Pakistani students work magic to transform campus into Harry Potter’s Hogwarts 

This picture taken on November 30, 2021 shows visitors enjoying a Harry Potter festival at the Government College University (GCU) campus in Lahore, Pakistan. (AFP)
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Updated 03 December 2021

Pakistani students work magic to transform campus into Harry Potter’s Hogwarts 

  • Government College University in Lahore has long reminded students of the magical school 
  • Festival is also screening what is believed to be Pakistan’s first fan-made Harry Potter film 

LAHORE: It took more than a wave of a wand, but Pakistani university students transformed their 150-year-old campus into Hogwarts this week as they kicked off a festival celebrating the fictional young wizard Harry Potter. 

With its vast halls and soaring archways, Government College University in the eastern megacity of Lahore has long reminded students of the magical school created by British author J.K. Rowling, several students told AFP. 




This picture taken on November 30, 2021 shows visitors arriving to attend a Harry Potter festival at the Government College University (GCU) campus in Lahore, Pakistan. (AFP)

“I can’t believe I’m in Hogwarts, while being in Lahore of all places,” said an excited Raziah Alam, taking part in the festival. 

“This has been such a fun experience.” 

Dressed in costumes from the “Potterverse” including wands and pointed witch and wizard hats, students welcomed visitors to their version of the Hogwarts “Great Hall,” decorated with broomsticks, bats, and even an area to brew potions. 




This picture taken on November 30, 2021 shows visitors enjoying a Harry Potter festival at the Government College University (GCU) campus in Lahore, Pakistan. (AFP)

The theme music from the Harry Potter films played in the background as students tried out spells, took photos wearing the famous “Sorting Hat,” and dressed up in Hogwarts uniforms. 

“Most of these youngsters grew up at the time when JK Rowling’s work was being presented in the novels and then later on in the films,” Dr. Asghar Zaidi, the university’s vice chancellor and a “Potterhead” himself told AFP. 

He added that when students come to the campus “they see the architecture, it reminds them of Hogwarts.” 




This picture taken on November 30, 2021 shows Asghar Zaidi, the vice chancellor of the Government College University (GCU), speaking during a Harry Potter festival at the Government College University (GCU) campus in Lahore, Pakistan. (AFP)

“I think the magic is coming through the inspiration it is bringing about to our other students,” he added proudly. 

The festival is also screening what is believed to be Pakistan’s first fan-made Harry Potter film. 

Titled “The Last Follower and the Resurrection of Voldemort,” the film was made and acted by students and comes with special effects, spells and a gripping storyline. 




This picture taken on November 30, 2021 shows a visitor enjoying a Harry Potter festival at the Government College University (GCU) campus in Lahore, Pakistan. (AFP)

“We really thought it would be a crazy idea to change the building, put some mountains around it, create some characters that can go with it,” the film’s director and cinematographer Waleed Akram told AFP. 

He said he was pleased with the film’s reception among students. 

Since the release of the first Harry Potter novel in 1997, the books have found immense popularity, including in Pakistan. 

They have sold over 500 million copies worldwide, in addition to the famous film franchise. 


Pakistan, Oman discuss bilateral maritime cooperation

Updated 5 sec ago

Pakistan, Oman discuss bilateral maritime cooperation

  • Oman’s naval commander met his Pakistani counterpart in Islamabad on Monday
  • Pakistan and Oman signed a memorandum of understanding in October 2020 to boost military cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Commander Royal Navy of Oman Rear Admiral Saif bin Nasser bin Mohsen Al-Rahbi on Monday met with Pakistan’s Naval Chief Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi in Islamabad and discussed bilateral defense ties and ways of strengthening them further, said an official handout.

Pakistan and Oman have close ties and the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance military cooperation in October 2020.

The two officials “discussed issues of mutual interest and promotion of bilateral maritime cooperation,” the Pakistan Navy said in a statement.

The visiting dignitary was briefed on Pakistan Navy’s role in the region’s maritime security.

“The visit of Commander Royal Omani Navy will further enhance the bilateral relations between the two countries,” the official statement added.

Last week, Pakistani naval ships Rah Naward and Madadgar along with Hamza submarine visited Oman's Port Sultan Bin Qaboos as part of overseas deployment.

"During the port stay, various bilateral activities including exchange visits onboard afloat units, orientation visits of military installations and coordination meetings were undertaken," the Pakistan Navy said.


