Nakedly corrupt – Editorial (Express Tribune)

Corruption in public life and offices usually has the decency to find itself a fig leaf to hide behind as it goes about its dirty business, but no such modesty on display with the removal of the Inspector General of Police (IG), AD Khawaja. This man is by all accounts an exemplary police officer with a track record of being uncorrupt and refusing to bend to political pressures when it came to making appointments or investigating crimes. In those very virtues lay his downfall — although the twist in the tail of the tale may be yet to come.

The provincial government is held by the Pakistan People’s Party, and it is the PPP collectively and individually that stands as nakedly corrupt in this tawdry affair. For the second time since the start of the year the PPP government had unseated IG Khawaja making little attempt to disguise the fact that it was his refusal to take political direction that was the reason why he got his marching orders. For the second time he now finds himself reinstated courtesy of the independently-minded Sindh High Court (SHC) that on Monday 3rd April suspended the notification of his removal on the grounds that it had not been ratified by the federal government as required.
At the time of writing there is no on-the-record comment by the Sindh government as to this reversal of its fortunes, but the affair is unlikely to be buried.

The removal of Khawaja will directly impact on the ongoing ‘Karachi operation’ as he had the support and cooperation of all the law-enforcement agencies involved in this complex task — itself an unusual circumstance. The Sindh government was flying in the face of an existing SHC order by appointing a replacement for Khawaja — a move it was not mandated to take. It is for the PM himself to make appointments at grades 21 and 22, which he most certainly has not in this instance. It is the exemplary conduct of this upright man that brings us to the conclusion that a corrupt police force, corruptly led, is the only form of law-enforcement acceptable to the PPP establishment. They bring shame and disrepute on themselves and their governance, and IG Khawaja has our unwavering support.

China Learns How to Get Trump’s Ear: Through Jared Kushner

WASHINGTON — When President Trump welcomes President Xi Jinping of China to his palm-fringed Florida club for two days of meetings on Thursday, the studied informality of the gathering will bear the handiwork of two people: China’s ambassador to Washington and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The Chinese ambassador, Cui Tiankai, has established a busy back channel to Mr. Kushner, according to several officials briefed on the relationship. The two men agreed on the club, Mar-a-Lago, as the site for the meeting, and the ambassador even sent Mr. Kushner drafts of a joint statement that China and the United States could issue afterward.

Mr. Kushner’s central role reflects not only the peculiar nature of this first meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi, but also of the broader relationship between the United States and China in the early days of the Trump administration. It is at once highly personal and bluntly transactional — a strategy that carries significant risks, experts said, given the economic and security issues that already divide the countries.

While Chinese officials have found Mr. Trump a bewildering figure with a penchant for inflammatory statements, they have come to at least one clear judgment: In Mr. Trump’s Washington, his son-in-law is the man to know.
Mr. Kushner first made his influence felt in early February when he and Mr. Cui orchestrated a fence-mending phone call between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi. During that exchange, Mr. Trump pledged to abide by the four-decade-old “One China” policy on Taiwan, despite his earlier suggestion that it was up for negotiation. ‘

Now, officials said, Mr. Trump wants something in return: He plans to press Mr. Xi to intensify economic sanctions against North Korea to pressure the country to shut down its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. He has also vowed to protest the chronic trade imbalance between the United States and China, which he railed against during his presidential campaign.

China’s courtship of Mr. Kushner, which has coincided with the marginalization of the State Department in the Trump administration, reflects a Chinese comfort with dynastic links. Mr. Xi is himself a “princeling”: His father was Xi Zhongxun, a major figure in the Communist revolution who was later purged by Mao Zedong.
Not only is Mr. Kushner married to the president’s daughter Ivanka, but he is also one of his most influential advisers — a 36-year-old with no previous government experience but an exceptionally broad portfolio under his father-in-law.

“Since Kissinger, the Chinese have been infatuated with gaining and maintaining access to the White House,” said Evan S. Medeiros, a senior director for Asia in the Obama administration. “Having access to the president’s family and somebody they see as a princeling is even better.”

Former American officials and China experts warned that the Chinese had prepared more carefully for this visit than the White House, which is still debating how harshly to confront Beijing, and which has yet to fill many important posts in the State Department. Several said that if Mr. Trump presented China with an ultimatum on North Korea, it could backfire.

