Six Pakistani celebrity resolutions that will inspire you in 2021

A combination of photos of Pakistani celebrities who shared with Arab News their New Year's resolutions.
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Updated 01 January 2021

Six Pakistani celebrity resolutions that will inspire you in 2021

  • 2020 was a tough year for everyone and that includes our favorite celebrities
  • Arab News spoke to stars about their goals and dreams for the year ahead

KARACHI: 2020 was a tough year for everyone, and that includes our favorite celebrities. Below, a look at what their goals and dreams are for the year ahead:

Sarwat Gilani, actress and activist:

In this photo, Pakistani actress and activist Sarwat Gillani poses for a photo at an event. (Photo Courtesy: Sarwat Gillani Instagram)

My Goal is to work toward creating more awareness of laws that protect our women and children.
Personally, I will focus more on my physical fitness.

Hira Mani, actor and TV host:

In this photo, Pakistani actress and TV host Hira Mani holding her t-shirt that says Good Bye 2020. (Photo Courtesy: Hira Mani Instagram)

My family is and would be most important for me in 2021 as we. I will do more work to make my family proud. I have many dreams which I think have to come true in the coming years. I wish everyone a sparkling New Year!

Ahmed Ali Butt, actor and TV host:

In this photo, Pakistani actor and TV host Ahmed Ali Butt poses for a photo. (Photo Courtesy: Ahmed Ali Butt Instagram)

For 2021, I hope that our film industry gets back on its feet because there are a lot of films and other projects that are pending. I am looking forward to my new international projects as well and hopefully we will see you in cinemas soon InshaAllah.

Mansha Pasha, actress:

In this photo, Pakistani actress Mansha Pasha poses for a photo. (Photo Courtesy: Mansha Pasha Instagram)

My personal goal for 2021 is of self-improvement. I will try to find opportunities myself rather than to wait for them to come on my way.
I also collectively pray for everyone that 2021 may prove to be a good and prosperous year for us and we all remain safe and secure from any of the calamities.
As far as tying the knot with fiancé Jibran Nasir is concerned, it can also be in plans but that is not a resolution and or a personal goal.

Aijaz Aslam, veteran actor:

In this photo, Pakistan's veteran actor Aijaz Aslam poses for a photo. (Photo Courtesy: Aijaz Aslam Instagram)

I have realized how important it is to make a little effort to achieve your dreams, so from now on I have decided that no matter how busy I am, I will keep working on things which I always wanted to do and let others benefit from what I have learned. Hence, my resolution each year will be to have a better year than the previous one.

Junaid Khan, TV actor:

In this photo, Pakistani TV actor Junaid Khan poses for a photo. (Photo Courtesy: Junaid Khan Instagram)

My planning for the year 2021 is to take care of myself and the people who are important to me. I believe in celebrating life for the little things you achieve. We should be grateful for what we have because I believe that there is always something to be grateful for. We should learn from our mistakes and do better and better and show appreciation toward people who are there for us and always ready for help and support and we should never take anything for granted.
My goal for the next year is to focus on my career more enthusiastically and bring unique ideas on the table. I will work on my weaknesses and ways to enhance my skills.

Over 1.4 million Afghan refugees to get new 'proof of registration' smartcards

Updated 15 April 2021

Over 1.4 million Afghan refugees to get new 'proof of registration' smartcards

  • Supported by the UN refugee agency, the program will also help prepare targeted health, education and livelihood programs for refugees
  • The country conducted a similar documentation and verification survey about 10 years ago

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has launched a nationwide verification exercise for 1.4 million Afghan refugees to distribute new smartcards among them, said a statement issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Thursday. 

The Documentation Renewal and Information Verification Exercise (DRIVE) was inaugurated in by Federal Minister for States and Frontier Region Mehboob Sultan in the presence of UNHCR Representative Noriko Yoshida. 

“Pakistan has been hosting Afghan refugees for four decades, and a lot has changed since the last verification exercise 10 years ago,” said the minister. “It’s crucial that we update the data of Afghan refugees to understand their situation better.” 

The UN refugee agency also highlighted the necessity of the program by mentioning its administrative significance.  

“The DRIVE exercise is a leap forward for everyone,” Yoshida noted. “This step will allow refugees to have better, faster and safer access to services, including schools, hospitals and banks.” 

The UNHCR representative added that the exercise will not only be helpful in verifying the existing data but will also record the skillsets of Afghan refugees, their education level and socio-economic circumstances to provide them more targeted health, education and livelihood support in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile, Sultan urged all Afghans with Proof of Registration cards to fully participate in the exercise. 

