Taleemul Quran seminary asked to close on Ashura

RAWALPINDI: Fearing violence, the local administration and police have asked the administration of the Taleemul Quran seminary in Raja Bazaar to close for three days on Ashura.

The seminary, which was reopened on Sept 30, is along the main mourning procession route that will be taken out in Muharram.

In 2013, the seminary, a mosque and a fabric market in Raja Bazaar were torched when violence broke out on Ashura. The provincial government spent Rs240 million to rebuild the seminary, mosque and 100 shops in the fabric market.

Seminary administration says it must take local religious scholars on board before responding to local admin’s request

Construction was completed on the seminary, mosque and market, and they were handed over to the seminary’s administration and traders in 2016. The seminary was inaugurated days before Muharram began, and Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Mohammad Yousaf was invited as chief guest.

The chief of the Taleemul Quran seminary, Maulana Ashraf Ali, told Media: “City Police Officer (CPO) Israr Abbasi asked the seminary administration to vacate the seminary for three days beginning Muharram 10, saying the situation in the country will be critical in the coming days.”

He said the request was a simple one, but the administration sought three days to respond as the city’s religious scholars needed to be taken on board before a decision is made.

“We started consultations with religious scholars and seminary teachers on whether to accept the local administration’s request,” he said, adding that it would be difficult for the seminary administration to give students holidays.

Maulana Qazi Abdul Rasheed, the secretary general of the Wafaqul Madaris Pakistan and administrator of the Madrisah Darul Uloom Farooqia Dhamial, told Media local religious scholars have suggested that the government not close down the seminary on Ashura, as the move would affect the studies of the Taleemul Quran’s students.

“Religious scholars of the garrison city are cooperating with the government to maintain peace, and the police should devise better security arrangements while taking religious scholars of all sects into confidence to avoid any untoward situation,” he said.

Mr Rasheed said the seminary’s Raja Bazaar building was under construction for two years, and students were shifted to a nearby seminary for a few days in Muharram. But he argued that since the construction of the seminary and mosque has now been completed, there is no reason to close down the seminary for a few days.

He said the local administration believed that Raja Bazaar is a congested area, and security arrangements needed to be made accordingly, which is why the seminary was asked to close.

When asked about rumours about demands that the procession route be changed instead of closing down Taleemul Quran, Mr Rasheed said no demands had been made to have the procession route altered, and religious scholars were cooperating with the provincial government to maintain peace and brotherhood.

An official from the City District Government Rawalpindi told Media intelligence agencies had reported that students in seminaries would create problems, so all mosques and seminaries in the area have been put under surveillance.

“On the route of the Muharram procession, there are over six hot spots where a sectarian clash may erupt. Taleemul Quran is the only seminary and in 2013, sectarian violence erupted,” the official said.

He said the Bohar Bazaar mosque in Trunk Bazaar, commonly known as Maulvi Abdul Sattar Wali Masjid, was also a hotspot, but with the ban on the use of loudspeakers and increased security, the area would be less problematic.

He said the seminary and its administration were accommodated in the past few years, and all the construction was carried out as per the wishes of the seminary administration, so there was no reason not to accept the local administration’s request to close the seminary for a few days.


18 fall unconscious after consuming ‘poisonous’ milk

MIRPURKHAS: Eighteen men, women and children were brought to the Digri Taluka Hospital for treatment on Wednesday after they fell unconscious in their house in Yaseen Kaimkhani village near Digri Town.

The patients, four men, three women and 11 children were provided emergency treatment and some of them were admitted to the hospital. Doctors at the hospital said the condition of all of them was stable now.

Punio Kolhi, Kanio Kolhi and some other patients told doctors that the common thing they all had consumed before falling unconscious was goat milk which suggested that the milk might have turned poisonous.

Banning Indian films in Pakistan will only bolster piracy, say local cinema owners

Last week, Pakistani cinemas declared an indefinite ban on the screening of Indian films following the Indian film association’s ban on Pakistani talent, but how will it affect local cinemas? We find out.

Speaking to Images, Khorem Gultasab General Manager of SuperCinema, Lahore, explains that the suspension was provoked due to the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association’s (IMMP) ban on local talent. “Naturally, we were bound to take action on two accounts: 1) to show solidarity with our army; and 2) to show solidarity with our Pakistani actors,” he says.

“The nation’s dignity and pride supersedes any business or monetary value,” Gultasab adds, citing that although 50-60% of the revenue generation came from Bollywood films alone, the decision to suspend Indian films was an “instant agreement” from local stakeholders.

