The legend of Sindh: Jai Jhulelal

Jhulelal
Jhulelal

‘Beyond Hindu and Muslim’:

Rethinking Iconographic Models and Symbolic Expressions in Sindh, A Case of the Tradition of Rama Pir1

By Sohail Bawani

Images, signs and symbols have always been significant intermediaries between the world and its representation before individuals. These images, signs and symbols portray more than just graphical facts, figures and forms; they are a means towards construction of human perception of ‘reality’: the ‘meaningfulness’ of the material world through the same (Lichty 2003: 1). Similarly, iconography, particularly portraying religious images, had played an important role in understanding and describing human interpretations about things beyond human imaginations, for example the matter of the creation of the universe.

The valley of the Indus River, since the time of its civilization’s peak and through local inhabitants and arrival of Muslims, including the Sufi saints, has been rich in its symbolic expressions and materials related to ‘image writing’; more specifically, within the context of the interaction between ‘Hinduism’ and ‘Islam’ in the Indian subcontinent (Khan 2004: 30). Moreover, not much has been written through the iconographic perspective about the cultural heritage in shape of sacred symbols among the various religious traditions in Sindh today.

Continue reading The legend of Sindh: Jai Jhulelal

Operation of Jhimpir wind turbines offers a ray of hope in power gloom

By Faiza Ilyas

JHIMPIR: Although the government seems to have no immediate solution to the on-going energy crisis, a ray of hope has emerged with the successful operation of the country’s first wind farm, which has been supplying 500 to 700 megawatt-hour of electricity daily to the national grid for over two months now while another wind power project is set to begin its commercial operation in a few days, a recent visit to the site in Jhimpir showed.

Read more » DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1032576/operation-of-jhimpir-wind-turbines-offers-a-ray-of-hope-in-power-gloom

My name is Pakistan and I’m not an Arab

By Nadeem F. Paracha

In 1973, my paternal grandparents visited Makkah to perform the first of their two Hajj pilgrimages.

With them were two of my grandmother’s sisters and their respective husbands.

Upon reaching Jeddah, they hailed a taxi from the airport and headed for their designated hotel.

The driver of the taxi was a Sudanese man. As my grandparents and one of my grandmother’s sisters settled themselves in the taxi, the driver leisurely began driving towards the hotel and on the way inserted a cassette of Arabic songs into the car’s Japanese cassette-player.

My grandfather who was seated in the front seat beside the driver noticed that the man kept glancing at the rear view mirror, and every time he did that, one of his eyebrows would rise.

Curious, my grandfather turned his head to see exactly what was it about the women seated in the back seat that the taxi driver found so amusing.

This was what he discovered: As my grandmother was trying to take a quick nap, her sister too had her eyes closed, but her head was gently swinging from left to right to the beat of the music and she kept whispering (as if in quiet spiritual ecstasy) the Arabic expression Subhanallah, subhanallah …’

My grandfather knew enough Arabic to realise that the song to which my grandmother’s sister was swinging and praising the Almighty for was about an (Egyptian) Romeo who was lamenting his past as a heart-breaking flirt.

After giving a sideways glance to the driver to make sure he didn’t understand Punjabi, my grandfather politely asked my grandmother’s sister: ‘I didn’t know you were so much into music.’

‘Allah be praised, brother,’ she replied. ‘Isn’t it wonderful?’

The chatter woke my grandmother up: ‘What is so wonderful?’ She asked. ‘This,’ said her sister, pointing at one of the stereo speakers behind her. ‘So peaceful and spiritual …’

My grandfather let off a sudden burst of an albeit shy and muffled laughter. ‘Sister,’ he said, ‘the singer is not singing holy verses. He is singing about his romantic past.’

My grandmother started to laugh as well. Her sister’s spiritual smile was at once replaced by an utterly confused look: ‘What …?’

‘Sister,’ my grandfather explained, ‘Arabs don’t go around chanting spiritual and holy verses. Do you think they quote a verse from the holy book when, for example, they go to a fruit shop to buy fruit or want toothpaste?’

I’m sure my grandmother’s sister got the point. Not everything Arabic is holy.

Continue reading My name is Pakistan and I’m not an Arab

British-based bank: SCB runs second largest Islamic window in Pakistan

KARACHI: As many as 14 conventional banks in Pakistan offer Shariah-compliant banking services through separate Islamic windows. Although many of these 14 banks are foreign ones, Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan happens to be the only banking institution with a western pedigree and a truly global presence across five continents.

