Paine casts doubt on ODI future after whitewash


Paine

Australia captain Tim Paine has cast doubt over his one-day international future after his touring side were thumped 5-0 by England, who sealed the series whitewash with a one-wicket victory in Manchester on Sunday.

The 33-year-old Paine, Australia’s test captain, was handed the role for the one-day portion of their limited-overs tour of England but chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said at the time it was probably only a stop-gap measure.

The wicketkeeper, leading the side while regular captain Steve Smith serves a 12-month ban following a ball-tampering scandal, scored just 36 runs in the series as England outclassed the World Cup holders with their powerful batting lineup.

Fellow wicketkeeper Alex Carey played the final two games in Durham and at Old Trafford, but only as a batsman, and has been appointed vice-captain for the sole Twenty20 match against England on June 27 and their T20 tour of Zimbabwe in July.

Aaron Finch is Australia’s T20 captain.

“All I know is I was coming here to do this series and I’ve said a few times before, when you are my age it’s a bit foolish to look ahead,” Paine told Cricket Australia’s website.

“Certainly, I am really looking forward to captaining the test team and continuing how I have been playing in that format.

“But where I go with the rest of my cricket is something we will discuss in the coming weeks.”

Paine was thrust into the test captaincy role after Australian cricket was rocked by the ball-tampering incident in South Africa in March, creating a leadership vacuum with both Smith and his deputy David Warner handed one-year suspensions.

Read More: Minor tweaks to team culture needed for Australia: Paine

WORLD CUP PROSPECTS

He was then also surprisingly given the captaincy for the series in England, with Finch given the vice-captaincy.

Paine, however, said his struggles with the bat in England had been tough.

“Its been difficult, you play cricket to do well and this series I haven’t done that,” Paine, whose highest score in the series was 15, added. “I haven’t played anywhere near as well as I would have liked to.

“That happens and it’s certainly not through a lack of effort, I am trying my guts out and working really hard, I have just had one of those series.

“I started off poorly and couldn’t get it back on track.”

Despite the series defeat, Paine believes it is too early to write off Australia’s chances at next year’s World Cup being hosted by England and Wales.

“We’ve got a number of players who weren’t in this squad who have played in and won World Cups. They know what it takes,” Paine added.

“Cricket Australia as an organisation knows what it takes and whilst I’ve heard a few times this team looks like it hasn’t got a plan or doesn’t know where it’s going, we’ve got a clear direction, we know where we’re going.”

As well as their suspended skipper and vice-captain, Australia were also without injured fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood for the series, with the trio expected to thrive in English conditions next year.

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Amid Arab boycott, Qatar’s new friends find rich openings


Qatar

DOHA: Six months ago Serkan Ucar arrived in Doha to scope out business opportunities – away from his usual patch. The mission looks set to pay off handsomely, as the Turkish entrepreneur expects to win a first contract to help build an iconic 2022 World Cup stadium.

Since several Arab countries launched an economic boycott of Qatar a year ago, the tiny Gulf state has had to find alternative partners for trade and investment. Aided by its massive natural gas wealth, it has rapidly made new friends.

A year ago Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut transport and trade links with Doha, accusing it of backing terrorism – a charge it strongly denies.

The boycott disrupted Qatar’s shipping routes through the Gulf and blocked imports across its only land border with Saudi Arabia, previously the route for its perishable food supplies and construction materials.

In the bitter diplomatic and economic chill, Ankara sided with Qatar. Ucar, 28, saw openings.

“They’ve been extremely welcoming for Turkish companies after the blockade,” Ucar told Reuters at a hotel where he was about to interview engineers for jobs at his new office in Doha.

His family business Referans Holding expects to sign a contract soon to supply scaffolding and aluminium and fit out Lusail Stadium, where the 2022 World Cup final will take place.

Many Turkish contractors are bidding for projects as Qatar pushes ahead with infrastructure for the tournament, said Joseph Abraham, chief executive of Commercial Bank of Qatar.

Read More: US reunites 522 children removed under ‘zero tolerance’

WORLD CUP BOOM

Huge construction projects are under way for the World Cup. Seven new stadiums are being built, along with other infrastructure, sucking in building materials from far afield.

Gypsum, used to make drywall, is being newly imported from Iran, said a construction manager who declined to be named. Gabbro, used to make asphalt and concrete, was now being imported from Oman instead of the UAE.

While the World Cup means sporting drama and global prestige, the early stages of the boycott were all about urgent shortages of basic products.

When dairy, fresh milk and eggs disappeared from stores, Doha airlifted in more than 3,000 cows on state airline Qatar Airways and imported eggs from Oman, which kept its shipping route with Qatar open when Dubai halted shipments to Doha.

In Qatar’s supermarkets, Turkish brands like Ülker and Pinar soft cream cheeses are doing well.

“The Turkish market is very important to us,” said Saleh bin Hamad al-Sharqi, director general at the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It’s geographically close logistically, high quality and has competitive prices.”

Imports from Turkey between June and December 2017 grew to $523 million, 48.2 percent higher than in the same period the previous year. From Oman they jumped 150 percent to $575 million, according to International Monetary Fund data.

Imports from India rose 54.6 percent to $1.06 billion, and from Iran 63 percent to $69 million.

WEATHERING THE STORM

Some of Doha’s businesses took a battering when the boycott was launched. Qatar Airways lost money in 2017 after losing access to airspace over boycotting states.

Yet the economy has weathered the protracted dispute and is expected to grow 2.6 percent this year and closer to 3 percent in 2019, according to the finance ministry.

The world’s largest liquefied natural gas exporter quickly deployed its massive sovereign wealth fund, estimated to have about $320 billion (241.7 billion pounds) of assets, to protect its banks and currency after the boycotting states withdrew deposits.

“Our biggest mission as Qataris during the blockade was to maintain the economy,” Yousuf Al Jaida, chief executive of the Qatar Financial Centre, told Reuters.

“A lot of focus was not about growth, it was about physically withstanding the blockade and whatever damage that may occur, because essentials, whether it’s food or logistics, were not being made available.”

Qatari officials say the crisis was a wake-up call for the country of 2.7 million to become more self-reliant and diversify.

“We want the world to see what this relatively small country can do with resilience and commitment,” Energy Minister Mohammed al-Sada told Reuters. “The only worry I have is that our team may not win the (2022) World Cup.”

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US says still working to reunite 2,053 children with families


children

WASHINGTON: The US government still has 2,053 children in its custody who were separated from their parents under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy and officials said there was a “well coordinated” process for reuniting families.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a fact sheet late on Saturday in the face of criticism from lawyers for parents and children who have said they have seen little evidence of an organized system.

A total of 522 children in the custody of US border officials have already been reunited with parents, according to the fact sheet, which was published three days after Trump ended his policy of separating families on the US-Mexico border.

Trump’s shift came after images of youngsters in cages triggered outrage at home and abroad.

On Sunday, Trump renewed his hardline on immigration calling for people who enter the United States illegally to be sent back to where they came from immediately without any judicial process.

An administration official said on Sunday 522 children were able to be reunited because their parents came back from court proceedings quickly enough that the children had not yet been transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, where the more than 2,000 children who remain separated from their parents are now.

“The United States government knows the location of all children in its custody and is working to reunite them with their families,” the DHS fact sheet said.

The new details came after more than two months of confusion how detained migrant parents, who are shuttled from facility to facility run by different government agencies, would ever reunite with their children, who are sent to shelters and foster homes scattered across the country.

The DHS said the Trump administration has a process for how parents would be reunited with their children “for the purposes of removal,” or deportation.

Deportation proceedings could take months to complete, and the fact sheet did not say whether parents and children would be reunited in the intervening time.

Read More: US reunites 522 children removed under ‘zero tolerance’

PHONE CALLS

The Port Isabel detention center in Texas will serve as “the primary family reunification and removal center” for adults in ICE custody, the statement said.

Many of the parents are planning to claim asylum, lawyers and advocates who have spoken with them said. The fact sheet did not say how reunifications would be handled in those cases.

The fact sheet said children are given the chance to speak with a “vetted parent, guardian or relative” within 24 hours of arriving at a facility run by Department of Health and Human Services.

Sirine Shebaya, a senior staff attorney with Muslim Advocates, said she and two other lawyers met about 70 detained Central American migrants at Port Isabel on Friday and Saturday. All but one had been separated from their children, she added in an interview before the fact sheet was published.

Several of the migrants had been given a number to call to try to locate their children, but found their calls would not go through or no one picked up, she said. If they did manage to get someone on the line, they were often told they would get a call back – useless to them while in a detention center.

“When they do get a phone call, it’s a one- to two-minute phone call and the kids frequently don’t know where they are,” she said. “Some kids know, ‘OK I’m in Michigan,’ but they don’t know any more than that.”

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Avenfield case: Nawaz, Maryam granted three-day exemption


Nawaz Maryam

ISLAMABAD: The accountability judge on Monday approved three days exemption of former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz from appearing personally in Avenfield case.

At the outset of hearing, a seven-day exemption plea was submitted on behalf of accused in the accountability court which was rejected by judge Muhammad Bashir. The court then allowed three days exemption to Nawaz and his daughter.

Previously, the accountability court had given four days exemption to the duo on June 19 which was ended today.

Nawaz’s legal counsel Khuwaja Haris was giving his concluding arguments in the case for a fifth consecutive day where he reiterated the remarks of his clients, “Testimony of Joint Investigation Team (JIT) head Wajid Zia cannot be acceptable as evidence in the case.”

Haris further stated that it was court’s not JIT’s job to highlight the differences between two Qatari letters. “Wajid Zia should have only presented letters, instead of giving comments on it,” while adding that the investigation officer’s opinion could not be considered as acceptable evidence.

The nitpicking of JIT’s findings in the case was the focal point of Haris’s final arguments.

Defense counsel presented medical reports of Kulsoom Nawaz before the court. However, NAB’s Deputy Prosecutor General Sardar Muzaffar Abbasi contended that report is not signed by any doctor.

Captain (retd) Safdar was present during the hearing.

The court has adjourned the hearing till June 26 (tomorrow).

 

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China to protect quarter of land from development by 2020


China land

SHANGHAI: China aims to keep a quarter of its land off-limits for development by 2020 and increase forest coverage to more than 23 percent of its total landmass, the country’s cabinet said.

