ISLAMABAD: Expressing her love for Pakistan, Polish travel blogger Eva zu Beck, who stirred the ‘Kiki Challenge’ controversy in a PIA simulator recently, announced her decision to launch the world’s first interactive travel show for Pakistan combining social media, TV, live content, written words and on the ground activities.
Ms Beck announced the launch of her new venture at the National Press Club on Saturday. She said it was her passion to promote tourism in Pakistan and fight misrepresentation of the country in the social media.
“Nearly 40pc of travellers take the idea of their destinations through social media. We find Pakistan totally missing in that space.”
It is my passion to promote tourism and fight misrepresentation of the country on social media, Eva zu Beck says
She also identified challenges faced by Pakistan’s tourism sector which included lack of tourist friendly infrastructure and limited information about transport, hotels, guesthouses etc.
She said her initiative might lead to the availability of such information.
She said the mission of the show would be to transform how international travellers think about Pakistan and create a positive and long-lasting change to the local tourism industry.
“It is high time we establish Pakistan as a destination for travellers looking to experience the perfect combination of nature and culture in a single setting,” said Ms Beck.
“The big question that nobody is asking is how we can develop the local tourism industry in responsible and environment friendly ways?”
She said in attracting more attention to Pakistan as a tourism hub, the travel show would work with local organisations to expand the current tourism infrastructure and ensure responsible growth.
“In addition to promoting tourism in Pakistan at the international level, this programme will showcase the creativity and media innovation coming out of the country’s young generation. At the heart of the undertaking will be collaboration with local talent and foreign influencers,” she added.
Ms Beck attracted criticism from local authorities while trying to promote Pakistan’s soft image through her strong social media outreach on Independence Day.
She recorded a PIA “Kiki Challenge” video that was featured across all the major media outlets. But the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sensed some corruption case in the matter and took notice of the video.
Ms Beck at the press conference said she did not receive any written notice from NAB.
“I know about the notice as much as you all know about it,” she said, adding she was blogging about Karachi when she was contacted by the PIA marketing team to work on this unusual idea.
“It was a training plane parked in a covered training area and the challenge was done with all formal permission,” she added. “I received overwhelming positive response from every section of society.”
She said she was overwhelmed by the love and encouragement in Pakistan.
“I came here with a totally different perception. The perception about Pakistan on foreign media is totally opposite of what the reality is,” she added.
The Senate Standing Committee on Aviation recently also discussed the Polish tourist’s video.
Members, including Senator Sherry Rehman, criticised the objections over the matter and wondered what was wrong in the video.
“We should not make it an issue. There was nothing wrong in it and we should not criticise everything. Even she (tourist) does not need to apologise for promoting Pakistan,” said Ms Rehman.
After graduating from the University of Oxford, Ms Beck spent five years developing Culture Trip, a London-based travel media start-up that has five million social media fans and over one billion video views.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan on Friday nominated Sardar Usman Buzdar as his party's candidate for Punjab chief minister.
Khan, who is set to become the prime minister on Saturday, made the announcement himself in a video message.
"I have nominated Sardar Usman as Punjab chief minister," the PM-elect said. "And I want to tell you the reason for doing so.
"He belongs to an area of Punjab that is the most backward. People there have no water or electricity or hospital.
"The special thing about Sardar Usman is that he is well acquainted with how people live in those areas and secondly, he is aware of how the poor lead their lives.
"When he will assume the office of the chief minister he will know the nature of the plight that faces the under privileged people of Pakistan.
"He is the only MPA to not have electricity at his home. I am confident that he will work brilliantly to bring to fruition our vision, which aims at uplifting the lower sections of society and the backward areas of Pakistan."
Senior party leader Jehangir Tarin congratulated Buzdar, and added: "Usman hails from the poorest part of the Taunsa Sharif — an area that has lagged far behind even other areas of South Punjab. IA! his appointment will help bring South Punjab out of its miseries."
Buzdar, who hails from Taunsa Sharif, had triumphed in the 2018 general elections from PP-286 (Dera Ghazi Khan-II) by securing 26,897 votes.
The first-time MPA was a tehsil nazim of a mountainous tribal area of Dera Ghazi Khan during former president Pervez Musharraf's era.
He is the son of the Buzdar tribe chief, Fateh Muhammed Khan Buzdar, who himself was an MPA in 1985, 2002, and 2008.
