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Pakistan: Great achievements

We in Pakistan have the tendency to look to the West to find success stories, but we should not forget to look in our own country, where there are also many.

by Dr A Q Khan

The Pakistani nation can boast of some of the best liars, thieves and corrupt people. But look around carefully and you will also find some top-notch educationists, lawyers, scientists, doctors, etc too. (Prof Dr Abdus Salam, Prof Dr Raziuddin, Prof Dr M D Shami, S M Zafar, myself and many more). You will also find some giant entrepreneurs, industrialists, medical experts – not even to mention all those working in the social sector.

First and foremost a Bhopali, but also a Karachiite, I have spent many years coming and going to Karachi. During all those years I have come to know many businessmen and industrialists who started their businesses from scratch. I knew many of them when they were riding bicycles, then motorcycles, small cars, etc. Each of them persevered for excellence and became successful industrialists, traders, businessmen and manufacturers.

One of the highly commendable aspects of these people is that, since they started their efforts from scratch, they know the pains and problems of the poor and have, consequently, become great philanthropists. We often see this virtue missing in the younger generation. Whenever I get a request for financial help (daughters getting married, school/college/university fees required, etc.), I just forward it to one of these friends and they never disappoint me. Only the Almighty can reward them for their noble deeds, many of which no one else knows about.

In this connection I would like to tell you the success story of a very honest, hardworking gentleman, Prof. Dr Akhtar Sohail Chughtai. He obtained his medical degree from the famous King Edward Medical College, Lahore and went on to an MPhil in histopathology from another medical institute in Lahore. After some time he set up a world class medical diagnostic laboratory worth one billion rupees.

We in Pakistan have the tendency to look to the West to find success stories, but we should not forget to look in our own country, where there are also many. Dr Chughtai is one of them. He built something from scratch and is now an example of a highly successful Pakistani who is not looking for a job but is himself providing jobs to a large number of people – doctors and medical experts.

In 1972, the Bhutto government nationalised the industries. Many industrialists were left high and dry and only those survived who managed to have families support them, who tried to find other ways of survival and who had faith in the Almighty. Dr Chughtai, too, went through a very difficult period.

During his studies, with the loving support of his parents, he turned out to be an enthusiastic student. One of his teachers, Prof Dr Farooqui, introduced him to pathology with so much interest that he decided to specialize in that subject. After his MPhil, he set up a small laboratory in a two-room rental together with a partner. The partnership broke up and he lost everything except his love for pathology. To date, he has set up seven laboratories in various cities in Pakistan under 15189 certified supervision and 160 collection centres.

His laboratories are associated with the American Pathology External Quality Assurance Program and he has perfected a method and process for providing accurate test results. He runs a free public library and reading room under the Chughtai Foundation. He is also full of praise for his wife who supported him in all his endeavours. Without her support, he says, it would have been impossible to achieve his goals.

(This is exactly the same in my case. My wife left her parents and her country to come here with me. Without her support, I would not have been able to do all the necessary to make Pakistan a nuclear power. For this she paid a high price, at the hands of ungrateful beneficiaries).

Dr Chughtai’s mission is to bring together a team of highly trained, competent, dedicated pathologists. They have managed to test about 800 different types of blood samples so far. In the new academic year, they have started a Medical Laboratory Technologists course and FCPS training is also provided.

Postscript: The other day we saw PTI minister, Faisal Vawda, putting a boot on the table during a talk show. It seems to have become normal practice for PTI legislators to indulge in unacceptable acts. Some time back Mr Naeemul Haq slapped someone during a TV show. What kind of message do the PM’s stalwarts convey to the young generation by this kind of behaviour?

The writer can be reached at

Sri Lanka: Pakistan’s New HC Presents Credentials to President

Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Muhammad Saad Khattak has 35 years of an illustrious career in various assignments both inside and outside Pakistan.

Pakistan’s new High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Major General (Retd.) Muhammad Saad Khattak presented his credentials to President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the President Office on January 20, 2020.

During the audience with Sri Lankan President, High Commissioner conveyed best wishes of the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan to the President and people of Sri Lanka. He affirmed the desire to further strengthen fraternal ties between the two countries.

