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Waiting for justice | Instant News


When it comes to promises of successive Pakistani governments to reform our hugely inefficient criminal justice system, action will speak louder than words. All regimes and leaders have at one point or another pledged to ensure that ordinary citizens have easy access to legal avenues. Their possessions have come and gone, but justice – if one could call it that – remains available only to the privileged few.

Last week, Prime Minister Imran Khan once again stressed that reforming the criminal justice system was his administration’s top priority. “That’s the most important sector, that’s why we want to carry out reforms,” ​​he said. “We want to dispel the impression that crime is paid for by ensuring justice for all, especially the poor and underprivileged.”

At face value, the sentiment is definitely glorious. But so tired are we as a society today that until such talk is translated into concrete action, mere words remain meaningless. The cynical mind, above all, couldn’t help but wonder if such routine scripts were traced to fend off flaws elsewhere. Whereas on the topic of justice and reform, if the government really wants to get rid of such skepticism, then the government must also be accountable to itself in an exemplary way, especially when a party with the word ‘justice’ in its name is leading. And while that may not deter the opposition from criticism, it will undoubtedly weaken their argument of ‘political victimization’.

Returning to the problem at hand, we hope that Prime Minister Imran and his government will seriously follow up in implementing the reforms that have been long needed. One also hopes that they actually translate into a justice system that is accessible to ordinary citizens and easier for them to navigate. After all, all of our leaders – government and opposition – need to realize that empty rhetoric will no longer stop it. Outside the justice system, there are many areas where we continue to fall behind if we don’t have to. Actual action will go a long way toward restoring confidence that Pakistanis are lost and continue to be lost to our leadership.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2021.

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Pak-US relations under the Biden administration | Instant News


Amid unprecedented uncertainty and security, 46th The president of the United States, Joe Biden, was sworn in last Thursday. This is the first time in 150 years that a president who has stepped out has been seen prominently in his absence and the large crowd that have become an integral part of the swearing-in ceremony. In contrast, more than 25,000 national security guards surround Washington in what looks more like a garrison city than the capital of a global superpower.

For Pakistan, the main issue is what changes the Biden presidency will bring for the country and the region and whether Biden will stick to Trump’s peace efforts in Afghanistan. The new Secretary of State and National Security Adviser has hinted at reviewing a deal with the Taliban but clarified that the Biden administration also wants to ensure the safe exit of US troops from Afghanistan. Whether that happens this summer as part of the February 29 deal remains to be seen. The fear is that if the US withdraws from Afghanistan without a long-term political agreement through intra-Afghan dialogue, civil war will be inevitable. That’s why it’s so important to know whether Biden will link the troop withdrawal to the final peace deal between the Afghan Taliban and the government.

One thing is certain – Pakistan will remain a major player in any Afghanistan deal. This has been confirmed by the appointed US defense minister when he referred to Pakistan as an ‘essential partner’ for any solution to the Afghan war. But Pakistan wants the US to see its interests beyond Afghanistan and the security prism. Speaking to a US think tank, the PM’s Special Assistant to National Security Dr Moeed Yousaf said Pakistan had a lot more to offer than Afghanistan to the US. In this context, the understanding of policymakers here is that Pakistan must strive to revive institutional mechanisms with the new US administration. Before Trump, Pakistan and the US held high-level strategic dialogue as part of the Kerry-Lugar bill that seeks to multiply non-military aid to Pakistan in the hope that it will hunt down militant groups indiscriminately. In return, the Obama administration was willing to expand cooperation with Pakistan beyond Afghanistan and on security issues. For example, under the strategic framework, there are five working groups covering not only security but trade, health, education and regional issues. There is a high ministerial level forum which met regularly in both Washington and Islamabad from 2009 to 2016. The last ministerial meeting attended by ministers of foreign, defense, finance and military leaders from both sides was held in Washington. The two sides agreed to hold their next session in Islamabad in 2017, but that day has not come since President Trump canceled the arrangement.

Unlike previous administrations, the White House maintains direct contact with Pakistan thanks to Senator Lindsey Graham, Trump’s close aide, and partly because of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. That’s why President Trump met PM Imran Khan three times in such a short span of time. There is a visible change in Washington’s tone towards Pakistan as it helps the US advance peace efforts in Afghanistan. The downside of this arrangement, however, is that there is no institutional framework between the two countries for high-level engagement. The US did not appoint a full-time ambassador to Pakistan while official involvement was reduced to assistant secretary of state. However, it remains to be seen whether the Biden administration will revive strategic dialogue with Pakistan. But one thing is clear: that Biden, a foreign policy veteran, knows Pakistan and the region well – something that can both benefit us and hurt us!

