Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Music Video - Ghazal - Main nashe mein hoon - Jagjit Singh

Video - Najam Sethi discusses the government’s strategy to deal with the corona health crisis in light of PM Imran Khan’s speech

Mecca to Vatican — COVID-19 proves when human beings are in peril, gods flee first


Everything is on hold in Mecca. The Pope isn't communicating with god. Brahmin priests in temples are putting masks on idols. Religion has deserted coronavirus-fearing people.

From the practice of ‘tawaf’ — going around the Kaaba — to ‘umrah’ — the pilgrimage of which ‘tawaf’ is a part — everything has been stopped in Mecca. Pilgrimage to Muhammad’s burial site in Medina has also been halted. Quite possibly, they will stop the Hajj as well. Numerous mosques have cancelled Friday prayers. In Kuwait, new azaan can be heard asking the people to stay at home for prayers. Clerics are no longer claiming they will go to the mosques and pray before Allah to save people from the virus.
That is because the businessmen of religion know very well that Allah will not save us from the novel coronavirus. If anyone can, it’s the scientists, who are busy finding a vaccine, a cure.
The ones who should be truly surprised by such a turn of event, the ones who should have a lot of questions, are the idiots who believe in religion. The ones who flock together like sheep and follow the herd without asking where or why. Neither do they ever seek proof of god’s existence, nor do they have any faith in rational and free thought. Are they not curious today as to why their religious institutions, the ones that are supposed to help them find refuge against disease, have shut their doors? Is serving the common people not the actual purpose of these religious institutions?
Gods are saviours for many, the ones they pray to throughout the year for protection. But when humanity is in peril, it is usually the gods who flee first.

From Vatican to temples, gods are fleeing

Coronavirus has been detected in the Vatican too, the holiest of all places for Catholics. Apparently, the Pope can communicate with god. But why is he not doing that now? Even he has not been able to lead us to any wonder drug revealed to him by divine intervention. Instead, the Vatican is reeling from fears of a viral outbreak and the Pope is not appearing in front of people. Numerous Christian religious festivals are held there. Holy Week, Good Friday, Easter, and all other upcoming events stand cancelled and congregations have been prohibited.
Brahmin priests in Hindu temples are moving around wearing masks. In fact, in some temples, they have put masks on the idols of gods and goddesses too. The Hindu Mahasabha has organised a cow urine party because the outfit believes gaumutra will prevent COVID-19. Some have chosen to cover, even bathe, themselves in cow dung because apparently cow dung acts as a shield against the virus. Religions and superstitions are usually complementary. The Tarapith temple is shut, there are no long queues of people seeking flowers, blessings or holy water. Tirupati temple and Shirdi Sai Baba temple have also put in restrictions. The evening puja and the aarti are being projected on a big screen at Kolkata’s Belur Math.
Isn’t that incredible? Where is god then? Do religious people not have this question?

What’s the point of religious places?

Governments everywhere should stop all grants and subsidies that are guaranteed to religious institutions. The popes, priests, clerics and sundry religious heads of the world are feeding off people’s hard-earned money but come to no actual use to them in times of need. Instead, they are force-feeding people untruths and unscientific facts, sexually abusing children and pronouncing misogynous judgements from time to time. What is the use of such institutions? What have all these religions done over the centuries other than causing harm? Other than perpetuating abuse of women, riots, partitions, bloodshed and pervasive hate?
Religious structures should be repurposed for the betterment of people as museums, science academies, laboratories and art schools. Nature has demonstrated again and again, science has proved again and again, that there is no god and religion is a fairytale. Although many people have managed to extricate themselves from the jaws of religion, especially in the more developed parts of the world, one can find a hyper-reliance on gods and worship wherever poverty, social inequalities, misogyny and barbarism are acutely present.

