How Pakistan’s National Health Insurance Program Will Work

Health insurancePakistan’s government launched a national health insurance program for its poorest households Thursday, marking the start of the most-ambitious public health project in the country’s history.

The Prime Minister’s National Health Program will from Thursday cover families that make less than $2 a day through a gradual rollout. In the first phase, over 3 million families will get health insurance in 23 districts, with the ultimate aim to cover 22 million households across the country, officials said.

This is another step towards the welfare state that we promised to create when we came into power,”said Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The Pakistani government already subsidizes health care to varying degrees in public hospitals, but officials acknowledge these facilities are unable to handle the patient load or achieve public health targets.

The government said earlier this year that it wouldn’t be able to meet the United Nation’s targets for child and maternal mortality rates that formed part of the Millennium Development Goals, which had a deadline of 2015. Critics have blamed Pakistan’s low health spending and inadequate management as key factors in the poor health provision. Between July 2014 and March 2015, Pakistan spent just 0.42% of its GDP on health. The U.S. government spends about 8.3% of GDP on healthcare.

The new insurance program will cover treatment at both public and private hospitals. Private hospitals that sign up will then be offered loans on easy terms to upgrade their facilities, officials said, without providing further details about interest rates and conditions.

Saira Afzal Tarar, minister of state for health Services, regulations and coordination, said most Pakistanis pay out of pocket for treatment. “There is treatment at government-run hospitals, but there are long lines. Those who don’t have a recommendation have to wait months for treatment,” Ms. Tarar said at the launch ceremony in Islamabad. “With this [health insurance] card, you’ll be able to go to the hospitals where you weren’t allowed to even go to the front door. Now, you’ll be treated there with dignity and respect.” Ms. Tarar said.

Read more » The Wall Street Journal
See more » http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2015/12/31/how-pakistans-national-health-insurance-program-will-work/

Pakistan, India can’t live as enemies, says PM

By SALEEM SHAHID

ZHOB: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has invited India to hold dialogue with Pakistan on all issues, saying the two countries cannot live as enemies.

“Pakistan and India will have to resolve all issues amicably and in a comprehensive way,” he said while addressing a foundation stone-laying ceremony for the western route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project here on Wednesday.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1229802/

National Health Insurance Scheme to cover 100 million Pakistanis

By APP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Thursday approved the National Health Insurance Scheme aimed at providing health care to some 100 million people in Pakistan.

The prime minister chaired a meeting to give in principle approval to launch the Health Insurance Program. The meeting was attended by Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar, Chairperson PM’s Youth Program Maryam Nawaz, Minister of State for Health Saira Afzal Tarrar, and senior officers of the health and finance ministries.

Maryam Nawaz, the architect of the scheme, gave a detailed briefing to the Prime Minister in which comparative study of major health blanket models of the European Union, United States and India and options for implementing the scheme in Pakistan were discussed.

“A health insurance programme is the only way forward to provide health care protection to economically deprived people of the society. The scheme is the first of its kind to introduce a grievance redressal system as well as social security safety net for the poor people of Pakistan,” he said.

PM Sharif said the programme will not only give the vulnerable sections of the society an access to cash free health facilities but will also help to develop and revolutionise the health infrastructure across Pakistan.

The prime minister further said the scheme will also increase public-private partnership in Pakistan and will open up further avenues for investment.”

The scheme would be completely apolitical and would provide a blanket for cash free treatment to the poor people of Pakistan for major diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and complications, burns and RTA (life and limb saving treatment, implants, prosthesis), end stage renal diseases and dialysis, chronic infections (hepatitis), organ failure (hepatic, renal, cardiopulmonary) and cancer treatment.

The meeting also decided to establish the first ever public sector human organ transplant center in Islamabad.

The prime minister directed the Ministries of Finance and Health to coordinate and finalise the technical modalities and implementation strategy in minimum possible time so that an early relief could be given to the people.

News courtesy: DAWN
Read more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1110761

Pakistanis are basically Hindus, Pakistani lady scholar admits

Written by Ram Kumar

In a landmark confession of truth, an enlightened Muslim intellectual, Fauzia Syed, declared during a discussion on a television channel that all Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims are essentially Hindus, and that in rare cases, they might be Buddhists.

The lady activist lamented that a lot of Muslims, mainly Pakistani and Bangladeshi, have a hard time accepting the fact that their ancestors were Hindus who were converted by force of sword to Islam. The gutsy lady said this in a live television show while responding to the argument of radical Pakistani Muslim preacher Zaid Hamid.

