Monday, October 10, 2016

Pakistan Railways aims high

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Parveen Agha, Chairperson and Secretary of the Pakistan Railways (PR), has unveiled plans for the further development of the organization to transform into a most viable entity while it has attained financial autonomy with revenue generation having gone up from Rs 18 billion 3 years back to 36 billion at the financial close.

Ruling out the privatization of the PR, she made it absolutely clear to all concerned that the resources were being mobilized to turn it around in the larger national interest. 

She said that none of the trains have been privatized but only their operation handed over to private sector operators. 

She stated that the private operator of business train was in default of around Rs one billion and the train was now being run by the PR itself. 

Talking to media at the Divisional Headquarter, during her ongoing visit to Karachi, she dispelled the impression that any proposal on privatizing the PR was being considered at the highest level. The Divisional Superintendent Railway Engr Nisar Memon, and the SSP Railway, Robin Yamin, besides the Deputy DS (Operations) were also present on the occasion. 

Parveen Agha informed that under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the railway infrastructure is being upgraded in collaboration with Chinese and major ingredients of the project were finalized during a recent meeting of a high level Pakistani delegation which included Federal Planning Minister, Ahsan Iqbal and Federal Railway Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, besides herself which undertook a tour of China.

Under the project railway system will be upgraded from Peshawar to Lahore and then from Lahore to Karachi sector wise with Lahore-Multan Sector to start first. 

She said that upon completion the train will run at a speed of 160 km as against 100 km/hour at present reducing the travelling time substantially. 

She informed that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved the funding of Rs 2.5 billion for the Lahore-Multan project while the Lahore-Karachi segment has been aligned with the CPEC. 

Parveen Agha was optimistic about getting the momentous projects completed by 2018 by which time the capacity of PR will be enhanced manifolds. 

The Secretary Railways informed that Railway is set to earn another all time high Rs 13 billion revenue through transporting imported coal from Bin Qasim to the site of 660 MW Sahiwal Coal-fired power plant. She said that coal transportation will start from April 2017 while trial transportation will begin in November with the import of Consignment. 

Parveen Aga revealed that the freight revenue generation has tremendously increased from Rs 1 billion to Rs 11 billion had high praise for Karachi Railway Division for its contribution. 

She said that, with the efforts of present Divisional Superintendent Nisar Memon, this Division alone shared Rs 9.7 billion towards freight revenue. 

While referring to running high speed trains, she informed that Railway has finalized an agreement with the General Electric under which 75 locomotive of 4 to 4.5 thousand HP would be imported. 

She said that delivery of 55 locomotives will start from November while talks were underway with regard to financial implication for the remaining 20 engines. 

To a question, she stated that the much talked about Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) was now a provincial subject and the Government of Sindh was taking care of it. 

“The Sindh Government had approached us on this matter a couple of years ago and we had assured them of our wholehearted technical support and facilitation in upgrading and operating the project,” she said. 

To another question, she remarked that the PR was tackling the menace of encroachment in the most efficient manner all over the country. 

“We have had partial success in this regard. We have succeeded in getting some of the encroached lands vacated, like the Chanesar Halt and the Kalapul in Karachi, besides ensuring that no fresh encroachments took place during the last three years. But a lot has still to be done in this regard to get back our invaluable lands in the larger interest of the PR,” she conceded, adding that the regained lands would be channelized for revenue generation. 

To a question she said that the Jaffer Express incident in Balochistan was an unfortunate on, having occurred primarily due to law and order situation while the Patoki train-bus accident had taken place due to negligence of railway staff and the matter was being investigated. 

Meanwhile DS Railway Nisar Memon shared with PNFS that the Federal Secretary during her trip has visited Bin Qasim Port, Marshaling Yard besides Karachi City and Karachi Cantonment railway stations, having reviewed the working at length. The PR chief was due to visit the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) on October 10.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

AKU, GIZ set off to boost Pakistan’s export industry

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Improving the health and safety of workers in the textile sector, Pakistan’s largest industry, can boost productivity, competitiveness and compliance, according to studies released by the Aga Khan University and GIZ, the German development agency, at a collaborative event.

