Archive for March 22nd, 2011
DHAKA: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi is not concerned about a possible World Cup semi-final showdown against India, saying his immediate focus was on beating the West Indies.
Pakistan start firm favourites in Wednesday’s quarter-final against Darren Sammy’s men at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium after topping Group A with five wins in six matches.
One of those wins broke Australia’s unbeaten streak of 34 World Cup matches over a 12-year period after the three-time defending champions went down by four wickets in Colombo on Saturday.
A win over the West Indies could had Afridi’s men a mouth-watering semi-final against arch-rivals India, if the co-hosts beat Australia in Thursday’s quarter-final in Ahmedabad.
“Our entire focus is on winning the quarter-final, I am not even thinking of the next match, whether it is India or Australia,” Afridi told a packed news conference. “We will not take the West Indies lightly. Any team is capable of winning on their day, there are no second chances in a knock-out match. I think they are a very good side.”
The West Indies collapsed from winning positions against England and India, and only qualified for the quarter-finals on superior run-rate after ending the league level with Bangladesh on six points.
The impressive run by Afridi’s team would have delighted their volatile nation, which has been stripped of big-time cricket at home due to security concerns and tainted by an unsavoury spot-fixing scandal.
The absence of former captain Salman Butt and pace spearheads Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif due to the controversy was not felt as the team has rallied superbly under their inspirational captain.
All-rounder Afridi is the tournament’s leading bowler with 17 wickets with his fastish leg-breaks, while seamer Umar Gul has kept the pressure on at the other end with 13 wickets.
Afridi may have failed with the bat so far with just 65 runs in six games, but young guns Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq have shone brightly in their first World Cup.
Akmal has scored 211 runs at 52.75 and Shafiq averages 124 in the two games he has played so far, while seasoned seniors like Misbah-ul Haq and Younis Khan have lent solidity to the middle-order.
“Our success so far has been entirely due to the bowlers, who have done a very good job,” said Afridi. “I myself have not batted well and will focus on that tomorrow. “I know how important my batting is for the team and I will try to get some runs on the board.”
Afridi played down suggestions that the West Indies will be hard to beat at a venue where they shot out Bangladesh for their lowest one-day total of 58 in the league to romp home by nine wickets. “That was Bangladesh, this is Pakistan,” the captain said. “It’s not that we are playing for the first time in these conditions. We feel at home anywhere in the sub-continent.”
Afridi said he had never seen Pakistan work so hard at their cricket, which has been rewarded by the good results so far. “I have played for 14 years and never seen the team train so seriously and focus on their game,” he said. “The entire team is together in the dream to do well in the World Cup.
“Our aim at the start was to make the semi-finals and I am confident we can achieve that. The expectations back home are high and we are determined not to let our supporters down.”
Ten days after the earthquaketsunami, Japan still teetered at the knife-edge of a major nuclear disaster. Four hydrogen explosions reduced three buildings in the 6-reactor Fukushima nuclear complex to smoking ruins. Radioactive plumes triggered a level-5 emergency, and evacuations were ordered up to a 20-kilometre radius. A heroic effort finally prevented a melt-down of spent-fuel rods and averted catastrophic consequences but reactor fires are still burning.
If nothing else works, plans call for pouring thousands of tons of concrete and turning the reactors into permanent nuclear tombs.
On the positive side: the disaster management was excellent. Stoic and disciplined, the Japanese behaved wonderfully well. No looting, no panic, and no anti-government demonstrations followed the explosions. People helped each other, relief teams operated unobstructed, and rescuers had full radiation protection gear. Plant operators risked their lives by working in super-high radiation environments, and engineers showed their grasp of emergency reactor dynamics.
On the negative side: even elaborate earthquake-protection and tsunami-protection measures failed badly. Power sources for emergency cooling pumps were destroyed by the 30-foot high wall of water. In retrospect, storing thousands of spent-fuel rods on the reactor site turned out to be a terrible mistake.
Japan’s near tragedy has reminded the world that situating reactors close to a city can be exceedingly dangerous – even more than storing nuclear bombs within it. While a nuclear reactor cannot explode like a bomb, after one year of operation even a rather small 200MW reactor contains more radioactive cesium, strontium, and iodine than the amounts produced in all the nuclear weapons tests ever conducted.
