Pakistan urges US to ease travel advisory

Pakistan urges US to ease travel advisory

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan has urged the United States to revise its travel advisory pertaining to the country in a bid to promote a softer and more investor-friendly image to US citizens.

This request was put forth by Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, during the 8th Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council Meeting held Tuesday, aimed at securing preferential access to the textile market and an easy-visa regime for exporters of IT-related services to further strengthen trade ties between the two countries.

US forced to deny ‘no visa policy’ report after it goes viral

The US delegation, led by United States Trade Representatives (USTR) Ambassador Michael Froman, included US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale among others.

The Pakistani delegation comprised Commerce Secretary Azmat Ranjha, Commerce Additional Secretary Asad Hayauddin and Trade Minister at Washington DC Ali Tahir.

Speaking during the inaugural session, Khan said that there are several reasons for which Pakistan deserves preferential access to the US textile market.

“Several international institutions have substantiated Pakistan’s stable economy, while the security situation has also greatly improved. Pakistan is now a lot safer than it was a few years ago,” the minister said.

A stable Pakistan would not only bring prosperity to its people but would also play a role in creating a stable region, which is our mutual goal, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Forman was of the view that TIFA serves as a premier forum for advancing our trade investment relationship.

“Current economic relationship with Pakistan is just a fraction of what it could be and with TIFA we can seek that potential,” he said.

The ambassador was of the view that under the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, important structural reforms have been undertaken in Pakistan.

As 7th largest immigrants, Pakistanis not eligible for US diversity visa

These included economic and energy reforms, which have enhanced the overall economic growth and lowered inflation providing a conducive business environment for further strengthening trade ties between the two countries, said the ambassador.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed ways and means to improve access of Pakistani exports to the United States, including those of textiles and agricultural items, enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Pakistan, opening up of defence procurement in Afghanistan to Pakistani companies among others.

The United States is Pakistan’s largest bilateral trading partner. In FY 2015, Pakistan’s exports to all countries were estimated at $24.59 billion and its imports at $41.43 billion.

During the same fiscal year, $18.72 billion was remitted back to Pakistan by overseas workers, with 14.4% from the U.S. It is estimated that at least 500,000 members of the Pakistani diaspora resides in the United States.

In FY15, the United States accounted for approximately 16% of Pakistan’s exports, the second largest market behind the European Union, and $1.20 billion of its imports.

Bilateral trade between the United States and Pakistan exceeded $5.1 billion in FY 2015. The United States is also one of the top sources of foreign direct investment to Pakistan, with $209 million in FY 2015.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2016.

Qualcomm introduces world’s first 5G modem

Qualcomm introduces world’s first 5G modem

Chipmaker Qaulcomm on Monday introduced the world’s first 5G modem at a summit in Hong Kong.

Called the Snapdragon X50, the modem can support speeds of up to 5Gbps which is 400 times faster than the current global average of 13.5Mbps for a 4G connection.

Qualcomm technologies which is a leader in wireless technology is leading the path to 5G conversion as countries globally are trying to upgrade their wireless infrastructure to support higher speeds.

US seeks to clear the air for 5G wireless

The Snapdragon X50 modem employs wide bandwidths in the 28GHz band combined with latest signal technology to reach such high level of speeds. It is worth mentioning that although the modem is capable of reaching such high speed it would need a 5G connection which is still in the process of development.

US Federal Communication commission approved the spectrum for 5G connection in July this year. The designated bands included 28 Gigahertz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz that are capable of more data than current networks.

‘5G technology to be introduced in Pakistan by 2020’

State Minister for Information Technology Anusha Rahman also announced in July that the country is set to have 5G technology by the year 2020.

These developments suggest that the introduction of Qualcomm 5G modem is in line with global telecom developments.

The chipmaker plans to begin sampling the Sanpdragon X50 in the second half of 2017 with the product being available by early 2018.

This article originally appeared on Qualcomm.

Ecuador cuts Julian Assange’s internet access: WikiLeaks

Ecuador cuts Julian Assange’s internet access: WikiLeaks

Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks said on Monday that its founder Julian Assange’s internet was shut down by the government of Ecuador, deflecting blame from the US or British governments who have sparred with Assange for releasing sensitive material.

Wikileaks claims Assange’s internet access blocked by ‘state party’

“We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange’s internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of (Hillary) Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speechs (sic),” the statement from WikiLeaks said.

