Friday, August 16, 2019

Video Report - Kids speak their minds about race

Video Report - Michelle Obama Goes Viral With Takedown Trump 'It’s Our America'

Video Report - First test of Russia’s new heavyweight combat drone ‘Hunter’

Video Report - Elizabeth Warren releases policy plans to aid Native Americans

Video Report - Rep. Rashida Tlaib tweets she won't visit Israel

#Pakistan - #PTI govt’s first year is a series of miserable failures

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb on Friday said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s first year was a series of miserable failures when it comes to governance and policy-making.
In a statement, the former information minister said that Prime Minister Imran Khan has successfully turned every national success into terminal failure. “The country has gone from one of the most affordable countries in the region to one of the most difficult countries to survive in,” she said.
She said that PM Imran will break his own “world record of compulsive lying” on August 18 when his government would have completed its first year in power. “Over 4.5 million people have been pushed below the poverty line whereas 1.5 million have become jobless. Despite borrowing huge sums from other countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government has not completed a single developmental project,” she said.
She said that inflation has spiked from 3 per cent to 13 per cent, growth rate of 5.8 per cent has fallen to under 2 per cent and interest rate has shot up from 5.75 per cent to 14 per cent, which is nothing but catastrophic for the national economy.
She asked how many “paradigm-changing chickens and cattle” were distributed by the government. “The government had promised five million homes and 10 million jobs but it has not delivered on a single promise,” she added.

#Pakistan - #PTI government’s first year in power - The promise versus performance

The PTI will be completing the first year of its tenure tomorrow. It is time to take account of its perceived achievements and failures.
Two million jobs and 200,000 houses per year were required to fulfil the promise of 10 million jobs and one million homes in five years. While tens of thousands of people have lost jobs, not a single new residential unit has been built so far. The party considers a handful of ‘Panah Gahs’ a major achievement. Other steps paraded as landmarks include E-visa extension and visa on arrival, which have no bearing on the life of the people of this country. That no financial scandal involving government high ups has been reported is also presented as a remarkable feat.
Within eight months of coming to power a clueless PTI government fired its own financial wizards, handing over the country’s economic management to the IMF’s team which is least bothered about the impact of its policies on the life of the common man. The people are consequently suffering under the impact of rising prices and inflated gas and electricity bills. The government’s economic policies have pushed tens of thousands below the poverty line.
The PTI government took political polarisation to an unprecedented height in the very first year of its rule. It goaded NAB to arrest opponents even when no offense had been proved against them in a court of law. The arrest of former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former Finance Minister Miftah Ismail and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz are some of the cases that prove that malice was the motive behind the arrests.
Free speech has been suppressed, TV channels pulled off-air without due process, newspapers pressurised to ban columnists and baseless treason cases filed to silence the media.
The government has squandered the opportunity provided to it by the Trump Administration’s urgency to quit Afghanistan. The government has played its cards badly. Instead of supporting Pakistan’s Kashmir stand, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s message on August 14 underlines the need to build on the important commitments made during recent visit by Prime Minister Imran Khan and the senior leadership of the Government of Pakistan. Back to do more, Pakistan.

