A delegation from Pakistan’s youth parliament paid a visit to Anadolu Agency’s headquarters on Monday.
Anadolu Agency’s World Languages Editor-in-Chief Mehmet Ozturk briefed them on the workings of the news wire, its international presence and plans of expansion.
“On April 6 this year, Anadolu Agency will celebrate its centenary,” Ozturk said.
Focusing on South Asia, Ozturk said: “Anadolu Agency has its regional office covering sub-continent based in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad.”
Anadolu Agency is a well-established global news agency with operations in most major regions of the world, including the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Asia-Pacific, and serves subscribers in more than 100 countries.
The delegates were shown a documentary on Siachen glacier by Anadolu Agency which triggered expressions of concern.
“If environment hazards continue, glaciers in Himalayas will perish by 2032 which will have huge impact on Pakistan triggering floods, climate change and drought,” said one of the group members on what is known as the world’s highest battlefield and where a standoff between rivals India and Pakistan persists.
Applauding the work of Anadolu Agency, the group leader Aqeel Aziz said they will take back the Turkish experiences in media and communications sector.
“It is inspiring to see the success story of Anadolu Agency and we would press our government and media to learn from their Turkish counterparts,” Aziz said on the occasion.
Ozturk also informed the group about various training programs held by Anadolu Agency’s News Academy. “We welcome candidates from Pakistan to join our training programs,” he told the visiting delegation.
Referring to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s focus on Pakistan’s tourism industry, the delegation requested that Anadolu Agency help in promotion of the sector. “Media and technology are tools which help build image and Anadolu Agency can help us better in this sector,” a delegate said.
Pakistan’s National Youth Assembly began operation in 1984 with the aim of training future leaders.
Pakistan has almost finalized preparations for the poverty alleviation program Ehsaas Kifalat, which will be officially launched on January 31, by the country’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, reports Ary News. Ehsaas digital payment is a key feature of the program.
Last October, Pakistan’s Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) partnered with multinational bank Habib Bank Limited and Bank Alfalah to make improvements to its financial assistance program by introducing a new biometrics-based payment solution which includes savings.
Dr. Nishtar inaugurated HBL’s biometric ATM in Islamabad to help poor women in the Kifalat program gain easier, transparent access to cash transfers. The Ehsaas digital payment system gives beneficiaries the option to use a biometric retail shop, a biometrically-enabled ATM or any biometrically-enabled branch of Habib Bank Limited and Bank Alfalah.
“Opening biometric ATMs and bank branches (of partner banks HBL and BA) the beneficiaries of Kifalat is a major feature of the new Ehsaas digital payment system,” said Dr. Nishtar. “Previously women had no choice. They used to go to retail shops and there were very few of them in each city. The retail agents usually made deductions from their tranches and often fraudulently deducted money. Under the new system, women will be able to go to biometric ATMs and branches.”
LDA introduces online biometric authentication for property transaction security
The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) can now conduct online biometric verification at its office for people inquiring about property transactions, after gaining access to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) centralized database, the Express Tribune writes.
The dedicated NADRA counter at LDA was instated by LDA’s Director General Sumair Ahmad Syed who ran a biometric verification on himself. According to Syed, by implementing biometric authentication through physical traits such as fingerprints, it will be easier to establish legitimacy of people involved in property transactions.
“As soon as a citizen places his thumb on the biometric scanner, the system will verify the credentials in real-time through the online system,” he said.
Besides achieving high identification accuracy, LDA will automatically gain access to the person’s family tree, adoption information, birth date and other relevant details.
The LDA system and the NADRA database will be periodically synchronized, building a framework for future projects.
Each applicant’s fingerprints will be collected and processed for authentication against NADRA’s fingerprint database. If no match is found, a message will inform the institution that the fingerprint is not valid against CNIC. Verification requirements include a valid CNIC and biometric capture of fingerprint. For marriage certificates, NADRA will check the marital status and spouse information. If the validation is provided by the system, a verification fee is charged.
Bath Cricket Club’s purchase of a piece of publicly-owned land is being challenged.
Councillor Colin Blackburn said Bath and North East Somerset Council had not justified handing over the North Parade Road embankment for “less than best consideration”.
Leading a call-in of the decision, he also claimed it would be impossible to judge if the mooted community benefits of £2million had been delivered.
Cabinet member for resources Richard Samuel signed off the decision on January 8 to allow the cricket club to buy the land for £150,000.
It will pay the council a peppercorn rent so it can access the site and build 136 student flats.
The Local Government Act says authorities are generally expected to get the best possible price when they sell land, unless there are other objectives they “consider to be necessary or desirable”. They must be accountable to local people.
As well as the student flats, the club is also building improved sports facilities that officers said would boost the health of the community – benefits valued at £2million, which a council report said “clearly suggests a community asset transfer is appropriate”.
The assessment of those benefits was not made public.
Giving his reasons for the call-in, Cllr Blackburn said: “The report was inadequate, lacked information and did not demonstrate how we came to this recommendation.
