Wednesday, October 3, 2018

- Tore Zulfe | Abdul Ghafar Baryalai | Sardar Ali Takkar |تورې زلفې | عبدالغفار بريالی | سردار علي ټکر


Imran Khan-led PTI government’s permission to export 150 falcons to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has raised eyebrows among animal experts who believe that the government has no right to take such a decision because migratory birds are already facing the threat of extinction.
According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated Sept 27, the export of 150 falcons to the UAE has been unrestricted from the Karachi airport for the personal use of Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president/prime minister and ruler of the Emirate of Dubai.
As Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal is out of the country, Khadija Hayat, who is dealing with the media in his absence, said she was not aware of any decision to allow the export of falcons to the UAE.
When contacted, she said it was not possible for her to comment on the permission letter before getting an official response from the authorities concerned.

“I will have to send the request in writing and it might take some time to get a written response. However, I will try to get the information verbally and will get back to you,” she said.
However, Ms Hayat did not reply till filing of this report.
Pakistan Wildlife Foundation Chairman Safwan Shahab Ahmed told Dawn that it was not the first time that the export of falcons had been allowed. Such approvals were given on a number of occasions in the past too, he said.
“The names of species are never mentioned in the approval letters due to which no one knows what kind of birds are being exported. At least the names of species should be mentioned in the letters. Moreover, the customs staff should be capable of identifying the birds,” he said.

There are five types of most trafficked birds of prey - saker falcon (falco cherrug), shaheen falcon (falco peregrinus peregrinator), laggar falcon (falco jugger), peregrine falcon (falco peregrinus) and golden eagle (aquila chrysaetos).
“These are used to prey birds, especially houbara bustard, but naturally they play an important role in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem. They prey on a number of small mammals, fishes and birds. Each falcon is sold for an average of Rs10 million. We speak about it but no one listens to us,” Mr Ahmed said.
He added that falcons were migratory rather than endemic birds in Pakistan and they come through two routes.
“The first rout is through Central Asian countries and is called the Indus fly zone and the second starts from Africa through which the birds reach Balochistan via Yemen and the Arabian Sea. According to estimates, less than 500 falcons reach Pakistan every year. We have suggested that transmitters should be tied with the birds to ensure their protection through a real time monitoring,” he said.

Mr Ahmed said though Pakistan had signed a number of international conventions to protect birds, three more steps associated with the ratification, including legislation, were yet to be taken.
“Pakistan should stop exporting the birds. If it cannot refuse the influential, the FO should mention the biological names of the birds while allowing their exports. Moreover, the customs officials should be trained so that they would identify the birds,” he said.

What happened during Narendra Modi’s 2015 visit to Pakistan and why it still matters