The President warmly welcomed the High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and extended his best wishes for a successful term.

Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Muhammad Saad Khattak has 35 years of an illustrious career in various assignments both inside and outside Pakistan.

He is a graduate of French Army Junior Staff Course, Defense Intelligence Directors Course, UK, Command and Staff College Quetta, and National Defence University Islamabad.

He possesses Masters Degrees in Political Science, War Studies and an M. Phil in International Relations.

His employment in Balochistan and in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and Islamabad/Rawalpindi at senior positions provided him a unique insight into the effort against War on Terrorism.

He also appears on national/international TV channels as a security expert in addition to writing articles for leading newspapers.

Sri Lanka: EU Ambassador visits the Northern Province

Launches EU-funded demining project in Muhamalai

–Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Sri Lanka, H.E. Denis Chaibi, visited the Northern Province from 15 to 17 January 2020.
EU Ambassador Denis Chaibi in Muhamalai with HALO Sri Lanka representatives
Ambassador Chaibi launched an EU-funded demining project implemented by HALO Sri Lanka during a visit to the Muhamalai minefield on 17 January 2020. The EUR 2.5 million grant will support mine clearance in Muhamalai, Sri Lanka's densest and one of the largest and most complex minefields in the world, as well as training of mine clearance personnel. HALO Sri Lanka will train and deploy 22 demining teams with the support of the EU.

Speaking at the launch of the project, Ambassador Chaibi noted that the European Union's contribution to mine clearance is part of the overall EU support for resettlement of internally displaced persons. He said "More than ten years after the end of the war, the threat of mines is an ongoing concern for people in the region. Successive governments have taken concrete steps towards making Sri Lanka safe from the threat of landmines, including by accession to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. I am pleased that the EU, through HALO Sri Lanka, is able to contribute to the ongoing work of helping the local population to re-settle and re-build their lives in safety".

EU Delegation representatives with returnees to Intherapuram village
During his two-day visit, Ambassador Chaibi also met the Governor of the Northern Province P.S.M. Charles, Jaffna Security Forces Commander Major General P.R. Wanigasooriya, and civil society representatives. He also visited another ongoing EU-funded project in the North implemented by the Family Rehabilitation Center providing psychosocial support to vulnerable community members especially women, men, and youth affected by trauma.

EU Ambassador Denis Chaibi speaking to local deminers

Indo-Lanka to establish Maritime Research Coordinating Centre

President Rajapaksa tweeted that strengthening of bilateral cooperation on national security, intelligence sharing, maritime security and fostering of regional cooperation were some of the key points of discussion.

India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and stated that it was imperative that India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives review the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) program.

India and Sri Lanka agreed to further bolster cooperation to ensure maritime security in the Indian Ocean and sharing of intelligence inputs.

President Rajapaksa tweeted that strengthening of bilateral cooperation on national security, intelligence sharing, maritime security and fostering of regional cooperation were some of the key points of discussion.

Doval said this, among other things, when he met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa here on Saturday. There were two meetings, the first one was one to one, and the other was in the presence of officials from both sides. The meetings were followed by a working lunch.

The Presidential Media Division said in a press release that in the cordial discussions, both countries expressed an interest in stepping up military to military corporation, maritime security and close co-operation and inter-operability between their Coast Guards.

Doval brought up the need for the interoperability of the two Coast Guards in order to check smuggling, drug-trafficking, gun-running by Non-State Actors and illegal fishing.

India also promised support to Sri Lanka in obtaining intelligence-gathering technology. A USD 50 million credit line to purchase intelligence-gathering equipment was reiterated. Establishment of a “Maritime Research Coordinating Centre” was also discussed.

It is not known as to what other matters were discussed in the one on one meeting between the Lankan President and the Indian NSA. But in the presence of other officials, Indian fishermen’s intrusions and poaching in North Sri Lanka; Islamic terrorism and the deal to give the Eastern Container Terminal construction work to a consortium including India and Japan, were not discussed, reliable sources said. 

( Agencies) 

SARS-like virus spreads in China, nearly 140 new cases

In Wuhan, 170 people are still being treated at hospital, including nine in critical condition, the city health commission said. The new patients are between 25 and 89 years old and their symptoms included fever, coughing and chest pain.