Read more » India Tomorrow
See more » http://indiatomorrow.co/nation/3892-pakistanis-are-basically-hindus-pakistani-lady-scholar-admits

Book Review – Mohajir Militancy in Pakistan

Violence and transformation in the Karachi conflict

By Nichola Khan

Excerpt:

Arshad’s story

…… As I got older I learned about religion and human rights. I saw no-one giving me human rights or treating me fairly so I joined MQM. I hated the system and admired Altaf Hussain who wanted to change it. For example, after my hardworking years in education I still needed to pay bribes or find personal contacts to get a job. I was so angry. Merit was absolutely unimportant. After all our sacrifices, Mohajirs were treated as third-class citizens. I was qualified as a ship’s 2 Introduction radio officer but I couldn’t get a job. My Punjabi class fellow had a lower-grade certificate and got a job. I had to pay a bribe of five lakhs. My father agreed to pay but I didn’t want him to. Around then Altaf Hussain appeared on the scene talking about my experience exactly. He urged us to unite and fight the system. He showed that because 2 per cent of the population ruled over 98 per cent, a lower-middle-class, educated, intelligent boy couldn’t become a general, a colonel or reach a high post in Pakistan. That’s why I joined. But to change the system I knew I’d have to die. This was a revolution, it wasn’t going to happen in days. We were like the first drops of rain on the earth. You know, the earth soaks up the rain at first but if the drops keep falling it will become a flood. So I knew that this was a struggle of my life and my children’s lives, but that maybe the third generation would have human rights. I was in college when I first heard about Altaf Hussain.

In the beginning I was cynical and uninterested. I first saw him when he visited Lalukhet. He talked about human rights, which attracted me. Then I went to his house and asked him to tell me more. He explained that MQM believed in achieving equal rights for Mohajirs as Pakistani citizens. I was a student then and very sensitive, it was like fire-blood in my body. Everything I’d heard about Altaf was true – that he’s a great leader and if you listen to him once he will change your life forever. He was perfect. I’m not talking about now, but then his words were like magic. They went straight into my heart. He didn’t give false hopes. He said ‘We can try, but our dream may be impossible. Or, so hard we will die. So prepare yourself to die if you want to change this system.’ So I made a decision because I wanted to change the system and was prepared to die.

I didn’t care about killing people. Anyway Pakistani politics was so violent. Politicians influenced each other not by dialogue but by power, money and by how many boys they had. There’s no law. All those politicians who were previously enemies united against MQM and started killing us, so we had no choice. I wasn’t ashamed then but I am now because I can see we were fighting for some other reasons. He sold our blood. I was about 18 when I joined. There was a neighbourhood guy who was close to our area leader. MQM was poor then and needed money. Our leader controlled Zone C, which covered half of Karachi including my area. So I worked for about six months and when he was satisfied he introduced me to our leader and I became his bodyguard and gunman. I knew I was in a war situation and so many innocent people had to die. I was convinced killing was the way to make changes. The first time I killed, nothing physically bad happened to me. I didn’t sleep well that first night but on the second day I had to do it again and I quickly had to get used to it. It didn’t bother me at all. We took orders from our leaders. They each commanded seven boys, so altogether we were two groups totalling 14 boys in charge of MQM’s security wing. We didn’t answer to anyone else in the Cabinet, we could even refuse them a glass of water. At that time we hadn’t had any training. It was just a spontaneous war. Our leader thought we needed something more so they sent a few of us to Afghanistan where we learnt to use all kinds of weapons. When we returned, he refused Introduction 3 to go anywhere without us. Eventually, some other bodyguards set up the Haqiqi faction and he could trust no-one. I think that is why he finally left Pakistan. I think he’s a coward but he was such a good speaker. I had already killed and could see that the system was very corrupt and when he spoke we became so emotional. ….

….. My first job was to kill 600 Pukhtuns. A few of us did it. Our blood was hot and we wanted revenge. Our leader gave us weapons and said ‘Listen. They have killed our innocent brothers and sisters so we must show that we are not cowards and we know how to take revenge. You must attack the Pukhtuns in their homes’.

