PHCs performance in 2018
Durdana Najam

The Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) has been established through the promulgation of the Punjab Healthcare Commission Act 2010 as a premier regulatory body to improve the quality of healthcare services in Punjab, including alternate and traditional methods of treatments such as Homeopathy and Tibb. The Commission is also legally bound to eliminate quackery in all its forms and manifestation. Invested with diverse regulatory role, the Commission has also been responsible to do advocacy for the propagation of best health practices. Since its inspection the Commission has been creating awareness among health experts and other stakeholders including patients, about health related issues, such as dengue, quackery, seasonal influenza and smog. To perform all these functions, the Commission has setup six directorates and an Anti-Quackery cell beside other departments.

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A blot on India’s secular credentials
Durdana Najam

To put things in the right perspective, Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP and writer, has introduced a private member’s Bill in the Lok Sabha seeking to protect freedom of literature. Its objective is that “authors must be guaranteed the freedom to express their work without fear of punitive action by the State or by sections of society.” It seeks the removal of three Indian Penal Codes sections, including 295A—a blasphemy law about, “Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.

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Xinjiang and the Uighur question
S M Hali

Setting the record straight Last week I returned from a visit to Shanghai and Urumqi. I had been invited for a series of lectures at the Shanghai University. The discourse with the academics was refreshing and the exchange of ideas wholesome. Shanghai does not fail to impress at each visit, but the real change is apparent in Xinjiang. My first visit to the capital of China’s largest province was in 1974, when Urumqi was underdeveloped. It has come a long way since then and can now compete with any developed capital of the world.

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EU Commission on HR pressurising Pakistan
S M Hali

Desperate times, desperate measures, etc! European Union (EU), which is itself in shambles owing to various issues like the messy divorce of Britain from the Union, the refusal of various EU states to accept refugees from Syria and the harsh crackdown on foreign nationals in the name of security, finds time to breathe fire and brimstone on Pakistan raising several matters.

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Development of Kumrat Valley for tourism
S M Hali

Terror attacks have deprived Pakistan the chance of rising to its true potential of earning revenues through tourism. Nature has gifted Pakistan with immense natural resources like vast sea beaches, lakes, mountains, valleys and plateaus, which can compete with any international scenic spot. The threat of terror attacks by miscreants have deterred tourists from visiting the resorts in Pakistan. Take the example of Malam Jabba, a hill station in the Hindu Kush mountain range nearly 40 km from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley. It was developed as a ski resort equipped with modern facilities including roller/ice-skating rinks, chair lifts, skiing platforms, telephones and snow clearing equipment. Unfortunately, the resort was occupied by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who destroyed the hotel, the multi-million dollars’ ski equipment and hotels. After reinstituting the writ of the state, Malam Jabba’s lost glory is being restored and ski competitions are being organized while tourists are thronging in large numbers.

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The debate of US forces withdrawing from Afghanistan
S M Hali

US and NATO forces have been in Afghanistan since October 2001. The bulk of the NATO forces were withdrawn in December 2015. But still around 14,000 remain there. Even at the peak of deployment when the NATO forces numbered more than 150,000, they made little or no dent in the war waging capability of the Taliban, whom they had defeated in October 2001. The Taliban took refuge in caves and bided their time, regrouping and rearming till the invading forces grew weary. Even though 300,000 strong Afghan National Army and other security forces were trained and equipped to counter the assaults by the Taliban, the situation in Afghanistan grew grim.

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A perspective on Military Courts
Mohsin Raza Malik

Though the government has agreed ‘in principle’ to extend the tenure of military courts for another 2 years, there is hardly any political consensus among major parliamentary parties in the country over this issue. These military courts would cease functioning in March this year if their tenure is not specifically extended by the Parliament through a constitutional amendment. Following a decision made to this effect in its Central Executive Committee meeting last week, PPP has hinted at not supporting any move in the Parliament to grant another extension to military courts. PML-N, the main opposition party in the Parliament, is still indecisive on this issue. On the other side, speaking to a private news channel last week, DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor favoured the continuance of military courts in Pakistan as a matter of “national requirement”. He, however, equally admitted that it was a prerogative of the Parliament to make any decision on the proposed ‘second extension’ of these courts.

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Bangladesh: Hasina becomes a dictator
Mohsin Raza Malik

The ruling coalition of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed has won landslide victory in the recently-held parliamentary elections in Bangladesh. This Awami League-led Grand Alliance bagged 288 out of the 298 parliamentary seats up for grabs. Surprisingly, Jatiya Oikya Front, the main opposition alliance led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Pakistan (BNP) could win only 7 seats. So, the opposition alliance has rejected the election results accusing the government of orchestrating vote rigging and ballot stuffing. The opposition parties have also complained that they have been denied a level playing field during the campaigning, with mass arrests of their workers and attacks on their candidates by the ruling party workers. Deadly clashes also marred these elections as at least 17 people were killed in election-related violence on polling day. Pointing out a number of electoral irregularities, the media and international observers have expressed some concerns over the credibility and transparency of these elections. There have also been reports about unnecessary delays in issuing visas to international monitors and press freedom groups by the Bangladesh authorities, hampering efforts to independently monitor these polls.

