Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Music Video - Guns N' Roses - Paradise City

Video Report - Elizabeth Warren DESTROYS "FAT CAT" Wilbur Ross

Virginia Democrat Wins Race For Governor, Handing GOP First Major Loss Under Trump

Democrat Ralph Northam defeated Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia’s gubernatorial election Tuesday, granting Democrats their first major victory, and Republicans their first big loss, since the election of President Donald Trump.
The stakes of the closely fought race were especially high for Democrats, who were desperate to hold on to a governorship in a state with a popular Democratic governor and where Hillary Clinton defeated Trump by 5 percentage points in 2016.
The outcome provides rank-and-file Democrats with a much-needed injection of optimism, averting the catastrophic scenario of another crucial loss. It also deals a blow to the Trump-like right-wing populist playbook that Gillespie employed in his bid to win.
“Democrats were anxious all along, at the very end, about whether this thing would go their way, whether their core vote would turn out for them. And it did. It turned out just enough to give them a close win,” said Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. “They’re breathing a sigh of relief.”
Northam had held a modest advantage in an average of major polls on Election Day. But the wide variation in individual polls toward the end of the contest spooked many Democrats who had anticipated a more certain victory.
Northam, 58, a pediatric neurologist and the current lieutenant governor, ran a mainstream Democratic campaign that emphasized his all-American biography. Northam is a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute who served as an Army doctor during Operation Desert Storm before establishing a practice in southeast Virginia’s Hampton Roads region.
Northam campaigned on continuing the work of Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who has presided over sustained economic growth and restored the voting rights of 168,000 former felons.
Northam also proposed increasing public school funding, providing tuition-free community college education in key areas of study for students who pledge a year of service, and using Affordable Care Act funds to expand Medicaid.
Given the reality of ongoing Republican control of Virginia’s House of Delegates, however, Northam is more likely to follow in McAuliffe’s footsteps as a “brick wall” against socially conservative legislation introduced by Republican lawmakers. McAuliffe proudly vetoed more bills than any other governor in Virginia’s history, stopping efforts to restrict reproductive and voting rights and to expand handgun access.
Northam will have the important opportunity to play a role the next time the state legislature redraws congressional and state districts in 2021. As governor, he will have the power to veto a plan submitted by the Republican legislature if he believes the makeup of the new districts is unduly partisan.
More than any one policy outcome, however, Northam’s win delights progressives for what it denies the GOP: another vindication of Trump-like race baiting.
Gillespie, 56, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a Beltway lobbyist, once embodied the socially moderate, fiscally conservative establishment wing of the Republican Party. And to some extent, Gillespie maintained this profile, emphasizing economic policy on the stump, including a proposal to cut Virginia’s income tax rates by 10 percent across the board.
But in a bid to shore up a wayward right-wing base that nearly handed populist Corey Stewart the nomination in a tough GOP primary, Gillespie embraced the Trump playbook.
In a barrage of negative advertisements, Gillespie sought to paint Northam as a frightening radical who would enable convicted sex offenders, undocumented immigrants and members of the El Salvadoran gang MS-13 to run amok in the Old Dominion State. He also claimed that Northam wanted to take down the state’s Confederate monuments, despite Northam’s assurances that he would allow localities to decide.
Ultimately, Gillespie’s approach scared off too many of the voters he needed to win in the increasingly Democratic-leaning state. “Gillespie tried to do two things: He tried to run on white identity politics and Republican economics,” Kidd said. “Republicans have to decide which of those two they’re going to run on because they probably can’t do both at same time.”

Democrat Ralph Northam Wins Virginia Governor's Race

Democrat Ralph Northam has won the Virginia governor's race, defeating Republican Ed Gillespie according to the Associated Press.
Northam, the incumbent lieutenant governor, successfully rode an anti-Trump wave to victory over Gillespie's hard-line message on immigration and social issues he had hoped would help him prevail in the battleground state.
The Old Dominion contest was the marquee race of the evening, though there are also important contests in New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Maine. But the Virginia race has the best potential to give a snapshot of the political landscape one year after President Trump's upset victory — and one year out from the 2018 midterms.