Shortly after winning the election, Mr. Trump said he might use the “One China” policy, under which the United States recognizes a single Chinese government in Beijing and has severed its diplomatic ties with Taiwan, as a bargaining chip for greater Chinese cooperation on trade or North Korea.

Mr. Trump had thrown that policy into doubt after taking a congratulatory phone call from the president of Taiwan. That caused consternation in Beijing, and Mr. Xi refused to get on the phone with Mr. Trump until he reaffirmed the policy.

After the two leaders finally spoke, the White House said in a statement that the men had “discussed numerous topics, and President Trump agreed, at the request of President Xi, to honor our One China policy.” Mr. Trump insisted on that wording, according to a person briefed on the process, because he wanted to make clear that he had made a concession to Mr. Xi.

Since that call, Mr. Cui has continued to cultivate the Kushner family. Later in February, he invited Ivanka and the couple’s daughter, Arabella, to a reception at the Chinese Embassy to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Inside the White House, the most visible sign of Mr. Kushner’s influence on China policy came in March at the beginning of a meeting of the National Security Council’s “principals committee” to discuss North Korea.

He was seated at the table in the Situation Room when Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, walked in. Seeing no chairs open, General Dunford headed for the backbenches, according to two people who were there. Mr. Kushner, they said, quickly offered his chair to General Dunford and took a seat along the wall.

While administration officials confirm that Mr. Kushner is deeply involved in China relations, they insist that Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has taken the lead on policy and made many of the decisions on the choreography and agenda of the meeting at Mar-a-Lago.

In March, Mr. Tillerson made his first trip to Beijing as secretary of state, during which he and Mr. Xi discussed the planning in a 30-minute meeting. He was criticized afterward for repeating the phrases “mutual respect” and “win-win solutions,” which are drawn from the Chinese diplomatic lexicon and have been interpreted to assert a Chinese sphere of influence over the South China Sea and other disputed areas.

A senior American official said that Mr. Tillerson applied his own meaning to those phrases — “win-win,” he said, was originally an American expression — and was not accepting China’s definition. He said the secretary had adopted a significantly tougher tone in private, particularly about China’s role in curbing North Korea’s provocations.

Mr. Kushner has passed on proposals he got from Mr. Cui to Mr. Tillerson, who in turn has circulated them among his staff in the State Department, officials said. But the department’s influence has been reduced as many positions remain unfilled, including that of assistant secretary for East Asian affairs. Though Mr. Tillerson has kept a low profile, officials said he was trying to develop his own relationship with Mr. Trump at regular lunches and dinners.

Mr. Kushner’s involvement in China policy prompted questions after reports that his company was negotiating with a politically connected Chinese firm to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in his family’s flagship property, 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

On Wednesday, amid the glare of negative publicity, Mr. Kushner’s company ended negotiations with the firm, the Anbang Insurance Group.

Another question hanging over the meeting is whether the hard-liners in the White House will wield their influence. Mr. Trump ran for the presidency on a stridently anti-China platform, accusing the Chinese, wrongly, of continuing to depress the value of their currency, and threatening to impose a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports.

The architects of that policy — Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist, and Peter Navarro, the director of the National Trade Council — have said little publicly about China since entering the White House. But on Thursday, Mr. Trump predicted that the meeting would be “very difficult” because, as he said on Twitter, the United States would no longer tolerate “massive trade deficits.”

By inviting Mr. Xi to Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s “Southern White House,” the president is conferring on him the same status as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, who spent two days in Florida, playing golf with the president and responding to a crisis after North Korea tested a ballistic missile. Such a gesture is particularly valuable, experts said, given that China is not an ally like Japan.

Mr. Xi does not play golf — as part of his anti-corruption campaign, he cracked down on Communist Party officials’ playing the sport — so he and Mr. Trump will have to find other ways to fill the 25 hours that the Chinese president will be at the club. On Thursday evening, Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, will host Mr. Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, for dinner.

There are obvious parallels between the Mar-a-Lago meeting and the 2013 summit meeting at Sunnylands in California, Walter Annenberg’s 200-acre estate, where President Barack Obama and Mr. Xi got acquainted over long walks in the desert landscape and a dinner of grilled porterhouse steaks and cherry pie. But there are important differences, too.