These devastatingly deadly materials could be released if the containment vessel of a reactor is somehow breached.
As the Japanese continue their struggle to bring Fukushima’s reactors under control, they know they had false ly gambled that nuclear reactors could be safed against earthquakes. Still, there was some logic to this risk-taking: Japan’s energy hungry economy gets about 30per cent of its electricity from its 55 nuclear reactors.
Pakistan has much less reason to risk Karachi, its largest city. The Karachi Nuclear Power Plant, (KANUPP) located by the seashore, produces little electricity. This Canadian supplied reactor has been in operation since December 1972, but according to IAEA statistics, has been unavailable for power production 70.4 per cent of the time. Even if it had operated as per design (120MW of electrical
power), it could supply only six-seven per cent of Karachi’s total electrical power needs – barely enough for Golimar and Lyari.
Nevertheless KANUPP puts the Karachi’s population at risk. Sabotage, terrorist attack, equipment failure, earthquake, or a tsunami could result in large scale radioactive release. As in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the instinctive reaction of the authorities would be to cover up the facts.
But with the breeze mostly directed towards Karachi, the population would surely have to be evacuated. The rich and the fortunate would succeed; the rest would not. Unlike the orderly and disciplined evacuation of post-tsunami Fukushima, all hell would break loose as millions would try to flee. Looters would strip everything bare, roads would be clogged, and vital services would collapse.
Japan’s nuclear disaster should open our eyes. Japan is an advanced industrialised country with superior engineering knowledge and practices. It has a safety culture, Pakistan does not. Whether driving cars or running nuclear plants, Pakistanis are risktakers looking for shortcuts, choosing to put their faith in God rather than precautions.
It would not be surprising if our nuclear plant operators overlook critical safety procedures. Little is known about operating procedures because everything nuclear is kept under wraps, ostensibly for reasons of national security. This also covers up for bad practices.
The shoulder-shrugging nonchalance of Pakistani authorities during the Japan disaster is particularly disturbing. Even as explosions tore through the nuclear complex, the “experts” flatly declared that a Fukushima could never hap
pen in Pakistan. This outlandish claim cost them nothing, of course, because officials and other high-ups in Pakistan have never paid the price for false statements. A real nuclear disaster in Pakistan would see PAEC, PNRA, and our “great scientists” – who provide endless vanilla-flavoured reassurances – running around like chickens with their heads cut off. They would be clueless in dealing with a situation that threatens the lives of millions.
The only thing they would know is how to run away fast.
It is time to down-size Pakistan’s nuclear fission power production.
While remaining a perpetual danger, nuclear technology has not met any reasonable fraction of Pakistan’s energy needs. After nearly half a century of investing in the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission – and the billions of dollars spent upon creating
its infrastructure – only two per cent of Pakistan’s installed nuclear capacity is nuclear. The actual production is less than even this.
India has not done well either. Only six per cent of Indian electricity is nuclear.
Clearly, nuclear electricity is not cheap or easy.
Contrary to popular public perception, Pakistan’s power reactors also make no contribution to Pakistan’s bombmaking capacity – the fissile material for these is produced elsewhere. Therefore there are multiple reasons why the search for more fission power must be shelved. Until nuclear fusion power becomes available after some decades, Pakistan, like other countries, must rely on a mix of oil, gas, hydro, coal, solar, wind, and other renewables.
The author is a nuclear physicist and holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
President Asif Ali Zardari’s annual address to a joint sitting of parliament addressed the accomplishments of the current government, and called for defeating the mindset of “intolerance and hatred”.
The President congratulated the parliament for passing 18th and 19th amendments. He said that the country was in poor condition when the elected government took over.
Zardari said that the government took brave steps to bring the economy back on track. Record investment was made in the country. Education sector was given more funds. Thousands of sacked employees were restored. Daily wages were increased.
He paid tribute to the late governor Salman Taseer and federal minister late Shahbaz Bhatti.
The President was of the view that their sacrifices will not go in vain. Zardari said that collective wisdom is needed to resolve the national issues.