And yet, it runs the largest Islamic banking window in Pakistan, only after Bank Alfalah, with an 8% share in revenues, 8% share in advances and 4% share in deposits of the entire Islamic banking industry as of December 2012.

“We believe that the kind of expertise and Shariah scholars we have for Islamic banking is far better than other conventional banks,” said Azhar Aslam, who heads Islamic banking at Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan, while speaking to The Express Tribune in a recent interview.

Read more » The Express Tribune
http://tribune.com.pk/story/582899/british-based-bank-scb-runs-second-largest-islamic-window-in-pakistan/

A man with nerves of steel

By Sadia Qasim Shah

PESHAWAR: Five years full of nerve-testing situations, tight security barriers, chilling death threats, social isolation (as others considered him a security threat to themselves) and apparently even the cold-blooded killing of his only young son seem not to have broken the spirits of the 55-year-old Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the spokesperson of the former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government which had opposed the terrorists and successfully rescued the Swat Valley from falling into their hands.

“One should never lose hope,” says Mr Hussain in an exclusive interview with Dawn, with his typical serene smile and composed demeanour, showing no sign of bitterness even after losing his seat in May 11 general elections.

Mr Hussain doesn’t show he is a broken man, though he is going to observe third anniversary of his sole son who was targeted by the Taliban.

The man who as a spokesperson of ANP government emerged as a bold voice against the terrorist conglomerate called Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spent sleepless nights finding a way to express his innermost thoughts and agony after his only son Mian Rashid Hussain, only 26, was killed by Taliban to teach Mian Sahib a lesson.

Continue reading A man with nerves of steel

Transition: Sindhi nationalist Ali Hassan Chandio dies

By Sohail Khattak

KARACHI: Ali Hassan Chandio, a Sindhi nationalist and Chairman Sindh National Movement (SNM), passed away after prolonged illness at the South City Hospital on Wednesday night. He was suffering from kidney problems coupled with diabetes.

According to his friend Asad Chandio, Hassan started his political life from Democratic Student Federation (DSF) and also remained active in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) during which he was sent to prison where he was subjected to lashing. Ali Hassan was considered the youngest prisoner of conscience in Pakistan.

Continue reading Transition: Sindhi nationalist Ali Hassan Chandio dies

GravityLight: a revolutionary new approach

GravityLight: lighting for developing countries.

We have developed a realistic alternative to Kerosene lamps by harnessing the power of gravity. We need your help to make it happen.

GravityLight is a revolutionary new approach to storing energy and creating illumination. It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent. For free.

Following the initial inspiration of using gravity, and years of perspiration, we have refined the design and it is now ready for production. We need your help to fund the tooling, manufacture and distribution of at least 1000 gravity powered lights. We will gift them to villagers in both Africa and India to use regularly. The follow-up research will tell us how well the lights met their needs, and enable us to refine the design for a more efficient MK2 version. Once we have proved the design, we will be looking to link with NGOs and partners to distribute it as widely as possible. When mass produced the target cost for this light is less than $5.

Why GravityLight?

Did you know that there are currently over 1.5 billion people in the World who have no reliable access to mains electricity? These people rely, instead, on biomass fuels (mostly kerosene) for lighting once the sun goes down.

Continue reading GravityLight: a revolutionary new approach

Three officials of Pakistan’s Toronto consulate fired

TORONTO: At least three functionaries, stationed at Pakistan’s Consulate General in Toronto, Canada, have been relieved from their duties with immediate effect, Geo News reported.

A notification to this consequence was issued by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) headquarters Islamabad on Tuesday night.

The fired officials namely Israr Hussain, Samiuddin, and Aziz Khalid Baig were working in the NADRA section of the Consulate. They were appointed there three years back during the tenure of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led coalition government.

It must be noted that Israr Hussain and Samiuddin are the close relatives of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Altaf Hussain, whereas Aziz Khalid Baig happens to be a kin of former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Brigadier (Retd) Imtiaz Ahmed.

Courtesy: The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-110696-Three-officials-of-Pakistans-Toronto-consulate-fired

Scientists Finally Discover The Function of the Human Appendix

By Barbara Miller

It has long been regarded as a potentially troublesome, redundant organ, but American researchers say they have discovered the true function of the appendix.

The researchers say it acts as a safe house for good bacteria, which can be used to effectively reboot the gut following a bout of dysentery or cholera.

The conventional wisdom is that the small pouch protruding from the first part of the large intestine is redundant and many people have their appendix removed and appear none the worse for it.

