Hafeez decides to take bowling action test again in England

Hafeez decides to take bowling action test again in England

Pakistan all-rounder Muhamamd Hafeez is set to undergo re-testing of his bowling action as Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) wrote a letter to International Cricket Council (ICC) requesting re-testing.

“PCB had contacted ICC and requested to fix a date for re-testing of bowling action of Hafeez,” a top PCB official told DawnNews.

“Bowling action test is likely to happen in Loughborough England,” the official added.

The 36-year-old seasoned all-rounder — having represented Pakistan in 50 Tests, 177 ODIs and 77 T20s — has faced problems with his bowling action since 2014.

In July 2015, he was banned from bowling in international cricket for 12 months after his action was found to be illegal for a second time since November 2014.

PCB had hired a bowling coach Carl Crowe to help Hafeez correct his bowling action before taking the bowling assessment test in England but he decided against taking any test because of his fitness issues.

Hafeez was dropped from Pakistan squad for series against West Indies as he was experiencing injury and form issues.

He was also not considered for the two Test match series against New Zealand starting this month.

SMS-based tutoring system for public schools’ students soon

SMS-based tutoring system for public schools’ students soon

LAHORE: Showing sensitivity to the students need for after-school academic assistance, the Punjab is set to launch an SMS-based Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) in public schools through two different programmes starting from Nov 15, this year.

Under the programmes, the Class-VIII students will be able to get answers to their questions related to English and Maths subjects through the ITS. Similarly, the system will also be launched for the Class-IV and V students at a later stage by April 1, Dawn has learnt.

Under the e-learning initiative of the SMS-based Information and Technology University’s Centre for Technology in Education (CTE), technical and financial assistance of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) and Department for International Development (DFID), UK, respectively, Punjab’s 30 public schools would formally be connected with the system, enabling the students and their parents to get assistance in having answers of their academic questions.

The programme’s pilot project, which has already been implemented in 30 public schools a couple of months ago, is helping improve the students’ learning outcome.

The project delivers quality educational content for science and mathematics using LED screen and tablet PCs.

“Currently in its initial phase, the project has already improved the performance of some 1,800 students, and will soon expand operations across the country, with the stated aim of reaching 100,000 students by December 2018,” claims Amna Raja, Project Manager, DFID e-learn initiative.

The CTE was established to serve as a world-class applied research centre, with a view that provision of quality education was critical to meaningful progress in Pakistan, she told Dawn on Thursday.

She said the funds were arranged through the donor supporting the “Ilm Ideas 2 Education Innovation Fund’’ as part of the wider UK Aid support to Pakistan. The Ilm Ideas 2 project has been awarded to Mott MacDonald Ltd. It is managed by the Mott MacDonald’s team based in Islamabad, she added.

According to project brief, its primary objective is to improve learning outcomes through technology-mediated study materials.

Talking to Dawn, PITB’s Director General (IT Solutions) Waqar Naeem Qureshi said the department was set to launch the SMS-based Intelligence Tutoring System in 100 public sector schools by April, 1, 2017 in association with the school education department.

“This programme is exclusively for the grade-4 and 5 students, whose parents will receive a call during evening hours to review their children’s study on a daily basis, Similarly, the parents or the students themselves can get assistance through a dedicated SMS service,” Mr Qureshi said.

He said the system would guide the students to reach the answer for themselves. “The system will drop hints four times in order to enable a student to get the answer. And if the student fails, the system wouldn’t respond to further query,” he added. He said the PITB had prepared the software, applications etc and started contacting the telecom companies to implement it.

Talking to Dawn, the ITU Vice Chancellor and PITB Chairman Prof Umar

Saif claimed the system was being introduced in Pakistan for the first time. “And the system is also unique, in view of its coaching method,” he said, adding the technology would be expanded gradually.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2016

Senate body unhappy with use of NTS for all recruitment

Senate body unhappy with use of NTS for all recruitment

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Communications on Thursday expressed annoyance over the appointment of government employees through the National Testing Service (NTS).

The members demanded an audit of the service since 2002. They also suggested that steps should be taken to decrease the fees the NTS was charging from candidates.

The meeting, chaired by Mohammad Daud Khan Achakzai, was informed by Secretary Establishment Division Tahir Shahbaz that the NTS was a private organisation.