A mysterious SARS-like virus has killed a third person and spread around China -- including to Beijing -- authorities said Monday, fuelling fears of a major outbreak as millions begin travelling for the Lunar New Year in humanity's biggest migration.

The new coronavirus strain, first discovered in the central city of Wuhan, has caused alarm because of its connection to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

Wuhan has 11 million inhabitants and serves as a major transport hub, including during the annual Lunar New Year holiday which begins later this week and sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel across the country to visit family.

No human-to-human transmission has been confirmed so far, but authorities have previously said the possibility "cannot be excluded".

A third person was confirmed to have died and 136 new cases were found over the weekend in Wuhan, the local health commission said, taking the total number of people to have been diagnosed with the virus in China to 201.

Three cases have been reported overseas -- two in Thailand and one in Japan, all of whom had visited Wuhan.

Health authorities in Beijing's Daxing district said two people who had travelled to Wuhan were treated for pneumonia linked to the virus and are in stable condition.

In southern Guangdong province, a 66-year-old Shenzhen man was quarantined on January 11 after contracting a fever and showing other symptoms following a trip to visit relatives in Wuhan, the provincial health commission said in a statement. He is also in stable condition.

Shenzhen officials said another eight people were under medical observation.

"Experts believe that the current epidemic situation is still preventable and controllable," the Guangdong health commission said.

Five other people have been put in isolation and tested in eastern Zhejiang province.

- Detection measures -

A seafood market is believed to be the centre of the outbreak in Wuhan, but health officials have reported that some patients had no history of contact with the facility.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a statement on Twitter Monday that "an animal source seems the most likely primary source" with "some limited human-to-human transmission occurring between close contacts".

It said the new cases in China were the result of "increased searching and testing for (the virus) among people sick with respiratory illness".

Scientists with the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London warned in a paper published Friday that the number of cases in the city was likely to be closer to 1,700, much higher than the number officially identified.

Wuhan deputy mayor Chen Xiexin said on state broadcaster CCTV at the weekend that infrared thermometers had been installed at airports, railway stations and coach stations across the city.

Chen said passengers with fevers were being registered, given masks and taken to medical institutions. Nearly 300,000 body temperature tests had been carried out, according to CCTV.

Authorities in Hong Kong have stepped up detection measures, including rigorous temperature checkpoints for inbound travellers from the Chinese mainland.

US authorities decided to screen direct flights arriving from Wuhan at San Francisco airport and New York's JFK, as well as Los Angeles, where many flights connect.

Thailand said it was already screening passengers arriving in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket, and would soon introduce similar controls in the beach resort of Krabi.

In Wuhan, 170 people are still being treated at hospital, including nine in critical condition, the city health commission said. The new patients are between 25 and 89 years old and their symptoms included fever, coughing and chest pain.

Guangdong's health authority said it was taking measures including intensifying its triage of fever at clinics and banning illegal wildlife sales.

State media moved to calm the mood as discussion about the coronavirus spreading to other Chinese cities swelled on social media.

The China Daily said in an editorial that people "should remain alert, but not panic".

And nationalist tabloid Global Times called for better handling of the new virus outbreak than that of the SARS outbreak in 2003, when it says there was "concealment in China".

Source: AFP

Sri Lanka: Isolated ‘One Shot’ holds the centre stage

Why do politicians prefer to have their favourites as key police officials in their electorates? Is it to cover up their tracks; for better policing or having the electorate under their thumb?

by Gamini Weerakoon

Actor and politician, ‘One Shot’ Ranjan Ramanayake, truly lives to the words of William Shakespeare – “All the world’s a stage…”

Last week, he pushed out the high and mighty setting Lanka on a paradisiacal course from the front pages and prime time TV, despite having shot himself in the foot. And he did it with aplomb. Arrested on being taken out of his residence by the police, he did not go into standard gestures of arrested politicos exhibiting their manacles to photographers. Instead, he hugged lovingly a cop in the posse that has come to arrest him. It is quite unusual for a Sri Lankan police officer trying to arrest a criminal to be embraced in a loving manner. And, according to a news report, the officer has been questioned by the authorities on why he did not resist One Shot’s advances! Poor officer!

