror plot was reportedly hatched by people sitting in their country.

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3. The film portrays a solution to the attacks in the form of counter-insurgent operations,like the one that took place recently in Myanmar, which they want to keep away from the eyes of their common man. There are certain vested interests who don't wish to awaken the innocent people of Pakistan into seeing how they're being played.

PPP will never tolerate terrorism charges against its leaders: Qamar Zaman Kaira, Sherry Rehman

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Thursday strongly condemned the arrest of Dr Asim Hussain under terrorism charges and said that the party would not tolerate any terrorism charges against its leaders, which is the victim of terrorists.
Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, PPP leaders Sherry Rehman and Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the PPP is the victim of terrorism and now the party leaders were being charged under POPA.
They said that the PPP was being victimized, adding that the PPP leaders never run away from courts and always respected the courts and appeared before the courts. However, they regretted, non-bailable arrest warrants were being issued only against PPP leaders.
They said that the PPP leaders were ready to appear before any court and face the charges, but would never tolerate the terrorism charges against its leaders. “PPP is being victimized, we are hurled baseless allegations of terrorism because we are against terrorism”. It will be declaration of war if terror allegations leveled on PPP, he warned.
They said Yousuf Raza Gilani attended all hearings in NAB, whenever summoned while health condition of Makhdoom Amin Fahim was known to everyone.
They strongly condemned political victimisation of PPP.
They said that they were not naming any institution, but asking the government to stop the political victimization of the PPP leaders.

Are Pakistan’s female medical students to be doctors or wives?

In Pakistan's prestigious medical schools, female students outshine and outnumber their male counterparts. However, many do not end up as practising doctors - and now there are calls to limit their numbers, the BBC's Amber Shamsi in Islamabad reports.
Twenty fourth-year medical students are learning how to examine a patient with a throat infection. Today's lesson is as much about patient care as it is the anatomy of the throat.
The patient is real, a woman, and the instructor invites several of the female students to examine her, since cultural sensitivities dictate that she does not want to be inspected by a man. The instructor has his pick, since there are 17 women and three men in this group of students.
It is almost as if men are an endangered species in Pakistan's medical colleges.

'Catching a husband'

The government body that regulates the medical profession, the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), says more than 70% of medical students are women.
Competition to get into these medical colleges is tough - at one college I was told that they receive 10,000 applications for a 100 places. In the more prestigious colleges, students must get 90% grades or more in order to be considered.
I ask one male student why the women were outshining the men. He is in his fifth year, specialising in ear, nose and throat.
"Boys go out, hang out with their friends," he says. "Girls can't go out as much, so they stay at home and rote-learn."
In other words, perhaps the success of women students is not so much their own hard work, it is embedded in the culture of keeping girls at home.
And government figures suggest most of these bright female undergraduate doctors do not actually go on to practise. Only 23% of registered doctors are female.

Hot ticket

The vice-chancellor of the prestigious Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto medical university in Islamabad, Dr Javed Akram, says that girls are more focused on excelling academically than boys.
At the same time, he accepts that some female students are more keen on catching a husband than on pursuing a career.
"It's much easier for girls to get married once they are doctors and many girls don't really intend to work as professional doctors," he says.
"I know of hundreds of hundreds of female students who have qualified as a doctor or a dentist but they have never touched a patient."
Privately, many doctors - both male and female - tell me that a medical degree is an extremely hot ticket in the marriage market.
To confirm this claim, I visit the Aisha Marriage Bureau run by Kamran Ahmed and his wife. Business is so good they are opening their second branch in Islamabad.
Mr Ahmed says his best clients are mothers seeking doctor wives for their sons. "In social gatherings, it's very prestigious to introduce your daughter-in-law or wife as a doctor."
And he says if a young female doctor is even a little good-looking, then finding a match for her is a breeze. "By the way, if you know of any single doctor girls, please let me know. I have boys who are looking," he adds in a cheeky aside.
But the "doctor wife" is more than a trophy: her absence from hospitals has serious implications on the healthcare system of a poor country like Pakistan.
The government spends millions of rupees on subsidies per student - yet there is a serious shortage of doctors, especially in rural areas where women prefer to be examined by female doctors.

