Mission on K2 abandoned after avalanche

ISLAMABAD: The climbing missions are almost over on K2 after a massive avalanche wiped out tents and gear deposited by climbers higher on the slopes of K2 the second highest mountain in the world.

The Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) here on Saturday said that on July 27 2016, both commercial teams and independent climbers decided to abandon their attempts to summit the 8,611-metre-high peak.

“All the progress made was completely wiped out. Fortunately, none of the climbers were in the higher camps and discussing strategies how to make the summit push. The heavy snow prevented climbers to step outside the tents,” said Karrar Haidri, a spokesperson for the ACP. He said all equipment for the summit attempt such as tents, oxygen, ropes, food, etc were lost.

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According to a veteran climber, July 27 seemed to be a good day to climb.

In 2013, two climbers – Marty Schmidt and his son Daniele Schmidt – were spending a night in one such higher camp when an avalanche swept them away. The two climbers were never found.

While no one was hurt on K2, a trekker on the magnificent Gondoghoro La Pass in the Karakuram Range was not so lucky.

Hashim Bukhari, in a trekking group, fell while descending the pass and sustained serious head injuries.

He was rescued by an army helicopter and taken to hospital.

This was the third consecutive year that an accident has occurred with the trek organisers, raising concerns about their experiences, expertise and safety measures.

In 2014, during a similar trek on the Gondogoro La Pass, Waqas Siddiqui from the Nature Explorers, a small trek organising business, died while descending the dangerous route. Similarly, in 2015, three people went missing on the Toshe-Ri Peak.

The ACP said most trek organising businesses were inexperienced and lacked expertise, especially when it came to ensuring safety of amateur adventurers who paid hefty fees to the organisers.

“It is imperative that tour operators and trek organisers are given the necessary training. Random trek organisers must be discouraged from putting others’ lives in danger,” said Mr Haidri.

He explained that it was necessary to set a standard such as in the international mountaineering community to meet a certain criterion to qualify for a certain trek or climbing mission.

“On Mount Everest, it is mandatory that a climber must have summated a 6,000-metre-high peak. Similarly, a climber must have summated an 8,000 metres-plus peak before attempting to climber K2,” he added.

 

Museum highlights indopak war history of the

Old war weapons, including tanks and cannons, manufactured as far back as the early 1800s have been set up in the museum, which itself is inside Ayub National Park, by the Army Heritage Foundation.

Inaugurated in February this year, the vintage park is an ideal spot for war history buffs. A wall outside the park details the war history of the Indian subcontinent, with facts about wars beginning with the arrival of Mohammad bin Qasim to the sultanates of Delhi and the Mughal empire.

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Four cannons from British ships greet people at the entrance to the park – two of which were installed in forts and have been relocated.

Also on display is a five pound smooth bore muzzle loading brass cannon, designed in 1720 and used by the British forces during the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 remained in service until 1881.

A loading howitzer cast in 1827 and used in 1857 and a muzzle loading gun joined howitzer manufactured in 1886 are also displayed.

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For the world history enthusiasts, there are tanks used by the United States in World War II, and against Korea in 1942 that were given to Pakistan in the 60’s and used against India in 1965 and 1971.

Counter battery radars, designed by the US in 1940 and handed over to Pakistan 16 years later, American made armed recovery vehicles used in World War II, and Russian armed recovery vehicles and tanks can also be found at the museum.

British self-propelled guns made in 1940 – first used in Italy and then handed over to Pakistan in 1947 – are also on display. These guns were used against India in 1965 and 1971. A Chinese armoured personnel ambulance used in the Sino-Vietnamese War, the Iran-Iraq War and the Gulf War have also been displayed, as are Sherman tanks.

An American made M4M Sherman tank was used by Maj Khadim Hussain to destroy three Indian centurion tanks at Khem Karan Sector during the Rann of Kutch Operation.

An infantry fighting vehicle at the museum, made using iron and magnesium to prevent atomic degradation by the Soviet Union, was handed over to Pakistan under the Warsaw Pact. The museum also includes an anti-aircraft gun, made in 1939 and used by the Royal Regiment of Artillery of the British forces, that was used in the 1948 war between India and Pakistan.