Buzdar, who is now in pole position to become Punjab CM, was a member of the PML-Q from 2002 to 2011. Later, he left the party to join the PML-N.
In 2013, he ran for provincial assembly seat on a PML-N ticket but was defeated by a PPPP contestant.
Before the 2018 general elections, Buzdar joined the Janoobi Punjab Suba Mahaz, which then merged with the PTI, thus making him a member of Khan's party.
Buzdar has a bachelor's degree in law and master's degree in political science.
Former Indian cricket star Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday arrived in Pakistan to a warm welcome to attend the oath-taking ceremony of prime minister-elect Imran Khan, who had brought the 92' World Cup home.
TV footage showed the cricketer turned politician walking over to the Lahore side of the Wagah border.
Talking to reporters soon after his arrival in Pakistan, Sidhu said he had come to the country as a goodwill messenger and "with a message of love" to become a part of Khan's happiness.
He said he was saddened today by the demise of former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who he recalled had started the friendship bus service between the two countries.
Answering a question, he said he had brought a Kashmiri shawl as a gift for Khan. He also entertained reporters with a few couplets conveying a message of peace and love between the two neighbours.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Khan has invited several Indian and Pakistani cricket stars of his time to the oath-taking ceremony scheduled for tomorrow at the President House. President Mamnoon Hussain will administer the oath.
According to PTI Senator Faisal Javed, besides Sidhu, India’s former cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev had been invited.
Khan has also remembered his colleagues and invited Javed Miandad, Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Mushtaq Ahmed, Moin Khan and Aaqib Javed who had played the 1992 Cup final at Melbourne, Australia.
After having secured a simple majority in the July 25 general elections, the PTI is in a comfortable position to form its government at the Centre with its allies.
The armed forces will only support the electoral process and have "no direct role in conduct of elections," Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said in a press conference on Tuesday in which he also invited people to come out and vote for "whatever leader, and whatever party they like".
Terming the third democratic transfer of power in Pakistan a continuity of the democratic process, the director general (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the armed forces will only support the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in its duties according to the code of conduct provided by the commission itself.
He pointedly recalled that this was not the first time that the forces were being deployed for election duty.
He said that in 1997, 192,000 troops had been delegated on duty to oversee 25,000 polling stations for what he termed a "full deployment". Then, in 2002, the army deployed less than 35,000 troops for 64,470 polling stations "because the ECP only tasked the Army with overall security". Likewise, in 2008, 39,000 troops were deployed even though the number of polling stations was much higher (64,100) because the troops were, again, only in charge of overall security.
He added that the 2013 elections had been difficult security-wise because of the ongoing war against militancy. Many politicians had received death threats and an Awami National Party (ANP) leader had even been killed. To counter the prevailing insecurity, 75,000 troops had been deployed for 70,185 polling stations, Gen Ghafoor recalled.
He said that in the 2018 elections, 105.95 million eligible voters will be able to exercise their right to vote at 85,307 polling stations, hosted inside 48,500 buildings as more than one station may exist in the same building. A total of 371,388 security forces officials will be deployed for election duty.
"Considering the situation on our borders, the civil armed forces and retired personnel are also being commissioned for the purpose," he said, adding that the total deployment includes 134,894 reservists (who have retired from forces within the past five years) and around 4,000 personnel each from Pakistan Air Force and Navy.
Gen Ghafoor explained that this time around, the ECP has entrusted the Army with six tasks:
Maintenance of overall security in the country.
Provision of security to printing presses.
Transportation of the material before election day.
Transportation of material from RO office to polling stations as well as security of polling staff on polling day.
Deployment on polling day inside and outside polling stations.
Securely transporting election material and polling staff back to Election Commission offices.
He clarified that the army will not take over any printing material during the entire process and that the ECP will have its officers present at all times, who the soldiers will only provide security to.
"The counting of ballots is the ECP's job," he added.
He said that on polling day, troops will be stationed both inside and outside the polling stations. Two security officials will be present inside and two outside 20,831 'sensitive' polling stations, he said, while deployment will be lower at non-sensitive polling stations.
The DG ISPR said that the army has, with the ECP, set up an Army Election Support Centre which will ensure coordination with the commission.