Science, for god’s sake

It’s been nearly 160 years since Charles Darwin disproved the existence of god by his theory of evolution. Humans were not made by a Creator, they evolved from apes. Long before Darwin, 16th-century figures such as Galileo and his predecessor Copernicus had shown that the biblical notions of space and cosmos were wrong. Despite this, most people in the world have continued to believe in the divine. Their invisible gods have remained invisible, no proof of their existence has been found to date, but blind faith has persisted.
And now with the coronavirus pandemic spreading from one person to another, country after country, most religious gatherings and congregations are shut. People who would otherwise run to their nearby temples, mosques, churches and other places of worship to seek protection from illnesses and diseases have nowhere to go — except hospitals and isolation centres.
So, the facts as they stand now are clear: diseases are not cured by Allah, God or Bhagwan; diseases are cured by scientists. Human beings are not saved by supernatural powers but by other human beings. Religious people are no longer waiting for benevolence from their respective gods; they are waiting for a vaccine.
Isn’t it time people cast aside their religious madness and embrace reason?

COVID-19 cases in Pakistan rise to 212 amid conflicting statements on nation’s first death

The Punjab Health Minister & National Command and Control Centre had earlier confirmed the first casualty due to virus but the Punjab CM rejected the statements later on.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Pakistan sharply rose to 212 on Tuesday, amidst conflicting statements by authorities on the nation’s first casualty due to the viral infection.
The Sindh province is the worst-hit with 172 cases, followed by 15 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 10 in Balochistan, 8 in Punjab, 5 in Gilgit-Baltistan and 2 in Islamabad, officials said.
According to Meeran Yousuf, media coordinator to the Sindh health minister, the total number of COVID-19 cases rose to 172 in Sindh province on Tuesday. Of the 172 patients, 134 are in Sukkar, 37 in Karachi and one in Hyderabad city.
Meanwhile, there were conflicting statements on the first coronavirus death in Pakistan.
Earlier in the day, Punjab Health Minister Yasmin Rashid in a press conference in Lahore confirmed Pakistan’s first casualty due to the novel coronavirus.
“One COVID-19 patient who was brought from Hafizabad, some 150 km from Lahore, died here on Tuesday,” he said.
In a statement, the National Command and Control Centre also confirmed the death.
According to the statement, the patient, who came from Muscat on March 15 and was tested positive, was admitted to Lahore’s Mayo Hospital where he died on Tuesday.
However, later in the day, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar rejected the statements.
The chief minister in a tweet said according to the test report, the person did not die of coronavirus.
In a statement, the Pakistan Army said all medical facilities of the armed forces were “operationalised and geared up to meet any eventuality to deal with the pandemic”.
A central testing laboratory has already been set up at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in Rawalpindi, it said, adding that COVID-19 help desks have been established at all military hospitals.
The army chief has “directed all commanders to take maximum necessary measures to assist civil administration”.
As the country’s already fragile economy came under more pressure due to the viral outbreak, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Tuesday announced to cut its policy rate by 75 basis points to 12.50 from 13.25 to tackle the economic challenges.
Among other things, Pakistan shut down the western border with Afghanistan and Iran. It also ordered the closure of all education institutions in Pakistan till April 5 in view of the virus outbreak.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday hold a Cabinet meeting via video link, Special Assistant on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan said.
Meanwhile, the opposition accused the government of failing to contain the spread of virus. It also alleged that the quarantine facilities for pilgrims who returned from Iran and kept at Taftan border point are poor.
“The government has failed to check the spread of coronavirus,” former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi told reporters here.