I remember that night, it was December 1986. This was in the early years of MQM. Our leader gave us weapons that night and came with us. We all went out in few cars we’d hijacked. We didn’t have kalashnikovs but the latest weapons then were Sten guns. We went out in two cars to find some Pukhtuns, of course innocent Pukhtuns. These Pukhtuns are hard workers, they came to Karachi as labourers and they sleep under the sky, they don’t have homes. So it’s easy to find them sleeping on the roads and in the parks. 4 Introduction We killed as many as we could find. At the time MQM was very strict about the weapons, no-one else was allowed to kill or fire a single bullet. We were just 14 boys altogether in four cars. Two were in Landhi under one leader and our two cars were in Central Karachi under another. We killed as many as we could find and it was reported in the morning newspapers in a Special Edition. The headings said that more than 900 Pukhtuns had been killed by terrorists. Another heading said 300 Mohajirs were killed by terrorists and that 900 Pukhtuns were killed in different places.

That was the start. Afterwards, every few days our leader told us about some troublesome guy he wanted dead. That’s how I started killing people. Once he told me about an army intelligence superintendent of Karachi. He said you have to go and kill this woman, his wife. So two of us went by motorbike to PECHS area and I knocked on her door. We’d gone before to see the location and discovered she lived upstairs. I went up alone. Our leader had said ‘Don’t kill her with a gun. Kill her in a way that when it’s reported in the newspapers MQM’s enemies will get frightened. Kill her like that. Not with a gun – not an easy kill.’ This was the first time ever I killed a woman. I didn’t know she was pregnant although I realised that before I killed her. So I went up and knocked on the door. She opened the door and I went in and I asked her name. I had been told she would be alone. So I went in. I could see she was pregnant and I killed her by a knife in her belly. ‘For the name of God don’t kill me, don’t kill me’, she said. The details of how I did it were so horrible. I killed her with a knife, and then I took her head off and put it on top of the refrigerator. I was asked to make it horrible so that when it was reported in the papers MQM’s enemies would get frightened. Well, it worked. Now I can’t sleep and I feel all my problems come from killing her. I found out later that her husband was innocent, just doing his job. MQM wanted him to shut up so they killed him. I also heard that he loved his wife very much, it was their first baby – he ended up in a mental hospital. So now she comes in my dreams and I can’t get rid of her.

Only my leaders know about that killing. They gave us orders, never once Altaf Hussain. But although my leader was chief of MQM’s army wing, Altaf Hussain knows everything. They took the best boys from Karachi, the bravest ones they could use. I’ve realised since that he just used us, used me. What’s more, because we were always with him, even when he went into hiding every night, I’ve seen terrible things with my own eyes. I slowly realised he was a bastard. He said one thing but didn’t want to change the system at all. He just wanted to be powerful and live like a god.

So I ran away. I couldn’t sleep because I realised I had killed so many innocent people. I had nightmares about those innocent people, particularly that woman. Many times I’ve dreamt she is strangling me. She sits on my chest and I wake up and realise she is trying to kill me. Although I’ve robbed many people, banks and killed a lot of people for MQM, I’ve never abused women. Once a group of us raided a family, including daughters. We made them wait for hours for their father to bring money from the bank and although Irfan wanted to rape her, we never let him. That woman I Introduction 5 killed was a Punjabi. Understand, MQM was fighting with every nation of Pakistan, Pukhtuns, Sindhis, Punjabis, police, Rangers and Jamaat e Islami. Everyone. Finally MQM made the Haqiqi and we started killing each other.

Read more » Mohajir Militancy in Pakistan
See more »  http://samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/9781135161934_sample_839861.pdf

 

Israel-Indian missile system Barak 8 carries out successful trial in Indian Ocean

“Trial will benefit both the Indian and Israeli navies,” CEO of IAI says.

The Israeli-Indian developed Barak 8 missile system carried out two successful interceptions from an Indian Navy ship over the past day.

Israel Aerospace Industries said that the weapons system successfully hit its target and completed a series of three tests that demonstrate its readiness.

Yossi Weiss, CEO of IAI, said the interceptors were fired from the heart of the Indian Ocean from an Indian Navy ship, striking their targets successfully.

Weiss described the trial as a “most impressive technological achievement” that will benefit both the Indian and Israeli navies, both of which are expected to receive the system in a fully operational mode soon.

The Indian ship used to fire the interceptors is significantly larger than the Sa’ar 5 type Israel Navy corvette used for a similar recent trial of the Barak 8.

The Barak 8 missile system is designed to protect naval ships and offshore gas rigs from hostile aircraft, missiles and rockets.

Read more » Jerusalem Post
See more » http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israel-Indian-missile-system-Barak-8-carries-out-successful-trial-in-Indian-Ocean-438821

— – – – – –
More details » BBC urdu
Read more »  http://www.bbc.com/urdu/regional/2015/12/151230_india_new_missile_test_zh?ocid=socialflow_facebook

Germany to India: ‘Pakistan and India are more alike than different’

BY MORTEN HÜBBE

This is the travel blog of backpackers Rochssare Neromand-Soma (28) and Morten Hübbe (30) who met at the same university in Germany, where they both studied Literature and Media. They finished school in 2011 and started travelling immediately.

