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    Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif resigns over Panama Papers verdict

    28th July 2017

    Nawaz Sharif has resigned as prime minister of Pakistan after the country’s Supreme Court disqualified him from office over the Panama Papers leak.

    The judgement came after an investigation was launched into Mr Sharif’s family wealth following the 2015 Panama Papers dump linking his children to offshore companies.

    Mr Sharif has denied all the allegations throughout the legal process.

    The ruling was given unanimously by a five-member bench in the court.

    A spokesman for Mr Sharif’s office said in a statement: “Following the verdict, Nawaz Sharif has resigned from his responsibilities as prime minister.”

    The court was packed to capacity today, and there was increased security across Islamabad with thousands of extra soldiers and police deployed.

    Reuters news agency reports that one of the judges at the Supreme Court, Ejaz Afzal Khan, said that Mr Sharif was no longer “eligible to be an honest member of the parliament.”

    Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan advised Mr Sharif to accept today’s judgement.

    The Supreme Court has recommended anti-corruption cases against numerous individuals, including Mr Sharif, his daughter Maryam and her husband Safdar, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar amongst others.

    Mr Sharif served as prime minister from November 1990 to July 1993, and from February 1997 until he was toppled in a military coup in October 1999.

    Allegations of corruption have haunted Mr Sharif since the 1980s, and most of what the Panama Papers exposed was the subject of a federal inquiry in the 1990s.

    It is not clear who will succeed Mr Sharif, but his brother Shehbaz, who is chief minister of Punjab province, is seen believed to be a strong candidate for the position.

    The court has instructed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to put together, and send four references to accountability courts against Mr Sharif and others before the proposed anti-corruption investigations.

    NAB has been directed to file these references within six weeks.

    The accountability courts have been told to complete hearings in these cases in six months.

    The leaks in April 2016 revealed that three of Mr Sharif’s children owned offshore companies and assets not shown on his family’s wealth statement.

    The companies were allegedly used to channel funds to acquire foreign assets, including some apartments along Park Lane in London’s prestigious Mayfair area.


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    Pakistan's holidays

    Official Holidays:

    February (23-26) :: Pakistan Flower Show ---- Flower Show at Karachi
    February - March :: Jashn-e-Baharaan ----The celebrations with the start of Spring season

    March 23 :: Pakistan Day ----Republic Day and to commemorate the Lahore Resolution
    May 28 :: Youm-e-Takbir ----Celebrated in commemoration of the first Nuclear test

    August 14 :: Independence Day

    September 6 :: Defence Day ----Celebrated in memory of those who were killed in the Indo-Pak war of 1965
    September 7 :: Air Force Day ----Celebrated to commend the role of Pakistan Air Force in the 1965 war with India
    September 8 :: Navy Day ----Celebrated to commend the role of Pakistan Navy in the 1965 war with India
    November 9 :: Iqbal Day ----Birthday of Muhammad Iqbal, a great poet of Pakistan

    December 25 :: Quaid-e-Azam Day ----Birthday of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founding Father of Pakistan

    Other festivals:

    Kalam Festival
    Shandur polo festival
    Horse and cattle show
    Lok Mela festival (Islamabad)


    Pakistan Flower Show - It is an annual flower show and a festival held every year in Karachi, Pakistan. It is organized by the Horticulture Society of Pakistan. It was established in 1948 and held every year in February.

    Jashn-e-Baharaan - is celebrated very enthusiastically in Punjab. People on this occasion are in yellow dresses. People make arrangements in grounds and on their rooftops to fly kites. On this day sky is full of bright and colorful kites, although now banned after few kids fell from rooftops and died.

    Pakistan Day - Lahore Resolution and to celebrate the adoption of Pakistan's first constitution. Pakistan's national flag is hoisted on public and governmental buildings at dawn on Pakistan Day. A 31-gun salute in Islamabad and a 21-gun salute in provincial capitals are fired. A change of guard occurs at the mausoleums of Muhammad Iqbal (commonly known as Allama Iqbal) and Muhammad Ali Jinnah (commonly known as Quaid-i-Azam or the Supreme Leader), followed by garlands being laid.

    A main feature of Pakistan Day celebrations is a parade at Constitution Avenue in Islamabad. An award ceremony is organized where the president gives military and civilian awards to recognize recipients' achievements and contributions to Pakistan. Pakistan Day festivals, parties, national songs and debate competitions are featured throughout the day, which sees many people spend time with families, friends and loved ones. Pakistan Day specials are broadcast on radio and TV. Special prayers are offered for peace and prosperity.

    Youm-e-Takbir - (The day of greatness) is celebrated as a national day in Pakistan on May 28 in commemoration of Chagai-I and Chagai-II when Pakistan detonated seven nuclear devices in response to India's five detonations of Pokhran-II in 1998, 17 days after the incident. The tests made Pakistan the seventh nation to possess nuclear weapons, and the first in the Muslim world. It was first celebrated by giving awards such as Chagai Medal to various individuals and industries in the field of science and industries.

    Defence Day - Army of Pakistan displays their latest missiles, tanks, guns, army aviation helicopters and armament being used by Engineers, Electrical and Mechanical Corps, Army Air Defense, Signals, Army Service Corps and Army Medical Corps live on various places. Everyone is allowed to watch such functions live by going to the specific places. These shows are displayed on national channels as well. National songs and special documents about 6 September 1965 and martyred people of 6 September are displayed on TV. It is told to people how people gave sacrifices for the defense of the country and what is the responsibility of young generation now especially the children who are the future of Pakistan.

    Defence Day celebrates the discipline, professionalism and patriotism of the Pakistan Armed Forces. It essentially celebrates the defence of Lahore and decisive victory over an overwhelming force in 1965. The change of guard ceremony takes place at Mazar-e-Quaid, Karachi, where the cadets of Pakistan Air Force Academy present Guard of Honour and take the charge.

    Air Force Day - is celebrated in Pakistan as a national day on 7 September, after the annual celebration of the Defence Day. Airshows and other programs mark the Pakistan Air Force's (PAF) role in defending the nation in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. A notable event of the war was that Pakistan Air Force flying ace Muhammad Mahmood Alam shot down five Indian Air Force Hawker Hunter Mk.56 fighters in less than a minute, four being in first 30 seconds and became one of the few aviators who became ace in a day and the only jet age ace-in-a-day. He was awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat ("The star of courage") and bar for his actions.