The last few weeks of the Virginia contest turned especially bitter as the race has tightened. Gillespie doubled down on a Trumpian message, promising a crackdown on violence by Latino gangs and pledging to protect Confederate monuments. The messaging was a major turn for the former Republican National Committee chairman, but if he is successful it could mean Republicans nationwide aren't afraid to embrace Trump's more populist, anti-establishment message come next year.
Northam, meanwhile, has tried to unite Democrats' centrist and progressive wings, but the sitting lieutenant governor upset the latter last week when he said he would be willing to sign a bill banning so-called sanctuary cities for undocumented immigrants.
Polls in the final days showed a close race in Virginia, with Northam having a slight edge. The same wasn't the case in the other major 2017 governor's race, where New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy is expected to easily best Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Outgoing GOP Gov. Chris Christie's numbers have plummeted in the Garden State, and Trump remains deeply unpopular there as well. https://www.npr.org/2017/11/07/562348581/election-night-2017-close-virginia-governors-race-could-offer-midterm-clues

Democrat Phil Murphy Wins New Jersey Gubernatorial Race

Democrat Phil Murphy defeated Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) on Tuesday for the governorship in New Jersey. Murphy’s victory was expected, as New Jersey is a heavily blue state. Murphy, who served in a senior role at the Democratic National Committee and was previously a Goldman Sachs executive, will succeed Republican Chris Christie. The race comes as one of the state’s senators, Bob Menendez (D), is on trial on corruption charges. If Menendez is forced out of office, Murphy would choose his replacement.


Persian Music Video - Alireza Ghaderi - Golpari joon

Afghan Music Video - Farzana Naaz - Gul E Anar

Pashto Poetry - Abaseen Selab - Za Sharabi Yem

ساقي | اجمل خټک | سردارعلي ټکر - Pashto Music

Sardar Ali Takkar - مشال په ياد کې سندره

Up In Flames: Why Are Afghan Women Setting Themselves On Fire?

‘Afghan women would not be setting themselves alight unless the pain she has inside is more than the pain of flames,’ writes Dr Ayesha Ahmad.

Variations of the Pashtu proverb ‘kor yar gor’ – home or grave – are common and threaded through the story of an Afghan woman, depicting either of the two places she should be.
Her permitted space is limited, and her voice is confined to the walls of her home or the ground of her grave, but the epidemic phenomenon of death by burning is challenging this notion.
In the flames, her pain makes a ghostly presence and is the only form of disclosure she may have in a society where 80 percent of women cannot write and where sharing stories of suffering is perilous.
For many Afghan women, her home and her grave become the same place.
Afghanistan is the only place in the world where female rates of suicide are higher than men. Of the estimated 3,000 acts of suicide each year, over 80 percent are women.
The wider backdrop of Afghanistan presents an extreme setting.
The ‘war against women’ continues its own meta-conflict hidden from the global community in Afghanistan and overshadowed by the ‘war against terrorism’.
Violence towards women and girls is a global problem but rates in Afghanistan are some of the highest in the world. 80 percent of marriages take place without the consent of the bride, who is often a child, and an estimated 10 percent of all marriages are a result of baad practice.
A lack of protection, for example, demonstrated by the government’s incentive to close women’s shelters is a way of silencing and shaming women who have conflict-based and domestic-related experiences of gender-based violence.
A recent case of a 19-year old girl who was kidnapped and raped by a paramilitary officer, then subsequently by a chief police officer, failed to gain any traction nationally or internationally in view of the injustice that she suffered. Her response was to express her wish to set herself alight if she does not receive justice.
The way that expressions of suicide have been interpreted is further fuel for creating more deaths in the future. For example, in June 2014, a woman set herself on fire on an average of every 3 days in Herat.
Mental illness is cited as the reason for women committing suicide with recent studies showing that 1.8 million Afghan women have been diagnosed with depression. Furthermore, a study based on Health Ministry records, reveals mental illness as well as domestic violence as the main causes for attempting suicide.
However, the treatment gap for mental health in Afghanistan is significant with a severe lack of specialized mental health care services and heavy stigma including suicide leaving women even more vulnerable.
Women who attempt suicide and survive are often abandoned by family members due to the taboo that suicide carries.
It is also common for religious leaders to suggest beatings for women whose family members believe they are mentally ill to exorcise spirits.
Whilst gender-based violence inherent in traditional and cultural customs is understood as a reason for the high rate of female suicide, the responses are wholly inadequate.
A 2015 assessment carried out by the World Health Organisation revealed major weaknesses in health care provision to gender-based violence (GBV) survivors.
Health care providers also lack the knowledge and understanding of GBV.
Socio-cultural beliefs and taboos are carried into the clinical setting and form a barrier to disclosure and help-seeking behaviour.
For example, despite the health-related consequences and severity of GBV in Afghanistan, only two percent of health care facilities have a protocol in place for GBV care.
Self-immolation has potent symbolism from around the world, and stems from fractured identities and lands where peace and healing need to be fought for.
For the burning Afghan women, though, the flames are beset with an unheard narrative.
Afghan women would not be setting themselves alight unless the pain she has inside is more than the pain of flames. The lack of space for a woman’s narrative, and limited modes of written and spoken expression, mean that a woman’s gham (suffering or sadness) is confined to her body and mind.
The flames are a symbol of the fire she is experiencing within herself and her home.
The vivid sacrifice of life through self-immolation is, ultimately, the only form of defence she holds.
There is no effective legal recourse or resources for her to access. The fire places a boundary on her own justice—she is drawing the line on what is done to her. She is a lone protester, the only one to protest on her behalf that what she is enduring in life is unjust and wrong. Her only agency is in her decisions around her death. 
Despite the gravity of a consistent suicide epidemic of women throughout Afghanistan there are many reasons why the plight and suffering of the victims of self-immolation are going to be buried from all aspects of society and struggle to rise into the global health agenda.
The reduction of self-immolation to a symptom of untreated depression is an easy transition on a governmental level. In turn, the burning woman can be portrayed globally as another image of a passive and silent victim when the real, unearthed narrative is an act of bravery against injustice.
The translation of suicidal desires into diagnoses of mental illness further negates the suffering that Afghan women are enduring and takes the responsibility of Afghan society further away from addressing the way that women are abused.
The suicides are juxtaposed between epitomes of silence and the desperate yearning for words to carry weight; instead their screams fall into the ethereal distance not even echoing as their bodies become ash. Their ashes and the soil merge and once again, the home and the grave are inseparable.

