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Oct
18

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THE direct message from Cyril Almeida’s aborted harassment in Pakistan and the nuanced message from the BRICS summit in India have an unwitting connection, beyond their incidental Goa link. The Pakistan establishment would like to deny — though they may not succeed — that the world wants them to fix the security apparatus’s apparently stubborn need to court rabid freelancers as a policy to deal with neighbours. The message from BRICS is — though India will be in denial — that New Delhi needs to improve human rights conditions in Kashmir as elsewhere, and thereby explore a political answer to the terrorism that dogs it in different parts of the country. There is no military solution, according to the unstated message.

If anything, despite the host’s repeated decibels about Pakistan being the ‘mothership of terrorism’ reference to cross-border militancy did not figure in the summit statement.

Almeida himself admits that his story would have had a shorter shelf life but for the official denial and harassment that followed. Domestic outrage against the government’s move to block the journalist’s travel rights revealed a welcome truth. The world may be only pondering the word ‘isolation’ for Pakistan, but public opinion in Pakistan seems less tentative about what needs to be fixed and how. It is thus that Almeida’s story stands. And Pakistan has been advised by Pakistanis to find a better alternative to sending emissaries to a world already overloaded with its own deep problems — from Brexit to the sabre-rattling over Syria and the mud bath called American elections.


What happened to India’s diplomatic draftsmen? Where is the reference to the source of much of the headache?


Instead, Pakistan could be more agreeably engaged at home, confronting the threats the world faces, above all, Pakistanis themselves feel under their skin. No one seriously wants Pakistan to live in denial about dangerously armed messianic zealots roaming in the country freely, with or without state support. That’s one side of the coin.

The other was witnessed in Goa. That’s where India, host of the BRICS summit, was made aware by China, not too obliquely, to take into account the root causes of terrorism that everyone censures, and to find a political solution. Moreover, the BRICS document, which its five leaders signed, speaks of the need to observe human rights and to respect the UN Charter in dealing with terrorism. It is early days to say how the Indians will officially interpret these references. But in the public mind across the board these could mean a number of things.

Let’s refer to one of the occasions that the UN and rights are mentioned in the Goa document. “We acknowledge that international terrorism, especially the [militant Islamic State group] and affiliated terrorist groups and individuals, constitute a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security.” If the statement is a reflection of how India has isolated Pakistan internationally, it leaves much to the imagination.

Pakistan may be the ‘mothership of terrorism’ for India as Prime Minister Narendra Modi underscored at the summit, but what happened to India’s diplomatic draftsmen? Where is the reference to the source of much of the headache? Let me put it another way. The next chief guest at India’s Republic Day parade in January will be the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. How would he see the understanding of terrorism that BRICS has highlighted, mainly with regard to Syria?

There’s more advice that may not please everyone in BRICS or outside. “Stressing UN’s central role in coordinating multilateral approaches against terrorism, we [BRICS leaders] urge all nations to undertake effective implementation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and reaffirm our commitment on increasing the effectiveness of the UN counterterrorism framework.”

A clause that should please India, and Pakistan should not be wary of it. “We call upon all nations to work together to expedite the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN General Assembly without any further delay. We recall the responsibility of all states to prevent terrorist actions from their territories.” The last sentence makes eminent sense for all concerned and it is good advice for Pakistan in particular.

But there’s food for thought for India. “Successfully combating terrorism requires a holistic approach,” the BRICS summit counselled. “All counterterrorism measures should uphold international law and respect human rights.” Would it be fair to expect some compliance in Kashmir and the northeast, in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh? In fact, reference to human rights comes frequently in the declaration even if the idea has become utterly unfashionable or downright suspect with the rise of jingoism in the media on both sides.

(For some reason, I can’t see human rights as a watchword being the initiative of an Indian draftsman, but it is sage advice nevertheless.)

The document referred to terrorism, and the need to apply international law in tackling it. I searched for a paragraph reflecting India’s concerns over Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba and couldn’t find one. What it said, however, did not preclude a reference to either group, but such subtleties would hardly be tantamount to isolating Pakistan internationally. “While continuing the relentless pursuit against terrorist groups so designated by the UN Security Council including [the IS], Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organisations designated by the UN Security Council” the BRICS summit kept its focus primarily on the Middle East.

There was something Nehruvian in the reference to Palestine after a long time. Perhaps the drafting committee was not familiar with new India’s new allergens, its own former leaders. “We reiterate also the necessity to implement the two-state solution of the Palestinian-Israeli [conflict] … through negotiations aimed at creating an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel.…” The ‘mothership of terrorism’ seems to have eluded the BRICS radar. Will a speedboat of peace be just as elusive?

