Life under ISIS parodied in Iraqi TV show

Black humor can often calm our nerves when we're confronting our darkest fears. For people living in Bagjdad, the threat of living under ISIS rule has become very real, as the militants creep closer to the Iraqi capital. A local TV show risks retaliation from the terrorist group by parodying life under them. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.

Stronger ties: Russia, Pakistan to boost energy cooperation


Pakistan and Russia concluded their second round of strategic dialogue with a commitment to undertake concrete steps to enhance cooperation in energy.

According to a statement issued by the foreign ministry, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Morgulov Igor Vladimirovich and Pakistan’s Additional Secretary Europe Nadeem Riyaz led their respective sides in discussions that focused on a review of political, economic, parliamentary and cultural relations.

Possibilities were also explored for enhancing cooperation in various sectors including energy.

The statement said that discussions provided an excellent opportunity for a comprehensive exchange on entire range of bilateral issues as well as the regional situation.

“Both sides shared their resolve to undertake concrete steps to enhance their cooperation, especially in the economic sphere to strengthen the existing cordial relations,” it said.

During the meeting it was also agreed that the next round of Strategic Dialogue will be held in Moscow at a mutually convenient date.

The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister also called on Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Syed Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and Aizaz A. Chaudhry, Foreign Secretary.

They discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Islamabad and Moscow remained bitter enemies in the 1980s when Pakistan along with other western countries backed the so-called holy warriors or mujahideen fighting Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

However, in recent years the two countries have made attempts to move beyond the cold-war era and develop a new partnership.

The foreign policy guidelines approved by the parliament in 2011 in the wake of US secret raid to kill Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad had laid special emphasis on improving ties with Russia.

Since then the two countries regularly exchange visits of their civil and military officials as part of efforts to open a ‘new chapter’ in their otherwise troubled ties.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.

Health benefits: Rs28 million spent on lawmakers, officials


A record of expenses submitted at the Provincial Assembly on Tuesday revealed that the government had spent Rs28 million on the medical treatment of some officials, relatives of parliamentarians and a former minister.

Rs22.1 million was spent on treating nine government officials while Rs5.7 million was spent on treating lawmakers. Rs3.8 million was spent on Government College Township Assistant Nasir Hussain’s liver transplant, Rs5 million on Veterinary Research Institute Research Officer Afzal Sajid’s treatment, Rs1.04 million on Additional Secretary Kibar Hussain’s treatment, Rs1.38 million on Maheen Qureshi, Rs6.4 million on a judge of Lahore High Court and Rs4.49 million Additional Secretary Waqas Alam’s father.  Rs1.3 million was sanctioned for MPA Shaukat Basra’s son, Rs0.44 million on MPA Shahid Anjum’s wife and Rs4 million on a former population welfare minister.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.

Understanding the dynamics of Iraq and Iran

As new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrives for talks in Tehran, we examine why their conversations deserve a wide audience. Becky Anderson hosts a debate between Iranian political analyst Mohammad Ali Shabani and Dubai-based political negotiator Ali Khedery, covering anti-Shia violence in Iraq, the impact of ISIS, proxy diplomacy with Washington and the elephant in the room as negotiations continue – Saudi Arabia.

Deadly turn: Eight die in AJK as jeep falls into ravine

MUZAFFARABAD: Eight people, three women among them, were killed and seven others injured in a road accident in Neelum Vallley, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Tuesday.

A passenger van travelling from Jagran to Kundalshai fell in a deep ravine near  Marci, some 105 kilometres from Muzaffarbad.

Locals took part in the rescue operation and pulled the bodies out  from the wreckage. The injured passengers were shifted to Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan Hospital, Muzffarabad where doctors confirmed that six of the injured are in critical condition.

Police officials said the van driver had lost control while negotiating a sharp curve.

Those who lost their lives in the accident were identified as Hasna Jan, Shabana, Ayeshia, Syed Ahmad Shah, Siraj
Din, Dilawar Farouz, Naseer Shah and driver Muhammad Shafi.

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz Azad Kashmir chapter secretary general Shah Ghulam Qadir blamed the AJK government of killing people in road accidents by issuing fitness certificates to unfit vehicles. He added that poor roads in the region are also behind the repeated road fatalities.

AJK Prime Minister Chaudhry Abdul Majeed condoled with families of the deceased and asked the health department to ensure free and proper treatment to the injured passengers.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.

Hub killings: Hundreds stage protest in Bahadurabad

Hundreds of relatives of labourers killed by terrorists in Balochistan staged a protest demonstration on the National Highway in Bahadurabad when the bodies reached Punjab.

The demonstrators blocked the highway for hours. Assistant Commissioner Zahoor Hussain and Sub-divisional Police Officer Rao Jamshed Ali visited the spot but failed to placate the protesters.

Rahim Yar Khan DCO Nabeel Javed then arrived there and assured them that the chief minister would personally visit them and give them compensation. The demonstrators called their protest off.

Zonal In-charge Saeed Akhtar Malik had earlier received the bodies at Bahadurpur Chowk Edhi Centre. The deceased had worked at a poultry farm in Hub.

Unknown assailants had murdered them on Sunday after abducting them.

Arshad, Aslam, Rajab, Sajjad, Nasir, Shaiq Aziz and Shafiq Mustafa had been residents of Thul Hamza. Sajjad Ahmed had hailed from Shehr Sultan.

The bodies of the deceased were handed over to their families.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2014.