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A Willy Jeep captured by the Pakistani forces during the 1965 war with India has also been displayed. “The basic aim of the establishment of the Vintage Park was to provide an opportunity to people to see the war weapons, as they have not seen these things,” explained Army Heritage Foundation Director Sports and Security retired Lt Col Shehzad Mehmood.

He said most of the weapons on display had been scattered around the country, and were collected and brought to one place by the foundation. He added that some of the tanks and cannons had been repaired because they had been damaged with age.

 

Insight: Pakistan and Brexit — what next?

The Brexit will hit to economies and politics in Europe as well as many countries special the commonwealth of which Pakistan is a part. However not many news papers have discussed about. The media in Pakistan is busy in other active issues.

As the Conservative Party’s new leader, Theresa May replaces PM David Cameron after the ‘leave’ campaign, leaders Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, realising the enormity of the challenge, backtracked.

The Pakistani leadership has adopted a cautious stance of ‘wait and see’ expressing soft-worded concern on the possible fallout on the country’s exports, remittances and FDI flows.

The government has so far not engaged the private sector on the issue. For a variety of reasons (language, historical linkages, easy access to financial services, and a large community of Pakistani immigrants) London is the most popular destination in the west for Pakistani businessmen. Many companies (estimated 50) have their overseas offices located in Britain.

“British departure from the EU will have profound implications because of Pakistan’s close economic linkages with the UK. We cannot afford to sleepwalk into a crisis”
Post-Brexit, the nervous corporate sector questions the level of the government’s preparedness to initiate required readjustments in commercial diplomacy. They believe demands of managing ties with embittered neighbours, (India, Afghanistan, Iran) and the US, are too pressing for the foreign office to spare time and thoughts for consulting trade and economic ministries and developing a strategy to deal with the Brexit fallout.

Businesses do not find the position of the SBP or the commerce ministry on the situation inspiring. The government has been advising companies not to worry as change in Europe will take years to materialise post-Brexit. However, their reassurances, lack of information on possible future moves by policymakers to contain the fallout on trade, remittance and capital inflows; failed to calm angst in the Eurocentric business community.

According to businessmen their anxiety is rooted in the global market reaction to the outcome of the UK referendum and the signals of a stiff EU reaction to a level where some Dutch and Swede firms have signaled moving out of the UK.

Malahat Awan, CEO, British Business Centre, was approached for her take. She forwarded Dawn queries to the diplomatic mission of the UK. In her mail Ms Belinda Lewis, deputy high commissioner in Karachi said: “The future of UK-Pakistan trade is bright….We will always remain an open, trade-focused country. I know that the growing trade with Pakistan is one of the mission’s top priorities. And I see huge opportunities in sectors including energy, financial and professional services, and infrastructure”.

On the question regarding options for Pakistani companies that have offices in Britain she wrote, “I advise them to stay! The UK is one of the most attractive countries in the world to set up and grow a business. The World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report assesses the UK to be in the top ten for competitiveness. Our key selling points, including ease of doing business, access to world leading service and a robust legal system will remain untouched”.

Some leading business leaders told Dawn that their concerns were heightened by the governments’ pretentious attitude. Instead of offering practical advice to the relevant sectors the government seems to be advising them to ignore volatility and carry on with business assuming normalcy.

“Today they are advising us to look the other way. Tomorrow they will fix the blame on us when exports start falling. It does not take a financial wizard to guess the impact of a weaker pound on our exports. More importantly market uncertainty has driven our trade partners across Europe to the edge. My email account is flooded with queries for reconfirmation and renegotiation of future deals,” Shabir Ahmed, a leader of textile sector commented.

Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir e-mailed in his response: “Pakistan is aiming for a seamless transition in the UK from EU GSP Plus to a Pakistan UK free trade agreement. In this regard we intend to approach the UK trade department immediately after PM May announces her cabinet.”

“Exporters can expect UK trade concessions to Pakistan under GSP Plus to continue at least for two years after the UK issues the notification of intention to withdraw”, he assured.

“Our immediate concerns are the consequences of the decline in the value of the UK currency which is likely to suppress the demand for imports in the UK. The weak pound will also reduce the value of remittances originating from Britain in dollar terms. We are keeping a close eye on numbers”, he said.

“My ministry has initiated readjustment of trade diplomacy priorities in the EU. We will devote more resources and time in cultivating EU member states that support Pakistan trade concessions. We are already consulting relevant stake holders to formulate our policy response to developments in Europe”, he informed.

