Saturday, April 27, 2019

NASA engineer Hibah Rahmani encourages young Pakistani women to pursue space science careers

Engineer Hibah Rahmani, a Pakistani-US national who is working at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), USA, has urged girl students to pursue their career in space science as there are opportunities for talented girls to reach for the stars.
She was addressing a seminar at the Punjab University’s Institute of Social and Cultural Studies organised in collaboration with the US Consulate Lahore and the Lincoln Corners Pakistan on Friday.
ISCS Director Prof Dr Rubina Zakar, US Consulate Provincial Coordinator Alumni Affairs Jamal Ghazanfar, US Consulate Deputy Public Affairs Officer Elizabeth Lee, faculty members and students were present.
Hibah Rahmani discussed the current research being done in the field of space sciences at Nasa. She said it was a good omen that Pakistani girls were coming forward in various fields of science and engineering.
She said: “Problems and failures come but that could become an opportunity if the students continue to achieve their goals and work hard. Girls must dream big and never give up. Girl students should stay focused on their goals and dreams and eventually they will find success.”
She works on expendable launch vehicles and rockets. She provides technical expertise, follows launch vehicle testing, performs data reviews and provides technical assessments of engineering issues.

Panic grips in Pakistan's Larkana after 13 children tested HIV positive

By Ashfaq Ahmed
Larkana continues to top the list of districts most affected by HIV in Sindh province.
Panic gripped Larkana – a key city of Pakistan’s Sindh province – after 13 children were tested positive for human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV).
According to the HIV Aids Control Programme official, sixteen of the 13 children tested are infected with HIV in the Ratodero district of Larkana. Blood samples of 16 children have been sent to a laboratory for further tests.
“The children who are tested HIV positive are between the ages of four months and eight years,” Dr Abdul Hafeez, In Charge of the HIV Aids Control Programme in the area.
He said that parents of the affected children would also be tested.
Larkana continues to top the list of districts most affected by HIV in Sindh with the number of AIDS patients in Larkana rising to more than 2,500, reported Geo TV.
Larkana is the stronghold of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) which has been in government in Sindh province for decades. But the city has one of the worst healthcare facilities. The results are very worrisome, Dr Hafeez said, urging the need for take drastic steps to create awareness about HIV amongst the population in the area.
20,000 new HIV cases
According to WHO, Pakistan is registering approximately 20,000 new HIV infections annually, the highest rate of increase among all countries in the region.
The international body says mortality among Pakistanis living with the virus, which causes the deadly AIDS disease, is also rising, in spite of the availability of lifesaving antiretroviral therapy.The latest government figures show that only 16 percent of the estimated 150,000 people living with HIV had been tested and only 9 percent have access to lifesaving treatment."The remaining 135,000 people are walking around in the communities as carriers of (HIV) infection who are ready to transmit infections to those who are not infected, even to their unborn babies," Dr. Saima Paracha of the National AIDS Control Program, told media recently.
Main causes of HIV in Pakistan
Officials say the HIV epidemic in Pakistan remains largely concentrated among the key populations, including people who inject drugs, the transgender community, sex workers and their clients and men who have sex with men.Official estimates show that Pakistan has seen a 45 percent increase in new HIV infections since 2010.The report said AIDS-related deaths in the world have fallen from 1.9 million in 2005 to one million in 2016, adding that "for the first time the scales have tipped."The year 2016 saw 1.8 million new infections, almost half the record number of some 3.5 million in 1997, said UNAIDS.
In total, 76.1 million people have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, since the epidemic started in the 1980s. Some 35 million have died.
No cure
As of yet, there is no HIV vaccine or cure, and infected people rely on lifelong anti-retroviral therapy to stop the virus replicating.
Without treatment, HIV-infected people go on to develop AIDS, a syndrome that weakens the immune system and leaves the body exposed to opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis, and some types of cancer.Treatment carries side effects and is costly, but allows infected people to be healthier for longer.As of yet, there is no HIV vaccine or cure, and infected people rely on lifelong anti-retroviral therapy to stop the virus replicating.Without treatment, HIV-infected people go on to develop AIDS, a syndrome that weakens the immune system and leaves the body exposed to opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis, and some types of cancer.
Treatment carries side effects and is costly, but allows infected people to be healthier for longer.

