Nation celebrates Eidul Azha today

By Web DeskPublished: September 25, 2015
Devotees offer Eidul Azha prayers outside a mosque in Karachi on September 25, 2015. PHOTO: AFP
Congregational prayers were held across the country, while security arrangement were beefed up.
Pakistan celebrated Eidul Azha with religious fervour and zeal on Friday.

Congregational prayers were held across the country to mark the religious festival, along with sermons highlighting the significance of the event and the philosophy behind sacrifice.

Security arrangements were beefed up across the country during the occasion, and measures were put in place by federal and provincial governments to ensure no disruptions were created during the day, Radio Pakistan reported.

Children seen at Badshahi Mosque in Lahore on September 24, 2015 as Eidul Azha congregational prayers end. PHOTO: MALIK SHAFIQ/EXPRESS

Meanwhile, civic authorities of different cities and towns made special arrangements for the disposal of carcasses and other solid waste material during the three days.

Read: President, PM lay stress on spirit of sacrifice

Both Prime Minster Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain urged Pakistanis to remember the soldiers who have sacrificed their today for the nation’s tomorrow.

In his Eid message issued on Thursday, President Hussain said that by laying down their lives for the country, our soldiers had been immortalised in history. “We should also remember the invaluable sacrifices of our brothers and sisters who are suffering because of the fight against terrorism.”

Earlier, while addressing the media, the premier extended his heartiest Eid wishes to the nation. In his message, he emphasised the need of national unity in the face of challenges faced by Pakistan.

Imran sets Nov 20 deadline on drones


THE NATION, ISLAMABAD, 05th NOVEMBER 2013:- The National Assembly on the first day of its 6th session, on Monday, witnessed unity between treasury and opposition benches as government clearly expressed its resolve to continue its efforts for dialogue with the Taliban.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan softened somewhat his stance on blocking the Nato supplies giving the PML-N federal government an opportunity to act. But he warned that his party’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government will block the supplies on its own, if the central government failed in resolving the drone strikes issue.
They would assess government’s action on this matter as well as the progress in peace process, Imran said in his speech, after the interior minister’s clear indication to keep the dialogue process alive. “(But) if drone strikes continued then we will block Nato supplies after November 20 and go to the UN Security Council,” he added.
The session of the House, started after a delayed of over two hours, on first day suspending all other agenda items and reserved it for debate over emerging situation in the aftermath of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud’s killing.
PTI chief said it was a ‘defining moment’ for Pakistan so all the political parties should express unity to face this challenge. “Our nation wants peace… There is need for adopting a united stance,” he said, adding that they have been condemning strikes for nine years but mere “condemnation will never bring any change”. He said he was ready to reconcile with everyone including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman for the good of the nation.
Imran asked those in favour of military operation that what they would do if that option failed to bear fruit. Imran paid a tribute to interior minister for his effort for peace dialogue. However, he expressed his displeasure asking why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his recent visit did not press the US for stopping drone strikes. “It should have been top priority of his visit agenda,” he said.
PTI chief raised a volley of questions about the timing of killing of Hakimullah Mehsud. He said it destroyed chances for peace, adding, “Whatever the interior minister did now, it would be extremely difficult for any new TTP chief to come back to the table.” He asked what guarantee the government have that the Americans won’t hit the peace process again.
Earlier, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in his policy statement said that the government wants to keep the dialogue process alive. He informed that a three-member Ulema delegation was ready to go for talks with Taliban but US attack sabotaged it.
PML-N government, he said, would continue its efforts for peace in the same manner in consultations with all parties. Lauding the political parties support, he said there was a need for greater unity on the national stance on drone strikes as this was the best way to resolve this matter.
About restarting the talks process, he said, “This would only be possible after the militant outfit chooses a new chief… Situation is more gruesome than the point from where we had initiated peace efforts in September this year. But, we need to have consensus and proceed as success of dialogue will be success of all stakeholders.”

