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Murad forms body to firm up recommendations for making RO plants efficient

F.P. Report

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the installation of RO plants in the water-starved areas, particularly Thar where water table is so deep with highest rate of TDS, was a revolutionary step to provide drinking water but “our efforts are being criticised that the plants are not working to their capacity has shed water on our efforts.”

This he said while presiding over a meeting here at the CM House to review the progress of installation of Reverse Osmosis (RO) Plants and converting them on solar-based energy.

He said that he has reports that some of the plants have failed to work and some others have capacity issues.

“All these issues must be addressed through technical and scientific approach,” he said.

Secretary Special Initiative Department Aijaz Ali Khan giving presentation said that in the phase-I, 500 plants were installed between 2012 to 2015 for Rs2.44 billion.

Out of 500 plants, 393 are operational and providing water to 1.63 million people. He added that so far 68 RO plants have been converted on solar energy while work on others is in progress.

He said that in phase-II 750 RO plants are being installed for Rs4 billion. Out of 531 RO plants have been installed of them 379 have been made functional.

He added that the solarisation of 135 plants is in progress. He went on to say that 17 more RO plants would be made functional if their bores are made deep.

The meeting was told that in the third phase of installation of 750 RO plants started in 2014 for Rs5.49 billion and are scheduled to complete in 2018. So far 525 RO plants have been installed, of them 430 are functional. The solarisation work of 27 ROI plants was in progress.It was pointed out that in phase-I & II some 1050 RO plants are being turned on solar energy and so far work on 600 units have been completed. The solarisation of Manora RO (Desalination) Plant launched for Rs427 million is in progress.

The meeting was informed that in Phase-III 750 Plants being installed at Tharparkare have 145 units at Mithi, 136 at Islamkot, 131 at Chhachro, 129 at Dahli, 71 at Diplo and 95 at Nagarparkar. Out of 707 RO plants, 550 have been installed, of them 125 are functional at Mithi, 108 at Islamkot, 68 at Chhachro, 50 at Dahali, 42 at Diplo and 37 at Nangarparkar.

On this, the chief minister said that it means 277 RO plants are nonfunctional in Tharparkar on which he asked the secretary to submit him a report with reasons in detail.

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Erdogan in Qatar for talks on Gulf crisis

DOHA (AFP): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Doha on Monday as part of a Gulf tour aimed at defusing a dispute between Turkey´s ally Qatar and neighbouring Arab states.

Erdogan was greeted by Qatari ruler Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani in Doha ahead of their first face-to-face talks on the Gulf crisis, state news agency QNA reported.

Turkey has sided with Qatar in the crisis, the worst to hit the region since the 1981 establishment of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain suspended diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar over allegations that Doha had too close ties with Iran and supported extremist groups.

Qatar has denied the allegations.

Erdogan held talks on Sunday in Kuwait, which is leading mediation efforts in the crisis, and Saudi Arabia, where King Salman hailed the Turkish leader´s “efforts in the fight against terrorism and its financing”.

Erdogan has voiced support for the mediation efforts of Kuwait, a possible indication Ankara sees Kuwait as the key to resolving the crisis.

Qatar´s emir on Friday said he was open to talks with the Saudi-led bloc on condition the emirate´s “sovereignty” was respected.

His call received a cold reception from the UAE´s state minister for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, who wanted Qatar to review its policies.

“Dialogue is necessary, but it should be based on a revision” of Qatar´s stance, he tweeted.

Qatar has emerged as Turkey´s number one ally in the Middle East in recent years, with Ankara and Doha closely coordinating over issues including the Syria conflict where the two are staunch foes of President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey is also setting up a military base in Qatar, its only such outpost in the region. It has expedited the process since the crisis began and reportedly now has 150 troops in the emirate.

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26 people, including 9 policemen martyred in Lahore blast

F.P. Report

LAHORE: 26 people have been martyred in a suspected suicide attack in the Ferozepur area of the provincial capital on Monday afternoon, confirmed DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf Speaking to media, DIG Operations confirmed nine policemen were martyred in the blast.

57 people were also injured in the explosion. Many of the injured are said to be in critical condition. DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf said a police picket was targeted in the attack. “We are collecting evidence and this could be a suicide bombing. The death toll includes police and civilians.”