US imposes sanction on Pakistan, may deny visas to Pakistanis

Pakistan is latest to join the list of 10 nations that have been imposed with sanctions.
The US has imposed sanctions on Pakistan after Islamabad refused to take back its citizen deportees and visa over-stayers from America, warning that it may withhold visas of Pakistanis beginning from its senior officials.
The State Department on Friday said that consular operations in Pakistan remain “unchanged” as of now but as a result of such a sanction mentioned in a Federal Register notification dated April 22, the US may withhold visas of Pakistanis beginning with its senior officials.
Pakistan is the latest to join the list of 10 nations that have been imposed with sanctions under a US law according to which countries refusing to take back deportees and visa over-stayers will be denied American visas.
Notably eight of these countries have been slapped with such visa sanctions under the Trump administration. Two of them Ghana and Pakistan have been included in the list this year.
The other countries include Guyana in 2001, the Gambia in 2016, Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea, and Sierra Leone in 2017, Burma and Laos in 2018.
Under Section 243 (d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Secretary of State is required to discontinue granting immigration or non-immigrant visas to a nation upon receiving notice from the Homeland Security Secretary that the country has denied or is unreasonably delaying accepting a citizen, subject, national or resident of that country.
The State Department tried to downplay the impact of the sanctions on Pakistan.
"Consular operations in Pakistan remain unchanged,” a State Department Spokesperson told PTI when asked about the federal register notification.
“This is a bilateral issue of ongoing discussion between the US and Pakistani governments and we are not going to get into the specifics at this time,” the spokesperson added.
Former Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, feels that this will make things difficult for Pakistanis.
“This measure will create hardship for Pakistanis who want or need to travel to the US and could have been avoided if Pakistani authorities had not ignored American requests to respect their legal requirements for deportation,” Haqqani told PTI, days after the federal register notification.
He said that Pakistan's refusal to accept it's citizen deported from the US is not new.
“Pakistan’s refusal to accept every Pakistani citizen deported from the US is not new. It seems that the US is no longer willing to overlook a wide range of official Pakistani behaviour. Bonhomie has been replaced by sanctions and restrictions based on Islamabad’s policy decisions,” Haqqani said.
While the law in this regard has been under existence since 1996, it is only in last several years that there had been increasing demand from lawmakers towards its enforcement against countries that had refused to accept deportees and visa over-stayers.
In the last few years, India has been taking such deportees on special planes at regular intervals.
The Trump administration after coming to power had said that it will strictly enforce such provisions by denying visas to people from those countries that refuse it accepting deportees and visa over-stayers.
While section 243 (d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act was used only twice before 2017, the Trump Administration has been effective in using this provision on many countries, including Pakistan.
However, the State Department federal register notification indicates that the number of visa denial under this sanction is far less.
Since the law was modified to cover non-immigrant visas in 1996, 318 visa applicants have been affected, the notification said.
“During this same time period, tens of millions of aliens have received non-immigrant visas including, collectively, millions of applicants from the 10 countries affected,” the notification said.
The Federal Register notification said that there is no set formula, though, notably State has never issued a blanket refusal for visas from the country in question.
“For some countries, sanctions begin by targeting officials who work in the ministries responsible for accepting the return of that country's nationals with escalation scenarios that target family members of those officials and potentially officials of other ministries and then other categories of applicants if initial sanctions do not prove effective at encouraging greater cooperation on removals by the targeted government,” the notification said.