402 GET fellowships at CPSP convocation


THE NATION, LAHORE, 05th NOVEMBER 2013:- A total of 402 candidates were awarded fellowships in 47th convocation of College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan.  National Assembly Speaker  Sardar Ayyaz Sadiq was the chief guest of the convocation.
According to a press release, the Speaker commended the CPSP for playing pivotal role by providing higher medical education in the country and said our specialists are the identification of Pakistan in the world. He admired the services rendered by the personnel related to medical profession during the epidemic of Dengue on the basis of his personal experience.
He said that a fellow of CPSP passes through different stages of tough structured training. “The numbers of doctors are far less than need of the country thus fellows of CPSP are at par with the best doctors of the world,” he said.
He congratulated the President, College Council and fellows of CPSP on attaining international recognition and repute. Prof Zafar Ullah Chaudhry, President, CPSP, in the welcome address threw light on the performance of CPSP which is providing specialists doctors in all disciplines of medical profession in the country. “College of awarding fellowship on sixty nine disciplines of medicine and surgery. More than 20,000 specialists of CPSP are serving the ailing humanity across the country. More than 17,000 trainee doctors are working under supervision of more than 2500 supervisors. CPSP is the only institution which is monitoring electronically its 17000 trainees through e-log system.
Keeping in view the international standard of CPSP, the European Business Assembly has nominated CPSP for the best award of Europe in higher medical education. The nomination of CPSP for this award is an honour for the country and its people,” he said.
On this occasion he congratulated four hundred new fellows and advised to spend their energy on the wellbeing of ailing humanity. Dr Swera Mansoor was awarded Gold Medal on her performance. The convocation was attended by all council members including Vice President, Prof Rizwan Azami, Prof Khalid Masood Gondal, DGIR, Prof Rizwana Chaudhry, Prof Muhammad Shoaib Shafi, Maj Gen Professor Salman Ali, heads of civil and military institution Maj Gen Waqar Ahmad, Maj Gen and other senior doctors.

Pakistan attractive for investors: Japan


THE NATION, LAHORE, 05th NOVEMBER 2013:- Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan Hiroshi Inomata on Monday stressed the need for more collaboration between Pakistan and Japan to create concrete and tangible results as far as economy is concerned.
The Ambassador was talking to LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari during a visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday. The Ambassador said that Pakistan’s strategic location makes it an attractive market for the potential foreign investors. He said that he would be doing what is possible to highlight the potential of Pakistan in the eyes of Japanese investors.
The Ambassador also invited to arrange a delegation to Japan to have first hand knowledge about available opportunities there. Hiroshi Inomata also discussed bilateral economic relations with particular reference to cooperation in different sectors. He said that the Japanese government and the private sector were ready to extend every possible help to Pakistan for the revival of economic activities. He said that Japan was quite strong as far as the technical education was concerned and Pakistan should avail this opportunity to overcome the shortage of skilled labor.
He said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry should further strengthen its liaison with chambers of commerce in Japan that have much bigger membership as compared to Pakistan.
The Ambassador said that an exchange of trade related information between the two countries could also jack up the volume of two-way trade that does not match the true potential of the two countries. Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari said that Pakistan has strong economic and commercial ties with Japan but these relations need to be capitalized to attain greater share in Japanese market. For closing the gap in trade balance, a lot of efforts are desired to be made and the best possible way is to identify the areas where the two sides can cooperate with each other.
He said that non-availability of trade-related data is one of the impediments in the way of expansion of trade between two countries. The LCCI President said that frequent exchange of sector-specific delegations could help the representatives of private sectors explore the opportunities of trade and investment in Pakistan.
Throwing light on the prospects of investment in the energy sector, he said that it is the most lucrative sector as coal is abundant in Pakistan, sun is available for most part of the day in the southern areas and there is a wind corridor in the coastal areas of the country which makes it perfect for the Japanese investors to explore this untapped field of investment.
Major exports of Pakistan to Japan consist of cotton yarn, petroleum oils, woven cotton fabric, vegetables, electro-medical apparatus, leather, leather garments, carpets and sports goods etc. The main imports from Japan are cars, vessels & other floating structures, products of iron, trucks, parts & accessories of motor vehicles, textile machinery and etc.

In a slow-moving industry, Pak-Qatar Takaful makes profit in 5 years

According to the company’s statement of contributions for 2012, total gross contributions that Pak-Qatar Family Takaful received in the 12-month period were Rs3.3 billio. PHOTO: FILE

According to the company’s statement of contributions for 2012, total gross contributions that Pak-Qatar Family Takaful received in the 12-month period were Rs3.3 billio. PHOTO: FILE

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, KARACHI, 05th NEVEMBER 2013: In the slow-moving life insurance business environment where the gestation period of a company ranges from 10 to 12 years, it is rare for an entity to become profitable within five years of its establishment.