Disappointed with the cancellation of talks with India, Pakistan says ‘nothing substantive was discussed’ during Narendra Modi’s 2015 trip.
In the roller-coaster ride that has been the India-Pakistan relationship since Narendra Modi took office four years ago, much has been made of the Prime Minister’s last-minute visit to Lahore in December 2015 to wish then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and attend his granddaughter’s wedding.
In the wake of last week’s confirmation of foreign minister’s talks between India and Pakistan – and its bizarre cancellation within 24 hours – the Modi 2015 visit to Lahore has come up again and again.
The Modi machine really has no explanation for the confirmation-cancellation, nor for the odd statement the ministry of external affairs issued castigating Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
RSS acolytes say there was no way the Narendra Modi government – given the brouhaha that was going to take place on ‘Surgical Strikes Day’ as well as on the tenth anniversary of the Mumbai attacks later in November – could be seen to be taking a soft stand on Pakistan, given the several elections coming up.
BJP spokespersons have no real explanation either. In the bargain, the fact that India’s image has taken a beating also evokes a shrug of the shoulders.
The BJP’s only defence is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, time and again, has wanted to improve relations with Pakistan. But each time he is thwarted. The 2015 visit to Lahore has special cachet – and rightly so. No other prime minister has taken the trouble to go against his own grain and visit a country he has often enough designated as an enemy.
Indian officials have implied that Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Lahore was pre-planned and discussed with the Pakistani side. The Prime Minister put himself in the hands of the Pakistan army and the ISI whose pilots flew the chopper that took him from Lahore airport to Nawaz Sharif’s home in the outskirts of Raiwind – a short, ten-minute ride, but in their hands nevertheless.
Nobody does this, Indian officials have said, without prior planning.
But now it seems as if Modi’s 2015 trip to Lahore was hardly the deliberate and thought-through visit that it has been made out to be. Modi’s decision to drop in on Nawaz Sharif was completely spontaneous and sudden.
In an interview with ThePrint last week, Nawaz Sharif’s close aide and special advisor Tariq Fatemi confirmed that Sharif was taken “totally by surprise” when he received a call from Modi that December in 2015.
Tariq Fatemi: “(He) told my PM (Nawaz Sharif) that he had finished his official visit in Afghanistan and was flying back from Kabul to Delhi and wanted to stop over and have a cup of coffee. The PM said great, wonderful, we would be delighted. But he pointed out that he was not in Islamabad (but) in Lahore for the wedding of his granddaughter.
And Mr Modi said well that’s fine, we do visit our friends when they are celebrating these occasions.”
ThePrint: “So there was no pre-planning…”
Fatemi: “The fact is that neither Mr Sartaz Aziz (advisor to the PM on foreign affairs) nor I as a special advisor to the PM were there… both of us were in Islamabad. But my prime minister felt that it was an act of graciousness on the part of Mr Modi to tell him that he was passing, flying over Pakistan and wanted to drop in for a cup of coffee. And he came in, it was more of a family event, the entire family was gathered. He went to the prime minister’s residence in Lahore, they had a coffee, snacks, nice chit-chat, family discussions with all members of the extended family from my prime minister’s side. And to my knowledge, there was no discussion on the substantive issues.
So the visit was taken more as a social call, as a courtesy call…But it was not seen as an Indian initiative to re-open the stalled dialogue process.”
Three years later, why is it important to set the record straight?
First of all, because the Modi government has been playing fast and loose on its Pakistan policy. There has been absolutely no consistency in its views regarding Pakistan. It is completely unclear – and the last confirmation and cancellation of talks within 24 hours is proof – what Modi wants from Pakistan or what he thinks or believes India must do.
If Pakistan was a small, dysfunctional state somewhere in the Indo-Pacific, somewhere near Nauru – whose president, Baron Divavesi Waqa has himself sung a few lines from Gandhi’s favourite hymn, “Vaishnav jana toh…” – it wouldn’t matter.
But it’s not. It lies on India’s western border. It has nuclear weapons. It has an army that is totally in control army and a prime minister who is in bed with the army and several terrorists, including Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed– that should be enough reason to hold talks.
Instead, the Modi government is bragging that “all Indian missions abroad” were told to get one or another local artiste to perform Gandhi’s favourite bhajan. The result, a five-minute, soul-stirring medley sung by artistes “from Armenia to Angola, from Sri Lanka to Serbia, Iraq to Iceland” is simply awesome.
But is it foreign policy?
Many would say yes, that a country’s soft power is as important as its hard power in terms of expanding influence. But India’s missions abroad have spent so much time these past four years in showcasing the Modi Project, such as International Yoga Day or the ongoing promotion of Hindi across the world that one wonders about the time and energy spent on these otherwise wonderful endeavours.
The bald truth is that this magnificent effort in taking Gandhi’s favourite hymn to the world is as much about Modi — as it is about Gandhi.
The Modi government believes it has been successful in pacifying the Chinese at Wuhan – that may be true, except that China and Pakistan are “iron brothers” and Islamabad is more a client state of Beijing than anything else.
The Modi government believes that President Trump is fed up with Pakistan’s double standards on the Taliban and Afghanistan – that is perfectly true, except that the road to Kabul lies via Rawalpindi, and the only alternative, Iran, is currently being sanctioned by Washington.
The Modi government believes that its old and trusted friend, Russia, will always bail it out in times of trouble – that is likely the truth, except that Moscow is building its own bridges with Islamabad, including the offer of a civil radar to protect its nuclear installations.
Keep your enemies close, the Chinese scholar Sun Tzu said – or is believed to have said.
It baffles the mind that the Modi government is unable or unwilling to think through beyond the 24-hour life-cycle of its own insecurities.
As for India-Pakistan, Tariq Fatemi put it best:
“We deny India’s allegations and accusations firmly and strongly. But even if they were true, we believe that Imran Khan’s new government has taken over and taken an initiative – let’s sit down and talk about all these accusations. The act of the meeting itself would have brought down the temperature, the public rhetoric would have become lower, the media hype would have been reduced, and it would all have been very positive. We are truly surprised and disappointed,” he said.

