From remote Baloch towns, young Pakistani creators of humanoid bot unveil ‘Bolani’

Aziz Ullah Shahwani and Mukhtiar Ahmed Rodini, creators of Bolani, operate the humanoid robot with a smartphone outside the Physics Department of the University of Balochistan, Quetta, May 4, 2021. (AN photo)
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Updated 15 May 2021

From remote Baloch towns, young Pakistani creators of humanoid bot unveil ‘Bolani’

  • Shahwani and Rodini are physics students at the University of Balochistan
  • Say the self-funded robot took them six months to make from scratch with ‘zero support’

QUETTA: It’s an unlikely trio in an unlikely place-- two smart young Baloch students stand proudly outside their university in Quetta with an all-white, five feet, four inches tall humanoid robot between them. 
Aziz Ullah Shahwani, 24, and Mukhtiar Ahmed Rodini, 25, are students of physics at the University of Balochistan, and the robot they created, named Bolani, is their final project.
“I didn’t take any interest in technology-related experiments till I graduated school due to the absence of a physics teacher in my native district Kalat... but when I came to the University of Balochistan for my master’s degree in physics I decided to invent something new, something no other student in the history of UoB has done,” Shahwani told Arab News, as he proudly unveiled Bolani outside the Physics department of his university.




Five feet, four inches tall humanoid robot Bolani is ready for a walk at the Physics Department of the University of Balochistan, Quetta, May 4, 2021. (AN photo)

Coming from the remote Kalat and Sorab districts in Pakistan’s restive southwestern Balochistan province, Shahwani and Rodini are largely self-taught, and said they had received close to no financial support during their endeavour from their university or the government of Balochistan.
The two boys from these distant Pakistani towns worked for six months to conquer the impossible, working on advanced 3D softwares, even welding and painting the body of their robot themselves.
“While making Bolani, I learned the use of new software and 3D printing,” Shahwani said. 
“Because I have designed Bolani by myself on solid work software, it was an unforgettable experience,” he continued.
Bolani is named after the famed mountain pass Bolan, roughly 127 km from the capital Quetta, south of the Hindu Kush mountains. 
For now, Bolani can move forward and backward, he can move his eyes, neck and jaw and can shake hands with human beings when Shahwani, gives him the command through an app installed in his mobile phone.




Aziz Ullah Shahwani and Mukhtiar Ahmed Rodini check Bolani's circuits at a lab of the Physics Department of the University of Balochistan, Quetta, May 4, 2021. (AN photo)

Mukhtiar Ahmed Rodini who assisted Aziz in building Bolani, said they wanted to create something new instead of submitting research papers like everybody else.
“We took assistance and guidance from our professors because after thorough searching we couldn’t find the robotic circuits and motors in Quetta... later we installed locally purchased motors in order to finalize Bolani,” Rodini told Arab News.
“Bolani cost us Rs.50,000 ($326) and due to the lack of financial assistance, we used iron and steel to shape the humanoid robot,” Rodini said. He added there had been ‘zero support’ from the university’s higher authorities and provincial government.
Shahwani and Rodini are now planning to upgrade Bolani with additional features like voice and face recognition censors that will allow the robot to talk.
Professor Ajab Khan Kasi, head of the physics department at the University of Balochistan supervised the students while they built Bolani and said their creation was a ‘milestone’ in the history of the university.
“It took six months to complete the robot and during this period, Aziz and Mukhtiar have done all the processes with their own hands... even the welding, coloring and mechanical work on Bolani,” Professor Kasi told Arab News.
“The humanoid robot has been working in 9 degree freedom which allows him to move his hands, neck and eyes,” he said.




Bolani can move his eyes, jaw and neck on commands sent to him via Bluetooth. (AN photo)

For now, Shahwani has said he will upgrade Bolani by installing motion sensors, and aims to continue his studies. He said he is now looking for support from the government and his university. 
But until that happens, he said, the two of them would not feel disappointed.
“Because we are inspired by Pakistan’s Nobel prize laureate Dr. Abdul Salam and the young Dr. Yar Jan Baloch who works as a space scientist in Cambridge University,” he added.
“We are following in their footsteps.”


Karachi qualifies for PSL playoffs and knocks out Lahore

Updated 19 June 2021

Karachi qualifies for PSL playoffs and knocks out Lahore

  • Karachi beat Quetta Gladiators by 14 runs in its do-or-die last league game in Abu Dhabi on Saturday
  • Karachi finished on 10 points alongside Lahore, but its better net run-rate knocked out Qalandars from the playoffs

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates: Defending champion Karachi Kings squeaked into the Pakistan Super League playoffs after beating Quetta Gladiators by 14 runs in its do-or-die last league game on Saturday.