    Iqbal Day - The day is a public holiday in some provinces of Pakistan. Iqbal, a poet and philosopher, was a great inspiration for the Pakistan Movement towards Indepdence from colonial British India. The well documented influence of Muhammad Iqbal on Jinnah (founder of Pakistan), with regards to taking the lead in creating Pakistan, has been described as "significant", "powerful" and even "unquestionable" by scholars. Iqbal day is organized and celebrated on 9 November every year in all the provinces as a tribute to Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the "Poet of the East", and the Government of Pakistan officially declared him the national poet.

    Kalam festival, kalam mela or Swat Summer festival - is a cultural and recreational event, held every year in the month of July or August in the scenic valley of Kalam and Mahodand,100 kilometers from Swat city. The festival is organized by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tourism Department in collaboration with the Pakistan Army. Sports, cultural and recreational activities are arranged during the week, such as paragliding, handicraft display, Jeep rally, Cycling, Canoeing, with Cultural shows, and Music concerts. Traditional Khattak dance, horse dance, Chitral dance and regional dances are also part of the festival. A large number of tourists from across Pakistan and abroad attend the festival. In 2012, about 0.5 million tourists visited Swat Summer festival. This number has increased in the coming years.

    Shandur Polo Festival
    - organized by the Tourism Corporation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP), there is a polo match played on Shandur Top between the teams of Chitral District and Ghizer District. Shandur Top (el. 12,200 feet (3,700 m)) located in Chitral District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Shandur is often called the 'Roof of the World'. The top is flat, a plateau and can be crossed between late April and early November. The grade is very gradual, and the area is crossed by plentiful small streams during summer.Free-styled mountain polo is arguably polo in its purest form. This version of the game played at Shandur-Top has attained legendary status and is of great interest to international and domestic adventure tourists alike. There are no umpires and there are no holds barred. The rules are: There are no rules! In "The Roof of the World" Amin/Willets/Tetley write: "by comparison, an American Wild West rodeo might pass for choir practice." Players rarely wear helmets, The horses' legs often have no bandages, and mallets often have no grips or straps.

    National Horse and cattle show
    - From February till March horse & cattle shows are held in different agricultural centers of Pakistan. The famous ones being at remount stadium Sahiwal horse show , Dera Ismail Khan horse and cattle show, Sibi mela and Lahore. Such shows are held to provide an opportunity to breeders to exhibit their stock and ex- change views and learn about cattle and horse breeding. The National horse and cattle show in Lahore is held at the Fortress Stadium usually in end feburary early march. The festival features livestock from all over Pakistan, as well as folk dancing , camels and horse dancing displays, traditional music, Military pipe bands give a colourfull display,. There is tent-pegging competitions between different regions, games and handicraft exhibitions are held. Dates of these festivals are not fixed and need to be coordinated.

    Lok Mela festival - largest cultural activity in Pakistan held in October each year. Pakistan tourism government website had this to say about it:

    Over the past two decades, this festival has taken on an international flavour and more than 20 different countries have sent their artisans and performers to participate in the festival. Nationally, the festival has become a thing of pride for artisans and performers, who come on their own to participate. Most important of all, the Provinces of Pakistan and Azad Jammu & Kashmir put up beautifully decorated pavilions and visitors have the unique opportunity to see an assortment of Pakistan's traditionally rich culture in the federal capital of Islamabad for an exciting ten days.

    An exhibition of artisans at work under the banner of the Heritage Museum forms the core of this festival. The Research & Media Centre of Lok Virsa arranges groups of dancers that perform all over the festival grounds, inviting visitors to join in, and in the evening, arranges music concerts from all parts of Pakistan. Documentation of the festival is carried out by Lok Virsa's researchers, who interview all the artisans and artists.

    Participants come from all over Pakistan. You would be able to feel and experience the variety in tastes, cultures and heritage of Pakistan all under one roof. One may find different pavilions displaying the crafts of their respective provinces. The Kashmir pavilion may display major crafts from Azad Jammu and Kashmir like Embroidered shawls, Namda and Gabba (floor rungs and wall hangings), wood works, basketry, metal crafts and jewellery etc.

    The Punjab Pavilion may host traditional food items along with singing and listening pleasures of Punjab folk songs. Punjabi style handicrafts also manages to catch viewer attention.

    From the Balochistan pavilion one may expect to get depictions of nomadic balochi life styles and traditional artisans displaying their skills of various Baloch crafts. Leather embroidery crafts and crafts using date leaves are also prime choices of interest in this pavilion. Apart from this one may expect to get a taste of Balochi folk songs and their all famous dish called "Sajji".

    The Sindh pavilion may offer depcitions of Sindh life style, village scenes and working men and women. Artisans preparing different crafts and their traditional folk songs and instruments. "Ajrak" a traditionally made shawl is by far the most highlighted attraction of this pavilion.

    The N.W.F.P Pavilion features the pushtoon culture, customs, crafts and cuisine. Glittering metal crafts of Brass and Copper are displayed in a great variety along with stalls of traditonally made baskets. Stone carving which was traditionally done on tomb stones is also shown in a diversified fashion which can be used on planters, table tops and wall hangings. Along with this Pathan dancers perform their famous "Khattack Dance" and offer their traditional "Chappli Kebab" for your eating pleasures.

    Apart from these pavilions one may witness all kinds of cuisine, musical galas, crafts bazar, lok virsa's display and sale stalls. A richly cherishable experience bound to create a lasting impression.

    Youtube videos may be available for most of these holidays/festivals.

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    How Pakistanis Became Happier Than Indians

    by Panos Mourdoukoutas - Mar 23, 2017

    Pakistanis are happier than Indians.

    That's according to the recently published World Happiness Report, which ranks Pakistan in the 80th position, and India in the 122nd position.

    That's music to the ears of investors in Pakistan's equity markets, as happy citizens usually help the economy grow and prosper -- taking equity markets to new highs.

    Index/Fund 12-month Performance
    Global X Pakistan (PAK) 38.44%
    iShares S&P India 50 (INDY) 1.03%

    Source: Finance.yahoo.com 3/22/17

    The World Happiness Report ranks 155 countries by their happiness levels, combining quantitative data -- such as per capita GDP growth -- and qualitative data, such as social support, freedom to make life choices, and perceptions of corruption.

    Pakistan's big lead in the happiness ranking over India may come as a surprise to some. India has been beating Pakistan in a number of indicators that monitor the performance of the two countries, like world competitiveness, GDP growth, and unemployment rates - see table.