The troops, he said, will ensure that only polling staff, polling agents, voters and other authorised people can enter the stations.
"We have to help the ECP in a non-political, non-partisan manner," Gen Ghafoor said.
He said no unauthorised person would be allowed at the printing presses until the printing of election material is completed by July 21. He also said that the troops would accompany ECP officials during the transportation process only to protect material from falling into the hands of any unauthorised person. He added that the ECP will have complete support of the armed forces, and that military helicopters and airplanes may also be used for transportation if the need arises.
"If you see any irregularity on election day, please make a note and bring it to our notice," he said. "Report it to the ECP and report to us. Please leave the soldiers deployed to election duty alone. They are there to do a job and have been briefed accordingly."
"Go out and vote for whatever party and whatever leader you want to vote for," he continued. "Let's try to ensure that if the election turnout has been 40pc in the past, it is much higher this time around."
Responding to some tough questions on electoral engineering and the alleged role of the so-called establishment in subverting the democratic order, Gen Ghafoor noted that there had been no election in the country's history when political parties did not allege that some form of rigging had taken place.
"How is it possible to tell 106m people who to vote for?" he asked. "How is it possible that we secretly tell [around] 350,000 troops that 'you should do this'?"
In response to questions about people switching loyalties, he recalled that candidates switch parties before every election and that "there is nothing new about this".
He also disassociated the army from any role in the allotment of the 'Jeep' symbol to certain independent candidates, saying that it was the ECP which allots symbols to candidates.
"The jeep you are trying to paint as ours is not even our jeep," he remarked wryly, an apparent reference to the difference in the model of jeeps commissioned for army use and the one as it shows on the symbol.
He also said that a PML-N candidate from Multan — who had accused the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of pressuring him into switching parties but then backtracked saying it had, in fact, been the Agriculture department — has been investigated by the Agriculture Department for around two years for alleged misdoings during a past tenure there.
To another question, Gen Ghafoor also assured that the army was monitoring cyber threats, especially those coming from other countries.
A man who allegedly shot and killed a woman in Faisalabad on June 9 for refusing a marriage proposal was remanded into police custody for four days.
Bus hostess Mahwish Arshad was shot and killed by Umer Daraz, a security guard working for the same company as her, allegedly for repeatedly refusing his marriage proposal.
Police, in a first investigation report registered in the woman's father's name, said that Umer Daraz used to earlier work with 19-year-old Mahwish in a different travel company. According to the FIR, Umer Daraz pressured the bus hostess to marry him and the latter repeatedly refused the offer.
A video of Mahwish and Umer Daraz exchanging heated wordsin which the latter is seen forcefully gripping her wrists and trying to attack her during a bus ride made rounds on social media after the girl was shot and killed later that night.
In the video, Umer Daraz can be heard threatening Mahwish and saying, "You'll see what I would do when you get to the [bus] terminal."
A CCTV clip attached to the footage shows Mahwish climbing the steps of a building at what seems to be a deserted bus terminal when a man yanks her arm to turn her around.
Mahwish is seen trying to free herself from his clutches before she is shot and left bleeding at the steps.
According to the FIR, Mahwish's assailant fled the scene and she lost her life while undergoing treatment at a local hospital after she was shifted there.
The police arrested Umer Daraz on the night of the murder and claims that the suspect has confessed to committing the crime.
On Monday (today), police produced Umer Daraz before a district magistrate in Faisalabad and procured his four-day physical remand. The police had initially asked for a 10-day remand.
The nomination papers of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) Dr Farooq Sattar as well as All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) chief Pervez Musharraf were rejected on Tuesday by returning officers (ROs).
Meanwhile, nomination papers of PTI chief Imran Khan, PPP supremo Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and PML-N's Hamza Shahbaz and Maryam Nawaz following scrutiny have been accepted, DawnNewsTV reported.
The detailed orders are awaited as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) concludes the scrutiny of nomination papers today.
Dr Sattar had filed nomination papers to contest elections on NA-245 constituency in Karachi. The returning officer for NA-245, Ahsan Khan, rejected Sattar's nomination papers on the grounds that he is a declared absconder in two cases.
The official, in his decision, mentioned that Dr Sattar concealed the two cases and his status as an absconder. Dr Sattar has been declared an absconder in two cases pertaining to the violation of loudspeaker laws under Section 144.