“The federal government’s recruitment policy 2014 states that all inductions should be made through some testing agency. The Supreme Court is not bound to follow any policy formulated by the government but it is also using the NTS for recruitments,” he said.


Members say FPSC, not private organisation, should select employees for govt departments


Though the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) is the most credible testing service, due to capacity issues it is only being used for the appointment of gazetted officers (BPS-17 and above). The FPSC takes one-and-a-half years to complete the process of the Central Superior Services examinations. So how it can be engaged for appointing all the government employees, he said.

But the official also said government departments were not bound to utilise only the services of the NTS. There are a number of testing services and a process of bidding has been introduced to select one of them.

Senator Kamil Ali Agha said even security agencies were using the NTS for appointment of their employees. As it has been confirmed that the NTS is a private organisation, it should not be engaged for the selection of candidates to avoid any scandal.

“Tens of thousands of applications are submitted for each post and a majority of the candidates are dropped during the short listing. Departments should make their own boards for hiring employees in a transparent way,” he said.

Senator Kalsoom Perveen said there was a ruling of the Senate chairman that the degree of the NTS head was fake.

“Moreover, the NTS gives 30pc marks for the personality of a candidate. It seems it wants to hire Shah Rukh Khan or Aishwarya Rai. I know a student who got position in the board exam but could not clear the NTS test. It is strange that graduates are conducting exams of all the subjects and departments. Moreover, the candidates are asked irrelevant questions,” she said.

She said the audit of the NTS should be carried out from the year 2002. However, the NTS claims that its record had burnt. The NTS along with a courier service has been minting money because candidates are supposed to send their documents to the NTS through a particular courier service.

Government departments such as Pakistan Post should be involved in the process, she said.

Senator Usman Khan Kakar said all the appointments should be done through the FPSC because the commission was answerable but the NTS was not.

Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi said the NTS test had even been made mandatory for admissions to medical and engineering colleges.

He suggested that only marks obtained by a student in the FSC and SSC exams should be considered for the admissions.

Chairman Achakzai said it was unfair that the candidates were forced to pay fees throughout the year for different posts just to know at the end that they had been dropped.

Chairman National Highway Authority (NHA) Shahid Ashraf Tarar also agreed that candidates and their parents suffered because of financial losses and suggested that a mechanism should be adopted to decrease the financial burden on the candidates.

Toll tax on motorways reduced

The NHA chairman informed the meeting that as per the recommendations of the committee, the recent increase in the motorway toll tax had been withdrawn on Thursday.

“On M1 (Peshawar to Islamabad) each car will be charged Rs210 while Rs90 will be charged on M3 (Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad) and Rs90 on M4 (Faisalabad to Gojra). However, as M2 (Islamabad to Lahore) was constructed under the build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis, a mechanism on how to reduce the tax is being considered,” he said.

The members suggested that the additional amount received from the motorists should be refunded. But Mr Tarar said around Rs40 billion were required for the maintenance of roads each year. So the amount will be spent on repairing of the roads.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2016

Huawei wants to beat Apple in smartphones in two years: exec

Huawei wants to beat Apple in smartphones in two years: exec

China’s Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] wants to be the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones in two years, Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei’s consumer business group, told Reuters on Thursday.

Having made its name as a builder of telecommunications networks, Huawei has been active in the consumer devices market for only a few years and is now the third-biggest smartphone maker after Apple Inc and the world leader in the $400 billion market, Samsung Electronics.

“When we announced four years ago that we wanted to sell phones, people told us we were crazy. When we said we wanted to sell 100 million phones, they told us we were crazy,” Yu said at a launch event in Munich.

Huawei on Thursday launched a new premium phone, which will sell for 699 euros apiece. A version developed with Porsche Design will cost 1,395 euros.

The phone has a new artificial intelligence feature: It can learn about its user’s habits and automatically put the most frequently used apps in easy reach.

Huawei was the world’s third-largest smartphone maker in the third quarter with 33.6 million shipped devices, giving it a 9 percent market share, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Apple was still well ahead with 45.5 million devices, or a 12 percent market share. Samsung was the world leader with 75.3 million shipped devices and a market share of 20.1 percent.

“We are going to take them (Apple) step-by-step, innovation-by-innovation,” Yu said, adding that he expected to improve Huawei’s position along with technology shifts.

