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The Statesman

Published Date: Sep 30, 2011

CONSUMERS TO BENEFIT FROM EXPANSION OF BILATERAL TRADE BETWEEN PAKISTAN, INDIA

Experts of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and its research partner, Consumer Unity and Trust Society-International (CUTS-International) Thursday said consumers of both countries can get huge gains from a more open trade between Pakistan and India.

They said the agreement to expand bilateral trade up to US $ 6 billion during next three years, doubling the existing level, is a welcome step.

With support from The Asia Foundation and in partnership with the SDPI and other organisations in South Asia, CUTS is doing a study on the cost of economic non-cooperation to consumers in South Asia.

The data for the study estimates that annual welfare gain to Indian consumers on account of importing some products from Pakistan would be almost 4 billion US dollars. Much of this gain would accrue from importing rice and textile products.

“Similarly, annual welfare gain to Pakistani consumers would be almost US $ 280 million as a result of increased import of pharmaceutical products, automobile parts and petroleum products from India”, the experts observed.

“Both countries should remove much of the products that they have listed in the negative list of South Asian Free Trade Agreement,” said Pradeep Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International, a Jaipur-based consumer advocacy group.

Welcoming the visit of Pakistan’s trade minister to India, he said that the decision to form expert groups on energy and petroleum is a move in the right direction to double the volume of bilateral trade from the current level of 2.7 billion US dollars annually.

Though cross-border trade between India and Pakistan is growing over the last few years it is still much less than its potential.

Informal trade and trade routed through places such as Dubai is much higher and consumers are paying more than what is required.

Both countries are importing products at a much higher cost from sources other than themselves and from other South Asian countries.

The SDPI-CUTS study gathers perceptions of some influential stakeholders from both sides to understand the political economy of trade relations.

It is found that lack of reference to consumer welfare gains in the academic literature as well as in popular media has heavily influenced the perception of all categories of respondents. – APP

Climate change taking heavy toll on Pakistan: Jamali

ISLAMABAD: Climate change does not recognise borders, so countries of the world have to learn from each other’s experience and work together, not only to undertake research and collect data but also to better manage the crises.

Climate Change is taking a heavy toll in Pakistan, said the Minister for Science and Technology, Mir Changez Khan Jamali while addressing a technical session of the 5th International Conference on Flood Management, being held at International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM), Tokyo, Japan.

According to a message received here,the minister thanked the government and people of Japan, ICHARM and UNESCO for their support to Pakistan for initiating a programme of developing an early warning system of floods and urged international community to pool their human and financial resources to develop comprehensive pre-disaster, during disaster and post-disaster strategies measures to tackle the problem.

Jamali also emphasised  the role of International Financial Institutions including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to increase their support for preparedness of nations to tackle mega water disasters taking place around the world.

He also assured the institutions involved in international efforts for support from the Government of Pakistan.

Earlier, Minister Jamali accompanied by the Chairman Pakistan Science Foundation Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain  Soomro and Ambassador of Pakistan Noor Mohammad Jadmani visited the PASONA Group Inc. Tokyo Japan, a private company promoting “Urban Farming” by growing rice and vegetables in “hydroponics” (indoors and without soil in nutrient solutions), an innovative and futuristic way of growing plants and crops. – APP

NDMA, Save the Children finalise child protection policy

ISLAMABAD: National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) in collaboration with Save the Children was devising a concrete mechanism for Child Protection in the aftermath of disasters, Chairman NDMA Dr Zafar Iqbal Qadir said Thursday.

Addressing a consultative workshop held in collaboration with the Gender and Child Cell (GCC) of the NDMA and Save the Children here, he said over 10 million children were affected by the 2010 floods and 576 children were separated and unaccompanied.

He lauded the efforts of Save the Children and UNICEF in drafting the Child Protection Policy and standard operating procedures aimed at supporting separated, missing and unaccompanied children in emergencies.

NDMA is mandated with the management of pre- and post-disaster situations, there is a pertinent need to institutionalise Child Protection and ensure smooth service delivery, he said.

Save the Children Country Director, David Wright said: “The absence of a clearly defined child protection policy and mechanism was direly felt while responding to last year’s floods. This culminated in unnecessary delays in responding to children’s needs.”

Save the Children and UNICEF, in collaboration with the NDMA, jointly devised a standardised policy for Child Protection and a reunification mechanism for separated children. UNICEF Deputy Country Director, Karen Allen said: “These guidelines should be disseminated at the provincial and district levels to make the policy operational. If implemented in its true essence, the policy can bring about positive change in the lives of millions of children in Pakistan.” – APP

Sheesha smoking showing increasing trend

in twin cities: PANAH

ISLAMABAD: Sheesha smoking is on the rise in  Rawalpindi and Islamabad and the  restaurant owners offering this unhealthy activity are minting money by introducing various tasty flavours.