Police sources said a suicide attacker targetted police personnel deployed at the site, media reported. The explosion took place near the Arfa Karim IT Tower. Several motorcycles and at least one vehicle were destroyed in the explosion.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, addressing a press conference, said terrorism can not be ruled out as the motive behind the explosion. He added that security forces are conducting their investigations.

Sanaullah further said that the government has started a security operation against terror organisations and the situation is much better when compared to 2011-12.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan confirmed that an anti-encroachment drive was being conducted at the time explosion. Anti-riot police personnel were deployed at the spot among others.

Rescue and relief efforts underway the area was cordoned off by a heavy contingent of security forces and the section of the road leading towards Lahore was sealed. Forensic experts are conducting investigation in to the attack.

The injured were shifted to Jinnah Hospital, Lahore General Hospital and Ittefaq Hospital. Several of the injured are in critical condition, Geo News reported. Police personnel are also among those injured. An emergency was imposed in the city’s hospitals.

Identity of those killed in the explosion has not yet been ascertained as of yet.  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed sorrow over the loss of precious lives in the blast. He directed authorities to provide all possible medical assistance to wound of the suicide attack.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa has condemned the blast and has directed the Army to provide immediate relief and rescue. Army troops have also reached the site.

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PML-N govt aims to make AJK hub of tourism: PM

ISLAMABAD (APP): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government aims at making Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) the hub of tourism.

“The Federal Government is focusing on infrastructure and tourism development at AJK which is manifested by two folds increase of federal funding for these sectors,” the PM said while talking to Minister for Information and Tourism AJK Mushtaq Minhas in Islamabad.

During the meeting, Minister for Information and Tourism briefed the Prime Minister regarding various development projects undertaken by AJK government.

The Prime Minister further stated that, “PML-N will deliver on promises made with the people of AJK regarding improvements in education, health and social sectors. I will visit AJK soon to meet with PML-N workers,” expressed the Prime Minister.

With regards to human rights violations in the Jammu and Kashmir, the Prime Minister said, “Pakistan has always strongly condemned the use of force on innocent people of Jammu and Kashmir.”

“Pakistan will keep on extending diplomatic and moral support towards the rightful demand of self-determination of the Kashmiri people,” stated the Prime Minister.

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Pakistan, US enjoy exceptional relationship for past 70 years: Aizaz Chaudhary

ISLAMABAD (INP): Pakistan and United States have been enjoying an exceptional relationship for the last seven decades, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry while addressing a gathering over dinner in Chicago on Monday.

According to a press release issued here, he said seven decades of our excellent relations do not only comprise of government to government relations but also robust people to people ties. He also appreciated the efforts of the Pakistani-American community for welfare of their country origin along with the role of Pakistani-American community of Midwest in cementing Pak-US relations.

Aizaz Chaudhry urged the Pakistani-American community to focus on assimilating with other communities living in United States and the country is emerging as a fast developing and modern republic in South Asia. He advised the young generation of Pakistani-Americans to actively participate in the local political scene.

The ambassador drew attention of Pakistani-American businessmen of immense business potential in Pakistan and encouraged them to invest their expertise and capital in Pakistan.

The dinner was organized by the consul general of Pakistan in collaboration with Pakistani-American Community of Chicago to welcome Ambassador Chaudhry on his first visit to Midwest US after assuming office in Washington. Congressman Danny K Davis, attended the event and greatly appreciated the role of Pakistani-American community in strengthening robust ties between the two countries.

Speaking at the event, Consul General of Pakistan Faisal NiazTirmizi, thanked the participants and especially urged Pakistani-American business community to attend the “Trade and Property Show” which is being organized in Chicago under the auspices of Pakistan Consulate and Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the first week of August 2017.

Representatives of Attorney General of Illinois, Mayor of Chicago, Chancellor East West University, Chairman Central Asian Productivity United of North Illinois University and a large number of Pakistani-American community attended the dinner.

The event was concluded by presenting a Certificate of Appreciation by Ambassador Chaudhry to Michael Blair. Michael Blair is Director Sales at Community Tissue Services and played a pivotal role in dispatching donation of skin grafts for burn victims of fuel tanker blast in Pakistan last month.

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Tale of corruption hidden in every project of Punjab government: Ellahi

LAHORE (Online): Pakistan Muslim League central leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhry Pervez Ellahi has stated that Auditor General’s report absolutely confirm the tale of corruption hidden in every project of Punjab government.