For Afghan farmers, climate change is 'god's will'

Climate change is having a huge impact on Afghanistan's agriculture-based society. Despite changing environment patterns, Afghan farmers have a limited understanding of how climate change is affecting their livelihood.
For generations, Salman Mohammadi's family has worked on a farm in the Lal Wa Sar Jangal district in Afghanistan's central Ghor province. Mohammadi inherited the family farm from his father, who had received it from his ancestors. The 32-year-old farmer cultivated vegetables and rice on his farm, storing a portion of the harvest for his family and selling the rest for money. The farming, he recalls, was hard but the life was simple.
"There was enough to eat, and we earned enough money to buy other things that we could not grow on the farm," Mohammadi told DW.
But things started to change in the past few years as Mohammadi noticed a disturbance in the rain and snowfall patterns. The problems for him and many other Afghan farmers peaked during the 2008 drought that hit parts of the country.
The livelihood of almost 85 percent of the Afghan population - living in rural areas and largely dependent on agriculture - has been severely affected in the past few decades due to prolonged droughts and declining water sources.
"Our problems increased due to bad harvests," Mohammadi said, adding that he had to give up on his family occupation and leave his village because he could not make both ends meet.
"I was not able feed my family, so I moved to Kabul," Mohammadi said.
Mohammadi's case is not unique. Over the past decades, many Afghan farmers have had to leave farming and move to the capital Kabul to earn a living. Although the worsening security is one of the reasons behind this exodus, climate change, too, plays a role.
Creating climate awareness is a challenge
Mohammadi, as well as other farmers, are unaware of the impact of climate change on their lives. Most of them attribute it to the will of god.
"Climate change and environment protection are relatively new concepts for Afghans, but we are trying to raise awareness about them," Samim Hoshmand, an official at the National Environment Protection Agency, told DW.
"Our awareness campaign can help farmers undertake certain measures to protect themselves from the negative effects of the global climate change," Hoshmand added.
Afghanistan only contributes 0.06 percent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, but it is among the countries most vulnerable to changes associated with climate change, according to a 2016 study, titled Climate Change in Afghanistan: Perspectives and Opportunities, carried out by Heinrich Böll Stiftung Afghanistan.
As harvesting in Afghanistan mostly involves traditional methods, farmers are unaware about the modern techniques with which they can cope with climate change.
Afghan officials also have to deal with a number of cultural and religious taboos when educating farmers about global warming and climate change phenomena.
For example, Mohammadi believes his country is experiencing less rainfall because "god is punishing" them for the ongoing violence and war.
Also, Mohammadi is not interested in understanding the reasons behind the changing weather patterns. It is certainly not his top priority as he has to deal with the harsh city life in Kabul.