'More women-friendly'

Dr Shaista Faisal is an official with the PMDC whose research into the subject led the council to try and introduce a limit on the number of women being admitted to medical colleges.
When news of the "quota" on male-female admissions broke in the local media it quickly drew flak and controversy. But the PMDC insists it is the only solution.
"It's not a quota. We want 50% of admissions to be for males and 50% for females," Dr Faisal says, a little defensively.
"It's not discrimination. I don't think we're allowing boys who don't study to get into medical schools. This shortage of doctors is the biggest challenge to Pakistan's health system."
Human rights lawyer Shahzad Akbar strongly disagrees. "The wrong here is that women are being discriminated against here for being too smart."
Mr Akbar has filed a petition in court challenging the decision to introduce the "quota". He calls it unconstitutional and says the government should encourage women to stay in the profession instead.
"The answer is that they have to make the working environment more women-friendly rather than saying, no, you can't be a doctor because you end up leaving the profession."
Columnist Fasi Zaka also believes that the government has the wrong end of the stick.
"Yes, doctors are leaving, but the restrictions should be at the point of exit rather than entry." He suggests asking those who fail to practise to reimburse the government the large sums it costs to train them.
Back at the medical school, two starry-eyed female students tell me they are determined to become doctors. But if they were asked to choose between their careers or their families, which would it be?
"I'd try to convince them," says 20-year-old Eliya Khawar. "But if they aren't, I'd choose family."
Her classmate Manza Maqsood concurs. "Family. In our culture, family always comes first."
Everyone seems to agree on the diagnosis of the problem, but not on the cure. Maybe, it's time to introduce a quota for women with pushy families.

Balochistan: Epicenter of Drugs Smuggling and Usage

By Abdul Baseer Khan
Balochistan comprising of almost 44 percent of Pakistan’s total land, situated at the southwest, is least populated and least developed province. Geographically the province has strategic importance and shares its national borders with Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) while international borders with Iran and Afghanistan. Pakistan is gifted with 1050 Km of coastline and out of which Balochistan is honored to have 800 Km under its provincial domain.
Everyone knows that this province has geographic importance and same is the case with Drug smugglers. Drug smugglers know that this province has significance for them as well because Balochistan shares it border with Afghanistan; the hub of poppy cultivation.
According to the World Drug Report 2014, “The opium production in Afghanistan accounts for 80 percent of the global opium production”. “Most illicit opium poppy cultivation occurs in the south of Afghanistan in the provinces bordering Pakistan, mainly in Helmand and Kandahar”, states the report, Drug use in Pakistan 2013, published by UNODC.

Out of 9 drug trafficking routes, crossing into Pakistan through Afghanistan, 6 routes pass through Balochistan

The Global Afghan Opium Trade, 2011, indicates that out of 9 Drug trafficking routes, crossing into Pakistan through Afghanistan, 6 routes pass through Balochistan from where it goes to Iran in the west and coastline in the south, thus making its destination to Europe, Asia, and to a lesser extent, Africa and North America.
Balochistan is, no doubt, the most vulnerable province to illicit drug trafficking and it can be confirmed through the seizure data of Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF). According to ANF, during the second quarter of 2015 almost 16765.8 Kgs Opium, 2,752 Kgs Heroin, 24605.1 Kgs Hashish and 515 Kgs Morphine was seized in Balochistan only.
This menace is not only routed through Balochistan but the point of worry is that, in this province, it is also consumed in a great quantity. According to the UNODC Report, Drug use in Pakistan, 2013, “the highest prevalence of opiate users was found in Balochistan, where 1.6 percent of the population uses either heroin, opium, or both”. The report further states that, “0.2 percent or around 13,000 people took methamphetamine in Balochistan in the last year, representing 70 per cent of national use although they make up only 5 per cent of the country’s population”.  The situation is even more alarming when the technical report of UNODC states that, “Although drug use estimates for Balochistan are conservative due to lack of data collected beyond the provincial capital of Quetta, this prevalence rate is sizeable regardless”.

