Prime Minister Imran Khan will head to China on Monday for an official visit in order to discuss issues of regional and bilateral importance with the Chinese leadership, Radio Pakistan reported.
He will meet separately with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
According to the report, the premier will discuss expansion of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and cooperation in the agriculture, industrial and socio-economic sectors.
Last week, Prime Minister Imran said that the removal of all bottlenecks in CPEC projects and their timely completion was the top priority of the government.
Amid a perceived slowdown on CPEC, the federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar on Sunday said Pakistan would engage China at the highest level for talks on several big projects in the fields of hydropower, oil refinery and steel mills.
During the premier's visit, the two sides will discuss the "immediate implementation" of the second phase of the China-Pakistan free trade agreement (FTA). They will also discuss the abolition of the quota for all Pakistani agro products, Radio Pakistan added.
The prime minister is also expected to address the China Pakistan Business Forum in Beijing and to meet with Chinese entrepreneurs as well as the heads of different companies, Radio Pakistan reported.
This is the premier's third visit to China in less than a year.
ISLAMABAD: The Aviation Division has directed 18 international airlines to stop use of plastic cutlery in flights to Pakistan.
The airlines are also directed to ensure that the cutlery is packed in paper rather than in plastic or polythene bags.
The information was shared by Aviation Division senior joint secretary Amjad Sattar Khokhar with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Monday.
Both were present at the committee room of Parliament House where a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change was scheduled at 11am. But the meeting was delayed as committee chairperson Sitara Ayaz and other parliamentarians could not arrive on time. Media personnel were also present in the committee room.
“We have given directives to airlines that they cannot use plastic cutlery in the flights as we want to stop the use of plastic. Moreover, it is observed that the cutlery is packed in plastic sacks so we have also directed them to ensure that the cutlery should be wrapped in paper rather than in polythene,” Mr Khokhar said.
China Southern Airlines wants to know under which law should it follow the directive
“Also, we have decided to place standees with messages in this regard at airports so that passengers coming from abroad come to know that the use of plastic bags is banned in Pakistan,” he said.
Mr Aslam appreciated the step and said such messages can also be advertised on electronic boards placed near airports.
“I was travelling to a country [he said without mentioning the name of the country] and at the time of entry I was told that there would be a $200 fine for the use of plastic bags,” he said.
Talking to Dawn after the meeting, Mr Khokhar said that a written directive was sent to the airlines a few months back and after that reminders were also sent to them to ensure implementation.
“Only China Southern Airlines has asked from us that under which law should it stop the use of plastic cutlery and we have given them a reply. Other airlines have not asked about it which means they have no objection to it. We hope that the decision of the Aviation Division would be implemented shortly,” he said.
“We are also concerned about climate change and that is why we have planted over 50,000 saplings around airports,” Mr Khokhar said.
A new regulation under the Environmental Protection Act 1997, proposing a ban on polythene bags in the federal capital, was introduced in June this year and Aug 14 was the cut-off date.
The regulation is called “Pak-EPA Ban on (Manufacturing, Import, Sale, Purchase, Storage and Usage) Polythene Bags Regulations, 2019” and extended to the Islamabad Capital Territory. Later, other provinces also started following the federal capital and are in the process of banning the use of plastic bags.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2019
THE Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on Wednesday attended an event hosted by Prince Karim Aga Khan at the Aga Khan Centre in Kings Cross, where they engaged with members of the Pakistani community ahead of their official visit to Pakistan from Oct 14 to 18.
Prince Karim received the royal couple at the entrance to the venue, where they were seen exchanging pleasantries and talking about the upcoming visit to Pakistan. At the end of the event, the couple was accompanied by the Aga Khan as well as Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK, Nafees Zakaria.
Kate Middleton was wearing a deep green dress, with earrings by a Pakistani clothing and accessories designer Zeen.