By the time Mr. Obama met with Mr. Xi in California, they had already met once before, when Mr. Xi was vice president. Mr. Xi held extensive meetings with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., traveling with him around the United States. Some former officials said the Mar-a-Lago meeting might reveal the disparity in experience between the two leaders and their teams.

“Sunnylands was difficult because Xi was new, while Obama had his sea legs,” said Mr. Medeiros, the former Obama administration official. “What’s interesting is that the polarity here is reversed. Xi has his sea legs; Trump does not.”

Adam Goldman contributed reporting.

Pakistan blast: Parachinar bomb leaves at least 22 dead

At least 22 people have been killed and more than 70 injured in a blast outside a mosque in north-west Pakistan.
The explosion happened in the city of Parachinar, a mainly Shia Muslim area on the Afghan border.
Reports say a car packed with explosives was left near the women’s entrance of the mosque as people gathered for Friday prayers.

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), said it had carried out the attack.
Many shops and vehicles close to the mosque were damaged in the powerful blast.

“People were screaming for help… When I looked back everything was filled with dust,” shopkeeper Sardar Hussain told AFP news agency.

The Pakistani Army sent a helicopter to help take the injured to hospital.

A doctor at a local hospital said an appeal was being made for blood donors to help treat the wounded.

“Patients are being brought to us in private cars and ambulances and we have received over three dozen patients so far,” the doctor told Reuters news agency.

‘Security failures’ – By M Ilyas Khan, BBC News, Islamabad

This bombing in Parachinar, in Kurram district, is the second since January, and just as deadly. Many among the injured are said to be in a critical state.

Kurram is the only Shia Muslim region in a predominantly Sunni country. Sunni hardliners, currently operating through different Taliban factions including the Islamic State group, consider them heretics and worthy of death. These groups have sanctuaries in Afghan and Pakistani areas surrounding Kurram, and have launched frequent attacks against civilians in Parachinar.

Locals blame the military for security failures and allege its policy of tolerating some Sunni militant groups has given extremists a new lease of life. They also point to the illegal border trade in the region, which they say goes on under the watch of the military and creates openings for militants to infiltrate.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack, saying his government would keep working to “eliminate the menace of terrorism”.

It was followed by protests in Parachinar as angry crowds accused the security forces of failing to protect them.

Pakistan says starts fencing Afghanistan in `high threat zones’

Pakistan has begun building a fence on its disputed 2,500 km (1,500 mile) border with Afghanistan to prevent incursions by militants, Pakistan’s army chief said, in a move likely to further strain relations between the two countries.

Pakistan has blamed Pakistani Taliban militants it says are based on Afghan soil for a spate of attacks at home in recent months, urging Kabul to eradicate “sanctuaries” for militants.

Citing the attacks, Islamabad earlier this month temporarily shut the main crossing points along the colonial-era Durand Line border, drawn up in 1893 and rejected by Afghanistan.

General Qamar Javed Bajwa said initial fencing will focus on “high threat zones” of Bajaur and Mohmand agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which border eastern Afghan provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar.

“Additional technical surveillance means are also being deployed along the border besides regular air surveillance,” the military said in a statement over the weekend, citing Bajwa.

There was no immediate comment from Afghan authorities.

Relations between Kabul and Islamabad have been tense in recent years, with both countries accusing each other of not doing enough to tackle Pakistani and Afghan Taliban militants.

Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye to Afghan Taliban commanders on its soil and even of supporting the militant group, something Islamabad denies.

Bajwa said Pakistan was working on plans to “evolve a bilateral security mechanism” with Afghanistan.

“A better managed, secure and peaceful border is in mutual interest of both brotherly countries who have given phenomenal sacrifices in war against terrorism,” Bajwa added.

Pakistan has long harbored ambitions to seal its border, which is largely unpatrolled and mountainous for large chunks.

In 2007, the military said it was fencing and mining a 35 km (22 miles) stretch of border in the North Waziristan region of FATA to prevent militants crisscrossing the rugged terrain.

Efforts to establish a more permanent presence on the disputed frontier have angered Kabul. Last year, Pakistan’s attempt to build a barrier on the main Torkham crossing ended in brief cross-border skirmishes.

In recent weeks at least two U.S. drone strikes have targeted Pakistani militants on the Afghan side of the frontier.