Their journey started with a trip to South America. They planned it as a six-month visit but ended up falling in love with the warm people and the breathtaking beauty of the region. It all started with hitchhiking (which is really common in Argentina and Chile) and enjoyed it so much that they kept travelling until they had discovered the entire continent.

They ended up staying back for over two years, and had by then, hitchhiked more than 50.000 kilometers, mostly with truck drivers. On the way, they met a Frenchman who told them about his hitchhiking adventures in Europe. He went from Paris to Istanbul all in just four days. This impressed the couple enough to decide to hitchhike all the way from Germany to India.

Now they are in Nepal. And look forward to travelling throughout the country before proceeding to their next destination. Read Part-I, II and III here. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1229171/

Growing up under Communist rule made me the tough feminist I am today

By Klentiana Mahmutaj

I am a child of communism. I was born in Communist Albania in the late seventies and was raised there until the age of 19 when I secured a scholarship to study at an English university. I am now a practising barrister in capitalist Britain and a mother of a two-and-a–half-year-old child, regularly facing the challenges that come with being a full-time working mother who seeks to succeed in a challenging profession.  Inspired by the ongoing debate on women’s inequalities, I have recently reflected on my own childhood politics and have come to the surprising conclusion that the place to look for solutions to gender inequality is the Communist model.

Read more » Telegraph.co.uk
See more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/growing-up-under-communist-rule-made-me-the-tough-feminist-i-am/

 

Key member of community demands separate state for Sindhis

MUMBAI: Ram Buxani, Dubai-based non-resident Indian and a prominent member of Sindhi community has demanded a separate Sindhi linguistic state for Sindhis who he said had became landless after partition in 1947.

Such demand comes in the wake of fears expressed by the community brethren that in the absence of a separate state, the Sindhis have no identity of their own, said Buxani.

The social thinker appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider creating a separate linguistic state for Sindhis so that the community can boast proudly that they have a land of their own in India.

Sindhis are inheritors of the 7000-year-old civilisation of Mohen-jo-daro and are on the verge of facing extinction as they do not have a state and a separate identity, Buxani, who was on a visit to the city recently, said.

Justifying the need for a separate linguistic state, he said “there are areas in Rajasthan and Kutch (Gujarat) in India where even today people speak in Sindhi language and thrive in the same culture which prevailed in Sindh before partition.”

He further said, “While a portion of Punjab and Bengal was included in Independent India during the partition of undivided India, the entire Sindh was merged with Pakistan. As a result, Sindhi Hindus were driven away from their homes and came to India as refugees where they began their livelihood afresh.”

Buxani migrated to Dubai 50 years ago and rose to become the Chairman of ITL Cosmos Group, a 60-year-old conglomerate.

“Sindhis also migrated to various countries. Today, there are more than 14 million Sindhis scattered across the globe. Although they have earned enough money with a dint of hard work and sharp business acumen, they do not have a land of their own,” he said.

Buxani said the Sindh linguistic territory within the existing boundaries of India consist of princely state of Kutch, Jaiselmer, Barmer, Jalore and other towns bordering Tharparkar and Kutch.

‘Kutchchi’ which is spoken in Kutch and nearby towns is a dialect of Sindhi language. In the princely state of Jaiselmer in Rajasthan, ‘Dhakti’ is spoken which is also a Sindhi dialect. Similarly, in Barmer, Jalore and other towns close to Tharparkar and Kutch, ‘Thali’ and ‘Thareli’ is spoken which too is a dialect of Sindhi language, he said.

News courtesy: The Economic Times
See more » http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/key-member-of-community-demands-separate-state-for-sindhis/articleshow/46896332.cms?intenttarget=no

The revolution that never happened

BY ARIEB AZHAR

The law of resistance is a strange phenomenon of nature – a sapling growing against the weight of hard earth; an animal growing stronger in a hostile environment; the will of life to survive in the face of impending death. Perhaps, this can explain the romance and optimism that many of us felt during the repressive regime of General Ziaul Haq in the 1980s of Pakistan.

