Rail link planned between Gwadar and Iranian port city Chabahar

QUETTA: Pakistan and Iran have decided to lay railway track to connect Gwadar with the Iranian port city of Chabahar.

The decision was taken at a meeting between Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Sanaullah Zehri and a 22-member Iranian delegation led by the governor of the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan, Aaqa Ali Hosth Hashmi, in Gwadar on Sunday.

Balochistan Chief Secretary Saifullah Chattha, representatives of the Gwadar Port Authority and other officials concerned attended the meeting which discussed border security, drug trafficking, illegal crossing of border and other issues.

According to official sources, the Balochistan government delegation raised the issue of border violations by Iranian security forces.

The meeting decided to take up plans for border trade, new shipping service and flights from Gwadar to Iranian cities and towns.

A committee has been set up to monitor border security and related issues.

The meeting was informed that a border commission had already been formed that would look into border-related issues between the two countries.

Under another decision, Iran which is supplying 70 megawatts of electricity to Makran division will increase it by 30MW, besides providing 1,000MW to Pakistan’s national grid.

Mr Zehri said at the meeting that Pakistan and Iran enjoyed strong brotherly relations and shared the affinities of culture, faith and customs. Balochs living on both sides of the border spoke the same language.

He expressed the hope that the governor of Sistan-Baluchestan would play an active role in speedy implementation of various projects.

Mr Zehri said Pakistan was against terrorism and condemned wherever it took place. The border commission, he hoped, would resolve security issues.

He said he would visit Sistan-Baluchistan.

Aaqa Hashmi said the main purpose of his visit was to strengthen ties between the two neighbouring countries which shared traditional values. He said he hoped that border security issues would be resolved.

Meanwhile, a number of delegations of representatives of different local sectors called on Mr Zehri and apprised him of problems faced by them. The chief minister assured them that his government would take all possible steps to solve their problems.

He said work on the Sodh and Shadi Kour dams was under way and would soon be completed. The government was working to solve the problem of shortage of drinking water in Gwadar and address other issues.

The chief minister said a fully operational Gwadar Port and completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would usher in an era of development and prosperity in the region and local people would be its main beneficiaries. He also said that local people would be given preference in development projects in Gwadar.

 

Emirati guides to promote Dubai historical district

Dubai: Dubai on Sunday launched the first Emirati-operated heritage tour programme as part of efforts to promote tourism in historical quarters of the emirate.

“We have trained six Emirati tour guides so far under our specially-created tour guide certification programmme and plan to introduce more as the programme develops, such as introducing it in the languages of Mandarin or German. As the project is new, it will remain under study and will continue to grow and develop on cultural and seasonal events, such as Dubai Shopping Festival or the Emirates Literature Festival,” said Yousuf Ahmad Lootah, Executive Director of Tourism Development and Investments at Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

Lootah said a committee handling Dubai Historical District (DHD) rejuvenation will be overseeing 100 projects over the next four years, as the emirate gears up to receive 20 million visitors per year by 2020. “Part of the projects that will focus on Emirati culture includes the promenade at Al Seef Road and a museum in Al Shindagha,” he said.

Covering 1.5 square kilometres, the heritage tour will be based on the tradition, heritage, trade, and origins of Dubai’s early settlers, which will be narrated by registered Emirati tour guides as they direct visitors through Heritage Village, Shaikh Saeed House and the Spice Souq, in addition to various other landmarks.

“As UAE nationals, our tour guides while growing up were our parents, or our aunts. The idea of this project came from retelling the history of Dubai from the source itself – the citizens,” said Saeed Al Naboudah, Acting Director General of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, member of (Dubai Historical District) DHD Rejuvenation Executive Committee.

The ‘Tales from the Past’ tour aims to highlight the importance of Dubai’s historical and culturally rich areas and is part of an initiative launched last year by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to renovate Khor Dubai and other historical neighbourhoods.

The DHD Rejuvenation Executive Committee includes representatives from Dubai Municipality, Dubai Tourism and Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (DCAA), who are responsible for carrying out the 2015 initiative.

Bookings

The heritage tour if offered every Monday from 10am-2pm at a cost of Dh350 per person, with a maximum booking for 20 seats. Bookings can be made through Desert Gate’s website.