Assange has lived and worked in Ecuador’s London embassy since June 2012, having been granted asylum there after a British court ordered him extradited to Sweden to face questioning in a sexual molestation case involving two female WikiLeaks supporters.

WikiLeaks said Assange lost internet connectivity on Sunday night.

“We have activated the appropriate contingency plans,” added the Twitter message on Monday. People close to WikiLeaks say that Assange himself is the principal operator of the website’s Twitter feed.

Over the last two weeks, Democratic Party officials and US government agencies have accused the Russian government, including the country’s “senior-most officials,” of pursuing a campaign of cyber attacks against Democratic Party organizations ahead of the Nov 8 US presidential election.

WikiLeaks has been one of the most prominent internet outlets to post and promote hacked Democratic Party materials. While denying any connection with a Russian hacking campaign, Assange has refused to disclose WikiLeaks’ sources for hacked Democratic Party messages.

Sources close to both the Democratic Party and WikiLeaks say they believe WikiLeaks has acquired as many as 40,000-50,000 emails hacked from the personal accounts of John Podesta, the former White House advisor who now chairs of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

WikiLeaks releases Clinton speeches for Goldman Sachs

Despite Assange’s complaint that his internet connection was cut, WikiLeaks posted on Monday afternoon what it said was a fresh batch of Podesta’s emails.

According to a summary of the latest emails posted on Russia Today, a media outlet with close links to the Russian government, highlights include campaign staff discussions about “galvanizing Latino support” and about how to handle media queries about Clinton’s “flip-flopping” on gay marriage.

source The Express Tribune news

Samsung , faces , potential , class action , US , over Note 7,

Samsung faces potential class action in US over Note 7

Samsung faces potential class action in US over Note 7

Samsung Electronics US unit is facing a proposed class action lawsuit from three Galaxy Note 7 customers, according to a filing in a federal court in Newark, New Jersey.

US bans Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones from air travel

The complaint against Samsung Electronics America seeks to represent a nationwide class of Note 7 customers in Nevada, Pennsylvania and California. The world’s top smartphone maker last week permanently ended sales of the fire-prone Note 7 smartphone less than two months after its launch.

Samsung announced the recall of 2.5 million Note 7s in early September following numerous reports of the phones catching fire in what could be one of the costliest product safety failures in tech history. A spokeswoman for Samsung Electronics America declined to comment on the pending litigation.

The complaint, filed on Oct 16, alleges that the consumers discontinued using the phones after the recall, but were asked to wait days or weeks for a replacement phone. The complaint states that the consumers continued to incur monthly device and plan charges for phones they could not use.

Samsung China to recall all 190,984 Galaxy Note 7 phones sold in mainland China

The case is re: Waudby vs Samsung Electronics America, US district court, district of New Jersey, Newark, No. 16-cv-07334-CCC-JBC.

source The Express Tribune news

Overseas Pakistanis can now apply for passport renewal online

Overseas Pakistanis can now apply for passport renewal online

Overseas Pakistanis can now apply for passport renewal online

The interior ministry of Pakistan has launched an e-Services Portal to enable overseas Pakistanis to renew their passports online.

The portal, which went live last week, can be used to apply for renewal of Machine Readable Passports. The online application process takes approximately 16.5 minutes, it says on the website.

Pakistani passport still among worst in the world: report

Once processed the passports will be delivered to the location provided by the applicant within 10 days for a normal passport. An urgent renewal is processed within four days.

Further, Acting Consul General of Pakistan, Rana Samar Javed, toldKhaleej Times “UAE-based Pakistanis can avail this 24-hour service as of now.”

“This also means that people can save time by applying online instead of personally visiting the embassy in Abu Dhabi or consulate in Dubai,” he added.

The e-Services Portal  is linked to the Directorate General of Immigration and Passports for online service for Pakistani citizens around the world.

Biometric passports to be introduced in 2017

However, currently the system only works for existing documents and is not available for new applications. “People will have to visit theconsulate in cases where they are applying for a new passport such as for a newborn, since there are no previous records,” explained Samar.

White House nudges India, Pakistan to talk

White House nudges India, Pakistan to talk

WASHINGTON: 

India and Pakistan should peacefully resolve their ‘deeply held differences’ on a range of issues, said the White House on Tuesday.

The White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest added that Washington had an important relationship with Islamabad on security issues.