We had shifted from Rawalpindi to Karachi when I was five years old. My father, Aslam Azhar, had already established PTV in Pakistan, and had been transferred to the State Film Authority by Z A. Bhutto, who found his ideas too independent. When Ziaul Haq came to power he sacked all progressive minded professionals from government institutions, including my father. I vividly remember the solemn atmosphere in our house when Bhutto was hanged in Central Jail Rawalpindi a few years later.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1045345

The news from Afghanistan is bad for West

BY ROBERT FISK

THE news from Afghanistan is very bad. No one says that, of course. President Ashraf Ghani has a “national unity government” that “supports a strong partnership with the United States”, according to President Barack Obama.

Sure, Kunduz was captured by the Taliban – but then the Afghans got it back (though minus one American-bombed hospital, along with most of its patients and doctors). Sure, Sangin was captured by the Taliban – but now the Afghan army is fighting to get it back.

But didn’t more than a hundred British soldiers die to hold Sangin? Sure, but American troops in Iraq died to hold and keep Mosul – and Mosul is now the home of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who heads the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

And US troops in Iraq died to capture Fallujah, then lost it, and died all over again to recapture it – and Fallujah is now in the hands of IS.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1229328

THATTO DUAL CARRIAGEWAY PROJECT USHER IN NEW VISTAS OF INVESTMENT

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has said that Thatta-Karachi Dualway Carriage would be a mile stone in the development of the province.

He said that he is committed with people and leadership to develop Sindh and create congenial atmosphere for investment in industrial sector, particularly in Thar coal filed.

He was addressing the signing ceremony of financing agreement Thatta – Karachi Dual Carriageway Project at the CM House here on Tuesday, said a statement.

He said that building infrastructure and commitment of providing better road network, the Works and Services Department in association with Sindh Public Private Partnership Unit is going to launch Karachi- Thatta Dual Carriageway Project.

The project is most important artery in the Province from Karachi to Thatta and a larger economic benefit of this Project is linked with connecting this corridor from Thatta towards Thar for Thar coal filed, he added.

Read more » Business Recorder
See more » http://www.brecorder.com/pakistan/politics-a-policy/270302-thatta-dual-carriageway-project-usher-in-new-vistas-of-investment.html

India may purchase Russia’s newest S-400 air defense systems – report

New Delhi has given the green light to purchase several Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, local media report. Indian military could become the second country in the world after China to procure state-of-the-art S-400s.

On Friday, the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by India’s Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar cleared the purchase 5 regimental units of the S-400 from Russia, the Economic Timesreports. The deal is expected to be sealed within days to come during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Moscow next week.

Defense Ministry sources told the Economic Times that the fast-tracked decision is to strengthen the country’s air defense capabilities. The cost of the deal was not disclosed so far, though the source said it will “happen shortly thereafter.”

Rough estimates suggest the air defense systems alone will cost India about 400 billion rupees (around $6 billion).

Read more » RT
See more » https://www.rt.com/news/326593-india-purchase-russian-s400/

MEGA-EARTHQUAKE could SPLIT continents and kill millions, warns nuclear scientist

MILLIONS of people will embark on the world’s biggest earthquake emergency drill tomorrow as a scientist warns a world-changing mega-tremor with the power to split up continents is “imminent”.

By JON AUSTIN

North and South America will “split” and mega tsunamis could “strike America and Asia killing 40 million people” in an earthquake described as “imminent”, by a London-educated nuclear engineer.

It comes as millions of people across America and Canada will take part tomorrow in “the Great Shake Out” when authorities of major cities simultaneously carry out a dry-run of their emergency response to a major quake.

Ahead of the drills, Dr Mehran Keshe, who studied nuclear engineering at the University of London, released videos claiming a mega quake with the power to kill up to 20 million people on the west coast of the USA alone is on the cards.

Read more » Express.co.uk
See more » http://www.express.co.uk/news/science/612076/MEGA-EARTHQUAKE-will-SPLIT-continents-killing-40-million-with-tsunamis-THIS-WEEKEND

Putin Vows To Protect Kurds In Turkey As War Of The Century Looms

by Sean Adl-Tabatabai

Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorised the Russian military and intelligence community to protect Kurdish people against the threat of Turkey – who have threatened to “cleanse” all Kurds

Putin issued the order to protect the Kurds under the authority of Article 87 of the Russian Constitution – which states that Putin is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

With Turkey now being named as a “belligerent hostile threat” to the Federation in this conflict, this report further explains, President Putin in issuing his order also cited the Turkish governments material and financial support of Islamic State terrorists as evidenced by the MoD discovering this week 12,000 oil tankers and trucks on the Turkey-Iraq border carrying stolen petroleum wealth legally owned by Iraq and Syria.