“There will be more opportunities. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality,” he said. “It is like driving a car. At every curve or turn, there is an opportunity to overtake the competition.”

With the new phone, dubbed Mate 9, Yu expects to make a break in European markets such as Germany, France and Great Britain. “In Finland, we are already number one,” he said.

With Apple struggling to come up with surprise designs and Samsung reeling from having to scrap its flagship phone, Yu said Huawei was at a tipping point.

“Step-by-step we are winning the trust and loyalty of the customers. It is about trust and loyalty.”

The Dawn News source

Turkey blocks access to Twitter, Whatsapp

Turkey blocks access to Twitter, Whatsapp

Access to social media sites Twitter and Whatsapp was blocked in Turkey on Friday, an internet monitoring group said, following the detentions of 11 pro-Kurdish lawmakers in the mainly Kurdish southeast overnight.

Access was being blocked by throttling, an expert from the monitoring group Turkey Blocks said, a method of slowing certain websites to the point where they are unusable.

A widespread difficulty in reaching Facebook was also reported after the detentions started at midnight.

 The Dawn News source

Renault to produce cars in Pakistan

Renault to produce cars in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Renault will start producing vehicles in Pakistan in 2018, the Board of Investment (BOI) announced on Thursday.

Miftah Ismail, the BOI chairman, told Dawn that the French car manufacturer had submitted its application to the government for the manufacture of vehicles. The application is now under process at the BOI and the Engineering Development Board.

This will be the first time that a European car manufacturer will set up a plant in Pakistan.

Mr Ismail said that Renault would initially make an investment of $100 million to produce 6,000 vehicles per shift at the plant set up by Ghandhara Nissan Motors in Karachi. A technical team of Renault visited the plant on Thursday. Renault intends to manufacture 16,000 vehicles in three shifts and to raise the production capacity to 50,000 in two phases.

According to the BOI chief, Renault will manufacture both SUVs and sedan cars.

Efforts will also be made to revive the manufacturing of Nissan vehicles in the same plant, he added.

Renault already has an alliance with Nissan since 1999, making it the longest running transnational partnership between two major manufacturers in the automotive industry. In 2013, Renault was the eleventh biggest automaker in the world by production volume.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar led a Pakistan delegation to France in September to hold negotiations with leading French car manufacturers, Renault included..

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had constituted a committee to review the auto policy and recommended fresh measures for expansion, investment and consumer protection. The committee was headed by Water and Power Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and included BOI Chairman Miftah Ismail.

The engineering side draft of the policy was prepared by the Engineering Development Board while the BOI chief took care of the financial aspect.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2016

Death toll reaches 19 in Gadani shipbreaking yard fire, scores still missing

Death toll reaches 19 in Gadani shipbreaking yard fire, scores still missing

The death toll from an explosion and fire at Gadani shipbreaking yard has risen to 19, officials said Wednesday, as a search continued for more victims.

At least 58 others were wounded on Tuesday when a gas cylinder exploded and started a fire inside an oil tanker at the Gadani yard.

“It can take another 48 hours to control the fire, as the tanker still has a significant quantity of oil present in the ship,” said Commissioner Kalat Hashim Gulzai.

Local firefighters supported by the Pakistan Navy and coastguard were still battling to extinguish the fire Wednesday, Hashim said.

He said the contractor for the tanker work had been arrested and all shipbreaking at the yard has been banned while safety standards are reviewed.

A local government official, Zulfiqar Hashmi, said that four more bodies were found from the sea with minor burn injuries. He added that it could not be ascertained whether the workers died inside the oil tanker or as a result of jumping into the sea.

The fire has reportedly spread to the engine room of the ship which contains fuel and gas cylinders.

Industrial accidents are common in Pakistan, with workplaces often forgoing basic safety measures and equipment in the absence of legislation to protect labourers.

A devastating fire at a textile factory in Karachi killed 255 people in 2012.

 The Dawn News source

Mixed signals, wrong track and innocent victims

Mixed signals, wrong track and innocent victims

KARACHI: “No one could have survived this,” screamed Shakila Bibi on seeing the crushed bogies of Fareed Express at the Landhi station on Thursday, some three hours after the ill-fated train was hit by Zakaria Express from behind. The accident left 20 dead and over 65 injured.