Pakistan - An Ahmadi’s open letter to Captain (R) Safdar


Hiding behind religion card has always been the strategy of many politicians in Pakistan who are guilty of their hideous sins of corruption and misconduct.This time it was Safdar Sahab.
Capt (r) Safdar Sahab,
My apologies I can’t greet you with Salam, the constitution doesn’t allow me to do so.
Hope you are relaxing in one of your mansions, contended after playing the religion card to veil your own wrongdoings of corruption and dishonesty.
But let me tell you my story of being a Pakistani Ahmadi. Ever since I opened my eyes in my motherland, I have been given multiple names; Qadiyani, Mirzai, Kafir, Murtad etc, although we Ahmadis always wanted to be called as “Ahmadi”. But maybe calling us with this name would have hurt your friable egos. Somewhere between labeled as Fitna and wajib ul qatal I grew up. Unfortunately, very few people know the life of a Pakistani Ahmadi is an everyday challenge when compared to any other Pakistani.
Most of the people have not the tiniest clue who Ahmadis are, what do they believe yet follow the trend and jump in the fire of hatred against Ahmadis.
People in Pakistani usually tell us things about our religion which even Ahmadis don’t known. One of such statement was a part of your speech in the parliament when you claimed that Ahmadis get their girls married to higher, influential families in order to weaken the stability of our beloved country. Unfortunately I have an example of a non-Ahmadi, a muslim man who was captain in army, got himself married to girl from a very big political background and is currently ahead in the line to spread enmity against a peaceful community.
You asserted that Ahmadis are responsible for the unrest of this country. Maybe you wanted to say we brought religion in politics back in 70s, we spread religious uproar against ourselves, we killed our people to gain sympathies and today we requested you to shout against our community to seek alot of attention from people of Pakistan.
The agony which we face when we see people signing against our believes every day, every hour, every minute in the passport office is something below your level of imagination.
There is not a single field in which Ahmadis have not worked for the development of this country. From science to sports to medicine and education, Ahmadis have never failed to provide their talents for the welfare of Pakistan. Yet you turned blind and tagged us as traitors. And to be honest we are tired of
proving our patriotism and loyalty for our homeland.
You snatched our right to be termed as Muslim, you stole our right to practice our religion openly. You thwart us from the holy pilgrimage Hajj. You massacred thousands of Ahmadis in the name of religion yet according to your statement Ahmadis residing in Pakistan are not less than enemies.
Sir do you have slightest of an idea how your speech has spread hatred and intolerance against 40lac Pakistani Ahmadis. But let me assure you, inspite of this air of animosity, Pakistani Ahmadis will continue their endeavors to make Pakistan a prosperous country and no one can stop us from that. Surely Almighty is aware of what is in a person’s heart.
An Ahmadi Citizen


#Pakistani Christians Under Attack : “They all beat Arslan with fists, kicks and rifle butts,” mourning father discloses

Father of Arslan Masih who was lynched by police on October 9, details the sequence of heart wrenching events. Seven policemen brutally beat the Christian teenager in province village of Jhabran Mandi, Sheikhupura district.
In an interview to an international news agency, Mushtaq Masih shared information about his son’s death. In keeping with his narrative, Arslan Masih was a student at Ideal Science Academy. He was at the academy when seven policemen from Bahu Chowk police post stormed at around 5 p.m. on October 9. They arrived in an official vehicle and stormed the premises, Mushtaq Masih stated.
“Arslan was attending his tuition classes at the Ideal Science Academy when head constable Imtiaz, driver Rashid, constable Arshad and other unidentified policemen kicked open the door and dragged him out of the classroom,” he said adding, “Sardar, alias Billu, a police constable, helped them to identify the boy. With this, they all started beating Arslan with fists, kicks and rifle butts.”
Mushtaq Masih said that teacher Farhan Ali was present in the classroom, who tried to stop the policemen but they slapped him continued beating Arslan. “Rashid struck Arslan’s head with a pistol and he started bleeding,” mourning father said adding, “When they bundled him into the police van, Arslan collapsed and died. Later the police team threw Arslan’s body on the roadside and fled.”
Soon after the incident, Isaac TV reporter Saleem Iqbal revealed that the boy was lynched because he had previously refused to renounce his Christian faith. This statement was confirmed by Mushtaq Masih who said that about four months ago, Arslan’s class fellow tried to pressurize him to convert however, Arslan refused him. This resulted in a fight between the boys.
“I did not know about the fight until recently. Arslan had reportedly beaten up a boy whose uncle, Sardar alias Billu, is a constable. Billu nurtured a grudge against Arsalan, and that’s why he brought his police friends with him to teach the poor boy a lesson,” Mushtaq Masih said.
Mushtaq Masih said that an FIR no. 653/17 was registered, with the district police station against the seven officers but they had not been arrested. Sheikhupura Superintendent of Police Sarfraz Virk, has suspended the in-charge officer at the Bahu Chowk police post over charges of negligence in official duties.
“We are trying our best to arrest the nominated accused, who have fled the area since the day of the incident,” Sarfraz Virk said while adding, The boy was not wanted in any case, and it’s quite clear that the policemen had gone there on their own and misused their official authority.”