Read more » YourWireNews.Com
See more » http://yournewswire.com/putin-vows-to-protect-kurds-in-turkey-as-war-of-the-century-looms/

Bazaar-i-Husn, formerly Sundarta Bazaar of Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan.

Footprints: Bazaar-i-Husn ─ Dark love

BY REEMA ABBASI

THEY have alluring names — Shahi Mohalla, Bulbul-i-Hazaar Dastaan, and Hyderabad’s Bazaar-i-Husn, formerly Sundarta Bazaar — old settlements where the business of flesh hangs on despite the ravages of circumstance.

Walking past the colonial quarters of Hirabad in Hyderabad, where intricate balconies and stone filigree jostle with modern-day eyesores, we arrive in a tangle of damp lanes.

Bazaar-i-Husn is said to be some 250 years old with over 600 multi-storey brothels and a hierarchy: the affluent leave their doors ajar — gaudy rooms in pink or red with ornate women who perform in cities or in faraway lands; some leave for a respectable life as the night ages.

Encounters with dead ends, where no one saw the point in a conversation at prime time, threw up an amusing surprise.

By a corner of the ‘offices’, I met the man who has carried the taazia from here for decades. In a sharia-compliant pajama and a white beard, when questioned he went into contortions of denial: “I have nothing to do with this area. Talk to me about religion. I appear on TV for my expertise,” he roared.

But one could hardly slide away without catching his murmurs — “Firdaus hai aaj? Ya sab maiyyat mei gaee hain?” (Is Firdaus available today or is everyone at the funeral?)

Some two doors from this sanctimony is veteran stage artist and dancer Jamila, known as Apa Peeno. A friend of the erstwhile movie star and one of the bazaar’s bygone caches, Chakori, Peeno belongs to days when the alleys had splendour.

“We learnt from Maharaj Samrat, and danced in beautiful clothes, heavy anklets, in the company of the genteel. It’s filthy now so I don’t live here,” she says as she takes us for a walk. We stop at a square with a shiny alam, above it a girl combs her hair on a balcony, and strikes a pose to grab lucrative attention.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1228917/

Dutch city plans to pay citizens a ‘basic income’, and Greens say it could work in the UK

Utrecht takes step towards paying people a salary whether they work or not

 

By  in Utrecht

It’s an idea whose adherents over the centuries have ranged from socialists to libertarians to far-right mavericks. It was first proposed by Thomas Paine in his 1797 pamphlet, Agrarian Justice, as a system in which at the “age of majority” everyone would receive an equal capital grant, a “basic income” handed over by the state to each and all, no questions asked, to do with what they wanted.

It might be thought that, in these austere times, no idea could be more politically toxic: literally, a policy of the state handing over something for nothing. But in Utrecht, one of the largest cities in the Netherlands, and 19 other Dutch municipalities, a tentative step towards realising the dream of many a marginal and disappointed political theorist is being made.

The politicians, well aware of a possible backlash, are rather shy of admitting it. “We had to delete mention of basic income from all the documents to get the policy signed off by the council,” confided Lisa Westerveld, a Green councillor for the city of Nijmegen, near the Dutch-German border.

Read more » The guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/26/dutch-city-utrecht-basic-income-uk-greens?CMP=fb_gu

Germany to Invest 2Bln Euro in Russian Railways

Germany is seeking economic cooperation with Russia, offering 2 billion euro to participate in the construction of a Moscow-Kazan high speed-railway, the Russian Railways reported Friday.

China Railway Group and Russian Railroad have kicked off a new project to  design and build a high-speed railway between Moscow and the southeastern city of Kazan. It is expected that the line would be extended to Beijing, reducing the duration of a rail journey between Moscow and China’s capital to 48 hours.

Read more » Sputnik News
http://sputniknews.com/business/20151226/1032320482/germany-russia-railways-funding.html#ixzz3vN6hJD7f
Read more: http://sputniknews.com/business/20151226/1032320482/germany-russia-railways-funding.html#ixzz3vRiflLFT

16 Pakistani tourist spots you must visit in 2016

2015 is about to end and it is time to plan for year 2016.

Whenever we think of Pakistan, all that comes to our mind is terrorism, extremism, sectarianism, corruption, load shedding and inflation but despite all these issues, we immensely love our country.

Amidst all the chaos we have forgotten the beauty of our landscape.