Karachi finished on 10 points alongside Lahore Qalandars, but its better net run-rate knocked out the 2020 finalist from the playoffs.

Quetta finished on the bottom of the table with only two wins from 10 games.

Danish Aziz’s whirlwind knock of 45 runs off 13 balls lifted Karachi to 176-7. The left-hander smacked 33 runs in Jack Wildermuth’s penultimate over of the innings from four consecutive sixes and two boundaries.

Quetta, which made five changes in its last league game, ended up at 162-7. Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed was unbeaten on 51 off 33 balls.

Quetta debutant left-arm spinner Arish Ali Khan grabbed 4-28 as Karachi slipped to 121-5 in the 17th over. But Aziz’s masterful knock turned the tide in Karachi’s favor.

Wildermuth was brought into the attack in place of fast bowler Naseem Shah, who pulled a calf muscle just before he was about to bowl the penultimate over, and limped off the field.

Fast bowler Mohammad Ilyas (3-39) ran through the Quetta top order and Arshad Iqbal chipped in with 2-39.

Fast bowler Mohammad Amir twice came close to his first wicket in five PSL games, but first Wildermuth successfully overturned an lbw decision through television referral and Amir dropped a sitter off his own bowling off the next delivery to end up with 0-21.

PSL leader Islamabad United was playing Multan Sultans in the late game.


Babar Azam becomes PSL's all-time top scorer during tournament's Abu Dhabi leg

Updated 19 June 2021

Babar Azam becomes PSL's all-time top scorer during tournament's Abu Dhabi leg

  • As the PSL's top scorer with 2,000 runs, Azam is followed by Peshawar Zalmi's Kamran Akmal with 1,763 runs
  • Azam on Saturday also became the first player to score 500 runs in a single edition of PSL

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan captain Babar Azam became the first player to cross the 2,000-run mark in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) during a Karachi Kings vs Quetta Gladiators faceoff in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
During the same match, Azam also became the first player to score 500 runs in a single edition of PSL, as he scored 23 off 25 against Quetta Gladiators, taking his PSL6 tally to 501.
"#King #BabarAzam the 1st batsman in the history of #HBLPSL to score 2000 runs," Karachi Kings celebrated its batsman in a tweet.

 

 

The sixth edition of Pakistan’s flagship cricket super league tournament resumed at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on June 9. It was postponed in March after a string of positive coronavirus cases among players and officials.
As the PSL's top scorer, Azam is followed by Peshawar Zalmi's Kamran Akmal who has scored 1,763 runs.
Born in Lahore, the 26-year-old right-hand, top-order batsman was 12 when he already played serious tape-ball cricket. At age 15, he was declared Pakistan's best Under-15 batsman and made his List A debut.  
By 16, he was a first-class cricketer for Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) cricket team. By the time he received his first ODI cap, he already had six centuries and more than 2,000 List A runs at an average of 47.88 to his name.
In September 2018, Azam passed 2,000 runs in ODI cricket, reaching the milestone in just 45 innings. Only one player has ever gotten there quicker and that is South African great Hashim Amla. Amla took just 40 innings.
In the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, Azam made history, scoring 474 runs at 67.61 to break Javed Miandad’s 1992 record for the most runs by a Pakistan batsman in a Cricket World Cup campaign.
In April, he ended Virat Kohli’s long reign at the top of the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings, becoming only the fourth batsman from his country to attain number one position in the rankings.


Pakistani doctors say running out of vaccines, warn of fourth coronavirus wave

Updated 19 June 2021

Pakistani doctors say running out of vaccines, warn of fourth coronavirus wave

  • Pakistan Medical Association calls for strict implementation of health guidelines as more contagious COVID-19 variants are present in the country
  • Pakistan's health chief says 6.5 million vaccine doses expected to arrive this month, pressure on vaccine distribution to ease next week

LAHORE: Vaccination centers are running out of COVID-19 shots, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) secretary general Dr. Qaisar Sajjad said on Saturday, a day after the PMA warned of a looming fourth wave of the pandemic.

In a press release issued on Friday evening, the PMA said that as the government is reopening all sectors over a steady decline in coronavirus cases, without strict implementation of health guidelines, Pakistan "can face fourth wave" of the pandemic, as the highly contagious virus variants first reported in the UK, South Africa, Brazil and India are already present in the country.

It advised all to get vaccinated as soon as possible, as vaccination is "the most protective shield against COVID-19," and requested the government to ensure uninterrupted supplies of vaccine doses.

“Vaccination centers are running short of vaccines and the people are being asked to go back," Dr. Sajjad told Arab News. "The situation is really very bad in terms of vaccine supply. The doctors have stopped vaccination drive and we are receiving complaints from all over the country, especially from various districts of Punjab, that there is no vaccine available."