At least 25 percent of China’s land would be protected by the country’s new “ecological red line” scheme by the end of this decade, The State Council said on Sunday.

China has published a slew of policy documents in recent months aimed at improving surveillance, strengthening law enforcement and raising industrial standards as it plans to extend its war on pollution until 2020.

It has already ordered provinces to draw up detailed plans to curb construction and “irrational development” near rivers, forests and national parks.

It is also putting the finishing touches to a 2018-2020 air quality action plan aimed at cutting smog in key industrial regions, and will extend the fight to the major coal-producing provinces of Shanxi and Shaanxi.

China would ensure that more than 70 percent of its water supplies were fit for human contact by the end of 2020 and cut the volumes of “below grade V” water – which is so polluted it has “lost function” – to less than 5 percent, the cabinet said. The number stood at 8.3 percent last year.

In a speech in May, Chinese president Xi Jinping vowed to use the full might of the Communist Party to tackle long-standing pollution problems, and said China’s environment would be “fundamentally improved” by 2035.

Regions that have failed to reach local air quality targets are under pressure to cut 2015 concentrations of hazardous floating particles known as PM2.5 by more than 18 percent by the end of 2020, the cabinet said.

The country aims to reduce 2015 levels of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide by 15 percent, it said, while targeting small-scale “scattered pollution” sources such as diesel trucks, backyard workshops or rural heating boilers.

The country would achieve its goal of creating a “beautiful China” by 2035 through the transformation of its “industrial structure”, production methods and even lifestyle, the State Council said.

 

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Nawaz Sharif permitted to stay in London for three more days by Accountability court


Permission is granted from accountability court on Monday, to Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to stay in London for three more days.

According to sources, Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz can stay up to three extra days in London with Nawaz’s wife Begum Kulsoom Nawaz. However, initially they had appealed for seven days.

As per the medical reports of Kulsoom presented in court on Monday, it stated that after her heart attack, her kidneys were not functioning properly.

She is reportedly off antibiotics and, according to the June 22 report, she has shown some improvement. The report did not state whether she is still on the ventilator.

The NAB prosecutor has raised objections to the report, saying that it was not signed and therefore was not valid. Nawaz’s lawyer Khawaja Haris said a signed report will be submitted to the court soon.

Separately, speaking to the media Maryam’s husband Captain (retd) Mohammad Safdar said he wants to go to London to see his mother-in-law but someone from the family has to make a ‘sacrifice’ and stay in Pakistan.

 

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Libyan coastguards pick up almost 1,000 migrants in one day


coastguards migrants Libya

TRIPOLI: Libyan coastguards picked up 948 African migrants on inflatable boats in several operations and also recovered 10 bodies on Sunday, officials and a witness at a naval base said.

The operations brings the number, since last week, of mainly African migrants trying to head to Italy but brought back to Libya to almost 2,000.

The western coast of Libya is the main departure point for thousands of migrants fleeing wars and poverty and trying to reach Europe.

The number of crossings has dropped sharply since July 2017 when an armed group expelled human traffickers from a smuggling hub after an Italy-backed deal.

“The coastguards picked up illegal migrants in different groups. The first group is 97 on one inflatable boat and the second group is 361 migrants on two inflatable boats,” Naval forces spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters.

“The second group was taken to Khums town,” Qassem said, adding that the two groups included 110 women and 70 children.

A witness watching the arrival of another coastguard ship at Tripoli’s Abu Sittah naval base said a third group included 490 migrants picked up off Qarabulli town. Among them were 75 women and 20 children.

Libya plunged into chaos following the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with many armed groups and two administrations vying for power.

Most migrants try to head across the Mediterranean toward Italy, hoping they will be picked up by ships run by aid groups and taken there, although many drown before they are rescued.

Earlier this month, Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini vowed to no longer let charity ships offload rescued migrants in Italy, leaving one ship stranded at sea for several days with more than 600 migrants until Spain offered them safe harbour.

Italy criticized Malta on Sunday over its refusal to take in a Dutch-flagged aid vessel with more than 230 migrants on board.

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Parents often lack amusement-park safety plans


MICHIGAN: One in five parents don’t talk to their kids about safety issues at amusement parks, especially what to do if they get lost, according to a poll by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

More than 30,000 children are injured each year at amusement parks and carnivals in the U.S., according to the Mott Poll report.

“Parents can take certain actions that can help to keep their children safe,” said Dr. Gary Freed of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who co-directs the poll.

“Parents should have a plan with their child about what to do,” Freed told in an interview. “Parents should make sure their child is properly restrained in any ride, and be aware of any improper actions on the part of ride operators.”

The national survey is based on responses from more than 1,200 parents with at least one child between ages 5 and 12 in early 2018. About 82 percent said their child had been to an amusement park or carnival in the past three years, and 85 percent had accompanied their child.

Nearly 90 percent of parents said their child had to stay with them or another adult at all times, and 6 percent had set check-in times to make contact, either in person or by phone. About 79 percent said they talked with their child about what to do if they got lost or separated.

When children board rides at amusement parks or carnivals, 87 percent of parents said it was the responsibility of both parents and ride operators to make sure kids are safe. About 94 percent would “definitely” report a ride operator to authorities if they suspected the operator was drunk or on drugs. At the same time, 69 percent would “definitely” report a ride operator for not enforcing safety rules such as seat belts or height requirements, and 48 percent would “definitely” report a ride operator for using a cell phone while operating the ride.

When it comes to alcohol and drug testing of ride operators, about 59 percent of parents said they preferred random testing, 13 percent said weekly testing and 3 percent said yearly testing. About 11 percent thought checks should be done only when ride operators were suspected of drug or alcohol use.

“The discussion about amusement park safety is especially relevant now, since it is summer and a popular time for families to take a trip to an amusement park,” said Connor Oehmke of the Southern Illinois University School of Law.

In April, Oehmke, who wasn’t involved with the poll, called for national legislation regarding amusement park safety in the Journal of Legal Medicine.

“Being a ride operator carries a significant amount of responsibility for ensuring the safety of children,” Oehmke said in an email. “In light of this heightened responsibility, I wrongly assumed that more parents would agree that random alcohol and drug testing should be required, since this seems like a reasonable safety precaution for this type of employment.”

Younger children should be under consistent supervision to ensure they meet height requirements and understand safety rules, such as keeping hands away from safety latches, the authors of the poll report advise. Although older children may want more freedom to roam an amusement park, it’s important to have a back-up plan, check-in time and instructions for what to do when they get lost, they add.

In particular, parents should know that training and supervision of ride operators vary by amusement park or carnival, the report authors write. Parents shouldn’t assume that ride operators have been drug tested recently, for instance.

“Different states impose different requirements for amusement park ride operators,” Oehmke said. “Therefore, some state regulations over amusement park safety are lenient, while other state regulations are more stringent. It all depends on what state you are in.”

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Protest outcomes- PTI withdraws Ex-minister Sikandar Hayat Bosan’s ticket


ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) withdrew former federal minister Sikandar Hayat Bosan’s ticket for Multan NA-154 constituency for elections 2018, on Sunday due to tremendous pressure of the protest from PTI workers.

However, many party workers from the constituency protested against party’s decision to award a ticket to the former minister, who joined the PTI only last month when the party he was last with, PML-N, completed its five-year term.

PTI has released the revised and final list of candidates of national and provincial assemblies for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, awarding tickets to some of the old members, including Ali Mohammad Khan and Dost Mohammad Khan Mahsud, former civil servant and an old friend of PTI head Imran Khan, for contesting the general elections.

According to the statement, the ticket for NA-154 would be decided later.

The party’s old members were dissatisfied with the PTI leadership for awarding party tickets to some of the newcomers and openly criticized the decision of their leadership. Furthermore, some of them chose to quit the party and others put pressure on their leadership to revise their decision.

A protest was continued for several days by PTI workers at Bani Gala, outside Khan’s Islamabad house and was wrapped up only after PTI chief promised to review all the tickets.

The party has nominated as 229 candidates for the National Assembly seats out of a total 272 seats. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Imran Khan’s party has awarded tickets to 90 candidates off 99 seats.

For complete list of PTI candidates for the elections, click here.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his sons Zain Hussain Qureshi will be contesting from NA-156 and NA-157.

In addition, 79 candidates have been chosen to contest in Sindh on provincial assembly seats.

Asad Umar, inclusive of 3 people have been awarded PTI’s ticket to contest the election from the capital city of Islamabad, 11 candidates from FATA are chosen for elections 2018.

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Rs 752bn released for development projects under PSDP


PSDP

ISLAMABAD: The government has released over Rs 752.14 billion under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2017-18 for various ongoing and new schemes against the total allocations of Rs 1,001 billion.

The released funds include Rs 186.35 billion for federal ministries and Rs 66.14 billion for special areas, according to latest data released by Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, reported the state-run wire service.

Out of these allocations, the government has released Rs 302.19 billion for National Highway Authority for which Rs 324.72 billion have been allocated for the year 2017-18, whereas for WAPDA (Power), an amount of Rs 43.4 billion has been released out of total allocation of Rs 60.9 billion.

Similarly, Rs 8.65 billion have been released for Communication Division (other than National Highway Authority) for which the government has earmarked Rs 13.66 billion under PSDP 2017-18.

Railways Division received Rs 19.384 billion out of its total allocation of Rs 42.9 billion whereas Aviation Division received Rs 3.4 billion out of its total allocation of Rs 4.348 billion.

The government also released an amount of Rs 26.32 billion for various development projects of Higher Education Commission out of total allocation of Rs 35.662 billion, while Rs 12.6 billion have been released for Atomic Energy Commission.

Water and Power Division (water sector) received Rs 33.96 billion out of its total allocation of Rs 36.75 billion under PSDP 2017-18.

The government also released Rs 18.75 billion for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination Division, for which an amount of Rs 48.701 billion have been allocated in the federal PSDP 2017-18 while Rs 286.53 million have been released for Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority out of its total allocations of Rs 321.53 million.

An amount of Rs 16.6 billion have been released for Finance Division out of its total allocations of Rs 20.9 billion while Rs 782.5 million have been released for Climate Change Division out of its total allocations of Rs 815 million for the current year.