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Sep
23

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BEIJING: Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd will start making smartphones in India next month, the company said on Friday, joining a wave of compatriots setting up in one of the world’s biggest mobile phone markets.

The plant will be operated with the Indian arm of electronics manufacturer Flextronics International Ltd in the southern Indian city of Chennai, Huawei said in a statement.

The Chinese firm will also expand its Indian retail network, increasing to more than 50,000 the number of outlets it partners with by the end of the year.

As growth in China stagnates, India, the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market, provides Huawei and rivals like Xiaomi Inc with new opportunities to expand.

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Sep
06

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So, you’re back from summer vacation; you’ve returned to work, and the kids are back in school? Well, beware: you might be headed for a divorce! It’s true – new research finds that divorces tend to rise following vacations.

This study, from the University of Washington, discovered that divorce is seasonal during the periods following both winter and summer vacations. That suggests divorce might be driven by a “domestic ritual” calendar that governs family behavior. And more specifically, that vacations may exacerbate underlying tensions and conflict for couples.

The study was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association by researchers Julie Brines and Brian Serafini. According to a summary of the research, they found divorce consistently peaks during the months of August and March – times that follow winter and summer holidays.

In the research summary, Brines reported that troubled couples may see the holidays as a time to mend relationships; and they might believe that if they have a happy time “away from it all,” then everything will be fixed and their lives will improve.

But in reality, those vacation periods and time off can be both emotionally charged and stressful for many. And, that may expose cracks in a marriage. That is, the researchers point out that seasonal nature of divorce filings may reflect the disillusionment unhappy spouses experience afterwards — when vacation time doesn’t live up to their high expectation.

“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” says Brines. “They represent periods in the year when there’s the anticipation or the opportunity for a new beginning, a new start, something different, a transition into a new period of life. It’s like an optimism cycle, in a sense. They’re very symbolically charged moments in time for the culture,” she adds.

When that doesn’t pan out as hoped, some couples may make a conscious decision to file for divorce in August – following the family vacation, and before the kids start back at school.

Similarly, the researchers found that divorce also spikes in March, a few months after the winter holidays. Brines suggests that the same issues may be involved during both peak periods – like finances, finding an attorney, taking the actual steps leading to divorce – but it may be that the start of the school year hastens decisions for couples with children in August.

The researchers began by looking at divorce rates throughout the state of Washington, and considered multiple factors that might play a role, such as current economic and employment issues. But even accounting to those possible issues, they found the same pattern: heightened filings emerging in March and August. “It was very robust from year to year, and very robust across counties,” Brines says.

The researchers hypothesized that if the pattern was tied to family holidays, other court actions involving families – such as guardianship rulings – should show a similar trend. And that proved correct.

Future research will examine if the trends noticed in Washington also apply to other states. Brines and Serafini have already analyzed data for Ohio, Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona . Those states that have similar laws to Washington but have different demographics and economic conditions.

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The upshot of this study, in my view? Pay attention to your relationship throughout the year, and deal with whatever issues are brewing along the way. Don’t wait for vacation time to heal any conflicts. When you return you might conclude that your relationship is already beyond repair.

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Aug
08

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ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Tuesday issued property valuation tables for major cities of the country for the purpose of calculation of capital gain tax.

The valuation has been agreed between business community and FBR in recent parleys which concluded last Saturday and announced by Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar said a statement issued by FBR here.

The valuation shows various categories of open and constructed plots.

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May
13

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Between the blazing sun, pool chemicals, and saltwater, summer can certainly wreak havoc on your hair. Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to help your hair survive the season. I learned my summer hair-care techniques from my parents. Both were licensed cosmetologists. Here’s some of what they taught me: Continue Reading…

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Mar
08

th (1)      Living life after divorce can be somewhat challenging. After all you have to change the whole way you view your life. You are no longer two people thinking and living as one, you are now one person that don’t have the strength and help of another person that you can rely on. Continue Reading…

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Sep
02

Andy Waller must have more on his mind than the average coach ahead of Zimbabwe’s two-Test series against Pakistan. For a start, he will be wondering if the series will even go ahead.

Pakistan-vs-Zimbabwe-test-Cricket-SeriesZimbabwe’s newly-formed players’ union may yet boycott the matches, as they have been threatening to do since Pakistan arrived in the country more than two weeks’ ago, because of non-payment of salaries. The players have not received their July or August remuneration or the match fees they negotiated with ZC, despite being promised the monies would be transferred Continue Reading…

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