    Pakistan’s, India’s Key Metrics

    Country India Pakistan
    GDP $2074 billion $270 billion
    GDP Growth yoy 7.1% 4.24%
    Unemployment 4.9% 5.9%
    Inflation Rate 5.05% 3.56%
    World Competitiveness Ranking 39 122
    Economic Freedom Ranking 143 141
    Capital flows -$300 million -$1882 million
    Government Debt to GDP 67.2% 64.8%

    Besides, India is a democracy that has yet to be interrupted by military coups and terrorism.

    So what have Pakistanis done better than Indians in the pursuit of happiness?

    It’s hard to say. Most of the variables included in the calculations are quantitative, and therefore, prone to measurement errors. Still, the gap between the rankings of the two countries is too big to be ignored.

    One of the places to look for an answer to the above question is Pakistan’s lead over India in the index of economic freedom ranking. That’s according to 2017 Index of Economic Freedom ranking, which places Pakistan in 141st position and India at 143th.

    Published by the Heritage Foundation, the Economic Freedom report measures such things as trade freedom, business freedom, investment freedom, and the degree of property rights protection in 186 countries.

    Pakistan’s lead over India in this ranking may not be big deal to most observers, as it is too narrow to seem meaningful. Besides, both countries are ranked too close to the bottom.

    Still, Pakistan’s ranking has consistently beaten India's in recent years.

    In fact, a closer look at the ranking components of the two countries reveals that Pakistan has fared better than India in the areas of business development and government spending, which matter a great deal when it comes to the freedom of people to make economic choices.

    Country Overall Ranking Score Property Rights Business Freedom Labor Freedom Government Spending
    Pakistan 141 52.8 36.40 61.20 37.80 87.30
    India 143 52.6 55.40 52.80 41.60 77.40
    Source: The Heritage Foundation

    Simply put, Pakistan has been getting ahead of India in working towards the right cocktail between market and government institutions--deploying each institution in areas of the economy where it excels.

    And this strategy has begun to make a difference in the way Pakistanis create and spend wealth in the pursuit of happiness.


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    Pakistani student develops stick to cure Parkinson’s

    September 25, 2017

    A Pakistani student at University of West England (UWE) has come up with a latest technology to cure patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

    A stick, that can possibly prove to be a solution to the ailment, can benefit thousands of patients around the world.

    During her study at the university, Neha Chaudhary invented this stick that is able to help 12,500 Parkinson’s patients in Britain alone. The stick induces movement in frozen muscles enabling the patients to walk again. In order to keep people’s attention away from the patients and their pain, the design of the stick has been kept simple and plain.

    Having witnessed the disease from close, Neha invented this stick after her own family members suffered from the ailment repeatedly. Her father, in particular, sustained serious injuries due to the seizure of his muscles and his inability to walk.

    Seeking pride in her achievement, Neha in an interview said that the success of this invention is her biggest accomplishment so far. Parkinson’s disease is one of the diseases that still do not have a proper treatment as yet and the medication only delays the effects of the disease temporarily. Neha also shared that she started this intervention as her university’s final year project, back in 2014.

    The stick has been tested on a lot of people in England. National Health Services (NHS) and Parkinson’s organization in England has shown a keen interest in Neha’s incredible project.

    Moreover, Neha even established her own company by the name of ‘Walk to Beat.’ According to Neha, when the patients were given the sticks they were overcome with immediate joy and majority of them expressed satisfaction that the stick does actually work.

    Made of plastic, the light weighted, easy-to-carry-around stick makes use of high-tech sensors installed in it. The sensors, thus, activate dead muscles and help the patients to move around again.


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    World’s Largest Solar Power Plant in Pakistan

    One of the biggest problems of Pakistan is the shortage of electricity, a dilemma that none of the previous governments have been able to solve till now.

    But the initiative taken by this government, currently in power gives us some hope. Thanks to the recent inauguration of Pakistan’s first and world’s largest solar power park at Bhawalpur Pakistan.

    The solar power park is to generate 1000 MW electricity by 2016.

    This new initiative has been launched under the name of Pakistan’s founder, i.e. Quaid-e-Azam Solar Power Park, aiming to hold an investment of 131 Million Dollars by Government of Punjab, Bank of Punjab and TBEA Ltd. of China.

    Entering in its first phase this December, the Solar Power Park will have 400,000 solar panels installed that will be able to produce 100 MW of electricity.

    Some of the key highlights of this Solar Power project are:

    • Overall capacity: 1,000 Mega Watts
    • Phase 1 Capacity: 100 MW
    • Completion of Phase 1: December 2014
    • Phase II Capacity: 300 MW
    • Phase III Capacity: 600 MW
    • Final Capacity: 1,000 MW
    • Completion of final phase: Dec 2016
    • Dedicated Area: 6500 Acres (Phase 1 Area: 500 Acres)
    • Boundary Wall: 9 KM
    • Annual Solar Energy Generation after Completion: 2,000 kWh/m2

    After the completion of this project Pakistan will be listed amongst the top 10 countries that are producing more than 1000 MW of electricity from solar power.

    The current electricity production capacity of Pakistan is only 23,000 MW which is half the amount required. Thus, initiatives like the electricity generation from Solar Power and those currently under initial phases in Thar provide a hope for solution of this major issue.


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    Pakistan economy doubled to $400 billion in last 4 years

    September 23, 2017

    The Finance Ministry has strongly rejected misconceptions being created in a section of media about the state of country's economy.

    A spokesperson of the ministry , in a statement on Saturday, pointed out that the country has witnessed tremendous economic growth over the last four years.

    The size of the economy grew from two hundred and twenty-five billion dollars in 2013 to over four hundred billion dollars in 2017.

    This was only made possible by the prudent policies of the government that included historically low domestic interest rates, low inflation, and significant surge in private sector credit and huge increase in the PSDP.

    The spokesperson clarified that the total debt stood at 19.6 trillion rupees at the end of June 2017.

    He said Pakistan's economic indicators are performing well which has been acknowledged internationally and led to an improvement in country's credit rating.

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    Myanmar in 'advanced negotiations' with Pakistan to licence-build JF-17 fighter

    by Naveed Siddiqui - February 08, 2017

    The governments of Pakistan and Myanmar are now in "advanced negotiations" to licence-build the JF-17, a single-engine multi-role fighter jet, IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, an independent defence news agency, reported.