He believes “it’s time to show India that its trade bodies cannot ban our actors and not expect retaliation. They must not forget that Pakistan is the third largest market for Indian films.”

Now that re-runs of old Pakistani films are hitting cinemas along with current films, the GM emphasises that Pakistani cinemas cannot survive on Pakistani films alone.

He gives us the breakdown: “There are 52 weeks in a year, the lifespan of any film is 1 week, a blockbuster, 2 weeks. There were a total of 15 Pakistani films released last year, this year so far there have been 6, of which only 3 worked, the others flopped. Even if you double the amount of each film’s run-time with the few films released, you’re still left with 40-42 weeks of empty screens. What will cinemas do for those weeks?”

“The nation’s dignity and pride supersedes any business or monetary value,” says a cinema manager in Lahore, citing that although 50-60% of the revenue generation came from Bollywood films alone, the decision to suspend Indian films was an “instant agreement” from local stakeholders.

Like many, Gultasab too hopes the ban is lifted soon. “Pakistan and India are neighbours, and they will be, they are not going away anywhere. If they cannot be friends, they need to learn to co-exist.”

Sharing similar sentiments, Nadeem Mandviwalla, owner of Atrium cinema, Karachi and Centaurus cinema, calls the resolution passed by the IMMP “very immature and unethical“.

“We did this because of IMPPA’s resolution,” he says of the suspension. “We (stake holders) had to respond quickly. There was no time to call a meeting to discuss.” Hours after the ban was announced, the necessary stake holders reached the conclusion to suspend screening of Indian films effective immediately.

“The trade association is supposed to improve relations, not destroy them,” Mandviwalla argued, stating that the current Pak-India relations are very delicate, and should not be inflamed at such a time, especially by trade associations.

Speaking of the suspension in the long-run, he says, “It will hurt them, it will hurt us. It will hurt legitimate business stake holders. The winner is the pirate.”

Although he reveals there has been no decrease in footfall in cinemas yet, however, if the suspension is prolonged, it’ll result in “hurting cinemas here”, due to which he urges that “sanity should prevail”.

Mohsin Yaseen of Cinepax (Karachi) management echoed the same sentiments with regards to footfall. Customers are still breezing in through the doors to watch local and Hollywood films.

Until the ban on Indian films is lifted, local cinemas are playing longer runs of recent releases as well as re-runs of last year’s films for example, Ho Mann Jahaan and Bin Roye, so if you missed those the last time, you can watch them now!

Bollywood flicks PINK, Baar Baar Dekho and Mohenjo Daro were playing at Cinepax last, before they were removed. All other Hindi films like Mirzya(October 7) and Shivaay (October 28), which will be released subsequently, will not be screened at Cinepax, says Yaseen.

“It (the suspension) was a decision made by the management itself,” he explains. “We haven’t received any complaints regarding the removal of Indian films from our consumers, and we’ve started playing old films from last year with a mix of the new ones.”

Although it’s too early to judge footfall in less than a week of the suspension, however the long run might take a toll.

The temporary ban, which will go on for an indefinite period, is in accordance to IMPPA’s resolution, state the managements of the aforementioned cinemas. Till their ban on Pakistani talent is lifted, the suspension will continue.

Until then, local cinemas are playing longer runs of recent releases as well as re-runs of last year’s films for example, Ho Mann Jahaan and Bin Roye, so if you missed those the last time, you can watch them now!

Russia to join CASA-1000, set up 600MW plant in Jamshoro

ISLAMABAD: Russia is expected to utilise the six-month (October-April) idle capacity of the proposed Central Asia to Pakistan transmission line to sell its surplus electricity to Islamabad and set up a 600-megawatt gas-fired plant in Jamshoro.

The two sides have also agreed to convene a meeting of the joint energy working group in Moscow next month to sign a formal memorandum of understanding in this regard.

Visiting Russian Deputy Minister for Energy Yuri Sentyurin and Water and Power Secretary Mohammad Younus Dagha discussed the two issues in a meeting on Wednesday.

According to an official privy to the meeting, the visiting delegation was informed that the transmission line of Central Asia-South Asia (CASA-1000) will remain idle during October and April every year because of a decline in hydropower generation in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

“Pakistan invited the Russian Federation to join CASA-1000 for the non-hydel part, as there is room for the transmission of electricity from October to April,” said an official statement.

