KARACHI: The webinar was held to reset US-Pakistan relations under the auspices of the Karachi Foreign Affairs Council (KCFR), while Moin Fudda, Member of the Board of Governors, KCFR, moderated the event.
Special Assistant to PM for National Security and Strategic Planning Moeed Yousuf said that the two countries are in a crucial relationship because of the changing dynamics, while focusing on peace in Afghanistan, in addition to partnerships rather than monetary assistance. He said for the Afghan peace process it was important to reach the finish line to control bilateral damage, also mentioning that Pakistan had no problem with the US-India partnership as long as there was objectivity and there was nothing negative being initiated by India. Cameron Munter, the former US ambassador to Pakistan, stated that Pakistan must engage the administration of US President-elect Biden from an early age to create a positive impression, with a focus on the economic and diplomatic fields. Quite a few staff in the US administration on Afghanistan affairs and other foreign policy will be willing to solve multilateral issues and there is a need to explore new business areas such as IT, etc., through private sector involvement. Dr Daniel Markey, senior research professor, John Hopkins University, USA, stressed that bilateral mechanisms need to be developed and new ways to be adopted. Dr Markey said the areas of opportunity were the pandemic response, climate change, clean energy and (Iran) nuclear diplomacy, while highlighting US-India relations, it would stem from India’s minority protection approach and strategic competition with China. He added that only a responsible approach can avoid future India / Pak crises and business relations need to be visited with new commercial venues by unleashing the power of youth in Pakistan and having partnerships and connectivity. In his analysis, Prof Huma Baqai, IBA Karachi, said President-elect Joe Biden had to walk tightly because he had to carry out damage control due to recent events under Trump’s presidency. There is a need to have a ‘new relationship’ with certain measures and Pakistan must not be paired with China. There are mismatches on certain strategic issues between the US and Pakistan, which need to be addressed and Pakistan should not be considered a ‘contingent partner’. In his closing remarks, the Chairman of the KCFR, Ikram Sehgal, said Pakistan wanted to have a neutral stance on the issue of KSA and Iran, and not consider Sunni and Shia differences as a matter of conflict.
Laura Waters, pictured at Masons Hut, the last shack on the South Island on the Te Araroa Trail. Photo / Laura Waters
My eyes cloud as I think about the time I walked from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Here it is again, my friends must be thinking as I talk about the joys, tribulations, and amazing sights encountered during a 3000 km journey through this country. As far as a once-in-a-lifetime trip, setting foot in Te Araroa has been transformative, and its long-term effects on my life have only made it even more memorable. With the challenges of today’s world, fleeing into the wild is again a tantalizing choice.
Long-distance lines are gaining popularity around the world and in 2011 New Zealand launched its own line, a linear route connecting many pre-existing lines with several new links. In the north it winds from the west coast to the east and back again, via secluded beaches, mossy forest, the volcanic desert of Tongariro National Park, and knife-tipped ridges across the Tararua Mountains. To the south, a more direct route up and along the dramatic Southern Alps is required. About once a week, sometimes more often, the walkway intersects the city where hot showers and general stores offer the opportunity to refresh and recharge.
When I left in 2013, Te Araroa was an unknown quantity, a trail that few people have managed to complete. Even though I had walked a dozen or more days under my belt, none were even more than 65 km so it was an experiment with fire on body and mind. I need it. After the closure of toxic relationships and the stress of city life, my world has been taken over by crippling anxiety and depression, the symptoms miraculously and magically disappearing within weeks of being immersed in the peace and simplicity of nature.
Then I fixed a problem I wasn’t even aware of. Walking the trails, I face countless challenges: steep, open mountains, sudden blizzards, a number of unobstructed river crossings, dubious trail signs, shoulder dislocations and, not least, loss of hiking companions. I got injured on the second day. But in overcoming this challenge I found a hitherto untapped inner intellect and courage. I learned to adapt to the environment, listen to my heart’s content and overcome fear. I found I was able to do more than I realized and I noticed how little you need to be happy – food, shelter, and a bag of belongings is enough. It is clear that life can be fun if you simplify it and eliminate the “noise.” The insights gained during those five months changed my life forever, leading to a career change and a substantial re-establishment of personal beliefs and worldviews.
Taking the entire route will give you an experience like no other, but if you can’t spare the time or energy to wade the 3000 km, consider climbing the section, taking bite-sized stages over a long period of time. Alternatively, choose an interesting part of the cherry. The stretch from St Arnaud to Boyle Village, across from Nelson’s Lake National Park on the South Island, really evokes a few tears from me as I see its beautiful snow-capped mountains, fast-flowing rivers and vast boulder fields.
If you’re curious to know what it’s like to have the beach all to yourself for four days, the first 100 kilometers south of Cape Reinga follows the secluded golden trail of Ninety Mile Beach. Mount Pirongia, in Waikato, marks the first true mountain range for hikers to the south and a two-day portion of its steep green mossy cliffs. Real delights are lesser-known finds such as the stunning jungle on North Island Hakarimata Road or Telford Tops on the Takitimu Trail to the south. The four-day Mavora Walkway, south of Queenstown, is also renowned for its lakes, mountains, beech forest and amazing sense of isolation.