Coronavirus: Punjab thrown at mercy of mismanagement

Umar Cheema
Punjab that has woken up late to the grave challenge of coronavirus has set up isolation wards in hospitals right in the heart of Lahore city instead of setting them up outside of the populated area as done in Sindh.
This decision was made ignoring the advice of doctors that isolation wards in the city may lead to disproportionate spread of virus as hundreds of thousands of patients and their attendants visit big hospitals each day.
Likewise, screening point at provincial border of Punjab in Dera Ghazi Khan has started working just now, almost two weeks after Sindh, which has outsmarted all provinces in timely detection of suspected patients at Sindh-Balochistan border. Meanwhile, doctors prone to contracting virus from patients due to lack of protective gears are concerned about their own safety and fear the health professionals will be the biggest source of its spread if they are kept ill-equipped.
Same goes with arrangement at airport. A person working at Lahore airport facing respiratory problem was Tuesday admitted to Mayo Hospital’s isolation ward as a suspect case exposed to virus while screening. As for the screening arrangement is concerned, a UK-Pakistani, Salman, went undetected from airport. He later got himself checked from private laboratory in Lahore and was tested positive. While UK’s National Health Service advised him to quarantine himself at home, he was taken by police and admitted in protest to Mayo Hospital where senior doctor visited him only a day later. Young doctors posted there are uploading videos to expose lack of protective equipment they need to keep themselves safe.
At a couple of hospitals, senior doctors are said to have displayed precautionary measures signboard for visitors from their own pockets as this has not been done at government level. Lack of information regarding who should visit hospitals for testing trigger resentments among visitors. An attempt to give them proper information at Services Hospital led to the removal of its medical superintendent whereas a doctor in Okara who suspected a patient is carrying the virus was transferred and sent on bed rest in order to contain unnecessary “panic”. Another doctor in Bahawalnagar met the same fate.
Background interviews with senior and young doctors found lack of preparedness. “I had been demanding high ups in bureaucracy since outbreak in China that we must take measures. Sooner the better. Later we get loser we become,” said a Lahore-based professor doctor posted at a key position. As we were looking towards the provincial government, he explained, it was waiting to get direction from federal government.
Suspected and confirmed patients of epidemic virus are kept at isolated places away from populated areas, another doctor said. We raised this point, he goes on, at many a meeting. “Unfortunately, we are administered by bureaucrats who knows nothing and also keep political leadership in the dark,” he said requesting anonymity as the government is taking action against doctors who speak to media.
Discussion with officials at Dera Ghazi Khan who are quarantining Iran-returned pilgrims further reveals how slowly government is responding to the impending disaster. “We are two weeks behind Sindh in starting screening,” said a doctor. “Today (Tuesday) is third day,” he said talking to The News. Initially, we were in receipt of 850 pilgrims; 100 of them were later moved to another screening facility set up near Sargodha/Faisalabad, he explained. Remaining will be quarantined in DG Khan.Tests collected in DG Khan are sent to Nishtar Hospital, Multan. In case of confirmation, patients are shifted to Tayyip Erdogan Hospital in Muzaffargarh. How many have turned out positive? From those tested on first day, the doctor said, one has been found contracting virus. Asked how come Iran-returned pilgrims from Punjab have not contracted (taking first day test as guide) virus whereas those from Sindh are multiplying, the doctor said the latter had spent a month more than the former in Iran therefore pilgrims from Sindh were more exposed. About arrangements at Taftan border, the doctor said the quarantine facility is not up to the mark therefore it has to be repeated.Meanwhile, doctor community is in a state of panic as they lack personal protective equipment. Although provincial health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid insisted while talking to The News that protective equipment have been provided, doctors insist they are only for those assigned duties at isolation ward. “We deal with hundreds of patients in emergency. Who knows who is suspect? Doctors can’t make a choice among patients on the basis of their suspicion,” said a young doctor who shared a video where chief executive officer of Mayo was caught urging doctors to arrange mask for themselves and he would reimburse them.
The helpline set up by Punjab was also not providing necessary information to concerned callers until recently. More than 100 people visited Services Hospital, Lahore on late Saturday; only six of them were those who had returned from Iran, the key source of Coronavirus in Pakistan. The helpline didn’t inform that the hospital will only be dealing with Iran-returned pilgrims as right now there is no epidemic; there are only the carriers of virus coming back from Iran, heavily infected neighbour of Pakistan. Nor were they apprised that none of the five teaching hospitals in Lahore has any testing facility for corona. Doing that required bio-safety labs of level 3 situated at Post Graduate Medical Institute (PGMI) and Directorate General of Health.
When the visitors were informed about this at Service Hospital, they started protesting on keeping them in the dark. Included among them were Iran-returned pilgrims who were advised to get admitted and their tests would be collected either by DG Health representative. In order to disperse unnecessary visitors and for public awareness at large, doctors at Services Hospital posted a message to let visitors know what kind of test should they expect. Further, it was noted in the message that corona tests are not carried out at Service Hospital and named above-mentioned two testing facilities. Instead of taking corrective measures, the medical superintendent was removed for letting doctors post this message for visitors.