Pakistan - What Is Sexual Harassment

Is it the definition that is the problem or do men and women comprehend sexual harassment differently?
If the debate and discussion over the past few weeks has taught us anything, it is harassment is of various kinds and that context matters.
We also saw how widespread the idea is as women who became part of the #MeToo campaign came out. In blogs and articles women and men relived their experiences, asking questions that have plagued such incidents for decades now: Did I ask for it? Did I encourage it?
Harassment, simply put, is persistent unwanted attention; sexual harassment entails a sexual context to this attention when a person asks for sexual favours. Verbal communication, inappropriate touching, leering or showing someone content of a sexual nature are some of the things that fall under this.
For Pakistanis, it was a long struggle to get to the point where now we can, if nothing else, have a debate on what constitutes harassment and what doesn’t, as has been happening on Facebook.
That man who wolf whistles as you pass by or tells you to wear a dupattais sexual harassment on the street. It is unwanted attention and a comment on your physical appearance. More often, when we discuss harassment in the context of unwanted attention at workplace or elsewhere, what we are referring to is sexual harassment.
For Pakistanis, it was a long struggle to get to the point where now they can, at least, have a debate on what constitutes harassment and what doesn’t, as has been happening on social media over the past few weeks after Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s tweets.
This journey started on December 22, 1997 when a group of 11 women working at the UNDP’s Pakistan office filed a sexual harassment claim against a senior employee. Dr Fouzia Saeed was the one who first decided to pursue a case against him and was later joined by other women. This was a time when the word ‘harassment’ was not part of popular vernacular in Pakistan, let alone calling out sexual harassment at workplace. December 22 was declared the national day for working women in Pakistan by the then Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani in 2010.
After winning the case, Saeed formed Alliance Against Sexual Harassment (Aasha), a network to create awareness and push for legislation on the issue of harassment. They involved labour unions, civil society organisations, celebrities, and politicians and brought them on board.
The case and the movement that followed was the beginning of a discussion on harassment at different levels in the country, and it took Pakistan longer than a decade to slowly become comfortable using the word, especially in the context of sexual harassment.
“I remember we had organised a seminar and had our motto at the time, ‘Zero Tolerance for Sexual Harassment’, printed on a banner and put up on stage. Sahira Kazmi and Sania Saeed who were attending the event were surprised and thought it very daring.”
Dr Fouzia Saeed remembers the taboo around the term; when they went to the bureaucracy to talk about it, they were immediately labelled as ‘loose women’.
To talk about harassment without uttering the word, they would use phrases like “gender justice”. As part of the movement they also coined “harasani” a term for harassment in Urdu.
It took them 10 years to normalise the term, she says. Once the law was passed in 2010, not only harassment but also the term sexual harassment was used by politicians in speeches to discuss the phenomenon.
The word harassment in English comes from a 17th century French word which, interestingly, means to set a dog on someone. “The Urdu word, coined later by writers like Fehmida Riaz and Kishwar Naheed who were part of Aasha, comes from Persian,” says Wajahat Masood, a senior journalist.
While there is little debate about the etymology or the origin of the word, its meaning is often contested. Is harassment different from sexual harassment? What constitutes harassment and when do you add the taboo word “sexual” to it?
A gaze that lingers too long, a comment from someone passing by or a slight touch that makes you uncomfortable — women navigate different scenarios every day. Where on the spectrum does everything fall?
Saeed says the law is clear in how it defines and perceives harassment at the workplace and in the public as well, since section 509 of the PPC addresses it.
Apart from legal terminology, debates often happen online, showing a vast difference between how men and women understand harassment.
“Men often think a nice gesture even if it is unwanted does not constitute harassment,” says Farida Shaheed, CEO of Shirkat Gah. She gives a simple example: someone sends you flowers, you tell them you don’t want the flowers but they send you flowers again. Shaheed says most men would not consider this harassment but women would.
Saeed agrees with this, saying that initially when they started conducting seminars and speaking to people, women instinctively understood what it meant. “We would never have to explain it to women. I would joke with them that God has given us four eyes, two at the back and two at the front so we know when a gaze has lingered too long,” she says. In Aasha’s seminars and working groups with women, Saeed says they taught women to articulate and explain harassment to others.
Men resisted, she says. “It’s not easy to let go of that power. They often try finding grey areas by saying, ‘oh my personality is like this, where I’m just a happy-go-lucky sort of person’.”
Wajahat Masood doesn’t believe there is a problem in definition but rather a reluctance to understand it. “It is simple. Any attention, analysis or signal that is unwanted and for which there is no immediate apology is harassment.”
If there is one thing the past few months have taught us, it is that harassment is prevalent throughout the world. Although it is not limited to men; men in positions of power have historically and widely taken advantage of it. The Weinsteins have existed for decades in this world.
Farida Shaheed says the discussion on sexual harassment is relatively new across the world. “In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, no one talked about it. Not only are women becoming more vocal about it now and taking strength from each other, but have also become more articulate. Laws play an important role here. When there is no law or policy on something, the idea is that it is considered normal in society.”
Masood believes the problem is even more rampant and requires serious thought in Pakistan because women already face more discrimination at all levels than in developed countries. “This segregation and lack of access to the wider world makes it more difficult for women to point out harassment.”
He gives the example of the bill on domestic violence pointing to its fierce opposition by politicians like Fazal ur Rehman and Siraj-ul-Haq. He thinks it shows how our society fails to recognise women’s rights.
Similarly, he says, when it comes to harassment, “More often than not men know what they are doing. People need to accept it and realise how seriously it impinges on the economic and social development of women.”