The spokesman said during a briefing at the White House, “we have encouraged India and Pakistan to look for ways to peacefully resolve their deeply held differences on a range of issues.”

OIC foreign ministers’ moot: India slammed for water aggression

Replying to a question, Earnest said that significant threat exists in Pakistan from extremists and the Pakistani people have been victims of those extremist activities on far too many occasions.

He said the US and Pakistan had an important relationship when it came to shared security concerns in the region, “particularly when those concerns emanate from extremist groups.”

Recently, the US State Department also expressed its concern over the prevailing tension between Pakistan and India.

The United Nations has also expressed concern on the escalating tensions between the two nuclear states.

A state department spokesman said last week both Pakistan and India need to adopt a more conciliatory approach and resolve their contentious issues in the larger interest of regional peace.

US lawmakers have also not held back and warned against escalation between the two neighbours.

Modi thinks India’s army is now on par with Israel’s

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also recently sent his special envoys to the United States to share with the government officials, think-tanks and public at large the ongoing human rights violations perpetrated by the Indian forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Senator Mushahid Hussain and MNA Dr Shezra Mansab Ali also met President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson last week. The envoys handed over a dossier about human rights violations in the disputed valley.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2016.

Imran summoned to appear before ECP

Imran summoned to appear before ECP

ISLAMABAD: 

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday served a notice on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan to appear before it in person or through counsel on November 2 at its secretariat in Islamabad in connection with reference for his disqualification as Member of the National Assembly (MNA).

The reference was filed by Muhammad Talal Chaudhry and six other MNAs seeking Imran’s disqualification as MNA under Clause (2) of Article 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.

According to the notice, if Imran fails to comply the matter would be decided in his absence. As the proceedings were time bound, the respondent was directed to furnish reply also on the date fixed, it added.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2016.

This Pakistani man lost 120 pounds to fight obesity and now wants to help others do the same

This Pakistani man lost 120 pounds to fight obesity and now wants to help others do the same

Umar Majeed was obese by the age of 24, tipping the scales at almost 300 pounds – that’s just over 130 kilos. Rather than living his life with reckless abandon like most of his peers, Umar faced debilitating health issues and crises of self-esteem.

“My doctor had prescribed medication as I was developing high blood pressure. My health had started to become a big problem, my mother would cry constantly [because of my condition],” he recalls.

It was at this point that the Pakistan-based techie realized he needed to take control and inculcate some serious changes in his lifestyle.

“I’ve been a digital marketer and blogger for almost 10 years now, so I did what I knew best. I googled how to lose weight and used to stay up all night searching for best practices,” he explains.

Pakistan’s leading tech firms crowned atP@SHA ICT awards

The approach worked. Within 10 months, Umar lost roughly 120 pounds. The effect it had on his physical appearance, health, and general outlook was stark.

“People I hadn’t met for months couldn’t recognize me. I started feeling much better about myself and eventually gave up medication too. Many reached out asking for help and advice to tackle their own weight issues,” Umar says.

The 10 months he spent implementing radical lifestyle changes also made him aware of the emotional pitfalls that come with such an endeavor. He explains that any journey of weight loss is “incredibly difficult,” and remaining motivated and committed is the biggest challenge.

“For an obese person, their self-confidence is very different than normal people. It’s shattered. You feel embarrassed, socially awkward, and prefer to live life as a hermit. Consulting a nutritionist isn’t easy either,” he says.

Self-belief

After going through this painful struggle, Umar wanted to help others who face similar issues. That’s why he started Nutright, a weight loss program inside an app.

“What we’ve made with Nutright is that people can just pick up their phones and talk to a nutritionist directly. There’s no need to go and meet someone for expensive consultations,” he says.

The app, which launched very recently, operates on a freemium model. After signing up and registering, it prompts you to fill out a short assessment test, measuring things like your height, gender, weight, age, and water intake. It’ll then tell you your current health status, including the Body Mass Index (BMI) and ideal weight.

After determining how much weight you need to lose, the app will suggest a time period and recommended exercises. If users sign up for the premium plan, they’ll get personalized daily meal plans, direct access to a nutritionist, and a much more thorough exercise regimen.

There will also be weekly calls to monitor progress and make sure users are sticking to the requirements.

Patari wins big at international startup competition

So how’s Nutright different from other online weight loss solutions? Umar says it’s the personalization that comes with the service as well as its low cost. He takes the example of US-based Precision Nutrition which charges approximately US$229 per month for a similar program.