The textile industry, with its significant contribution to the country’s exports (58 per cent), is supported by an estimated 10 million strong workforce who often face safety and health issues.  
Most commonly, textile mill employees are exposed to significant amounts of cotton dust leading to respiratory diseases such as byssinosis as well as complaints such as chest tightness, shortness of breath and persistent coughing. 

The MultiTex research project, carried out by AKU’s Community Health Sciences Department, found that employees most at risk of chest ailments were the least aware of health hazards. The Return on Prevention study by GIZ found that textile industry stakeholders could be willing to invest in health and safety as they were aware of a return on investment. 

The AKU’s MultiTex project looked at the severity of health risks in textile mills and workers’ understanding of occupational health and safety (OHS) hazards around them. 

Interviewing 300 employees at seven mills in Karachi, with a workforce of approximately 9,000 people, almost all (90 per cent) were not educated and most had little awareness of the risks of cotton dust. 

Worse, employees who were more exposed to cotton dust, since they worked longer shifts and more days per week, than their counterparts were less aware of health hazards. 

Almost 80 percent of the workers were not using safety precautions (such as facemasks) that would help protect them against hazards at the workplace. 

“These preliminary findings reinforce our earlier study. Our previous research on 372 workers in 15 textile mills in Karachi found that cotton-dust related diseases and ailments were common,” Dr Asaad Nafees, Assistant Professor, AKU, remarked. 

“About 1 in 10 textile workers developed byssinosis, 2 in 10 employees suffered from shortness of breath and 3 in every 10 labourers complained of tightness in the chest. These health risks reduce the quality of life for so many employees and result in absenteeism and lost productivity for the textile industry. With 10 million or more employees in this sector, this represents a significant cost in human capital and potential manufacturing output,” he added. 

The MultiTex study saw researchers use special indoor devices to measure air pollution in different parts of the mills. Workers also wore personal air monitors (which tracked whether dangerous levels of cotton dust were being inhaled) and were given lung function tests before and after shifts to assess the seriousness of the daily impact of pollution. 

The AKU researchers are currently conducting follow-up studies to understand the long-term health threats facing employees. For now they have suggested three possible approaches to improve the health and safety of workplaces. Personal protective equipment, face masks to reduce inhalation of harmful particles followed by OHS training for managers and workers to improve knowledge, attitude and practices. 

Organizational changes to minimize the number of workers in danger areas and to reduce the time spent by workers in high exposure settings and structural changes involving the purchase of new machinery or improved workplace design and ventilation. 

These recommendations complemented the research Return on Prevention study that involved structured interviews with employees in 58 companies to understand whether investments in occupational health and safety pay off for companies in the textile and garment industry. 

The companies interviewed stated that occupational health and safety practices were ‘very important’ especially in the areas of warehousing, production, personnel allocation and transport. They also stated that investments in health and safety typically paid-off, offering a return of 2.5. 

Speaking at the event, Mr Olaf Petermann, from German Social Accident Insurance BG ETEM said that investments in occupational health and safety boost the competitiveness and compliance of Pakistani businesses.

“The research findings shared today help build a case for textile industry stakeholders to improve health and safety since it will benefit both workers and the financial performance of companies,” he noted. 

“The Sindh Labour department is fully committed to improve the occupational health and safety standards in the industry,” Sindh Labour Department’s Joint Director (Health and Safety) Ali Ashraf Naqvi, added. 

“This event has enabled an informed discussion among all stakeholders of the industry and we look forward to working with all representatives to ensure a healthy workforce and a strong industry,” Zulfiqar Shah, Joint Director, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), recognized. 

The event ended with a panel discussion featuring representatives from the Sindh Labour Department, a technical consultant from SGS Pakistan and officials from non-governmental organizations, HomeNet, PILER and business associations. They discussed the relevance of the findings for the industry’s future and the most feasible steps to take to achieve OHSE goals.