Pakistan - The smog challenge

Munir Ahmed

Punjab has been deeply gripped by smog, leaving extremely low visibility in most parts of the province. Similar situation is being reported from Karachi. Even the smog phenomenon travels from central Punjab to the federal capital Islamabad as well, leaving us to believe that trans-boundary phenomena affect everyone across the geographic limits. How the wrong doings of one not only impact him but others too. The atmospheric smog in Punjab province has disrupted life and health of millions, besides claiming lives of many by causing accidents, asthma and eye infections. Many flights have been cancelled due to insufficient visibility.
Daily Times correspondent Humaira Saeed has reported that the Punjab government has hurriedly drafted a smog control policy that is not more than eyewash. The policy was prepared in consultation with the Environmental Protection Council (EPC) headed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and featuring 35 leading environmental experts on its board. These experts were responsible for providing expertise and advice on policy formation. And they stated that the policy was hastily drawn out without proper consultation with the stakeholders as well as experts as they were given only a two-day notice to make themselves available for the meeting where the draft was to be reviewed. Resultantly, many members on the council were unable to attend the meeting to review the draft. So, the half cooked policy is on for its mere implementation. I doubt it would deliver the desired results.
We are good at making policies while our implementation mechanisms are simply the worst. Environmental pollution cannot be controlled until the pollution watchdogs — the environmental protection agencies are working under government and any senior officer in the environmental watchdogs can influence or manoeuvre the implementation of the policy. Same is the case with the smog phenomenon. The people are suffering from it for years now. Simply, it is not only a local phenomenon now rather it has spread over the region and a trans-boundary challenge caused by the atmospheric pollutants or gases that are released in the air when the fuels are burnt. When sunlight and its heat react with these gases and fine particles in the atmosphere, smog is formed. It is purely caused by air pollution.
It is not only the smog that the people of Punjab are trapped in because of the unwise and irrational decisions. The other biggest pollutants in Punjab include the unchecked vehicular pollution, environmental unfriendly industry, untreated industrial waste, sewage and solid waste (mis)management
The Punjab smog control policy could be a reasonable framework if it had included input from the relevant experts. Strangely, no step has been taken over the years to reduce air pollution in the province. We bought and installed the coal-fired power plants in Punjab and other parts of the country that have intensified the problem. The situation would worsen in the days to come resulting in health issues including respiratory and eye infections. I strongly believe that the Punjab government in controlling the smog in the province.
We are unfortunate neighbour of the two mega polluters, China and India. On the other hand, we are blind-folded with the bids of economic cooperation from China that is very vital for our economic growth. But our choices has been unwise especially when it comes to the kind of machinery we are importing from China and other countries is neither energy-efficient nor environment friendly. No environmental experts were taken on board to make environment unfriendly decisions. They should not be taken or consulted even now when we are severely gripped by the air pollutants.
It is not only the smog that the people of Punjab are trapped in because of the unwise and irrational decisions. The other biggest pollutants in Punjab include the unchecked vehicular pollution, and environmental unfriendly industry, untreated industrial waste, sewage and solid waste management. The solid waste management company, a Turkish enterprise, has turned to be another white elephant for Lahore.
If the government is interested in controlling smog, it has to vigorously act to control air pollution by taking stringent steps to monitor the air quality. It should set an example by developing a well-equipped independent EPA staffed with the independent experts that shall be answerable to the parliament only, not to the provincial government. The authorities need to review another strange decision to close down the power plants being run with furnace oil and other fossil fuels. Interestingly, there is no check on the coal-fired power plants that would turn to be a big source for the atmospheric pollution and disastrous for the human health and other living creatures.
The new decision of the government to control the smog by shutting down the furnace-oil-run power plants is itself ‘smogged’. It would serve to further disturb the supply of electricity to the households, educational institutions and businesses. It would increase the fossil fuel consumption by the electricity generators installed by individuals, offices and businesses. The decision turned to be ‘penny wise, pound foolish’. Still, the authorities need a reality check in consultation with the relevant experts to check and control the atmospheric smog as well as the geopolitical and the strategic ones.

