In the first month of the new fiscal year, our samdhi finance minister levied new taxes using administrative measures in a bid to shore up revenue collection, after tax collectors fell short of their July target. The target set was Rs157 billion and revenue collected was Rs143 billion. The samdhi had earlier promised that no such measures would be used, but as is usual in such circumstances, a loophole was set aside for this purpose.

This is not surprising, given the manner in which our tax collection machinery operates. Instead of widening the tax base and getting more people to pay direct tax, we are always trying to protect the rich and powerful with the result that we rely heavily on indirect taxes.

This is indeed a double whammy for the poor salaried class, whether in the public or private sector, whose tax is deducted at source and is then also subject to a wave of indirect taxes that the government sees fit to raise time and again.

For example, after the July shortfall, the government will be imposing a 36.5% sales tax on electricity generated by diesel-fired power plants and an increase in sales tax on almost all petroleum products. This in turn will result in a higher power and electricity tariff, which in turn will directly impact all of us. There is no relief for someone who already pays direct taxes. But then this is a powerless and silent majority that continues to suffer.

In the budget, the government imposed Rs238 billion in new taxes and set an ambitious target of Rs3,104 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. Given the state of the economy, these are unrealistic figures. Not because of the expectations of the international financial institutions, but because of the reluctance of the government to clean up its tax collection system.

Let us put this in some perspective. Till now one is talking big numbers and problems that one cannot fully comprehend. Now let me give you some examples. Some of these examples are now provincial subjects, but the tax collection machinery operates like this – whether at the local, the provincial or the national federal level.

For the past two weeks I have been trying to pay my motor vehicle tax (MVT). This is collected by branches of the National Bank of Pakistan but almost all these branches say that their link is “down” and they cannot receive payments. The reason why this is so is because after a couple of months pass, the same officials will take payments but with a penalty.

That “penalty” will be divided into two – half will go to the exchequer and the other half will go into the pocket of the person collecting the tax. A lesser penalty is imposed if I pay a bribe. Look at the irony of this: to pay tax in Pakistan, I have to bribe someone.

It is another matter altogether, where my tax money goes. The MVT is not used for roads in Karachi. Instead, I think most of the money goes into buying motor vehicles for government ministers and their lackeys. Take for example the wedding our PM arranged for his family member in the Holy Land. Guests were transported and looked after at public expense.

In my foolishness I decided to go to the main MVT office to pay my dues within due date. The clerk there penalised me for being over-smart. He levied a withholding tax at a far higher rate than the MVT itself – a totally illegal act but one that will make me think twice for not paying the “penalties” in future.

Cleaning up our tax system is something that should have been done long ago. The Excise & Taxation department is not alone. Whether it is federal tax, land revenue, property tax, octroi – anything, where there is a babu sitting on the other end with a pen and an official challan book. Forget about good governance if you cannot clean this area up.

The problem is that our politicians themselves benefit from this system. One calculation, I made recently, made me realise that I pay more direct tax than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Zardari combined. In fact, you can also add in some of their more illustrious family members. Where is the justice in this?

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd,  2015.

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A recent and amazing article by John H Richardson, titled “When the end of human civilisation is your day-job”, describes how many climate scientists suffer from psychological trauma because their studies lead to the inescapable conclusion that human beings are destroying the planet, and climate change will create conditions making it impossible for the human civilisation to survive. There are two strategies currently being pursued with regard to climate change. One is the ostrich strategy of denial, which claims that there is no such thing, or if there is, it is part of natural geological processes rather than being created by human beings. The second is the band-aid strategy which seeks to make small efforts at relief of major visible problems being caused by climate change. Neither strategy has any hope of success at saving the human civilisation in its current form.

The roots of the problem run deep, and the changes we need to make are very radical. One of the most fundamental teachings of all traditional societies is the subordination of personal interests to the social or collective good. During the “Great Transformation” that led to the creation of modern society, this teaching was turned on its head. Individuals were encouraged to pursue personal interests even at the expense of society. As this philosophy gradually gained strength, many institutions which depended on social commitments were destroyed. Key examples are families and communities, previously built on lifetime commitments, which have been replaced by temporary social relationships based on expediency in advanced societies. The idea that excessive and wasteful consumption was immoral, especially when others were in need has been replaced by the idea of sacredness of property. That is those who have are perfectly justified in flaunting their luxurious lifestyles, while the rest of us struggle to imitate them. The breakdown of barriers to greed led to a mad race to consume more and more without any concern as to the effects on others or on the planet. As a result, income inequalities have become greater than ever seen in human history, and the lifestyles of the super-rich are unimaginably wasteful of planetary resources.

Two additional developments have magnified the effects of this pursuit of individual pleasure to planet-destroying proportions. One is the corporation, which has been given the rights of individuals, but not the responsibilities. Milton Friedman’s assertion that “Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundations of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible” became widely accepted as the norm for corporate behaviour. The second problem is the loss of the idea of the symbiotic relationship between human beings and the planet they live on. In earlier times, this idea was encapsulated in the term ‘Mother Earth’, and it has been revived in modern times as ‘Gaia’, the living planet.