In our opinion, One Shot should be invited by the police to give lectures on improving police-public relations. We are not focusing on the alleged offences for which One Shot was taken in — interfering with the judiciary — but on his showmanship during the week during which he was tried and condemned by politicians — even Ranjan’s own UNP — some in the media and the prissy law-and-order types who found his unorthodox behaviour unacceptable. But he did warm the cockles of the hearts of those observers bored by daily reports of bitter acrimony that pervades our political scene.

One Shot was no doubt on centre stage but having shot off from the lip and aimed pot shots at many others, had shot himself in his foot. He was formally arrested and charged for interfering with the judiciary — by no means a laughing matter.

We will refrain from commenting on the legal proceedings regarding the offence which One Shot is charged with.

However, since his arrest he has been put on trial in the media and by some media institutions, politicians and also vigilantes of public morality, law and order for interfering with the police in attempts to subvert the course of justice.

This columnist has not heard or read about the alleged recorded conversations of One Shot with some members of the judiciary and police top brass which is the point at issue but we find this hullabaloo over the allegation of political interference of police officials by One Shot somewhat bizarre. Certainly such interference is taboo and cannot be condoned.

But aren’t politicians interfering with the police not only in matters of lesser significance but serious crimes such as murder, a fact of Sri Lankan life? There are plenty of such cases that were taken to courts and are being heard now.

In this context these questions are relevant.

Why do politicians prefer to have their favourites as key police officials in their electorates? Is it to cover up their tracks; for better policing or having the electorate under their thumb? Isn’t the practice of acceding to requests of politicians to have key police posts in their electorates filled with those of their choice, tacit approval of political interference?

An MP is expected to play many roles in his electorate including that of a guardian angel of voters although often he is an absentee Guardian Angel. When a poor hapless voter falls foul of the police, he goes to his MP to help resolve the issue although such help may not be forthcoming, particularly so if he belongs to the rival political camp.

The social barriers that earlier kept out the judiciary and even the officer cadres of the armed forces and police away from the masses, no longer exist because there is today a good mixture of all classes in the professions and institutions who are speaking in the same language — their mother tongue.

Yet, members of these professions and institutions are expected to function as their predecessors did 40 to 50 years ago — keeping away from the hoi polloi. But we have had people’s governments since the mid-fifties and people’s representatives have crept into every nook and corner. Thus, is there a way telling One Shot — with his king-sized ego and conviction that the world is at his feet — that he can’t bulldoze his way through?

We have not had access to the recorded telephone calls allegedly made by One Shot and recorded by him. Some of these calls are said to have gone viral in the social media which this columnist has not seen. The recordings seized by the police, the police claim, are with them and they have not been released to any source.

There are reports of a fairy tale discovery by a well-meaning three-wheeler driver. He is reported to have found in the back seat the hard disk containing the recordings made by One Shot. He said he had handed it over to the police. The identity of the Three-wheeler driver had not been established at the time of writing these comments.

How did these alleged recordings of One Shot get into the Social media? Did One Shot for inexplicable reasons release them himself — many of One Shot’s actions being inexplicable. Was One Shot’s motive sinister, aimed to destroy the new government as alleged? Or was it ‘an international conspiracy against the Pohottuwa government’ as claimed by a monk? An ‘international conspiracy against the Pohottuwa’ is a convenient substitute when reasonable explanation is not possible.

Some have alleged that this was an attempt to smear the image of the Criminal Investigations Department that had the cleanest record of all police departments. These pundits were apparently not born or were infants during the days of the Dodampe Mudalali’s case. Dodampe Mudalali and another Corporal Tilekewardene died after falling from the CID’s Fourth Floor while being interrogated over an alleged ‘Lavatory Coup’.

All these factors and much more not recorded here would make an excellent thriller of a story for actor One Shot Ranjan Ramanayake to make a film.

We end this chapter of One Shot, the actor and politician with a quote from Donna Brazzie, an American political strategist, campaign manager, Member of the Democratic Party, Political Analyst for CNN and former contributor to Fox News.

Acting and politics both involve fooling the people. People like being fooled by actors. They probably like being fooled by politicians, even more. A skilful actor will make you think. But a skilful politician will never have to make you think.