New Delhi: The Afkar-e-Taza ThinkFest was held in Lahore over the weekend. It’s a festival encouraging fact-based critical discussion and cross-cultural discourse, which aims to “bridge the gap between academia and society”.
Some big names attended the fest — Indian-origin biologist and 2009 chemistry Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan, Wall Street Journal columnist Sadanand Dhume, Indian National Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, and well-known journalist Andrew Whitehead.
But the ThinkFest did not pass without drama — how could it, when Pakistan’s science and technology minister Fawad Hussain Chaudhry, infamous for constantly being embroiled in controversies, was in attendance.
Chaudhry called for stronger defamation laws, with reference to a recent incident when he slapped a TV anchor who suggested he was part of a pornographic video.
“When such a channel airs that there are porn videos of me, and upon asking about those videos, the anchorperson answers that someone has told him so, a slap is an obvious answer,” Chaudhry said, according to Dawn.
Pakistan has passed over 2,000 ordinances since 1947
A report in the Express Tribune says Pakistan has passed over 2,229 ordinances since it came into existence in 1947.
An ordinance is, technically, a law created to tackle an unforeseen emergency, when Parliament isn’t in session, and which cannot wait until the next meeting of the National Assembly or Senate (Pakistan’s lower and upper houses).
It may save the government time, but “its cost is heavy — requisite contribution, evaluation and diverse point of view of the parties concerned is nowhere to be found”, the report states.
For perspective, India passed 637 ordinances between 1950 and 2014.
Half of Lahore doesn’t have CCTV surveillance cameras
Approximately 4,000 CCTV cameras belonging to the Punjab Safe City Authority — about half the number required for surveillance in the city of Lahore — are non-functional because the police and the city bureaucracy are fighting over who gets to control the Rs 17-billion project.
The deadlock could be a security concern, since Lahore could host an international cricket match with Bangladesh, and is also set to host Pakistan Super League T20 games.
“The security of several A category religious places of minorities and mosques in various parts of the city is also under threat due to non-functioning of cameras,” says a report in Dawn.
MQM convener quits cabinet, but will remain ally of Imran Khan’s PTI
The convener of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Maqbool Siddiqui, announced he was resigning as federal minister for IT and technology, but would continue to support the Imran Khan-headed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government.
“Lack of seriousness of PTI government has compelled me to resign,” Siddiqui declared.
The two parties are coalition partners and the MQM was given two ministries as part of a nine-point memorandum of understanding signed in 2018.
“We hope that [the PTI] will address our grievances by implementing the MoU,” Siddiqui added.
Siddiqui’s resignation comes weeks after the opposition Pakistan People’s Party made an offer to join hands with the MQM in the Sindh province, under the condition that the two would bring down the PTI-led government. Siddiqui, however, denied there were any plans to join forces with the PPP.
Pashtun Tahafuz Movement holds human rights rally after 7 months
Bannu town in northern Pakistan witnessed a massive protest organised by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement against military brutality, abductions, stereotyping and internal displacement. Tahafuz means protection.
The Pashtuns are a minority ethnic group living in the northern provinces of Pakistan. Even though thousands of Pashtuns — many of whom reside in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province — attended, the mainstream media didn’t cover the protest.
You can jail, kill or make us disappear, but you can’t ignore us, a protester was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
The last time the Pashtuns protested in such large numbers was seven months ago, when two prominent leaders, Dawar and Wazir, were arrested.