Among the hundred largest institutions today, 51 are now large corporations, while 49 are nations. All nations are pursuing growth, while all corporations are driven by the pursuit of growth and profits. Unfortunately, the planet we live on is finite, and cannot accommodate a constantly increasing demand on its resources. In addition to stripping the planet of resources which took millions of years to produce, our current demands (which keep increasing) on its renewable resources exceed the capacity of the planet by about 50 per cent. Current levels of consumption and population are not sustainable, and pursuing further growth is tantamount to suicide by destruction of the planet. Yet, increasing levels of consumption are required by corporations for growth and profits. In fact, the popularisation of hedonism and individualism can be attributed to the needs of the corporation to sell more and more products. Also, the rape of the planet is largely due to corporations, which have responsibility to the shareholders to produce profits, but no responsibility to preserve the planet. Because corporate profits are hurt by environmentalist movements, a documentary called “Merchants of Doubt” shows organised efforts by corporations to create doubt about climate change. This completely reverses the ancient Greek proverb that societies grow great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. It is hard to imagine the greed of those who would destroy the planet for a few dollars.

So what is to be done? Many initiatives going under the name of ‘green capitalism’ have emerged, which suggest how we can modify capitalism to make it compatible with survival of the planet. However, in a deep and disturbing book titled Green Capitalism: the god that failed, Richard Smith has explained the failure of current efforts at greening capitalism, and how all such efforts are bound to fail because of fundamental conflicts between the demands for growth and profits, and the ecological planetary balance. Among the radical changes required to save the planet is a radical transformation of the economic system. We must go back to pre-modern models of social responsibility, where individual goals are subordinated to social concerns. A key priority has to be a reduction in standards of living to levels which are feasible with life on the planet. Instead of growth, we need to pursue de-growth. Interestingly, happiness research shows that simple ways of living produce more happiness at lower cost than our currently targeted ever-increasing standards of luxury. Currently, our lives are devoted to huge amounts of over-production and over-consumption of useless or wasteful goods. This producing and consuming leaves no time for pursuing more precious aspects of living, such as achieving excellence in different dimensions such as spiritual, moral or physical. We are too busy to cultivate friendships, and to give time to our loved ones. Agreements cannot be reached on environmental protocols because every group wants to consume more at the expense of others. To save the planet, it will be necessary to join hands in a collective effort, which puts social concerns ahead of private individual ones. Little wonder that climatologists are in despair.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd,  2015.

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France and Britain vowed Sunday that a cross-Channel migrant crisis was their "top priority" in a united front that belied simmering anger over an issue which has become a political hot potato. Heightened security has curbed the number of attempts by migrants in the port city of Calais trying to make it through an undersea tunnel to Britain, with only 400 bids Saturday night, a police source said, compared to 2,000 earlier in the week. Around 3,000 people from Africa, the Middle East and Asia are camped in Calais hoping to smuggle themselves into Britain, and the costly crisis has strained ties across the Channel.


KARACHI: Think Pakistan and it brings up images of fast-bowlers running in at full throttle, dismantling entire teams in fearsome spells of swing and pace, performing remarkable feats of heroism in moments of sheer inspiration. But every now and then, the country’s batsmen — almost always under the shadow of those who ply their trade with the ball — pull off something just as remarkable.

These stories hold a special place in Pakistani hearts because they are so few and far between. Stories an entire generation has grown up with, stories that will never be forgotten. Stories that millions will tell their grandchildren.

Of the time Inzamamul Haq single-handedly staved off humiliation against Bangladesh in Multan, of when Abdul Razzaq smashed a shell-shocked South Africa for 109 off 72 balls in Dubai, of Shahid Afridi’s cameo against India in the 2014 Asia Cup, of Umar Gul’s out of the blue knock against South Africa in the 2012 World T20.

On August 1, Messrs Afridi, Anwar Ali and Imad Wasim somehow conspired to add another such tale to the list. As is the case with such Pakistan wins, everything was against them; the odds, the history, the sporting patterns, common sense, logic and, judging by the running between the wickets, the players themselves.

When Shoaib Malik danced down the track, only to waltz back to the dressing room, Pakistan were left 40-5. No regular team had won a match from that position in T20 history. The only other instance of a successful chase from a similar scoreline had been when Hong Kong made 73 against Nepal. Here the target was exactly a hundred runs more, and Sri Lanka are no Nepal. But then again, Pakistan are no Hong Kong either.

Read: Pakistan’s fortunes look bright ahead of final match

The men in the middle did not inspire confidence though. Mohammad Rizwan had made six runs in three T20s before this one, Afridi was woefully short of confidence and form with the bat, having made 129 in 12 matches in the past two years. To follow were Imad Wasim, who had batted just once before and had made an unbeaten four, and Anwar Ali, who had made a grand total of 19 runs in 10 T20s.