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PML-N’s election campaign: Shehbaz vows to resolve major issues of ‘city of lights’


KARACHI: President of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Shehbaz Sharif kicked off his election campaign in Karachi on Monday with new promises to develop metropolis.

Shehbaz was speaking at an event of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry. “We will bring Karachi’s lost stature back with the help of provincial government and solve four mega problems of the city, if voted in elections” he said while urging federal government to grant a special budget for Karachi.

PML-N leader claimed that other than CPEC projects, PML-N’s government also initiated other mega projects in Karachi.

“Within three years, every household of Karachi will have water and we will clean all the garbage from the city in six months,” he claimed.

Pointing out the issues of public transport and lack of infrastructure, Shehbaz stated that his party would specifically focus on these basic problems.

READ MORE: Saaf Pani Scam: NAB summons Shehbaz today

Former chief minister of Punjab was talking boastfully about his party’s development projects and how effectively the former government dealt with energy crisis and terrorism.

Surprisingly, PML-N president acknowledged the fact that the country has not gotten rid of power outage yet in a complete manner.

In a customary criticism of opponent parties, Shehbaz held 2014 sit-ins responsible for damaging the economic growth of the country.

“It is due to our tireless struggle that our factories are operational again because we have 90% resolved the issue of power shortage,” PML-N’s government has brought Pakistan back on the track, he added.

Shehbaz Sharif asserted that there is not a single penny’s corruption in all of our development projects.

On the issue of water scarcity, he said that everyone needs to work together.

Shehbaz will visit NA-249 constituency from where he is contesting the July 25 polls to woo constituents to vote for him.

He will also visit NA-244 constituency where the PML-N has fielded former finance minister Miftah Ismail, to address party workers.

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Man rides a horse to office on last day of work


BENGALURU: Ever thought about what would you do on your last day at work? Most of us would want to make it memorable. Well, this techie just made his last working day in his office way too memorable to him and everyone.

The dramatic entrance to his office on his last day at work rather his exit has gone viral on social media now.

Frustration level reached so high for this techie in Bengaluru due to high traffic in the city that he decided to ride a horse to his office. Dressed in formals and carrying a laptop bag, the techie sat on a white horse with a placard that read in full capital letters.

“LAST WORKING DAY AS A SOFTWARE ENGINEER”.

Roopesh Kumar Verma, a software engineer, was ‘frustrated’ due to the heavy traffic issue in Bengaluru and he rode the horse as a protest.

“I have been staying in Bengaluru for the past eight years and I am fed up of the bottlenecks and air pollution. Bengaluru is overcrowded and too many vehicles on the road lead to traffic jams every day,” Roopesh said.

“I am an animal lover and wanted to promote the idea of veganism,” Roopesh was also quoted saying.

 

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Increase in worth of Rice Exports- US$ 1.889bn in 11 months of FY 2017-18


ISLAMABAD: The rice exported from the country during 11 months of current financial year registered 29.15% growth as compared to the exports of corresponding period of last year as about 3.842 million metric tons of rice worth US$ 1.889 billion.

According to the data provided by Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the exports of rice was recorded at 3.889 million metric tons valuing US$ 1.463 billion during same period of last year.

During the period from July-May, 2017-18, 461,472 metric tons of basmati rice worth US$ 478.853 million were exported as against the exports of 406,824 metric tons worth US$ 385.746 of same period last year.

In last 11 months of financial year 2017-18, basmati rice exports grew by 24.14 percent as compared the  exports of the corresponding period of last year.

Meanwhile, country earned US$ 1.411 billion by exporting about 3.380 million metric tons of rice other then basmati rice during the period under review as compared the exports of 2.860 million metric tons valuing US$ 1.077 billion of same period last year.

There is hike of about 3.80% in various food commodities including rice, fish, fish products, meat, meat preparations, fruits,  vegetables pulses and others worth US$ 4.479 billion exported.

As per data, it is revealed that the exports of food commodities during the same period of last financial year was recorded at US$ 3.425 billion.

On the other hand, rice exports on month on month basis also witnessed tremendous increase in month of May, 2018 as compared the same month of last year as it went up by 79.62 percent and reached at  376,863 metric tons  worth US$ 209.898 million.

In last month, exports of basmati rice witnessed 32.83 percent growth and about 54,061 metric tons of  basmati rice valuing US$ 53.384 million exported as compared the exports of 48,571 metric tons worth US$ 40.190 million of same month of last year.

The exports of rice other then basmati witnessed 104.16 percent growth during the period under review and about 322,802 metric tons of rice worth US$ 156.514 million exported as against the exports of 173,782 metric tons valuing US$ 76.664 million of same month of last year.

 

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Elections 2018: Here’s the complete list of PML-N candidates in Punjab


PML-N election candidates

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has unveiled its candidates for Punjab for the upcoming general elections due on July 25.

Among the heavyweights contesting from the party’s stronghold province includes Maryam Nawaz Sharif (NA-125, PA 173), Shehbaz Sharif (NA 192, NA 132) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (NA-57) and Khwaja Saad Rafique (NA-131, PP-168).

Following is the complete list issued by the PML-N for its candidates in Punjab for national and provincial assemblies.

https://www.docdroid.net/HILQFaK/final-list-punjab-2306.pdf

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Water crisis hovers over Karachi as Hub Dam level goes critically low


KARACHI: With only seven inches of water left above the dead level in the reservoir Hub dam is now facing a critically low degree of reserved water which might only last a few days.

Owing to the low supply from the dam, many areas in the western and central districts of the city are facing water shortage. Alternative arrangements are currently underway in order to supply water to these areas.

According to reports the water board installing pumps at the Dam to increase the water supply to the affected areas.

A 30-kilometer-long canal from Hub dam supplies around 100 mgd water to Karachi.

Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) spokesman while addressing Media queries said that while he cannot confirm the exact measurement of the level of the water in the Hub Dam he confirmed the reports that the level is dangerously low. He also added saying that many areas connected to the dam water supply are seriously affected and facing acute water shortage.

Lack of rainfall in the dam catchment area has created drought-like situation, while a major portion of the dam’s reservoir, which is around 26 square kilometers has almost dried up with hardly half a foot of water left the spokesman said.

The Hub canal with its designed capacity supplies around 100 million gallons of water daily (mgd) to the metropolis.

During the current situation around 12 mgd of water is being supplied to the city.

The dam’s old structure and poor maintenance had resulted in leakages and breaches in the water body.

To maintain the water supply to a certain quantity the water being diverted from the Indus distribution system to Hub Dam.

Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) spokesperson said that KWSB is installing heavy duty water pumps in the reservoir to supply an additional 35 mgd of water from it to the city. The pumps were expected to be operational in the next couple of days, he said.

Around 50 mgd of water coming from the Indus source being diverted to the Hub pumping station to be distributed through its network to the water-scarce districts of West and Central, he added.

New tanks are being constructed while the old are being restored and rehabilitated to supply water through tankers to the affected areas, he further said.

Even the water has been in limited supply the board was making efforts to judiciously distribute water to all areas of the metropolis, he concluded.

Drought-like situation

The water in Hub Dam, located 56 km from Karachi, goes down owing to the lack of run-off in recent months.

Most parts of the country facing drought-like situation as last year’s monsoon was about a quarter below the norm and winter rains were about half the average.

The Hub dam is extended to 24,300 acres with gross storage capacity of 8,57,000 acre feet. It is the Pakistan’s third largest dam and an important source that meets water needs of the city.

The dam provides 100 million gallons water per day to Karachi.

The water level in the reservoir goes down due to scarce rainfall in the catchment area of Hub Dam having total capacity at 339 feet.

The last time the dam reached its full capacity was in 2013, when the water level was enough to meet the citizen’s requirements for three years, water board sources earlier said.

The dam is not only a source of water for Karachi, but also supplies water to Hub and Lasbella district of Balochistan and the surrounding areas for irrigation purposes.

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Revealed: Why Sanjay Dutt didn’t want to be in Sanju


Revealed: Why Sanjay Dutt didn't want to be in Sanju

MUMBAI: Already termed as a sure blockbuster hit the biopic “Sanju” has caused quite a stir in the hearts of the movie mongers.

Ranbir Kapoor who is playing the role of Sanjay Dutt can be seen donning different avatars paying true justice to the different stages of Sanjay Dutt’s unbelievable life.

While many are already offering their predictions for “Sanju” as a sure blockbuster there are some who may not be too mesmerized by Ranbir’s excellent acting skills.

Recently Salman Khan stated that no one apart from Sanjay Dutt himself could have played the past decade of his life and do it justice.

Ranbir, on the other hand, responded to the same question saying said that a person has never played himself in his own biopic till date. He feels that it reduces the effect of the character.

Though the actor knows he will be compared to the real Dutt, he believes he has tried his best to justice to the role. He further added that the audience should feel they are watching an artist playing the character of Baba, whether in his 40s or youth. That said, Ranbir agreed that he cannot be a second Sanjay Dutt.

Dia Mirza who is also part of the cast said that Sanjay is quite shy about this Biopic I am not sure if he even wants to have a cameo in the film. It would be awkward to see Sanjay Dutt featured as himself in his own biopic, said the actress.

She added that the beauty and charm of witnessing one’s life through another person’s performance are what makes it so refreshing.

‘Sanju’ Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Sonam Kapoor, Paresh Rawal, Manisha Koirala, Dia Mirza, Anushka Sharma, Karishma Tanna and Vicky Kaushal is set to release on June 29th worldwide.

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Hike in electricity tariff by Rs1.32 per unit suggested by CPPA


ISLAMABAD: Central Power Purchasing Agency (CPPA) has advised an increase of Rs1.32 per unit in power tariff, under fuel price adjustment for the month of May for Ex-Wapda Discos.

As per formal request submitted by CPPA with Nepra, total energy generated in May 2018 was 12117.67 Gwh at a total price of Rs75.872 billion which is Rs6.2613 per kWh.

The net electricity delivered to power distribution companies (Discos) was 11896.75 Gwh at cost of Rs78.665 billion or 6.6123 per kWh. Out of total electricity generation, losses stood at 1.82%, however, the total losses in April were 2.54%.

Since the actual cost of generation was Rs6.62 per unit in the period under review against reference price of Rs5.29 per unit therefore CPPA has requested an increase of Rs1.32 per unit.