Some high ranking sources in Islamabad confided that the commerce minister has been in touch with PM Nawaz Sharif who was in London and watched developments from close quarters. A source in the ministry of finance told Dawn that Dastgir has asked Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for a special inter-ministerial meeting to assess risks for Pakistan.

“Economic diplomacy of Pakistan is weak. No, I am not out to tarnish the image of the government on anyone’s behest. I found statements of the relevant ministers and the SBP disappointing. They lack the sense of urgency while the whole world is in turmoil”, another businessman said.

“The British departure from the EU will have profound implications because of Pakistan’s close economic linkages with the UK. Pakistan cannot afford to sleep walk into a crisis. A protective approach is required. The government should formulate a sound and dynamic solution mechanism to counter ensuing challenges. The way forward would be to develop a comprehensive framework based on the diversity of opinion of stakeholders including the private sector” Mehnaz Kaludi, CEO, Terry Tex said.

However, at a time when the world’s markets are reeling with uncertainty, some analysts in the business of selling optimism say the negative impact emanating from Brexit will be comparatively mild for Pakistan’s economy as it is relatively insulated from global markets.

Others dismiss the perception as whimsical. “UK is one of Pakistan’s key trading partners, exporters are concerned that political uncertainty in Europe, a weaker euro and pound, will make Pakistan’s exports relatively expensive, causing demand to drop and depreciate earnings in dollar terms; while a slowdown in foreign economies is also likely to depress demand. “So what we face is a double whammy”, said a businessman.

Out of Pakistan’s total textile exports of $11.6bn during the first 11 months of the last fiscal year, UK’s share was $1.2bn (10pc).

The Fact Sheet, a newsletter of the Institute of Policy Reform (IPR) endorses this view. It states that Pakistan’s exports will suffer a two-fold blow. Consumer demand in Britain will dampen from lower growth. A cheaper pound will increase the value of imported goods in the UK. Pakistan’s main concern is whether exports to the UK will lose the duty concessions under EU’s GSP plus, and if so, when. The UK was a strong advocate for Pakistan’s GSP plus case in Brussels. IPR advocates that the government needs to lobby with the UK for its continuation.

It also observes that workers’ remittance could also decline, especially if unemployment grows in the UK. Remittance from the UK is about 13pc of total. FDI from the UK is also likely to decline. It has fallen since 2007, in line with the overall trend of FDIs. Pakistan is among the largest recipients of the UK’s overseas development assistance. Britain’s post-Brexit situation could lead it to reconsider its assistance level.

Published in Dawn, Business & Finance weekly, July 18th, 2016

 

Edhi the philanthropist of Pakistan passed away Images from his life

Abdul Sattar Edhi the founder of Edhi foundation the one and only organisation working in every city of Pakistan for providing emergency care, evacation and ambulance, passed away today 8th of July 2016

Here are some images from his life courtesy BBC Urdu

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Abdul Sattar Edhi on Phone in his office in Kharadar Karachi

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I only ask from the one who gives with pleasure and does not tell any one, that is Allah

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Edhi Ambulance which he drove himself for 40+ years

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Edhi in a Happy Mood with Banazir Bhutto

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Edhi Cleaning his hospital

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Edhi’s Awards and some old images at his office

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Edhi at Khunjerab Pass

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Edhi on mission for eridicating Polio

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Edhi in his office

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Visitors at Edhi center

 

Cultural heritage inspires Buddhist tourists in Swat

MINGORA: Buddhist tourists from Thailand on Wednesday praised the scenic beauty, pleasant weather and rich cultural heritage of ancient Buddhism in Swat valley and invited tourists from Southeast Asia to visit the valley and enrich their knowledge.

This was the first international tourists group of 25 members coming to the scenic Swat valley since the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government withdrew the condition of no-objection certificate for foreign tourists to enter Swat valley from March 30.

Swat valley has thousands of Buddhist archaeological sites of high
importance and the valley is considered sacred to the Buddhists and Hindus alike.

During their visit to the Swat Museum, the group from Thailand took keen interest in the Buddhist archaeological records and artefacts decorated in its various galleries.

Ramida, a tourist from Bangkok who has visited Pakistan two times but entered Swat for the first time, said, “When we heard that Swat valley is open to foreign tourists we came here to see the rich cultural heritage of Buddhism because I have read about it in different books and magazines.

