Monday, January 28, 2019

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EDITORIAL - #Pakistan - #RIP - Roohi Bano

TV actor par excellence Roohi Bano, who ruled the hearts of drama fans for years for her incredible performances in the early years of the state television channel, is no more. She was 68 when she died following renal failure at a hospital in Istanbul, with her sister and a nephew by her side. She is survived by her sister, extended family members, and countless fans who will continue to remember her timeless performances. Her roles in ‘Qila Kahani’, ‘Hairatkada’, ‘Zard Gulab’, ‘Darwaza’, and ‘Kiran Kahani’, refuse to lose their appeal among performing arts lovers. That is the beauty of art, which makes people’s lives and memories refreshing and gives them a purpose to reflect on their lives and society.
Away from the TV screen, Roohi’s life was a bumpy ride, including an attempt on her life. However, a tragedy that changed her life for the worse was the cold-blooded murder of only son Ali, in 2005. She couldn’t fully recover from the shock of losing her son. The incident took a heavy toll on her health, especially her mental wellbeing.
However, her mental health issues had not grown overnight. Her colleagues of the 70s and 80s have recalled that she would often suffer prolonged fits of rage and laughter at work, and in personal life but the limelight of her glamour, fame, and persona did not allow her or her family members to take the symptoms seriously. Herself a psychology graduate from the Government College University, Lahore, Roohi remained unable to read her symptoms to move to treatment in a timely manner.
While Roohi’s death is a loss for the TV drama industry, the suffering during her life must also serve as a reminder to the authorities of the need for a well-functioning mental health infrastructure in the society.
Coincidentally, this January has been marked as the month to raise awareness about mental health issues across the country by the Pakistan Association for Mental Health. However, the events held for the purpose have remained far from media glare and government’s interest. According to the association, 20 percent of the Pakistani population is suffering from mental health issues. The need of the hour is to accept this reality and come up with measures for a stress-free environment and more treatment facilities.
Some mental health issues are the byproduct of stress factors, while many are linked to genetic and physical causes. With just 75 in-patient facilities, the enormity of the figures demands more such clinics across the country.
Roohi Bano was buried in Turkey. Though, her sister wants to bring her body back to Lahore to bury her next to the grave of her son. She has appealed to the government to help the family pay for the air transport. That’s a cost the state must readily incur to honour the memory of the legendary actor.

#Pakistan - Give Imran Khan's government 'another six months'

PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari has said he would give Prime Minister Imran Khan's government another six months, following which he suggested that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led (PTI) administration would collapse.
Speaking during an interview on 92 News TV show 'Ho Kya Raha Hai' on Monday, the former president confidently said the combined opposition could dislodge the PTI government at both the federal and Punjab provincial levels if it so desires.
"Give at least six more months to him," Zardari replied when he was asked by host Arif Nizami if he was making "chess moves" to bring down Prime Minister Khan.
When reminded that the premier has already completed nearly six months in office, the PPP leader emphasised he meant "another six months".
Thus the talk of the PTI government completing its five-year tenure is a far cry from the anticipated future, Zardari said, adding that he believed Khan lacked "deliverance" capacity.Asked if the removal of Khan's government would be better for the country, Zardari said the country had to evolve through crises by "pushing [and] pulling all sorts of ways".He said whenever they wanted to send the prime minister home it would be a "positive, not a negative", and when prompted, stressed that such a move would "obviously" be undertaken through democratic means.Zardari said Prime Minister Khan had made promises to many of his friends which he would not be able to fulfil. One such promise cited by him was allegedly made by the premier to Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) president Sardar Akhtar Mengal regarding the issue of missing persons.
The former president was asked about the possibility of a forward bloc being formed in Punjab, to which he replied that while it could be done, there was "no rush".
Responding to another question, Zardari said it was a fact that the PPP and PML-N had jointly appointed retired Justice Javed Iqbal as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman, but that they had done so for him to "provide justice".
"[As opposed to] not for victimisation?" the host asked the PPP co-chairman, who smiled in the affirmative.
Alleging that NAB was getting politicised, Zardari said there was "room to work" and bring improvements in the accountability watchdog's functioning.