As per petition, total generation from hydel sources was 2217.61 Gwh, which accounted for 18.30 percent of total generation. The share of hydropower production in the overall energy mix in May was improved a bit from around 15.07 percent in April.

In May 2338.23 Gwh Residual Fuel Oil (RFO) based electricity produced at a cost of Rs12.47 per unit and its share was 19.30 percent of total generation. In April the power generation from furnace oil-based power plants was 15.30 percent at a cost of Rs11.22 per unit.

The total share of gas based electricity was 1971.34 GWh accounting for 16.27 percent of total generation and its cost of electricity was Rs4.84 per unit. In April total share of gas based electricity was 16.24 percent at a cost of Rs 5.06per unit.

The generation from imported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) also contributed. In May the overall energy contribution from coal was 1468.95 Gwh which accounts for 12.12 percent of total generation and its cost was 5.76 per unit. In April the generation from coal was 13.83 percent and its fuel cost of generation stood at Rs6.44 per unit.

The nuclear power plants contributed 656.17 Gwh or 5.41 percent of electricity with a cost of Rs 1.02 per unit. In April the share of nuclear based electricity was 8.25 percent with the cost of Rs 1.04 per unit.

The electricity imported from Iran was 53.63 GWh at a price of Rs11.57 per unit and its total share in generation was 0.44 percent.

The CPPA, in its petition said that it had not purchased any HSD based electricity during the May.

On the basis of the above data the CPPA has proposed an increase of Rs1.32/kWh over the reference fuel charges, that is Rs5.29 kWh for the month of May. The Nepra will conduct hearing on the petition on June 27.

 

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OGRA elevated gas prices by 300 percent


ISLAMABAD: The Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) has proposed to hike gas prices for domestic consumers by 300 percent while only 30 percent increase has been made for commercial, industrial, power and other sectors.

According to sources, the proposal forwarded by OGRA to the interim government supports, increase of Rs204 per MMBTU for the domestic consumers. The per MMBtu price will increase from existing Rs110 to Rs314.67 for the domestic consumers using less than 100 cubic meters of gas, and from Rs220 to Rs629.33 for those consuming between 100-300 cubic meters gas, which is an increase of 286 percent.

OGRA has made the hike while raising by average gas price Rs4 per Million British Thermal Unit (MMBTU) and has set the new gas price at Rs629/MMBTU.

Although former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government artificially maintained the gas price for the last four years, however, ex-Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi at the end of the constitutional tenure of his government during the month of May 2018 has approved to collect Rs 117 billion from gas consumers in four installments.

It is observed that masses will have to bear Rs 160 billion heavy burden due to this gas price hike.

It is further learnt that Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) will collect Rs11 billion from its consumers and Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL) will collect Rs10 billion on account of gas theft and leakages.

Similarly, to gain public/voters sympathy during upcoming general elections 2018, outgoing PML-N government launched new gas schemes and for this Rs23 billion will be collected from the masses.

Furthermore, OGRA while changing national gas price mechanism has separated cost of gas for SNGPL and SSGCL. Also, during next financial year, the first installment of Rs 29bln will be collected.

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Pakistan railways earn Rs 103 million from Eid trains


Pakistan Railways Eid trains

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Railways has ‘set history’ by earning record Rs 103 million on the first and second day of Eid-ul-Fitr from special trains as compared to Rs76 million earned during the corresponding period of the last year.

“Pakistan Railways has made this record due to offering 30 percent concessional rates on first and second day of Eid and better facilities to the passengers,” a report quoting a Railway Ministry official as saying.

He said that passengers have shown keen interest to travel by trains as Pakistan Railways also announced 20 percent reduction in fares during Ramadan in all the passenger trains across the country.

“By the reduction in fares during the Holy month of Ramazan, Pakistan Railways has made record earning of Rs 420.18 million in this period as comparing to Rs 350.3 million during the last year,” he added.  The revenue has increased by Rs 70 million this year.

He said that the earning is improving every year as people showing more interest to travel by trains and their figure also increasing with the passage of time.

The official said that people have lauded the step taken by Pakistan Railways for providing free of charge traveling to the senior citizen during Eid and as many as 1,629 senior people traveled across the country.

Giving detail, he said that 587 old citizens have traveled from Lahore, 298 from Karachi, 296 from Sukkar, 199 from Multan, 175 from Rawalpindi, 53 from Peshawar and 21 traveled from Quetta.

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You can’t un-see these adorable cat photos


You can't un-see these adorable cat photos

The two greatest things in the life are food and cats. And when they come together, something magical happens.

Take the Instagram account, Cats in Food, for example. Founder Ksenia photoshops cats and food together and the results are really something special.

Black cat Oreos. Feline wantons. Kittie burritos. Some of them are mega obvious and others are more a spot-the-cat-in-the-bowl-of-food. And even better, all these cats are actual personas on Instagram, so if you like the look of, say, a cookie cat, you can then start following that proud kittie IRL.

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Cute fluffy bun @pufferthemagickitten 😻😻😻 #catsinfood

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China will partly lift internet censorship for one of its provinces to promote tourism


China will partly lift internet censorship for one of its provinces to promote tourism

BEJING: China plans to lift some internet censorship on the southern tropical island of Hainan to promote tourism. Visitors to select areas of Hainan will be able to access Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, according to new plan authorities have put together to turn the province into a free trade port by 2020.

It’s not clear if other banned platforms will be uncensored.

The three-year action plan was published on Thursday, but removed from the local government website by Friday, as spotted by the South China Morning Post. Though the plan was pulled, state media are still reporting on it as though the plan is on. It’s unclear why the plan was removed.

For Hainan, China will lift part of its censorship system, or what’s known as the Great Firewall, that blocks access to most foreign social media and news sites. Tourists will be able to enter designated zones in Hainan’s two major cities to access Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Other banned foreign social media platforms, like Google, Instagram, or WhatsApp, haven’t been mentioned.

Ironically, China appears to be censoring people’s reactions to the news that some censorship is being lifted. One user on Weibo commented that people weren’t allowed a chance to provide any feedback on the new tourism plan. “Thousands of comments have since been deleted.

“As if censoring people solved the problem.”

In some ways, the move to lift censorship on Hainan isn’t entirely surprising, considering the island’s non-prominent location at the southernmost tip of China. In general, southern regions, like Hong Kong and Macau, tend to have looser regulation and receive less scrutiny from Beijing. Both Hong Kong and Macau, and nearby Taiwan enjoy their own separate governments, although they sometimes receive pressure or warnings from Beijing. While Hainan is still ruled by China’s government, its new lack of censorship lets it fit in more closely with its neighbors who are able to access Facebook and YouTube.

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Tribunal clears Imran to contest from Mianwali’s NA-95 constituency


Imran Khan

LAHORE: An appellate tribunal of the Lahore High Court on Monday announced its verdict allowing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to fight elections from Mianwali’s NA-95 constituency.

Earlier today, appellate tribunal judge Justice Faisal Zaman Khan reserved the verdict on the appeal filed by PTI chief against the rejection of his candidacy for Mianwali’s national assembly seat.

Following the decision of returning officer (RO) to reject his nomination papers for NA-95, Imran requested election tribunal to quash the decision of RO.

READ MORE: Imran Khan announces to launch countrywide election campaign from Mianwali

Announcing its decision, the tribunal rejected the RO’s objections and declared Imran eligible to partake in polls from Mianwali’s constituency.

Imran’s counsel Babar Awan argued, during the hearing, that his client has declared all his assets, adding,“The RO rejected Imran’s nomination papers on technical grounds.”

On Saturday, the appellate tribunal issued a notice to the returning officer and other parties after Imran’s nomination papers were rejected from NA-95 Mianwali constituency.

PTI chairman Imran Khan has filed his nomination papers for a total of five seats: NA-35 Bannu, NA-53 Islamabad-II, NA-95 Mianwali-I, NA-131 Lahore-IX and NA-243 Karachi. After facing objections on his nomination papers submitted for the constituencies of Lahore, Karachi and Mianwali, Khan has been now given a green signal by Election Commission of Pakistan to contest on all seats except NA-53. The decision of election tribunal on Khan’s eligibility to vie for NA-53 is awaiting.

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FATF meetup in Paris- Dr Shamshad Akhtar to fight for Pakistan’s case over ‘Grey List’


PARIS: A meeting of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is going on in Paris, attended by Caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar. Pakistan is expected to be placed on the FATF grey list during the crucial six-day meeting from June 24th to 29th 2018 in Paris.

Caretaker Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar had arrived in Paris today along with officials of the financial monitoring unit to fight for Pakistan’s case over ‘grey list’.

Dr Akhtar and her team, in the FATF meeting will provide details regarding the out steps taken by the country to curtail terror financing and money laundering. Also she will put up a strong case on not placing Pakistan’s name on the grey list

Earlier in February, during a plenary meeting of FATF it was decided that Pakistan’s name shall be in placed in the grey list due to global money-laundering.

ALSO READ: FATF meets today to discuss proposal to put Pakistan on grey-list

Then, as a result, the National Security Committee (NSC) on June 8 reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with FATF.

A statement was issued after the NSC meeting, “The committee reaffirmed the commitment of the country to work with FATF and other international organizations in achieving common goals and shared objectives”

Moreover, Pakistan also took measures in keeping with FATF regulations. In this regard, on June 20, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) issued ‘Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Regulations 2018’, following FATF’s recommendations.

In the past, from 2012 to 2015, Pakistan was placed on the FATF grey list.

Whereas, FATF is a global body that work against terrorist financing and money laundering.

Pakistan has been struggling in recent past to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations by the FATF. Officials fear that placement of Pakistan’s name in grey list can impose negative effect on country’s economy.

 

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Coffee is the best concoction to enhance teamwork: Study


Coffee is the best concoction to enhance teamwork: Study

A new study suggests that a little coffee could help to boost teamwork.

Coffee is known to keep us more alert and focused, so many of us use it to boost our energy levels and productivity. However, it turns out that this popular stimulant may help to sustain not only individual effort but also constructive interaction within a team.

As the results of a new study, led by researchers at Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus and published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, suggest, individuals who drink a cup of coffee before engaging in a team task engage more constructively with peers.

Amit Singh and colleagues at OSU conducted two related experiments to see how coffee affects the way in which people in a team relate to each other, as well as how they perform during team-based tasks.