    Citing defence industry sources in Yangon and sources close to the Myanmar Air Force (MAF), the defence news outlet said that if an agreement is reached, Myanmar would be able to significantly expand its local defence industry.

    The JF-17 Thunder aircraft, jointly developed by China and Pakistan, can carry 8,000lbs of ordinance on seven external hardpoints, which is an adequate amount of ordinance for any mission profile. The JF-17 is powered by a Russian RD-93 afterburning turbofan, which has a top speed for Mach 1.6. It also enhances the much needed capability of the air force in beyond visual range (BVR) engagements.

    As the MAF prepares to phase out its obsolete fleet of F-7M Airguard and A-5C Fantan combat aircraft that it purchased from China in the 1990s, licensed production of the JF-17 Thunder would possibly revamp MAF's defence power over the coming decades, a Jane's analyst says.

    The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has at least 70 of the fighter jets currently in service, with the first ones having entered service in 2009. Expectations are that the PAF will induct up to 150 JF-17 Thunder fighters in the coming years.

    The first of 16 imported JF-17s ordered by Myanmar are expected to go into service with the MAF later this year.

    DawnNews reached out to the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan Air Force. However, all three declined to comment.


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    Simple, Pakistan is a beautiful country.

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    Pakistanis Rise up for Jerusalem Big Time in Every City

    by Ameer al-Azeem & Qaiser Sharif - 12/08/2017

    Country wise protest was held against US President Trump's recognizing Jerusalem as Israel capital
    , on the appeal of Ameer, Jamaat e Islami, Pakistan, Senator Sirajul Haq, on Friday as thousands of people came out on the roads to express their solidarity with the Palestinians.

    Addressing the protestors' rally on the Sharah e Quaid e Azam in the Punjab capital by telephone, Sirajul Haq said that Trump’s announcement was an alarm bell and was tantamount to sprinkling salt on the wounds of the Muslim Ummah. However, he said that the US President would have to face the consequences.

    The JI chief exhorted the Muslim rulers to shun cowardice and show courage against the US and its President. He said that the liberation of Baitul Maqdis was an issue of life and death for the Muslim world. He said the US enmity towards Islam and the Ummah was never a secret and Trump had initiated a war which could engulf the whole world.

    Stating that no sane person in the world could endorse Trump’s mischievous announcement, the JI chief noted that China, Britain, Russia, Germany, France and other major countries had demonstrated a positive attitude by rejecting Trump’s decision as was highly appreciable.

    He urged Prime Minister Shahid khaqan Abbasi to attend the Rabita Alam e Islami meeting as a spokesman of the nation so that Pakistan was projected as a front line state in foiling the US and Zionist designs.

    JI deputy chief Hafiz Muhammad Idrees, addressing the Friday congregation at Mansoora mosque and the protest rally at the Mall, said that the Zionists had occupied the Qibla Awwal in Jerusalem after the fall of the Caliphate in 1924. He said that Palestine and Kashmir had been under the occupation of the Zionists and the Hindus for the last over fifty years due to the non implementation of the UN resolutions. He said the whole world was condemning Trump’s announcement.

    In Peshawar, a protest rally was held outside the historic Mahabat Khan mosque. JI provincial chief Mushtaq Ahmed khan said on the occasion that Trump had stabbed the Muslim world at the back.

    However, he said, that Al-Quds belonged to the Muslims and it would remain so in future. He said that recognition of Jerusalem as Israel capital was a step towards greater Israel and warned that Israel’s next target would be the holy Ka’ba.

    Addressing an impressive rally in the federal capital, JI Islamabad chief Zubair Farooq Khan, urged the Muslim rulers to follow in the footprints of Turkish President Erdogan and call an emergent OIC meeting that could evolve a joint strategy to meet the challenge thrown by Trump.

    JI Rawalpindi chief Shamsul Rahman Swati, while addressing the city rally said that the Satanic powers were out to destroy world peace while the US wanted to sell its arms and ammunition by triggering wars in the whole world. However, he believed that Trump’s pro Israel policies would hasten the demise of the US.

    JI Faisalabad chief Sardar Zafar Husain Khan, addressing the city rally, said that Trump’s aggressive attitude had pushed the world to the brink of third world war. However, he said, that those searching for peace by hurting the sentiments of the Muslims were living in fool’s paradise.

    source: New Trend, Newsletter # 1736

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    Pakistan’s Muslims and Christians celebrate the day together

    by M. Ishtiaq — 26 December 2017

    Muslims throughout Pakistan not only took part in Christmas festivities on Monday, but also hosted celebrations for their Christian friends and neighbors.

    “We have planned a small function for the Christian family that has been living in our area for many years,” said Mohammed Manzoor, from the Attock district of Punjab province.

    Shaukat Chaudhry a member of All Saints Church in the old walled city of Peshawar, told Arab News: “Our Muslim friends are sending Christmas messages … this is our country and we share our pain and happy moments together.”

    Two suicide bombers attacked the church in 2013, when 87 people died, and authorities made security a high priority over the Christmas period this year. Additional police officers were deployed outside churches, and there was extra security on streets leading toward places of worship.

    “We increased patrols and upgraded church protection to ensure security over Christmas,” said Balochistan’s home minister Sarfaz Bugti. In Peshawar, Chaudhry told Arab News: “We are happy with the security arrangements.”

    Throughout the country, Christian residential areas were bedecked with Christmas trees, stars and baubles. The bazaars in major cities, adorned with festive wreaths, were buzzing with last-minute shoppers.

    Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership congratulated their Christian countrymen on the occasion. President Mamnoon Hussain extended his greetings to the Christian community in Pakistan and across the globe, and said the day underscored the teachings of patience, tolerance and kindness.

    “The lesson that we learn from the teachings of Jesus Christ is that the life and property of all people living on this planet should be given equal respect and protection without discriminating on the basis of color, caste, religion and belief,” he said.

    Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi praised the contribution of Pakistan’s Christian community to the socio-economic development of their homeland.

    “We are proud of our Christian brethren. They are an integral part of our multicultural polity, and I am confident that their patriotic contributions will continue to accelerate the pace of Pakistan’s progress,” he said.

    Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa joined the Christian community at Christ Church in the garrison city of Rawalpindi to take part in Christmas festivities. He wished a merry Christmas to Christians in Pakistan, and praised their role Pakistan’s defense as well as in the fields of education, health and public welfare.