Pak-Qatar Family Takaful, which is one of the only two family Takaful companies operating in Pakistan, posted its first-ever profit of Rs26.6 million in 2012 as opposed to a loss of Rs9.4 million the previous year. The company’s financial year runs from January to December.

“The share of Takaful is growing rapidly in Pakistan. Our company is getting stronger by the day mainly because of an exceptionally high customer loyalty,” said Pak-Qatar Family Takaful Deputy CEO Muhammad Menhas while talking to The Express Tribune in a recent interview.

“In our case, the policy renewal rate is 90% as opposed to conventional companies where it is roughly 80%,” he observed.

According to the company’s statement of contributions for 2012, total gross contributions that Pak-Qatar Family Takaful received in the 12-month period were Rs3.3 billion, up a massive 78.2% from the preceding year when they totalled Rs1.8 billion.

A look at the breakdown of gross contributions collected by the company shows that third-year onwards contributions in 2012 were Rs595 million, which is 147.5% higher than the corresponding figure in 2011.

The only other family Takaful company in the country, Dawood Family Takaful, received total gross contributions of Rs523.3 million in 2012, up 60.4% compared to the preceding year. However, the company posted a net loss of Rs42.9 million last year, as it is still in its gestation period.

“Takaful is not just a business, it’s a cause. Most people at Pak-Qatar Family Takaful work here while foregoing far more lucrative opportunities in the conventional insurance sector. They are not here for money, they are here for the cause,” Menhas said.

Menhas joined Pak-Qatar Family Takaful in 2011 after spending well over a decade at some of the leading conventional insurance companies in the country. He saw the proverbial light during a Dars in Madina when a cleric hailing from Faisalabad told pilgrims that insurance was forbidden in Islam.

“It’s a matter of Sawab to popularise Shariah-compliant insurance services, as it curbs the element of interest in the economy,” he added.

Despite a robust attempt by the regulator to facilitate Takaful operations, the fact remains that the share of Islamic insurance is still miniscule compared to conventional life insurance in Pakistan. While seven life insurance companies sell conventional products, the number of Shariah-compliant insurance companies is still two.

Combined gross contributions of the two Takaful companies in 2012 were Rs3.8 billion. In contrast, the total premium of the life sector in the same year was Rs85 billion, according to provisional figures provided by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

This shows that the size of Takaful market was only 4.4% relative to its conventional counterpart in 2012.

He refused to comment on the legal battle against the SECP and conventional insurance companies that the Takaful operators have been engaged in since August 2012. Islamic insurance companies, including Pak-Qatar Takaful, have filed a constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court, challenging the Takaful Rules 2012 that the regulator issued last year, allowing conventional insurance companies to run Shariah-compliant operations through parallel windows.

However, Menhas said his company is not against competition and welcomes new players in the Takaful business.

“Please keep in mind that it is extremely difficult to set up an insurance company in Pakistan no matter it is conventional or Islamic. We lack trained insurance personnel. Also, an insurance company’s gestation period is normally very long while investments are pretty high,” he said while commenting on the limited footprint of Islamic insurance in Pakistan.

Consultations today on ties with US

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet Gen Kayani at a reception to be hosted by the Bahawalpur corps commander in Bahawalpur. — File Photo by AP

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet Gen Kayani at a reception to be hosted by the Bahawalpur corps commander in Bahawalpur. — File Photo by AP

DAWN, ISLAMABAD, 04th NEVEMBER 2013: Pakistan is to review its relationship with the United States, the prime minister’s office said on Sunday, following the killing of Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud in a US drone strike.

But a top-level meeting to examine relations scheduled for Sunday was postponed at the last minute without explanation.

Hakeemullah Mehsud, who had a $5 million US bounty on his head, was killed on Friday in the militant stronghold of North Waziristan, near the Afghan border.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office said he would chair a meeting on the consequences for ties with Washington. There was no indication when it might take place.

The prime minister, who arrived in Lahore on Sunday after a three-day visit to the UK, will meet Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Monday and attend a briefing at the Foreign Office.

He will meet Gen Kayani at a reception to be hosted by the Bahawalpur corps commander in Bahawalpur, according to sources. The prime minister and the army chief will be given a briefing on national security affairs.

Then Mr Sharif will go to Islamabad where the Foreign Office has arranged the briefing.

