To empower daughters, Pakistani electrician trains them in repairs 

Javeriah Jamal, left, repairs a battery charger at her father Naseeb Jamal's shop in Qasba colony, Karachi, Pakistan, on September 25, 2020. (AN photo)
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Updated 30 September 2020

To empower daughters, Pakistani electrician trains them in repairs 

  • Four of Naseeb Jamal’s daughters have already become adept electricians in Karachi’s Qasba colony
  • If girls are to believe in themselves, says the father of eight, they should not be confined to the home

KARACHI: At a small shop in Pakistan’s southern megapolis of Karachi, two young girls are bent over a work station, busy repairing wires and battery chargers.
Despite all odds, Naseeb Jamal, an electrician for 20 years, has taught six out of his eight daughters his craft to help them become self-reliant in the future. 
“When I had four daughters, it came to my mind [that] why shouldn’t I give them education?” Jamal, who moved to Karachi from the Tor Ghar area in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told Arab News. “But I couldn’t give them education due to shortage of financial resources. Then I thought that why shouldn’t I give them skills?”

While two of Jamal’s younger daughters are still learning, four are already adept electricians and their father’s pride. “My daughters are making a name for themselves in society, for women in Pakistan,” he said. 

Jamal lives with his family near the spot where gunmen in 2013 killed Abdul Waheed Khan, a social worker who ran a co-educational school in Qasba colony.

A view of the Naunehal Secondary School in Karachi's Qasba colony, which was run by Abdul Waheed Khan, a social
worker who was killed by militants in 2013. Photo taken on September 25, 2020. (AN photo)

Khan had dreamt of bringing modern education to the slums of Karachi whose many inhabitants, like Jamal, have migrated there from northern Pakistan to escape militant violence and look for better job opportunities.

Those who challenge social taboos face opposition and receive little support, Jamal said: “Sir Waheed Khan sacrificed his life for the sake of educating our children.”

His own attempts to empower his daughters have been opposed by conservative neighbors and family members.

“When you give your child a skill or education, some people in the family will oppose it. But you don’t need to give heed to them,” he said.

In his capacity as a father, Jamal wants to at least make his daughters stand on their own feet, he said. Two of them are already married and happy, he said, because they had learned to be empowered: “I will oversee the future of my children ... I will give them skills and make them useful for the country and for themselves. It will create confidence in them and will make them stronger.”

The girls, who attended regular school before the coronavirus pandemic shut down campuses across Pakistan, also help Jamal run his business.

Javeriah Jamal repairs a sound speaker, accompanied by her sisters, at their father Naseeb Jamal’s shop in Qasba colony, Karachi, Pakistan, on
September 25, 2020. (AN photo)

“I do solar lamp installations and when I am out of home or out of city, I don’t have to worry about the shop,” he said. “After coming back from school, they open the shop and even if I am away for three days, they take care of the shop and home.”

One of Jamal’s younger daughters, 10-year-old Javeriah, said she found the work “a little difficult” at first but had gotten the hang of it. 

“I have learnt it from my father,” she said with a smile as she handed a repaired battery charger to a customer. “I fix lights, I fix speakers and I can fix the charger of battery.”

Jamal believes that girls should not be kept confined to their homes: “If you want them [girls] to learn to have trust in themselves, you will have to bring them out [of the homes]. And you will have to trust them.”

Pakistan’s PM says manipulation of coming elections by military is ‘absolutely absurd’

Updated 8 sec ago

Pakistan’s PM says manipulation of coming elections by military is ‘absolutely absurd’

  • Pakistan has been in deepening political turmoil since April 2022 when ex-PM Imran Khan was ousted
  • Election regulator said this week that polls, originally scheduled for November, will be held in January 2024

