Nest I/O brings 021Disrupt conference on entrepreneurship, innovation to Karachi

Tech incubator The Nest I/O will hold the second instalment of its flagship conference on entrepreneurship and innovation, 021Disrupt, at a Karachi hotel on Nov 10 and 11.

021Disrupt is expected to attract over 20 international guests, 30 local speakers, and more than 10 venture capitalists, in addition to more than 600 entrepreneurs, professionals, and students, a press release said.

The conference will feature a line-up of local and international speakers and founders of several prominent and successful startups.

A new addition this year to 021Disrupt will be giving select startups the opportunity to deliver elevator pitches to a live audience of investors, mentors, founders, professionals, and people from all walks of life, the statement said.

According to the organisers, the casual format of the conference will allow participants to network with speakers, investors, influencers, mentors, and other professionals in attendance.

During the event, one-on-one sessions with leading VC’s and investors from home and abroad will be offered to select participants.

The Nest I/O is a tech incubator and a community hub launched by P@SHA (Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES) and a global partner of Google for Startups.

The initiative provides budding entrepreneurs with space, infrastructure, facilities, and knowledge sessions as well as access to a network of mentors and potential investors.


Balochistan ‘not cooperating’, ministry complains to ECC

ISLAMABAD: The power division has complained to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the federal cabinet that the Balochistan government is not cooperating in finalisation of Rs86 billion discount in electricity bills of agricultural tube wells, it emerged on Sunday.

Informed sources said the power division has taken up with the ECC the matter of Rs218bn arrears outstanding against federal and provincial governments and Baloch farmers besides extension of subsidised power rates along with two proposals. The proposals required Balochistan government’s input, as it would have to shoulder the responsibility of providing funds worth Rs27.6bn or Rs52bn, the sources added.

However, the power division complained to the ECC that the provincial government was not responding to make financial commitments.

Power division’s delegation to visit Quetta to seek province’s financial commitment

“The Balochistan government has not offered the comments despite many reminders”, the power division placed in writing before the ECC.

The sources said Power Minister Omar Ayub Khan-led delegation comprising power secretary Irfan and officials of the power division and Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) would meet Balochistan Chief Minister this week to seek a firm future fiscal commitment and clearance of backlog besides support for launching a drive for the recovery of unpaid bills and against power theft in Balochistan.

The sources said Finance Minister Asad Umar, while presiding over the ECC meeting last week, had concluded that the continuation of subsidy for farmers in Balochistan could not be finalised without the commitment of the provincial government. It desired a responsible approach from the government of Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Aliyani, they added.

The power division claimed it was supporting extension of the subsidy scheme “with great reluctance” due to outstanding liabilities and existing financial crunch only if the federal finance ministry and the Balochistan government made “firm commitment to clear outstanding subsidy arrears and streamline the subsidy payment process”.

The power division said the finance ministry and Balochistan government would be required to pay Rs767.57 million and Rs1.15bn, respectively, with the 40:60 per cent share on top of Rs10,000 per month to be paid by tube well consumers using 30-HP motors.

The second proposal envisaged monthly payment of Rs1.12bn and Rs2.13bn by the federal and provincial governments with 40:60 share and Rs10,000 by consumers using 50-HP motors due to low underground water table.

Simultaneously, the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) in collaboration with the Balochistan government would work expeditiously on solarisation of agriculture tube wells and drip irrigation system in the province. The provincial government would also be required to extend full legal and operational cooperation in recovery of dues from electricity defaulters, particularly agri-consumers.

The power division also sought receivables for an intervening period i.e. after withdrawal of subsidy from July 2010 to November 2012 under the payment formula recommended by the cabinet committee on energy in January 2015.

Earlier, the subsidy to agri-consumers was provided from the financial year 2001-02 to 2009-10. Despite having financial constraints, the subsidy was restored in pursuance of the ECC of the cabinet decision for a period of two years (from Dec 1, 2012) but without explaining the fate of intervening period (i.e. from July 1, 2010 to Nov 30, 2012). The stakeholders, however, did not discharge their liabilities and Rs54.64bn remained outstanding against the stakeholders by the end of two-year period in December 2014.

A committee constituted by the cabinet committee on energy on recovery of receivables and addressing the issue of circular debt, decided in February 2015, agreed to fix the subsidy for the intervening period (from July 2010 to Nov 2012) as per subsidy package approved by the ECC in November 2012.

Under this decision, a tube well owner was required to pay Rs6,000 per month and remaining Rs44,000 share was to be paid by the federal and provincial governments with the ratio of 40:60 share in case of maximum bill of Rs50,000 per month. Any excess amount was also required to be paid by the consumer.

In June 2015, the rate was revised to a maximum of Rs75,000 per month from January 2015 to December 2016. Under the revised mechanism, the consumer was made to pay Rs10,000 and remaining Rs65,000 by the Centre and Balochistan government at the ratio of 40:60 share.

The power division said the provincial government in collaboration with QESCO constituted “district monitoring committees comprising relevant DCO, XEN / SDO and a representative of Zamindar action committee. The district committees surveyed and inspected the tube well connections in their areas for the authenticity of connected load and verified that the actual average load was 48 horsepower instead of 30-HP.