Shahbaz Sharif will have to be accountable: PPP

Central Information Secretary Pakistan Peoples Party Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmed strongly reacting to statements by Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and Federal Ministers against former President Asif Ali Zardari, has said that the end of Raiwind rulers is eminent that is why these PML-N leaders have lost their minds.
Chaudhry Manzoor said that Shahbaz Sharif can make as much hue and cry as he wants but the time of his accountability has arrived. His involvement in mega corruption and murder of 14 innocent people will continue to haunt him. Shahbaz Sharif has also to be accountable for corruption in Nandi Pur power project, Orange Line train, Metro Bus, Ashiana Housing Scheme, Sasti Roti project, Lap Top Scheme, and Danish schools, PPP Information Secretary said.
Chaudhry Manzoor reminded Shahbaz Sharif of his telephone calls to Judge Malik Qayyum and appointment of Rana Maqbool as IG Sindh. Shahbaz Sharif will be answerable to all his crimes no matter how much noise he makes, Chaudhry Manzoor concluded.


Even shrines of Sufi saints not safe from extremists: Bilawal

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto said on Monday that even shrines of Sufi saints are not safe due to religious extremism.
Visiting the shrine of Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, PPP Chairman laid floral wreath and his grave. He also visited the shrine of famous Sindhi poet Sheikh Ayaz.
Bilawal Bhutto also addressed the attendees and media upon his visit. He said that it is really a happy moment for him to talk to everyone from the land of Bhit Shah, adding that it is worth pride for him.
He also credited the scholars for highlighting the message of peace given by Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.
Addressing the inhabitants, PPP chief asked for their support so that the message of friendship amongst individuals can be spread all around the world. He blamed a certain group of people that damaged the real soul of the religion.
He mentioned that Bhitai spoke for the poor in his writings and assigned a high role for women. Bilawal said that they lifted the bodies of devotees on shoulders.
Criticising religious extremism, Bilawal told that terrorism has even risked the shrines of Sufi saints. “The need of hour is to spread the message (of peace) through Sufism,” he added.

Mysticism is best weapon against terrorism and extremism: Bilawal Bhutto

Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said that mysticism is best weapon against terrorism and religious extremism. He expressed his views during a ceremony held in the H.T. Sorley Hall at Bhitshah to distribute the Latif Award during the concluding session of the three-day 274th urs of the Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.
The PPP chairman paid his first visit to Bhitshah since he embarked upon his political journey some three years back.


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