Scientists from the Duke University Medical Centre in North Carolina say following a severe bout of cholera or dysentery, which can purge the gut of bacteria essential for digestion, the reserve good bacteria emerge from the appendix to take up the role.

Continue reading Scientists Finally Discover The Function of the Human Appendix

Kashmir deal will make Pak a normal state: Riedel

Resolution of the Kashmir issue would go a long way towards making Pakistan a more normal state and reducing its preoccupation with India, says CIA veteran Bruce Riedel.

He also suggests a quiet American effort led by President Barack Obama to move the two countries towards an agreement.

In his new book Avoiding Armageddon, published by HarperCollins, Riedel, who was a senior adviser to four US presidents on Middle East and South Asian issues, explains the challenge and the importance of successfully managing America’s affairs with India and Pakistan and their toxic relationship.

Full of riveting details of what went on behind the scenes, and based on extensive research and Riedel’s experience, the book reviews the history of American diplomacy in South Asia, the crises that have flared in recent years, and the prospects for future crisis.

“Resolution of the Kashmir issue would also remove a major rationale for the army’s disproportionate role in Pakistani national security affairs; that in turn would help to ensure survival of genuine civilian democratic rule in the country,” he writes.

Read more » Rediff
http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-kashmir-deal-will-make-pak-a-normal-state-riedel/20130704.htm

Hauling New Treasure Along the Silk Road

By

AZAMAT KULYENOV, a 26-year-old train driver, slid the black-knobbed throttle forward, and the 1,800-ton express freight train, nearly a half-mile long, began rolling west across the vast, deserted grasslands of eastern Kazakhstan, leaving the Chinese border behind.

Dispatchers in the Kazakh border town of Dostyk gave this train priority over all other traffic, including passenger trains. Specially trained guards rode on board. Later in the trip, as the train traveled across desolate Eurasian steppes, guards toting AK-47 military assault rifles boarded the locomotive to keep watch for bandits who might try to drive alongside and rob the train. Sometimes, the guards would even sit on top of the steel shipping containers.

The train roughly follows the fabled Silk Road, the ancient route linking China and Europe that was used to transport spices, gems and, of course, silks before falling into disuse six centuries ago. Now the overland route is being resurrected for a new precious cargo: several million laptop computers and accessories made each year in China and bound for customers in European cities like London, Paris, Berlin and Rome.

Hewlett-Packard, the Silicon Valley electronics company, has pioneered the revival of a route famous in the West since the Roman Empire. For the last two years, the company has shipped laptops and accessories to stores in Europe with increasing frequency aboard express trains that cross Central Asia at a clip of 50 miles an hour. Initially an experiment run in summer months, H.P. is now dispatching trains on the nearly 7,000-mile route at least once a week, and up to three times a week when demand warrants. H.P. plans to ship by rail throughout the coming winter, having taken elaborate measures to protect the cargo from temperatures that can drop to 40 degrees below zero.

Though the route still accounts for just a small fraction of manufacturers’ overall shipments from China to Europe, other companies are starting to follow H.P.’s example. Chinese authorities announced on Wednesday the first of six long freight trains this year from Zhengzhou, a manufacturing center in central China, to Hamburg, Germany, following much the same route across western China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland as the H.P. trains. The authorities said they planned 50 trains on the route next year, hauling $1 billion worth of goods; the first train this month is carrying $1.5 million worth of tires, shoes and clothes, while the trains are to bring back German electronics, construction machinery, vehicles, auto parts and medical equipment.

DHL announced on June 20 that it had begun weekly express freight train service from Chengdu in western China across Kazakhstan and ultimately to Poland. Some of H.P.’s rivals in the electronics industry are in various stages of starting to use the route for exports from China, freight executives said.

The Silk Road was never a single route, but a web of paths taken by caravans of camels and horses that began around 120 B.C., when Xi’an in west-central China — best known for its terra cotta warriors — was China’s capital. The caravans started across the deserts of western China, traveled through the mountain ranges along China’s western borders with what are now Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and then journeyed across the sparsely populated steppes of Central Asia to the Caspian Sea and beyond.

These routes flourished through the Dark Ages and the early medieval period in Europe. But as maritime navigation expanded in the 1300s and 1400s, and as China’s political center shifted east to Beijing, China’s economic activity also moved toward the coast.