Opinion: Imran Khan — one year of stumbling ineptitude

BY Harris Khalique 
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to provide relief to citizens when he came to power last year, but his government has only added to their misery, says Harris Khalique of Pakistan's human rights commission.
When Imran Khan was elected as Pakistan's prime minister on August 17, 2018, some Pakistanis saw him as the the best option, but others saw Khan as a messiah, and followed him like blinkered members of a populist cult.
Khan's victory was the triumph of Pakistan's self-righteous and self-serving affluent urban middle class. They were aided internationally by a well-meaning but naive diaspora, and domestically by the leadership of the politically dominating and psychologically impatient judiciary and military.
Khan's supporters agreed on his prescription for treating the ills of Pakistan's economy and polity: i.e. moral answers to material questions and administrative solutions to structural problems.
Both have failed to work. Rather than providing relief to common citizens as promised, the past year has added to their misery.
In 2018, the narrative that was sold to the public for a "new idea of Pakistan" could be summarized as a corruption-free economy and a justly governed country. This narrative was realized through Khan's rise to power, along the rise of his political outfit, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in national and provincial general elections.
The July 2018 general elections were marred by  accusations of pre-poll manipulation and vote-rigging. But those who understood that a nascent democracy constrained by a colonial structure would stumble before finding its feet were willing to give Pakistan's new democratic dispensation a serious chance. Even the main opposition parties were cautious and feared that their non-cooperation could have brought an end to the democratic order altogether.
Therefore, Khan's government began with even better support than two of his predecessors — Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972, and Nawaz Sharif in 1990. All powerful institutions of the state were on his side, opposition was reluctant to agitate and a large part of the affluent middle class — having sway over both market and media at that time — saw him as a savior.
Economic mismanagement
One year into this government, not only do we find all the promises made for improving the economy and governance unfulfilled, the path forward seems to have been lost as well.
Capitalism works in a certain way in a developing country, and the PTI claims it can fix the system without knowing how it works.
The PTI's rhetoric about curbing corruption and ending financial debt was turned upside down sooner than imagined. The cluelessness, and therefore poor performance of PTI's economic managers appointed at the outset, brought their unceremonious ouster within months.
A late agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not only put more pressure on Khan's government, it also meant the IMF could exercise more control over Pakistan's financial decision-making.
In the name of bringing macroeconomic stability, growth has been stifled, the currency is majorly devalued and markets have lost their trust. Hyper-inflation and unprecedented power and energy price hikes coupled with sharp decline in incomes of middle, lower middle and working class have brought extraordinary hardships on common people. Poverty indicators soar and under- and unemployment rise as a consequence of this economic slowdown. 
On top of this, there have been major cuts introduced in spending on health and education directly hitting the disadvantaged. As far as public debt is concerned, a recent report in The Express Tribunenewspaper revealed that more than two-thirds of what the previous Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) government had borrowed in five years has already been acquired by Khan's government in less than one year.
Foreign relations and domestic policies
In terms of foreign relations, Khan's government is finding it hard to create a balance between the US and China for its own benefit. The pace of investments and development under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is caught up in uncertainty, while the US seems to be reluctant in offering any substantial support unless Pakistan fulfills the role Washington envisages for it in the ongoing Afghan peace process.
Bending over backwards to woo Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the past year has brought limited dividends to Khan in every quarter, including support to Pakistan's economic stability.
The Arab countries' response was cold when Pakistan expected them to denounce India's recent annexation of the State of Jammu and Kashmir, where constitutional safeguards were withdrawn, compounded with stark military aggression against civilians.
What Khan's government and its backers in the establishment have successfully done over the past year is to systematically curb political dissent and constrain freedom of the mainstream media.
But those who can recall Pakistan's political history —however chequered it may have been — know full well that muffling of voices eventually leads to unmanageable dissonance in the body politic that in turn erodes the very base of the government.
Need for introspection
At the end of its first year in power, what Khan's government needs is a critical introspection in order to fundamentally alter its economic policies to realize the economic rights of Pakistani citizens. This includes alleviating poverty and increasing productivity.
The government also needs to better manage the country's foreign relations with a long-term vision that helps strike a balance between global powers to Pakistan's advantage.
Finally, the government needs to appreciate the importance of civil and political rights and respect for the freedom of expression, which are prerequisites to creating a healthy society and sustainable polity.