It was as typically Pakistan as it gets. First came the suicidal acts, then the escape. But soon again hope was lost, only to be seized back when all seemed hopeless. When the win was within touching distance, the inexplicable moments of sabotage returned. And then, a day after the sightings of a blue moon, they finally pulled off a once in a blue moon victory, both literally and figuratively.

The only surprise, considering how many times we have been here before, is that it was still surprising. In hindsight, perhaps it was only when all results were possible again that only one result was possible. Only when Pakistan stopped being the favourites once again that they became the absolute favourites. Only when one miscalculation could have ended in heartache did Imad send the ball sailing over long on to break Sri Lankan hearts.

In many ways this tour has been a fitting sequel to the highs of hosting cricket in Pakistan after six years. The Tests were won in defiant fashion as Shan Masood and Younus Khan helped pull off a historic chase in the deciding third and final match. The ODI series was then wrapped up in four matches. That was followed by this remarkable T20 whitewash to give Pakistan wins on an away tour in all three formats against a top eight side for the first time ever.

Even more encouragingly, it was the first time in recent memory that the wins were delivered almost exclusively by the batsmen.

The echoes of these wins will reverberate through the rankings. Pakistan are now third in both Tests and T20Is, and qualification for the Champions Trophy looks more and more likely with every passing day that brings us closer to the September 30 deadline.

Sterner tests in the form of England and Australia await on the horizon, but for now Pakistan can kick back and relax, safe in the knowledge that this tour of Sri Lanka will go down in history as the stuff of legends.

The post When legends were made appeared first on The Express Tribune.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif narrowly escaped an attack on him on Sunday night while he was en route to Islamabad.

According to sources in the PM House, the prime minister along with this family was travelling to the capital when a car tried to overtake the convoy and hit his car.

The car was immediately forced to pull off and the driver was taken into custody, sources said, adding the car had a fake number plate, and the prime minister is safe.

Read: Ex-Senator’s house comes under rocket attack

The man is now being interrogated by security officials.

As Malik Ishaq, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader was killed in a police encounter earlier this week, police officials and security experts had feared that the banned outfit and other terrorist groups affiliated with it might avenge the killing.

The post PM Nawaz narrowly escapes ‘attack’ appeared first on The Express Tribune.

KARACHI: Police on Sunday claimed to have arrested a militant commander involved in Lyari gang war, saying he revealed Nabeel Gabol’s hand in creating unrest in the troubled neighbourhood.

The arrest of Amir alias Dhobi from Kalri was disclosed at a press conference of South Zone police by DIG Dr Jameel Ahmed at his office on Sunday evening.

The DIG said Amir worked as the operational commander of Ghaffar Zikri group, which works in nexus with Baba Ladla group to counter the rival Uzair Baloch group.

Read: Encounter: Rangers, police kill members of Lyari gang war

“Ghaffar Zikri established links with Nabeel Gabol in recent past via mobile internet,” the DIG said, while referring to the suspect’s statement during initial interrogation.

Elaborating, he said, “Gabol asked Zikri to create disturbance and unrest in Lyari, assuring he will be provided with money, explosives and arms for the purpose,” adding he assured the militant a former UC nazim of Lyari will give him cash.

The suspect also confessed to have killed Rasheed alias tension, a militant of belonging to the Rehman Dakait group, and kidnapping and releasing a man for Rs5 million as ransom money, added the DIG.

The case is in a preliminary stage and further investigation is underway, said Ahmed.

Read: Violence 101: A primer to the Lyari gang war

However, according to Express News, Nabeel Gabol refuted the allegations leveled against him and termed them baseless.

Gabol was Pakistan People’s Party leader until March 2013 when he left the party to join the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). He also served as a member of the National Assembly from Lyari on PPP’s ticket.

During the 2013 general elections, the MQM awarded its most precious seat of NA-246, to Gabol. The constituency comprised areas which included the party’s headquarters -Nine Zero – and their strongholds of Liaquatabad and Federal B Area.

For the past couple of months, however, differences arose between the two which resulted in Gabol resigning as MNA as well as exiting from the party.

The post Militant commander nabbed from Lyari reveals ‘link’ with Nabil Gabol appeared first on The Express Tribune.

OTTAWA: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper dissolved parliament Sunday and called for general elections on October 19.

The announcement marks the official kickoff of an 11 week-long campaign in which the Conservative leader will seek a fourth straight term in power, with the sluggish economy expected to be a central issue.

Read: Dual citizens, immigrants could lose Canadian citizenship under new law

Harper, in power since 2006, announced the election after meeting with Governor General David Johnston, the representative of Queen Elizabeth II, Canada’s nominal head of state in this Commonwealth country.

Harper said the election was about “leadership on the big issues that affect us all, our economy and our nation’s security.”

The post Canadian PM calls general election for October 19 appeared first on The Express Tribune.

KARACHI: Police on Sunday claimed to have arrested a teenage suspect from Karachi who allegedly dumped the body of a seven-year-old girl after sexually assaulting her. 