Saudi investment in Pakistan stokes tensions with China


Riyadh's billion dollar refinery projects in Gwadar seen irking Beijing.
Saudi Arabia's multibillion-dollar investment in Gwadar at the southernmost tip of Pakistan is complicating Islamabad's delicate relations with Beijing.
China is wary of the increasing Saudi presence in their strategically important neighbor as Riyadh prepares to sign an agreement to build Pakistan's largest oil refinery when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visits Islamabad next month.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih visited the proposed site for the oil refinery in Gwadar on Jan. 15. Pakistan's Board of Investment Chairman Haroon Sharif told media that Saudi Arabia is expected to invest around $15 billion in the country in the next three years.
Gwadar is a coastal town on the Arabian Sea and where China has invested heavily to develop a strategically important port for its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects. The CPEC includes a network of highways, railways and energy infrastructure that span the entire Pakistan and is a signature project of President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative.
Pakistan's decision to involve Saudi Arabia in the development of Gwadar is controversial because Beijing has already poured huge amounts of money and resources there. The multibillion-dollar new investment is expected leave space for Riyadh to break Beijing's economic stronghold, experts said.
Heavy-duty cranes towering above the first, 602-meter long quay of the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, in the southernmost tip of Pakistan.   © AP
China doesn't like Saudi Arabia's encroachment in Pakistan, said Mohan Malik, a professor at Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii. But he also added that "Beijing cannot be averse to sharing the burden of propping up Pakistan with Saudi Arabia at a time of dwindling economic assistance from the United States."
There is also concern over Chinese companies being blocked out by Saudi in Gwadar. "[Saudi oil refinery] might elbow out Chinese energy companies from similar endeavors, undermining China's own economic gains from BRI," said Luke Patey, senior research fellow of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies at the University of Oxford.
Islamabad's decision to invite Saudi Arabia, however, is also seen as its plan to diversify financial and economic sources. "Pakistan does not want to put all of its eggs in one basket, " said Malik Siraj Akbar, a Balochistan analyst based in Washington. "Pakistan's strategy to diversify its sources of financial support will reduce its dependence on one single country."
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been knocking on the doors of many countries, trying to get the assistance needed for development as well as financial help to overcome a balance of payment crisis. In addition to the International Monetary Fund and China, Pakistan has been seeking assistance from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The prime minister is set to visit Qatar for the first time at the end of this month.
The expanding presence of Saudi Arabia in Gwadar is also irritating Pakistan's western neighbor Iran.
The site of the proposed oil refinery in Gwadar is just 70 km from the border of the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan. This Iranian province, populated by ethnic Sunni-Baloch, faces terrorist attacks. Tehran blames Saudi Arabia for supporting Sunni-Baloch militant groups against Iran which is majority Shia Muslim.
"[Growing presence in Gwadar] would heighten concerns about Saudi designing to foment trouble in neighboring Sistan-Baluchistan province in order to further contain Iran," Malik said.
If Saudi presence is not confined to economic activities and used as political leverage, Islamabad risks jeopardizing Chinese investments in CPEC and elsewhere in the country, said Malik Siraj Akbar. "This approach will make the region a hub of renewed tensions and violent clashes between local Iranian and Saudi proxies."
Apart from irking China and Iran, the proposed Saudi investments in Gwadar are also creating domestic political problems.
During a parliamentary session on Jan. 14, legislators from Balochistan -- home province of Gwadar -- threatened to protest during the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince. "We will tell the Saudi [crown] prince that Balochistan is not for sale and that elected representatives of the [Gwadar] port city have not been taken on board regarding the [oil refinery] development activities," said Aslam Bhootani, a National Assembly member from Gwadar.

#AsiaBibi - #Pakistan court to hear appeal against Asia Bibi blasphemy acquittal

Supreme court to consider petition against last year’s quashing of conviction.
Pakistan’s supreme court is to consider a petition on Tuesday against the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman whose blasphemy conviction was overturned in October.
Bibi, who spent eight years on death row, has been held at a secret location since her death sentence was quashed after hardline Islamists threatened to kill her if she was freed.
Her lawyer, Saiful Malook, has said he is confident the court will reject the petition. If so, she is likely to be flown out of the country within hours.
It emerged last week that Bibi’s daughters had already left Pakistan for Canada, one of several countries to have offered sanctuary to the farm worker and her family.Since her acquittal, Bibi’s supporters have called on the international community to ensure her safety. Her lawyer and Christian organisations appealed for her and her family to be given asylum in a western country. Australia, Spain and France are also thought to have offered sanctuary.Bibi’s case has been raised in the UK parliament several times since she was acquitted but not freed. The prime minister, Theresa May, has declined to answer questions about whether the UK has considered an offer of asylum, saying she does not want to further endanger Bibi and her family by discussing her case.
Bibi, who has five children, was accused by Muslim villagers of insulting the prophet Muhammad in a row over a cup of water. She was convicted of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to death.
After the supreme court overturned the verdict in October, saying there was no evidence to support the conviction, hardline Islamists staged violent protests and brought cities across Pakistan to a standstill.
In the days following the court ruling, Bibi’s lawyer fled to the Netherlands, saying his life was in danger.
Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, was accused of capitulating to the extremists’ demands after he agreed the supreme court would consider their petition against its ruling. In return, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a fast-growing political party dedicated solely to punishing blasphemy, ended its protest.
In November, Bibi’s family claimed they were being hunted by extremists going house to house with their photographs to try to track them down.