Despite difficult conditions, particularly law and order issues, Qesco made perpetual efforts at all levels to implement ECC’s decision in letter and spirit but most of the consumers were reluctant to pay even their agreed due share of Rs10,000. “None of the consumers is ready to pay any amount over and above Rs75,000, besides their previous arrears.”

This deteriorating situation resulted in accumulation of Rs29.889 billion as arrears against agriculture consumers from January 2017 to December 2017. “Total arrears surged to Rs218 billion till February 2018. In this regard, the support provided by the law enforcement agencies and administrative assistance of Balochistan government was not up to the mark. Consequently, Qesco was not able to recover outstanding arrears from its agri-consumers. Qesco received only Rs1.253bn against billing of Rs31.142bn from January 2017 to December 2017. As a result, the recovery percentage from the agri-consumers has been observed as only 4pc.”

Agriculture is one of the major sources of livelihood in Balochistan. To bring the farming community at par with other farming communities of Pakistan, the government had promised that Centre would pay a portion of their electricity bills to run agriculture tube wells and continue to provide power subsidy on tube wells in Balochistan.

Ball-tampering: Why it cut Australian cricket so deep

The Australian cricket team was once held in such high esteem that former prime minister John Howard joked he held only the second most important leadership role in the land, after the national Test captain.

But the sandpaper-gate scandal has changed perceptions of the men in the famous baggy green cap, perhaps irrevocably, while the image of governing body Cricket Australia has also been seriously tarnished.

The controversy erupted when batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught trying to alter the ball using sandpaper in the third Test at Newlands in South Africa.

To the outside observer, the affair may have seemed more farcical than shocking.

Bancroft infamously hid the sandpaper down his trousers when television cameras caught him scuffing the surface of the ball, and then captain Steve Smith’s evasive answers at a press conference dragged his team further into the mire.

Smith, Bancroft and fellow conspirator David Warner initially thought the fuss would blow over quickly. After all, the punishment for ball-tampering was only a one-match suspension.

Plenty of high-profile international cricketers had received minor punishments and escaped with their reputations intact after being found guilty of the same offence.

The list includes England’s Mike Atherton, Shahid Afridi of Pakistan and current South African skipper Faf du Plessis (twice).

But public reaction to the Australians’ behaviour was furious, Smith was stripped of the captaincy and all three players received lengthy bans.

The scandal also cut a swathe through Cricket Australia management, with Sutherland, coach Darren Lehmann and team performance boss Pat Howard all heading for the exits amid claims they fostered a toxic team culture.

“Headbutt the line”

To understand why the backlash was so extreme, it helps to bear ex-prime minister Howard’s observation in mind.

And as ABC’s national sports correspondent Mary Gearin pointed out when the scandal broke, Australia’s cricketers enjoy a unique place in the affections of their fans.

“The national men’s cricket team has had a century and a half of brand dominance,” she wrote. “Our team, like it or not, resides right near the heart of our national identity, and allowed a space in our psyche that absolutely no other team, or entity, enjoys.”

For decades, the Australian Test side has adopted a prickly, uncompromising demeanour on the field that former captain Steve Waugh said was intended to bring about the “mental disintegration” of opponents.

Rival fans accused the Australians of being boorish and insulting, with even some of their own supporters uncomfortable with their antics.

But players defended themselves, insisting they played hard but fair.

“There’s a line. We’ll headbutt the line but we won’t go over it,” spinner Nathan Lyon said last year.

The ball-tampering scandal not only crossed the line but obliterated it, leaving the national team’s reputation in tatters.

Waugh said there was genuine shock among Australians that their team would resort to cheating.

Fairfax cricket writer Jon Pierek said in the wake of the scandal that the Australian public were clamouring for their cricketers to drop the ugly behaviour and transform into players they could once again adore.

“This is the moment Australian cricket must shed its bully-boy reputation and a win-at-all costs attitude that has ripped the game apart,” he said.

In an effort to meet those demands, Cricket Australia commissioned an independent review of its culture and practices.

The review was released on Monday and it was scathing of the sport’s governing body, labelling it “arrogant” and “controlling” in a quest to win at all costs.

Fakhre Alam detained at Russian airport for arriving with an expired visa

Singer and television anchor Fakhre Alam was detained at the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk Airport in Russia after he landed in the country with an expired visa, it emerged on Monday.

Alam, who earlier this month embarked on a journey to fly around the world in 28 days, told actor Faysal Quraishi that he arrived in Russia two hours after the expiration of his visa, following which he was taken into custody by local authorities.

In a message — posted by the actor on the singer’s behalf — Alam said that he was being held “in a room without food or water”, and claimed that his phone was confiscated by the Russian authorities for six hours.

Alam further said that the Russian authorities were insisting that he flies back to Japan, adding that that was not possible as he only had a single-entry visa. He appealed the government to help him as he did not “want to give up Mission Parwaaz”.

“I need Pakistan’s support to carry on our flag to finish this,” Alam said in his message. “I need help.”

The Foreign Office took notice of Alam’s detention and said that “they were looking into the matter”.