The highlight of the trail – which incidentally doesn’t involve walking – is the 200 kilometers paddling up the Whanganui River. Kayaks and canoes can be rented at Taumarunui for a six-day paddle out to sea in Whanganui. About 200 rapids are scattered along the route, light enough for beginners to traverse yet foamy enough to get their heart racing. In some places, the river carves its way through steep-sided canyon walls dotted with ferns and gushing waterfalls, and campsites overlooking snaking water are some of the most beautiful places I have ever come across.
Most of the nights on the North Island are spent in tents, but on the South Island, hikers can make use of many DoC huts on their way, especially when the weather turns challenging. Buying an inland cottage entry ticket will give you access to all the huts on the trail and while some have all the sophistication and comfort of a garden shed, others are double-layered masterpieces with cozy wood-burning stoves and five-star views.
I’m not going to cover it with sugar, walk all day, every day, need a little energy. I made it past the 10kg Whittakers in the five months it took me to complete the trail and I’m still losing weight (ah, those were the days). Te Araroa is also not for the faint of heart. The terrain is quite challenging at times and can be exposed to bad weather, but nothing compares to the feeling of being completely connected to the mainland as you peer through your flying tent as the moon rises over the remote Ahuriri River Valley. Or the shadow of a killer whale’s dorsal fin slicing through the surface of Queen Charlotte Sound as you follow the ridge trail above. Or a softer owl chirp in the dark northern forest night. Moments like magic make the trouble worth it.
Laura Waters is the author of Bewildered’s memoir, about her 3,000km hike along New Zealand.
ROAD WAY The Te Araroa Trail stretches 3000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff and takes between 4-6 months to complete. Topographic maps, track records and further information can be downloaded from teararoa.org.nz
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, visit newzealand.com
This story was first published in the New Zealand Herald Travel on October 1
A tropical cyclone in northern New Zealand may come a few days after Christmas Day. Photo Files / Sarah Bicknell
The plans for the Christmas barbie may need to change, as a tropical storm may be heading our way.
Weather authorities say computer modeling over the past few days has shown signs of a tropical cyclone threatening New Zealand in less than two weeks – and about a week away from the holiday itself.
WeatherWatch analysts say it is “very early days” but computer modeling is one that authorities believe.
“Multi-day modeling shows a tropical cyclone forming around Vanuatu into the Fiji region next week and moving east to west, towards the north Tasman Sea and the New Caledonia region,” said a statement.
“Over the coming week, we will continue to monitor the model and track this potential storm.”
ISLAMABAD: In a major development, Pakistan and Russia’s three-day talks on a 1,122 km long high-pressure RLNG pipeline from Karachi (Port Qasim) to Kasur (Punjab) concluded with an Intergovernmental Treaty (IGA) amendment marking the pavement for a new era of strategic relations between both countries.
The two sides had previously signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) in 2015 when Russia would set up a project with 100 percent financing, but after the GIDC ruling by the Supreme Court, and the availability of liquidity with the Petroleum Division, the Inter-Government Agreement was amended and the Pipeline Project North South Gas (NSGPP) has been renamed as Pakistan Gas Flow Pipe Project (PSGPP) with a 26 percent equity stake from Russia. “Russia has not adopted to retain a 49 percent stake in the equity offered by Pakistan, but has decided to own 26 percent of the equity. That means Pakistan will have 74 percent equity in the project. The pipeline project will be supported by an agreement based on take and mode of payment. without guarantees of sovereignty, “one participant in the three-day talk told The News.
“The talks during November 16-18 saw a lot of upheaval and changed dramatically but with the skillful and meaningful roles of the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant for Petroleum Nadeem Babar and Ms Saira Najeeb, MD of the Inter State Gas Company, managed to secure an IGA amendment in the highest interest of the country. with Pakistan owning a majority stake of 74 percent in terms of equity in the project. ”
The 14-member Russian delegation, led by DL Kapnik, Special Representative of the Russian Ministry of Energy for Project Implementation participated in the talks. The Russian delegation also included representatives from their respective structures ETK and TMK as well as state-owned companies Federal State Unitary Enterprises (FSUE).
The two parties have also decided to create a Joint Venture Company (JVC) which consists of a board of directors with representatives from both parties. The company will be named Russia-Pakistan JVC which will operate the gas pipeline in Pakistan’s leading role.
The JVC company will hire a third party to carry out the FEED (Front End Engineering Design) for the project. After the FEED, it will be decided whether the pipes should be 48 inches in diameter or 56 inches in diameter with a capacity to carry gas of 1.6 to more than 2 bcfd.
Pakistani gas companies, Sui Northern and Sui Southern, will be tasked with laying the gas pipeline. However, Russia will provide Russian-made gas pipelines and compressors as well as other equipment and it has been clear that anything outside Russia will be bought by Pakistani companies themselves. More importantly, Pakistan will be attracted by Russian-made pipes and compressors but price and quality must match on the open market to make the project cost effective.