President apologizes to senior citizen over administrative injustice by tax collection body

Updated 17 January 2022

President apologizes to senior citizen over administrative injustice by tax collection body

  • An 82-year-old taxpayer was made to undergo extreme agony after he demanded a small refund of Rs2,333
  • The president ordered punitive action against those who humiliated the elderly man by launching a litigation process

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi on Sunday issued an apology to a senior Pakistani citizen who was mistreated by the country's tax collection body while instructing relevant authorities to take an action against those who dragged the 82-year-old into a litigation process to humiliate him for over a year.

According to the President Office, the senior taxpayer, Abdul Hamid Khan, had to undergo a lot of inconvenience after he demanded a refund of Rs2,333 ($13.21) which was refused by an official of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Khan was subsequently dragged into a litigation process that lasted for over a year.

“Apologizing to the senior citizen Mr. Abdul Hamid Khan, the President said that our heads should hang in shame for the inconvenience caused by FBR to the senior citizen,” the statement said.

"Punitive action must be taken along the entire line of decision-makers in this case and chairman FBR should ensure that those responsible, in particular, and others, in general, go through courses to teach them priorities and courtesies," it quoted the president as saying.

Khan had claimed the refund on his income tax return for last year by submitting requisite documents of advance tax deduction on October 19, 2020.

“The complainant e-filed refund application on 19th October, 2020, followed by representation to FBR Chairman on 24th December, 2020,” the official statement said. “The Unit officer of FBR rejected his refund claim on the grounds that the applicant had failed to furnish the original certificates required for authentication.”

“This must be the most pitiful and shameful use of bureaucratic authority,” noted the president.

He also regretted that the FBR official had wasted everyone's time, including the tax ombudsman and the president himself.

The statement added Alvi “deplored that no one in the long chain of bureaucrats at the FBR deliberated over the issue to take note of the unfairness, pettiness and superfluousness of the matter.”


Afghanistan turns down Pakistan’s offer to export skilled labor

Updated 17 January 2022

Afghanistan turns down Pakistan’s offer to export skilled labor

  • The Pakistani prime minister offered to send qualified human resource to Afghanistan during a meeting last week
  • Afghanistan’s deputy information minister Zabihullah Mujahid told international media his country had enough educated young people

ISLAMABAD: The interim Taliban administration in Kabul politely turned down Pakistan’s offer to send skilled human resource to Afghanistan on Sunday, saying there were already enough educated young people in the war-battered country.
The idea of exporting “qualified and trained manpower” was floated by Prime Minister Imran Khan during an apex committee meeting on Friday “to stave off humanitarian crisis” to the neighboring state.

However, Afghanistan’s deputy information minister Zabihullah Mujahid in response to Pakistani PM Khan’s thanked Pakistan and said that the country did not need foreign labor, Afghan media said.

“There are enough educated young people to work in the ministries and there is no need for outside manpower,” Mujahid said in an audio recording that was released by an Afghan Taliban official based in the country’s political office in Qatar.

Earlier, Afghanistan’s former president Hamid Karzai had also taken a similar stance while responding to the Pakistani prime minister’s statement.
Karzai wrote in a Twitter post that Afghanistan had experienced staff and professionals, as well as hundreds of thousands of educated young people, including girls and boys, who had been trained at various levels inside and outside the country.
Pakistan has tried to convince the world to provide humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and plans to send its national security adviser Dr. Moeed Yusuf to the neighboring country this week to discuss the overall situation.
Last week, the administration in Islamabad renewed its appeal to the international community and relief agencies to provide aid at this critical juncture to the war-torn country to avert its economic collapse and save precious lives.
“The Apex Committee was informed that Afghanistan is at the verge of hunger and crisis situation during this harsh winter,” the PM Office said in a Twitter post. “The crisis makes it difficult for the people to get enough food and shelter.”

 


Earlier this month, a team of Pakistani engineers and technicians arrived in Kabul to ensure the installation and provision of medical equipment and medicines at three hospitals in Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan had told Arab News last week the visit of the Pakistani engineers and technicians would be followed by other such tours in the future so the hospitals could be upgraded further.
The initiative was part of a Rs5 billion Humanitarian Assistance Package announced by the Pakistani prime minister for Afghanistan in November last year.

 

 


Punjab inquiry committee blames Murree tragedy on administrative negligence — local media

Updated 17 January 2022

Punjab inquiry committee blames Murree tragedy on administrative negligence — local media

  • The five-member committee probing the death of 23 snow-tourists in the popular mountainous resort completed its investigation on Sunday
  • A Pakistani court castigated the National Disaster Management Authority last week for not making adequate preparations to prevent the tragedy

ISLAMABAD: A five-member committee that was formed to probe the recent deaths of snow-tourists at a popular mountainous resort in Pakistan attributed the tragedy to administrative negligence after finishing its investigation on Sunday, local media reported.