Bangladesh is rising while Pakistan is sinking


Amid strained relations between India & Bangladesh, PM Modi addresses the eastern neighbour via video and says the countries are scripting a ‘golden chapter’.

At a time when ties between India and Bangladesh have been strained due to issues like the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, as well as BJP leaders’ references to Bangladeshi immigrants as “termites” or “intruders”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to smooth things out by highlighting the country’s progress compared to Pakistan.
Lauding Bangladesh’s rapid economic growth, PM Modi said Tuesday: “We are all witnessing that how, making terror and violence weapons of politics and diplomacy destroys a society and a nation. The world is also watching where the supporters of terror and violence are currently placed and in what state they are, while Bangladesh is scaling new heights.”
Modi was addressing Bangladesh through a video link on the launch of the birth centenary celebrations of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, known as ‘Jatir Pita’ or father of that nation. He was earlier scheduled to visit Dhaka for a day, but the visit had to be cancelled as the Bangladesh government withdrew its invitation, ostensibly due to the threat of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

Tribute to Mujibur

Mujibur Rahman is revered in Bangladesh for his relentless struggle in freeing Bangladesh from Pakistan, which eventually happened in December 1971. In his speech, Modi also referred to Mujibur’s brutal assassination on 15 August 1975, which was carried out by pro-Pakistan group Jamaat-e-Islami.
Modi noted: “He had devoted every moment of his life towards bringing Bangladesh out of the phase of devastation and genocide and making it into a positive and progressive society. He was absolutely clear that hatred and negativity can never be the foundation of any country’s development.”
“However, these very ideas and efforts were not liked by certain people and they snatched him from us,” Modi said.
He also lauded Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Mujibur’s elder daughter, for her “inclusive and development oriented policies”, which have led the country to “unprecedented progress”.

‘Golden chapter’ amid mounting tensions

Statements by senior members of the government and the BJP hierarchy put a strain the relationship between India and Bangladesh. In 2016, Rajnath Singh, who was then the Union home minister and is now the defence minister, had stated that since Bangladesh was created, “intruders” have been entering India through the India-Bangladesh border. Last year, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, then-BJP president and now Union Home Minister Amit Shah had referred to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh as “termites” who should be thrown into the Bay of Bengal.
Prior to Modi’s scheduled visit to Dhaka, Bangladesh had witnessed large-scale protests over the CAA and NRC. The tensions between the countries had risen because of a purported plan to send those rendered “illegal” by the proposed process to Bangladesh.
Some of the protests held in other parts of Bangladesh also criticised the Modi government for the communal riots that took place in Delhi last month.
However, Modi said India and Bangladesh are scripting a “golden chapter” in their bilateral ties.
“The legacy and inspiration of Bangabandhu (Mujibur Rahman) has made our heritage more comprehensive. India has always been attached to his ideals and values. Deep-rooted relations between India and Bangladesh have been laid on the foundation of this shared heritage,” the PM said.
“This heritage of ours, the deep-rooted bond, the path shown by Bangabandhu, are the strong foundation of partnership, progress and prosperity of the two countries in this decade as well.”
“Today, Bangladesh is not only India’s biggest trading partner in South Asia, but also development partner,” Modi said, adding that it is because of the “increasing trust” between the countries that they were able to resolve issues like the land boundary and maritime boundary.

#Coronavirus: Is #Pakistan taking COVID-19 too lightly?

