Here’s what is happening across the border: Pakistan’s teenage prodigy started making video games at 13, and a former PPP senator has said the elections are already rigged.
Media hits back amid ‘military crackdown’ on press freedom
In an interview, Dawn CEO Hameed Haroon has said that while the country faces the “decapitation of the political leadership, the media is required to be silent about it”. He said the media was being targeted because it does not believe in that kind of silence.
Hameed Haroon, DAWN CEO, on censorship in Pakistan: ‘What is occurring is a decapitation of political leadership on the eve of the election. Media is required 2 b silent about it… We r being targeted becz we don't believe that kind of silence is what this country is all about.’ pic.twitter.com/qhNHOgHoTp
— Pakistan Media Watch (@PakPressWatch) July 5, 2018
Thursday saw a new press freedom movement start in the country where journalists raised black flags to protest against censorship and attacks, allegedly carried out at the military’s behest.
Journalists in Islamabad hoisted black flag at the National Press Club protesting against the censorship & curbs on Pakistan's media ahead of General Elections. pic.twitter.com/2RUkeJscyQ
— Roohan Ahmed (@Roohan2Ahmed) July 5, 2018
The current season of press censorship in Pakistan began with an unexplained blackout of Geo TV earlier this year. The circulation of Dawn was subsequently disrupted after the paper carried a controversial interview of Nawaz Sharif, which the military reportedly found “too sympathetic” to the former Prime Minister.
Pakistani girl making video games since the age of 13
BBC Urdu has profiled a 29-year-old Pakistani woman who started developing video games at the age of 13.
Her talent got Sadia Bashir a university scholarship to study computing – course that transformed her idea of gaming. At the university, her final-year project involved devising a game that could help cancer treatment by mimicking the action of treatments attacking cancer cells in the body.
In the profile, Bashir was quoted as ruing the lack of “real centres” specialising in video game-making in Pakistan, which is why she set up the Pixel Art Academy, where she now trains young people to champion the field.
Rs 35 billion money laundering scam being investigated by FIA
The Federal Investigative Agency has recognised 29 bank accounts in three banks allegedly used to launder Rs 35 billion, reported The News.
Fake accounts were reportedly created in names of employees of business magnates and used for transferring millions abroad, while the official account-holder remained ignorant of the transactions.
Though there is a money trail that can be traced through the three banks, it is layered. The report said the beneficiaries included “a top political leader; his two close confidantes (a business magnate and a foreigner who happens to be chairman of a Pakistani bank used for these transactions”, but didn’t take names.
Former PPP senator says elections already rigged
Farhatullah Babar, a former senator of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), has claimed that the upcoming 25 July elections have already been rigged, reported Dawn.
Speaking during the launch of a poll guide, Babar said “only the farce of polling remains to be done”.
“The invisible political engineers seem desperate for a fragmented and divided parliament that is easier to manipulate,” he said, adding that a ‘silent coup’ had already taken place.
“As a result of that coup, there is a civilian government but without powers; there is media but without freedoms; there are election candidates without freedom to choose a political platform, and there are voters but their right to vote seems to have already been exercised,” he added.
Pakistan signs deal with Turkey for four warships
The Pakistan navy has signed a contract with Ankara for the acquisition of four Milgem corvettes from Turkey’s state-controlled ASFAT AS, a military factory and shipyard company, reported The News.
The agreement was signed in Islamabad Thursday.
Corvettes are small warships, traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered a proper warship.
The contract includes the complete transfer of technology and intellectual proprietary rights for the design of the ships. Two ships will be built at Istanbul Naval Shipyard, and the other two at the Karachi shipyard & Engineering works (KS&EW).
According to the newspaper report, the construction of the third and fourth warship is expected to create employment opportunities and enhance Pakistan’s industrial production capacity.
The deal comes “barely a month after Turkey’s ruling AK Party announced the country had signed a deal to supply 30 attack helicopters to Pakistan”, a report in The Week said.
PTI vows to build 5 million housing units
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has said that, if voted to power, he plans to construct five million housing unit across the country under the party’s National Affordable Housing Policy , Dawn reported.
Through the plan, the party aims to provide affordable shelter to people and improve economic conditions by addressing unemployment.
The plan was prepared by former House Building Finance Corporation chairman Zaigham Rizvi.
“This time our fight would be against the bureaucracy that obstructs the process for builders to establish their projects in order to draw monetary incentives (bribes from property developers),” said Khan. He added that one-window operations for contractors will achieve the aim of the plan.
Contributors: Sharanya Munsi, Hansa Kapoor, Manisha Mondal, Prateek Gupta, Rupanwita Bhattacharjee, Anagha Deshpande and Soniya Agrawal.