It quoted the Russian deputy minister as saying that his country already discussed the possibility of joining the CASA-1000 transmission line during the off-peak hydrogenation period with Tajikistan, which has shown willingness to facilitate. The Russian government will soon be taking up the matter with Kyrgyzstan.

The two sides also agreed to follow up with parallel discussions about whether the import of electricity from Russia be kept a government-to-government deal or a commercial arrangement.

Mr Dagha said work has already started on CASA-1000 under which Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will transmit their hydel electricity through the transmission line to Pakistan from May to September. “However, the transmission line will be available to transmit Russian thermal electricity from October to April,” he said. Such a situation can benefit the Russian side and bolster regional connectivity and greater regional cooperation.

Talking about Russia’s investment in the 600MW gas-fired power plant in Jamshoro, Mr Dagha said the project’s feasibility has already been conducted and its PC-1 is also ready for approval. He told the delegation that the power evacuation system already exists at the site, which means it is the “most viable project” for immediate investment for Russia.

The Russian deputy minister for energy said Russian companies have rich experience in the energy sector and many of them are eager to invest in Pakistan’s energy sector.

He said Russia has substantial surplus capacities in thermal and nuclear power plants, which can be readily made available to Islamabad to overcome energy shortages once political and commercial agreements are finalised.

He welcomed Pakistan’s proposal to join CASA-1000 and expressed the willingness to be part of it. He was of the view that Pakistan and Russia should jointly pursue other partners —Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — for speedy outcomes.

He said the Russian side is also eager to pursue the Jamshoro upgradation project and is exploring ways to finance it. Mr Sentyurin said the cooperation between the two countries is strengthening with each passing day.

Mother-daughter boxing duo make Lyari proud

KARACHI: A few days after the legendary American boxer Mohammad Ali passed away, Younus Qambrani of the Pak Shaheen Boxing Club received an interesting phone call.

A young girl named Razia Abdul Aziz had looked him up on the internet and wanted to know if he would be willing to teach her how to box with the 10 other girls he trained at his club.

Mr Qambrani has been teaching Lyari’s youth how to box since 1994 and started to train girls in the sport last year.

“When she called me she was worried about the fees but I told her that I train girls free-of-cost,” he said, adding that Razia was one of the most hardworking and enthusiastic students he had.

According to Mr Qambrani, Razia trains seven days a week for an hour or more. In just a few months, he said, she had advanced fantastically.

Razia, 19, told media, that her dream was to become a professional boxer and represent Pakistan at the Olympics. “I don’t just want to participate, I want to win gold,” she said.

According to Razia, her English language teacher at the House of Modern English inspired her to become a boxer. “My teacher is a great boxer and an amazing teacher. He really inspired me,” she said.

“I was always very interested in sports but did not have the opportunity to do so. When I tried playing cricket in college people thought it was strange,” she added.

“Training at this club and boxing is a great opportunity for me and I will not let it go to waste. I will train and give it my best,” she said.

Nearly a month ago, Razia’s mother, Halima, joined her at the club — something that no woman in her neighbourhood of Lyari dared to do before.

“My daughter, Razia, started training at the club a few months ago and last month I decided that I wanted to try it out as well,” she said.

“Razia came up to me one day and asked if she could learn how to box — I said if that is what you want then go for it.”

“When I joined I wanted to do this just for the physical fitness. I thought I would come here for PT and then go home but with encouragement from the coach I decided that I would learn the sport,” she added.

Talking to Media, Halima said that she knew she was not as fast as the other girls Razia trained with or learning at the same pace.

“I started learning slowly and give it as much time as I can. Although I never wanted to be a professional boxer, I have decided that in the future I want to become a referee,” she said.

“Her father used to love boxing and Mohammad Ali was one of his all time favourites,” said Razia’s mother. “When he was alive we used to watch boxing matches and other sports together all the time.”

To ensure that the mother and daughter learn all the tricks of the sport, the coach makes them spar together.

“At first it was difficult, but then we realised that if we don’t punch each other or hurt each other someone else will and this is part of the sport,” they said.

Talking about her relationship with her daughter, Halima said that she feels boxing has brought them closer together.

“She has a very set routine — she wakes up at Fajr, has something to eat then goes to work, then comes to train, then rushes to the coaching centre to study. Finally she comes home around 8pm or so to pray, eat and sleep,” said Halima.

“Since we started boxing together we make it a point to not miss training at the club and always talk a little about boxing before going to sleep,” she added.