Both boys and girls wrongly believe that sheesha smoking is not harmful to their health and keep on enjoying it, says Dr Shahnaz Hameed, General Secretary Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH).

Talking to APP she said that studies prove that sheesha smoking is  200 times more injurious than cigarettes.

She said media could play an important role in raising awareness about its harmful effects. On the contrary almost every TV channel telecast dramas in which boys and girls are shown smoking cigarettes in a stylish manner, she added.

The average mortality rate in Pakistan is about 50 years, which is much less than the global average age, Dr Shahnaz said.

“We cannot see our people dying at an early age when they are needed most by our country and their families.”

She said that PANAH plans to set-up a helpline to assist smokers quit this bad habit forever. Presently there is no helpline to get people rid of smoking, Dr Shahnaz added.

She observed that the boys usually start smoking at an early age in Pakistan, in some cases as young as 6 years, and later they develop it as a habit which is very hard to give up.

“I have also found out that the parents under the misconception think that sheesha is not harmful and offer the pipe to even their toddlers,” she said.

Moreover, the pipe of sheesha is shared by all the people sitting on the same table, which may transmit deadly diseases like hepatitis and, HIV, she added. – APP

Inflation compels school-going kids to work

Islamabad: Running the stoves of homes has become so difficult that it has not only made men to work harder than ever before but has even made minors to become helping hands.

Those little hands that should be holding pencils are wandering on the streets and roads collecting recyclable items while carrying huge bags hanging on their tender shoulders.

Two young boys found on the road right opposite Jinnah Super Market. Both have migrated from Afghanistan. One of them named Habib-ul-Ullah, 10 and the other his cousin named Saeed Mohammad, is 14.

Habibul Ullah’s dad passed away a year ago. He lives with his mother and two brothers. One of them is younger to him. Both of them do the same work as their mother has nothing to do. She just runs the house.

Saeed Mohammad is the only son of his parents residing presently at Golra Sharif. He and his father are also in the same job. There is a car that drops all those disposal workers at 10:00 am in Rana Market and drops them at their place at nearly 5:00 pm. They fill their bags on daily basis, earning Rs200-300 each day. Both the families have been working since one year. Habib hands over all the money to his mother. She manages to fulfil their basic necessities of life. They move from house to house and to the garbage bins collecting those recyclable materials, no matter how hot the climate is.

Spiralling price-hike has forced these innocent little children to work as well who deserve being at school for learning and transforming themselves into better human beings.

Today due to the inflation they cannot get education and have to work all day long still hardly managing to somehow satisfy their appetite but tomorrow their next generation will have to suffer due to their illiteracy. – INFN

CJ Western Australia lauds Pakistan SC

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Western Australia Wayne Martin who recently participated in the Supreme and Federal Court Judges Conference 2011 Wellington, New Zealand, has praised Pakistan Supreme Court for upholding its independence and winning public confidence.

In his paper, on the topic “Future directions in Judicial Academy” the Australian CJ says “Judicial education has a very important part to play in the rule of law. That was made most evident by Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan from Pakistan who attended the Sydney conference. Justice Jan is involved in judicial education in that country but is also a member of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Most of you would know the recent turbulent events involving the judiciary of Pakistan.

The point forcefully made by Justice Jan was that it was the people of Pakistan who in the end were the ultimate protectors of the independence of the judiciary.”

“It was the people who demanded the restoration of their judiciary, and whose demands became so strong and so loud that it was impossible for the government to resist them,” he adds, a press release by SC quoted him as saying.

The CJ further says “Where does that observation lead in terms of judicial education? It seems to me to lead to the proposition that independence of the judiciary depends critically upon public confidence.”

“Public confidence depends upon judges doing our jobs well and efficiently. It also depends upon judicial officers being sensitive to the needs of the communities which we serve and upon our ability to effectively communicate to those communities, what we do and why. It depends upon us being sensitive to the social context in which we perform our duties and it requires us to perform them in a way which is relevant to the communities which we serve.

If we do all that, we will enhance the public confidence of the community in the judiciary and that is ultimately the vital protection of our independence. – APP

‘Pick and choose’ policy goes into BISP survey

Islamabad: The survey of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) in our village Makhyala, Tehsil Dhirkot, District Bagh AJK has proved that pick and choose policy has been adopted while conducting the survey, alleged Muhammad Wajid Arif from Fm94 Islamabad on a popular online group Pakistan Press.

As a result of which the needy and deserving people have been ignored and they are still living hand to mouth in a very poor condition and the Benazir Income Support Programme has been awarded to the local PPP workers like in other parts of the country. It further alleged.