Pakistan's interior minister pick raises questions about 'new' Pakistan

By Saad Sayeed
Pakistan’s new interior minister, appointed in a major cabinet reshuffle this month by Prime Minister Imran Khan, is a former spy chief and close ally of the country’s last military ruler who has long been accused of deep ties to militant groups.
The appointment of retired Brigadier Ijaz Shah has been heavily criticized by the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), whose slain former leader Benazir Bhutto regarded him as a deadly enemy.
Some analysts said it suggested Pakistan’s powerful military continued to wield heavy influence over the civilian administration - a persistent allegation since Khan took office eight months ago that both his government and the generals deny.In an interview with the BBC after his appointment, Shah said: “What power can I give the military as interior minister? I left the army a long time ago, I am a civilian and have participated in elections.”
The prime minister’s office and the information ministry did not respond to requests for comment. Shah was among four members of the civilian-military establishment named by Bhutto in a letter written to then President Pervez Musharraf months before her assassination as suspects who should be investigated if she was killed.
Many Pakistanis have long suspected that elements of the intelligence agencies colluded with militants in Bhutto’s assassination in a gun and bomb attack in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in December 2007. An investigation at the time blamed an al Qaeda-allied Pakistani Taliban leader.“Are you trying to send a message to the world that we have terrorists and the abettors of terrorists in our cabinet?” Bhutto’s son and chairman of the PPP, Bilawal Bhutto, told the country’s parliament this week, referring to Shah’s appointment. “This cannot happen.”Shah’s office did not respond to a request for an interview or a list of questions sent by Reuters, but earlier this month then Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told local newspaper Dawn that “he is a clean man” and had been cleared of all allegations against him in a government inquiry.
The sweeping cabinet reshuffle comes as Pakistan is trying to attract foreign investment and present itself as a reformed country. But critics say the inclusion of an “old school” figure such as Shah in the government shows little has changed.
Under Musharraf, who as army chief seized power in a 1999 coup and ruled until 2008, Shah served as head of the military’s leading spy agency in the Punjab province, and was later appointed the head of the civilian Intelligence Bureau.He oversaw the surrender of wanted militant Omar Saeed Shaikh, who masterminded the kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in 2002.That contributed to allegations he had been close to Islamist groups based along lawless border with Afghanistan, where Pakistan’s security services have long been accused of playing a double game.“The biggest controversy is his links with the Afghan jihad and figures like Omar Saeed Sheikh,” author and analyst Ayesha Siddiqa told Reuters, a longstanding critic of Pakistan’s military. “Looks very much like the army chief’s choice.” he military did not respond to a request for comment on this article, but in the past has said it does not interfere in politics. The military has also repeatedly denied allegations leveled by the United States, Afghanistan and others that is has covertly sheltered militants based along its borders.
Under Khan’s government, Islamabad has been trying to convince the outside world that it will not tolerate militants operating from inside Pakistan.
Pakistan currently finds itself on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “grey list” for inadequately dealing with money laundering and terrorism financing, a designation that makes it harder for the country to access international markets at a time when its economy is stumbling.

#Pakistan- #PPP - No room for 'third umpire' in democracy: Bilawal Bhutto

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said today (April 26) that the democratic government always has only one umpire and that’s its people. No room for third umpire, he said.
“People are the only umpire of Pakistan.” Bilawal said. “In a democratic state, the will of third umpire is insignificant to people’s will. We will defend the country together”.
Bilawal said that PPP started the CPEC project, which was later led by the Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government. He hoped that Prime Minister Imran Khan will also take it ahead.
PPP leader said Government should not make the Pak-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) project a controversial issue. Government should make sure there will be no compromise on it. “Imran Khan has taken money from CPEC projects and handed it to his parliamentarians,” he said. “This is unconstitutional.”
Bilawal Bhutto said that National Accountability Bureau (NAB) is a black law and institution formed by former president Pervez Musharraf against his political rivals.
He further said, “We are ready to cooperate with the government for reforms in the NAB. We will try our best to bring NAB under the rule of law.”
PPP Chairman expressed that Federal government has no interest in running the country. The presidential system will be harmful for Pakistan and PPP will show resistance against it, he added. “You cannot bring a presidential system through democratic means. PPP and other democratic forces of this country will reject this.”
Talking to the media, Bilawal said that many issues were discussed in the Parliament today, including the 18th amendment and human rights issues. “The problems will be resolved with political parties together. If there is any danger to democracy, we will end it together”, he added.