Thursday, March 26, 2020

Photo Feature: Coronavirus brings world to standstill

Pakistan News & Features Services

The pandemic of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has rocked the entire world. The busiest of places have become deserted. The noisiest of spots have pin-drop silence now. 

There’s shock, gloom, grief, tension and apprehension in every nook and corner of the planet. 

As these photographs will explain, the once booming capitals have been massively hurt by the spreading virus. 

Beaches, hotels, golf courses, amusement parks, playgrounds, restaurants, movie theatres, shopping centres, tourist attractions, airports, railway stations, ports and harbours besides other recreational facilities, which remained crowded all along, look like haunted places these days.

Be it the Times Square or the World Trade Centre in New York City, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC or any square in Berlin or Munich they remain deserted. 

The historic Italian cities of Rome and Milan look vacant and unoccupied. The charming city of Paris doesn’t have visitors either. 

The Las Ramblas Street in Barcelona and the downtown London could be found empty during rush hours. 

The theatres in Moscow are as devoid of audience as the diners in the restaurants of Beijing. The magnificent beaches of Los Angeles and Sydney don’t have visitors now. 

There are very few people at the otherwise buzzing airports of Tokyo, Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong and Dubai as there are travel bans in place at most destinations. 

Life has come to standstill in Iran following the massive outbreak while the Far Eastern countries like Indonesia and Malaysia have also been bruised. 

Coronavirus has crippled the life in Pakistan too with the preemptive lockdowns forcing the people to stay indoors.
                                                                Berlin, Germany 

Bogota, Columbia 

Caracus, Venezuela 

Hong Kong

Karachi, Pakistan

London, UK

Milan, Italy

Moscow, Russia 

Munich, Germany

New York, USA

Paris, France

Seoul, South Korea

Sydney, Australia

Tehran, Iran

Tokyo, Japan

Toronto, Canada

                                                            Washington DC, USA

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Wuhan to lift outbound traffic restrictions on April 8

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

China's Wuhan, the epicenter of Coronavirus (COVID-19), will open travel to outside the city on April 8, with other parts of Hubei province ending their lockdown, according to a government announcement. 

The provincial government also announced that people will need to show a health code, a digital health certificate issued by the province, when leaving the province. Wuhan will continue stringent traffic control until April 8. 

However, starting on March 25, the migrant workers in Wuhan, who hold a green health code and wish to return to work outside the city, could be transported in groups directly to their destinations after passing a nucleic acid test for novel Coronavirus, according to the announcement. 

The other travelers with a green health code will be able to leave the city on April 8 while people from other provinces will be able to travel within the province with the health code issued by their original provincial regions without the need to present other certificates. 

Wuhan will gradually resume production based on epidemic risk evaluation. The opening time of school, including colleges, kindergartens and vocational institutions, is still postponed and will be set at a later time, the announcement added.

JPMC needs resources to meet bigger challenges

By Mukhtar Alam 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), the biggest public sector tertiary health care facility in Sindh, is in dire need of more resources to cope with the bigger challenges.

“The government health facilities are pretty good as far as the availability of trained staff is concerned, but they are weak in money. They need a lot of equipment and financial aid,” Dr Seemi Jamali, Executive Director, JPMC, reckoned. 

The JPMC authorities kept an eye closely on the issues relating to the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) as it spread into Pakistan from the neighbouring countries. 

“We had taken it as a challenge and did a lot to in this regard in the preceding weeks. We kept modifying things on a daily basis after having vacated a whole block for such patients,” Dr Seemi Jamali stated. 

Talking about doctors and paramedical staff, she said that the juniors were being motivated on a daily basis. 

Earlier a team of the World Health Organization (WHO) had undertaken a visit to the JPMC to see the preparations and measures being employed to tackle Coronavirus. 

The WHO team, headed by their country representative in Pakistan, Dr Palitha Gunarathna Mahipala, expressed satisfaction over safety methods and screening systems employed at the healthcare centre for possible Coronavirus patients.

Pakistan willing to learn from China to combat Coronavirus

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza, stated that Pakistan was willing to learn more from China's experience. 

“We will further strengthen exchanges and cooperation on epidemic prevention and control to achieve this goal,” he stated after his meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, in Islamabad. 

They exchanged views on the current prevention and steps to rein in the COVID-19 outbreak in Pakistan. 

“Ever since the outbreak of the new Coronavirus in Pakistan, China and Pakistan have maintained close communication. We are thankful to the Chinese government, local governments, enterprises and non-governmental friendly people for providing Pakistan with a lot of medical supplies,” Dr Zafar Mirza remarked. 