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Adieu CJP Saqib Nisar
Adeela Naureen

I start with a tweet from one of Indian activist Madhusudan Thakkar on twitter on 13 April 2018 READ MORE: 20 Pakistani companies participating in 'LeShow Istanbul' Dear Pakistani Friends, Can we have exchange offer please? You take our 22 Corrupt #SupremeCourt Judges including our CJI Dipak Mishra and give us 5 Judges of your SC bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa :)

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Need for tourism development in Pakistan
Reema Shaukat

PAKISTAN is a blessed country to have variety of seasons. For sure its geographical location is an added advantage because of the fact that in the same country there are mountains, plateaus, deserts, and diverse landscapes. Generally speaking, different forums have been used to quote Pakistan as a terrorist State. The image of Pakistan was greatly tarnished after 9/11 and Pakistan is still labelled as dangerous place by many states. Our country went through a long journey of defeating its enemy terrorism. Pakistan is now quoted as a country of peace lovers and peace builders as they have strived hard to overthrow their adversaries without any demoralization. There is a need to promote soft image of Pakistan, whereas many do not know value of soft power. It is important to know that the term ‘soft power’ was coined in 1990 by Professor Joseph Nye to explain how modern states can use positive attraction and persuasion to achieve global influence. He defined that “soft power is the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments.

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USA strategic limbo in Afghanistan
Reema Shaukat

THE USA entry and exit from Afghanistan is an interesting debate now as the superpower never had an idea that it has plunged into a quagmire from which it cannot escape. USA not ever assumed that despite spending stacks of dollars from its budget, it will not be able to end the war it started to end terrorism. USA wanted to put an end to Al-Qaeda, Taliban and other rogue state elements but still passing of more than one and half decade in Afghanistan, these threats still loom around where ISIS, now has become another challenge for long term peace and stability in the region. Year 2018 witnessed many ups and downs in Afghanistan where US announced its departure from Afghanistan but at the same time depleting security situation pose a serious question to US claims of leaving Afghanistan. Options of negotiations and dialogue also remained elusive strategy because of no seriousness of stakeholders.

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Afghan peace process
Dr Muhammad Khan

FROM the perspective of Afghan Taliban, acceptance and debate on three issues would define the contours of Afghan peace process. The first issue is about the withdrawal of US and foreign forces from Afghan soil. The second issue in the priority is exchange of prisoners, Taliban desires their prisoners with US and Afghan Government should be released and in return they will release the prisoners, they have. The third issue is about lifting a ban on the movement of Taliban leaders, which cannot travel around the world without US permission, since 2001. There have been rounds of formal and informal talks between US and Taliban but, no consensus could be achieved on all three points. In November 2018, United States did announce reducing its military presence in Afghanistan to half but, there exists ambiguity about the future course of action, since White House and Pentagon are not on the same page on the issue of pull-out of US forces. In the absence of clarity from US, this gesture is being perceived as an appeasement policy for Taliban to move forward in the talks. Moreover, it was announced a day earlier to Taliban-US talks in Doha, Qatar in November 2018. On their parts, Taliban are not happy with US, since there have been more promises with no implementation on ground.

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Body bags of soccer players in IOK
Dr Muhammad Khan

Mudassir, 14 years and Saqib, 16 years, both resident of Hajin Village, Bandipora of Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) were martyred on Dec 8, 2018 in Mujgund, about 12 kms from Srinagar by Indian Security Forces in a fake encounter. Though fake encounters in IOK have been in practice since the decade of 1990, however, it has been adopted as an organized strategy since General Bipon Rawat took over as Indian Army Chief on December 31, 2016. General Rawat out-lined salient of this policy in mid February 2017, during his visit to Corps Headquarters in Srinagar. Since then, the Kashmiri youth are marked, chased and finally picked up from their villages, cities or while leaving their educational institutions. They are then taken to torture centres and later killed through fake encounters.

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Blaming Pakistan for political mileage
Dr Muhammad Khan

Being the major country in South Asia, Indian political leadership has been exploiting the vulnerabilities of its neighbouring states as a state policy. This strategy has two objectives; to keep the regional states under pressure and to divert the attention of Indian masses away from real issues. Though, this Indian strategy has been working since its independence in 1947, but got impetus after it suffered humiliating defeat at the hands of China in 1962, Sino-Indian war. After this war, Indian leadership under Nehru deliberated new strategy for an indirect war at its neighbourhood causing destabilization. The hallmark of this strategy was, to explore the ethnic and religious factors of its neighbours and later exploit them, making use of its spying network.

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India is losing its illegal occupation in IoK
Dr Muhammad Khan

THE prestigious British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ wrote in November 2016 that “Since July 2016, when the killing of a young militant leader sparked a furious civilian uprising across the Kashmir Valley, the Indian State has responded with singular ruthlessness, killing more than 90 people. Most shocking of all has been the breaking up of demonstrations with “non-lethal” pellet ammunition, which has blinded hundreds of Kashmiri civilians”. As per the newspaper, in those four months, 17,000 adults and children were injured, 5000 were arrested and an entire population spent the summer under the longest curfew in the history of curfews in Kashmir. Upon usage of brute force and cold-blooded massacres of Kashmiris in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK), the former Indian Finance Minister, P Chidambaram, remarked that India has nearly lost Kashmir. The former Minister also advised the Modi Government to make course correction on Kashmir; otherwise, India may lose Kashmir forever. Mr Chidambaram said, “seven million people of Kashmir valley felt alienated by the ‘oppressive methods’ of the Indian government, which was a terrible mistake.” He was critical of the statement of Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, who upon taking over the command said, ‘anyone who interfered with defence operations in Kashmir would be treated as anti-national’.

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