 

Shaheen Airlines’ flight goes off the run way during landing in Lahore

Shaheen air flight NL142 from Karachi to Lahore landed at Lahore airport and slipped from runway and was landed in the grass aside the runway. The boeing 737 of Shaheen Air was damaged from the landing gear and one of the wing was also broken.

There were over a 100 people including the staff on board, 10 of them got minor injuries. Shaheen Air’s 737 had also similar incident last year in December (30 December 2014)

Following are the pictures as shown by BBC of the plane

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shaheen-air-landing-gear

 

The wine-makers of Pakistan’s Hunza Valley

The hems of his jeans rolled, Ahsan* climbs barefoot up a tree to pick the grapes dangling from climbing vines, defying hostile religious injunctions against alcohol to celebrate a wine-making tradition in the mountains of Pakistan.

Every autumn in the remote village near the foothills of the Himalayas, Ahsan joins the many agile young people taking to the trees for the long-awaited harvest under the watchful eye of their gnarled and chiselled elders.

Drenched in sunlight, bunches of grapes crown the treetops, where they are safe from the opportunistic reach of greedy farm animals.

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Ahsan — slim, and with an aquiline nose — begins to pick the forbidden fruit.

Working with his bare hands, he places the green and crimson grapes in a wicker basket that is lowered to the ground along a rope.

The fruit is tossed into the ‘khor’, a cement tank washed with icy glacier water, where barefoot villagers trample it to press the juice.

hunza-wine-makers

Then, beneath the permanently snow-capped mountains, the villagers concoct their tangy, golden wine with undercurrents of peach, as well as brandies of grape and blackberry.

“We learned from our fathers and grandfathers, who were already making wine,” smiles Ahsan, who pressed his first grapes and tasted his first sip of wine at the age of “eight or nine.”

Eighty-six-year-old Hasan*, cranes his neck to watch the freshly-pressed juice hurtling towards the base of the angled ‘khor’.hunza-wine-making2

Inhabitants of the remote area converted to Islam in the 16th century — but, before that, they were Buddhists who, Hasan says, were the first to make wine here.

When he was a child, he says, “before the harvest, custom demanded we slaughter an animal and pray before we started picking the grapes”.

hunza-wine-grapes

The juice, he explains, was then kept in an underground stone reservoir.

Once fermented, they would lower a hollowed out yak horn on a piece of wire to draw up draughts of wine.

“Not everyone can drink the wine,” says Hasan.

“Some are not able to digest it, and the ignorant lose their heads and fight,” he said.

But, he adds, for others, “wine and alcohol nourish love and humility.”

Winter survival tool

Anwar*, an elderly man with a thin green cedar twig tucked beneath his ‘topi’ or circular cap, sings of this love.

Whirling languidly, like a dervish in slow motion, he recites his poetry.

“You say that my prayers are not legitimate because I have a glass of wine but you take bribes,” he sings pointedly in Shina, a local language.

Anwar is addressing his ode to those who, on the side of the authorities, reproach him.

The religion practised in the region disallows followers from consuming or producing alcohol, in line with a ban in Pakistan dating from the 1970s.

Some might call the ban fruitless: the walls of some cities in the region are adorned with warnings against drinking and driving.

Villagers say they especially like drinking wine during weddings and other celebrations.

Members of other religious groups in the region also produce alcohol.

Kaleem — a plump man with bouffant hair reminiscent of Elvis Presley — sees the harvest as a mountain legacy that he has no plans to give up.

“Our ancestors had to survive the winter, the alcohol was warming and relaxing,” he said.

“This is part of our culture and it will not die as long as I live.”

‘But I like it’
Local police, meanwhile, tolerate the amateur wine-making so long as no one is profiting from it.

Inam — a member of an education board who has been trying to persuade villagers in the region not to drink for 30 years — says the only tool he has is persuasion.

All branches of religion are adamant about the production and consumption of alcohol: it is ‘haram’, forbidden, he says.

“I can ask people, I can make them understand. But you see, it’s very difficult to change the habits of people, the cultural habits of the people.“

The elderly singer Anwar, for one, remains defiant. “Religious leaders are no one to command or control my life,” he retorts.