The Aga Khan Centre boasts a collection of gardens, courtyards and terraces, which provide an insight into the diversity and influence of Islamic landscape design around the world and through history.
“This is an opportunity for their highnesses to come to the Aga Khan Centre, which is an important building here in London,” said Mahmood Ahmed, chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in the UK. “This building promotes the notions of pluralism and also represents our network which does a lot of work in the developing world.”
“We have a special relationship with Pakistan, but because of their royal highnesses’ upcoming visit there, we decided to invite them here so they could meet the Pakistani diaspora and people from different walks of life based here in the UK,” he said, adding that the guests included people from Pakistan who had made their homes here and excelled.
“It introduces them [Kate and William] to Pakistan. It gives them an opportunity to talk a little bit to people from there and to get a flavour of where they are going.”
British-Pakistani businessman Aneel Mussarat, who was invited by the Pakistan mission, said it was a good event.
Organisers said the event was held especially to showcase Pakistani culture and heritage to the royal couple and was attended by prominent members from the fields of arts and culture, business, community development, entertainment, and music from the UK and Pakistan. Members of the diplomatic community, including Mr Zakaria and the High Commissioner of the UK Thomas Drew CBE, also attended the event.
The Aga Khan is the founder and chairman of the AKDN, a group of development agencies which works to improve the living conditions of people in Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East. The network is active in over 30 countries, including Pakistan, and is involved in initiatives ranging from education, health, economic development to culture.
British-Pakistani chef Saliha Mahmood Ahmed, who won Master Chef 2017, later posted on Twitter, saying: “An absolute career highlight! Meeting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, prior to their tour of Pakistan! Was able to design a Pakistani themed lunch menu.”
Kensington Palace, the official Twitter account for the royal couple, tweeted saying they met a range of British Pakistanis including DJ and Producer Naughty Boy, table virtuoso Shahbaz Hussain, flute maestro Muhammad Noman and musician Maha Malik.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2019
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan will pay an official visit to China on Oct 7-8 with the main agenda of ‘revival’ of stalled China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
“Removal of all bottlenecks in CPEC projects and their timely completion is the top priority of the government,” the prime minister reiterated while chairing a meeting on the economic corridor on Wednesday. He said he would soon visit China and meet its leadership to strengthen friendship between the two countries.
It has been learnt that most of CPEC-related projects have stalled due to certain reasons, including prevailing financial crunch confronting the government and ‘non-cooperation’ of the bureaucracy due to ‘fear of the National Accountability Bureau’.
Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtiar apprised the meeting about CPEC-related projects and the progress so far made on it.
Railway Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed briefed the meeting on Main Line-1 (ML-1) projects being executed to lay a new railway track from Karachi to Peshawar under the umbrella of the CPEC.
Speaking at a prize distribution ceremony for seminary students, Imran says uniform curriculum to be introduced by March next year
Addressing a prize distribution ceremony for madressah students who had performed distinctively in the examinations of contemporary education boards and seminaries, the PM said the government’s plan to introduce uniform curriculum in the country would be implemented by March next year so that all graduates could have equal opportunities to grow in their practical life.
“The graduates of the new education system will have understanding of religion, contemporary knowledge and science and technology.”
He said the government planned to synchronise the entire education system to create social harmony in the country, adding that reforms were being introduced in the education system which would help uplift the lower section of the society with the provision of equal opportunities to progress.
Highlighting the plight of the Kashmiris, the PM said eight million people had been locked in an open jail that Occupied Kashmir had become for two months.
At present, Prime Minister Khan said, three education systems were in vogue in Pakistan, which was leading to injustices and divisions in the society. “The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had decided in its early days that the students of seminaries will be imparted contemporary modern education so that they too can get important positions in different professions,” he added.
Underlining importance of education, the prime minister said Islam laid special emphasis on education and that the “Muslims had ruled the world for 700 years not because of sword but education”. “Muslims are weak today mainly due to lack of education,” he deplored.