“My sister must be dead,” she wept as her other sister Nafisa tried comforting her. But Shakila said she couldn’t forgive herself for getting off at Hyderabad, leaving her sister behind to travel to Karachi on her own.

Meanwhile, the tracks at the accident site were being cleared. There were cranes and workers with shovels and pickaxes all busy with damage control. People living in the small houses along the railway track watched the work being carried out. “In the absence of any other help at the time, we became the first responders as we were the first ones on the scene as a result of living right here,” said Taj Khan.

“It was 7.25am, I was getting ready to leave for work when we I heard a loud explosion. It shook our entire home,” he said. “I with some other neighbourhood men ran outside to see what had happened. It was very dark outside with dust everywhere. But once our eyes got adjusted to the darkness, we realised that one train had run into the other. We rushed in that direction to help the people trapped inside. Most of the injured belonged to the train that was waiting at the Landhi station,” he said.

Saeed Rahman, Taj’s next door neighbour, said he also ran to the railway officials at Landhi telling them to call for help. “But they seemed frozen. They just looked around helplessly not seeming to know what to do. Then four Edhi ambulances arrived. We transferred three to four injured in each ambulance, which took them to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.”

Zawar Hussain, a resident of Shireen Jinnah Colony here, was coming back home in the ill-fated Fareed Express with his 34 family members on Thursday morning after having attended a wedding in Vehari when the speeding Zakaria Express crashed into their train.

“We were stationary and waiting to be transferred to the other track at the Landhi station when it all happened. It was only supposed to be a 10-minute stopover before proceeding to Cantt,” said injured Zawar, now admitted to the JPMC. Seven members of the family, including Zawar, were admitted to various wards in the hospital.

Zawar’s nephew Nawab said some of them were travelling in bogie number eight and some in the last bogie, number 16, which took the brunt of the collision. “I leaped off bogie eight the moment we were hit and so did my brother and other cousins. I twisted my ankle in the process but still I ran as fast as I could back to the last bogie,” he said.

There he found a few people who had come to help after hearing the crash. “We pulled out the dead and injured from the last bogie. This was how we were able to rescue my uncle, aunt and cousins,” he said. “Our money, luggage and other belongings are all gone.”

Zawar’s youngest child, Naveed Iqbal, a student of class two, also occupied a bed across him in the emergency ward. In the next female ward lay Zawar’s wife, Parween, his daughter Asma with a fractured neck, and his daughter-in-law Saeed Bibi with his three-year-old grandson Rizwan, too. Two of his sons were also admitted to the orthopaedic ward with many bones broken.

Malka Bibi, another injured patient in the female emergency section, who was travelling from Mailsi in Vehari, said that suddenly everything on the berths above with the berths fell on them in bogie 16. “This was followed by our bogie being dragged back. I was very confused at first. Then I heard groans and children crying. I used all my strength to get myself out from the mess I was buried under. I made my way to the children. There were four of them. I got them all out,” she said.

Imtiaz Bibi, a resident of Qayyumabad, said she was travelling with her five-year-old daughter in bogie 11. “My little girl Zainab was looking outside from the window, waiting for the train to start moving again. The collision sent her flying out of that window. It saved her life. But I was stuck inside until help arrived. Some people were also trapped in the bathroom,” she said. “Surprisingly, the bogie right behind us, bogie number 10, was completely crushed even though it wasn’t hit directly.

“I only remember a very loud explosion. I must have backed out then as I woke up in hospital here,” said Ghulam Shabbir from Kahror Pacca, Lodhran.

Outside the JPMC morgue, one ran into Shakila Bibi and Nafisa Bibi still looking for their third sister among the dead. Someone suggested they search for her among the injured. That was when they started their search inside the hospital. Suraiya, the third sister, was eventually discovered in the orthopaedic ward on the second floor with a fractured vertebrae.

Dr Seemin Jamali, head of emergency at the JPMC, said they initially received 18 bodies many of whom were yet to be identified. There was also a three-year-old girl among the dead. They also got 65 injured of whom 15 were children aged between five and 18. Some 50 among the injured were male and 15 female. Two of the injured, she said, later died.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2016

Students forced to study in the open at Islamabad’s most neglected school

Students forced to study in the open at Islamabad’s most neglected school

ISLAMABAD: Hundreds of students at the Islamabad Model School for Girls Sangjani (I to X), Tarnol section, study under the open sky and sitting on dusty rugs on the ground.