Today, the economic geography is changing again. Labor costs in China’s eastern cities have surged in the last decade, so manufacturers are trying to reduce costs by moving production west to the nation’s interior. Trucking products from the new inland factories to coastal ports is costly and slow. High oil prices have made airfreight exorbitantly expensive and prompted the world’s container shipping lines to reduce sharply the speed of their vessels.

Slow steaming cuts oil consumption, but the resulting delays have infuriated shippers of high-value electronics goods like H.P’s. Such delays drive up their costs and make it harder to respond quickly to changes in consumer demand in distant markets.

Read more » The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/21/business/global/hauling-new-treasure-along-the-silk-road.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

The relentless crisis — Lal Khan

Occupy Islamabad LahoreThe huge bubbles of speculative investment in housing, InfoTech, petroleum products and others sectors have now burst

After the 2008 crash of the world economy, there was an unprecedented turbulence in the world markets and economies. In the advanced capitalist economies most regimes, social-democratic or conservative, carried through severe austerity and cuts that started the process of dismantling the welfare state, mainly in Europe. All those gains achieved through intense struggle by the working classes of these countries were being reversed. Still the US and European economies could not come out of the recession after five years of brutal recipes to put the burden of the crisis of capitalism onto the shoulders of the working masses. There is a seething revulsion against the ruling classes. A popular catchphrase doing the rounds in Europe say it all: “Bankers are slightly less popular than paedophiles and serial killers.”

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, the so-called emerging economies that were expected to give a new lease of life to capitalism with high growth rates, have failed to do so. Their growth rates shrank and the nature of the socioeconomic development in these countries, where the tasks of the bourgeois revolution have not been accomplished, have resulted in severe social contradictions that have now begun to explode on the political plane. Instability, uncertainty and disillusionment are now stalking these lands. The eruption of mass revolts from Turkey to Brazil are thus not accidental. They reflect a growing discontent and a sense of revulsion amongst the masses who are being inflicted by the severe trauma of this crisis that is crushing their livelihood.

It seems as if happiness has become elusive for the ordinary people in the advanced capitalist countries, not to speak of the oppressed working classes of the underdeveloped world.

After the Second World War, even if the revolutions were defeated in several European countries mainly due to the betrayals of the leaders of the Social Democratic and Communist parties, yet the upswing enabled these traditional leaders of the mass organisations to carry out reforms. Reforms are always introduced from above to stop revolution from below, but at least at that stage capitalism in the developed countries had the capacity to create a social welfare state. In Britain, education became free and the Labour Party introduced a health system where even foreign visitors could get treatment at a minimal cost.

People had hope for a better future and that created a blissful atmosphere and relatively prosperous societies. Now that optimism in life in Europe seems to have evaporated. People have lost hope in a future that promises only a grim life. A social malaise has set in. It is astonishing that this situation has developed in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, Eastern European Socialism and the capitalist restoration in China. After these events the bourgeoisie gained access to a huge market of more than two billion. At that time in the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, there was euphoria amongst the strategists of capital. The bourgeoisie on a world scale were dizzy with success. Yet it has turned out to be a hoax.

Dialectally it turned into its opposite and today we see capitalism mired in its most severe crisis, unprecedented in its 200-years history. This exposes the historical redundancy and the organic sickness of capitalism. Even with such a massive expansion of the market, it has failed to develop society and improve the living standards of the working class even in the advanced countries. The growth we saw in the last 20 to 30 years was through a greater labour intensive mechanism where all or most members of the household were working, many workers working overtime and of course, a gigantic expansion of credit.

The huge bubbles of speculative investment in housing, InfoTech, petroleum products and others sectors have now burst. But what triggered the crash of 2008 was the overextension of credit that accumulated in the corporate sector and through personal loans in the previous three decades. The banking default in 2007 led to the sovereign default in 2010. Ever since the economies of most European countries and the US have been reeling from a chronic crisis with no end in sight.

According to the Financial Times, it could take at least 20 years to solve the European crisis! It goes on to say, “Europe raises the spectre of an ungovernable world.” The usually boastful The Economist had to concede, “The way to recovery is long and dark.” If these most staunch strategists and spokespersons of capitalism are in such gloom, the reality of this system’s recovery must be much starker.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 crash, there was a sense of shock amongst the workers of the advanced capitalist countries. However, as various regimes embarked upon severe austerity programmes, retaliation began to emerge from the workers and the youth. The revolution in Tunisia that ignited the Arab revolution in the spring of 2011 took its inspiration from the mass demonstrations and protests in France in the autumn of 2010. The lightning strikes of the students in Britain in December of that year also had a huge impact on the youth, especially in Egypt. After the Arab Spring we saw the European summer with mass protests not seen in two decades in most countries of Europe. Then we saw the American Autumn with the sudden rise of the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the US with huge implications worldwide.