AMUOBA remembers Dr A T Khan

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)  

Rich tributes were paid to the late Dr A T Khan, the first Vice-Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, at a memorial meeting organized by the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys Association (AMUOBA), at the SSUET campus. 

He was particularly remembered for his contribution in the preparation of draft of Charter for the establishment of the SSUET and his role towards promotion of engineering education. 

The speakers on the occasion talked with awe about the educational acumen of late A T Khan who dedicated 39 years of career in promoting the cause of education and recalled his services for SSUET as its first Vice-Chancellor following his retirement from the NED University of Engineering and Technology, at the same position. 

The former Vice Chancellor of the University of Karachi, Dr Pirzada Qasim Raza Siddiqui, a renowned educationist and scholar, was the chief guest in the ceremony which was presided over by the SSUET Chancellor, Jawaid Anwar. 

The speakers included the SSUET Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H. Rizvi, Brig Dr Nasim A. Khan, Dr Prof Abdul Samad Khan, Engr Najib Haroon, Engr Asif Qasim Maisoorwala besides Mohammed Mohsin Khan, son of late A T Khan and Treasurer AMUOBA. The family members of late A T Khan were also present on the occasion. 

In his presidential address, the SSUET Chancellor Jawaid Anwar paid glowing tributes to late A T Khan and said that he was a true educationist who understood the importance of knowledge. 

He said that it’s for the first time that this function in memory of late Dr A T Khan has been organized because he’s fully convinced that only those nations progress which remember their legends and Dr A.T. Khan was also a legendary figure. 

He recalled that it was with this vision that AMUOBA organized a similar memorial meeting earlier for the late Engr Z A Nizami, the first Chancellor of SSUE, and named one recently constructed new academic block after his name. 

Similalry, the AMUOBA organized had memorial meeting for another legendary personality Zakir Ali Khan whose association with AMUOBA spanned over 50 years besides organizing a seminar on Shaheed-e-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan, adding that one building will also be named after Shaheed-e-Millat. 

Chancellor Jawaid Anwar while highlighting the importance of knowledge quoted a Quranic Verse which first word is ‘Iqra’ and said this gives a reflection of the importance Islam gives to acquisition of knowledge. 

He underlined the importance of teachers, stating that teaching is one such major responsibility which contributes to the building of nations and Dr A T Khan was one of those teachers who immensely contributed towards this cause. 

Describing him as the most impressive personality for his students, he disclosed that the SSUET planned to establish a soil testing laboratory to be named after Dr A T Khan 

Speaking as the chief guest, Prof Dr Pirzada Qasim Riza Siddiqui, also paid tributes to late Dr AT Khan and regarded him a role a great model for teachers and students. 

He said to be feeling honored having had very close relations with late Dr A T Khan and advised the students to follow his footsteps for the achievement of their career objective. 

Dr Pirzada advised the professionals to join teaching by choice and not by chance for its being a noble profession. Dr A T Khan had a quality that with the minimum resources he made great result out of it, he added. 

In his speech the SSUET Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H Rizvi, said that from now on Dr A T Khan will be remembered on regular basis for his contribution in teaching and in civil engineering in particular. 

Engr Mohammad Mohsin Khan, son of late Dr A T Khan thanked the SSUET Chancellor and the AMUOBA President, Jawaid Anwar, the SSUET Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawed H Rizvi , and the AMUOBA for organizing the purposeful memorial meeting to pay homage and recall the immense educational contribution of his illustrious father.

He observed that it was for the first time in 20 years when Dr A T Khan is being paid tributes in such a befitting manner after having served for 39 years at the NED University, rising from Lecturer to Vice Chancellor. 

He said it’s a source of great inspiration that as many as members of Dr A T Khan's family were civil engineers. 

Engr Najeeb Haroon rated Dr A T Khan a great teacher and recalled his important role in civil engineering in Pakistan. 

Engr Asif Qasim Maisoorwala recalled that Dr A T Khan also taught ethics and how education led us to spend life. 