Speaking on the occasion, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said a uniform curriculum was being prepared for government-run and private schools as well as madressahs.
He said measures were also being taken to ensure that students of seminaries took examinations of contemporary education boards, and this process would hopefully be completed in three to four years.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2019
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday addressed the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The highlight of his more than 45-minute-long speech was intense criticism of India for its annexation of occupied Kashmir and the continued restrictions imposed in the region
The premier began his wide-ranging, at times apparently extemporaneous speech by saying he feels honoured to represent Pakistan at the world forum.
He said he would not have come to the UN if he did not feel that some "urgent issues" needed to be addressed.
The issue which the prime minister talked in most detail about was the oppression of the people of occupied Kashmir.
"When we came to power, we swore that we would try to bring peace.
"We went to fight the war on terror and we faced losses of [thousands of people].
"I opposed the war because in the 1980s we joined the struggle against the Soviets funded by western countries.
"The mujahideen were trained by the Pakistan Army and they waged the freedom struggle. The Soviets called them terrorists and we called them freedom fighters.
"In 1989 soviets retreated; the Americans packed up and left. Here we had indoctrinated them in jihad against foreign occupation and now that the US had taken over, we were supposed to tell them it's no longer jihad.
"And so the US turned against us and it was a nightmare.
"Taliban were in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda was there; what did Pakistan have to do with it?
"When we came to power we decided we would dismantle what was left. I know India keeps alleging that these groups are there.
"I welcome UN observers, see for yourself.
"We now have a relationship with Afghanistan, Russia and then we wanted to mend fences with India.
"I have friends in India and I love going to India. So when my party came to power, we reached out to India and (said) let's resolve differences through trade.
"(Indian Prime Minister Narendra) Modi said there were terrorist attacks from Pakistan. We said well we have attacks in Balochistan from your end.
"Unfortunately we didn't make any headway. Our foreign minister was at the UNGA but they cancelled the meeting.
"Meanwhile a 20-year-old Kashmiri boy blew himself up at the Indian convoy. And India blamed us.
"I spoke to the Indian public on television. I said if you give us any iota of proof, we will immediately take action, because we have clamped down on these groups. They bombed us (instead), and we retaliated.
"We immediately returned the [captured Indian] pilot, saying that we do not want an escalation.
"Rather than taking that as a peace gesture, [Modi claimed that] he had taught Pakistan a lesson; that their jets had killed 350 terrorists.
"Complete lies. They just killed 10 trees of ours which was quite painful given that we are growing all these trees."
The prime minister pointed out that Modi's entire election campaign revolved around an anti-Pakistan narrative.
"In his election campaign, Mr Modi used words like 'This is just a trailer. The movie is about to start' and 'I went into Pakistan and taught them a lesson'."
He said that at the time, Pakistan chalked it up to just "politicians making statements" and that they would get back to the normal relationship with India post-elections.
The premier said that India did not respond to Pakistan's overtures following Modi's re-election as prime minister and soon it was discovered that India was trying to push Pakistan into the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to bankrupt the country.
"That's when we realised that there was an agenda and that agenda became obvious on the 5th of August when India went against 11 United Nations Security Council resolutions which say that Kashmir is a disputed territory and the people of Kashmir have the right of self-determination," he said.
"They went against the Simla Accord — which is about sorting out our differences through bilateral means.
"They actually went against the Indian Constitution. Illegally, they revoked Article 370 which gave Kashmir the special status and [stationed] an extra 180,000 troops there," said Prime Minister Imran, providing the backdrop to India's actions in Kashmir.
He said that the total number of security forces in Kashmir are 900,000 and they put eight million people of occupied Kashmir under curfew.
He said that the answer to how anyone can do something like this lies in the RSS ideology followed by Modi.
"Now I must explain what RSS is. Modi is a life member (of RSS).
"It is an organisation inspired by Hitler and Mussolini. They believe in racial purity and superiority. They believe they are an Aryan race.