He said this during meeting with a delegation of senior lawyers of Lahore High Court belonging to Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Pakistan Peoples Party, who called on him here on Monday headed by Rana Asad Munir advocate, and announced joining Pakistan Muslim League.

The delegation included Faisal Aman advocate, Irfan Ghaffar, Nadeem Aman, Ejaz Hussain Shah, Atif Ahmad and Mazhar Ali advocate.

Pervez Ellahi said that the Panama case came from Almighty Allah for catching the corruption of the rulers, that rulers will have to account for their doings, people should not be dodged by their innocent faces this time because the Supreme Court has opened their corruption to the people.

Welcome the lawyers leaders in the party fold, Ch Parvez Elahi said that our party has always been in the front for solving the problems of lawyers’ community on priority basis, established institution of Prosecutor General during our tenure, set up Consumer Courts and formulated housing scheme for the lawyers.

“Rulers will have to account for their doings, Panama case came from Almighty Allah for catching the corruption of the rulers, people should not be dodged by their innocent faces this time because the Supreme Court has opened their corruption to the people”, he added.

He said that corruption worth billions of rupees was committed in laptop scheme, sasti roti, yellow cab, mechanical tandoor and ashiana scheme. Highlighting the major achievements of his tenure, Ch Parvez Elahi said we have introduced private universities for popularizing education, established IT Tower for promotion of Information Technology (IT).

He said focus of our politics is common and poor man and as such our projects 1122 emergency service, patrolling posts, tax exemption for farmers over twelve and half acres, exemption of five marla from tax are also for welfare and well-being of common man and poor man but N-League hate farmers as well as the poor man because of this tax was reimposed again on the farmers and the poor.

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Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan admires efforts of Pak Army

RAWALPINDI (APP): Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan and Resolute Support Mission (RSM), General John W. Nicholson, called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Monday where the two discussed terrorism and regional security situation.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations, the army chief raised concern over the blame game perpetrated by some quarters in Afghanistan and the United States to undermine the contribution of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

He said it’s not a coincidence that this theme is being played at a time when policy review is being undertaken in the US. He said Pakistan will continue to act positively despite provocations as the armed forces consider war on terror a part of national interest.

Important issues including border management, regional stability and peace came under discussion. General Nicholson has appreciation the professionalism of Pakistan Army and admired resilience of the people of Pakistan during war on terror.

The two agreed to enhance cooperation and highlighted the need for continuous engagement between forces in both countries.

COAS Bajwa and Gen Nicholson converged on the need to increase coordination for peace and stability in the region. Also, the meeting was also attended by the United States Ambassador David Hale.

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‘Politics can wait’: Ch Nisar postpones press conference in light of Lahore blast

LAHORE (Monitoring Desk): Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday postponed his much awaited press conference after a suspected terror attack in Lahore today.

Discussing the delay in his press conference, Nisar said, “I have been ill but I would rather go back today, than discuss politics while a tragedy has hit the country.”

He continued: “I was bedridden for the past two days and saw a number of speculations in the media about my condition. I would like for you all to keep those at bay and focus on the matter at hand — the Lahore blast.”

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Hekmatyar-led HIA decides to join government

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Executive Council of the Gulbadin Hekmatyar-led Hezb-i-IslamiAfghanistan (HIA) has decided to join the government, an official said on Monday.

Qarib Rahman Saeed, HIA spokesman, told Pajhwok Afghan News the decision was taken at a meeting of the council chaired by Hekmatyar on Sunday night.

He added a commission had been tasked with working on how to be part of the current system. The level of HIA partnership would be determined later on, explained the spokesman.

According to Saeed, a joint commission was working on how to implement the article of the peace deal between the government and HIA regarding the party’s in the system.

The HIA member said they supported the incumbent administration and the purpose behind HIA’s participation in the system was to enable the government to complete its term.

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US venture capital’s digital coin quandary: cash-rich startups

NEW YORK ( Reuters):  US venture capital firms lining up for a slice of the burgeoning digital currency market are grappling with a novel challenge – some of the hottest tech startups that sell the coins just don’t need their money.

Only a few years ago, digital currency entrepreneurs, like other Silicon Valley peers, had to line up to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists, who controlled their destiny as virtually the only source of funding.