Six hundred male and female staff – a combination of government and UNHCR personnel – will be working at some 35 DRIVE verification sites around the country. 

Measures have also been taken at all DRIVE sites to mitigate COVID-19 risks through enhanced hygiene, physical distancing and the scheduling of set numbers of appointments each day. 

Pakistan hopes for 'responsible' exit of foreign forces from Afghanistan

Updated 15 April 2021

Pakistan hopes for 'responsible' exit of foreign forces from Afghanistan

  • The country says it is important to time troop pullout with progress in intra-Afghan peace process
  • Pakistan also urges the international community to help with the reconstruction work in the post-conflict Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday emphasized the significance of synchronizing the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan with progress in peace talks between rival Afghan factions.

The country's foreign office issued a statement in response to media queries about the recent US announcement regarding the troop pullout, saying that Pakistan hoped Washington would continue to urge Afghan leaders to seize the opportunity to reach a political settlement in the war-battered country.

"We hope that the forthcoming meeting of Afghan leadership in Turkey would be an important opportunity for Afghans to make progress toward a negotiated political settlement," said the foreign office. "In this regard, we support the principle of responsible troop withdrawal in coordination with Afghan stakeholders."

US President Joe Biden recently confirmed a full military exit from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks and said the process would begin to unfold from May 1.

"Pakistan reaffirms its abiding commitment for a peaceful, stable, united, democratic, sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan," the foreign office added. "A meaningful engagement of the international community for promoting reconstruction and economic development in the post-conflict Afghanistan is important for ensuring sustainable peace and stability."

The statement also urged the world community to come up with a "time-bound and well-resourced plan for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland and their reintegration in Afghanistan."

The United States reached a peace agreement with the Taliban in Doha under the Trump administration in February 2020, agreeing to pull out its forces by May 1.

The Taliban on Thursday described the recent US decision "a clear violation of the Doha agreement" and asked the international community to "exert pressure on America to implement its commitments and withdraw all forces from Afghanistan by the specified date."

"The Islamic Emirate will under no circumstance ever relent on complete independence and establishment of a pure Islamic system and remains committed to finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan problem following the complete and certain end of occupation," said the insurgent group in a statement.

Pakistan to seek Tehreek-e-Labaik party’s dissolution through Supreme Court — interior minister

Updated 15 April 2021

Pakistan to seek Tehreek-e-Labaik party’s dissolution through Supreme Court — interior minister

  • Muhammad Younus Soomro, a TLP lawmaker in Sindh Assembly, said he would use his legal options to retain his seat in parliament
  • TLP Karachi chief warns he will disown his party chief and members of central consultative body if they did not call off the protests

ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Pakistan's federal cabinet has approved the interior ministry's recommendation to outlaw the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), a religious party whose supporters have been holding nationwide protests since Monday, a senior government minister told a news conference on Thursday, adding that the government would take the case to the Supreme Court to ensure the dissolution of the religious party. 

Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced on Wednesday that his ministry would send a proposal to the federal cabinet to impose a ban on TLP for killing two policemen, attacking law enforcement forces and disrupting public life through nationwide protests. 

The demonstrations erupted in major Pakistani cities and quickly turned violent after Saad Rizvi, the religious party’s head, was arrested on Monday after he threatened to launch a major campaign against the government if it did not expel France’s envoy to Islamabad over blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) printed in a French publication. 

"We have proscribed [the TLP] and the notification for that will be issued shortly," said federal interior minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed. "Tomorrow, we will send another summary to the cabinet to file a reference in the Supreme Court since we are moving toward [TLP's] dissolution." 

Muhammad Younus Soomro, a TLP lawmaker in the Sindh Assembly, said he would use his legal options to retain his seat in parliament. 

“We'll see our options once the notification [regarding the ban] is issued,” Soomro said while distancing himself from the TLP protests. 

On Thursday, the TLP chief in Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, Allama Razi Hussaini, also warned that he would disown his party chief and members of the central consultative body if they did not call off the protests.

“If the party’s central Shura and Saad Hussain Rizvi Sahib continue to show stubbornness and insist that they do not want to resolve this issue through talks, the nation will be disappointed and we will have no association with the TLP leadership,” he announced in a video message.

The TLP gained prominence in Pakistan’s 2018 federal elections, campaigning to defend the country’s blasphemy law, which calls for death penalty for anyone who insults Islam. The party also has a history of staging protests and sit-ins to pressure the government to accept its demands. 

In November 2017, Rizvi’s followers staged a 21-day protest and sit-in after a reference to the sanctity of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was removed from the text of a government form. 