The application forms of deserving people were reportedly rejected due to poor and fake survey conducted and submitted by the local Benazir Income Support Programme survey teams, appeal has been submitted against the rejection of application forms of deserving people of said village of AJK.

People of that village have demanded free and fair survey to be conducted in their village and if it is not accepted by the government, there will be no option for the local community except coming on roads to protest and get their rights.

They have appealed the Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme, Farzana Raja and MD BISP to take strict notice of this serious issue. – INFN

26 dengue fever patients admitted to hospital

ISLAMABAD: Coordinator Dengue Control and Surveillance, Islamabad Dr. Najeebullah Durrani said that 26 dengue fever suspect patients have been admitted to the city’s hospitals during the last 24 hours.

Out of these 26 suspected patients, 12 patients belong to Islamabad, one from rural area and 11 from urban area.

He said that remaining 14 patients are from Rawalpindi, Gilgit, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Jhelum.

He said that 14 patients have been admitted in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, eight in the Polyclinic, one in the Capital Hospital, two in the Shifa International and one in KRL during the last 24 hours.

Dr. Najeebullah Durrani said that the district health department, Islamabad has so far carried out fumigation in 73 schools in the rural areas of Islamabad including 500 places in the villages, union council buildings, Patwar Khanas, police stations, madaris, Police Training College, Sihala, Health Services Academy. – APP

Pak-Turkey exercise concludes

ISLAMABAD: Closing/Wing Exchange ceremony of a week long Pakistan – Turkey Joint Training Exercise ATTATURK-VII-2011 was held at Cherat on Thursday.

According to ISPR, Major General Farrukh Bashir, General Officer Commanding Special Services Group (SSG) was the chief guest on occasion.

Major General Farrukh Bashir congratulated the Officers and Soldiers of Turkish Special Forces and SSG of Pakistan Army on successful completion of this joint training. Major General Farrukh Bashir said that the main aim of the joint exercise was to further strengthen the military to military relationship and share experience of counter terrorism.

He said that exercise began with learning and sharing of individual skills and culminated at a joint Air Assault Field Exercise. – Online

8 more including PML-N MPA fall victim to dengue

LAHORE: Eight more people including Parliamentary Secretary for Education Mumtaz Ahmed Jhaja MPA Thursday fell victim to dengue virus in various hospitals raising total death toll to 110 in the city.

Jhaja (63) was admitted in Jinnah Hospital three days ago with dengue symptoms. Doctors tried their best to save him, but he could not survive.

Five persons including three women and a girl expired at different hospitals. Saima aged 30 died at Mayo Hospital, Sobia 27 at Ghurki Hospital, Fatima 7 at Mayo Hospital, Gul Naaz at Ganga Ram while Muddasir 28 died at General Hospital.

Meanwhile, hospitals are still crowded with people having symptoms of dengue virus. According to Health Department spokesman about 10,244 cases of Dengue have so far been reported in Lahore while in Punjab a total of 11,584 cases have been reported.

Seminar on dengue: The Punjab Red Crescent Society (PRCS) organised a seminar to create awareness about the dengue virus in collaboration with Bardasht Pakistan and motorway police here on Thursday.

Addressing the seminar, Dr Javeed Akram shed light on indications, precautionary measures and treatment of the dengue virus.

Dr Javid appealed to the masses especially women to keep their homes clean, adding that our religion also emphasizes cleanliness.

He said that proper cleanliness would stop the growth of mosquito. – APP

Prof Dr Zafar Ali Chaudhry and Dr Shaukat Ali also spoke. – APP

THH demands fair allocation of block funds in KP budget

ABBOTTABAD: Hundreds of activists of the Tehreek Huqooq-e-Hazara (THH) from Kohistan, Battagram, Haripur, Abbottabad and Mansehra demanded immediate allocation of ‘Block Funds’ in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Annual Development Plan 2011-12 and ensure transparency in fund’s utilisation.

During a large public meeting in Abbottabad on Thursday, the activists condemned the KP Government’s disregardfor public accountability by retaining Rs56 billion as block funds out of a total outlay of Rs85 billion in this year’s ADP for the province.

Block funds are budget allocations approved for unspecified districts that are subsequently allocated to areas on government’s choice.

While addressing the assembly, Ali Asghar Khan, a leader of THH asserted “Misuse of public funds is a divisive force that creates distances between people, promotes distrust in the state and its institutions and fuels the spread of hate. Many of the challenges being faced by Pakistan today can be traced to impropriety in use of public funds,”

“Equitable use of national resources is the greatest contributor to a people’s sense of participation and belonging. It is a force that can bind people together. Together we will make sure that public funds are used judiciously so that Pakistan can effectively face its critical challenges and move forward on the path to progress and prosperity for all its citizens,” he added.