اقتدار کے بھوکے ٹولے کو کھلی چھٹی،وفاق آئین کے مطابق چلے تو ٹکرائو نہیں ہوگا، پیپلز پارٹی

پاکستان پیپلز پارٹی کے چیئرمین بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے کہا ہے کہ اقتدار کے
بھوکے ٹولے کو کھلی چھٹی دے دی گئی ہے، پی ٹی آئی مخالفین کیخلاف غنڈہ گردی پراتر آئی ہے اور نااہل حکمران ناکامیوں کی پردہ پوشی کی خاطر حزبِ اختلاف کوروندنا چاہتے ہیں، تحریک انصا ف نے مخالفین کیخلاف نیب اور ایف آئی اے کو استعمال کیا، حکمران سمجھتے ہیں جھوٹ نہیں بولینگےانتقامی کارروائی نہیں کریں توانکی حکومت گرجائے گی۔جبکہ خورشید شاہ کا کہنا ہے کہ شہباز شریف کے پروڈکشن آرڈر منسوخ ہوئے تو پارلیمنٹ نہیں چلے گی، ادھار ملنے پر خوش ہونے والے رقم کو ہاتھ بھی نہیں لگا سکتے لیکن 3؍ فیصد سود دینگے۔ وزیر اعلی مراد علی شاہ نے کہا ہے کہ وفاقی حکومت آئین کے مطابق چلے تو کوئی ٹکراؤ نہیں ہوگا، فواد چوہدری اپناکام نہیں کرسکتے اس لیے وہ دوسروں پر تنقید کررہے ہیں، حکومت کی کارکردگی سے کوئی خوش نہیں۔ وزیراعظم کے بیان پر ردعمل
دیتے ہوئے وزیر بلدیات سندھ سعید غنی کہا کہ عمران خان میں بصیرت ہوتی تو آج صرف علم کی بات کرتے، لیکن عمران خان کی بدقسمتی ہے کہ عقل بازار میں نہیں ملتی۔نفیسہ شاہ نے کہا کہ عمران اینڈ مافیا نے ہزاروں افراد کو بے گھر کیا، گیلپ اینڈ گیلانی سروے بے سری راگنی کے سوا کچھ نہیں، کٹھ پتلی حکومت نے ملک کو مزید مقروض کر دیا۔ تفصیلات کے مطابق بلاول بھٹو زرداری نے قمرزمان کائرہ کے رشتہ داروں کی زمینوں پر قبضے کی شدید مذمت کرتے ہوئے کہا کہ غیرقانونی قبضہ ختم اورذمہ داران کیخلاف کارروائی کی جائے جبکہ یہ کیسی تبدیلی ہے، حزبِ اختلاف کے کسی رہنما کا رشتہ دار ہونا بھی جرم ہوگیا، اقتدار کے بھوکے ٹولے کو کھلی چھوٹ دیکراداروں نے کردار پرسوالیہ نشان لگوادیا۔ انہوں نے کہا کہ حکمران سمجھتے ہیں جس دن وہ جھوٹ نہ بولیں اس دن حکومت گِر جائیگی، عوام جھوٹے وعدوں اوردعوئوں کی بھول بھلیوں میں گم ہونے والے نہیں، عیاری و مکاری سے اقتدارمیں آنا ممکن لیکن نظر یے وویژن کے بغیرقوم کو بلندی کی طرف لے جانا ناممکن ہے۔ سکھر میں اپنی رہائش گاہ پر میڈیا سے بات چیت کرتے پیپلز پارٹی کے مرکزی رہنما سید خورشید احمد شاہ نے کہا ہے کہ عمران خان شہزادہ ہے اسے سیاست کا پتہ نہیں، وہ ابھی بھی کرکٹ کھیل رہا ہے، کنٹینر پر چڑھ کر کہتا تھا کہ قرضے نہیں لینگے، خود کشی کو ترجیح دینگے، اب حکومت کہتی ہے کہ شادمانے بجاؤ، ایک ارب سعودی عرب سے آگیا ہے، ایک ارب دبئی سے آگیا ہے، اپوزیشن لیڈر کے بغیر پارلیمنٹ نہیں چل سکتی، وزراء بھی نہیں آئینگے۔