“Under the leadership of the Chinese Communists party and government, the Chinese people widely succeeded in defeating the epidemic and provided a model for the global response to the epidemic,” he complimented. 

The Chinese Ambassador didn’t mince words in describing Coronavirus as a test which the world was facing. Since the outbreak, the Pakistani government and all sections of society have expressed understanding and support for China's fight against the epidemic, and provided assistance. 

Ambassador Yao specially mentioned President Dr Arif Alvi’s recent visit to China in person. 

“The Chinese government and people have also provided assistance to Pakistan and will continue to stand firmly with the Pakistani people and take more positive measures to support the Pakistani response to the epidemic by jointly fighting the epidemic, China-Pakistan's all-weather strategic cooperative partnership will be further deepened, and the foundation of the China-Pakistan community of shared destiny will be more solid,” the Chinese Ambassador added.

China helps Serbia to halt virus spreading

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

China has flown in six doctors, ventilators and medical masks to Serbia to help Belgrade halt spreading of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc in Europe and rest of the world. 

The Serbian President, Aleksandar Vucic, expressed his gratitude to the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, the Chinese communist party and the Chinese people.

"The arrival of Chinese health professionals is of great importance to us because they were the first to defeat the great enemy of today: COVID-19," the Serbian President remarked. 

"Everything on this plane is free-of-charge assistance, a donation from the People's Republic of China. We should thank them with all our hearts, they have proven to be great friends of Serbia and Serbs," he added. 

Serbia's largest aircraft, the Airbus A330, landed in from China with the largest shipment of aid to Serbia including medical devices, security equipment and six Chinese experts
The medical aid packages that came from China read in Chinese language and in Cyrillic: "The friendship of steel, we share the good and the evil!" with a heart that had the flag of Serbia on one side, and the flag of China on the other.

China's ambassador to Belgrade, Chen Bo, said the aid was a sign of the "iron friendship" between the two countries. 

China has also extended loans worth billions of dollars to build railways, roads and power plants in Serbia and bought the country’s only copper mine and a steel plant.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Coronavirus provides opportunity to unite

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“Coronavirus (COVID-19) has brought untold miseries in a shortest period of time, in almost the whole world. All countries, including Pakistan, are bravely facing it. China where it first surfaced is the worst affected, but as usual China distinguished itself by leading to fight it with supersonic speed matching the speed with which this deadly virus came. The resolve, determination, plans and the speed of response of China has generated great hope that this virus will soon end. The full damage is not likely to be ascertained soon, but it will be of astronomical magnitude and shall leave its lasting effect.” 

This was observed by Senator Nisar Memon, a former federal minister, in a recently published newspaper article. 

“It has come in at the very beginning of this decade when children of Mother Earth were tackling the challenges of climate change disasters, poverty, injustices, violation of human rights in occupied Jammu & Kashmir in India, threats of using water as instrument of war, unprecedented economic burden of inflation in Pakistan brought about by wavery governance, unfinished war in Syria, increasing illegal annexation of Palestinian land by Israel, and global refugees,” he opined. 

“Presently the worst affected countries by CODIV-19 after China and Iran are Italy and Spain. It’s fast spreading in rest of Europe too. The reasons appear to be delayed understanding of this virus and consequently inadequate preparedness to stop its spread,” the Senator reckoned. 

“The countries and multilateral agencies have woken up to contain further damage. USA, the super-power with experience and scientific and technological capability was too focused on internal matters, including the Presidential elections and its economic and political war with China. Therefore it responded late but has developed vaccine against this virus,” he added. 

“Pakistan’s new federal coalition government that acquired the power in August 2018, at the break of virus news was involved in launching tirade against its opponents, against corruption using mainly the institution and instruments of National Accountability Bureau, trying different teams for economic recovery finally settling for IMF experience team, proving its credentials and credibility, taking on the media which earlier was its ‘darling’ but the most significant and dangerous is its fight against the only province-Sindh, where a national opposition party won the elections and formed single party government,” Senator Nisar Memon wrote. 

“In this backdrop comes COVID-9 from not far off but from next door neighbor, not from a hostile country but a closest friend China. We had all the time and means to act fast but it is believed that despite good statements full gamut of problem was not addressed in coordinated way,” he felt. 

“It is duly recognized by all and sundry that Sindh government demonstrated leadership and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah led from the front and put in early preventive actions and succeeded with very few contained virus cases. As lone warrior he is on record urging the federal government’s attention and support. Unfortunately, the inborn political hostility dominated federal leadership behavior and the lukewarm response did the damage that was to come,” the former federal minister regretted.