These movements also had important repercussions on the political plane. After 19 general strikes we saw the collapse of the traditional political party of the workers in Greece, PASOK. The meteoric rise of SYRIZA in Greece also shows that the working classes at a certain point can overcome the burden of their traditions and move ahead to a more radical solution.

Read more » Daily Times
http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20137\21\story_21-7-2013_pg3_5

Dubai sentences Norwegian woman who reported rape

A Norwegian woman has spoken out about the 16-month prison sentence she received in Dubai after reporting a rape incident to police.

Interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv was on a business trip in Dubai when she says she was raped.

The 24-year-old reported the March attack to the police but found herself charged with having extramarital sex, drinking alcohol, and perjury.

Convicted earlier this week, she says she is appealing against the verdict.

The appeal hearing is scheduled for early September.

Describing the sentence as “very harsh”, she told the AFP news agency: “I am very nervous and tense. But I hope for the best and I take one day at a time. I just have to get through this.”

The case has angered rights groups and the authorities in Norway.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-23381448

American city Detroit files bankruptcy

Detroit files for bankruptcy protection

City losing residents as tax base shrinks

By The Associated Press

Once the very symbol of American industrial might, Detroit became the biggest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy Thursday, its finances ravaged and its neighbourhoods hollowed out by a long, slow decline in population and auto manufacturing.

The filing, which had been feared for months, put the city on an uncertain course that could mean laying off municipal employees, selling off assets, raising fees and scaling back basic services such as trash collection and snow plowing, which have already been slashed.

“Only one feasible path offers a way out,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a letter approving the move.

Read more » CBC
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/07/18/detroit-bankruptcy.html

71pc households in Sindh food insecure: report

BY HASAN MANSOOR

KARACHI: Despite having 14 million acres under crop cultivation in Sindh, over 71 per cent households in the province are food insecure — the highest level of food insecurity among the provinces and region, it emerged on Sunday.

Of these food insecure households, 34pc are food insecure with moderate hunger and 17pc are food insecure with severe hunger, according to a report drafted by the provincial planning and development department.

The department prepared the draft in January ‘for discussion’ by its own research assisted with several reports of the World Bank, London School of Economics, World Health Organization, Unicef, Lancet, Pakistan Social and Living Standards Measurement, Save the Children, SDPI, SDC, World Food Programme and several independent researchers.

Between 2003-04 and 2008-09, the number of surplus food producing districts decreased from 11 to six while the number of food deficit districts increased, the report said.

Eight of Sindh’s 23 districts, most of them in the southern part of the province and in its coastal belt were identified as having ‘extremely poor’ conditions for access to food.

Continue reading 71pc households in Sindh food insecure: report

“The story of DNA continues to twist and turn”!

Scientists Discover Quadruple Helix: Four Strand DNA In Human Cells

by Arjun

The human race knows very little of itself, almost like a race with amnesia. As we continue to move forward through time, new discoveries are made that make old theories obsolete and false. It’s a good lesson that shows us how we can attach ourselves to “truths” and believe them whole-heartedly, often forgetting that truth is constantly changing and new paradigms of perception always lurk around the corner.

Decades after scientists described our “chemical code” of life using the double helix DNA, researchers have discovered four-stranded DNA within human cells. The structures are called G-quadruplexes, because they form in regions of DNA that are full of guanine, one of the DNA molecule’s four building blocks. The others are adenine, cytosine and thymine. A hydrogen bond is responsible for holding the four guanines together. The four stranded DNA usually presents itself right before cell division.

The discovery was published online in Nature Chemistry, and you can take a look at it here. The study was led by Shankar Balasubramanian at the University of cambridge, UK.

For us, it strongly supports a new paradigm to be investigated – using these four-stranded structures as targets for personalized treatments in the future.We have found that by trapping the quadruplex DNA with synthetic molecules we can sequester and stabilise them, providing important insights into how we might grind cell division to a halt — Shankar Balasubramanian

The study went on to show certain links between concentrations of four-stranded G-quandruplexes and the process of DNA replication, which is crucial to cell division and cell production. G-quadruplexes, (when targeted with synthetic molecules responsible for trapping and holding these DNA structures) prevent cells from replicating their DNA, thus blocking cell division. Scientists believe that this discovery could possibly lead to a stop in cell proliferation at the root of cancer ….