For the first experiment, the researchers recruited 72 coffee-loving undergraduate students, all of whom were given strict instructions not to consume any caffeinated beverages before this task.

The participants were told that this would be, primarily, a coffee-tasting experiment. They were all randomly split into groups of five individuals.

Half were offered a cup of coffee (12 ounces of coffee containing approximately 270 milligrams of caffeine) and asked to rate the taste, after which they were assigned “filler” activities for about 30 minutes, while the caffeine took effect.

Then, controversial discussion topics were assigned to all the groups of participants, in which they were instructed to participate for 15 minutes.

Half of the participants were offered coffee only after this task, to compare their engagement with that of peers who worked under the influence of caffeine.

At the end of the group discussions, they were all asked to evaluate other group members’, as well as their own, contributions.

The researchers found that the participants who had drunk coffee before engaging in the group discussion tended to rate both their own, as well as their team members’, performance more positively than the individuals who were only allowed to have coffee after this task.

It may all be due to increased alertness

In the second experiment, the researchers tweaked the conditions. This time, they worked with 61 participants — all undergraduate students — who were all offered coffee at the beginning of the task.

Half of them drank caffeinated coffee (a 12-ounce drink with 270 milligrams of caffeine), while the other half were given decaf (a 12-ounce brew with no more than 3–5 milligrams of caffeine).

Once more, the students were split into small groups and asked to discuss a controversial topic. And again, after the task, they had to rate their own and their team members’ performance.

The experiment confirmed the previous results: the participants who had drunk caffeinated coffee tended to evaluate themselves and others more positively.

But why does this happen? The increased levels of alertness that caffeinated drinks bring about may have something to do with it, the study authors hypothesize.

After the experiment, all participants were also asked to report how alert they felt, and those who had ingested caffeine felt themselves to be more energetic than the students who ended up drinking decaf brews.

“Not surprisingly, people who drank caffeinated coffee tended to be more alert,” observes Singh.

So, the scientists concluded that it may be caffeine-related alertness that makes people feel more positive about themselves and others in a group setting.

“We suspect that when people are more alert they see themselves and the other group members contributing more, and that gives them a more positive attitude,” says Singh.

‘An interesting set of findings’

The findings intrigued the researchers, who now ask themselves whether other stimulant activities, such as exercise, could lead to the same effects. They are interested in exploring this possibility in future studies.

However, the findings did not only focus on the participants’ perception of individual performance in a group task; it also looked at their ability to stay on point during the activity.

As it turns out, the volunteers who had drunk regular coffee prior to participation tended to talk more, but they were also more focused on their given topic of discussion and did not ramble as much as participants who had not ingested caffeine.

“They’re talking about more relevant things after drinking caffeinated coffee,” states Singh. Take that, alongside the fact that coffee also made everyone feel more positive about everyone else’s contribution, and coffee seems to work as a good teamwork enhancer.

“Even though [the caffeinated coffee-drinking participants] are talking more, [both] agreeing and disagreeing, they still want to work [together] again,” Singh notes.

This is because the study volunteers who drank non-decaf coffee reported being willing to work with their group again, despite any differences of opinion.

“[W]e believe that we have an interesting set of findings with respect to how a group performs in a task that requires the exchange of ideas between people when the participants have caffeine in their system vs. not,” the researchers conclude.

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PTI candidate served legal notice for ‘stealing’ election song


PTI candidate election song steal

LAHORE: As electoral battle has begun with almost all of the candidates aggressively pursuing election campaigns in their respective constituencies, but a candidate for the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has sent a legal notice to a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader accusing him of stealing an election anthem the former he was using under his copyright.

The legal notice is served by Jabran Butt, an MMA candidate for PP-150 Lahore, to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate for PP-189 Okara Rao Ali Jabran Bhopal.

He has accused the PTI leader for using the election song without his permission. According to the complainant, the anthem uses the first name – Jabran, in the lyrics of the song.

As per the notice sent to the PTI candidate, Butt’s lawyer alleges that the election anthem was stolen and used by Jabran Bhopal for his own campaign. The notice demands an unconditional apology as well as damages worth Rs20 million. The notice further said legal action would be initiated if the demands were not met within 10 days of the receipt of the notice.

Butt said he might have allowed the rival candidate to use the song if he had sought permission but doing it without authorization was inappropriate.

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Pakistan Chief justice took Suo Motu notice of water shortage all over the country


ISLAMABAD:Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday took Suo Motu notice of increasing water shortage and supply deficiency throughout the country.

Mian Saqib Nisar also declared that he will request interim Prime Minister Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk to monitor the water insufficiency issue in the federal capital by himself.

This statement was passed at a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by the CJP, in Islamabad.

Furthermore, CJP mention that the caretaker government shall not liquefy until this issue is handled properly.

He observed, “Reports are presented but there is no progress in the case.”

During the hearing, the additional attorney general submitted a report to the top court.

It is expected that on June 7, the Supreme Court will hear cases regarding water shortage in the capital. Whereas, apex court’s Karachi and Lahore registries will hold hearings on June 9 and 10, respectively.

The chief justice will also hear cases related to water issues in the Peshawar and Quetta registries.

The SC issued notices to top officials from the Capital Administration and Development Division as well as the attorney general, advocate general, and others, and stipulated justification regarding the water shortage in the capital.

Chief Justice Nisar inquired the attorney general about the sources of supply of water to Islamabad, adding that he would request the interim Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk to personally monitor the water shortage issue.

According to last hearing on June 8, the CJP had said that tubewell owners in the federal capital are acquiring water for free and selling it to residents, gaining money and causing frequent water shortages.

Earlier this month, Justice Nisar had taken a suo motu notice of the water crisis in the country, saying that it would be the Supreme Court’s “top priority” in the weeks ahead.

He also said, “What have we done for our children if we can’t even provide them water?”

Justice Nisar showed his apprehension over the dam built on the Kishanganga River by Indiaa as its a part of Kishanganga hydropower plant project.

He added that Neelum River, which is a branch of the Indian river, has also dried up due to which water shortage shall be on ‘Top Priority’ and this matter shall be resolved as soon as possible no time.

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Marvel presents first super heroine movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp


Marvel presents first super heroine movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp

LOS ANGELES: They made history and US$1 billion (RM4 billion) with the first titular superhero of color in Black Panther – now Marvel’s creatives and stars are repeating the trick for gender equality.

Ant-Man and the Wasp, the sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man, is the 20th release in a decade from the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of comic book movies, and the first to feature a woman in the title.

“We always knew that the next one was going to be Ant-Man and the Wasp,” Kevin Feige, the president of Disney-owned Marvel Studios, told AFP at a global press day for the movie in Pasadena, Southern California yesterday.

“It’s finally time to see her suit up and be the hero that she said earlier she wanted to be.”

The 2015 movie featured Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne as a wannabe superhero and she returns here leaner, meaner and ready to step up on an equal footing with Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man.

Lilly told AFP the plan was to introduce the Wasp’s origin story in Marvel’s 2016 release Captain America: Civil War along with Ant-Man and the other Avengers.

“I got a call saying, ‘We’ve decided not to put you in Civil War’ and there was this moment, I could tell, where the feeling in the room was like, ‘I’m sorry – don’t be offended,’” she said.

“I was like, ‘Are they going to give me a movie? Is that what they’re saying?’ And they said, ‘We really want to dedicate a film to introducing this female superhero and we don’t want her just to be a side note.”

Crazy fun

The surprise of double-billing came later when Marvel sent her a screen capture with the Wasp in the title.

The premise behind Ant-Man is refreshingly simple: Scott Lang, a petty criminal with a lot of heart, can get very big or quantum-level small via a suit that manipulates his subatomic particles.

Ant-Man and the Wasp – directed, like the first movie, by Peyton Reed – sees Lang languishing under house arrest in San Francisco after being caught as his superhero alter-ego fighting some of the other Avengers in Civil War.

As he struggles to rebalance his home life with his responsibilities as Ant-Man, he’s confronted by Van Dyne and her father, the brilliant quantum physicist Hank Pym, with an urgent new mission.

The original was admired by critics but is one of the least successful MCU releases at box offices worldwide.

That actually means very little when the competition is other Marvel movies – it still went on to a global gross of more than US$500 million.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is expected to open domestically around US$75 million over the weekend of July 6 – a considerable improvement on the US$57 million the first film took.

The early social media reaction from preview screenings has been almost universally glowing.

“Ant-Man and The Wasp is crazy fun. Very self-contained, but brimming with energy, and full of cool and creative surprises,” tweeted CinemaBlend critic Eric Eisenberg.

“Super funny, and the entire cast is wonderful. I had a blast!”

Eye-popping

Rudd (Anchorman, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Lilly (The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Lost) are joined by an illustrious support cast, including Oscar-winner Michael Douglas and nominees Michelle Pfeiffer and Laurence Fishburne.

Michael Pena (The Martian, Chips) returns to provide much of the comic relief alongside Walton Goggins (Vice Principals) and Bobby Cannavale (I, Tonya).

It’s not just the good guys (and gals) who are inclusive; Ghost, played by British actress Hannah John-Kamen, follows Cate Blanchett (Thor Ragarnok) as a rare front-and-center supervillain.

“I am the second female villain in the Marvel Universe,” John-Kamen told AFP on the sidelines of the news conference.

“With Ghost, it’s a male character in the comics and it’s designed male, but to be the first person to take it off the page and actually give her life, it was an honor.”

The movie – an eye-popping blend of intricate fight sequences, stunning chases,and laugh-out-loud family-friendly comedy – was co-written by Rudd.

As with many Marvel movies, the bulk of filming took place in and around Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Georgia.

“I try to think of the film as a whole, but I will say this: this has been a collaborative effort more than anything I’ve ever worked on,” the typically self-effacing Rudd said.

“To think I wrote it would be a gross overstatement.”

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PTI finalizes candidates for 272 NA seats


PTI candidates elections 2018

ISLAMABAD: Following protests of workers over what they call ‘unjust’ distribution of tickets, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) revised and finalized a list of candidates who would be contesting the polls on PTI ticket in the general elections scheduled on July 25.

The PTI candidates list also shows a large number of political leaders who recently defected to Tehreek-e-Insaf after quitting, the PML-N, PPP and other parties.