NEW YORK: Pakistan’s interim prime minister said he expects parliamentary elections to take place in the new year, dismissing the possibility that the country’s powerful military would manipulate the results to ensure that jailed former premier Imran Khan’s party doesn’t win.
In an interview with The Associated Press Friday, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said it’s the Election Commission that is going to conduct the vote, not the military, and Khan appointed the commission’s chief at the time, so “why would he turn in any sense of the word against him?”
Pakistan has been in deepening political turmoil since April 2022 when Khan was removed from office following a no-confidence vote in Parliament. He was arrested in early August on corruption charges and sentenced to three years in prison, later suspended though he still remains in jail. The country is also facing one of the worst economic crises in its history and recovering from last summer’s devastating floods that killed at least 1,700 people and destroyed millions of homes and farmland.
The commission announced Thursday the elections would take place during the last week in January, delaying the vote which was to be held in November under the constitution.
Kakar resigned as a senator last month after outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and opposition leader Raza Riaz chose him as caretaker prime minister to oversee the elections and run the day-to-day affairs until a new government is elected.
Kakar said that when the commission sets an exact election date his government “will provide all the assistance, financial, security or other related requirements.”
Asked whether he would recommend judges overturn Khan’s conviction so he could run in the elections, the prime minister said he wouldn’t interfere with decisions by the judiciary.
He stressed that the judiciary should not be used “as a tool for any political ends.”
“We are not pursuing anyone on a personal vendetta,” Kakar said. “But yes, we will ensure that the law is appropriate. Anyone, be it Imran Khan or any other politician who violates, in terms of their political behavior, the laws of the country, then the restoration of the law has to be ensured. We cannot equate that with … political discrimination.”
He said fair elections can take place without Khan or hundreds of members of his party who are jailed because they engaged in unlawful activities including vandalism and arson, in reference to the violence that rocked the country following Khan’s initial arrest in May. He added that the thousands of people in Khan’s party who didn’t engage in unlawful activities, “will be running the political process, they will be participating in the elections.”
The Pakistani military has been behind the rise and fall of governments, with some of Khan’s supporters suggesting there is de facto military rule in Pakistan and that democracy is under threat.
Kakar, who reportedly has close ties to the military, said those allegations are “part and parcel of our political culture,” to which he pays no attention. He called his government’s working relationship with the military “very smooth,” as well as “very open and candid.”
“We do have challenges of civil-military relationships, I’m not denying that,” he said, but there are very different reasons for the imbalance. He said he believes, after one month leading the government, that civil institutions in Pakistan have “deteriorated in terms of performance for the last many decades” while the military is disciplined, has organizational capabilities and has improved over the past four decades.
The solution, Kakar said, is to gradually improve the performance of the civilian institutions “rather than weakening the current military organization, because that’s not going to solve any of our problems.”
One major problem is Kashmir, which has been a flashpoint for India and Pakistan after the end of British colonial rule in 1947. They have fought two wars over its control.
In 2019, India’s Hindu nationalist government decided to end the Muslim-majority region’s semi-autonomy, stripping it of statehood, its separate constitution and inherited protections on land and jobs.
Kakar said India has sent 900,000 troops to Kashmir and its people are living in “a large imprisonment” with no political rights, in violation of the United Nations Charter’s right to self-determination and the resolution calling for a UN referendum.
While the world focuses on Ukraine, he said, Kashmir “is a crisis which primarily has a wrong geography.”
If Kashmir were in Europe or North America, would there still be what he called a “callous attitude” toward resolving it, he asked.
“The most important player in this dispute is the Kashmir people,” Kakar said. “It is neither India or Pakistan,” but the Kashmiri people who “have to decide about their identity” and their future.
India boasts of being the largest democracy, he said, but it “is denying the basic, democratic principle to have a plebiscite. ... So what sort of a democracy they are boasting about?”
As for Pakistan’s relations with neighboring Afghanistan — under the Taliban rule since 2021 following US and NATO withdrawal — Kakar said “there are some serious security challenges” from the Afghan side, pointing to the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP, Daesh and other extremist groups, who at times vie for influence with each other.
When asked whether the government had requested the Taliban to extradite the leadership and fighters from the TTP, he said they are in contact with authorities in Kabul, “but there is nothing specific which I can share with you.”
The international community has withheld recognition of the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan.
Karar said a meeting of regional leaders to discuss what incentives and changes of behavior the Taliban would need to undertake for recognition to be considered hasn’t been finalized, but “I think we’re heading toward that milestone.”
Kakar was a little-known first-time senator from Pakistan’s least-populated, least-developed province when he was tapped to be the caretaker prime minister.
“It’s a huge privilege,” he said. “I feel I never deserved it. It’s just a divine blessing.”
By law, he can’t contest the elections when he’s interim prime minister, but Kakar said in the future he hopes “to play a constructive political role in my society.”

Pakistani FM ‘hopeful’ flood aid promises will be fulfilled

Updated 23 September 2023

Pakistani FM ‘hopeful’ flood aid promises will be fulfilled

  • Floods last year inflicted over $30bn in damage, economic losses on Pakistan
  • While donors have pledged around $10bn in aid, it has yet to be disbursed

NEW YORK: Pakistan is “hopeful” that pledged reconstruction funding to rebuild parts of the country damaged by floods last year will be disbursed soon, Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani said on Friday.

At a press conference during the UN General Assembly in New York, he told Arab News: “Pakistan is one of the worst affected as far as climate change is concerned because it has affected about 33 million people.

“One-third of the country was inundated with water, and about $30 billion worth of losses were suffered.”

Pakistan was devastated by the 2022 floods, which were the world’s deadliest since those in southern Asia in 2020.

About a month after last year’s disaster, Pakistan and other countries attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt decided to establish the Loss and Damage Fund to assist countries in dealing with the effects of climate change.