19-year-old Abid Hussain was arrested by investigation wing of the Sachal police from his residence in Janal Goth, Sohrab Goth. He is accused of killing a minor girl after sexually assaulting her.

The body of the minor girl was found near her residence on Friday.

After initial medical examination, police and doctors confirmed the girl was sexually assaulted before being murdered as her body bore torture marks.

Read: Seven-year-old girl raped, killed

The girl went missing from her house in Abdullah Shah Ghazi at around 9.30pm on Thursday night, and her body was found by the family in a ditch surrounded by bushes.

A case was registered at Sachal police station.

“We spent day and night to trace the culprit and finally after questioning and detaining a number of people, we succeeded in tracing him,” explained DSP Khalid Khan while talking to The Express Tribune.

Read: Crime and impunity: Villagers protest police inaction on rape complaint

The accused lived in Janjal Goth but would visit Abdul Shah Ghazi Goth as his paternal uncle lived there.

“He knew the girl. On Thursday the accused saw the girl, took her away with him on a motorcycle and subjected her to rape,” citing what the suspect said, the officer explained.

“After subjecting her to rape, he tortured her to death as he had feared she would inform her family about the incident.”

The accused will be produced before a court on Monday, added the officer.

The post Police arrest rape, murder suspect in Karachi appeared first on The Express Tribune.

KARACHI: Pakistan Special Olympians won 34 medals – 13 gold, 11 silver, 10 bronze – in eight disciplines for Pakistan as the Summer Special Olympics World Games 2015 ended in Los Angeles on Sunday.

Pakistan won 34 medals in eight sporting events, while individually the players secured 54 medals in total.

The Special Olympian Cyclists won 11 medals while in the swimming event they secured two gold and two silver medals.

The Special Athletics secured eight medals: Ramail Irshad won gold and Saira Ikram, Nadir Hussain, Amina Irshad and Amjad Khan won silvers whereas Marvi Azhar, Nayab Bibi, and Muhammad Waseem secured bronze.

In Badminton, Jahanzaib and Umesalma Tayyab won a gold in mixed double event while both also secured a gold each in singles event.

Special Table Tennis Olympians Muhammad Arham and Faisal Khursheed won a silver in doubles event, while Khursheed won a bronze with Ruqia Latif in mixed double event. Latif also bagged a bronze in singles event.

In Tennis, Ahsan Anwar and Muhammad Qayyum won a gold in doubles whereas in singles event Anwar and Qayyum secured silver and bronze respectively.

Meanwhile, the Traditional Basketball team bagged silver medal in Division TM.06MedalB that comprises 10 members, while the Football 5-a-side team won bronze medal in Division 5M3 which has eight members.

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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The family of late Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has not backed his announced successor, it said on Sunday, and wants the new chief to be chosen by leading Islamic scholars and veterans of the movement.

JERUSALEM: Israel faced mounting pressure on Sunday to crack down on Jewish extremists after a firebombing that killed a Palestinian child and the stabbing of six Gay Pride marchers drew widespread outrage.

Friday’s firebombing of a Palestinian family’s home in the West Bank by assailants suspected of being Jewish settlers has further inflamed tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, with clashes breaking out in various cities.

On Sunday morning, Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, though calm was later restored.

The stabbings at the Gay Pride march in Jerusalem on Thursday night has also put a spotlight on Jewish terrorists, with an ultra-Orthodox man accused of carrying out the violence only weeks after being released from prison for a similar attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has firmly condemned both attacks and called the firebombing “terrorism” — a word usually used by Israelis to refer to violence by Palestinians. On Sunday, he spoke of “zero tolerance” for such acts.

But despite the prime minister’s strong words, many have accused his government of failing to address the problem of Jewish extremism and of going dangerously far in its support for right-wing settler groups.

“Those who incite against Israel’s Arab citizens should not be surprised when churches and mosques are set on fire, and when finally a baby is burned in the middle of the night,” ex-president Shimon Peres told an anti-violence rally in Tel Aviv on Saturday night.

His comments were seen as at least partly directed at Netanyahu, who on election day in March caused outrage when he warned that Arabs were being mobilised “in droves” to the ballot boxes.

Last week, Education Minister Naftali Bennett addressed protesters at a West Bank outpost where settlers clashed with police when authorities moved in to seize two buildings ruled illegal by the Israeli High Court.

On the same day demolition of the two unfinished buildings began, Netanyahu, who has only a one-seat majority in parliament, approved the immediate construction of 300 new homes in the same area.

While Netanyahu and others have sought to avoid further escalation since the arson attack, no arrests have been announced.

The firebombing which killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha also left his parents and four-year-old brother critically wounded. Hospital officials said Sunday their lives remained at risk.

The family’s small brick and cement home in the village of Duma was gutted by fire, while a Jewish Star of David was spray-painted on a wall along with the words “revenge” and “long live the Messiah”.

The graffiti was indicative of so-called “price tag” violence — nationalist-motivated hate crimes by Jewish extremists. Some have speculated that the attack was revenge for the demolition of the two buildings last week.