The process for finalization of tickets hit snags when thousands of the party workers staged a sit-in outside the Banigala residence of party chief Imran Khan in Islamabad insisting him to review tickets allotment decision especially in constituencies Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.

ReadImran apologises from party workers who couldn’t be awarded election tickets

The PTI list shows that the party is fielding its candidates in 229 constituencies, out of 272 general seats of the National Assembly. The PTI has announced 90 candidates for 99 KP Assembly seats, 238 candidates for 297 Punjab Assembly seats, 79 candidates for 130 Sindh Assembly seats and 36 candidates for 51 Balochistan Assembly seats.

Following the tickets finalization process, a number of newcomers have succeeded in getting tickets.

Many newcomers succeed in gaining ticket; complaints in some cases addressed. Most of the protesting workers outside Khan’s residence in Islamabad belonged to Multan who were opposed to the awarding of ticket to Sikandar Bosan, who remained in the cabinet of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi till he left the office on May 31.

The PTI’s list of the candidates shows that Sikandar Bosan has been awarded the ticket from NA-154 Multan-I.

Some of the prominent newcomers awarded the PTI tickets are Rashid Akbar Khan from NA-9 Buner; Omar Ayub Khan from NA-17 Haripur; Noor Alam Khan from NA-27 Peshawar-1, Tahir Sadiq from NA-55 and NA-56 Attock; Ghulam Abbas from NA-64 Chakwal-I; Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan from NA-72 Sialkot; Nazar Gondal from NA-86 Mandi Bahauddin; Nadeem Afzal Chan from NA-88 Sargodha-I; Fawad Chaudhry from NA-67 Jhelum-II; Riaz Fatiyana from NA-113 Toba Tek Singh; Ghulam Bibi Bharwana from NA-115 Jhang-II; Chaudhry Bilal Virk from NA-117 Nankana Sahib; Sardar Assef Ali from NA-137 Kasur-I; Chaudhry Nourez Shakoor from NA-147 Sahiwal; Ahmed Yar Hiraj from NA-151 Khanewal; Sardar Jaffar Leghari from NA-193 Rajanpur; Mohammadmian Soomro from NA-196 Jacobabad; Ramesh Kumar from NA-223 Matiari, Liaquat Jatoi from NA-234 Dadu, Farooq Azam Malik from NA-170 Bahawalpur-I; Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar from NA-176 and NA-177 Rahimyar Khan; Malik Ghulam Mus­tafa Khar from NA-181 Muzaffargarh-I; Zulfiqar Khosa from NA-190 Dera Ghazi Khan-III and Sardar Nasrullah Dreshak from NA-194 Rajanpur-II.

 

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World Cup 2018: Group qualifying scenarios for every team


World Cup 2018: Group qualifying scenarios for every team

RUSSIA:  With the second round of World Cup group games completed on Sunday, qualification for the knockout rounds is now clearer.

The top two teams in each group go into the last 16. In the case of teams finishing level on points, FIFA has put in place seven tie-breakers starting with goal difference and then the number of goals scored in all group matches.

If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above three criteria, their rankings are determined as follows:

* points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned;

* goal difference in the group matches between the teams concerned;

* number of goals scored in the group matches between the teams concerned;

* fair play points determined by red and yellow cards at the tournament.

* drawing of lots.

Here is where things stand in each group going into final round-robin matches.

 

Group A

Russia and Uruguay are through and all that is left to decide is who will top the group when they meet on Monday. Russia has a superior goal difference so a win or draw will send the hosts through as group winners to face the runner-up in Group B.

 

Neither Egypt nor Saudi Arabia have any points but with the Saudis shipping six goals, anything but a win will see them finish last.

Group B

Spain and Portugal sit top of the group on four points with Iran on three and Morocco eliminated with no points so far.

Spain and Portugal are also level on goal difference and goals scored and, since they drew, if their final results are the same the group could be decided by fair play points.

Spain has the advantage at the moment with one booking against the two of Portugal.

Portugal needs at least a point from their final match against Iran to guarantee a place in the knockout round. Iran would secure their spot with a win and could also go through with a draw if Spain loses to Morocco.

Spain faces winless Morocco with a point needed to guarantee progress.

The winner of Group B plays the runner-up in Group A, either Russia or Uruguay.

Group C

France, on six points, tops the group and have secured passage to the next round but will need a point against second-placed Denmark (four points) in their final match to clinch first place. Denmark could finish first, second or third.

A Denmark loss coupled with an Australia win over Peru, who have yet to earn a point, could see the Socceroos sneak through on goal difference. Since Denmark and Australia drew, they too could be split by fair play.

Australia, with three yellow cards, currently have the edge in this respect on the Danes, who have four.

Peru has been eliminated but will finish third with a win.

The winner of Group C will meet second place in Group D.

Group D

All sorts of outcomes are possible here with Croatia, on six points, through but the other three teams still in the hunt.

Croatia will top the group if they beat or draw with Iceland.

Nigeria, on three points, will secure their spot in the last 16 with a victory over Argentina, who sit bottom of the group on one point behind Iceland on goal difference.

A draw may also be enough for Nigeria even if Iceland beat Croatia, depending on goal difference.

To go through, Argentina needs to beat Nigeria while hoping Iceland lose to or draw with Croatia. If Iceland and Argentina both win, to move to four points, they will be split by goal difference.

Iceland must win to have any chance but also need the other results to go their way.

The Group D winner will face the Group C runner-up.

Group E

Only one thing is certain in Group E and that is Costa Rica, without a point, will be going home.

Brazil’s last-gasp win over Costa Rica took them alongside Switzerland on four points, with Serbia on three.

Wins or draws for Brazil against Serbia and Switzerland against Costa Rica will send both through.

Serbia must beat Brazil to qualify but a draw could see them through if the Swiss are beaten by Costa Rica by more than one goal.

The winners of Group E face the second-placed team in Group F.

Group F

This was another group that changed dramatically after a stoppage-time goal as Germany, facing potential elimination, pushed themselves right back into the mix by beating Sweden.

Mexico, on six points, is in the driving seat, with Germany and Sweden both on three.

Mexico will qualify with a win or draw against Sweden. They can also move on with a loss to the Swedes if Germany loses to or draw with South Korea, who have no points.

Germany will go through with any win should Sweden fail to beat Mexico.

Another scenario could see Germany advancing on a better goal difference with a victory over South Korea even if Sweden beat Mexico.

Sweden can qualify with a win over Mexico and a Germany loss to South Korea. If both Sweden and Germany win it is possible for the Swedes to advance on goal difference.

Despite two losses South Korea still has a slim chance of advancing but they would need to beat Germany and hope both that Sweden loses to Mexico and that the goal difference goes their way.

The winner of Group F will meet the runner-up in Group E.

Group G

England and Belgium are guaranteed to progress but their finishing positions will be decided by their meeting on Thursday.

Both on six points, they have identical goal totals so a draw would mean top spot going to the best-behaved team. England is currently on two yellows to the three of Belgium.

Tunisia and Panama have no points ahead of their meeting, where a draw would secure third place for the North Africans.

Group H

Japan and Senegal will advance with draws against Poland and Colombia respectively. Should Senegal and Japan both draw with the same score, they will be split by fair play; Senegal has five yellow cards to Japan’s three.

Colombia will progress if they beat Senegal and a draw will suffice if Poland beat Japan. Poland has been eliminated.

The top two teams in the group will face either England or Belgium.

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Saaf Pani Scam: Shehbaz is summoned by NAB today


Shehbaz Sharif PML-N

LAHORE: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has summoned today former chief minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif in Saaf Pani Company scandal.

A questionnaire comprising 25 questions has been prepared by the anti-graft watchdog for Shehbaz Sharif.

Director General of NAB Lahore in his briefing exposed that during Shehbaz’s tenure, the water plants costing 0.5 billion were reportedly installed at the additional cost of 1.5 billion. Four billion were given under the pretext of consultancy, he explained while adding that the company did new hiring on the orders of Shehbaz Sharif.

It is worth mentioning that today Shehbaz Sharif is flying to Karachi on a two-day visit to launch his party’s campaign for coming general elections from the metropolis.

READ MORE: NAB calls Punjab finance minister, MPA in Saaf Pani Company scam

As per details, the PML-N chief will land in the city today on a two-day visit during which he will meet party leaders and address public meetings. He will also hold meetings with businessmen.

Shehbaz will visit NA-249 constituency from where he is contesting the July 25 polls to woo constituents to vote for him.

Shehbaz has filed nomination papers for NA-249 Karachi. Earlier, the PML-N chief did an about-turn when he backtracked from a decision to contest the polls from Karachi’s three constituencies, including NA-248, NA-249 and NA-250.

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Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor quits from PML-N, claimed party tickets were sold


LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor also announced on Sunday his decision for quitting party. PML-N has lost one more loyal member from the party.

Few days ago former provincial minister and spokesman for Punjab government, Zaeem Hussain Qadri, had also had parted ways with PML-N, as he found no respect for the loyal party workers from their leaders.

Now Qadri is contesting from NA-133, Lahore, as an independent candidate after the PML-N denied him ticket.

Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor alleged that the party tickets for the upcoming general election were sold, “I know which ticket was sold for how much. I know how much money was spent to appoint someone as governor.”

While addressing a press conference in Lahore, the provincial minister swear to unveil PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif and his son Hamza Shehbaz. “Lahore is not the property of any one person. Pakistan is not the property of Sharif family.”

He further added, “I can’t stand with the leadership which has hatched conspiracies against country’s institutions. Sometimes there was conspiracy regarding changing oath, while other times [Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi was called to Pakistan.”

As per him, he wanted to leave the party after the Model Town incident in which 14 workers of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek were killed and also after hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

He further remarked that he didn’t get the party ticket in 2013 as well, adding that he didn’t even submit his nomination papers this time around.

 

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Uber battles to keep London license in court appeal


Uber battles to keep London license in court appeal

LONDON: Uber goes to court on Monday to overturn a decision stripping it of its license in London after being ruled unfit to run a taxi service in its most important European market.

Regulator Transport for London (TfL) shocked the Silicon Valley firm last September by refusing to renew its license, citing failings in its approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and to background checks on drivers.

Uber, whose backers include Goldman Sachs and BlackRock and which is valued at over $70 billion, has faced protests, bans, and restrictions around the world as it challenges traditional operators and angers some unions.