Many donors have pledged funds to help Pakistan rebuild flood-affected areas. The Islamic Development Bank pledged more than $4 billion, the World Bank $2 billion and Saudi Arabia $1 billion.

“So far, there has been very little which has trickled down from the international community as far as the rehabilitation and reconstruction work that has to be carried out. Pakistan is doing that from its own resources,” Jilani told Arab News.

“Our banks are issuing loans on easy terms to all those people who were affected. But then obviously, there are limits to what the banking industry can do.

“This is the kind of situation we’re in. I think we’re hopeful that most of the promises which were made by the donors will be fulfilled shortly.”

Regarding foreign policy, Jilani described the formation of new blocs and rivalries in the Asia-Pacific region as “a very uncomfortable situation” for Pakistan.

“Asia-Pacific has been a very peaceful region, a prosperous region, and it has made great economic strides in the last 40-50 years. Any tension within the Asia-Pacific region, from our point of view, is certainly not good for peace and stability in the region,” he said, adding that Pakistan prioritizes good relations with all countries, specifically mentioning China and the US.

When asked about Islamabad’s potential to confront the Pakistani Taliban, which operates along the border with Afghanistan, Jilani said: “Afghanistan is a sovereign country. Pakistan follows a policy of non-interference … while respecting the sovereignty of other countries.

“At the same time, we have expectations that the Afghan side would take action against all groups who are violating Afghanistan’s soil to carry out terrorist activities against other countries.”

Jilani added that during a meeting between the foreign ministers of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan in May, “there was a reiteration of this commitment by the Afghan side that they won’t allow Afghan soil to be used against other countries.”

Jilani also praised Pakistan’s commitment to democracy and free elections. “We’re a democratic country. There’s absolutely no doubt about it. In Pakistan, when parliament has completed its full term, it’s a constitutional requirement that there’s a caretaker setup which is meant to ensure neutrality in the next elections,” he said.

“This is meant to ensure that the elections are free and fair, and is meant to ensure that people are able to participate in the voting process without any violence.”

Jilani said Pakistan is heavily involved in efforts to tackle Islamophobia in Europe, and had made a case for the criminalization of religious-based hate speech in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s Contact Group on Muslims in Europe.

“We also appreciated the introduction of a bill by the government of Denmark which would criminalize such offenses, either the burning of holy books or insulting the prophets of any religion. I think this is a good step they’ve taken,” he added, saying he is hopeful that if such a bill passed in Demark, other European nations may follow suit.

India dethrone Pakistan to become top-ranked ODI side ahead of World Cup

Updated 23 September 2023

India dethrone Pakistan to become top-ranked ODI side ahead of World Cup

  • India become top-ranked side in all three formats of cricket after beating Australia by 5 wickets
  • Pakistan slump to number 2 rankings after losing to Sri Lanka, India in Asia Cup’s Super Four clashes

ISLAMABAD: India brushed aside Pakistan to claim the top spot in the One Day International rankings this week, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on Saturday, with the development taking place less than two weeks before the World Cup kicks off.
India scripted history on Friday after beating Australia in the first of the three-match ODI series between the two sides. After beating Australia by five wickets in what was a one-sided match, India became only the second team in history to top all cricket formats. South Africa were the only side to have achieved the feat in 2012.
Rohit Sharma’s side were already the top-ranked team in Test and T20 formats of cricket before climbing to the top in the ODI format. Pakistan had regained the top ranking in ODIs after losing to India and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup after India lost to Bangladesh in the Super Four stage of the tournament.
“India have become the No.1 ranked team across all formats in the
@mrfworldwide ICC Men’s Team Rankings,” the International Cricket Council (ICC) said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

India’s win over Australia in Mohali took them to 116 rating points, one ahead of Pakistan, who have now slumped to number 2 in the ranking.
Sharma’s side, however, could slump down the table if Australia— on 111 points— win the remaining two matches in the series against India.
If India win the series, they will head into the showpiece tournament as the world’s top-ranked ODI team.
Pakistan, meanwhile, head into the World Cup at the back of a disappointing performance in the Asia Cup tournament and injury woes.
Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq on Friday announced the 15-man World Cup squad for the Babar Azam-led side, which included pacer Hassan Ali instead of ace bowler Naseem Shah.
Shah has been ruled out of the upcoming tournament due to a shoulder injury he suffered during the Asia Cup. Pacer Haris Rauf also sat out part of Pakistan’s match against India after he suffered discomfort in his right flank.
Pakistan open their World Cup campaign against the Netherlands on October 6.

