Polio campaign postponed in Quetta due to ‘inadequate security’

QUETTA: A scheduled polio campaign in Quetta was postponed owing to lack of security for vaccination teams on Monday.

The second phase of the vaccination drive was scheduled to be launched in Quetta in order to administer polio drops to children below the age of five years.

Sources in the Balochistan Health Department told Media that the provincial administration had failed to provide timely security to polio vaccination teams in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan.

54f42c8f39069 (1)“Without security guards, we cannot move our teams in the city,” he said.

Security of polio teams have been tightened in the aftermath of attacks at polio team in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.

Read: Bodies of levies personnel, polio worker found in Zhob

Militants had killed a polio worker and driver of polio team in custody last month in Zhob district of Balochistan.

Up till now, two polio cases have been reported from Killa Abdullah and Chagai districts of Balochistan during the year 2015.

The provincial government of Balochistan has declared an emergency in Quetta and other high-risk districts of the province to eradicate the paralysing disease and for this purpose emergency drives are being launched.

Pakistan’s first case of polio virus for the year 2015 was reported fromBalochistan’s Chagai district on Jan 1.

During the year 2014, a total of 23 polio cases were reported from Balochistan. Most of the cases were reported from Balochistan’s Killa Abdullah, Pishin and Quetta districts.

Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio remains endemic, the other two countries being Afghanistan and Nigeria, but efforts to stamp it out have been badly hit in recent years by attacks on immunisation teams.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared that Pakistan isresponsible for nearly 80 per cent of polio cases reported globally.

To prevent the possible spread of the polio virus from Pakistan to other countries, the WHO imposed strict travel restrictions on the country.

Militant groups often attack polio teams as they see vaccination campaigns as a cover for espionage. There are also long running rumours about polio drops causing infertility.

Anti-polio campaigns in Balochistan were suspended and rumours of WHO ending operations had emerged after deadly attack on vaccinators in Quetta in November last year which had claimed the lives of four workers.

Later in December, the Balochistan government had suspended its anti-polio campaign in the province in the aftermath of attacks on polio workers in Karachi and Peshawar.

India’s ‘war hysteria’ behind raise in defence budget: Asif

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Sunday that it is India’s “war hysteria” which is behind the raise in its defence budget.
Talking to newsmen in Sialkot, Asif said India is constantly violating ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary by resorting to unprovoked firing. The defence minister was of the view that there was a need to control temperature   downloadon the Working Boundary for a meaningful dialogue. Critic zing the neighbouring country, Asif said that India had not taken any sincere step in the past six month for regional peace. “The nation stands by the armed forces to defend the motherland,” he said.
Asif said that the armed forces were fully capable of responding to any aggression effectively and can protect the geographical boundaries of the country. Addressing a ceremony at a nearby locality Iman Sahib, he strongly condemned the shelling by Indian BSF on Pakistani villages along the Working Boundary and termed it naked aggression. He said that Pakistan would not compromise on its sovereignty and would adopt all options to protect every inch of the motherland. Khawaja Asif said that shelling by Indian BSF was an attempt to divert attention of Pakistan from the operation against terrorism.
“Pakistan is a peace loving country and it is making sincere efforts to develop cordial relations with neighbouring countries on equal basis but unfortunately India was trying to create unrest in the region,” he added. The defence minister further stated that the operation Zarb-e-Azb had been launched for the complete elimination of terrorists and the establishment of government writ in troubled areas. He said that it was moving ahead successfully and the entire nation was supporting it for peace on permanent bases in the country. Asif said the PML-N government was making strenuous efforts to strengthen national economy and for the prosperity of the country.

Indian Foreign Secretary to arrive Pakistan on Tuesday

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan and India will resume the installed process of dialogue here on March 3 when the Indian Foreign Secretary Jaishankar will arrive here on two day visit to Islamabad.
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Pakistan expects that all matters would on the table for discussion including Jammu Kashmir dispute, Siachin, water issues, confidence building measures, people to people contacts and trade matters when two foreign secretaries will meet here on Tuesday. Indian Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyan Jaishankar, who is due on March 3 for a two-day visit to Pakistan will meet his counterpart Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry to discuss all the issues, matters and disputes. The Indian foreign secretary is visiting Pakistan in pursuant to the call of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on February 13.
Pakistan has repeatedly said that Jammu Kashmir is on the UN Security Council agenda and in the Simla Agreement, the two countries reaffirmed their commitment to the UN Charter principles. Although the visit of Indian foreign secretary to Islamabad on March 3 is part of his trip to member states of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), but he will discuss all the issues between the two countries, said an official of Foreign Office. Besides holding formal talks with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Jaishankar is also expected to meet with Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, and Special Assistant to Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi. He is also likely to call on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It will be Jaishankar’s first visit to Pakistan.
The visit is taking place seven months after India called off foreign secretary-level talks scheduled in August last year at the eleventh hour when the Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi held consultations with Kashmiri leaders in the run-up to those talks