Dr Sattar is among the nine MQM leaders who were booked in Nov 2015 under Section 144 of the Pakistan Penal Code for harassing commuters.
The cases had been registered at the Soldier Bazaar police station in connection with an MQM rally, which was held to register the protest against the arrest of MQM party workers as well as raids conducted by the Rangers at party offices.
Musharraf's nomination papers, filed from Chitral for NA-1, were rejected by RO Mohammad Khan.
Last week, the Supreme Court (SC) had withdrawn its conditional directive allowing former dictator Musharraf to file nomination papers after he failed to appear for a court hearing.
Earlier, the apex court had said that the former army chief's nomination papers would be received by the returning officer, but only be considered if Musharraf appeared in person at the SC Lahore registry.
Meanwhile, the RO for NA-247 in Karachi has summoned Musharraf to appear in person before 4pm today after his lawyers failed to appear for the scrutiny of his nomination papers.
The scrutiny of nomination papers to exclude ineligible candidates from the race started last Tuesday, a day after ROs completed the process of receiving nomination papers from prospective candidates.
According to the revised election schedule issued by the ECP on June 8, the last date for filing appeals against acceptance or rejection of nomination papers by the ROs is June 22. The last date for decision on the appeals by tribunals is June 27.
Revised lists of validly nominated candidates will be published on June 28 whereas the last date for withdrawal of candidature is June 29.
The final list of contesting candidates is expected to be published on June 30.
This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves.
Sabika Sheikh, a 17-year-old Pakistani scholar participating in the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme in the US, was one of the 10 people killed when a teenage classmate armed with a shotgun and a revolver opened fire in the Santa Fe High School in Texas yesterday.
"We found out about the shooting from a local TV channel and tried, but failed to contact Sabika and her friends," said Sabika's father Abdul Aziz, while adding that they then contacted the YES programme coordinator, who confirmed the news of their daughter's death, "after a four to five hour delay."
According to her father, Sabika — the eldest among three sisters but younger than her brother — was due to return home on June 9. Her family had been counting the days till her return.
Hailing from Karachi, Sabika was described as a brilliant student by her father. She had completed her matriculation from Karachi Public School.
According to the Wall Street Journal, she was an honour roll student at the Santa Fe High School.
US Ambassador David Hale expressed regret at Sabika's death with the following message posted on the US Embassy Pakistan's Facebook page:
"This morning, I called the family of Sabika Sheikh and offered my deepest condolences. As an exchange student, Sabika was a youth ambassador, a bridge between our peoples and cultures. All of us at the US Mission in Pakistan are devastated by and mourn her loss. We will honour her memory."
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered his condolences in a statement Saturday, saying that “Sabika's death and that of the other victims is heartbreaking and will be mourned deeply both here in the United States, and in Pakistan.”
Aisha Farooqui, the consul general at the Pakistani consulate in Houston, said in an official statement that the US State Department had sent them official confirmation of Sabika's death in the Santa Fe shooting.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Sabika’s family and friends,” a tweet from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC quoted Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry as saying.
George Lapadat, an exchange student from Romania, who claims that Sabika was one of his friends, took to Facebook to express his grief at Sabika's death.
He said that Sabika "came to the US to learn, to experience, to share and to bring back to her country all the knowledge she acquired during her exchange."
"She was young, vibrant, happy and super-excited to go back to her country. She was going to return in a few days. She has done an amazing job being an ambassador of her country here," the Facebook post read.
Lapadat added: "When she left for this trip, she was supposed to be gone for 10 months... but now she is gone forever."
"And if this [the shooting] is not enough to prove that something is wrong and something needs to change, I don’t know what else would be," he concluded.
Megan Lysaght, manager of the YES programme, sent a letter to students in the program confirming that Sabika Sheikh was killed in the shooting.
“Please know that the YES program is devastated by this loss and we will remember Sabika and her families in our thoughts and prayers,” Lysaght wrote.
She said the program would be holding a moment of silence for Sabika, who is pictured beaming in a shirt that says “Texas” in a photo being shared on social media.
The Pakistan Association of Greater Houston said on Facebook that Sabika was due to go back home to Pakistan for Eidul-Fitr, “May Allah bless her soul and may she RIP,” the statement said.
Additional reporting by Muhammad Raza and Naveed Siddiqui.