(Writing by Drazen Jorgic)

Trump asked for a ‘Muslim ban,’ Giuliani says — and ordered a commission to do it ‘legally’

Former New York mayor Rudy W. Giuliani said President Trump wanted a “Muslim ban” and requested he assemble a commission to show him “the right way to do it legally.”

Giuliani, an early Trump supporter who once had been rumored for a cabinet position in the new administration, appeared on Fox News late Saturday night to describe how Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees came together.

Trump on Friday signed orders not only to suspend admission of all refugees into the United States for 120 days but also to implement “new vetting measures” to screen out “radical Islamic terrorists.” Refugee entry from Syria, however, would be suspended indefinitely, and all travel from Syria and six other nations — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — are suspended for 90 days. Trump also said he would give priority to Christian refugees over those of other religions, according to the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Fox News host Jeanine Pirro asked Giuliani if the ban had anything to do with religion.

“How did the president decide the seven countries?” she asked. “Okay, talk to me.”

“I’ll tell you the whole history of it,” Giuliani responded eagerly. “So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, ‘Muslim ban.’ He called me up. He said, ‘Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.'”

Giuliani continued, saying he assembled a “whole group of other very expert lawyers on this,” including former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) and Rep. Pete King (R-NY).

“And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us,” Giuliani told Pirro. “Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”

It was unclear when the above-mentioned phone call took place and when the commission began working. An email to the White House press office was not immediately returned Sunday.

Clips of the exchange between Giuliani and Pirro quickly went viral Saturday night, with some claiming that Giuliani’s statement amounted to admitting Trump’s intent had been to institute a ban based on religion.

Others, including Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus have insisted it is not a ban on Muslims, but rather one based on countries from which travel was already restricted under the Obama administration.

Priebus appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday morning to say it was possible Trump would expand the list of countries included in the travel ban.

“You can point to other countries that have similar problems, like Pakistan and others,” Priebus told host John Dickerson. “Perhaps we need to take it further.”

Priebus also said there had been weeks of work and “plenty of communication” between the White House, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security regarding the ban.

“We didn’t just type this thing up in an office and sign up,” he told Dickerson.

Later on the same program, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) called out Giuliani’s interview with Pirro from the night before.

“They can’t deny that this is a Muslim ban,” Ellison told Dickerson. “On the campaign trail, [Trump] said he wanted a Muslim ban. … Rudy Giuliani who helped him write it said that they started out with the intention of a Muslim ban and then they sort of ‘languaged’ it up so to try to avoid that label, but it is a religiously based ban.”

Senate Democrats vowed to draft legislation to block the travel ban.

“We’re demanding the president reverse these executive orders that go against what we are, everything we have always stood for,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a news conference Sunday morning, noting later that his middle name, Ellis, was originally inspired by Ellis Island.

“It was implemented in a way that created chaos and confusion across the country, and it will only serve to embolden and inspire those around the globe those that will do us harm,” Schumer added. “It must be reversed immediately.”

Trump’s executive order caused mayhem and sparked massive protests at airports around the country Friday and Saturday, as reports surfaced that dozens of travelers from the affected countries, including green-card holders, were being detained.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Saturday morning challenging Trump’s order after two Iraqi men with immigrant visas were barred from entering the United States at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

As Giuliani was speaking, Fox News simultaneously aired an alert that noted federal judge Ann M. Donnelly had issued a stay to stop the deportations nationwide.

Donnelly wrote that there was a strong likelihood the order had violated the petitioners’ rights to due process and equal protection by the Constitution.

“There is imminent danger that, absent the stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27, 2017 Executive Order,” Donnelly wrote.

The ACLU hailed the victory.

“Clearly the judge understood the possibility for irreparable harm to hundreds of immigrants and lawful visitors to this country,” ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement. “Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders. On week one, Donald Trump suffered his first loss in court.”

On Sunday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying it did not plan to back off enforcing Trump’s orders.

“President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place—prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety,” the statement read. “President Trump’s Executive Order affects a minor portion of international travelers, and is a first step towards reestablishing control over America’s borders and national security.”

The department said that less than one percent of daily international air travelers to the United States had been “inconvenienced” on Saturday.