Read more » Collective Evolution
http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/07/17/scientists-discover-quadruple-helix-four-strand-dna-in-human-cells/

Via – Facebook

SANA Calls for Peace, Progress, Education, Development & Rights for Sindh

(Press release): July 14, 2013 – Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) general body unanimously adopted following resolutions at its 29th annual convention held in San Francisco, CA, July 4-7, 2013.

Desperate Situation: SANA expresses grave concern at the critical and desperate situation in Sindh where people live under abject poverty; where there is no safety and security of life and property; where terrorism and corruption rule the roost; where education is not guaranteed for all the children; where youth doesn’t see any future; where people don’t have access to economic opportunities; where women and minorities are denied their basic rights; where efforts are being made to artificially change the demography of the province; where people are denied their inalienable human rights; where people are pushed into dark ages and they see no light at the end of the tunnel.

Peace: SANA holds the present and the past governments responsible for the miserable situation and calls for immediate steps to bring drastic changes to improve the lot of the people. It calls upon the government to restore peace, end the politics of violence and ensure the security of the life and the property. There cannot be any progress and development without peace.

Education: It is unfortunate that the education, which should have got top priority, remains to be the most neglected subject. SANA calls upon the government to accord required importance to education and make all possible efforts on war footings to provide quality education to the youth so that they can become productive citizens. SANA also calls for opening up all the urban educational institutions for all the students in the province without any discrimination.

Corruption: It is noted with grave concern that corruption has become a norm in the society. It has actually grown manifolds in the past few years. The major part of the budget is eaten away by corrupt politicians, civil and military bureaucrats and other influential people leaving only a little for any development projects. All out efforts should be made to eradicate corruption from the society.

Continue reading SANA Calls for Peace, Progress, Education, Development & Rights for Sindh

Good news, bad news — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The establishment understands quite well that without turning Gwadar and large parts of Balochistan into a joint Chinese-Pakistani cantonment, they will not be able to move an inch

Passengers are relaxed in a cruising airliner all dreaming of their cherished destination and the pleasurable environment they would be in when suddenly the captain’s anxious voice breaks the calm. He says, “Ladies and gentlemen due to unavoidable circumstances a change of plans has been necessitated and we have been diverted to an uninhabited island. However, there is good news and bad news; which do you want first?” All demanded the bad news first. He said, “The bad news is that there is nothing to eat there except horse dung but the good news is that there is plenty of it.”

The situation in Pakistan is not much different; there are horse dung islands instead of promised destinations and, above all, the good news is always that there is more of bad news. There are unending atrocities against the Baloch, loot of their resources, injustices against Sindhis, carnages against Hazaras, intensification of attacks against Shias, discrimination against Hindus and Christians, persecution of Ahmadis, neglect of displaced persons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Dera Bugti. The list is far from complete and the establishment continually not only adds to it but also increases the perniciousness of prevailing problems.

In the first five months of this year 84 people were disappeared, whereas 79 disfigured bodies were recovered from different parts of Balochistan; the toll of the dead is over 700. Whilst unabated atrocities, abductions and dumping of the Baloch persist, the establishment prepares to further antagonise them with the so-called economic projects essentially detrimental to Baloch interests because of the demographic changes and increased economic injustices these will entail and naturally be a prelude to increased state atrocities against them who naturally will resist to preserve their rights.

Continue reading Good news, bad news — Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

New fears: TTP in Syria

THE problem with a head-in-the-sand approach to fighting militancy is that the rest of the body is left exposed. For a while now the TTP has been an enemy of the Pakistani state but there is hardly a faction within that umbrella organisation that at some point over the years has not been in the good books of the army-led security establishment. But the good Taliban/bad Taliban dichotomy never made sense to begin with and as time has gone by, the contradictions have become apparent. The TTP in all its forms has always been bad news for this country’s internal stability and external relations. Just how bad has been underlined in recent days with two foreign news services reporting that the TTP has claimed to have sent men to Syria to fight alongside rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

The Arab nexus, including links to Al Qaeda, has always been apparent in the arc of the TTP’s relatively short history. Unlike, say, the Afghan Taliban who by and large have hewed to a purely domestic agenda, ie ridding Afghanistan of foreign ‘invaders’, the TTP’s overall agenda has leaned more towards the concept of a global jihad. In the past, that has meant offering sanctuary to foreign militants who arrived in Fata for training or to escape more hostile environments in their home countries. Eventually, however, a resilient TTP was always likely to seek to contribute directly to so-called jihadist struggles outside the Pak-Afghan region. As with all things, TTP claims made by various commanders take time to be established but if the Syria claims are verified, it would mark an alarming new phase in the militant network’s existence.