    Pakistan - PIA doing what even Christians don't do in Christian Countries

    Islam forbids the Muslims to imitate the kuffaar, especially the Jews and Christians, but this prohibition does not apply to all their affairs, rather it applies to matters of their religion and things that are unique to them, by which they are known.

    It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “You will certainly follow the ways of those who came before you hand span by hand span, cubit by cubit, to the extent that if they entered the hole of a lizard, you will enter it too.” We said: “O Messenger of Allaah, (do you mean) the Jews and the Christians?” He said: “Who else?” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1397; Muslim, 4822.

    This hadeeth indicates that it is haraam to imitate the Jews and the Christians, and that those who follow them and tread the same path as them are criticized. Islam has reinforced this prohibition, by describing those who imitate the kuffaar as being of them. It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar said: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3512; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 2691.


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    Pakistan ditches US dollar for bilateral trade with China

    Just 24 hours after President Trump took aim at Pakistan on Twitter, Pakistan’s Central Bank announced that it will be replacing the dollar with the Chinese yuan for bilateral trade and investment with Beijing.

    The same day, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang defended Islamabad’s counter-terrorism track record, saying the country “made great efforts and sacrifices for combating terrorism” and urged the international community to “fully recognize this.”

    China has been watching closely as US-Pakistan relations become increasingly strained. Trump has long demanded Pakistan do more on counter-terrorism while he simultaneously grew closer to its arch-rival, India.

    Pakistan has been closely aligned with the US for many decades but there are signs that it could be gravitating towards the Chinese orbit. America and China are the first and second biggest economies and military powers in the world.

    Islamabad is already home to one of Beijing’s central infrastructure schemes, a near $60 billion collection of land and sea projects known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

    And with a steady stream of Chinese capital under its belt, Pakistan may no longer be receptive to American threats, the most recent of which involves Washington cutting off security assistance.

    For Beijing’s part, a Monday editorial published by Chinese state-run news outlet Global Times said that “China and Pakistan enjoy an all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation, Beijing will without doubt not give up on Islamabad.”

    However, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif recently dismissed Trump’s outburst as a political stunt and the two nations are expected to continue cooperating this year.

    Ultimately, Washington needs Pakistani cooperation to address its concerns about Afghanistan and Iran and it remains to be seen if Trump’s social media tirade will translate into real policy change.


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    More than 50 % of those Diagnosed with Measles in Pakistan had been Vaccinated.

    Islamabad city hospital continues receiving children suffering from measles. Authorities inform that all necessary precautions have been taken. More than 50 % of the children brought to the hospital are children who previously have been vaccinated. The Pakistani figures corroborate recently released British documentation for a 30-year long cover-up of vaccinations inefficiency and the involved health risks.

    The outpatient departments of Pakistan´s Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and Ployclinic, reportedly receive 20 – 25 measles cases per day, and sources at the PIMS Childrens Hospital report that the Outpatient Department receives more than 120 cases every month.

    The head of the pediatric department at the Children Hospital, Dr. Tabish Hazir reports, that there has been a measles outbreak in the twin cities since December 2012 and that the health authorities are still declining to accept it. Dr. Tabish Hazir states, that “It is a bitter fact that despite mass anti-measles vaccinations and all-out efforts to contain the disease, cases continue to surface”.

    Significantly, Dr. Tabish Hazir implicitly states the fact which critics of the vaccination program have stated all-along, which is, that the vaccinations are ineffective and that the considerable health risks involved in the vaccination program does not justify the mass immunization.

    50 % of those diagnosed have been vaccinated. According to Dr. Tabish Hazir, “More than 50 % of the children brought to the hospital were those who already had been vaccinated.”.

    Dr. Tabish Hazir stated, that since January 2013 more than 550 children have been clinically diagnosed with measles at PIMS. 180 of these cases came from urban areas of Islamabad, 40 from Bhara Kahu, 25 from Alipur Farash, 15 from Bari Imam and 126 fom Rawalpindi and the rest is distributed among other parts of the country. So far, only one death has resulted from the outbreak.

    Dr. Tabish Hazir stressed the urgent need for new epidemiological studies as more than 50 % of the children brought to the hospital were those who had already been vaccinated against measles. “It is important that the characteristic of the virus be closely monitored and studied. Blood samples should be sent to The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, for laboratory test and verification”.

    The fact that Pakistan has to send laboratory samples abroad, and especially abroad to the USA and the CDC is being criticized by critics of the vaccination program, as the CDC has repeatedly come under fire for highly biased reports and for “pushing vaccination programs”.

    Despite high incidence no outbreak. The Director of Health of Pakistan´s CDA, Dr. Urooj Hassan stated, that despite of the high number of cases, there has not been an outbreak of measles in Islamabad and that all the necessary measures had been taken since the first case of measles was reported in the capital.

    UK Documents released in Freedom of Information Act request document 30-year long cover-up of vaccines inefficiency and health risks. Earlier in 2013 , documents which had been released in a Freedom of Information Act Request in the United Kingdom caused grave concerns about the efficiency of vaccination programs and their health risks.

    The released documents clarified that there has been a 30 year long cover-up of the facts that the United Kingdom´s health officials have known that vaccines don´t work, have known that vaccines cause the diseases against which they are supposed to immunize, have known that vaccines constitute a health hazard to children.

    Furthermore, the released documents clarify that the UK´s health officials have colluded to lie to the public and worked to prevent safety studies.


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    This Remote Pakistani Village Is Nothing Like You’d Expect

    Over the years, a mountainous region in Pakistan has become my second home. I’ve seen firsthand how global events have hurt locals’ livelihoods and how technology has challenged the meaning of tradition.

    more at https://news.nationalgeographic.com/...akistan-islam/

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    Pakistan's water poisonous, running out

    January 08, 2018

    Barely 15 days old, Kinza whimpers at an Islamabad hospital where she is suffering from diarrhoea and a blood infection, a tiny victim among thousands afflicted by Pakistan 's severely polluted and decreasing water supplies.

    Cloaked in a colourful blanket, Kinza moves in slow motion, like a small doll. Her mother, Sartaj, does not understand how her daughter became so ill.

    "Each time I give her the bottle, I boil the water ," she tells AFP.

    But Sartaj and her family drink daily from a stream in their Islamabad neighbourhood -- one of several waterways running through the capital that are choked with filth. Boiling the water can only do so much.