In London, the firm has since made several changes to its business model since losing its license, including the introduction of 24/7 telephone support and the proactive reporting of serious incidents to the city’s police.

It has also changed its senior management and apologized for mistakes.

“I know we got things wrong and that we have more work to do. I promise Londoners we will keep listening and improving as Uber moves forward in a new direction,” UK General Manager Tom Elvidge, who will give evidence in court, said in May.

The appeal is due to be heard at Westminster Magistrates’ Court over three days and witnesses will also include Uber’s UK Chairman Laurel Powers-Freeling, UK Head of Cities Fred Jones and TfL’s Interim Director of Licensing Helen Chapman.

After its application for a five-year license was rejected last year by TfL, the company is now seeking an 18-month one to prove to the authorities that it has reformed.

Judge Emma Arbuthnot may take weeks before making her decision, which is likely to be subject to further appeal by the losing side, meaning the whole legal process could take years.

In the meantime, Uber can continue to operate in the city.

At stake for the U.S. firm is one of its most crucial foreign markets. Of its roughly 50,000 drivers in Britain, around 40,000 are in London.

Since September’s TfL decision, the firm has also been stripped of its license by the southern coastal city of Brighton, in a decision which it is appealing, and the northern city of York.

It has however gained new licenses in Sheffield, Cambridge, Nottingham, and Leicester.

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Libyan coastguard picks up almost 1,000 migrants in one day


Libyan coastguard picks up almost 1,000 migrants in one day

TRIPOLI:  Libyan coastguards picked up 948 African migrants on inflatable boats in several operations and also recovered 10 bodies on Sunday, officials and a witness at a naval base said.

The operations brings the number, since last week, of mainly African migrants trying to head to Italy but brought back to Libya to almost 2,000.

The western coast of Libya is the main departure point for thousands of migrants fleeing wars and poverty and trying to reach Europe.

The number of crossings has dropped sharply since July 2017 when an armed group expelled human traffickers from a smuggling hub after an Italy-backed deal.

“The coastguards picked up illegal migrants in different groups. The first group is 97 on one inflatable boat and the second group is 361 migrants on two inflatable boats,” said Naval forces spokesman Ayoub Qassem.

“The second group was taken to Khums town,” Qassem said, adding that the two groups included 110 women and 70 children.

Libya plunged into chaos following the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with many armed groups and two administrations vying for power.

Most migrants try to head across the Mediterranean toward Italy, hoping they will be picked up by ships run by aid groups and taken there, although many drown before they are rescued.

Earlier this month, Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini vowed to no longer let charity ships offload rescued migrants in Italy, leaving one ship stranded at sea for several days with more than 600 migrants until Spain offered them safe harbor.

Italy criticized Malta on Sunday over its refusal to take in a Dutch-flagged aid vessel with more than 230 migrants on board.

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Saudi minister to visit Pakistan after elections


Saudi Arabia minister Pakistan elections

JEDDAH: Saudi Minister for Culture and Information Dr Awwad Bin Saleh Bin Alawwad has said he would visit Pakistan after the general elections was held there in July.

Talking to Pakistani media persons here on the sidelines of the information ministers meeting of the Allied countries held in Jeddah, he said Pakistan is Saudi Arabia’s friend and a strategic partner. He felt honoured to visit Pakistan.

Dr Awad said that the two countries had always enjoyed friendly relations and they never had any deadlock. He said Saudi Arabia would continue to cooperate and work with Pakistan. He said the objective of holding information minister’s conference was to accelerate peace efforts in Yemen.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has issued statistics of district level number of voters in the country.

The ECP has 105,955,409 registered voters with 59,224,263 male and 46,731,146 female voters. According to final electoral rolls-2018 shared by the election commission, out of total registered voters 60,672,870 were from Punjab, 22,391,244 voters were from Sindh, 15,316,299 voters from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 4,299,494 voters from Balochistan, 2,510,154 voters from FATA and 765,348 voters from federal capital.

The ECP in collaboration with NADRA provides SMS service for the public to facilitate the eligible voters to check their registration status.

Public can get the information by entering CNIC number and sending the text message to the number 8300. An automated response will be received in this regard with the name of electoral area, block code and serial number.

The elections are scheduled to take place on July 25.

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List of candidates announced for Elections 2018 by PSP


KARACHI: Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chairman, also former Karachi mayor Syed Mustafa Kamal on Sunday announced list of party candidates for the upcoming general elections 2018.

The announcement was made during a general workers meeting held at Railway Ground Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi.

PSP is formed by MQM eminent leaders Syed Mustafa Kamal and Anis Qaimkhani.  Mustafa Kamal claimed that his party will resolve the basic issues of people after getting success in the upcoming elections throughout the province.

PSP leader said; “Unfortunately the elected representatives of this city have looted its people.”

He further said that Sindh province belongs to everyone, and Karachi is the jewel of the province.

Early this month, PSP chief Mustafa Kamal made it clear that his party would not enter into any electoral alliance with any other party, adding   the situation indicating that his party is in position to win the elections with whipping majority from Karachi and Hyderabad.

PSP has mainly came as an opponent of the Altaf Hussain‘s led MQM, since its establishment the party has succeeded to get many of key leaders of MQM in its fold while at an instant PSP leadership also made efforts to go in the polls practicing a bond scheme formula with Dr Sattar‘s led MQM-P but the plan remained unsuccessful.

The party has commenced its election campaign in Karachi after opening election offices across the city and newly formed party is in the run of upcoming general election along with the election symbol of “Dolphin”.

Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) Chairman Mustafa Kamal reportedly has  submitted nomination forms to contest polls from national and provincial constituencies in Karachi, including NA-253, PS-127.

PSP National Assembly Candidates (Karachi)

Afaq Jamal  – NA-237

Rao Muhammad Zubair  – NA-238

Syed Nadeem Razi – NA-239

Syed Asif Hasnain – NA-240

Danish Khan – NA-241

Barrister Adnan Sabir  – NA-242

Muzammil Qureshi – NA-243

Saeed Shafiq – NA-244

Dr Sagheer Ahmed – NA-245

Ejaz Ahmed Baloch – NA-246

Fauzia Kasuri – NA-247

Yousuf Shahwani – NA-248

Dr Fauzia – NA-249

Syed Hafeezuddin – NA-250

Muhammad Nehal Malik – NA-251

Iftikhar Randhawa- NA-252

Dr Arshad Vohra – NA-254

Dr Jameel Rathor – NA-255

Adil Siddiqui – NA-256

The complete list of candidates is as follows:

Qari Ashwaq Ahmed for NA-236, Afaq Jamal for NA-237, Rao Muhammad Zubair for NA-238, Syed Nadeem Razi for NA-239, Asif Hassnain for NA-240, Danish Khan for NA-241, Hassan Sabir for NA-242, Muzamil Qureshi for NA-243, Syed Shafiq for NA-244, Dr Sagheer Ahmed for NA-245, Ijaz Ahmed Balouch for NA-246, Fouzia Kasuri for NA-247, Yousuf Shahwani for NA-248, Waseem Aftab for NA-249, Syed Abdul Hafeez for NA-250, Muhammad Nihal Malik for NA-251, Iftikhar Randhawa for NA-252, Mustafa Kamal for NA-253, Arshad Vohra for NA-254, Jameel Mustafa Rathore for NA-255, Adil Siddiqui for NA-256.

Similarly, Zubair Jan Bahroi for PS-87, Farhan Javiad for PS-88, Muhammad Azeem for PS-89, Shujat Ali for PS-90, Muhammad Hanif for PS-91, Abdul Jalil Basit for PS-92, Ashfaque Mangi for PS-93, Muhammad Irfan for PS-94, Shahzad Waheed for PS-95, Faizan Yasir for PS-96, Mohammad Saad Siddiqui for PS-97, Dr Yasir Siddiqui for PS-98, Taj Muhammad Akakhail for PS-99, Shahzad Raza for PS-100, Mohammad Salman for PS-101, Syed Farhan Ansari for PS-102, Sofia Saeed for PS-103, Dr Shoqat Zaman for PS-104, Mehmood Abdul Razaq for PS-105, Syed Qamar Naqvi for PS-106, Samina Bilal for PS-107, Muhammad Sadiq Rind for PS-108, Muhammad Dilawar for PS-109, Shareef Awan for PS-110, Syed Mubashir Iman for PS-111, Imtiaz Akber for PS-112, Haji Ali Muhammad for PS-113, Syed Hafeezuddin for PS-114, Muhammad Sadiq for PS-115, Shah Nawaz for PS-116, Adil Khan for PS-117, Naseem Khan for PS-118, Mehbob Alam for PS-119, Naseemuddin for PS-120, Sheikh Abdullah for PS-121, Adeel Habib Hilji for PS-122, Niyala Munir for PS-123, Syed Mustafa Kamal for PS-124, Anwar Raza for PS-125, Iftikhar Alam for PS-126, Syed Mustafa Kamal for PS-127, Taha Ahmed Khan for PS-128, Faisal Muaiz Khan for PS-129 and Khurram Fayaiz for PS-130.

According to previous records, former mayor Kamal hold a vital position as he carried out major development in Karachi and gave a new look to the port city. Similarly after coming in power PSP would change the entire picture of Sindh province, he claimed.

 

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Former PM Abbasi appears before election tribunal


PM shahid khaqan abbasi

RAWALPINDI: Erstwhile prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi appeared before an election tribunal on Monday for the hearing of an appeal challenging his nomination papers for NA-57 Murree constituency. 

Abbasi is participating in upcoming elections on two seats: one on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) ticket from NA-53 and other is home constituency of NA-57, Murree. However, his nomination papers submitted for Murree seat has been challenged in the Rawalpindi appellate tribunal.

Petitioner Masood Ahmed Abbas had challenged Abbasi’s candidature on the accusations of extorting money from the national exchequer. The petition further contended that Abbasi intentionally damaged national security by endorsing the anti-state remarks given by PML-N’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif.

Among other allegations, the petitioner had claimed that former premier did not provide correct details of his assets.

The appellate tribunal had earlier suspended the returning officer for not properly screening the nomination papers of Abbasi.

Till June 27, election tribunals have time to decide on the appeals after which the revised list of the candidates will be shared on June 28.