Pakistan backtracks on CPEC plan saying Saudi Arabia cannot be third partner

In a U-turn, Pakistan has announced that its close ally Saudi Arabia would not join the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, days after Islamabad said Riyadh will be the third “strategic partner” of China’s flagship project, the Belt and Road Initiative.
The CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of President Xi Jinping aimed at enhancing China’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.
Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar told media on Tuesday that the cash-rich kingdom’s proposed investments would fall under a separate bilateral arrangement, Dawn news reported.
“Saudi Arabia is not to become a collateral strategic partner in the CPEC. This impression is not true,” he said.
A third country can participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by taking part in the business and investment ventures arising out of the project, Bakhtiar said.
“The framework between China and Pakistan is bilateral and Saudi Arabia is not entering that framework as a third-party investor, rather the base of the CPEC will be broadened and its pace will be expedited,” he said.
Last month, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said that Saudi Arabia is the third “strategic partner” of the CPEC, soon after Prime Minister Imran Khan returned from his first foreign trip to the kingdom.
Interestingly Chaudhry was sitting with Bakhtiar when he issued clarification that Saudi Arabia participation in the CPEC was not as third partner in the project.
Bakhtiar further said that there was no decision to bring a third country, like Saudi Arabia, under the framework of the CPEC.
He was responding to questions about the possibility of Saudi Arabia becoming part of the Joint Working Groups or Joint Coordination Committee on the CPEC.
Bakhtiar said there could be many offshoots of the CPEC where third countries could be involved in trilateral arrangement for infrastructure development, like China-Pakistan-Japan, China-Pakistan-Saudi Arabia or China-Pakistan-Germany.
The minister dodged questions when asked how the cost of Main Railway Line (ML-I) had been reduced by USD 2 billion from USD 8.2 billion to USD 6.2 billion as claimed by Railways Minister Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed.
“I have noticed this today that Sheikh Rasheed is making some efforts (to reduce the cost) but not to my knowledge. Nothing has come in front of me to suggest that the cost has come down,” he said.
Bakhtiar said the CPEC portfolio currently stands at about USD 50 billion, of which about USD 6 billion was government-to-government loan and remaining in Independent Power Producers mode mostly in the energy sector. About USD 29 billion worth of projects were currently in progress.
He said the CPEC had far bigger potential than USD 50 billion and would keep expanding with time as new projects come up but the previous government treated and played it like a T-20 match instead of a five-day test series and focused mostly on projects which could be completed during its tenure.
Currently, a Saudi delegation is in Pakistan for initial assessment to capitalise on the Pakistani offer.
India has opposed the CPEC project and protested to China as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. –

Bilawal Bhutto dubs govt's reaction to opposition's concerns as 'childish'

Pakistan People’s party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has stated that the government is reacting in a ‘childish’ way to the opposition’s concerns in the Parliament.
Addressing the National Assembly on Tuesday, Bilawal stated the opposition’s apprehensions about the finance bill are being responded by the treasury benches in a ‘childish’ manner.
“If the government does not address our reservations, how will we support it?” he questioned.
The PPP leader also condemned the government's members, saying they are leveling allegations as if they are still in the opposition.
In reference to the verdict of the accountability court to auction former finance minister Ishaq Dar’s assets, he replied that he has yet to read the statement.