Prof Dr Abdul Samad reckoned that Dr A T Khan was the pioneer of soil mechanics in Pakistan, having introduced it in 1960s. 

Brig Dr Naseem A. Khan, representing Usmani Associates suggested that such events should be held on regular basis for our past and present legends. 

The meeting ended with a vote of thanks by the AMUOBA General Secretary, Mohammed Arshad Khan, and the presentation of souvenirs to Pirzada Qasim and other dignitaries.

Akhuwat chief inspires SSUET students

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Dr Mohammad Amjad Saqib, Executive Director, Akhuwat Foundation, visited the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, where he had a detailed session with its students.

The Akhuwat Foundation’s founder inspired the students and inculcated in them a sense of gratitude for their blessings and a sense of responsibility to share these with people who are less fortunate. 

The Lahore-based Akhuwat Foundation was established in 2001 with the objective of providing interest free microfinance to the poor in order to enhance their standard of living. 

Drawing on the principles of social justice and brotherhood, Akhuwat has been striving to alleviate poverty by creating a system based on mutual support in society, having adopted microfinance as its operational strategy with the loans being offered in accordance with the doctrines of Qarz-e-Hassan. 

Akhuwat, registered under the Societies Registration Act of 1860, levies no interest on its loans, operates through religious places and seeks to inspire and harness the spirit of volunteerism in society. The mandate of Akhuwat extends beyond financial transactions as it makes every effort to guide, support and empower the poor.

Dr Amjad Saqib has been bringing to light the fact that in Pakistan, almost 50 percent population was forced to live below poverty line which made it the responsibility of affluent people to prevent the poor from becoming beggars. 

"We feel that it is our responsibility to provide them interest free loan to hard working poor people to establish their own small business to support their families," he was quoted as saying. 

During the last 15 years, the Akhuwat Foundation has provided three billion rupees interest free loan to over 1.6 million families to make them independent economically and the recovery of loan was around 99.9 per cent which helped them to perpetuate its welfare activities.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Around 4,000 appear in SSUET entry test

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Nearly four thousand candidates aspiring for admission in the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, appeared in the pre-admission entry test for bachelor’s degree programmes held at the Karachi Expo Centre on October 2.

Besides the areas of four provinces, a good number of candidates from far flung areas like Gilgit, Baltistan and Azad Kashmir also appeared in the entry test for the academic year 2017. 

The SSUET, a centre of excellence since 1994, offers admissions in 11 disciplines which include electronic, computer, civil, bio-medical, telecommunication, electrical engineering and architecture besides computer science, software engineering, bio-infomatics and information technology. 

As per required criteria the eligibility for admission in first seven disciplines is minimum 60 percent marks in HSC and 55 percent for rest four disciplines.  

The Chancellor SSUET, Jawaid Anwar, besides Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Jawaid H Rizvi and Registrar Syed Sarfraz Ali who were present on the occasion, visited the test centre and reviewed the arrangements.

In his brief remarks on the occasion Chancellor Jawaid Anwar said it would be ensured that admissions to all disciplines are made strictly on merit basis and he has issued firm directions in this respect. 

The university, he pointed out, prepared future leaders able to compete the ever growing challenges in the fields of engineering and technology. 

"With career focussed education, the SSUET prides itself for having a highly qualified and experienced faculty committed in meeting the international standards,” the Chancellor stated. 

The Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Jawaid H Rizvi, remarked that in keeping with the emerging trends, the university has introduced new technologies to meeting the ever-increasing market demands. 

The university is equipped with air-conditioned laboratories with 1,500 plus Nodes Computer Network and high speed internet connectivity and enjoys highest HEC's W4 category and is graded as 5-star University by Charter Inspection and Evaluation Committee (CIEC). 

Chartered in 1993, the SSUET is ISO 9001: 2008 certified and is a member of Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and International Association of Universities (IAU), UNESCO, Paris.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

SSUET Guidance Centre holds leadership camp

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

History of sorts was made at the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, when the Guidance Centre organized a first of its kind leadership camp recently. 