Published in The Express Tribune, January 25th, 2021.

Like it Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOp on Twitter to receive all updates on all of our daily work.

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Development in the midst of a threat | Instant News


Since Imran Khan took the reins, in 2018, it has been as if he was walking on a rope while tackling a plethora of issues – some inherited, some completely unprecedented. However, despite getting a lot of criticism, he did it with great calm and sensitivity. What sets him apart from his previous leaders is that he knows exactly where the priorities of a PM should be.

During his recent visit to Wana, South Waziristan, PM Imran announced the launch of a 3G / 4G internet service to promote learning and education development in the region. The decision is indeed a breakthrough for the people of Waziristan who have suffered so much, especially during the pandemic, after the government stopped internet services nearly a year ago, for security reasons. The threat, unfortunately, is very real. For a long time, India has been involved in a massive campaign of 5th generation warfare in its malicious attempt to destabilize Pakistan and hinder development and prosperity by targeting vulnerable areas in AJK, KP and Balochistan. However, PM Imran with the help of the army remained steadfast in his philosophy of empowering young people and encouraging those who were left behind.

In the rapidly developing digital era – marked by an epochal shift from traditional industries that emerged during the Industrial Revolution to reliance on information technology – the internet, which was once considered a luxury, has become a basic necessity. It is a precursor to growth, development and now education. The pandemic has further strengthened our dependence on the internet. As information has become a major driver and driver of the economy, one can safely assume that if the residents of this region use these resources wisely, Waziristan will be able to pave its own way forward.

However, due to persistent external threats, it is important for governments, security officials and citizens to exercise extra caution, and any unusual activity should be flagged immediately. Above all, information transparency must be maintained.

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Digital First: The Travel Hooper | Instant News


JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A man from Mississippi has found a unique way to combine two of his favorite hobbies; travel and circle. He calls himself the travel hooper. Jerry Herrien has been to more than a dozen places with his travel hoop, challenging people and making viral videos. The Wiggins native was looking for happiness during the pandemic. Then one day, Herrien had an idea. “I love to travel. I love hoop. So why not combine the two? Play basketball while I travel,” he explained. Herrien’s travels have taken him to interesting places like the Foxworth, Mississippi canyons. Her favorite stop so far has been an alley in Gulfport. “Fish Bone alley in Gulfport, Mississippi. This made it possible to create murals and various places to install a basketball hoop. When the Travel Hooper started his journey, former basketball player William Carey used an old milk crate before making a backpack hoop. “What’s crazy is I didn’t think it was a product real that I could bring to life until I get messages from people asking if they can invest in it, “he said. Herrien thinks his invention could be great for people without access at a gym. “They can come out and hang the portable hoop anywhere. can put it on trees, poles and fences or whatever. The basketball enthusiast said he had a few design issues to work out but was planning to file a patent. Herrien said his goal is to inspire others to overcome their fears of chasing their ideas because you never know where they may take you. .



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Water supply | Instant News


Karachi supplies 650 million gallons of water daily compared to 1,100 MGD. This leaves a shortfall of nearly 40%. Now hopes have resurfaced about resuming work on the Karachi Raya Bulk Water Supply Scheme which had stalled because one component of the scheme – the transmission line from the starting point to Karachi – would be completed with the help of the World Bank. The transmission line will supply 130mgd, including 65mgd to the metropolitan city, reducing water shortages in the city. Over the years, the scheme has faced obstacles ranging from delays in exempting contractors’ dues to causing them to stop work. The contractors recruited for the project suspended work on the project in September last year because the government had not paid their Rs500 million in dues.

The Karachi Water and Waste Agency came up with the idea for the scheme in 2012. However, the Sindh government agreed two years later. A preliminary study of the project was carried out in 2016-17. After that, the allocation of funds and expenditures was slow, which continued to delay the project incessantly. There are marked differences in the allocation of funds and the actual amounts spent from year to year. In the 2017-18 budget, one billion rupees was allocated, but only Rs250 million was released. The following year there was no allocation of funds. There is a huge gap between budget allocations and actual spending of funds in 2019-20. In the budget for the current year, Rs150 million was approved, of which only Rs37 million was released in December last year. Of this, Rs30 million was paid to contractors and Rs7 million to consulting firms. However, work has not been continued.

The government has acknowledged that the project has been excessively postponed, but will now scale up rapidly with World Bank assistance. The scheme is expected to be completed in the next four years.

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