In the 2018 elections, the party managed to win two seats in the Sindh Assembly from Karachi and got a female member elected on a reserved seat of the assembly. 

Commenting on the government’s move to ban TLP, legal experts said the government was required to refer the matter to the Supreme Court within fifteen days of making a declaration to ban a political party while presenting its reasons for doing so.

“The Supreme Court may decide on the government’s reference in a week or ten days and its decision will be final,” Justice (retired) Shaiq Usmani told Arab News. 

He said the law regarding the dissolution of a political party was “very clear” and if the apex court upheld the government’s declaration against the TLP, “the party shall stand dissolved forthwith.” 

Legal experts said the three elected TLP members in the Sindh Assembly could retain their seats by resigning their party membership and publicly announcing their dissociation with the TLP before a final Supreme Court decision. 

“If the TLP lawmakers dissociate themselves from the party before the apex court’s verdict, they will be able to complete their constitutional term as independent members in the house,” Ashtar Ausaf Ali, a former attorney-general of Pakistan, told Arab News. 

He said if a member of the parliament or provincial assemblies was disqualified in case of the dissolution of a party, they could not run for electoral office or a legislative body for four years from the date of their disqualification from being a lawmaker. 

“There is no ambiguity in law,” Ali said, “and it’s up to the party lawmakers now as to what they choose in case of the dissolution of their party.”

French embassy advises its citizens, companies to leave Pakistan

Updated 15 April 2021

French embassy advises its citizens, companies to leave Pakistan

  • The advisory comes after violent anti-France protests paralyzed large parts of the country this week
  • “The departures will be carried out by existing commercial airlines,” French embassy says

ISLAMABAD: The French embassy in Pakistan on Thursday advised all French nationals and companies to temporarily leave the country, after violent anti-France protests paralyzed large parts of the country this week.
“Due to the serious threats to French interests in Pakistan, French nationals and French companies are advised to temporarily leave the country,” the embassy said in an email to French citizens. “The departures will be carried out by existing commercial airlines.”
Anti-French sentiment has been simmering for months in Pakistan since the government of President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for a magazine’s right to republish cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which are deemed blasphemous by many Muslims.
On Wednesday, the Pakistani government moved to ban a religious political party whose leader had called for the expulsion of the French ambassador.
Saad Rizvi, leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), was detained hours after making his demands, bringing thousands of his supporters to the streets in cities across Pakistan.
Two police officers died in the clashes, which saw water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets used to hold back crowds.
TLP supporters brought the capital Islamabad to a standstill in November last year for three days with a series of anti-France rallies.
Blasphemy is a hugely sensitive issue in conservative Pakistan, where laws allow for the death penalty to be used on anyone deemed to have insulted Islam or Islamic figures.

UAE is mediating between India and Pakistan — UAE envoy to Washington

Updated 15 April 2021

UAE is mediating between India and Pakistan — UAE envoy to Washington

  • Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba confirms the Gulf State helping India and Pakistan reach a “healthy and functional” relationship
  • Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tensions

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates’ envoy to Washington confirmed the Gulf state is mediating between India and Pakistan to help the nuclear-armed rivals reach a “healthy and functional” relationship.
Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, people with knowledge of the matter had told Reuters.
Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba said in a virtual discussion with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution on Wednesday that the UAE played a role “in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a cease-fire, hopefully ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level”.
“They might not sort of become best friends but at least we want to get it to a level where it’s functional, where it’s operational, where they are speaking to each other,” he said.
Ties between India and Pakistan have been frozen since a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in Kashmir in 2019 traced to Pakistan-based militants that led to India sending warplanes to Pakistan.
Later that year, India’s prime minister withdrew Indian-ruled Kashmir’s autonomy in order to tighten his grip over the territory, provoking outrage in Pakistan and the downgrading of diplomatic ties and suspension of bilateral trade.
Otaiba also said that Pakistan should play a helpful role in Afghanistan, where the United States plans to start withdrawing US troops on May 1 to end America’s longest war.
The Emirati official voiced concern that an abrupt US withdrawal would constitute “reverse progress” by serving the interests of “the more illiberal forces” in Afghanistan.
“The question is if the three parties (the US, Taliban and Afghan government) can reach an agreement that they can all live with,” Otaiba said.
“It’s hard for us to see a way to stabilize Afghanistan without Pakistan playing a helpful role,” he added.
Turkey is due to host a peace summit for Afghanistan from April 24 to May 4 meant to jump-start efforts to end the war and sketch out a possible political settlement.