Pakistan is heading toward a coronavirus emergency, yet the response of PM Khan's government has so far been unsatisfactory. Experts say the country could face a huge catastrophe if the authorities don't act properly.
"What can we do about the coronavirus? One can die of a heart attack. Death is inevitable and it could come anywhere," a security guard at a super market in Karachi’s Clifton area told DW on Tuesday.
Other people DW spoke to in Karachi echoed more or less the same views.
Karachi is Pakistan's financial hub with a population of around 20 million people. Around 30 COVID-19 cases have so far been reported in the metropolis, and around 250 nationwide, out of which the southern Sindh province has reported more than 181. Authorities reported the South Asian country's first coronavirus-related death from Gilgit-Baltistan on Wednesday.
Experts say the coronavirus cases in Pakistan are steadily increasing, yet the authorities and the common people seem to be taking the issue lightly.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's televised address to the nation on Tuesday was a proof of an apparent complacency, analysts say. Khan said the cases were likely to increase further but there was no need to panic. He also refused to impose a partial lockdown in major cities to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, officially called the SARS-COV-2.
"If we shutdown the cities - people are already facing difficult circumstances - we will save them from corona at one end, but they will die from hunger on other side," Khan said. 
"We did consider shutting down cities when we were at 20 cases ... but I want to tell you all that Pakistan does not have the conditions that are in the United States or Europe. Our country has grave poverty."
Instead of announcing concrete measures to fight the pandemic, Khan urged the people to act responsibly.
Mishandling of Shiite pilgrims
A majority of COVID-19 infections in Pakistan are of pilgrims who returned to Pakistan from Iran earlier this month. The Baluchistan provincial government "quarantined" them at Taftan border with Iran, however health experts alleged that they were badly mishandled by the authorities.
On March 16, the chief minister of Sindh province, Murad Ali Shah, said that PM Khan's federal government in Islamabad extended "zero help" to the Baluchistan authorities in putting pilgrims in quarantine. He alleged that thousands of returning pilgrims were kept together at the Taftan facility, which multiplied infections.
"Crisis cannot be averted until everyone acts responsibly," said Shah of the Pakistan People’s Party, once headed by the former premier Benazir Bhutto.
Shah's efforts to stop the coronavirus spread in Sindh province have been hailed locally and internationally. As the Taftan pilgrims from Sindh were sent to their province by Baluchistan authorities, Shah put them in a makeshift facility in Sukkur city, properly quarantining every individual in separate rooms.
But experts say that Khan's central government has so far not shown a similar resolve to deal with the worsening public health situation.
"The central government has already given up the fight," Amar Sindhu, a human rights activist, told DW. "In comparison, Sindh's Chief Minister Shah has emerged as a real leader who is confronting the issue with a lot of determination," she added.
"Khan's Tuesday address was disappointing. It seems he has not drafted a policy to deal with the situation."
Disdain for protective measures
Pakistan's Health Ministry has issued directives for the masses on how to protect themselves from the coronavirus. The government has urged people to avoid public gatherings, wash hands regularly and keep a distance from the virus patients.
Despite these public messages, which are being propagated through mainstream media, many people in Pakistan seem to ignore the instructions. Poverty is rampant in the country, with many people unable to make ends meet. They view the coronavirus as the least of their problems.
At the same time, Khan's government has been sending mixed signals about "social distancing." Unlike Saudi Arabia, Pakistan is yet to impose a ban on mosque prayers and large religious gatherings, fearing a backlash from Islamist groups. The prime minister met with prominent religious clerics to take them into confidence about the health measures.
The next few days are crucial for Pakistan's coronavirus battle. If the cases continue to multiply, the authorities will have to impose a lockdown in many cities, but that is easier said than done. Most people don't follow rules and a lockdown like the one in Italy or China would be hard to enforce in a country like Pakistan.
The country's powerful army said it was monitoring the situation closely. The military has also opened up its health facilities for coronavirus patients. Should a lockdown become inevitable, only the Pakistani military can enforce it. That would undermine Khan's civilian rule, but people here say that the country is heading toward a state of emergency and the central government is proving to be quite incompetent to deal with COVID-19.