He added that the call to strictly follow coronavirus restrictions was also related to the presence of the Delta variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, which is more contagious and resistant to vaccines compared with other forms of COVID-19.

Punjab Health Minister Dr. Yasmeen Rashid has also confirmed the shortage of COVID-19 shots in her province.

"Arrival of Chinese vaccine was due on June 10, but due to some technical issues it was delayed and would arrive on June 20," she told Arab News. "We are running short of AstraZeneca vaccine and people have been asked to come after a week."

The federal government has meanwhile said that it expects 6.5 million vaccine doses to arrive in Pakistan this month.

"Any pressure in the system & local/distribution issues will be eased by Mon/Tue, inshallah," Pakistan's health chief, Dr. Faisal Sultan, said in a series of tweets on Saturday.

 

 

At the current vaccination pace, however, reaching herd immunity in the country may take years.

"COVID-19 is a phenomenon that will persist until 80 percent of population is vaccinated," Dr. Javed Akram, vice chancellor of the University of Health Sciences in Lahore, told Arab News.

"The whole process will take two, three years or maybe more than that."


FM Qureshi meets Kuwaiti counterpart, welcomes relaxation of visa restrictions for Pakistanis

Updated 19 June 2021

FM Qureshi meets Kuwaiti counterpart, welcomes relaxation of visa restrictions for Pakistanis

  • Kuwait suspended visas for Pakistanis in 2011, announced resumption of family and business visas last month
  • Qureshi met Kuwait's FM at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, attended by top political leaders, diplomats, opinion makers and academics

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi welcomed Kuwait's relaxation of travel restrictions for Pakistanis during a meeting with his Kuwaiti counterpart on Saturday.

Kuwait suspended visas for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Afghanistan in 2011 over what it said were difficult security conditions in the five countries. Last month, Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced, after meeting the Kuwaiti prime minister, that business and family visas for Pakistani nationals would be “immediately” resumed.

Qureshi met Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey. The forum, attended by top political leaders, diplomats, opinion makers and academics, is being held from June 18-20 in an Antalya resort on the coast of the Mediterranean.

"Pakistan welcomes ease of visa restrictions for our nationals. Pakistan and Kuwait share excellent bilateral relations & we look forward to deepening cooperation at all levels through our ongoing leadership level exchanges," Qureshi said in a tweet.

 

 

Pakistan began visa resumption talks with Kuwait in 2020, after which 208 nurses, doctors and medical technicians traveled to Kuwait on Oct. 22, 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis.

Three more groups have gone since. On Thursday a fifth batch of Pakistani medical professionals arrived in Kuwait, taking the total number of health care workers who have traveled to the state since October last year to 938.


Pakistan says committed to implement GSP Plus conventions for preferential trade with EU

Updated 19 June 2021

Pakistan says committed to implement GSP Plus conventions for preferential trade with EU

  • The European Parliament urged its member states earlier this year to review Pakistan's trade status due to the rising number of blasphemy cases
  • Pakistan's foreign office said in a statement FM Qureshi also raised 'Islamophobia, racism and populism' with a senior European official on Friday

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reiterated his country's commitment to a preferential trade arrangement with European nations while promising effective implementation of several international conventions during his meeting with a senior European Union official on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey on Friday.
According to an official statement released by the foreign office in Islamabad, Qureshi discussed "the entire spectrum of Pakistan-EU relations," including the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus arrangement, during his interaction with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles.
"Emphasizing the importance of bilateral trade, the Foreign Minister highlighted that GSP Plus had been a mutually beneficial undertaking and played an important role in the growth of trade between the two sides," said the statement. "He reiterated Pakistan's firm commitment towards the GSP Plus preferential trade regime and effective implementation of the twenty-seven related international conventions."
The European Parliament adopted a resolution in April, urging its member nations to review Pakistan's GSP Plus status due to the rising number of blasphemy cases in the country.
The GSP Plus is a special trade arrangement offered to developing economies by European nations in return for their commitment to implement 27 international conventions on human rights, environmental protection and governance.
Fontelles said in a Twitter post he had a "good discussion" with the Pakistani foreign minister, adding that he had raised human rights concerns, including the blasphemy law, during the conversation.


The foreign office also said in its statement that Qureshi discussed "rising Islamophobia, racism and populism" with the EU official, saying the entire international community "must show a common resolve against xenophobia, intolerance and incitement to violence on the basis of religion or belief."
He also highlighted Pakistan's contributions to the Afghan peace process and emphasized that the conflict should only be settled through an Afghan-led and -owned political process.
"The two leaders agreed to continue to maintain high level engagement to further strengthen Pakistan-EU relations," the statement added.