“Such camps are designed for students who are interested in acquiring skills necessary to become successful leaders. The students join for the fun, the fellowship and the memories that will last a lifetime they also gained self-confidence, time management skills, goal setting abilities and a head-start on helping,” the Director Programme, Siraj Khilji, Advisor to the SSUET Chancellor, remarked. 

“At the centre it is our ambition to ensure the highest quality of counselling, guidance and assistance within special needs of education. We desire to transform ours into a model guidance centre whose work is to be based on specific concepts of support concerning academic assistance and inter-disciplinary foundation,” he explained.

“The counselling and educational efforts are being planned to co-ordinate effort with clear, prioritized goals and directions as we understand that the counselling and educational effort must be based on the development of inter-disciplinary knowledge regarding the specific educational difficulties and those institutional, individual, social and cultural needs,” Siraj Khilji, added. 

“The counselling and educational effort must be focused on results by adapting the effort to the individual student’s specific difficulties and to his or her academic subject and level. The aim of the whole exercise is to compensate for the difficulties to the extent that the students can meet the general and specific academic requirements for quality,” he pointed out.

The Chancellor, Jawaid Anwar, Registrar Syed Sarfraz Ali and Coordinator to Chancellor also visited the camp and appreciated the efforts made by the SSUET Guidance Centre. 

The Chancellor was highly appreciative of the initiative of the SSUET Guidance Centre and he expressed the hope that such leadership camps will be hugely beneficial for the students who are at the doorstep of entering into their chosen professional field. 

“The objective is to provide our students a solid platform and guide them in the best possible manner to give them a head start to their career,” Chancellor, Jawaid Anwar remarked.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SSUET aptitude test on October 2

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The process for admissions in Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, continues and, as announced earlier, the aptitude test will be held at the Karachi Expo Centre on October 2.

In view of the large turnouts of admission seekers, the university administration has extended the date for submission of forms to September 28. 

Earlier the forms submission date was scheduled to close on September 23. However, the date for aptitude test will remain unchanged. 

The SSUET, a centre of excellence since 1994, offers admissions in 11 disciplines which include electronic, computer, civil, bio-medical, telecommunication, electrical engineering and architecture besides computer science, software engineering, bio-infomatics and information technology. 

As per required criteria the eligibility for admission in first seven disciplines is minimum 60 percent marks in HSC and 55 percent for rest four disciplines.

The SSUET has a highly qualified and experienced faculty and the campus has air-conditioned class rooms equipped with audio visual systems. 

It is equipped with air-conditioned laboratories with 1,500 plus Nodes Computer Network and high speed internet connectivity. 

The SSUET enjoys highest HEC's W4 category and is graded as 5-star University by Charter Inspection and Evaluation Committee (CIEC). 

Chartered in 1993, the SSUET is ISO 9001: 2008 certified and is a member of Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and International Association of Universities (IAU), UNESCO, Paris.

SSUET Chancellor meets faculty members

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Chancellor of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology (SSUET), Karachi, Jawaid Anwar, held a series of meetings with the faculty members to have a closer interaction with them, particularly on academic affairs. 

The departmental meetings with the Chancellor continued throughout the week, starting from September 23, a thorough exercise during which the helmsman met each faculty member individually. 

Each faculty member introduced themselves, explained their workload and discussed with the Chancellor the progress in their respective department.

In every meeting Chancellor Jawaid Anwar thanked the faculty members highlighted the importance of close communication between university administration and faculty and assured that hurdles and barriers, if any, thereof were being overcome and he himself, Vice-Chancellor, Dean Engineering and Registrar were making every effort in this regard. 

He observed that in order to facilitate the achievement of the objective there should be time track system and instructions have been issued to P&D, Finance, Procurement and other departments that movement of any file from one department to other should not take more than two days on one table.

“It is imperative for smooth working and to avoid delays in disposal of files,” he stressed. He also spoke about student-faculty relationship and described the same as a key factor for the students were the main focus of the university. 