IHK polls not possible sans Pak help: Mufti Sayeed

JAMMU: The newly sworn-in Indian-held Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Sunday said the Hurriyat, militant outfits and “people from across the border” — construed as an oblique reference to Pakistan — allowed a conducive atmosphere for the assembly polls.
World-mufti-saeed_3-2-2015_176840_l“I want to say on record and I have told this to the prime minister, that we must credit the Hurriyat, Pakistan and militant outfits for the conduct of assembly elections in the state,” Sayeed said at a media conference after the swearing-in ceremony, NDTV reported.Flanked by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh of BJP and cabinet minister Haseeb Drabu, Sayeed said, “God forbid if they (militants) had done something, it would not have been possible to have a smooth conduct of the elections.”
Thanking the “people from across the border” too, he said, “People from across the border made the atmosphere conducive. They also have assets — Hurriyat, militants… if they had done something (during the election) such a participation of people would not have been possible. This gives us hope.”
AFP adds: Earlier, India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party was sworn into government in the country’s only Muslim-majority state for the first time after an historic power-sharing deal with a bitter regional rival.
Narendra Modi hailed the partnership between his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as a chance to fulfil the aspirations of a region which has endured a sporadic revolt against the Indian rule since 1989.“PDP-BJP govt is a historic opportunity to fulfil the aspirations of the people of J&K and take the state to new heights of progress,” the prime minister said in a tweet, referring to the Indian-held Kashmir (IHK).
After weeks of intensive negotiations, the parties forged a coalition following inconclusive elections two months ago for the IHK assembly.Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the Muslim head of the PDP, was sworn in as the region’s chief minister, along with his cabinet whose members are split roughly equally between the two parties.
In a symbolic gesture, the 79-year-old Sayeed enthusiastically embraced Hindu nationalist Modi, who was on stage to witness the ceremony, held amid tight security in the region’s winter capital of Jammu.
“We want to make the alliance a turning point in history to win the hearts and minds of all people of the state,” Sayeed later told a press conference.Modi and Sayeed, whose parties are staunchly opposed on a range of critical issues in the region, last week finally agreed on a common agenda to jointly rule the IHK.
Unveiled on Sunday, the 16-page agenda says the government will maintain a constitutional provision which allows Kashmir to make its own laws and guarantees autonomy from New Delhi.The BJP has long been committed to its abolition, while the PDP is steadfastly in favour of keeping it.
The new government will also keep in place a draconian law that gives Indian forces sweeping search and shoot-on-sight powers in the IHK, which is seen by critics as a cover for rights abuses.
But Sayeed stressed that he would not hesitate to act against the military if abuses were committed, saying “I am the chief chairman of (a) unified command.”“It is in my direction they have to follow. I will make them accountable.”
He said his government would also attempt to hold talks with separatist leaders over the future of the IHK.The swearing-in ceremony comes after December elections that saw the BJP capture 25 seats mainly in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region, while the PDP took 28, mostly in the Kashmir Valley where Muslim separatist sentiment has traditionally been the strongest.
But both failed to secure a majority to the 87-seat assembly, forcing the negotiations.Both parties benefited at the polls from widespread discontent at the state’s then-ruling National Conference party, over its handling of floods that killed more than 200 people in Kashmir in September.
Analysts warned that the coming together of two ideologically different parties could fuel discontent among Hindus in Jammu as well as Muslims in the IHK.“A big challenge will be to shore up credibility among voters in both regions of the state,” said Siddiq Wahid, a columnist and historian.
“What direction the discontent will take will depends on whether civil rights, like holding peaceful protest marches, will again be curbed.”The PDP had pledged during the election campaign to halt the BJP’s growing influence after right-wing Modi swept to power at general polls in May.The new government also faces the tough challenge of rebuilding after the floods destroyed $16 billion worth of property and infrastructure.

Will Smith’s ‘Focus’ opens with $19.1 million to win U.S. box office

Will Smith’s new action drama “Focus” booted “Fifty Shades of Grey” for its perch atop U.S. and Canadian weekend box office charts, racking up $19.1 million in ticket sales.
willsmith-focus-hollywood_3-2-2015_176824_lSmith, in his first leading role since 2013’s “After Earth,” plays a seasoned con artist who meets up with an aspiring con artist, played by Margot Robbie, in the romance-caper film hybrid.
“Kingsman: The Secret Service”, an adaptation of a popular comic series which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Firth about a spy agency’s training program and a global threat by a tech genius, also outpaced “Grey” to claim second place with $11.8 million.
Third place on a weekend that saw business hampered by rough winter weather in the south and midwest again went to the family-friendly “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water”, based on the popular television show about a talking animated sponge. It sold $11.2 million in tickets.
“Grey,” the smash hit adaptation of the best-selling novel which stars James Dornan and Dakota Johnson as the libidinous couple, took in $10.9 million, landing in fourth from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates. The film is closing in on $148 million at the domestic box office since opening just over two weeks ago.
Rounding out the top five, “The Lazarus Effect,” which stars Mark Duplass and Olivia Wilde as researchers trying to resurrect the dead, took the No. 5 spot on its opening weekend with $10.6 million in sales.
“This was a rather slow weekend at the box office,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at box office tracking firm Rentrak, noting that Oscar winners such as “Still Alice” and “Birdman” had received a good boost from Sunday’s awards.
“The severely inclement weather in the south and midwest threw off our number,” said Jeff Goldstein, executive vice president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros, the Time Warner unit that released “Focus.”
“When you look at the markets not hit by weather, we did really well,” Goldstein said, adding that the film had played especially well with younger audiences, where “word of mouth will really help.”
International box office would further boost the film’s fortunes, Goldstein said.