Pakistan is full of breathtaking locations which will make you fall in love with this country all over again. If you are a tourist or love travelling then you must compile a list of places you plan to visit next year.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1228738/

India-Pakistan Ties: If Goods Don’t Cross Borders, Soldiers Will

By Afaq Hussain and Riya Sinha

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent meeting with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the Paris summit followed by Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Pakistan has raised hopes about the possibility of resumption of the bilateral composite dialogue. The move signals a long-awaited thaw in bilateral relationship.

International commerce is the single most effective area that can successfully alter the bilateral foreign policy of India and Pakistan and enable them to move beyond their strained political linkages. Both conventional wisdom and empirical evidence propose that increasing levels of cross-border economic flows, defined either in terms of trade or capital movements decreases the probability of conflict.

Deliberating the very notions of peace through trade or trade through peace, can be quite intriguing. Reducing conflict helps create a globally conducive atmosphere for facilitating trade and other ties between countries; at the same time, increasing trade promotes peace through communication and transnational ties, which improves mutual understanding among societies and raises the potential for cooperation. The growing internationalisation of commerce and firms makes war less likely by increasing the costs of severing economic links.

Read more » The Quint
See more » http://www.thequint.com/opinion/2015/12/18/india-pakistan-ties-if-goods-dont-cross-borders-soldiers-will

“I don’t really think Jinnah is anyone’s hero”

By 

Author and journalist Mohammed Hanif speaks his mind about how the idea of a hero is conceived in our society

The News on Sunday: Nations tend to pick their heroes. How important are heroes for nation-building? What goes into the making of a hero?

Mohammed Hanif: I don’t know if heroes are important for nation building or not. All I know is that we have had too many heroes lately, we are fast running out of honours, medals, and clichés to bestow upon them. It seems you have to get gang raped, get shot in the head, or die at the hands of a state-employed torturer to become a hero. Why can’t we just have people who turn up for work? Why can’t we just stop thinking that we are god’s gift to this universe?

TNS: Why can’t we agree on our heroes — Jinnah or Maududi, Hakimullah or Malala? And then, each side claims its hero defines the national narrative.

MH: I don’t think there are many nations which agree on their heroes. I don’t really think Jinnah is anyone’s hero. I think a lot of people in this country don’t even know who he was and the ones who know will never agree what he said let alone what he meant by what he said. I don’t think there are many people who are going to consider anybody a hero who says: get disciplined, work hard, stand united. Sounds like your PT teacher, doesn’t really inspire anyone. Now if someone comes along and says let’s fight to liberate the Ummah, let’s go and take over the world or die trying, there is more to life than office slavery, that is the kind of stuff we expect our heroes to say. And can the national press stop using the term national narrative? Any editor who can achieve that will be my hero.

Read more » The News
See more » http://tns.thenews.com.pk/someone-never-stepped-punjab-cantonment-likely-believe-army-non-controversial-hero/#.Vn2FofkrLcs

Is Pakistan supporting Bangladeshi Islamists?

Bangladeshi authorities have arrested seven suspected militants with links to an Islamist group. The move comes a day after Pakistan recalled its diplomat from Dhaka over her alleged links with the same banned outfit.

The police raided an apartment in Mirpur, a district in the capital Dhaka, and arrested seven suspected members of the banned Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh (JMB) organization. They also seized 16 home-made bombs, suicide vests and explosive material, which the authorities said could be used in planned attacks over the New Year period.

The suspects exploded bombs as police began their raid. No injuries were reported. Officials cordoned off the building and evacuated the residents.

Police officer Monirul Islam said at least three “important figures” of the JMB had been arrested.

The JMB was founded in 1998 by Shaikh Abdur Rahman, a religious preacher educated in Saudi Arabia. The group campaigns for the imposition of the Shariah Law in Bangladesh. Despite being banned by the government, the JMB members are trying to regroup and launch clandestine operations.

In 2007, Bangladeshi authorities executed six JMB leaders for killing two judges and masterminding a series of bombings across the country in 2005 that killed some 30 people. The militant organization has also been involved in targeting foreigners. On October 3, it shot dead a Japanese farmer in northern Bangladesh.

The Thursday raid followed information from a detained member of the Islamist group.

Terror link row

The raid comes just days after a suspected JMB member, Idris Sheikh, told a court in Dhaka that he had ties with a female Pakistani diplomat, whose name was quoted by local media as Farina Arshad. Shiekh told police detectives that he had received financial assistance from Arshad for his espionage trial.