Polling for general election 2018 will be held on July 25.

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President Mamnoon felicitates Erdogan on victory in the elections


President Mamnoon Erdogan

ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain, on behalf of the government and people of Pakistan, has extended heartfelt felicitations to President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his victory in the elections.

The president underscored that the large turn-out and the peaceful conduct of the parliamentary and presidential elections was a testimony to the strength and vibrancy of Turkey’s democratic values and institutions.

Mamnoon Hussain also expressed the hope that Turkey would continue on the path of progress and prosperity under the leadership of president Erdogan and the historic and unparalleled bilateral relations between Pakistan and Turkey would continue to grow from strength to strength.

Erdogan on Sunday declared victory in a tightly-contested presidential election, extending his 15-year grip on power in the face of a revitalised opposition.

Turkish voters had for the first time cast ballots for both president and parliament in the snap polls, with Erdogan looking for a first round knockout and an overall majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The stakes in this election are particularly high as the new president is the first to enjoy enhanced powers under a new constitution agreed in an April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan.

Erdogan has bagged 53 percent in the presidential poll while Ince, of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), could get 31 percent, state-run Anadolu news agency said, based on a 96 percent vote count.

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‘Because I can’: ride-hailing app welcomes Saudi women drivers


RIYADH: Reem Farahat waited for a ride request. Her phone pinged. “I’ve already cried twice,” she said, heading out to work as one of Saudi Arabia’s first female drivers for Careem.

The Dubai-based ride-hailing app, along with global behemoth Uber, reacted to Saudi King Salman’s September announcement of an end to the kingdom’s ban on female motorists by saying it would hire women in the conservative kingdom.

On Sunday, when the king’s decree took effect, nearly a dozen Careem “captainahs” — all Saudi women — were ready to pick up riders.

“This morning, when I got in the car, I felt the tears coming,” Reem said as she stocked her car with chilled water bottles for her riders.

“I pulled the car over and cried. I could not believe that we now drive… It’s a dream. I thought it would be totally normal, I’d just get in the car and go. I was surprised by my own reaction.”

She took a long pause.

“I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I’m doing this because I can. Because someone has to start.”

‘It’s you’

Seventy per cent of Careem’s customers in Saudi Arabia are women, according to company statistics, a figure largely attributable to the kingdom’s now-obsolete ban on women driving.

Uber puts its equivalent figure closer to 80 percent.

At Careem’s offices on Sunday, staff gathered to celebrate the women’s first day on the job.

Farahat’s first ride request came just hours after the ban was officially lifted.

“This is my first ride. I’m excited. I’m excited to know who I’m picking up, what their reaction is going to be,” she said.

The driver — who also works with her father as a quality control consultant, is training in life coaching, and scuba dives with her sister off the Red Sea city of Jeddah — picked up Leila Ashry from a local cafe.

Walking towards the car, Leila spotted Reem, did a little jump of joy on the sidewalk, and was already chatting as she opened the door.

“Oh my god I can’t believe it’s you. I can’t believe you’re here. I can’t believe I’m here,” Leila said.

“I’ve been tweeting to my friends that my ride is coming and it’s a woman! And you’re so pretty! And I can sit in the front now — wait, can I actually sit in the front next to you?”

‘We automatically understand’

Some 2,000 women have signed up to get their Careem licenses since September, said Abdulla Elyas, co-founder and CPO — “chief people officer” — of the ride-hailing app. They are all Saudi women, from their 20s to their 50s.

Uber also plans to introduce women drivers to their service this autumn.

“They come from completely different backgrounds,” Elyas told AFP.

“We have women who have degrees, a master’s degree. We have women who have no degree at all. We have women who want to do this full time. We have women who want to do this part-time (for) an additional income, who are already working.”

Most of those who had been licensed by Sunday, like Reem, had permits from foreign countries, enabling them to skip driving courses and take the final exam for a Saudi license.

The “captainahs” can pick up any customer, man or woman.

Both the driver and rider have the right to end the ride at any point.

Leila, a young medical student with a pixie cut and bright smile, says she would still choose a woman.

“This automatically feels a lot safer… being a female and dealing with sexism on a day-to-day basis. There’s just something about it that feels wonderful. But it’s not only that. It’s also women joining the workforce,” she said.

Sitting in the front passenger seat, she recalled previous rides with male drivers.

“Before, sometimes they would stare at me from the mirror,” she said.

“It’s just like that thing we share with women, where we just automatically understand what it’s like to be in that position where you feel their eyes on you but you can’t say anything, you can’t do anything against it.”

She turned to chat to Reem, and sang a riff from a West Side Story tune before saying: “If you can do it, then I can do it.”

“See? That’s what I was talking about,” Reem said. “It’s that ripple effect.”

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Supreme Court poised to rule on Trump travel ban, other cases


WASHINGTON:The U.S. Supreme Court, winding down its nine-month term, will issue rulings this week in its few remaining cases including a major one on the legality of President Donald Trump’s ban on people from five Muslim-majority nations entering the country.

The nine justices are due to decide other politically sensitive cases on whether non-union workers have to pay fees to unions representing certain public-sector workers such as police and teachers, and the legality of California regulations on clinics that steer women with unplanned pregnancies away from abortion.

The justices began their term in October and, as is their usual practice, aim to make all their rulings by the end of June, with more due on Monday. Six cases remain to be decided.

The travel ban case was argued on April 25, with the court’s conservative majority signaling support for Trump’s policy in a significant test of presidential powers.

Trump has said the ban is needed to protect the United States from attacks by Islamic militants. Conservative justices indicated an unwillingness to second-guess Trump on his national security rationale.

Lower courts had blocked the travel ban, the third version of a policy Trump first pursued a week after taking office last year. But the high court on Dec. 4 allowed it to go fully into effect while the legal challenge continued.

The challengers, led by the state of Hawaii, have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims. Lower courts have decided the ban violated federal immigration law and the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.

The current ban, announced in September, prohibits entry into the United States by most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

In a significant case for organized labor, the court’s conservatives indicated opposition during arguments on Feb. 26 to so-called agency fees that some states require non-members to pay to public-sector unions.

Workers who decide not to join unions representing certain state and local employees must pay the fees in two dozen states in lieu of union dues to help cover the cost of non-political activities such as collective bargaining. The fees provide millions of dollars annually to these unions.

The justices seemed skeptical during March 20 arguments toward California’s law requiring Christian-based anti-abortion centers, known as crisis pregnancy centers, to post notices about the availability of state-subsidized abortions and birth control. The justices indicated that they would strike down at least part of the regulations.

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Erdogan declares victory in Turkish presidential poll


Erdogan

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday declared victory in a tightly-contested presidential election, extending his 15-year grip on power in the face of a revitalised opposition.

Turkish voters had for the first time cast ballots for both president and parliament in the snap polls, with Erdogan looking for a first round knockout and an overall majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The stakes in this election are particularly high as the new president is the first to enjoy enhanced powers under a new constitution agreed in an April 2017 referendum strongly backed by Erdogan.

Erdogan was on course to defeat his nearest rival Muharrem Ince with more than half the vote without needing a second round, initial results showed.

“The unofficial results of the elections have become clear. According to these… I have been entrusted by the nation with the task and duties of the presidency,” Erdogan said at his Istanbul residence.

He added that the alliance led by the AKP had won the majority in parliament.

Erdogan has just under 53 percent in the presidential poll while Ince, of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), was on 31 percent, state-run Anadolu news agency said, based on a 96 percent vote count.

The figures could yet change as final ballot boxes are opened.

But celebrations were already beginning outside Erdogan’s residence in Istanbul and AKP headquarters in Ankara, with crowds of flag-waving supporters, AFP correspondents said.

Trailing were Meral Aksener of the nationalist (Iyi) Good Party with over seven percent and Selahattin Demirtas of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) with almost eight percent.

A count of almost over 95 percent for the parliamentary election also showed that Erdogan’s AKP — along with its Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) allies — were well ahead and set for an overall majority.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was polling 11 percent, well over the 10 percent minimum threshold needed to win 46 seats, which would make it the second largest opposition party in the new chamber.

‘Protect your rights’

Erdogan had faced an energetic campaign by Ince, who has rivalled the incumbent’s charisma and crowd-pulling on the campaign trail, as well as a strong opposition alliance in the legislative poll.

Ince vowed to spend the night at the headquarters of Turkey’s election authority in Ankara to ensure a fair count and urged supporters to stay in polling stations until the final vote was counted.

The CHP said it had recorded violations in particular in the southeastern province of Sanliurfa, although Erdogan insisted, after voting himself, there was no major problem.

“I will protect your rights. All we want is a fair competition. Have no fear and don’t believe in demoralising reports,” Ince said after polls closed.

Several world leaders supportive of Erdogan, including Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, called to congratulate him on his “victory”, the presidency said.

‘For the future’

Erdogan has overseen historic change in Turkey since his Islamic-rooted ruling party first came to power in 2002 after years of secular domination. But critics accuse the Turkish strongman, 64, of trampling on civil liberties and autocratic behaviour.

Although Erdogan dominated airtime on a pliant mainstream media, Ince finished his campaign with eye-catching mass rallies, including a mega meeting in Istanbul on Saturday attended by hundreds of thousands of people.

The president has for the last two years ruled under a state of emergency imposed in the wake of the 2016 failed coup, with tens of thousands arrested in an unprecedented crackdown which cranked up tensions with the West.

Erdogan, whose mastery of political rhetoric is acknowledged even by critics, has won a dozen elections but campaigned against the backdrop of increasing economic woes.

Inflation has zoomed well into double digits — with popular concern over sharp rises in staples like potatoes and onions — while the Turkish lira has lost some 25 percent in value against the US dollar this year.

But the opposition has lambasted the uneven nature of the poll, which saw state-controlled television ignore Ince’s giant rally in Istanbul on the eve of the election.

And in a situation labelled as blatant unfairness by activists, the HDP’s Demirtas has campaigned from a prison cell after his November 2016 arrest on charges of links to outlawed Kurdish militants.

After casting his ballot in his jail in the northwestern region of Edirne, Demirtas wrote on Twitter: “I wish that everyone uses their vote for the sake of the future and democracy of the country.”

The post Erdogan declares victory in Turkish presidential poll appeared first on ARYNEWS.

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