Matthew Kolken, an immigration attorney based in Buffalo said there has been “a systemic bias against individuals from Muslim countries in the U.S. immigration departments” for years, including under the Obama administration.
“This isn’t unprecedented,” Kolken told The Washington Post by phone Sunday. “The unfortunate reality is the executive branch does have vast discretionary authority to determine who they are going [allow in or not].”

That said, Kolken believes “Trump has gone a step further without a doubt” in including even people who are lawful permanent residents and suspending all immigration applications from people from the seven countries on the banned list.

If there was evidence of disparate treatment of individuals from the same country — if there were anecdotal evidence of, for example, a Syrian family of one religious background allowed to enter over that of another religious background — then that is where lawsuits could “come to play,” he said.

“The question becomes whether they’re trying to do an end-around by couching the ban as a country-specific ban based on a security-related issues when in reality it’s a religious ban,” Kolken said.

World’s 8 Richest Have as Much Wealth as Bottom Half of Global Population

How concentrated has wealth become in the globalized modern world? Here’s one answer: Just eight of the richest people on earth own as much combined wealth as half the human race.

That’s a notable change from last year, when it was reckoned to take 62 of the superrich to match the assets of the 3.6 billion people in the poorer half of mankind.

The charity Oxfam does the math each year and publishes its results just in time for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where many of the spectacularly wealthy are often among the attendees, along with diplomats, political figures, and business and cultural leaders. The Oxfam report on inequality is on the agenda for discussion at the forum.

Oxfam bases its figures in part on Forbes’s annual list of billionaires and the magazine’s estimates of their wealth. This year, Oxfam said, new data gathered by Credit Suisse about the global poor led it to lower its estimates of their assets, and revise its findings about how few rich men — the eight are all men — were needed to equal the wealth of 3.6 billion people.

Here are the eight, with their net worth as estimated by Forbes, whose annual survey depends on a range of sources:

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, led the list with a net worth of $75 billion. He is scheduled to speak at the forum in Davos this year.

Amancio Ortega Gaona, the Spanish founder of the fashion company Inditex, best known for its oldest and biggest brand, Zara, has a net worth of $67 billion.

Warren E. Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, $60.8 billion.

Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecommunications magnate, $50 billion.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, $45.2 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s creator, $44.6 billion.

Lawrence J. Ellison, the founder of Oracle, $43.6 billion.

Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and founder of the media and financial-data giant Bloomberg L.L.P., $40 billion.

The night I’ll never forget

I remember sitting in the snow all night. We were being bombed. Usually after a few hours it would stop. But not this time. I remember the faces of my kidnappers; how they kept saying, “Ya Rabi, Allah hu Akbar,” as the bombs fell. I remember wondering how someone who celebrated the massacre of innocent children could have the spine to take God’s name. But I would remember being tortured and how they would say Allah hu Akbar every time they hit me. They said it gave them strength, so I would say it right back, and louder because it gave me the strength to take any and everything they threw at me.

When the bombs started falling closer to us, I told my kidnappers, “Inshallah, today there are is no escaping. Inshallah, today you will be put to trial.” The same evening, I was sitting in my corner when my guard Sohail ran in, ecstatic. My Uzbek was weak but I could pick up that there had been an attack. Then, Muhammad Ali, the leader of the group, turned around and told me in Urdu, “Alhumdulillah we have avenged our women and children.”

As they took the radio out and started listening to the news, the horrors of what they were celebrating started to dawn upon me. Almost 150 children murdered in cold blood in broad day light. I couldn’t understand what was going on. “Army Public School,” they kept yelling, while hugging each other. “We have hit the enemy at the core,” they said. I had had enough. It was three-and-a-half years into my kidnapping so my fear of fear itself was really just a joke. “You are sick! These are children”, I shouted,” The Holy Quran says never touch women and children literally till they are about to kill you! Have you no respect for the word of God?” Trust me, asking them if they had any morals was stupid. I had screamed that in darkness upon deaf ears millions of times. I told them believe in karma. Believe that when you take something that you have no right over will be destroyed, if not in this life then the next. I told them that neither the Prophet (pbuh) nor his companions ever touched a child — unless it was to give knowledge and love. What they had done was heinous. “We will all die,” I told them. That’s when they said that they had not done it. An Ayat from the Quran and suddenly morality kicked in! They said it was Jundullah (which happened to be the name of their media cell). “Get lost!” I said as I sat back in my corner. I had no tears left but I knew tonight would be a tough night.