The committee was set up by the provincial administration of Punjab last week after 23 people, including women and children, lost their lives after getting stuck in a snowstorm in Murree for several hours.

Most of the victims suffered hypothermia as temperatures fell to -8°C (17.6°F). Officials said some died of carbon monoxide poisoning from running their car heaters while their mufflers were choked by snow.

While the inquiry committee is yet to prepare its report which will be presented to Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar in the next few days, Geo News reported that it found the local administration responsible for not doing enough while the tragedy was unfolding in Murree.

"The probe has revealed that on the day of the incident, several snow ploughs were parked at the same place which led to road blockages, the administrative staff was absent from duty, while a blizzard warning from the metrological department was blatantly neglected, according to sources," the report said on Monday.

The committee recorded statements of several tourists along with officials of various administrative departments in Murree during its probe.

The Islamabad High Court also looked into the incident last week, blaming the country's National Disaster Management Authority for not making adequate preparations to deal with the situation which led to the death of so many tourists.


Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa signs agreements worth $8 billion at Expo Dubai

Updated 17 January 2022

Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa signs agreements worth $8 billion at Expo Dubai

  • Foreign firms, investors express keen interest in industrial, infrastructure, food processing and energy sectors
  • Feasibility reports of projects presented at the mega exhibition have already been completed, officials say

KARACHI: The provincial government of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province on Sunday signed over 40 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) at Expo 2020 Dubai that would bring foreign investment worth $8 billion, the KP investment board and officials said. 
Described as “the event of the century,” the expo kicked off in October, bringing together representatives from more than 190 countries. The exhibition is the largest global gathering since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and will run until April 2022. 
Pakistan’s pavilion at the expo has been highlighting investment opportunities, tourism potential and cultural magnificence of the country. In January, its highlight is the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 
Foreign firms and investors expressed their keen interest in various projects in tourism, industrial, infrastructure, food processing, livestock, energy and power sectors, and a water sports theme park in KP’s Swabi district at an investment conference at Expo Dubai on Sunday. 
“International firms have signed 44 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) worth $8 billion during the Expo 2020 Dubai,” KP finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra said, while addressing attendees at the conference. 
Jhagra said the KP government had presented these projects in a better way. “For the promotion of tourism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the government is presenting ready projects at the expo for investment,” he said. 

KP finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra is addressing the attendees at the conference in Dubai, UAE, on January 16, 2022. (Photo courtesy: @kptourism/Twitter)

KP had vast investment opportunities in tourism, energy and power, infrastructure and other sectors, according to the minister. The Swat Expressway was built under a public-private partnership and now it was being extended to other cities to boost trade and economy, he said. 
Among the attendees at the conference were chief executive officers (CEOs) of the Samara Group, Mazaya Group (EGI), Jannat & AJ Group, Almasa Group and a number of Dubai-based and international investors, who expressed their willingness to invest in various tourism projects in the northwestern Pakistani province. 
“Investment groups that have signed MoUs include Enertech-Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP), Private Office of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook-Al-Maktoum, Samara Group, VR Group, Sigma Group, Malik Foams, Nobel Future Land & many others,” KP chief minister Mahmood Khan said on Twitter. 
“Investments in the development of food processing zones, integrated tourism zones (ITZ), Solarization of Economic Zones, Construction of Transmission Lines across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will help in transforming KP by creating economic opportunities and increase in employment.” 

 Jhagra said his government had planned to establish an Overseas Pakistan Council to facilitate investors, saying the process was currently in the legislation stage. The KP government had established a special economic zone (SEZ) in Rashakai and that people were now coming to invest in the province, he added. 
KP culture minister Shaukat Yousafzai said the province had a huge potential for investment and these agreements would help increase the flow of foreign investment into the province. 

Pakistan's ambassador to UAE Afzaal Mehmood (first left) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincal ministers attend the ceremony at Expo 2020 Dubai in Dubai, UAE, on January 16, 2022. (Photo courtesy: @kptourism/Twitter)

Shahab Ali Shah, the KP additional chief secretary, said only those projects were presented at the expo, whose feasibility reports were complete and only investors were needed. 
“The government is ready to provide a one-window facility to investors,” he added.