“The report gives insufficient justification as to why this council is disposing of this land at less than best consideration.
“The report gives no clear way of measuring the supposed community benefits so it will be impossible to judge in the future whether these benefits have been delivered.”
The call-in has been backed by Cllr Blackburn’s fellow independent members, Doug Deacon and June Player, along with Conservatives Paul May, Alan Hale and Karen Warrington, and Labour councillors Eleanor Jackson, Grant Johnson and Liz Hardman.
Deputy council leader Cllr Samuel said: “Councillors are entitled to call in certain decisions for further scrutiny. I welcome the opportunity for councillors to review the background to this decision and make any recommendations they see fit.”
A date has not yet been set for the decision to be scrutinised.
Bath Cricket Club was approached for comment.
In a previous statement, chairman Matthew Hankins said: “Bath Cricket Club are pleased to have reached a commercial agreement with B&NES Council over this grass embankment for its full commercial value.
“The club is making a single up-front payment of £150,000 as well committing to delivering £30,000 of community benefits annually, for 30 years.
“This will enable the club to deliver much needed community benefits, including expanding the club’s community outreach programme, increasing participation in cricket throughout the Bath and North East Somerset area and providing a larger fit-for-purpose indoor training facility for cricketers in Bath, community groups and local schools to use year round.”
The call-in comes just weeks after a cross-party challenge to another decision signed off by Cllr Samuel – handing over £450,000 to a housing association that wanted to walk away from its lease on Bath building 39 years early.
Opponents attacked the lack of transparency and the loss of social housing.
That call-in was successful and the decision will be reviewed by cabinet members.
Cruelty of Pakistan against minorities | ABP Special
Updated : 27 Jan 2020 10:36 PM (IST)
Yet another incident of religious persecution in Pakistan came to fore in its Sindh province, where a Hindu temple was allegedly vandalised. Mata Deval Bhittani temple near Thar’s Chhachro town was vandalised by a group of men, who also desecrated the idols installed there.
Meanwhile a Hindu bride-to-be was also kidnapped from her marriage in Sindh.
(New York) – Pakistani authorities should immediately release and drop the charges against Manzoor Pashteen, a political activist arrested on January 27, 2020 for criticizing government policies, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should stop using abusive colonial-era laws criminalizing speech to clamp down on critics of the government.
Police in Peshawar arrested Pashteen, the prominent leader of the Pashtun Taffhuz Movement, on the morning of January 27. The authorities registered a criminal case against him in Dera Ismail Khan district, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, based on a speech he gave on January 18. Pashteen was charged with criminal intimidation, promoting enmity between different groups, criminal conspiracy, and sedition. A court sent him to jail on a 14-day judicial remand.
“Pakistani authorities should stop arresting activists like Manzoor Pashteen who are critical of government actions or policies,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Using criminal laws to chill free expression and political opposition has no place in a democracy.”
The Pashtun Taffhuz Movement represents Pashtuns in the region previously known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The tribal areas were governed by colonial-era regulations that allowed collective punishment for entire communities, including property destruction and denial of access to courts. In recent years, the area has experienced attacks by the Taliban, government military offensives, and United States drone strikes. In May 2018, Pakistan’s parliament passed a constitutional amendment merging the tribal areas with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and extending the constitutional protections previously denied to the people of the tribal areas.
The Pashtun Taffhuz Movement has organized protests against the government to demand accountability for extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and casualties from landmines. The authorities have cracked down on members and supporters, using arbitrary arrests and intimidation as instruments of coercion.
Pakistan’s sedition law, section 124A of the Penal Code, prohibits any words, either spoken or written, or any signs or visible representation that can cause “hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection” toward the government. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Pakistan ratified in 2010, prohibits restrictions on freedom of expression unless they are provided by law, strictly construed, and necessary and proportionate to address a legitimate threat. Vague and overbroad laws must not put the right itself in jeopardy.
“The Pakistan government should find ways of resolving political disagreements with dialogue rather than intimidation,” Adams said. “Peaceful dissent is the essence of democracy and should not be treated as sedition.”
Islamabad: The months-long deadlock between the government and the opposition over the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) finally came to an end when the new CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja took oath of office on Monday.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed administered the oath at the Supreme Court building.
After agreement between Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif over the name, President Arif Alvi had on Friday formally appointed Raja as the CEC for five years. The appointment of Nasir Durrani and Shah Mohammad Jatoi as members of the ECP from Sindh and Balochistan respectively has also been confirmed and notified.
A notification issued by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs said that President Alvi made these appointments under Article 213 and 215 of the Constitution.
The office of the CEC had been lying vacant since the retirement of Justice (R) Sardar Muhammad Raza Khan on December 6, 2019 whereas the appointments of the two ECP members (from Sindh and Balochistan) had been pending for a year. Currently, only two members — one from Punjab and the other from the KP — were there, thus rendering the ECP practically rudderless.
The delay in the appointments to the key posts had left the ECP dysfunctional as according to the Election Commission rules, presence of at least three members was a must for functioning of the ECP.