"We have to train them for a better behaviour. Therefore all faculty members should focus on student' counseling,” he asserted and reminded that the university possessed a Career Guidance Centre to provide required guidance to them. 

The faculty, he said, can help polish the students because some of them are uncut diamonds, some are unpolished and some are polished but need more shine.

"You have to meet the expectation of the students and faculty should go one step ahead in this regard", the Chancellor remarked and said as to how to polish student and enrich them with knowledge should be taken as a challenge. 

"We are here to support faculty members because faculty is the pillar of any institution and wherever possible we will be there to support them,” he held out a firm assurance. 

The Chancellor spoke about issues of medical insurance and salary raise and said that headway has been made in this regard and to some extent regarding medical insurance as well. 

“An increase in salary from July 2016 has already been made. As regards promotions, this will be done through selection board and our selection board is working on a fast track. However let me make it clear that promotion will be given only on merit. Whosoever will qualify will get promotion,” he declared. 

On the occasion the Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Jawaid H. Rizvi thanked all the faculty members as well as the Chancellor while Dean Faculty of Engineering also thanked both the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor.

In his brief remarks on the occasion, Registrar Syed Sarfraz Ali advised all the faculty members to get registered from the Registrar office before arranging or joining any seminar, workshop and programme. 

He observed that the faculty members do actively participate in the programmes but they could not be recognized or appreciated due to unawareness of the management. 

As regards the day to day issues and to resolve them, the Registrar announced that a focal person from each block will be assigned the due task in this respect. 

In the meeting with Computer Engineering Department, Chairman Dr Shakil Ahmed thanked the Chancellor, VC, Dean Faculty of Engineering and Registrar for holding the meeting. 

In the meeting with Electronic Engineering Department, Chairman, Dr Tahir Qadri briefly described the history of EED, its work and progress. 

In the meetings with Biomedical Engineering Department, Telecommunication Engineering Department and Electrical Engineering Department, D Haleem (BMD), Dr Talat Altaf (ELED) and Engr. Umair Jillani (TED) had lively discussions on various issues. 

Dr S M Makhdumi, Chairman, Civil Engineering Department, thanked the Chancellor for giving him the opportunity to explain about the various aspects of his department. 

He briefly discussed the importance of civil department and increasing admissions over the years. On the final day, the Chancellor held meeting with departments of Basic and Applied Sciences, Computer Science and Bio-Informatics. 

Prof Dr Jawaid H. Rizvi, VC and Dean Basic and Applied Sciences, expressed his gratitude to the Chancellor for giving him opportunity of give details of his department.

Friday, September 23, 2016

NAB Sindh chief receives National Integrity award

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The Governor of Sindh, Dr Ishrat ul Ebad Khan, has reckoned that five most challenging factors for doing business in Pakistan doing last year were corruption, tax rates, inflation, access to financing and insufficient government bureaucracy from which corruption was cited as the most problematic. 

He made the observation while addressing the presentation of Transparency International Pakistan Integrity Award to Director General, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Sindh, Lt. Col. Retd. Siraj ul Naeem, at the Governor House in Karachi. The Provincial Ombudsman, Asad Ashraf Malik, and retired judges of the Sindh High Court were also present on the occasion. 

“It’s an established fact that effective accountability mechanism is essential for economic growth, investment and stability of social sector in any society. It is also a recognized fact that the intervention by NAB has acted as a catalyst, as transparency is a pre-requisite for promoting investment and economic growth,” he pointed out. 

‘”The contributions made by the NAB to fight such a huge menace and curbing corruption is based on a three pronged strategy of awareness, prevention and enforcement and it has been immensely successful. Since 2014, the NAB has acted with new zeal and has carried out a detailed analysis of organizational weaknesses, procedures and business processes and human resource development also. It is very commendable that NAB has recovered and deposited Rs. 276 billion in national exchequer since its inception,” the Governor recognized. 

He also lauded its work with the youth and establishment of more than 20000 Character Building Societies (CBS) in universities and colleges across the country. 