On Sunday, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon authorised the use of a controversial detention procedure for suspects in the firebombing generally reserved for Palestinians.

The procedure, known as administrative detention, allows suspects to be held indefinitely without charge, theoretically to allow investigators to gather evidence while preventing further attacks.

Israel has been accused of abusing the procedure to keep militants behind bars without trial.

But many have urged the government to do more and questioned why Jewish extremist attacks rarely lead to arrests and convictions.

“It is incomprehensible that a state… which has been a role model for how to fight terrorism and whose doctrines are copied by many security agencies around the globe, finds it difficult to deal with a few hundred terrorists and their helpers,” security analyst Yossi Melman wrote in the Jerusalem Post.

According to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, some 85 per cent of cases involving “ideological crimes” are closed due to investigative failures with no charges filed.

As for the suspect in the Gay Pride stabbings, who was arrested immediately after the attack, police have faced questions over how he was allowed near the march so soon after he had completed a jail sentence for a similar crime.

He had also posted a letter on the Internet speaking of the “abomination” of a Gay Pride parade being held in the Holy City and the need to stop it.

Netanyahu said on Sunday that he had “instructed security and law enforcement officials to use all legal means at their disposal” to deal with the suspects in both attacks.

“We are determined to vigorously fight manifestations of hate, fanaticism and terrorism from whatever side,” he said.

The post Attacks spark calls for Israeli crackdown on Jewish extremists appeared first on The Express Tribune.

QUETTA: Home Minister Balochistan Sarfraz Bugti claimed on Sunday that a terrorist commander belonging to al Qaeda was killed by intelligence agencies in Chaghi, Express News reported.

The deceased, Umer Latif, was a commander of the banned outfit in South Punjab, said Bugti while addressing a press conference in Quetta on Sunday.

“Security forces conducted the action on Saturday within Balochistan,” he said adding, “Latif’s brother was also captured during the raid while his wife got away.”

Read: FC raid: TTP Sajna group members held in Quetta

The home minister reiterated Balochistan had no place for the terrorists.

On May 8, FC conducted multiple raids in different areas of Balochistan and arrested a number of suspected militants, including three members of the banned United Baloch Army.

Read: Rekindling ties: Top al Qaeda operatives captured from Quetta

FC spokesperson told The Express Tribune that one of these raids was carried out in Mangochar area of Kalat district.

“During the raid, FC personnel booked three militants of the banned UBA and shifted them to an undisclosed location for further investigation,” he said.

The post Al Qaeda commander killed in Balochistan: home minister appeared first on The Express Tribune.

From the superstar duo Aamir Khan and Salman Khan to the naughty friends Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, Bollywood has seen some real BFFs. As the world celebrates Friendship Day on August 2, many of the celebrities took to Twitter to greet their fans and real-life friends.

The stars also thanked all of the special people in their lives for their constant support. Many of them felt blessed for having an amazing company of friends.

Bollywood observes the Friendship Day every year ever since Karan Johar popularised it through his film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai — his directorial debut in 1998.

PHOTO: DECCANCHRONICLE

From the actors including Sushmita Sen and Shraddha Kapoor to the directors such as Karan Johar and Madhur Bhandharkar — everyone had something special to say.

Here are the tweets of some celebrities who expressed their gratitude:

Happy Friendship Day B'ful People!!!!:)))thank u for ur wishes, and more so for being friends 4 all weathers n all heart:) I love u guys:)))

— sushmita sen (@thesushmitasen) August 1, 2015

Happy Friendship day my Twitter friends.Woke up to so many messages.Thanked God for all my beautiful friends.Feel blessed. #friendshipday

— arjun rampal (@rampalarjun) August 2, 2015

"Ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte." #FilmyFriendshipDay

— Ayushmann Khurrana (@ayushmannk) August 2, 2015

Friendship is an underrated relationship…it actually is the biggest strength to have…true friends are more than family…#FriendshipDay

— Karan Johar (@karanjohar) August 2, 2015

"Friendship is a sheltering tree." #HappyFriendshipDay to all of you.:)

— Anupam Kher (@AnupamPkher) August 2, 2015

Happy #FriendshipDay to all you amazing people out there that make me smile & make my heart happy! Love & Hugs!!! pic.twitter.com/WgJB00PLEr

— Vivek Oberoi (@vivek_oberoi) August 2, 2015

Happy friendship day. As I say, friends are the family we choose. Thank fully I am blessed with many. To all my friends, cheers & thank you

— Arshad Warsi (@ArshadWarsi) August 2, 2015

Special something for all you lovely people out there who've stood by me from the start! #HappyFriendshipDay pic.twitter.com/Zn8Sv5cc9S

— Aditi Rao Hydari (@aditiraohydari) August 2, 2015

Here is hoping you all have your friend for life. Happy Friendships Day !!! https://t.co/s6KUQ4VdBG

— Neil Nitin Mukesh (@NeilNMukesh) August 1, 2015

Here is hoping you all have your friend for life. Happy Friendships Day !!!

