Open sky school gets recognition after Arab News story

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Provisions have also been made for furniture, books, and stationery for children attending a school in Shereen Khel --- a small village on the outskirts of Makeen --- in the volatile region where a majority of the families were displaced during a crackdown by the military to rid the areas of militants. (AN photos)
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Provisions have also been made for furniture, books, and stationery for children attending a school in Shereen Khel --- a small village on the outskirts of Makeen --- in the volatile region where a majority of the families were displaced during a crackdown by the military to rid the areas of militants. (AN photos)
Updated 21 November 2018
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Open sky school gets recognition after Arab News story

  • Article had highlighted issues faced by Pakistan’s tribal areas in setting up educational facilities
  • Nearly 400,000 children out of school in the region, official says

PESHAWAR: The keyboard is indeed mightier than the sword. 
Following a story published by Arab News last week – which highlighted how children in Pakistan’s tribal areas were unable to acquire an education due to a lack of facilities and were thus forced to study under the open skies — the military in the South Waziristan region has swung into action.
According to information received by Arab News, which was circulated on behalf of the military from the area: “A tent school has been established by the army in far-flung areas of Tehsil Makin as a temporary facility. Moreover, work on the construction of a permanent structure has also started which will be completed within a short span of time.”
Provisions have also been made for furniture, books, and stationery for children attending a school in Shereen Khel --- a small village on the outskirts of Makeen --- in the volatile region where a majority of the families were displaced during a crackdown by the military to rid the areas of militants.
At the moment, more than 52 students are benefitting from the facility in Shireen Khel.
Arab News had spoken to several top officials and tribal leaders who had said at the time that Prime Minister Imran Khan – staying true to his campaign and electoral promises — had ensured that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) were eventually merged with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 
When the bill finally became a law in May this year, it gave residents ample reasons to celebrate. However, today, nearly six months after the merger, several complained that children were being denied their basic right to education, which continues to remain a distant dream.
Tribesmen from the volatile region urged the government to prioritize the education sector, adding that hundreds of children had dropped out of school as they were forced to study under the open skies due to a lack of properly-constructed facilities in the South Waziristan, Bajaur and other tribal districts.
One such example was that of Shereen Khel where nearly 204 children were studying under a tree in Makeen --- a scenic valley once regarded as the epicenter of insurgency and the hometown of former Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan leader, Baitullah Mehsud.
Surrounded by jagged mountains, the Shereen Khel village boasts a population of roughly 2,000 but has no buildings for its school.
Mir Kalam, a tribesman from the area who teaches children voluntarily, said that because of this reason he has been teaching children for the past one year without getting any incentives for his services.
“I teach children voluntarily to create awareness among them and to make them responsible citizens of the country,” Kalam had said.
According to Shoaib Khan, a senior official at the FATA Education Directorate, roughly around 400,000 children are out of school in the tribal areas but plans are being implemented to enroll them.
When contacted Sikandar Hayat Mehsud, a local from the South Waziristan region said that the military in the area acted swiftly after getting wind of the report and ensured the provision of basic facilities for the school, a move which was widely lauded by the local residents.
“This is really extraordinary development when the media points out a problem and the authorities respond. The military move to shift basic facilities to the school which was functioning in open is a sigh of relief for the people who are busy building their lives from scratches because they have just been repatriated after spending years in displacement,” he said.
Mehsud added that he had shared the Arab News article in certain WhatsApp groups, prompting the authorities to get into action. “I’m sure the Arab News that article has great contributions to turn it into a formal educational institution,” Mehsud said.

THE COMPARISON

The condition of the school one week ago, left, and today. (AN photo)
The condition of the school one week ago, left, and today. (AN photo)


Bulls welcome PM Khan to Karachi with 738-point stock market gain

Updated 10 December 2018
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Bulls welcome PM Khan to Karachi with 738-point stock market gain

  • Premier assures promotion of CPEC project listings and reduction of advance tax
  • Move would help increase volume and market capitalization, analysts say

KARACHI: Bulls from Pakistan’s equity market gave a rousing welcome to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday during the premier's visit to Karachi after he promised to create a conducive environment for investors which would include listings of projects from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative. 

The benchmark KSE-100 Index closed on Monday in the green zone, gaining 738 points – or 1.9 percent – and closed at the 39,300-level. Investors were mainly motivated by PM Khan’s meeting with a delegation from Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX). 
“Stocks showed a strong recovery after the PM’s affirmation of a fast-track enactment of PSX proposals on taxes, regulations, and CPEC debt listings,” Ahsan Mehanti, Chief Executive of Arif Habib Corporation, told Arab News. 
Oil and gas exploration companies led the recovery, as OPEC and Non-OPEC countries decided to cut oil production by 1.2 mbpd from January 2019 onwards. This attracted investors towards oil scrips, such as PPL (+5 percent), OGDC (+4.25 percent), POL (+3.66 percent) and MARI (+2.66 percent), and the sector added 257 points to the index. 
During the trading session, the volumes increased by 20 percent to 154 million while traded value fell by one percent to $48 million, according to Topline Securities. 
“Trade remained higher, led by oversold banking, cement, and auto stocks. Renewed institutional interest on likely rationalization of PSX taxes and government measures for raising investor confidence acted as a catalyst in the bullish close at PSX,” Mehanti added.
On Sunday, a delegation led by PSX Chairman Sulaiman Mehdi met the prime minister and discussed strategies to rejuvenate the stock market. 
“The meeting was very fruitful and the PM agreed to revive investors’ confidence in PSX,” a statement issued by the PSX, after the meeting, read. 
PM Khan assured the delegation that Advance Tax of 0.02 percent on purchase and sale of shares (both sides) would be reduced to 0.01 percent. He also agreed to allow capital losses to be carried forward to up to three years from the initial one year, rationalization of taxation of holding companies on inter corporate dividend; and rationalization of capital gain tax on equities in line with real estate in the next budget, the statement added. 
CPEC is the umbrella of the Chinese mega project under the One Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that is expected to stimulate economic activity across more than 65 countries. China is investing around $60 billion in Pakistan’s infrastructure and energy projects. 
PM Khan also assured the delegation of capital market to promote a listing of government and CPEC project debt at PSX. 
“It is good sign because it will increase the depth of the market following the listing of big Chinese companies,” Zafar Moti, former director of PSX, told Arab News. 
“There are many projects under CPEC, some of them have commenced operations and others are in the pipeline in public and privates sectors,” Muhamamd Sohail, CEO of Topline Securities, said. 
“The listing of CPEC projects will increase volume, market capitalization and, most importantly, shareholders, both Chinese and Pakistani, will know the real value of their projects after price discovery,” he added. 
PM Khan, during his daylong visit to Karachi, held separate meetings with different groups of traders, including with those from the Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Karachi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Overseas Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 
Representatives from the business community expressed concerns over the recent devaluation of the rupee, interest rate hike and gas tariff increase, and raised the Gas Infrastructure Development Cess issue.