#Pakistan - #PPP suspends all unnecessary political activities amid coronavirus

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Tuesday suspended all unnecessary political activities in the country.
In a statement, PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto appealed Prime Minister Imran Khan to implement recommendations of Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah regarding coronavirus.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged party workers to help others in fighting coronavirus epidemic, spread awareness, help the vulnerable, practice social distancing and follow regular hygiene.
He also announced that annual gathering on April 4 to pay tribute to Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has also been postponed. Bilawal also thanked Sindh government and said “I’d like to thank government of Sindh for doing everything in their power to lead an all of government approach to deal with this crisis.”

سندھ میں لاک ڈاؤن، صرف خوراک و ادویات کی دکانیں کھلیں گی، سرکاری دفاتر، انٹرسٹی ٹرانسپورٹ بند ، ریستوران سے کھانا لے جانے کی اجازت، 3 ارب کا امدادی فنڈ قائم، PSL ملتوی

 ملک میں کورونا وائرس کے کیسز کی تعداد میں اضافہ ہورہا ہے صوبہ سندھ میں مزید 22، پنجاب میں 26؍ اور بلوچستان میں مزید 7؍ کیسز کل 55؍ مریض سامنے آنے کے بعد ملک میں وائرس سے متاثرہ افراد کی تعداد 237 ہوگئی۔ 
کورونا وائرس کی شدت کے پیش نظر سندھ حکومت نے صوبہ لاک ڈاؤن کردیا ہے ، صرف خوراک و ادویات کی دکانیں کھلیں گی، سرکاری دفاتر، شاپنگ مالز، بازار ، اسپتالوں کی او پی ڈیز بند 15روز کیلئے بند کردی گئیں ، انٹر سٹی ٹرانسپورٹ بھی نہیں چلے گی ، شہر بھر کے ریستورانوں میں بیٹھ کر کھانے پر پابندی ہوگی تاہم کھانا لے جانا کی اجازت ہوگی۔
سندھ حکومت نے کورونا سے نمٹنے کیلئے 3؍ ارب کا امداد فنڈ بھی قائم کردیا ہے جس میں وزیراعلیٰ سندھ نے ریلیف فنڈ سے ایک ارب روپے ٹرانسفر کرنے کا فیصلہ کیا ہے جبکہ فنڈ میں صوبائی ملازمین کی تنخواہوں سے کٹوتی ہوگی ۔ سندھ میں صابن مفت تقسیم ہونگے ،پہلے مرحلے میں 10لا کھ سے زا ئد صا بن خریدکے عوام میں مفت تقسیم کئے جا ئینگے۔ 
وزیراعلیٰ سندھ سید مراد علی شاہ نے کہا ہے کہ لوگ گھروں تک محدود رہیں ، وائرس پھیل گیا تو اسپتال کم پڑ جائیں گے جبکہ صوبائی وزیر اطلاعات ناصر حسین شاہ نے کہا کہ وائرس سے بچانے کیلئے کرفیو کی طرف جایا جاسکتا ہے مگر ابھی ایسا کوئی فیصلہ نہیں ہوا۔
دوسری جانب کورونا وائرس کے خطرات میں اضافے کے پیش نظر پاکستان سپر لیگ (پی ایس ایل) سیزن 5کو ملتوی کردیا گیا۔ سیمی فائنلز اور فائنل بعد میں ری شیڈول کئے جائیں گے ۔ 
ادھر بیرون ملک سے آنے والے مسافروں کیلئے پاکستان میں داخل ہونے کیلئے کورونا ٹیسٹ لازم قرار دے دیا گیا ،مسافر کیلئے پرواز سے 24؍ گھنٹے قبل ٹیسٹ کروانا ضروری ہےجبکہ تربت اور گوادر کے علاوہ پاکستان کے تمام بین الاقوامی ہوائی اڈوں پر بین الاقوامی ہوائی آپریشن دوبارہ شروع کرنے کی اجازت دیدی گئی ہے ۔ 
دریں اثناء کورونا وائرس کی روک تھام کےسلسلے میں چمن میں پاک افغان سرحد باب دوستی سے متصل علاقے میں پہلی بار 7 سو سے زائد خیموں پر مشتمل قرنطینہ قائم کردیا گیا۔