A photo posted by Neil Nitin Mukesh (@neilnitinmukesh) on Aug 1, 2015 at 1:44pm PDT

Real friends aren’t there to tell you what you want to hear; They’re there to tell you what you should hear.Happy friendship Day…

— Madhur Bhandarkar (@imbhandarkar) August 2, 2015

Happy Friendship Day my Darlings https://t.co/hlBJRnP1PV

— Bipasha Basu (@bipsluvurself) August 2, 2015

Happy Friendship Day my Darlings

A video posted by bipashabasu (@bipashabasu) on Aug 1, 2015 at 10:41pm PDT

Happy friendship day u guys,my most special friends,who have stood by me in the highs and lows,inspired me to be a better actress and person

— ShraddhaVINNIEKapoor (@ShraddhaKapoor) August 2, 2015

Happy Friendship day everyone!!! :))

— Kriti Sanon (@kritisanon) August 2, 2015

A pose from #Brothers ! Lazy Sunday lunch with an old friend #FriendshipDay pic.twitter.com/Uum2JTeTAM

— Twinkle Khanna (@mrsfunnybones) August 2, 2015

The post #HappyFrienshipDay: B-Town wishes fans and friends on Twitter appeared first on The Express Tribune.

SAINT-DENIS, REUNION: As experts on the Indian Ocean island Reunion studied plane debris for clues in the search for missing flight MH370, scientist Nicolas Villeneuve was making his own discovery: the island’s volcano was about to erupt.

Reunion, a part of France that lies in the Indian Ocean around 370 miles east of Madagascar, gained newfound notoriety last week when a beach cleaner stumbled across a barnacled piece of an airplane wing known as a flaperon.

Two volcanologists stand on cooled volcanic rock as molten lava erupts from the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in this picture taken July 31, 2015, on the French Indian Ocean Reunion Island. PHOTO: REUTERS

The wreckage was flown on Friday to mainland France where experts hope forensic analysis will uncover if it was part of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished without trace in March 2014 along with 239 passengers and crew.

Read: New debris found on island in hunt for MH370 answers

Hopes that the piece of debris could help solve one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history and end 16 months of painful uncertainty for relatives has briefly turned the global media spotlight on Reunion.

Many of the 800,000 residents have been overwhelmed by the attention placed on their island, where big local stories are usually about shark attacks and volcanic eruptions.

The moon rises as molten lava erupts from the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in this picture taken July 31, 2015, on the French Indian Ocean Reunion Island. PHOTO: REUTERS

“Before, the only people who knew about this island were scientists and surfers,” Villeneuve, 43, told Reuters from the island’s volcano observatory, where he is studying the after effects of the latest eruption.

The Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, erupted at 10:00 am local time (0600 GMT) on Friday, opening up a 800-metre-long crack in its crater and sending hot jets of molten lava spewing up from the peak.

Molten lava erupts from the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in this picture taken July 31, 2015, on French Indian Ocean Reunion Island. PHOTO: REUTERS

“We heard about the plane but we have our own investigation here,” Villeneuve added, pointing at images of glowing lava and thick plumes of smoke.

It could end up being one of the biggest eruptions since 2007 when tremors in the crater lasted weeks and magma reaching temperatures above 1,000 centigrade flowed all the way into the Indian Ocean.

Molten lava erupts from the Piton de la Fournaise, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, in this picture taken July 31, 2015, on French Indian Ocean Reunion Island. PHOTO: REUTERS

The volcano poses little danger to visitors or residents because the area is evacuated when early warning signs appear and no one lives on the path where lava flows.

Shark attacks

Reunion’s tourist board and residents hope the island’s unexpected role in the MH370 mystery will have a positive impact on visitor numbers, as images of the dramatic volcano, sandy beaches and crystal blue waters are aired around the world.

Reunion, roughly half the size of Indonesia’s tourist island of Bali, attracts a fraction of the millions of tourists who flock to other Indian Ocean islands, like Mauritius and the Maldives.

Read: Wing part arrives in France as MH370 link investigated

“The island is so beautiful and mysterious. It’s like Hawaii,” said Fadila Hammachi, 55, a French businesswoman who comes to Reunion on holiday every year.

“I hope more people come but not too many. I like it for myself,” she adds, pointing towards the lush, mountainous interior where sugar cane, ginger and pineapples are grown.

Reunion’s reputation suffered in 2005 during an epidemic of Chikungunya, a virus that causes a heavy fever. More recently the swarms of bull and tiger sharks lurking in the island’s waters have been doing their best to scare people away.

The tropical island was once considered a surfer’s paradise, but 18 shark attacks in four years, seven of them fatal, have deterred most top surfers from riding its waves.

Since 2013 the local government has banned swimming outside monitored areas, but even this has not halted attacks.

After a 13-year-old boy was killed while surfing by a 2.5 metre (8 foot) long bull shark in April, hundreds of islanders protested in an effort to get the government to provide more protection.