“From a religious point of view… people used to say that we shouldn’t drink. It is not so much that it is a sin or forbidden, but that it is not good for your health.”

“But I am used to it and I like it.”

 

Karakorum Highway closed at 5 places due to Earthquake

NDMA National Desaster Management Authority has reported that Karakorum Highway has been blocked at 4 different places due to landslides caused by earthquake today. Over 7 people have also died in Gilgit Baltistan wish several houses damaged in the area.

earthquake-2015-peshawar

Overall in Pakistan there have been about 100 deaths reported due to falling walls and houses. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has be been hit hardest. In Peshawar many houses have been damaged and several incidents of walls falling on people have been reported.

According to the Pakistani earthquake measurement center the strength of earthquake was 7.5 and it happened at 14:02 today the 26th October 2015.

Mud houses in the region have been badly damaged and Authorities are doing their best to reach the remote areas to give necessary help to the effectuates.

earthquake-damage-2015

Accorting to PTV Indian prime minister Narindar Modi has phone Prime minister Nawaz sharief and has offered help however Prime minister has thanked his counterpart and at the moment and told him that Pakistan does not need any international help at the moment.

 

7.7 Scale Earthquake hits Pakistan & Afghanistan

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake has been felt in in Islamabad and northern areas of Pakistan including the region of Naran Kaghan, Hunza Gilgit & Chitral areas. The center of Earthquake was in Faizabad Afghanistan, the news has reported that the tremers were felt upto Delhi in the East and to Kabul in the west.

According to the latest reports Islamabad people have felt heavy tremors. In Naran the hotels report that the buldings were shaking but the thankfully the quake didn’t last long. Tourists stranded in Naran due to snow are being evacuated

earthquake-2015-islamabad

People came out of cars and houses in Islamabad fearing the effects of earthquake.

earthquake-2015-gilgit-baltistan

In Gilgit Baltistan roads are blocked due to landslides, dust is seen on the mountains which might result new streams and damage may be expected.

 

PM Nawaz Sharif has urged the US for the withdrawal of travel advisories on Pakistan

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged the United States (US) for the withdrawal of travel advisories on Pakistan and granting access to Pakistani products to its markets, ARY News reported.

In his address with the US-Pakistan Business Council in Washington, he highlighted how Pakistan has emerged as an attractive and thriving market for business and investment opportunities, since the last time he had spoken to very chamber in 2013.

nawaz-sharief-usa

“Pakistan has greatly improved its internal security situation, as well as achieved effective governance and public service delivery, resulting in robust economic indicators, in a short span of time,” Sharif said.

“We are confident that the improved security situation in Pakistan would lead to withdrawal of travel advisories on Pakistan.”

Pakistan has one of the most attractive investment regimes in the world, allowing foreign investors 100% repatriation of profits and easy convertibility into foreign exchange, he noted.

“Numerous investment opportunities are available in the energy, consumer goods, food & agriculture, housing, health care, education; finance Services, capital markets, information technology, oil & gas and infrastructure sectors of Pakistan.”

“No region has lagged as far behind in the world today as South Asia. To lift our people out of poverty, we must first of all establish peace in the region,” said the Pakistan PM. “We, therefore, seek good relations with all its neighbors.”

I firmly believe that shared prosperity is real prosperity. We cannot maintain peace within, unless there is peace without, he said. This is what under-pins my approach to a peaceful and friendly neighborhood.

Sharif said the US remains one of the most important economic and trading partners of Pakistan, adding that major US companies have invested billions of dollars in Pakistan and the US also remains a major destination for Pakistani exports.

 

Government to take steps to develop onyx and marble industry

KARACHI: Pakistan’s mountain areas specially the North Western FATA areas are famous for high quality , The World Bank’s multi-donor trust fund (MDTF) is taking several initiatives for the development of marble sector in Fata.

pakistan-marble

A delegation of Fata SMEs, Fata ERKF (economic rehabilitation of Khyber Pakhtun­khwa/Fata) and marble sector experts would soon visit different factories in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

The delegation, which met All-Pakistan Marble Mining Processing Industry and Exports Association Chair­man Sanaullah Khan last Saturday, discussed value chain and varieties of marble present in the country.

Sanaullah said markets in Afghanistan, Middle East and China can be tapped easily if we improve our quality.