    They are not alone. More than two-thirds of households drink bacterially contaminated water and, every year, 53,000 Pakistani children die of diarrhoea after drinking it, says UNICEF.

    Cases of typhoid, cholera, dysentery and hepatitis are rampant. According to the UN and Pakistani authorities, between 30 and 40 percent of diseases and deaths nationwide are linked to poor water quality.

    And it is costing the developing country billions. In 2012 the World Bank, which has warned that "substantial investments are needed to improve sanitation", estimated that water pollution costs Pakistan $5.7 billion, or nearly four percent of GDP.

    "Water is the number one problem for the country," says professor Javed Akram, vice chancellor at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad.

    In Lahore, Pakistan 's second largest city, the situation is even worse than in Islamabad.

    The Ravi River which supplies the city's 11 million or so inhabitants with drinking water also serves as a spillway to hundreds of factories upstream.

    River fish are eaten by locals, but "some papers show that in the fishbones, some heavy metal contamination (is) found," says Sohail Ali Naqvi, a project officer with the conservation group WWF.

    The Ravi is also used to irrigate neighbouring crops, which are themselves rich in pesticides, warns Lahore environmentalist Ahmad Rafay Alam.

    'Absolute scarcity'

    The lack of water infrastructure is glaring. In a country where the "environment is not part of the political agenda", there are "nearly no treatment plants", warns Imran Khalid, a researcher at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

    "Those who can afford it buy bottles of water , but what about those who cannot?" he says.

    In Karachi, a megacity whose population could be as many as 20 million people, mafias fill the vacuum left by the creaking local network, selling the precious water they bring in by tanker trucks at high prices.

    In the face of widespread indignation, Sindh along with Punjab province, together home to more than half of the country's population, have already announced measures to improve water quality, though their efficacy is yet to be seen.

    But Pakistan 's water is not only contaminated -- it is becoming scarce.

    Official projections show the country, whose population has increased fivefold since 1960 to some 207 million, will run dry by 2025, when they will be facing an "absolute scarcity" of water with less than 500 cubic metres available per person in Pakistan .

    That's just one third the water available in already parched Somalia now, according to the UN.

    'Lack of education'

    Pakistan, a country of massive Himalayan glaciers, monsoon rains and floods, has just three major water storage basins, compared with more than a thousand in South Africa or Canada, says Bashir Ahmad of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council.

    As such any surplus is quickly lost, said Ahmad, who denounced "a lack of political vision" to counter the nationwide water crisis.

    While official statistics show that 90 percent of the country's water is used for agriculture, the massive irrigation network, built decades ago by British colonists, has deteriorated.

    Much of its use appears to defy common sense. "We are neglecting the northern areas, where there (is) a lot of rainfall, to focus on irrigated areas like Sindh or Punjab," says Ahmad.

    There, in arid areas where temperatures can soar up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), Pakistan grows water-intensive crops such as rice and sugar cane.

    "The crisis is looming. In all urban areas, the water table is going down day by day,"
    warns Muhammad Ashraf, chairman of the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources.

    Pumps draw deeper and deeper into the water table, where the arsenic content is naturally higher, he warns. An international study in August said some 50 to 60 million Pakistanis are slowly poisoning themselves with arsenic-tainted water .

    Yet waste remains the norm. In Islamabad, roads are sprinkled to drive away dust, cars are washed daily, and verdant lawns watered generously.

    "We own our houses, but not our streams," Ashraf sighs. "That's why we dump our waste in the rivers."


    This is why water is running out:

    Nestlé Stealing Pakistan's Water


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    China to get 91% Gwadar income, minister tells Senate

    by Iftikhar A. Khan - November 25, 2017

    The Senate was told on Friday that
    91 per cent of the revenues to be generated from the Gwadar port as part of the China-Pakistan Econo*mic Corridor (CPEC) would go to China, while the Gwadar Port Authority would get 9pc share in the income for the next 40 years.

    This was disclosed by Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Bizenjo after senators expressed concern over the secrecy surrounding the CPEC long-term agreement plan, with many observing that the
    agreement tilted heavily in China’s favour.

    The minister said that the agreement was based on a build-operate and transfer model spread over 40 years. That means that Pakistan will take over the operation of the port along with the infrastructure to be built on it during the period to enhance the port’s cargo-handling capacity.

    However, Senator Kal*soom Parveen of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) pointed out that
    the agreement had not been signed on the basis of equality as had been done with India. She asked Senate Chairperson Raza Rabbani to convene a meeting of the committee of the whole of council, in which all relevant departments which signed the pact would be called. Mr Rabbani, however, pointed out that there were already two committees on the CPEC, including a Senate committee and a parliamentary panel. He advised her to take up the issue at the Senate committee on CPEC.

    Senator Sardar Azam Musakhel of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) lamented that neither of the chairmen of the two committees was from Balochistan, and alleged that they had given China a ‘concession’. Senator Mohsin Aziz of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf stressed that the
    business community must be involved in signing such business agreements, a task which, he claimed, should not be left to bureaucrats with no business savvy.

    Senator Javed Abbasi of the PML-N, however, defended the agreement saying it would greatly benefit Pakistan. He added that the power projects under the CPEC would alleviate Pakistan’s severe energy crisis. He pointed out that most of the power projects would be constructed in Balochistan and Sindh. The project would bring $56 billion investment into Pakistan, he said, adding that the CPEC would include infrastructure projects as well as industrial zones that would generate employment opportunities.

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    Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey block US move to put Pakistan on terror-finacing list


    Saudi Arabia has reportedly joined Turkey and China in a move to block a US-sponsored attempt this week to place Pakistan on an international terror-financing watch list.

    Washington had reportedly working behind the scenes during the ongoing Paris meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to take action against Islamabad, which it says has acted against terrorist financing and the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

    Officials involved in the process told The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that a US effort to reverse the decision on the watch list was under way Wednesday at the FAFT meeting.

    The report said this was one of the “rare disagreements" between Saudi Arabia and the administration of US President Donald Trump.

    The officials from the countries on the task force said
    Saudi Arabia was acting on behalf of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Saudi-dominated bloc of six Persian Gulf nations which are collectively a member of the FATF.

    The report said the US is still trying for the FATF, a secretive international body that monitors countries’ efforts to fight terror financing and money-laundering, to take a decision on this by Thursday.

    The US effort, which included pressure on the Saudis, raised the possibility of a fresh vote on action against Pakistan as soon as Thursday, the officials said.