Another source said that the prime minister was expected to make a policy statement on the situation arising out of the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud in the National Assembly on Monday.

A statement issued on behalf of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on late Sunday evening termed the attack a violation of the guarantee given by a high US official that drone attacks would not take place while Pakistan was holding peace talks with the militants.

Meanwhile, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak told a public meeting in Mansehra that a session of the provincial assembly had been summoned on Monday in which a resolution calling for the blockade of Nato supplies would be adopted.

He said that before the session they would take into confidence leaders of other political parties represented in the assembly. “People of the province want Nato supply lines to be cut off and we will come up to their expectations,” he said.

The KP government would implement the resolution, the chief minister said.

A single drone strike had sabotaged the proposed talks needed to end bloodshed in tribal areas and KP, he said.

The Sindh Assembly is also likely to discuss the drone attack and the killing of Hakeemullah Mehsud on Monday.

You’re on your own, Pakistan…what are you going to do?


THE NATION, LAHORE, 04th NOVEMBER 2013:- We’re on our own. Nobody will help. Nobody will hurt. They throw up their hands and say, “The Pakistani Taliban are home-grown, there is no interest in taking them on. It is a problem for Pakistan to solve.” The argument that the insurgency found footing in Pakistan with the start of the Afghan war, finds no takers at NATO, which heads the International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan. The participation in the war was Pakistan’s sovereign decision, “…and no country should fight a war for an international community.” In short: sovereignty means nothing is compulsory – you made the decision, now own it. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, “It’s not our war”, remains the rallying cry. The feeling among the very nervous international community watching the region, is that if Pakistan cleans up its ‘domestic’ mess: great. Cigars all round. If it doesn’t, there’s always a place on the emerging threats list; and that is a list that precipitates serious preparation and a plan for action. Not the paralysis we are accustomed to for similarly themed lists here at home.
At NATO, for example, not one, but two strategic commands are dedicated to transformation, to deal with “emerging, asymmetrical threats”, as one official put it. Where it took a tear-jerker briefing by the UNHCR to convince NATO members to contribute troops for a historic first, “boots-on-ground” relief operation in the aftermath of the devastating 2005 earthquake; it is hard to imagine a military alliance such as NATO having much trouble convincing 28 members to unanimously agree to noting rising, uncontrolled Islamic militancy in a nuclear-armed country as an “emerging threat”.
But, Pakistan is a NATO partner. We have problems, yes; surely we’re not the enemy?
Quite so. But it’s “types of global trends” that are “threatening”, not countries per se. If your country is a (perhaps, even reluctant) host to one or more of these “emerging threats”…well, the rest of the world must protect itself. Take the example of the development of a missile defence system to protect airspace over NATO countries. With over 30 countries actively pursuing missile technology – many of them well-lauded NATO partners in various capacities – it’s not, for example, the Russians, that NATO allies worry about.
Pakistan’s relationship with the US finds expected reflection in its perception by NATO allies. Surprisingly, the Raymond Davis episode left quite an impression on member states of the Alliance, other than the Americans. The Raymond Davis case “added to the discomfort” after Salala (facts about which are still, reportedly, “disputed”), say officials, and “fuelled distrust between Pakistan and the West”. Then again, in Pakistan, the NATO alliance and the US are rarely differentiated between. The last time there was a “review of US-Pakistan relations”, it was following the death of 26 soldiers, after NATO helicopters fired at a checkpost in Salala.
It so happens, another review of US-Pakistan relations is imminent, if Chaudhry Nisar has his way. The reason is highly unlikely to inspire confidence in Pakistan’s ability and seriousness to fight a menace that poses more danger to its own people, than to any other country’s. The review is being demanded after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud, a man wanted in Pakistan, with a Rs 50 million reward on his head. Bizarre? Yes. But Chaudhry Nisar and Imran Khan don’t think so. From their speeches, it would seem Pakistan has come to see no difference in the deaths of those who fight for it, and those who fight against it. It seems that every death in this war is to be equally mourned. Those buried in flag-draped coffins, and the ones they fought against, treated without distinction.
Meanwhile, the world watches: Pakistan tying itself in knots, unable to recognise the ills that ail it, desperately trying to preserve a disease wrongly labelled a cure, drowning in self-pity, public sentiment deliberately driven quite, quite mad. Our place on the emerging threats list is waiting. And one day, and one mishandled crisis at a time, we inch closer to accepting the unspoken invitation.