Syria may be an epic mess on its own, but other countries that could be potential destinations for the TTP’s battle-hardened cadre of fighters will surely be alarmed by the possibility. Pakistan is already fairly isolated in the international arena because of its inability to systematically curb the activities of non-state actors on Pakistani soil and this latest development will only add to the pressure. But it is in the domestic arena that the repercussions will be the most severe. The TTP has proved to be far more resilient than originally thought, though perhaps that is in no small part aided by the lack of a coherent strategy on the part of the state to fight militancy. If the TTP is confident enough to be sending fighters abroad, does that mean the network believes it has enough resources locally to successfully fend off the Pakistani state? That is an enormously worrying possibility.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1029169/new-fears-ttp-in-syria

First Pakistani women paratroopers make history

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan Army, in another landmark achievement, successfully completed the first ever Lady Officers Para Trooping Course at Para Training School, Peshawar, said a statement issued here on Sunday.

Besides challenging physical training, Para jumping course involved training in exit, flight and landing techniques.

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-109317-First-Pakistani-women-paratroopers-make-history-

MIT recognises Pakistani as one of world’s brilliant minds

KARACHI: All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them, says Walt Disney.

Disney’s quote, perhaps, best explains the success story of Farhan Masood, who has been recognised as one of the world’s brilliant minds by Massachusetts Institute of Technology earlier this year for his product – world’s fastest retina and face scanner algorithm called SmartXS.

Masood’s dream – to build a Pakistani product and turn it into a global one – came true this year after he won the MIT Business Acceleration Plan contest, a highly competitive annual event whose objective is to help Pakistani IT, ITES, telecom and new media companies improve their business.

Of the 165 participants that compete in this contest, some members of top teams also get a chance to attend an entrepreneurship development programme at MIT in Cambridge, USA.

After a winning performance in the contest, Masood joined the list of MIT alumni. He has just returned after attending a course at MIT, one of the world’s best educational institutes. Those who attended this programme previously had benefited a great deal.

According to Pakistan Software Export Board’s website, some of the companies that participated in this programme saw their revenues grow by 5 to 10 times and valuation increase by 15 times. Giving the example of Sofizar, the PSEB’s website stated that the company’s revenue increased from less than $1 million to $30 million in two and a half years.

Continue reading MIT recognises Pakistani as one of world’s brilliant minds

Belfast riots injure officers, protesters

. Northern Ireland police, Protestants clash in running street battles

By: The Associated Press

Hundreds of police reinforcements from Britain were deployed on Belfast’s rubble-strewn streets Saturday after Protestant riots over a blocked march left 32 officers, a senior lawmaker and at least eight rioters wounded.

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/07/14/northern-ireland-belfast-violence.html

Swept by the tides of holy patriotism

Islamabad diary

By Ayaz Amir

….. America is still an empire but after Iraq and Afghanistan, a more sober empire. America’s determination to pull out of Afghanistan – they are now even talking of the zero option, no troops at all after 2014 – is a reflection of this sobriety.

The ghost of Bin Laden perhaps laughing soundlessly in the kingdom of the shades, and we scarcely aware of what awaits us… as, to the roll of muffled drums in the distance, another chapter in our colourful history begins to unfold.

Read more » The News
http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-189432-Swept-by-the-tides-of-holy-patriotism

Malala speaks at UN, vows not to be silenced

By: AFP

NEW YORK CITY: Pakistan teenager Malala Yousafzai told the United Nations on Friday that she would not be silenced by terrorist threats, in her first public speech since being shot by the Taliban.

“They thought that the bullet would silence us, but they failed,” Malala said on her 16th birthday, which she spent making calls for greater global efforts to get children into schools.

“The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, courage and fervour was born,” she said in a speech given several standing ovations.

The passionate advocate for girls education was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she road on a school bus near her home in Pakistan’s Swat Valley on October 12 last year.

She was given life-saving treatment in Britain where she now lives, but the attack has given new life to her campaign for greater educational opportunities for girls.

Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister and UN special envoy for education, hailed Malala as “the bravest girl in the world” as he presented her at the UN Youth Assembly.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/news/1028531/malala-speaks-at-un-vows-not-to-be-silenced

DISBAND THE ISI – a letter from Altaf Hussain to Tony Blair

BBC digs deep into Altaf Hussain’s antics

By: Pakistan Today Report

…. Meanwhile, the British government confirmed the existence of a letter from Altaf to Tony Blair in which he had suggested disbanding the ISI.