Earlier, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed a petition regarding appointment of the CEC and two members after the government submitted its reply informing the high court that the government and the opposition had agreed over the names of the CEC and two members of the election commission.
The petitioner Mohsin Ranjha an MNA from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) during the hearing said, “The credit goes to the court for these appointments.” To this the Chief Justice of the IHC Athar Minallah said, “The credit goes to the people of Pakistan.”
Parliament of Pakistan is supreme institution, which has representatives of the people and a strong Parliament will make Pakistan strong, the top judge remarked.
Sikandar Sultan Raja is a retired officer from civil service in BPS-22 grade (highest attainable rank for a serving officer) and has served at top bureaucratic positions such as the Railways Secretary, Petroleum Secretary and Chief Secretary of both Pakistan-Administered Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.
Outbreak News Today: Pakistan reports 1st wild poliovirus case of 2020 “Officials with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) have reported the first wild poliovirus 1 (WPV1) case of 2020 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan. … Additionally, four WPV1-positive environmental samples were reported: one each from Punjab and FATA provinces and two from Balochistan province…” (1/24).
Additional coverage of polio in Pakistan and Afghanistan is available from Dawn, Foreign Policy, and VOA.
Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday summoned top railways authorities in a case pertaining to monetary loss in the department.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed directed Federal Minister for Railways Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, Secretary Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Aijaz Buriro to appear in person before the court on Tuesday and explain why the railways was facing monetary losses and had failed to perform.
The bench expressed resentment over the railways audit report and remarked no other government department was facing corruption on this scale.
The bench also observed the locomotives Pakistan Railways had were old and rickety and passengers, who travelled by train, were risking their lives.
Chief Justice Gulzar also asked about the follow-up of Tezgam train inferno in October last year, in which 73 people were killed. Fire had broken out in a compartment of Tezgam when the train was on its way from Karachi to Rawalpindi.
The departments’ counsel responded that an inquiry against this was currently under way.
Justice Gulzar pointed out that the Railways department had failed to install proper tracks and signals to ensure safety of the passengers.
At a time when other countries are venturing into bullet trains and improving the entire infrastructure according to modern needs, we are still lacking in advanced passenger and goods trains, he said.
The court expressed its disappointment at the performance of the institution and said “a person should first travel by train before taking over the ministry”.
The entire Railway department indulges in corruption and elements of public service and delivery is missing.
The bench said that railways was the most corrupt department of Pakistan where only lip service is being done instead of making any real change.
“The records are not computerised,” the bench remarked adding, “the stations and railway tracks are in jeopardy. Every passenger travelling by train is in danger. The freight trains are also not operating,” said the bench.
Gulzar also criticised the minister and said that he should do a better job of handling the ministry.
“The whole institution is politicised,” CJP added.
THE TT Cricket Board (TTCB) has been ordered to appoint a five-member committee to investigate issues and concerns raised in a National Gas Company (NGC) financial audit which showed that a portion of its sponsorship to the sporting body was spent without approval.
In a decision delivered at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain on Monday, Justice Frank Seepersad ordered the TTCB to appoint the committee within 30 days.
His order was made as National League representative Dinanath Ramnarine was partially successful in his lawsuit against the TTCB which also challenged the cricketing body’s constitution and voting process.
The former West Indies leg-spinner argued that the January 16, 2019, election – which saw incumbent president Azim Bassarath remaining at the helm and a new executive team being selected – was illegal and improper.
Central to Ramnarine’s complaint was that articles of the TTCB’s constitution which permit affiliates and zonal representatives to vote should be removed, and he asked the court to do just that. The judge declined to do so, saying, the court was mindful that the TTCB was vested with the authority to administer its affairs and manage its processes and had the power to develop and amend its Constitution and regulatory processes, as it sees fit, pursuant to the provisions of its constitution.
However, he ruled in favour of Ramnarine’s appeal for an investigation into the NGC audit of its funding to the TTCB for 2014 to 2016.
After appointing the five-member committee, of which Ramnarine should be a member, a report is to be generated within 120 days and 30 days after that copies must be presented to affiliates of the TTCB, zones and the Minister of Sport.
The terms of reference of the committee’s mandate is to be settled by Ramnarine and the TTCB’s attorneys in 15 days.
The NGC signed a MOU with the TTCB for three years in December, 2013 for $13.35 million. In 2016, owing to a reduction by the NGC, the total sponsorship was reduced to $12.46 million.
The audit showed that $25,000 was overpaid in 2014, and funds under-utilised were unilaterally reallocated by the TTCB. They amounted to $1,462,000 in 2014, $724,000 in 2015 and $797,000 in 2016.
Bassarath has categorically denied that funds were spent in a way not in accordance with the MOU.
Ramnarine was represented by Vivek Lakhan-Joseph, Kiel Taklalsingh and Rajesh Bududass, while Odai Ramischand, Navindra Ramnanan and Shivanand Ramnanan represented the TTCB.