"They believe in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims. They believe a golden age of Hindu rule was stopped by Muslims and then the British occupation.
"What kind of people bring in 900,000 troops for eight million people? These are human beings," said Prime Minister Imran to applause from the audience.
"What comes with Aryan superiority is arrogance and it makes people commit mistakes and do stupid, cruel things like what Modi has done.
"It is arrogance that has blinded Modi. Has he thought about what will happen after the curfew in Kashmir is lifted?
"What will he do? Does he think the people of Kashmir will quietly accept the status quo?"
"(Nearly) 100,000 Kashmiris have died in the past 30 years because they were denied their right of self-determination. Eleven thousand women were raped.
"The world hasn't done anything.
"What is going to happen will be a blood bath. The people will come out.
"Has he thought it through what happens then? Has anyone thought what happens when there is a bloodbath?
"What do you think they (Kashmiris) will think of the way they have been boxed in?"
He noted that even pro-India local leaders were taken out of Kashmir as part of the crackdown and 13,000 boys were picked up and taken to unknown locations.
"What will the people do then? [They will] take to the streets. The soldiers will then shoot them. They have already used pellet guns.
"And so Kashmiris will be further radicalised. There will be another Pulwama. And they (India) will blame us.
"They are already blaming us. They said we have 500 terrorists lined up to go in.
"Why would we send 500 terrorists when there are 900,000 troops?
"There will only be further cruelty on Kashmiris. It will give them the excuse to chant on the mantra of Islamic terrorism.
"The whole world then turns away.
"How do we (Pakistan) benefit from further increasing cruelty on the people of Kashmir?"
Prime Minister Imran said there is no other narrative left for India. "Whatever happens we will be blamed.
"What does Modi think the 180 million Muslims of India are thinking? Aren't they watching these Kashmiris stuck in?
"Don't you think they too will be radicalised? Then there will be blame on us again.
"What about the 1.3bn Muslims watching this who know this is only happening because they are Muslims? What do you think they would think?
"What would the Jews of Europe think if 8,000 Jews were stuck. Are we children of a lesser God?
"Among the 1.3bn (Muslims) someone will pick up arms," he said, citing the analogy of a Hollywood film.
"Muslims will become radicals because of this, not because of Islam. Because they see no justice.
"I have pictured myself locked up for 55 days. There are rapes, soldiers going into rooms.
"Would I want to let this humiliation continue? I would pick up a gun."
"You are forcing people into radicalisation," he said, addressing the Indian leadership.
"This is one of the most critical times. There will be a reaction to this and Pakistan will be blamed.
"Two nuclear countries will come face to face.
"Before we head there the UN has a responsibility; this is why the UN came into being in 1945. You were supposed to stop this from happening.
"I feel like we are back in 1939 [when] Czechoslovakia was annexed.
"Is the international community going to appease or stand up for justice or humanity.
"If a conventional war starts between the two countries, supposing a country seven times smaller is faced with a choice to surrender or fight to the end.
"When a nuclear country fights till the end it has consequences far beyond the borders.
"This is a test of the UN. You are the one who guaranteed the Kashmiris the right (of self-determination).
"This is the time not to appease but to take action."
He said the very first action that India needs to take is to lift the curfew in occupied Kashmir and then release all detained prisoners.
"And then the world community must give the Kashmiris the right of self-determination," the prime minister stressed.
The first issue addressed by Prime Minister Imran in his speech was climate change. "So many leaders spoke about climate change but I feel there is a lack of seriousness (to tackle the issue).
"Perhaps some of the leaders who can do a lot do not realise the seriousness of the situation. There are a lot of ideas but they are nothing without funding," said the premier.
He noted that Pakistan is in the top ten list of countries who are most affected by climate change.
"We depend on our rivers and 80 per cent of our water comes from glaciers. The glaciers are also in India in the Himalayas, Karakorum and the Hindu Kush.