“The single most opportunity is to build our Health System on urgent and emergent basis and in this not only federal, provincial and local governments will be one but all friendly countries, regional alliances like SAARC and SCO, international bodies like UN, IMF, WB and above all our private sector Corporate Social Responsibility programs shall join, if the political leadership lead the way,” he proposed. 

“The Health Emergency can be declared with appropriate organization to ensure a Command & Control System is in place. The short-term gain is responding to this virus but the long term gain is what we have not done that is a robust health system for our people. The think-tanks, heath NGOs, health professionals and practitioners will be more than happy to join the national efforts,” the Senator thought. 

“The politically divided nation while uniting on health will pave the way to unite on all other needed challenges. Just one successful model is needed. This will discourage and disregard all negative propaganda in the way to meeting the virus challenge. This will also dissuade the ill-advised persons to converge their energies on these positive efforts rather than creating confusion on our foreign policy like the former spokesperson has done by releasing statement and many others like her. This initiative will also wake up those citizens who are in denial mode regarding the urgency of response to this challenge,” he concluded.

Shabbir Ibne Adil braves Coronavirus lockdown, continues great work

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

During a period when almost every conceivable activity has been halted due to the threats of Coronavirus pandemic, Shabbir Ibne Adil has set an example by continuing his noble work from the platform of Idarae Ilm Dost which he had founded with the collaboration of some like-minded intellectuals. 

Being an intellectual and a social worker is another matter but engaging into welfare pursuits at a time when there is virtual lockdown and people are refraining from leaving their houses is something beyond the call of duty and it merits lavish praise. 

On March 19, 2020, yes the date has to be remembered because of the ongoing lockdown, Shabbir Ibne Adil paid a visit to the Shah Muhi-ul-Haq Academy which is located in Karachi’s outskirts, Gulshan-e-Maymar to be precise.

A resident of Gulistan-e-Jauhar, he drove all the way to Gulshan-e-Maymar with his gift package of 25 books which he donated to Shah Muhi-ul-Haq Academy for their library housed there. 

The academy, which has been carrying out literary and cultural activities regularly, has been established in the memory of the late Shah Muhi-ul-Haq Farooqui, who was a great scholar. 

Upon arrival at the academy, Shabbir Ibne Adil was warmly greeted by Tasneem-ul-Haq Farooqui, who also happens to be one of the founding members of Idarae Ilm Dost. Both the gentlemen shook hands intensely, something many people are keen on avoiding these days.

Sir Syed University warned for Coronavirus violation

Pakistan News & Features Services 

The Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology, Karachi, has been warned for violating the government directives regarding prevention from Coronavirus epidemic. 

According to details, the Deputy Commissioner Karachi East had visited the SSUET, located in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, on March 17 to check the precautionary measures against Coronavirus, which were supposed to be taken by the university management. 

Accompanied by the SHO Gulshan-e-Iqbal, the Deputy Commissioner East was believed to have been surprised at having found the institution open with around 1,000 plus teaching and non-teaching staff in attendance at campus on duty in violation of the directives from the federal and provincial governments. 

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) had also advised the university for adoption of safety precautions against Coronavirus epidemic which were ignored. 

Coronavirus has been declared a serious epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The federal government has announced closure of all schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions till April 5 while the Sindh government has announced closure of academic institutions till May 30 due to serious threat of Coronavirus which has assumed serious threat globally. 

The SSUET has been warned that strict disciplinary action would be taken against the institution if found open again in violation of the government directives.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Polio kiosks set up at airports

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Rotary, one of the largest voluntary service organizations of the world, has a visible presence at the various airports of Pakistan as it has facilitated in setting up polio kiosks at departure as well as arrival lounges. 

The National Chair of Pakistan National Polio Plus Committee (PNPPC), Aziz Memon, also a former Governor of Rotary International in Pakistan, informed PNFS that the polio kiosks have been set up at all major airports of the country to cover the children in transit, as per directives of the government. 

According to details, the PNPPC was requested by national and provincial authorities to provide polio kiosks at all visible points of airports. Because of its location, the polio kiosks are easily visible and accessible. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) was then advised to arrange for the polio vaccinators at each kiosk. These polio kiosks are installed at outside of departure and arrival lounges of the airports. 

The PNPPC has set up as many as polio kiosks at the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, as per specification provided by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). These polio kiosks have been installed just outside of domestic and International departure and arrival lounges. 