China Blames India for Kashmir Tension as UN Action Blocked - U.S. and France blocking a Chinese attempt

China’s ambassador to the United Nations blamed India for stoking tensions with Pakistan and called on both sides to exercise restraint after a rare closed-door Security Council meeting on the situation in Kashmir that failed to produce concrete action.
The Security Council met on Friday to discuss Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to scrap autonomy for Kashmir, though the body was divided on how to proceed, with the U.S. and France blocking a Chinese attempt to get the 15-member body to publicly urge parties to refrain from actions that exacerbate tensions along the line of control, diplomats said.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi At Red Fort For Independence Day Celebrations
Narendra Modi delivers a speech in New Delhi.
Photographer: T. Narayan/Bloomberg
“It’s obvious that the constitutional amendment by India has changed the status quo in Kashmir, causing tensions in the region,” Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun told reporters after the closed-door meeting. “China is deeply concerned about the current situation and opposes any unilateral action that complicates the situation and we call upon the relevant parties to exercise restraint.”
China is a historic ally of Pakistan. Underscoring rising tensions between nuclear powers India and Pakistan over Kashmir, it was the first full Security Council meeting to discuss the disputed region since 1965.
One Western diplomat, who asked not to be identified discussing the closed meeting, said even though no decision was reached, holding the meeting helped calm tensions because it showed Pakistan that the international community is engaged on the issue.
India has called the Kashmir decision an internal matter with no bearings on its international borders with Pakistan and China. Yet Beijing issued a strongly worded statement last week questioning the impact on the mainly Buddhist region of Ladakh -- an area of strategic importance nestled between Tibet and Pakistan.
Friday’s discussion came after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the Council earlier this week to hold an urgent meeting, arguing that India’s moves pose “a threat to international peace and security, willfully undermine the internationally recognized disputed status of Jammu & Kashmir,” and violate the human rights of the Kashmiri people.
India says its decision to convert Jammu and Kashmir into two federally administered regions would usher in prosperity for the region where as many as 42,000 people, including civilians, army, police and militants have died in violence in the last three decades.
“The recent decisions taken by the government of India are intended to ensure that good governance is promoted and social economic development is enhanced,” Syed Akbaruddin, India’s ambassador the the UN, said. “We are saddened that terrorism is being fueled while language and incendiary talk of Jihad are being mentioned by people who should know better.”

Pakistan’s doctors are getting fired in Arab countries. Blame its unreliable medical degrees

Many Pakistanis working in the field of clinical research would say that the unfortunate episode was waiting to happen.

Research is a word reviled in Pakistan, and the lack of it has come back to haunt Pakistani doctors working in the Gulf.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recently showed the mirror to Pakistan’s medical community by sacking hundreds of Pakistani doctors who had secured jobs on account of their MD/MS degrees. These doctors have now been issued deportation orders. Most of them had been working in the Arab countries since 2016.
Pakistani doctors working in clinics (patient treatment and care) are excellent, but that’s not the case with those working in clinical research. And, it is the second group that has brought ignominy to Pakistan.
In the past, Saudi Arabia was more concerned about the clinical aspect of medicine, but it has recently invested heavily in clinical research, especially in the area that focuses on cause of a disease and application of drugs in patients.
In response to this, some medical universities in Pakistan developed certain MS and MD programmes to ensure the skilled force gets opportunities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, but the strategy seems to have backfired.
First Saudi Arabia and now others have alleged that Pakistan’s postgraduate degrees in medicine are lacking in structured training programmes.
There are four main reasons for such criticism.

No concept of research

First, Pakistan’s medical universities are alien to the concept of research. Professors themselves violate research rules with impunity and the same malpractice trickles down to the student researchers. Garbage in, garbage out.
For instance, a former vice-chancellor of government-run University of Health Sciences in Lahore, after assuming the position, had circulated his CV wherein he claimed that he had 120 research articles published in the field of reproductive endocrinology and high-altitude physiology in a career spanning 35 years.
Going by the sheer number of articles, an entire book on medical research would have been published. Similarly, with such vast experience in medical research, one would assume there were several discoveries (patent rights) against his name. Unfortunately, there was none. No standard book on medical research included his name as a contributor to appreciate his scientific work.