"If nothing is done, we are scared humans are facing a huge catastrophe.
"In my country where I came into power in KP we planted one billion trees and plan to plant 10bn to counter global warming effects.
"One country cannot do anything, it has to be a combined effort of the world."
He said the countries contributing to greenhouse gas emissions must be pushed and the UN must take initiative.
Prime Minister Imran said the second issue he was speaking about is even more critical — that of illicit financial flows.
"Every year billions of dollars leave the poorer countries and go towards rich countries, siphoned off by the ruling elites of the western world.
"This is devastating the developing world. It is impoverishing them. The rich-poor gap is growing because of them."
He regretted that the seriousness with which money from drugs or terror financing is treated is not accorded to money laundered from poor countries.
"In my country, when I took charge of our government a year back, our total debt went up four times in the ten years preceding that.
"As a result, the total revenue we collected in one year, half of it went into debt servicing. How are we going to spend money on our human beings — 200 million people — if half the money is going into debt servicing?
"Our country was plundered by the ruling elite. And they could easily get their money out. And when we locate properties in western capitals bought by this money through corruption and money laundering by these corrupt leaders, we find it so difficult to retrieve it."
He said that if the money was retrieved it could be spent on human development.
"But it is so difficult [owing to] the laws protecting these criminals. We do not have the sort of money to have expensive lawyers and spend millions and millions of dollars. We need help from the rich countries.
"It is critical. The rich countries must show political will. They cannot allow this to happen.
"How can the poor countries spend money on human development when this money can easily leave our countries?
"Unless the rich countries intend to build walls to stop economic refugees [from] coming as we see right now, they must take action. They must take action now.
"Corrupt elites must not be allowed to park their money (abroad). Why do we have these tax havens?
"Why shouldn't rich people pay taxes? Why are they legal, these secret accounts?
"Sooner or later there will be a crisis if the rich keep getting richer and the poor poorer.
"I hope the UN takes a lead on this. The IMF and ADB must find a way."
Addressing the prevalence of Islamophobia, Prime Minister Imran said it has grown at an alarming pace.
"Islamophobia is creating divisions, hijab is becoming a weapon; a woman can take off clothes but she can't put on more clothes.
"It started after 9/11 and it started because certain western leaders equated Islam with terrorism.
He questioned the use of the term 'radical Islamic terrorism' saying: "There is only one Islam.
"What message does this (the term) send? How is a person in New York going to distinguish between moderate Muslims and radical Muslims?
"This radical Islamic terrorism used by leaders has caused Islamophobia and has caused pain for Muslims.
"In European countries it is marginalising Muslims, and this leads to radicalisation.
"Some of the terrorists were from marginalised Muslim communities. We Muslim leaders have not addressed this issue.
"The basis of all religions is compassion and justice which differentiates us from the animal kingdom."
He said religion was viewed differently in the west, which was why the reaction in the Muslim world to content maligning Islamic personalities was not understood.
"I hear such strange things that Islam is against women and minorities.
"In the first state of Islam, Madina, the state took responsibility of the weak, taxed the rich, spent money on the poor [and] announced that all human beings come from Adam hence they were equal.
"The Prophet (Muhammad PBUH) lives in our hearts. The holocaust is treated with sensitivity because it gives them (Jews) pain.
"That's all we ask. Don't use freedom of speech to cause us pain," he concluded.
LANDI KOTAL: The Afghan border police at Torkham have made acquisition of Afghan visa for all Pakistani transporters mandatory along with keeping other relevant travel documents.
In a pamphlet distributed among the Pakistani transporters on Wednesday, the Afghan border police warned that none of them would be allowed to enter Afghanistan without a valid visa, driving licence, road pass and original number plate of the vehicle.
It said that all transporters taking trade goods in their vehicles to Afghanistan were required to fulfil the requirements by the end of September as they would not be allowed to cross the border after that.