After every attack in Pakistan, I felt as if the bombs and bud duas (curses) all fell on me. I survived that night. And many nights after that till one day, a few months later, I saw this picture of my wife, Maheen, with some APS children. I think by this time, just her and my cousin Sharmeen had me as their profile pictures on social media. It had been months since I had had any contact or information. Seeing this picture, I finally found the strength to cry. Finally, I cried not out of pain and loneliness but the fact that there was still someone I could connect to. My wife had written about how being with the children and their families was the closest she had felt to me. I smiled because it was the furthest I had ever felt from her. I thought about those kids and their families and how there really was no justice. How can you give justice to a child who has lost his parent? And how do you console parents who have had their children stolen from them? You can’t. We could not defend our children that day.

The planner of this attack many many months later was in jail with me. I asked him how he justified it and he said that they were going to grow up and become army officers. “Mashallah, brothers”, I said. “We have a man who can see the future!” I told him that perhaps out of the 150, one would have been an imam. Maybe one would have been a doctor who worked pro bono in war-torn areas and treated your grandchildren? Were those two lives not important? Was the life of any Muslim child not important? What were you fighting for? I thought it was for women and children and the cruelty of the great western powers! What exactly is the difference between them and you?

I swear to you, he had boasted (about the attacked) in jail and I know he wasn’t lying because he had two other people with him to back his story about how he had planned the attack. He looked at me and said that the army had done it themselves and that they (militant groups) always took credit for these things but that it was an internal plot. All the other people started to laugh at him (all militants from various Pakistani and Afghan groups taken prisoners by the Taliban for joining the IS). I didn’t laugh. I saw how weak the devil really was. Spineless. I have seen the maddest men of our time. Men who say they are mujahideen, selfless in sacrifice. They were liars, traitors, cowards, thieves and murderers. That night I asked God to forgive me for fighting to stay alive in the company of men like these; for depending on such men to spare or even save my life. I also asked God to make me humble as a man and to embed the memory of that night in my soul so that I would never forget. That is what I ask, never forget. #16December, 2014.

The writer is the director of First Capital Securities Corporation and Chairman of Pace Barqa. He is the son of slain Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer.

Aviation experts suggest pilot error to blame for PK-661 crash

They believe that engine failure “should not have led to the plane crash as the aircraft was still flyable on the operative engine”.

Pakistan International Airlines’ flight PK-661 crashed on the way to Islamabad from Chitral on Wednesday.
Air Marshal (retd) Shahid Lateef insisted that the crash could have been avoided. According to him, the aircraft could still fly if one of its engines failed, adding that the aircraft could then be diverted to a nearby airfield for an emergency landing.

“Since it was a single engine failure, as we know, the captain of the aircraft should have flown and landed it safely. The aircraft does not even require a proper landing strip in case of emergency landing. The aircraft captain should have handled the emergency in a proper manner.”

He said that he believed that the crash had occurred because of pilot error, adding that pilots were unable to cope with the emergency situation.

“The crash also may have occurred because of lack of coordination between the pilot and co-pilot,” Lateef added.
Highlighting plane crashes under unavoidable circumstances, he said that if the aircraft caught fire and burnt in midair, it was considered ‘unavoidable circumstances’.

Another UK-based Pakistani aviation expert Malik Riz Awan said that although this was the first air crash in Pakistan, one needed to rule out a few things before making any assertion.

“The possibility of a lightning strike or storm must be ruled out. The last message sent by the captain to the control tower is also very important,” he said.

Agreeing with the assertion that multi-engine aircraft were capable of flying with just one working engine, he said that the pilot only needed to “adjust the throttle and control fuel flow”.

Informing that investigation into aircraft crashes generally took months to complete, he said that the aircraft’s load factor also needed to be checked, adding that improper loading might create a fatal center of gravity.
He claimed that even if the “aircraft is out of fuel, it may fly for 20 minutes”.

AirBlue Crash Affectees Association (ACAA) and Bhoja Air Crash Families Association demanded a transparent and impartial investigation into the latest crash on Thursday. They said that the probe should not be under the influence of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Stressing the need for compiling the report as soon as possible, they said they were disappointed with the attitudes of carriers and regulators of civil aviation matters.

They said that over the past six years, there have been a number of accidents in the country in which more than 350 lives had been lost.