    We’re anticipating that the final decision would be made on Thursday of this week,” said Heather Nauert, a US State Department spokeswoman, reiterating that Pakistan was among countries that are not doing enough “to crack down on terror financing, counterterrorism and the like.”

    The FATF was scheduled to meet through Friday and has not yet publicly announced any decision.

    The Trump administration is angry with what it sees as Pakistan’s inadequate efforts to combat terror groups and has sought to ratchet up pressure on Islamabad. Pakistan has denied the allegations.

    Saudi Arabia’s move on behalf of Pakistan came just days after Islamabad said it would send more than 1,000 troops to the oil-rich kingdom on a “training and advice mission.”

    The development is notable because Saudi Arabia has been pushing Pakistan to provide ships, aircraft and troops since 2015 for its devastating military campaign against Yemen.



    Pakistan called out the USA and the western countries in the UN and asked them to answer how ISIS got into Afghanistan and how it's attacking Pakistan from there? No one answered; they all shamelessly remained quiet.

    After Geneva and London, anti-Pakistan ads appear in New York

    December 21, 2017

    After Geneva and London, controversial anti-Pakistan advertisements have appeared on yellow taxicabs in New York.

    “The New York campaign has kicked-off with more than 100 taxis carrying adverts with the slogan, ‘#Free Balochistan from human rights abuses by Pakistan’,” India’s ANI news agency quoted a Baloch separatist group as announcing on Wednesday.

    This is an obvious reference to the anti-state movement launched by Baloch insurgents patronised by India.

    Pakistan had strongly condemned and protested against similar campaigns in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

    The Foreign Office had termed the anti-Pakistan advertisements a direct attack on the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

    In a major breakthrough to Pakistani authorities in September, Ghazain Marri, a brother of Hyrbyair Marri and slain BLA militant Balach Marri, ended his 18-year self-exile and surrendered to security agencies in Quetta.


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    Symbolic Sparkle: 12 Pieces of South Asian Wedding Jewelry and What they Really Mean

    By Jafreen M. Uddin

    Jewelry and adornments take on a whole new meaning in South Asian celebrations -- did you know there's an auspicious sign behind nearly every piece of jewelry a South Asian bride wears? "Solah Shringar" literally translates to "Sixteen Adornments," and is the ritual system of adorning a bride-to-be in 16 steps. In Hinduism, the ritual pays respect to the Goddess Laxmi, who represents beauty and femininity. But even non-Hindu brides in South Asia have embraced many elements of the Solah Shringar, especially since so many of the pieces are part of a traditional jewelry trousseau.

    We're breaking down the symbolism behind 12 of our favorite pieces of wedding day bling. From the tikka at the top of a bride's head to the payals at the bottom of her feet, these pieces of South Asian bridal jewelry do more than just sparkle!

    Maang Tikka

    When a maang tikka is worn in the center of a bride's forehead, the place where the tikka falls is known as the "ajna chakra," or "to know or perceive." By placing a piece of jewelry on this chakra, a bride is able to gain insight and control from this "third eye."


    A slightly different take on the maang tikka, a jhoomar is traditionally worn to the side of a bride's head, symbolizing unity and togetherness for the bride and groom.


    Old legends claim that evil spirits can enter one's body through any of its openings, turning earrings into protectors against ill-intentioned spirits.


    Brides from different cultures receive different bangles for their wedding. Bengali brides receive an iron bangle plated in gold from their mother-in-law. South Indian brides are given green bangles as a symbol of fertility and prosperity. And northern Punjabi brides are often given a chooda, a set of ivory and red bangles that the bride wears for up to 40 days after her marriage.


    Kalire are particularly significant for Punjabi brides, worn in conjunction with the chooda set. Traditionally tied to the bride's wrists by her sisters and female cousins, the kalire signify good wishes and blessings from a bride's closest girls.

    Hath Phool

    A hath phool literally translates to "hand flower." Flowers are an important symbol of South Asian weddings, representing new life and happiness. Traditional hath phools would include a chain that connected a bracelet to five individual rings on each of the bride's fingers, but modern brides now opt for simpler versions with only 1 or 2 rings.

    Nose Ring

    In some Hindu communities, the size of a bridal nose ring equates with the status and wealth of the family. In ancient times, the larger the nose ring, the more affluent the family. So much symbolism for such a small piece of jewelry!


    Some people believe that the vein in your ring finger runs directly to your heart, making rings as auspicious as they are romantic!

    Mirrored Ring

    Centuries before brides-to-be sported diamond rings, brides wore a large mirrored ring during the ceremony -- in some cultures where marriages were arranged, the bride was able to sneak a peek at her groom for the first time during the ceremony using the ring!


    The chimes of traditional payals symbol a bride's arrival to her new husband's home. It's a literal announcing bell!


    A bajuband is an armlet worn on a bride's upper arm -- with this piece of jewelry placed on top of a bride's bicep, it's no surprise that it also signifies strength for the new bride.


    The kamarband is a chain around the waist that serves double duty -- not only is it a part of a South Asian bride's jewelry trousseau, it also helps hold the sari up! The waist (or navel) is the location of the manipura chakra, associated with confidence and power. Traditionally, the kamarband also included a ring to hold all of the household keys, which were given to a new bride by her mother-in-law, representing the transfer of power and



    These are Indian Hindu customs based on Hinduism. Desi Muslims blindly copy it, thinking it’s only “culture”.

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    Turkey's Gallipoli anniversary marked in Pakistan

    Ceremony at university in capital Islamabad pays tribute to Turkish soldiers

    March 15, 2018

    The 103rd anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Battle of Canakkale, was commemorated during a Turkish Embassy-backed ceremony in capital Islamabad on Thursday.

    The ceremony to pay tribute to the Turkish soldiers who laid down their lives during the battle was held at the NUML University in collaboration with Turkish Embassy and Yunus Emre Institute.

    A big number of students, teachers and academics participated in the event.

    Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Mustafa Yurdakul was the chief guest on the occasion.

    Speaking on the occasion, Yurdakul said victories won during the Canakkale campaign reshaped the political landscape and forged national identities.

    "The Battle of Canakkale (Gallipoli) was not only a struggle for life, but also a struggle of the youth who died for honor and virtue," the ambassador said, adding that tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers had been martyred during the historic battle.

    The 1915 battle, which took place in the Canakkale province's Gallipoli (Gelibolu in Turkish) district, marked a turnaround in favor of the Turks against the Allied forces during World War I.