The letter, sent in September 2001 and signed by Hussain, offered help against al Qaeda in return for “participation in governing the province of Sindh and in disbanding the ISI”.

Hussain pressed for help disbanding the ISI, warning that the agency would “continue to produce many Osama bin Ladens and Taliban in future”. He offered to provide “unlimited human resources throughout the towns and villages in the province of Sindh and the province of Punjab to some extent, to monitor the activities of fundamentalists and Taliban-led organisations, and also to monitor the activities of madrassas” in return.

“The Prime Minister’s Office received a letter from Mr Altaf Hussain which was passed to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for a response,” the Cabinet Office confirmed to the BBC. The government said that Hussain’s letter was not replied to.

In May, police confirmed they were investigating remarks allegedly made by Hussain following the conclusion of the Pakistani general election, in which he allegedly threatened violence against protesters in Karachi.

Courtesy: Pakistan Today
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/07/11/news/national/bbc-digs-deep-into-altaf-hussains-antics/

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Another good work by USAID

us aidSteps for education: USAID-funded building to open in Sindh University

By: The Express Tribune Report

HYDERABAD: The ground breaking ceremony for a new education faculty building, being funded by the USAID, at the Sindh University, Hyderabad was held on Wednesday.

“The building is part of the $40 million project to establish 14 new faculties of education across Pakistan over the next two years,” informed the US consul-general, Michael Dodman, who was the chief guest at the ceremony. Two other education faculty buildings are being constructed at the University of Karachi and the Shah Abdul Latif University, he added.

The new faculty will accommodate two new teaching programmes including the two-year associate degree in education and the four-year Bachelors of education. “These courses have been designed in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission (HEC). The USAID is working with 110 universities and teacher training colleges in Pakistan to initiate these programmes.”

The new building, to be completed by June 2014 at the cost of Rs23 million, will have 18 classrooms, computer labs, a wi-fi system, a library, an auditorium and a media library. Its eco-friendly structure will be an additional feature.

The three-storey structure is being built over an area of 20,000 square feet, adjacent to the heritage building of the old campus. “We will offer classes in the morning and evening shifts in order to accommodate as many students as possible,” said the education faculty’s dean, Dr Parveen Munshi.

USAID mission director Grogory Gottlieb said that around 2,500 students and 200 teachers will acquire education from the 14 new faculties every year. Over the last four years, he added, the USAID has rehabilitated around 600 schools, sponsored 10,000 university scholarships and provided training to 12,000 teachers in Pakistan.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/575299/steps-for-education-usaid-funded-building-to-open-in-sindh-university/

Invasion of foreign fanatics in Sufi Sindh. About 67% of the madrassas in the Sindh are owned by people who do not have a Sindh domicile.

The madrassa networks of Sindh

Thousands of new religious schools that opened in urban Sindh after 9/11 are a cause of concern for the provincial government

By Ali K Chishti

In a recent survey carried out by the Sindh Home Ministry, there are 12,545 madrassas in the province, of which 2,161 are sectarian and dangerous.

About 74 percent of these religious schools are in Urban Sindh (Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur). At least 8,191 out of them opened after 9/11. About 67 percent of the madrassas in the province are owned by people who do not have a Sindh domicile.

– See more at: http://www.thefridaytimes.com/beta3/tft/article.php?issue=20130712&page=5#sthash.aFTa1b3y.Jpdh03wx.dpuf

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Quantum Computer

A Strange Computer Promises Great Speed

By

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Our digital age is all about bits, those precise ones and zeros that are the stuff of modern computer code.

But a powerful new type of computer that is about to be commercially deployed by a major American military contractor is taking computing into the strange, subatomic realm of quantum mechanics. In that infinitesimal neighborhood, common sense logic no longer seems to apply. A one can be a one, or it can be a one and a zero and everything in between — all at the same time.

It sounds preposterous, particularly to those familiar with the yes/no world of conventional computing. But academic researchers and scientists at companies like Microsoft, I.B.M. and Hewlett-Packard have been working to develop quantum computers.

Now, Lockheed Martin — which bought an early version of such a computer from the Canadian company D-Wave Systems two years ago — is confident enough in the technology to upgrade it to commercial scale, becoming the first company to use quantum computing as part of its business.

Continue reading Quantum Computer