The Governor described the NAB Sindh as an important regional bureau whose performance for the last year has been graded as outstanding and excellent with 88 % Operational Efficiency Index by Chairman Inspection and Monitoring Team (CI&MT). 

“Its Director General Lt. Col. (R) Siraj ul Naeem has headed these tremendous results which are commended by all concerned quarters. He deserves this award is the true reflection of his dedicated work,” the Sindh Governor complimented. 

Dr Ishrat ul Ebad Khan declared that the establishment of Citizens Corruption Liaison Committee (CCLC) on the pattern of Citizen Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) and anti corruption and anti fraud help line would enable citizens to lodge their complaints for early redressal of the same. 

Suhail Muzaffar of Transparency International Pakistan informed that this award has been awarded to four global personalities and Col Siraj was only the fifth person to receive the same and the first one from Pakistan. 

On the occasion Governor of Sindh handed over the National Integrity award to Lt. Col (R) Siraj ul Naeem. A memorandum of understanding for establishment of CCLC and anti corruption helpline was also signed by the Principal Secretary, Mohammad Hussain Syed and Suhail Muzaffar of Transparency International.

Pakistan ranks 149/188 on SDG index

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Global Burden of Disease Study, the first global analysis that assesses the United Nations’ health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 188 countries, has ranked Pakistan at 149.

Launched at a special event at the UN General Assembly in New York and published in The Lancet, the analysis assesses countries by creating an overall index score on a scale of zero to 100. 

Pakistan shares the score of 38 with Bangladesh and Mauritania, six places behind India and way behind Iran. 

“These analyses are critically important for Pakistan, where limited data make the transition from MDGs to the SDGs even more challenging. These data allow the country to set a baseline based on recent performance and also set a trajectory for achieving the health and health-related SDGs,” Professor Zulfiqar Bhutta, Founding Director of the Aga Khan University’s Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health, Co-Director of the SickKids Centre for Global Child Health, and co-author of the study, remarked. 

The analysis showed that expanded health coverage, greater access to family planning, and fewer deaths of newborns and children under the age of five were among several health improvements contributing to progress toward achieving SDGs. However, hepatitis B, childhood obesity, violence and alcohol consumption have worsened. 

Iceland ranks the first at 85 with the United Kingdom and Canada among top 10 at 82 and 81 respectively. With a score of 26, Afghanistan is among the bottom 10; the Central African Republic being the lowest at 20. Kenya’s SDG index score increased between 2000 and 2015, from 33 to 40. 

The prevalence of childhood stunting there dropped as a percentage of the population from 39 per cent in 2000 to 26 per cent in 2015. 

One potential driver of the decrease in stunting in the country is the concurrent increase in access to health services. In 2015, 70 per cent of Kenyans who needed an essential health intervention received it, in contrast to just 32 per cent in 2000. 

The researchers note that these gains will need to be sustained, and in many cases accelerated, to achieve the ambitious SDG targets. The findings also highlight the importance of income, education and birth rates as drivers of health improvement and that the investments in those areas alone will not be sufficient. 

“We know that international targets can motivate countries and motivate donors. The international Global Burden of Disease collaboration is committed to providing an independent assessment of progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals,” Dr Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which led the study, noted. 

The proportion of countries that have accomplished individual targets varies greatly. For example, more than 60 per cent of the 188 countries studied shows maternal mortality rates below 70 deaths per 100,000 live births, effectively hitting the SDG target. In contrast, no nation has reached the objective to end childhood overweight or to fully eliminate infectious diseases like HIV or tuberculosis. 

“We have concrete examples of countries making important progress on a range of health-related SDG indicators. We now need to look to those countries that have seen strong progress to find out what they are doing right and how it can be applied more broadly,” Dr Stephen Lim, Professor of Global Health at IHME and lead author of the study, pointed out. 

As part of its activities to support SDGs, the AKU has pledged to invest more than US$ 85 million over the next decade in support of the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, which is designed to help achieve Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, requiring countries to ensure good health and well-being for people of all ages.