    Underlining the significance of the battle in Turkey’s history, the ambassador said: "It is our duty as a nation to give the Canakkale victory the value that it deserves."

    "In this way, the battle showed that there is nothing stronger than a nation ready to die for their homeland and it is impossible to capture such a nation."

    The ambassador also said Turks can never forget the support of their “Muslim brothers from the Subcontinent” during the most difficult days of the Ottoman Empire.

    The participants also paid rich tributes to Turkish poet Mehmet Akif Ersoy, who wrote Turkey’s national anthem.

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    'Top Mily, Political Leadership 'Shamefully' Let Raymond Davis Go'

    July 01, 2017

    Video - https://www.facebook.com/KJVids/vide...5210928199858/

    Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has stated that recently published book of Raymond Davis is a shameful account how top political and military leadership of the country let cold blooded murderer, responsible of four deaths, 'go scot-free'.

    He called 'The Contractor: How I Get in Pakistan Prison & Started Diplomatic Crisis' a must read for every Pakistani. He asserted that this book shows why Pakistan 'gets so little respect internationally.'

    In his book the former US intelligence agency CIA contractor Raymond Davis wrote that former President Asif Ali Zardari, GD ISI General Pasha and current Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif collaborated for his freedom from Pakistani jails where he was under arrest for killing two innocent citizens.

    The book has started uproar in Pakistan and serious backlash from citizens.

    On January 27, 2011, Davis killed two armed men in Lahore, Pakistan. Although US held the stance that he has diplomatic immunity but was sent to jail under criminal charges. After a month of the incident US revealed that Davis is a CIA contractor in Pakistan.

    A diplomatic crisis was instigated between Pakistan and US over him especially in context of anger in Pakistani public regarding Davis and US.

    Raymond Davis, however, was released after payments were made to families of deceased under Sharia Law of 'Diyyat'. The law allows families of deceased to receive money from the culprit.

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    Pakistanis distressed as Uighur wives vanish in China dragnet

    "China is our friend and this incident will leave a bad taste," according to Javed Hussain, a member of the local assembly for the Pakistani region that borders Xinjiang.

    Every autumn on the mountainous Karakoram Highway, part of the ancient Silk Road, groups of Pakistani merchants living in China's far west would wave goodbye to their Chinese wives and cross the border to spend winter in their home country.

    As the snow piled high, the men would stay in touch with their families by phone, longing for the spring thaw that would allow them to be reunited in Xinjiang.

    But last year many of their calls suddenly went unanswered.

    Their families, they learned, had disappeared into a growing network of shadowy "reeducation centres" that have swept up the region's Uighur Muslim minority over fears of militancy crossing the border from Pakistan.

    "My wife and kids were taken away by the Chinese authorities
    in March last year and I haven't heard from them since," said Iqbal, a Pakistani businessman who declined to give his surname over concern about his family's safety.

    Last July, he headed to China to find them, but was turned away at the border. Authorities "said my wife was in 'training' and the government was taking care of my kids", he told AFP.

    "I begged them to let me talk to my daughters, but they refused."

    Iqbal is one of dozens of merchants from Gilgit-Baltistan who return to Pakistan for visa reasons or to run their businesses and have been unable to contact their Uighur families living in China, according to Javed Hussain, a member of the local assembly for the Pakistani region that borders Xinjiang.

    Earlier this month, the delegates passed a unanimous resolution protesting the "illegal detention" of the men's families.

    "The Chinese authorities should at least allow the men to meet their wives and children," Hussain said.

    "China is our friend and this incident will leave a bad taste."

    China's foreign ministry said that the "two sides are maintaining communication about problems related to interactions between both countries' people", while Pakistan's said the issue was being "actively discussed with the government of China".

    'Eliminating extremism'

    Like many of the men, Iqbal's family lived in Kashgar, an ancient city along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a trade route connecting China's far west to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.

    In recent years, China has heavily pushed its relationship with Pakistan, investing tens of billions of dollars in CPEC infrastructure projects in the country, and Beijing has upgraded the treacherous mountain road connecting Gilgit-Baltistan to Xinjiang.

    But China has had difficulty reconciling its desire for development with fears that Uighur separatists will import violence from Pakistan.

    Chinese authorities have long linked their crackdown on Xinjiang's Muslims to international counter-terrorism, arguing that separatists are bent on joining foreign militants like al Qaeda.

    Uighurs have been tied to mass stabbings and bombings that left dozens dead in recent years across the country. Riots and clashes with the government killed hundreds more.

    Over the past year, China has turned to increasingly drastic methods to eliminate what it describes as the "three forces": terrorists, religious extremists and separatists.

    In 2017, the government flooded Xinjiang with tens of thousands of security personnel, with police stations on nearly every block in urban areas and tough regulations to "eliminate extremism".

    This included the increased use of compulsory "reeducation" for anyone suspected of harbouring separatist sympathies.

    'Threat' from Pakistan

    Iqbal and the other Pakistani men believe their wives - and even business associates - have been targeted because they received calls and messages from Pakistan.

    "Any communication from Pakistan is considered a threat,"
    said Qurban, a businessman who has worked in Kashgar for over 30 years.

    "One of my employees, a Uighur, was picked up two years back just because he was in touch with me when I went to Pakistan."

    Chinese authorities have denied the existence of reeducation centres.

    But regulations against militancy adopted by Xinjiang last March call for authorities to step up political reeducation.

    In Kashgar alone, more than 120,000 people - about three percent of the area's population - were being held in the facilities in January, according to Radio Free Asia.

    An AFP review of state media reports and government documents verified the existence of at least 30 such centres and almost 4,000 cases of people being sent to them.

    Regulations posted on a local website in Xinjiang's Hejing county explained that even minor transgressions of strict religious regulations can be punished with up to three months in a centre.

    Ali, a businessman who lost contact with his wife in December, said she had been taken by authorities to do a "sort of training where they teach them about Communism and prepare them to be patriotic citizens".

    "My wife told me that Chinese police had come to her house and asked her about the calls from Pakistan
    and asked her to explain her links with ETIM," said Ali, referring to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a militant group China has accused of attempting to foment Uighur separatism.

    He plans to cross the border in May to find his family, but has been told his children are in the custody of the Chinese government and doesn't know if he will see them again.

    "They never tell you anything, they just say your family will come back to you when they finish their training."



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