“We’re priced at just US$25 a month for our premium service,” states Umar.

Other nutritionists in the US can charge anywhere between US$100-250 an hour for their time.

The team also takes into account factors like food preferences and income levels to suggest meal plans that are appealing and won’t break the bank. There are two nutritionists working full-time, with Umar planning on adding more as traction builds.

There are roughly 8,000 monthly active users with around 60 people who’ve signed up for the premium service.

“I have been bootstrapping it for quite a while now. I quit my job and sold two cars to raise cash. I’m determined to make this work,” smiles Umar.

This article originally appeared on Tech in Asia.

Netflix boosts tech shares as US stocks rise

Netflix boosts tech shares as US stocks rise

Technology shares led US stocks higher Tuesday after Netflix surged on strong subscriber growth and Google parent Alphabet hit an all-time high as its new Pixel phone garnered positive reviews.

Netflix soared 19 per cent after reporting 3.57 million in new subscribers for the third quarter and projecting a gain of 5.2 million in the fourth quarter, much better than expected. The results boosted hopes that other tech earnings may also be strong in the coming weeks.

Netflix is giving up on a major country

Google parent Alphabet, Tesla Motors and Electronic Arts all rose two per cent or more. Amazon and Facebook also rose. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite jumped 0.9 per cent to 5,243.84. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4 per cent to 18,161.94, while the broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.6 per cent to 2,139.60.

UnitedHealth was the biggest gainer in the Dow, climbing 7.1 per cent after reporting that third-quarter earnings jumped 23.2 per cent to $2.0 billion, due in part to a strong performance in its Optum consulting and data analysis business. Other health insurers also moved higher, with Aetna winning 2.6 per cent and Cigna 4.2 per cent.

Goldman Sachs climbed 2.2 per cent as it reported a 58 per cent jump in third-quarter earnings to $2.1 billion due in part to a strong performance in its trading division. But IBM lost 2.6 per cent despite reporting better-than-expected earnings with some analysts expressing disappointment in the tech giant’s profit margins. Revenues also fell for the 18th straight quarter.

Changing the game: Netflix, Amazon outgunning TV

Johnson & Johnson fell 2.7 per cent on concerns about new competition from Pfizer and other drugmakers with J&J’s blockbuster arthritis treatment Remicade. Chief financial officer Dominic Caruso predicted “modest” impact on Remicade sales due to the new competitors. Dow member Visa fell 0.7 per cent on the surprise news that chief executive Charlie Scharf would resign in December and be replaced with Alfred Kelly, Jr, a former president of American Express.

Wenger hopes Arsenal’s trophy hunt will keep Sanchez, Ozil

Wenger hopes Arsenal’s trophy hunt will keep Sanchez, Ozil

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes a serious challenge for trophies will go a long way towards convincing influential winger Alexis Sanchez and midfielder Mesut Ozil to sign new long-term deals at the club.

Ozil and Sanchez have entered the last 20 months of their current contracts at the Emirates Stadium and will hope to secure hefty pay rises to their reported 140,000 pounds ($171,654.00) per week salaries to stay beyond 2018.

Wenger admitted that while the financial aspects of contract negations were important, it was Arsenal’s on-field progress that would prove decisive.

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“I think these kind of players can raise a little bit above the financial aspect of the game because they are not poor and they have to look really at the football side,” the 66-year-old told British media.

He added: “It is more about whether the club can meet their needs on the football front. If yes, then a Premier League club can find an agreement with the players. We still keep values we have at the club, of course, and we pay what we can afford.”

Chile international Sanchez has scored five goals in 10 appearances in all competitions this season, while Germany’s Ozil has chipped in with several decisive goals, including the winner against Swansea City last weekend.

Wenger plays down Mourinho ‘face break’ threat

Arsenal have won two FA Cups since the 28-year-old Ozil arrived from Real Madrid in 2013, while the 27-year-old Sanchez has one FA Cup winner’s medal to his name after moving to North London from Barcelona a year later.

“We still have a scale of wages… But don’t worry, they are all paid well,” said Wenger. “It’s normal for players to try to get the maximum out of the negotiations. They have to feel you meet their needs at the club and they get paid for it.”

Arsenal, who are currently at the top of their Champions League group, host Bulgarian club Ludogorets Razgrad on Wednesday.