Read more » DW
See more » http://www.dw.com/en/is-pakistan-supporting-bangladeshi-islamists/a-18941388?maca=en-rss-en-all-1573-rdf

Modi makes surprise visit to Pakistan

BY MEHREEN ZAHRA-MALIK AND KRISHNA N. DAS

ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise stopover in Pakistan on Friday to meet his counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, the first time an Indian premier has visited the rival nation in over a decade.

Sharif hugged Modi after he landed at the airport in the eastern city of Lahore before the two boarded a helicopter for Sharif’s nearby estate, state television showed.

A spokesman at the Pakistani prime minister’s office told Reuters the two leaders would discuss a range of bilateral issues, including the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, the most contentious issue dividing the nuclear-armed rivals.

Modi was on his way home after a visit to Russia. He stopped off in the Afghanistan capital Kabul earlier on Friday.

After months of a freeze, India and Pakistan resumed high-level contacts with a brief conversation between Sharif and Modi at climate change talks in Paris late last month, part of efforts to restart a peace dialogue plagued by militant attacks and long-standing distrust.

Modi, who inaugurated a new parliament complex built with Indian help in Kabul, spoke to Sharif earlier on Friday to wish him on his 66th birthday.

“Looking forward to meeting PM Nawaz Sharif in Lahore today afternoon, where I will drop by on my way back to Delhi,” Modi tweeted.

The two prime ministers flew to Sharif’s estate in Lahore named Jati Umra, after his family’s ancestral home in a Punjabi village in India, Pakistan state TV reported.

Read more » Reuters
See more » http://in.reuters.com/article/india-pakistan-modi-nawaz-sharif-idINKBN0U80G020151225

 

Austria anti-migrant protest

Hundreds of people gathered in southern Austria to demand a halt to the influx of migrants. Rough cut – subtitles (no reporter narration).

ROUGH CUT – SUBTITLES (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Hundreds of people gathered in southern Austria on Saturday (October 31), to protest against the government’s migration policies and call for the authorities to close the border to the continuing influx of migrants in to the country. Waving the Austrian flag and shouting slogans like “We are the people” and “Fortress Europe – Close the Borders”, the protesters marched from the train station in the village of Spielfeld towards the border but were stopped by police before reaching it. Many called for Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann to stand down. Austrian police said that between 400 and 600 people took part in the demonstration which ended peacefully. Austria has largely served as a conduit into Germany for hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern, African and Asian migrants and refugees fleeing wars and hardship who have travelled from the Mediterranean and through the Balkans since early September. The demonstration took place just a few hundred metres from the border with Slovenia, where thousands of migrants and refugees from countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were waiting to be transported to emergency accommodation.

Courtesy » Reuters
Read more » http://www.reuters.com/video/2015/11/01/austria-anti-migrant-protest?videoId=366151352

Sindh Cultural Day observed by Pakistanis in Riyadh

By Waqar Naseem Wamiq

 

RIYADH — Indus Cultural & Social Forum (ICSF) observed the Sindhi Cultural Day at the chancery hall of Pakistan Embassy here. Pakistan Ambassador Manzoor ul Haq was the chief guest.

Dr. Mustafa started the program by reciting few verses from the Holy Qur’an. Abdul Qadir Mallah and Dr. Erum Qalbani jointly conducted the program. The hall was beautifully decorated with the flowers and traditional Sindhi Ajraks. Most of the attendees — men, women and kids — wore the traditional Sindhi caps and Ajraks, and the ISCF team was dressed in black suits with Ajrak printed neckties.

In his welcome address, HOC Sardar Muhammad Khattak mentioned the significance and importance of the day. “We are conducting this program in order to highlight the Sindhi culture among the Pakistani community.”

Founder president of ICSF Abdul Qadir Mallah briefed the audience about the Sindhi day. He said, “The Indus forum was established in 2011 in order to provide a collective platform for the Sindhi community in Riyadh.”

Read more » Saudi Gazette
See more » http://saudigazette.com.sa/saudi-arabia/sindh-cultural-day-observed-by-pakistanis-in-riyadh/

Prescription from Pakistan: How one hospital is a model for Asia

Pakistan’s dismal public health system is rife with mismanagement and a paucity of resources.

Amidst this shambolic system, one hospital in Karachi has been providing specialised healthcare to millions.

Free of charge.

As the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation celebrated 40 years of successful service, Dr Sanjay Nagral visited the facility and met the man who helms it, armed with the simple philosophy that ‘No person should die only because they are unable to afford medical expenses.’

Read more » Rediff News
See more » http://www.rediff.com/news/special/prescription-from-pakistan-how-one-hospital-is-a-model-for-asia/20151224.htm