CJP summons Establishment secy over Islamabad IGP’s transfer amid ‘fake news’ reports

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday took suo motu notice of the transfer of the Islamabad police chief and summoned a complete record of the transfer in the wake of ‘fake news’ reports that he had been removed from his post for not receiving a minister’s telephone call.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad Jan Mohammad, a retired lieutenant and a BS-20 officer of the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), was posted out from the force and his services were surrendered to the Establishment Division on Saturday.

The government’s Fake News Buster Twitter account on Sunday rubbished local media reports that the IGP had been transferred because he did not attend minister Azam Swati’s phone calls.

A clarification shared by the account quoting the Interior Ministry spokesperson claimed that the ministry rejected the “baseless” reports.

The spokesperson explained that the summary for the IGP’s removal was sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan three weeks ago, and that it faced approval delays due to the PM’s busy schedule and his travel.

However, sources close to the development told Dawn that the decision to transfer the IGP, who had been appointed before the general election, was made last week. The decision was made over some issue, the sources said, but did not share the exact reason behind the transfer.

Court will not tolerate political transfers: CJP

The CJP summoned the Secretary of Interior to court today to explain why the IGP Islamabad was transferred.

“We will not allow our institutions to be compromised because of some senator, minister, or his son,” the top judge asserted.

“We’ve heard that the IGP was removed at the behest of some Veer(brave man),” Justice Nisar commented. “The rule of law will be upheld.”

The hearing resumed after a break, with the CJP asking if the secretary Interior had been summoned, to which Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti replied in the affirmative.

“The secretary should come with the complete record and tell us why the transfer took place,” Justice Nisar said.

“The court will not tolerate such political transfers,” the CJP said, noting that “there was also a transfer in Punjab, and this transfer happened within a matter of days. The attorney general’s office should also provide a report on this.”

“How were the IGPs reshuffled just days after being posted?” he wondered. “The Islamabad IGP was transferred exactly the way that the Punjab IGP was transferred.”

The CJP summoned the records for the transfers of both the Punjab and Islamabad IGPs’ transfers.

“Tell the secretary Interior to provide the record for both police officers. The rules were fixed in the A.D. Khowaja case,” the CJP said, referring to the controversial transfer of the former Sindh police chief.

“Tell us when he [the Islamabad IGP] was transferred,” the CJP demanded.

He added that the hearing would resume in the open court once the secretary Interior arrived in court.

The court expressed its displeasure over the delay in the secretary Interior’s arrival in court as the hearing resumed. “Should the court wait for you?” the CJP asked the official.

Once in court, the secretary Interior told the bench that the Islamabad IGP’s transfer was handled by the Secretary of Establishment.

The court asked the secretary Interior whose jurisdiction the capital police falls under, to which he responded that it fell under the Interior Ministry’s purview.

“You have no idea that the IGP under you has been transferred,” the CJP commented, to which the secretary Interior responded that he had not been consulted at the time of the transfer.

“Attorney general sahab, if you were aware that the secretary Establishment was behind the transfer, you could have called him too,” the CJP said. “Should we now sit and play Ludo while we wait for him to come here?”

The attorney general’s request to postpone the case was rejected by the court, which directed the secretary Establishment to shelve his other commitments and appear before the bench by 3:30pm.

Abrupt police transfers raise eyebrows

This is not the first abrupt police transfer under the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government. There were two reshuffles of provincial police chiefs in September and October after the new government was elected.

Amjad Javed Saleemi, the Sindh IGP, was replaced by Kaleem Imam, the Punjab IGP, in September after the Pakpattan controversy on Aug 24.

The DPO Pakpattan was abruptly transferred in the middle of the night after it emerged that he had not visited the Maneka family’s residence after they were intercepted on their way to Darbar.

The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) chief, Khalid Dad Lak, who was tasked with probing the matter and submitting a report to court said that the order for the DPO Pakpattan’s transfer “flowed from the chief minister’s office”, while then Punjab IGP Kaleem Imam “acted as a rubber stamp”.

Around the same time, then Khyber Pakhtunkhwa IGP Muhammad Tahir was appointed Punjab IGP, replacing Imam.

Amjad Javed Saleemi was in October transferred to Punjab, where he replaced Muhammad Tahir, prompting Nasir Durrani, the head of the police reforms commission and a favourite with Prime Minister Imran Khan, to step down.

However, Saleemi’s transfer was temporarily suspended by the Election Commission of Pakistan since it was a violation of its Sept 3 directives banning postings and transfers of government officials in the wake of the Oct 14 by-polls.

He assumed charge in Punjab after the by-polls.

Islamabad police chief’s replacements

IGP Islamabad Jan Mohammad is currently in Malaysia on ex-Pakistan leave to attend a course, and will return on November 5 and hand over the charge to his successor if the government has appointed any officer in his place by then.

Sources told Dawn that he was transferred from the capital police while he was abroad. Currently, DIG Security Waqar Chohan has been looking after the office of the IGP Islamabad in his absence.

The names of four officers are currently under consideration for the post of the IGP Islamabad but so far no one has been finalised, according to the sources. They said two of them had already showed reluctance to fill the post.