There are three polio teams at each kiosks working round the clock at the airport and the average vaccination coverage is close to 350 children per day. 

Besides Karachi, the PNPPC has set up two polio kiosks each at Multan, Peshawar and Quetta airports to cover transit children.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Nisar Memon sheds light on water issues

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

“Security of any country is considered to be the defence of the country which is key to defend its territorial integrity and sovereignty for preserving its culture, promoting peace and development of its society. This is generally known as ‘Conventional Security’ while worldwide there is yet another security known as ‘Non-Conventional Security’ which is now the subject of global discourse,” Senator Nisar Memon wrote in his recently published article. 

“It includes socio-economic aspects like clean drinking water, agriculture and food, clean environment and education, health and justice; for the well-being of the population. Water is a key to life not only of humans but of all living beings. It has been used since times immemorial and the civilizations were born on the banks of the rivers. History records that territories with water availability have progressed greater than the ones without rivers, lakes and watersheds. In our part of the world, Moen Jo Daro was born some 5,000 years ago on the banks of River Indus bringing prosperity to the inhabitants,” he explained. 

“Water, as a key element of non-conventional security has an important nexus with environment, energy, food and has been the global focus for long time, but more so since 2011. This economic nexus feeds into social nexus of education, science and health. Pakistan like many other countries has been ‘Hydraulic Civilization’ with the experience of institutionalizing and non-institutionalizing water management,” the Senator observed. 

“We have two major basins of water, Indus River Basin and Kabul River Basin. The Indus Basin was institutionalized with the signing of Indus Water Treaty (IWT) in 1960 while Kabul River Basin remains to be institutionalized. The British divided the subcontinent in 1947 into two countries and clashes ensued between them on the water. With international efforts, IWT was inked between the two countries brokered by World Bank. IWT 1960 divided the water between the countries allocating eastern rivers i.e. Sutlej, Beas and Ravi for unrestricted use by India while western rivers i.e. Indus, Jhelum and Chenab for unrestricted use by Pakistan except non-consumptive use by India,” he recalled. 

“The Treaty provides dispute resolution mechanism of arbitration and resort to International Court of Justice. However, several issues remain to be addressed for it to be effective: environment and climate change impact considerations; ground water management inclusion; pollution and quality of water; non- compliance of the Treaty provisions by India including the design violations and delayed information towards stalling the discussion on projects, construction without conveying required information to Pakistan, not proving data of the projects as per Article VII(2),constructing project and non- implementing the operational provisions in violation of Treaty,” Senator Nisar Memon continued. 

“The Treaty has survived several wars between the two countries, and despite above issues and worst are the threats of using water as weapon by Indian leadership, further vitiating political and security environment. The Indian leadership will do well for regional and global peace to avoid threats since war is not an option but dialogue and creating right perceptions to enhance trust is way forward,” he hoped.

“Pakistan is the largest water user with 47% of total Indus water, followed by India with 39%, China 8% and Afghanistan 6%. Unlike other three countries the Indus River affects 65% of its territory against India’s only 11% territory. Pakistan is primarily dependent on Indus while India, China and Afghanistan have other river basins for their water needs,” he reminded. 

“All countries face the challenge of population increase, increasing water demands for development and optimizing utilization. But all this will be better served with cooperation of Basin countries, as water is for common good. The Climate Change challenges are recognized globally as a key factor affecting our life and availability of water; therefore, there is global focus and cooperation. Much more is required to be done by the developing countries to contain increasing temperatures to internationally acceptable and agreed levels, to avoid the danger to the life on planet earth,” he advised. 

“Many of us will remember the disasters of untimely monsoon rains in 2010 in Indus and Kabul rivers simultaneously, bringing untold miseries to our people. The UN Secretary General had then rated it as the greatest humanitarian crisis in recent history. Similar natural catastrophes can be avoided by Afghanistan too, when we have cooperation and institutionalized management of KRB,” he thought. 

“Pakistan is confronted with several security challenges which are bravely faced by the nation. The conventional security is well taken care by defence forces with support of parliament backed by people; while the non-conventional challenges are being addressed by federal and provincial governments based on Constitutional provisions of responsibilities. The complexity of our archaic colonial administrative system has brought down several governments unable to provide security to teeming millions. Will the governments put in place after 2018 elections be able to coordinate several non-conventional security subjects and provide the citizens life envisaged in the Constitution of Pakistan? If yes then how? If no, will the change be smooth democratic or abrupt revolutionary,” he questioned.