The school, one of the most neglected in Islamabad, enrols around 900 students and accommodates them in 11 classrooms. Four classes are held under the open sky while two of the classrooms do not have furniture.

The school was established in 1954 by the Punjab government and handed over to the federal government in the 60s. In 1992, the school was upgraded from the primary to middle level and in 1996 it was made a high school without improvements to the school’s infrastructure.

According to teachers of the school, the over 900 students are taught by 17 teachers, which makes the teacher to student ratio 1:52. They said one of the classrooms was accommodating 77 students due to the shortage of space.


There are only 11 classrooms to accommodate 900 students, who are taught by 17 teachers


Though the school does have a computer lab with 18 computers, there is no computer teacher or lab incharge and there is just one science teacher.

“As there is no computer teacher, we do not offer computer as a subject to class 9 and 10 students,” one of the teachers said.

A fourth grader, Pakeeza Bibi, said sitting on the ground during classes was distracting and that sitting cross-legged for long was also painful.

An eighth grader, Fouzia Sadiq, who attends classes under the open sky, said it was the government’s responsibility to provide the school with basic facilities.

“Sitting on the rugs is humiliating but we don’t have another option,” she said.

In December last year, the Prime Minister’s Education Reforms Package was initiated which has so far proved to have brought about cosmetic changes, and that too mainly in 22 schools.

“I do not understand why Federal Department of Education (FDE) and the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) are only focusing on cosmetic changes in 22 schools instead of providing others with classrooms and furniture,” said an FDE official.

“Some of the people who are dealing with the education sector of Islamabad know nothing about education. Providing furniture and extra rooms should have been a priority under the prime minister’s reforms,” said Malik Ameer, the president of the Federal Government School Association.

PML-N local leader and Deputy Mayor Islamabad Syed Zeshan Naqvi agreed that the Sangjani school’s condition was pathetic and that the FDE and CADD should provide all schools with the basic facilities. He added that the government was committed to improving all the 422 educational institutes in Islamabad.

When asked, coordinator Prime Minister’s Education Reforms Programs and Director Model Colleges FDE Dr Tariq Masood said the government was set to improve the next 200 schools and that the Sangjani school was one of them.

“In the first phase, we improved 22 schools and the second phase will see 200 more schools being improved,” he said.

“We are moving according to a plan. The CADD minister met the finance minister to ask for an early release of the funds, so we should start work soon,” he said.

Even after they were ‘remodelled’, students of the first 22 schools to be improved are still studying under the open sky due to a shortage of classrooms including those of the girls school Kot Hatyal and Sohan schools.

When the issue was highlighted in the media, the government decided to construct around 70 new classrooms in the 22 schools. “The construction of these classrooms is nearly complete,” said Dr Masood.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2016

Safety guide: How to safeguard your health from smog

Safety guide: How to safeguard your health from smog

Every winter, cities in upper and central part of Pakistan wear a blanket of fog; which is primarily due to a particular climate zoning, but the problem is getting worse with each passing year. The pollutants emitting from the surface adds to the fog and thickens it creating `smog`.

The problem has intensified during the past few decades due to rapid and sustained industrialisation and addition of thousands of vehicles. During December and January, smog slows down everything and on some occasions brings life to a standstill.

Punjab is a densely populated province and in terms of `human productivity loss`, one can calculate the negative impact on the financial health of the country if a large proportion of the population is rendered unproductive.

Lahore also falls amongst the worst smog affected cities in the world.

Here are some tips to safeguard your family and yourself from smog.

For people

  • Use surgical or other face masks

  • Remove contact lenses and use regular reading glasses

  • Do not smoke and if not possible reduce intake

  • Drink extra water and hot tea

  • Blow nose regularly to clean out contaminants

  • Wash hands, face and any exposed body part every time you come indoors after having gone outside

  • Avoid going out unnecessarily

Indoors

  • Seal vents, windows and other inlets of the house with masking tape or place moist towels or a cloth under doors and windows

  • Use air purifiers

Outdoors

  • Do NOT stop on the road even if you can’t see. Pull over to the side of the road away from traffic.

  • Slow down when driving

  • Use fog lights

  • Do NOT use high beams

  • Avoid going to crowded areas especially those prone to traffic jams.

  • The Dawn News source