Pakistan PM says Sikh separatist leader’s killing, linked to India, ‘jolted’ West

Updated 23 September 2023

Pakistan PM says Sikh separatist leader’s killing, linked to India, ‘jolted’ West

  • Canada’s PM said last week his government has ‘credible intelligence’ Indian agents were involved in Sikh activist’s killing
  • Pakistan’s Caretaker PM Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar says an alliance should be formed to check India’s ‘rough behavior’

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said the “gruesome murder” of a Sikh separatist leader in Canada months ago had jolted the West, which was now questioning the involvement of the Indian state in the incident, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said in a report on Saturday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last Monday infuriated New Delhi when he said his country had “credible intelligence” Indian agents were involved in Sikh separatist leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s killing in June this year.
Trudeau’s comments sparked off a diplomatic row between Ottawa and New Delhi, with both states expelling senior diplomats from each other’s countries following the accusations. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday that Nijjar’s killing was a violation of international law and showed New Delhi’s “network of extra-territorial killings” had gone global.
“Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar on Friday said that the gruesome murder of Khalistan Movement Sikh leader in Canada had jolted the West that raised serious questions about the role of Indian state,” the APP said, adding that the prime minister was speaking at the Pakistan Mission in New York.
Kakar said Pakistan had been a victim of such “state-sponsored terrorism” and that he had shared evidence of the same at different global and multilateral fora. The Pakistani prime minister said it was probably the first incident of its kind after World War I in which an Asian country had staged a “physical murder” on European soil.
The Pakistani premier said the killing’s impact was being felt across Western countries which were now realizing the extent to which India targets its minorities.
“The prime minister opined that an alliance should be formed to check such ‘rough behavior’ of India,” APP said.
During his address to the UN General Assembly on Friday, Kakar spoke about Pakistan’s relations with its nuclear-armed neighbor, saying that his country desired “peaceful and productive” relations with all neighbors including India.
“Global powers should convince New Delhi to accept Pakistan’s offer of mutual restraint on strategic and conventional weapons,” he said, adding that the disputed Kashmir region provided the key to peace between the two neighboring states.
He also spoke about the rising threat posed by “far-right extremist and fascist groups such as Hindutva inspired extremists threatening genocide against Indian Muslims and Christians alike.”

Pakistan’s EDUCAST to launch telemedicine services in Sudan with support from Islamic Development Bank

Updated 23 September 2023

Pakistan’s EDUCAST to launch telemedicine services in Sudan with support from Islamic Development Bank

  • EDUCAST CEO says testing of equipment, identification of sites completed, operations to launch within four weeks
  • Karachi-based EDUCAST will jointly launch Sudan program with Yemen’s Building Foundation for Development

KARACHI: Pakistani digital health service provider EDUCAST will launch ‘first of its kind’ mobile telemedicine operations in Sudan within a month to offer medical support and assist local health care providers, the CEO of the company said this week.

Karachi-based EDUCAST, a digital health services and online medical education providing platform, signed an agreement in July with the Building Foundation for Development (BFD), a humanitarian organization headquartered in Yemen to work together in Sudan. The Science and Technology Innovation Department of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank is supporting the project.

More than five months into a conflict between Sudan’s army and paramilitary group, Rapid Support Forces, the country’s health care sector is on its knees due to direct attacks from the warring parties as well as shortages of staff and medicines, they said. A World Health Organization (WHO) official said this week there have been 56 verified attacks so far on health care in Sudan since the war began in April and about 70 percent to 80 percent of hospitals in conflict states are now out of service.

“We have completed our initial work, including testing of equipment, identification of the operational sites in Sudan and will hopefully be in a position to launch operations within the next four weeks,” EDUCAST founder and CEO Abdullah Butt told Arab News on Thursday.

“Right now, about 80 percent of health facilities have been destroyed in Sudan due to the war and the country is in dire need of medical facilities,” he added, saying his organization was approached by Sudanese authorities and its humanitarian commission seeking telemedicine services.

“This will be the first of its kind telehealth service to be provided by any Pakistani company in an active war region,” Butt said.

Under the agreement between EDUCAST and BFD, a network of mobile telehealth units will be set up in Sudan to provide universal coverage and access to safe and effective mother and child health and other emergency related services.

The telehealth education and clinical support facilities will be provided at five medical teaching hospitals in Sudan.

The project seeks to develop the medical capacity of up to 1,000 Sudanese doctors by delivering online training and certification programs. It will also facilitate them with in-person training courses at Pakistan’s teaching hospitals in key health areas, including maternal and neonatal child health, infectious and non-communicable diseases.

Through its eDoctor program, EDUCAST will support local medical practitioners through its network of over 1,200 eDoctors, with presence in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The project will focus on areas of Sudan devastated by war and where there is a large number of internally displaced persons and insufficient health capacity, Butt said.

Meer Behrose Regi, Pakistan’s envoy to Sudan, called for increased humanitarian efforts in Sudan.

“Everything is needed over there,” he told Arab News, “but the risk of security remains substantially high, though many companies are still operating there.”