“It really inspired us to see the artefacts, structures and the beautiful art of ancient Buddhism which is quite interesting for Buddhists. Seeing this here shows that we have something common which is a very good sign,” she said with excitement.

She praised the museum’s architecture and termed the Buddhist arte-
facts very useful for Buddhists all over the world.

“It tells us how we were in the past and gives a lesson to how we should be in future,” she said.

Andy Phanachet, a mechanical engineer by profession, was observing different artefacts in the museum closely. He told this correspondent that the history of Buddhism in Swat valley was of high importance and interesting.

“I see the history of Buddhism in relation to Hinduism and Islam here in this part of the world.

The carvings, statues and other artefacts are very beautiful and interesting here in the museum,” he said and appreciated the pleasant weather of the valley apart from its scenic beauty.

Dr Kanoknart Chintakanon, a dentist by profession who had some archaeological background, said that the display of the Swat Museum was attractive. “We really enjoyed visiting the museum and seeing the
THAI tourists being briefed about Buddhist artefacts at Swat Museum on Wednesday.—Dawn
important historical artefacts. Visiting and seeing all this enriched my knowledge and fulfilled something that I missed in life,” she told Dawn.

However, she suggested that it would be very good if there were a sort of explanation displayed with each artefact so that the visitors could read it and understand it without the help of a guide.

The tourists urged Buddhists and other tourists from the Southeast Asia to visit the Swat valley, at least, once in their life to experience the rich cultural heritage and scenic beauty of the valley.

 

NOC for foreigners to visit Swat no longer required

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government After having a meeting with the Pakistan Tour Operators Association on Wednesday KPG government’s home department has lifted the ban on foreigners tourists visit to Malakand Division. This no no-objection certificate (NoC) is required to visit Swat Valley any more for foreigners who are accompanied with a tourist guide of any member tour operator of the association.

According to statement issued “NOC is not required to visit Malakand Division-Swat, Buner, Shangla, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Chitral, and Kohistan District,  and these areas have been declared open and are no more restricted area”.

Obtaining a no-objection certificate (NoC) from the Home and Tribal Affairs Department was made essential for all foreigners’ tourists and NGOs for visiting Malakand Division.

According to officials, the decision was taken in order to enhance tourism in the region and work on ongoing development projects in tourism sector. The policy was creating obstacles for the investors in the tourism sector.

General tourist amy also contact the media cell of home department phone number 091-921-0507, for any queries.

 

PTI govt announces KP’s first tourism policy

Pakistan Tehrik E Insaf’s leader Imran Khan says new eco-friendly resorts will be built in different parts of Galiyat to promote local and foreign tourism.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has become the first province to announce Tourism Policy-2015 in a tourist resort town Changla Gali, Abbottabad on Wednesday with the theme ‘Let promote Tourism to beat Terrorism’. This is being announced when the visas to Pakistan have become next to impossible.

Speaking at the launching ceremony, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan expressed his pleasure over the announcement of KP Tourism Policy, saying that people of KP will soon feel the healthy change in the province.

He said that new eco-friendly small tourist resorts will be made in different parts of Galiyat without relocating the population, as tourism will not only provide employment to skilled and semi-skilled labours, but will also help create soft image of the region.

The PTI chairman said that he is glad to see that the roads in Galiyat have improved remarkably; however he added that constructions of big roads would never be his government top priority rather he would prefer to construct tourism resorts in the country.

The PTI chief said that KP is blessed with immense tourisms potential and cultural diversity and richness having sites representing archeological, cultural, historical and religious significance and attractive natural and scenic beauty, but unfortunately no government ever in the past gave any importance to tourism sector.

Terming the KP government’s investment of Rs 50 billion in tourism sector as an ambitious target, Imran Khan expressed optimism that the dedicated and committed tourism team will make the tourism policy a success.

He said the KP government will also adopt measures to protect the ancient places and he will meet Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif to discuss the handing over of Balahisar Fort to KP government.

“I propose the commercialization of Chief Minister House in Galiyat, as it could became a source of generating a handsome amount of revenue for the province,” he said.

Talking about PTI Tsunami Tree Campaign, Imran Khan said that WWF declared the survival rate of trees as 85 per cent because locals have started taking care of it, adding that so far more than 100 million trees have been planted in different parts of the province.