The PML-N, PML-Q Like-Minded Group, JUI and Jamaat-e-Islami walked out of the president’s address.
End of live updates
It is time for reconciliation says Zardari as he ends his speech.
We will not permit anyone to usurp powers that belong to parliament, says Zardari.
Zardari denounces ‘political point scoring’. Commends Gilani for pursuing policy of consensus.
Zardari on Karachi violence: law and order will be mandated at all costs.
President cites numerous agreements and positive relationship building with foreign countries, including India.
“We seek a just agreement over Kashmir issue… negotiations are underway.”
“We will not allow our soil to be used for terrorism against any other country.”
“6 lakh tons of wheat has been exported this year.”
Zardari cites record cotton crop as well.
“Exceptional year in the history of parliament in terms of legislation.”
Prime minister attended 99 NA sessions. A new record.
The UN commission of enquiry has submitted its report in BB’s death. A challan has been issued in this regard. The aim is to defeat the mindset behind her assassination.
“Democracy is the best revenge…we condemn the murders of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. We will defeat the mindset that preaches violence and hatred. Being strong means denouncing what is wrong.”
Zardari vows free and fair elections in the future.
He also vows to end the scourge of Polio in Pakistan.
“Broad education as never before…education is not a privilege but a basic right for all from 5-16.”
Zardari blames past policies for the poor performance of the power sector. Talks about added 1800mw to the grid as well as alternate energy projects coming up.
“Poverty reduction is very dear to us.”
The overall damage to the economy due to the floods is nearly $10bn.
Zardari lauds various achievements of the government from NFC awards, expansion of tax net, record rise of foreign remittances and Forex reserves.
President Zardari begins his speech by paying tribute to the minorities, armed forces and those laying down their lives for Pakistan. He thanks parliament for the restoration of the constitution.
“We have not merely talked…we have accomplished change.”
DawnNews reports that the PML-N has released a ‘fact-sheet’ criticising President Zardari, suggesting that a protest is on the cards for the assembly session. Read the full report here.
A walk-out is expected at the start of the session.
Analyst Zafar Hilaly clues us in to Zardari’s likely response:
President Zardari is in the driving seat of politics in Pakistan and so long as he stays there he seems to care a hoot in which direction he is headed even if he is headed full pitch for the rocks.
Opposition parties have decided to boycott President Zardari’s address to the joint session of parliament today. Zardari is expected to address parliament at 4pm, however, a delay is expected as the PPP attempt to placate the PML-N.
Sohail Chaudhry, reporting for Express 24/7 said that the PML-N leadership is expected to protest against the policies of the government and will likely cause disruptions during the session.
In PML-N’s information secretary Ahsan Iqbal conceded there was a difference of opinion in his party on the matter: some members want the party to boycott the session, while others favour registering protest inside parliament.
Chaudhry Nisar has yet not decided which group he should throw his weight behind.
However, sources said that senior PML-N leaders have decided in principle to not allow smooth sailing for Zardari.
The discussion involves all the topics that would have occurred in the last week and may include political issues, social issues, inflation, economy, international issues, showbiz and even religion. Their discussion deals with big and serious issues albeit through simple questions and by employing a layman’s everyday conversation. Mr. Hassan Nisar’s witty and intellectual insights on the current political and social scenario are the highlight of the show.The idea of this program originated from Mr. Hassan Nisar’s column “Choraha”. This program is a representation of Lahori culture where men of a mohalla get together in the evening, sit on a Choraha and discuss issues which are prevalent to their interests. In true spirit of Lahori mohalla culture, the men indulge in jugatbazi, an integral part of even their most serious conversations. Program includes actual Choraha where Mr. Hassan Nisar sits with 3 characters and chit chat on all issues making it interesting with a tinge of wit.
Saleem Safi is an anchor/analyst with the largest Urdu news channel, Geo..He also hosts a Pashto language current affairs programm on AVT Khyber. He was the host of “Saleem Safi Kay Saath”, a daily current affairs talk show on Pakistan Television (PTV). This program aired from April 2006 to August 2008. He remained, the Bureau Chief of News Network International ,from 1997 to 2008. His Articles appears in pakistan’s largest urdu newspaper “Daily Jang”and English language newspaper “The News” (with the title of “Jirga”.He is host of Geo TV’s popular current afffair program “Jirga”.