He emphasized that keeping 66 per cent of development funds as block allocations is a denial of the citizens’ fundamental right to know. He demanded that decisions on such a large proportion of public money be made through a proper parliamentary debate and not left to executive decree. He quoted the example of a block allocation of Rs.300 million in the last year’s budget intended for educational scholarships for students from across KP.

The government documents show that this entire block amount was used in the Chief Minister’s home district of Mardan. Similarly, previous budgets show benefits bestowed on Bannu during former CM Akram Durrani’s tenure as chief minister of KP.

“Such practices raise serious concerns of public funds used for political patronage,” he said.

THH has also strongly condemned the meager allocation of 6 per cent of development funds to Hazara and 2.8 per cent to the southern districts of KP. Hazara accounts for 20 per cent of the total population of KP and 24 per cent of its total area. Some of its parts especially Kohistan are also among the poorest. “We want to know the basis on which this distribution was decided,” demanded Sher Khan from Kohistan. “Is the government favouring the areas where it has its vote bank?” asked Shazia Bibi from Haripur.

“The criteria used by the National Finance Commission for the distribution of funds should be applied to justify distribution of funds amongst the provinces. Immediate steps must be taken to make the Provincial Finance Commission effective to ensure fair distribution of funds within the province”, asserted Khan.

He added that consistently skewed budget priorities have high costs. They lead to unequal development, disparity, frustration, and alienation. The creation of new provinces will help better management of resources and also give more people control over their lives.

Formed in 2005, THH is a citizen platform consisting of thousands of women and men from Kohistan, Mansehra, Battagram, Haripur and Abbottabad. THH’s mass mobilisation for use of public funds based on accountability, is gaining momentum with a series of public meetings organized in different parts of Hazara and also in the southern districts of Dera Ismail Khan and Tank. – Online

10 passengers die as van plunges into ravine

SAHIWAL: At least ten persons including a woman and a minor girl died and 21 others sustained serious injuries when a speeding a passenger van plunged into ravine after ramming a tree near Chichawatni bypass at G.T. Road on Thursday.

The condition of 15 injured is said to be precarious at the Chichawatni tehsil hospital and district headquarter hospital Sahiwal.

The coaster was coming from Mian Chunu and going to Chichawatni when the vehicle went out of control of the driver while saving a cycle-rider at the bypass and rammed a tree. Rescue teams reached at the scene soon after the incident and took the injured passengers to hospitals for treatment.

Sources told media that three injured passengers are in a critical condition

The deceased passengers include Muhammad Ilyas, his wife Nargis, their 6-year daughter, resident of Joharabad, Muhammad Iqbal, Ghafar, resident of Mian Chunu, Zafar Iqbal of Chichawatni, Muhammad Junaid of Mian Chunu and Khalid Samandari.

Injured include Mazhar Iqbal, Abida Parveen, Tahira Parveen, Tania, Muhammad Yaseen, Reema and others whose identity couldn’t be ascertained. – Agencies

Road blocked against load-shedding, robberies

From Amjid Ali

TOPI: Jamaat-i-Islami and Shabab-i-Milli Pakistan leaders and workers staged a sit-in on Yar Hussain-Chota Lahor road for nearly two hours here on Thursday against the continued excessive loadshedding and increasing cases of the robberies in the area.

Led by Shabab-i-Milli Pakistan district president, Wajid Ali and JI naib-amir Mahmoodul Hasan, they gathered at Yar Hussain main Bazaar and blocked the road for all kinds of traffic from 8.10 am to 10.10 am while staging sit-in over the busy road, preventing the flow of the traffic completely.

Protesters said the harsh summer has gone and they were expecting that there would be no loadshedding but the outage has increased manifold by Peshawar Electric Supply Company the due to unknown reasons.

Hasan said they would not left the road till meeting of the demands; issuing a schedule of loadshedding and assurance from the police about provision of security which is the first and foremost duty of the government, especially the district administration.

Wajid said that people have been looted at different regions at gun-point by the robbers and the district police utterly failed to nab the robbers who indulging in various robberies in Yar Hussain and its surrounding areas. “How many robbers arrested by police and how much looted things recovered by them,” he questioned.

Police officer and SDOs of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company reached the sit-in venue and assured the JI and Shabab-i-Milli leaders/workers that they would take steps to meet their demands.

The SDOs said that loadshedding would be carried out according to the schedule and the people would not face unscheduled outage.

Police officials said they would petrol the areas at night and people should help the police force and once that happened then the robbers could not harm the people.