With the MH370 investigation now on mainland France, Reunion’s part in discovering the secrets behind the plane’s disappearance is coming to a close. Residents hope the island’s brief spell in the spotlight will leave an enduring legacy.

“I hope our little island will be better known now and people will come to visit,” Johny Begue, the beach cleaner who found the wing flap, told Reuters.

“I hope we are remembered for helping to bring peace to the families of the people who disappeared on that plane.”

The post Missing plane draws eyes to land of molten lava and killer sharks appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Social media was taken by storm as posts alleging ‘mistreatment’ by designer Tabassum Mughal went viral on Sunday.

The posts by a soon-to-be bride’s cousin and friend alleged Tabassum Mughal mistreated the bride’s mother and had her beaten up when she protested against the designer’s refusal to return her daughter’s clothes.

“Finally today my cousin’s mother went to pick up the dresses because today was the delivery date. They refused to give the dresses to her. Her mother (my chachi) got furious and started yelling and demanded to call Tabassum. Upon this shouting, Tabassum and her manager appeared and Tabassum instructed her manager to beat the woman up,” the post read.

“In short, four men and Tabassum kicked, punched and slapped my chachi and threw her out of the house saying that ‘people who travel in rickshaws don’t deserve to shop at Tabassum Mughal’”, it added.

The post claimed the bride had ordered her barat and valima outfits from the designer. However, the designer initially didn’t show the bride her dresses and when she finally did two weeks before her wedding the “outfits were completely off.”

PHOTO: FACEBOOK

“The measurements were haywire and the colours and kaam were hideous. My cousin got really mad and told off the girls and the manager there. Tabassum, meanwhile had disappeared and didn’t come in contact at all, even though my cousin demanded to speak to her because she had taken the order,” the post further read.

They further alleged that this was not the first time the designer misbehaved with them. “Countless times, the designer’s manager misbehaved, only verbally, and said that no such brief was given but still they’d make changes.”

“This woman is heavily bruised and bleeding in places. I’m appalled by the behaviour of Tabassum Mughal. Extremely disappointed. The dresses that cost Rs0.85 million, have cost a woman her respect.”

Many took to social media and criticised the designer’s alleged behaviour while some had their own terrifying tales of bad customer service to share. Some even created a page on Facebook titled ‘Bring Tabassum Mughal to justice.’

PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Images of a woman’s bruised hand also accompanied many posts narrating this story, however, could not be independently verified.

Further, Mughal took to her Facebook page to reply to the allegations but later deleted her response. When contacted by The Express Tribune, the designer refused to comment.

Here is a screenshot of the deleted post:

The post Fashion designer faces claims of verbal, physical abuse against client appeared first on The Express Tribune.

MOSCOW: A Russian airforce helicopter crashed during an air show on Sunday in front of thousands of spectators, killing one pilot, the latest in a string of military crashes.

The Mi-28N attack helicopter was participating in the show as part of a competition organised by the Russian defence ministry, Russian media reported from the event.

“One pilot has died, the condition of the other is satisfactory,” the ministry said in a statement published by Russian news agencies.

PHOTO: REUTERS

The Russian airforce proceeded to ground all Mi-28 flights after it was revealed that the crash could have been caused by equipment failure.

Read: Gilgit helicopter crash was due to technical fault, says foreign secretary

The air show Aviadarts, where airforce plane and helicopter crews compete to carry out timed tasks, was suspended for the day.

Television footage showed rescue workers attending to the smouldering helicopter lying on its side in the airfield after it crashed and burst into flames.

The defence ministry said the accident was apparently caused by a hydraulic system failure, which was reported by the surviving pilot who ejected from the chopper.

“According to the second pilot, the catastrophe happened due to aviation equipment failure,” said commander of Russian airforce Viktor Bondarev. “I have stopped all flights on Mi-28″ until an investigation is complete.

Read: Bin Laden’s sister, stepmother killed in UK plane crash

The Soviet-designed Mi-28 has been used by the Russian airforce since the mid-2000s and is also exported to a number of countries including Iraq.

There have been at least six incidents over the past few weeks involving Russian military planes and helicopters.

The post Russian airforce helicopter crashes, killing one appeared first on The Express Tribune.

CAIRO: US Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday there was “no question” the Iran nuclear deal will make the Middle East safer if implemented, as he sought to win over sceptical allies.

Kerry met Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in the morning and was to later meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi before flying to Qatar to meet Gulf Arab counterparts.

Egypt, and other countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia, are suspicious of Iran, which they view as bent on destabilising their countries.

Read: Border violation: Iran fires four mortar shells into Panjgur

“There can be absolutely no question that if the Vienna plan is fully implemented, it will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer than they otherwise would be or were,” Kerry told a Cairo press conference after meeting Shoukry.

Read: Good tidings: Iran deal brightens IP gas pipeline prospects

“The United States and Egypt recognise that Iran is engaged in destabilising activities in the region and that is why it is so important to ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme remains wholly peaceful,” he said.

“If Iran is destabilising, it is far, far better to have an Iran that doesnt have a nuclear weapon than one that does.”