So-called initial coin offerings (ICOs), where new tech companies using blockchain technology can raise millions quickly by creating and selling digital “tokens,” with no regulatory oversight, have turned traditional relationships upside down.

Blockchain, a public online ledger of transactions, gained prominence as a technology that underpinned the first digital currency, bitcoin.

“The day when VCs were the elusive elite and primary source of capital for startups has ended,” said Jamie Burke, founder and chief executive officer of VC firm Outlier Ventures, which specializes in blockchain and other technology investments.

“When a startup can raise $35 million in 30 seconds without any dilution, the genie is out of the bottle and it isn’t going back in,” he said, referring to Brave, an open source web browser that blocks ads and trackers, which sold its Basic Attention Token in June.

By mid-July, tech firms raised about $1.1 billion in 89 coin sales this year, roughly 10 times more than that in the whole of 2016, according to data compiled for Reuters by crypto-currency research firm Smith + Crown.

Coin sales have already eclipsed funds blockchain firms received from venture capital, which invested over $300 million in equity in the sector in the first half of this year, Coindesk data showed.

Still, the tokens’ strong gains on dozens of online exchanges got venture capital firms’ attention and several sought to get a slice of the offers in exclusive pre-sale deals, public sales or both. Prominent venture capitalists Tim Draper and Blockchain Capital co-founder Brock Pierce told Reuters they have participated in coin offerings.

Many of these VC firms also take equity in the start-ups that issue the coins.

However, venture capital firms moving into the world of digital currencies face unprecedented pushback. Some issuers limit the size of pre-sale deals, making venture capital firms scramble like everybody else for sought-after public offers.

Pierce of Blockchain Capital said the old business model that gave venture capitalists and founders the lion’s share of a company no longer worked with blockchain firms.

“Whether VCs like it or not, venture capital will become a very small part of capital formation,” he said.

The reason is that firms issue tokens not only to raise money but also to attract a broad group of enthusiasts who can help develop their projects hoping to lift the value of their investments.

“Tokens can galvanise a community: lots of individuals and corporations are able to work together and improve a decentralized network,” said Ryan Shea, co-founder of tech start-up Blockstack in New York.

Blockstack recently launched a new browser that will give users access to new applications on their own devices without remote servers.

For Blockstack’s own token launch later this year, Shea said the firm plans a combination of a crowdsale and so-called “mining”, in which market participants solve complex mathematical problems to release a coin.

“I think if you have a few venture capitalists that come in and sweep up all the tokens, to me that’s a failed token sale,” Shea added.

Stelian Balta, developer, entrepreneur as well as founder and chief executive officer of Singapore-based hedge fund HyperChain Capital, is one such investor issuers target.

“We help in the security audit of the tokens, we help introduce developers for coding purposes, and we have introduced the start-ups to our own network of connections,” he said.

Robust Returns

Venture capital firms’ digital currency investments still account for only a sliver of the roughly $19.3 billion they have invested in tech-related sectors in the first half of 2017, according to data from consulting firm PwC and research firm CB Insights.

But the double-digit returns coins have delivered over the past few years is not something venture capital investors want to pass up.

According to tokendata.io, a new website that tracks initial coin offerings, these tokens trade on the exchanges at 20 times their initial sale price on average. That number is skewed by high-performing outliers and the median multiple is three.

Yet VCs sometimes have to make do with less than they bid for in token sales.

For example, US startup Civic, which is building an identity verification network, trimmed venture capital firms’ and other institutional orders in a pre-sale of its token, the company’s co-founder and chief executive Vinny Lingham told Reuters.

Venture capitalists recognise digital coin sales as a genuine disruptive force, but argue they still have a role to play – helping blockchain startups build teams and devise longer-term business strategies.

“The investors who bought your token, like public market investors, may be gone tomorrow, next month, or next year, having moved on to the next big thing,” said Fred Wilson co-founder of Union Square Ventures, which has participated in coin sales. “VCs, at least the best ones, are there for your company in good times and bad.”

Yet as long as coin sales provide quick, hassle-free access to funds, start-ups tend to focus on technical expertise and see less urgency to tap venture capital funds.

“People who provide value are those who have insight on how blockchain works,” said Jake Brukhman, a partner at U.S.-based CoinFund, which invests in tokens. “I think VCs are two years behind on blockchain.”