Reacting to the new restrictions imposed by the Afghan government, Israr Shinwari, president of the local transporters union, said that the new conditions were not acceptable to them as it would harm trade with Afghanistan.
He said that the officials of both the countries should sit together and sort out the matter while taking the transporters into confidence.
Haji Azeemullah, another transporter, argued that the new policy, if implemented, would seriously undermine Pakistan’s efforts to enhance bilateral trade with Afghanistan.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2019
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday emphasised that religion has no link to terrorism and that it is "marginalisation of communities [that] leads to radicalisation".
Pakistan and Turkey co-hosted a round table discussion on hate speech, a side event in the margins of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The prime minister along with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, addressed the conference, which also featured a Key Note address by High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations (UNAOC) Miguel Ángel Moratinos.
In his remarks, the premier noted the growing amount of "discrimination and violence based on religion and belief", a statement by the Prime Minister's Office said.
To this end, he called upon the need for addressing "both the drivers and consequences of these phenomena".
PM Imran also cautioned against the denigration of revered personalities under the guise of "freedom of expression and opinion".
"The world must understand Muslim sensitivities for Islam and the reverence for Prophet Muhammad PBUH," he said.
He underscored the need for effective measures to be put in place so that hate speech, especially that which stems from Islamophobia, can be countered.
"Marginalisation of any community leads to radicalisation," the PMO statement quoted the premier as saying.
The prime minister, during his address, said that "desperate human beings" throughout history have committed what are known as suicide attacks. "Before 9/11, 75 per cent of suicide attacks were by Tamil Tigers who were Hindus. No one talked about Hinduism having anything to do with suicide attacks."
He said when Japanese suicide bombers attacked American ships during World War II, no one blamed their religion.
"Because religion has nothing to do with [...] no religion has anything to do with terrorism," he stressed.
"Almost all terrorism is connected to politics. It is politically perceived injustices that produce desperate people.
"But now we keep hearing about radical Islam. There is only one Islam. The Islam of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which we follow. There is no other Islam."
He said that in communities, a majority of individuals are moderates with liberals on one end of the spectrum and fanatics on the other end and it was the same case in societies everywhere.
"What about the white supremacist that killed 49 worshippers in New Zealand? What has that got to do with religion?" he went on to say, appealing to the better sense of all those listening.
The premier urged the need to recognise that a greater understanding and tolerance between various communties across the globe needs to be promoted. "We Muslim leaders have not explained to the Western societies how painful it is when our Prophet is maligned, mocked, ridiculed."
"Why does it cause so much pain? Because the Prophet lives in our hearts. And we all know that the pain of the heart is far, far, far greater than physical pain," he explained.
He said that the UN, as a platform, provides the right space "to evolve an informed discourse on countering hate speech".
President Erdogan said that hate speech "emerges before worst crimes against humanity" and observed that Muslims remain the most vulnerable community to hate speech in the world.
He cited incidents in India where Muslims had been "lynched for eating beef".
"Kashmir has been turned into an open prison. We fear blood shed there," the Turkish president further remarked.
According to a handout by the UNAOC, the high-level roundtable "is aimed at identifying measures and approaches required to effectively address and mitigate the impacts of hate speech on societies across the world, with a view to fostering tolerance and inclusivity".
Following the session, the prime minister announced the formation of an English language channel in partnership with Turkey and Malaysia.
"President Erdogan, PM Mahatir and myself had a meeting today in which we decided our 3 countries would jointly start an English language channel dedicated to confronting the challenges posed by Islamophobia and setting the record straight on our great religion — Islam," wrote PM Imran in a post on Twitter.
He said that the channel's efforts would be geared towards removing "misperceptions which bring people together against Muslims".
The prime minister also said that the issue of blasphemy would be properly contextualised in the content presented by the channel which will also produce series and films on Muslim history to not only educate the world but also Muslims themselves.
"Muslims would be given a dedicated media presence," he added.