Stealing ideas

Second, medical researchers in Pakistan are not careful about the validity of their research. They overlook the fact that the steps taken to conduct research are more important than the conclusion drawn. Every step has to be recorded in a logbook. There is a tendency among Pakistani researchers to steal the objectives and conclusion of a research performed in some other part of the world and replicate the same in the context of Pakistan to claim a scientific credit. This explains why the conclusion drawn often doesn’t flow from the research conducted.
For instance, in 1991, P. Laurberg et al published the result of their study conducted at Aalborg University Hospital (Denmark) on high incidence of multinodular toxic goiter in the elderly population in a low iodine intake area in East Jutland, Denmark. In 2013, a team of Pakistani researchers in Rawalpindi replicated the same study in northern region of Pakistan among the elderly population. Without following the requisite steps of research, they arrived at the same conclusion to earn a scientific credit. Steps for conducting research were not followed because the team of researchers already knew the conclusion they would arrive at.
Similarly, in 2005, at the Osaka University in Japan, A. Fukukara et al conducted a study on humans to examine the effect of a secreted protein (Visfatin) on the testosterone levels in insulin-resistant diabetic males. Interestingly, in 2013, a team of Pakistani clinical researchers based in Rawalpindi reinforced the same findings by conducting a study on male rats to earn a scientific credit.
Across the world, experiments are conducted first on animals and based on their success, clinical trials are conducted on humans. In Pakistan, the reverse pattern is followed just to earn a scientific credit, making a mockery of research. News of such virtuosity has reached foreign countries that now view the achievement of Pakistani researchers with doubt.

No reliability of research

Third, medical researchers in Pakistan are incautious about the significance of the reliability of research. Any research whose results are not replicable is unreliable research. There are several examples where unreliable data have been produced to only serve the purpose of the researcher.
For instance, a head of the department at the government-run medical university in Lahore declared a couple of years ago that he had discovered a ‘Pakistani type-II diabetes’. To publicise his findings, the professor published four research articles (in 2013March 2014September 2014 and 2015) in four different research journals of Pakistan. The articles indicated that each time he got the approval of the ethical committee of the university to collect the samples.
Interestingly, the blood samples of 212 patients were reportedly collected from November 2009 to January 2012 during his PhD studies. It is still not known how he cryopreserved the samples or if he used the same samples for more than three years since the date of the sample collection. It also not known how and why the ethical committee of the university would allow him to declare in each article that the samples used were fresh.
No independent or third-party researcher has been able to successfully repeat the experiments to confirm the authenticity of the findings.

A culture of condoning

Fourth, Pakistani researchers practice a culture of condoning – you overlook my faults and I will overlook yours. They do not challenge each other because they mutually conduct research malpractices.
There are other silent participants in this malicious activity of research quackery. Every medical university in Pakistan has hired the services of media managers who secure hefty salaries from the university and penetrate the media to forestall the publication of any news, which is against the interests of the university. These media managers also offer the reporters covering the medical beat a direct access to medical facilities of the attached hospitals as a sop to stay tightlipped.
Above all, medical universities, especially those run by the government, are supervised by the chancellor who happens to be governor of the province. Governors, mostly from non-science background, do not wish to interfere in the universities’ research issues.
There are, for instance, several complaints against research malpractices pending with the office of the Governor of Punjab. Registrars of medical universities are also known to propitiate the governors with different favours to keep the issues suppressed.

Thorough probe needed

The news of expulsion of Pakistani doctors from the Gulf countries might have taken many Pakistani by surprise, but to many Pakistanis working in the field of clinical research, the unfortunate episode was waiting to happen. When teachers (or trainers) are involved, students (or trainees) cannot escape research malpractices.
A thorough inquiry into the matter is required to root out the malpractices of research quackery and research misconduct, which are rampant in Pakistan’s medical universities and hospitals. These malpractices are spoiling the future of young clinical researchers in Pakistan and bringing disgrace to the country.