“This latest tragedy has once again exposed the gaping holes in the system and standard operating procedures currently in place (or lack thereof) in the (domestic) civil aviation sector,” they said.

‘No survivors’ after plane crash in northern Pakistan mountains

PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD, Dec 7: There were no survivors after a plane carrying 47 people crashed into a mountain in northern Pakistan on Wednesday, the airline’s chairman said, as recovery operations continued late into the night at the remote crash site.

The military said 40 bodies had been recovered and rescue efforts involved about 500 soldiers, doctors and paramedics. The bodies were shifted to the Ayub Medical Center in nearby Abbottabad, about 20km (12 miles) away.
“There are no survivors, no one has survived,” said Muhammad Azam Saigol, the chairman for Pakistan International Airlines. PIA-operated flight PK661, which crashed en route from Chitral to the capital, Islamabad.

Junaid Jamshed, a well-known Pakistani pop star turned evangelical Muslim cleric, was among those feared dead, an airline official said.

PIA said the captain of the flight had reported losing power in one engine minutes before its plane lost contact with the control tower en route to the capital.

The airline said the plane crashed at 4:42 pm local time (1142 GMT) in the Havelian area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, about 40km (25 miles) north of Islamabad. Chitral, where the flight originated, is a popular tourist destination in Pakistan.

Saigol said the ATR turboprop aircraft had undergone regular maintenance and in October had passed an “A-check” maintenance certification, performed after every 500 flight hours.

He said a full investigation of the crash, involving international agencies, would be conducted.

“All of the bodies are burned beyond recognition. The debris are scattered,” Taj Muhammad Khan, a government official based in Havelian, told Reuters.

Khan, who was at the crash site, said witnesses told him “the aircraft has crashed in a mountainous area, and before it hit the ground it was on fire”.

Pakistani television showed a trail of wreckage engulfed in flames on a mountain slope.

Irfan Elahi, the government’s aviation secretary, told media the plane suffered engine problems but it was too early to determine the cause of the accident.

In a late night statement, PIA said the plane was carrying 47 people, including five crew members and 42 passengers. Earlier, the airline had said there were 48 people on board.

The airline said two Austrian citizens and one Chinese citizen, all men, had been on board. The flight manifest showed three people on board with foreign names.

The Austrian foreign minister’s spokesman later confirmed two Austrians had been killed in the crash.

A local trader at the site of the crash said the fire was still burning nearly two hours after the crash.
“They are removing body parts,” Nasim Gohar told Geo TV.

The military said it had sent in troops and helicopters.

“PIA is doing everything possible to help the families of passengers and crew members,” the airline said in a statement.

The pop singer Jamshed, a member of one of Pakistan’s first successful rock bands in the 1990s, abandoned his singing career to join the Tableeghi Jamaat group, which travels across Pakistan and abroad preaching about Islam.
In his last tweet, Jamshed posted pictures of a snow-capped mountain, calling Chitral “Heaven on Earth”.

Plane crashes are not uncommon in Pakistan and safety standards are often criticized. In recent years, media have reported on multiple near-misses as planes over-ran runways and engines caught fire.

In 2010, a passenger plane crashed in heavy rain near Islamabad, killing all 152 people on board. Two years later, a plane operated by a private Pakistani company, with 127 people on board, crashed near Islamabad. All on board were killed.

PIA has also suffered major disasters in the past.

In 1979 and 1992, PIA jets crashed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and in Kathmandu, killing 156 and 167 people, respectively.

In 2006, a PIA plane crashed near the central city of Multan, killing 45 people.

(Additional reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Amjad Ali in ISLAMABAD and Gul Hamad Farooqi in CHITRAL,; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Larry King)

Hitch a Ride on a Rickshaw Via the Internet

Uber on Thursday launched its rickshaw-hailing service, uberAUTO, in Karachi.

The service will be giving free rides all week, Uber announced on its Twitter.

To avail the free rides, patrons are asked to enter the promo code FREEAUTO.

With the aforementioned promo code, patrons can avail five free rickshaw rides up to Rs75 each, today through Nov 27.

People can pay using cash or card, depending on their preference.

Uber first launched uberAuto in Lahore in October this year.

In order to use uberAuto, a patron will need to download the Uber App from any App store and request a ride from the app.