According to the UNODC Report, Drug use in Pakistan, 2013, “highest prevalence of opiate users was found in Balochistan.

The provincial government, in the past and the present, seems to be less bothered about the illicit drug trafficking occurring through Balochistan, same is the attitude of federal government. There is no sign of any development project, such as “Drug free city Lahore”, initiated by the federal or provincial governments. Recently, Federal Government in cooperation with Sindh Government initiated “Drug prevention campaign” in different cities of Sindh whereas ignoring Balochistan once again.
The destitute people of Balochistan once again have to look for the help of Pakistan Army in this matter as well because the elected representatives have failed to facilitate them. Under National Action Plan, it was committed that, “All funding sources of terrorists and terrorist outfits will be frozen”. No doubt the money generated from drug trafficking has been used to finance terrorism in the country. Balochistan, in recent years has gone through worst ever terrorism attacks and sectarian violence. It may be possibility that the terrorism and sectarian violence in the province is financed by the drug traffickers in order to assist them in smooth running of their operations in the uninhabited areas of Balochistan.
During August 3, 2015 visit of General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff to Anti- Narcotics Force Headquarters and his statement that, “We will break the nexus between drug dealers, financiers and perpetrators of terrorism” and “We will not allow these drug barons to negatively influence and spoil our future generations” may also be seen as a hope by the people of Balochistan.

Pakistan - Education Budget Takes A Hit

The government has very calmly decided to scale down the education budget from the projected 7 per cent of the GDP to 4 per cent, as was promised in the National Education Policy (NEC) 2009. Why? Because the projected GDP allocation for the education sector in 2009 is ‘irrational’. Therefore, the government in consultation with the provinces is planning downward revision of the GDP allocation.
The NEC’s Review Committee has already approved the road map of the policy and formed a focus group consisted of the representatives of all provinces, one that will forward its recommendations. Besides adding new targets in accordance with Pakistan’s international commitments such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS), the committee will also delete some ‘unreasonable’ items. These include a 7 per cent GDP by 2015, 16 years of education for teachers and attaining the literacy rate of 85 per cent’. Are these clauses so easily unattainable in the future that we have simply decided to not even considering them? Is education that much of a burden, that we cannot even think about improving conditions?
The allocation of the education budget for 2015-16 is a miserly 2.5 percent of the GDP. The government wants to set the target of 4 per cent of the GDP allocation, for the education sector in the revised NEP, which for them would happen after a 0.5 annual increase by 2018. A 3 per cent rise could have done so much to help education in Pakistan, but a 3 per cent decrease in the military budget will not impact the security situation or the military much. Year after year, it is appalling to see how the military is getting more than half the budget for the country. In contrast, catering to education is seen in increments- that too to rise from a measly 2.5 per cent to a paltry 4 per cent.

#IStandWithPPP - Jahanara M Wattoo calls on Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto

Ms. Jahanara M Wattoo, a Provincial leader of Pakistan Peoples Party Punjab, and head social media Punjab called on Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at Zardari House Islamabad and briefed the Chairman about the work, activities and achievements undertaken by the Party’s social media Punjab as well as its plans for the future.
Chairman Bilawal Bhutto has appreciated the efforts of Social Media Punjab, working under the leadership of Ms. Jahanara M Wattoo and has also given instructions for a future, so that, in the future party’s Punjab Chapter will be able to manage the social media more effectively and promote its agenda and activities online in a more better way. Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari who was also present in the meeting has also appreciated the work of Social Media Punjab and said that the PPP Punjab Social Media was the first Chapter which was started working officially.
While underscoring the importance of Social media in the age of digital participatory democracy Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has called for further streamlining and strengthening the social media wing of the party to package the party’s message and spread it far and wide, as social media has revolutionized communication strategies and a revolutionary party like PPP has to play lead role.

Kal Bhi Bhutto Zinda Tha Aaj Bhi Bhutto Zinda Hai