He is frequently invited to comment on BBC and Voice of America’s Pashto services as an expert on Afghanistan and N.W.F.P.
Dr. Maleeha Lodhi is among the most accomplished female professionals in the Muslim world, with extensive experience in diplomacy, media, and teaching. Her diplomatic experience spans eleven years, representing Pakistan as Ambassador in the US and Britain. She is the recipient of the President’s award of Hilal-e-Imtiaz for Public Service in Pakistan. Lodhi has also received an Honorary Fellowship from the London School of Economics in 2004 and an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from London’s Metropolitan University in 2005.
She served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Affairs from 2001 to 2005. In 1994, Lodhi was selected by Time magazine as one of a hundred people in the world – the only one from Pakistan – who will help to shape the 21st century. She has addressed top Think Tanks and other foreign policy forums across the world, drawing on her diplomatic skills and media background.
Lodhi has been the editor of Pakistan’s leading English daily, The News and among the country’s top political commentators. Lodhi taught Politics and Political Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science for five years – from 1980-1985.
Lodhi is the author of two books: Pakistan’s Encounter with Democracy and The External Challenge both collections of her essays on contemporary issues.
Ata ul Haq Qasmi is one of the leading and most popular columnist of Pakistan who has been writing Urdu columns for more than last 45 years in the leading newspapers with the name of “Rozan-e-Dewar Sey”. The most distinguished character of Qasmi’s column is his satire on social inequalities of the society and his anti dictatorship stance which he boldly takes in his columns. He has a unique style of writing incomparable to any other columnist because of his humorous way which holds the reader till the last line of his column which is his punch line. Qasmi was also elevated to the position of Ambassador of Pakistan in Norway and Thailand during 1997 to 1999. He is also a very famous drama writer and poet. His books of columns include “Column Tamam”, “Shar Goshiyan”, “Hansna Rona Mana Hay”, “Mazeed Ganjey Farishtey” and many more while his TV Drama Serials include the most popular “Khwaja and Son”, “Shab Daig”, “Sheeda Talli” etc. His travelogues are also very popular and one of the best is “Shoq-e-Awargi”. Qasmi has also received the Pride of Performance and Sitara-e-Imtiaz (highest civil awards) from President of Pakistan in addition to many other awards over his literary contributions. Mushtaq Ahmad Yousfi has termed Qasmi as the best columnist of Pakistan while Altaf Gohar has termed him as the most wittiest columnist of Pakistan.
Nazeer Naji (urdu:نذیر ناجی) is a senior columnist in Pakistan’s Urdu press. He frequently writes in the country’s largest newspaper, Daily Jang, published from Karachi. with Nazeer Naji regarding Mr Naji’s plot allotment in Islamabad. The verified audio recordings of these phone calls were published on the internet on 19 April 2009 by popular Pakistani blog PkPolitics . Contents of this conversation are inappropriate because Naji have used a very abusive and slang language and threatened Ahmed Noorani and Ansar Abbasi (also an investigative journalist), which shows a new face of his personality.
Javed Chaudhry ( Urdu:جاوید چوہدری) is a newspaper columnist in Pakistan. His series of columns have been published in four volumes in Urdu language. His most notable column ZERO POINT has great influence upon people of Pakistan especially Youth and Muslims of Pakistan. He writes for the Urdu newspaper Daily Express four time a week, covering topics ranging from social issues to politics.Javed Chaudhry was born in Lalamusa , district of Gujrat, Pakistan. He received his degree in journalism from The Islamia University Bahawalpur. He has Four children and currently resides in Shahzad Town, Islamabad.He started his career in journalism in 1989. He worked at Daily Nawa-i-Waqt, Daily Pakistan, Daily Ummat and Daily Khabrain before joining Daily Jang in 1997.In January 2008, Javed Chaudhry joined Express News (Pakistan) as an anchorperson of a political Talk show “Kal Tak”, in which he analyses current affairs of Pakistan with guests from various think tanks and political parties.