Kerry’s trip, which ends on August 8, will not include Israel, one of Washington’s closest allies, which has been a fierce critic of the July 14 nuclear deal between the world powers and Iran.

In Doha, Kerry will meet his counterparts from the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states

He will seek to allay their fears about Shiite Iran, following the nuclear deal signed in Vienna.

The post Kerry: ‘no question’ that Iran deal will make region safer appeared first on The Express Tribune.

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah’s spokesperson announced on Sunday that all government and private schools will resume activities from August 11.

“All schools in Sindh, including Karachi, will reopen on August 11”, the Sindh CM’s spokesperson said in a statement.

Refuting claims that school will open on August 3, the spokesperson said a notification issued in this regard a few days ago stands valid.

“Disciplinary action will be taken against educational institutions violating the orders,” the spokesperson maintained.

Read: Summer holidays: Proposal for extension in school vacations

The statement comes a day after reports that authorities have decided to arrest anyone violating the extension and imprison them for at least six months.

On July 30, education secretary Fazlullah Pechuho sent a proposal to the office of chief secretary to extend the summer holidays of schools till August 11. “Many schools are occupied by flood victims, which is why reopening schools on August 3 is not possible,” he said.

Read: Private school associations reject extension of summer vacations in Sindh

However, on July 31, private school associations rejected the orders of the extension saying they would reopen schools on August 3 even if the order was not retracted.

Addressing a press conference, Chairman All Private Schools Management Association Sindh Khalid Shah called on the chief minister to reject the notification. “This 10-day extension in summer vacations is useless and we demand these orders be taken back,” he said.

The post ‘Schools in Sindh to reopen on August 11′ appeared first on The Express Tribune.

NEW YORK: A giant picture of the beloved Zimbabwean lion killed by an American trophy hunter was among images projected Saturday onto the Empire State Building in New York in a dazzling display.

The “Projecting Change on the Empire State Building” initiative was designed to raise awareness about the plight of endangered animals and was billed as a first of its kind.

An image of the lion Cecil, whose killing has sparked international outrage, was prime among animals whose pictures covered 33 floors of the southern face of one of the world’s most famous landmarks in an eight-minute video loop.

PHOTO: AFP

Read: Zimbabwe calls for US hunter to be extradited over lion death

New Yorkers from as far as 20 blocks away snapped pictures of the building as it lit up the nighttime sky over a steamy Manhattan.

PHOTO: AFP

The project was the brainchild of Louie Psihoyos, founder of the Oceanic Preservation Society and director of Oscar-winning 2009 documentary film “The Cove,” which shone a grisly light on Japan’s dolphin-hunting industry.

PHOTO: AFP

Fisher Stevens, producer of “The Cove,” told AFP that Psihoyos had chosen the Empire State “because he wanted the most iconic building that he could think of, and for him it was the Empire State.”

PHOTO: AFP

The project was designed “to start a conversation,” he added.
In 2011 the top portion of the Empire State building was lit up in red to symbolize the blood of the slaughter depicted in “The Cove.”

Read: Two men due in court for killing Zimbabwe’s Cecil the lion

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The post Endangered species light up New York’s Empire State building appeared first on The Express Tribune.

KARACHI: Pakistan coach Waqar Younis Sunday hailed his players’ positive and attacking approach after they comprehensively defeated Sri Lanka in all three formats on the islanders’ home turf.

Pakistan clinched the second Twenty20 against Sri Lanka in a sensational last-over finish by one wicket to take the series 2-0 on Saturday, capping a successful tour where they also won the Test series 2-1 and one-dayers 3-2.

Waqar said the victory had made him proud of his players, and the team was on the up.

“I would not say that we have become world beaters after winning the whole tour but I would say that we are heading in the right direction,” he told AFP via phone from Colombo.

“I think the best thing on this tour was that the mindset of the players has changed towards positive cricket.”

The former fast bowler attributed the team’s recent success in Tests, where they are now ranked third in the world, to finding the right blend of youth and experience.

“I think for the last one year we have been well settled in Tests as seniors support the juniors and everyone knows how to perform their roles,” he said, singling out batsmen Younis Khan and Shan Masood and leg-spinner Yasir Shah for extra praise.

On the one-day series victory, Waqar said the introduction of fresh blood had helped Pakistan improve their fielding and shed the go-slow approach that had hindered them in recent times.

“Azhar Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan and Anwar Ali were outstanding,” he said.

“The change in world cricket was adopted by us, which was to smash the ball if it is there for a hit,” he added, referring to surging run-rates that have become a feature of one-day cricket following the arrival of the Twenty20 format.

Pakistan’s victory in the one-day series moved them from ninth in the rankings to eighth, thereby ensuring their qualification for the 2017 Champions Trophy in England.

Pakistan will next tour Zimbabwe, where they play three Twenty20s and as many one-day internationals from September to October.

The post Waqar credits attacking mindset after thrashing Sri Lanka appeared first on The Express Tribune.

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