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Bilawal Bhutto’s PPP to benefit in 2018 general elections

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Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will get benefit in the 2018 general elections as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is accused of corruption case in the Panamagate  and PTI chief Imran Khan is accused of being of sending lewd text messages to Ayesha Gulalai.

Bhutto-Zardari has already declared that he will contest in the 2018 general elections and is confident of becoming “the next prime minister of Pakistan”.

ON July 28, the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif from holding public office. It has also ordered the opening of corruption cases against him and his three children. Sharif denounced the Supreme Court ruling but stopped short of criticizing the military. Without offering any details, he said his removal was the result of a conspiracy. But he  avoided pointing a finger at the military establishment when asked him to disclose who was conspiring against him and if the army was angry with him over foreign policy issues, he said: “It would be appropriate if we continued to focus on the matter at hand.”

Pakistan where the military plays a major role, has however, denied its involvement in Nawaz’s Panamagate scandal case. Tensions between the Pakistani government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the powerful military soared  following a public rejection of the government findings of Dawn newspaper report probe by the military.

Comparing between the democratic dispensation and military rule in Pakistan, he said that all key issues facing the country were resolved by politicians — from the repatriation of prisoners of war from India to the nuclear programme — adding that wars were only fought under dictatorships.

Sharif questioned if he would ask Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to start the process to issue red warrants for Gen Musharraf, or Sharif held the judiciary responsible for allowing the former military ruler to proceed abroad.

Sharif indicated that he would remain active in politics, saying confidently that his innings was not over. “When I was sent into exile by Musharraf, many believed that was the end of my political career. But it did not happen then, and it will not happen now.”

Nawaz is undertaking a Road rally from Islamabad to Lahore despite security threats. Officials have warned of security threats, and political violence and terrorist attacks as road show is a sort of displaying political power and the continued support for PML-N. In 2007 Benazir Bhutto, a former prime minister, was assassinated after a political rally in Rawalpindi.

Meanwhile, Sharif will be seeking a review of his disqualification by filing a petition before the Supreme Court.

He lamented that none of the 18 prime ministers in the country’s history had ever completed their constitutional term in office, he said that just three dictators had ruled the country for decades.

He said the Constitution was abrogated again and again, but the judiciary not only legitimised military rule every time, but even went to the extent of giving military dictators the right to amend the Constitution at their whim.

He regretted that he was once removed as prime minister under the now-defunct Article 58(2)(b) of the Constitution, termed a hijacker by General Muhaarraf and had now been disqualified by the judiciary on an allegation never mentioned in the petition.

“Why should I have disclosed a salary I never withdrew from my son’s company?” he asked, adding that a prime minister elected with the votes of 200 million people should not have been treated in such a way. to get the much-needed political mileage in the face of the challenges its government is facing.

Nawaz Sharif’s wife, Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, or their daughter Maryam Nawaz, are emerging as top nominees to occupy the National Assembly seat vacated by Sharif following his disqualification by the nation’s Supreme Court last month. Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif, who was earlier being considered for contesting NA-120 seat to become a national assembly member, is now to replace Nawaz Sharif as president  of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

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By : Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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US equipping forces to counter Russia and China

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United States perceive Russia’s and China’s growing clout as grave threat who seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions.

The forces’ of five major powers are constantly changing their postures for the major looming war with new capabilities of their acquiring weapons in space and cyberspace, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, and resilient and agile logistics to equip their high-quality troops to win the new types of conflicts.

Keeping in view the current scenario in Afghanistan, resurgent Russia and the aim to provide 360-degree European, the NATO Military Committee meeting was held in Brussels.

NATO faces changes in Afghanistan and in Iraq, to the east as the alliance deploys troops to deter a resurgent Russia, and to the south, where NATO is working with partner nations to build stability and military capabilities in North Africa and the Middle East.

The NATO leaders addressed issues of security and stability in Europe’s southern neighborhood. “This is one of the greatest transnational security challenges that we face, and one which impacts every nation around the globe,” Committee Chairman Gen. Petr Pavel of the Czech army said.

“NATO’s network of partners, complemented with international organizations such as the European Union and the United Nations, allows us to work more effectively and in a comprehensive manner.

Defence Secretary James N Mattis stated, “North Korea and Iran persist in taking outlaw actions that threaten regional and even global stability. Oppressing their own people and shredding their own people’s dignity and human rights, they push their warped views outward.”

On the other hand the there is a tough competition among global terror groups of ISIS, AlQaeda etc.With the defeat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the terrorists of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant are facing prestige issue and are switching their loyalties to Al Qaeda in North Africa and Yemen.

And despite the defeat of ISIS’ physical caliphate, violent extremist organizations like ISIS or Lebanese Hezbollah or al Qaida continue to sow hatred and continue threatening the world.

Concerning the Global Coalition against ISIS and NATO’s involvement in Iraq, the Chiefs of Defence recommended enhanced coordination with the European Union and other international partners as well as the possible adaptation of the NATO Training and Capacity Building activity in Iraq (NTCB-I) to better respond to the needs of the Iraqi authorities in the area of defence sector reform.Meetings with Ukraine and Georgia allowed the respective Partner CHoDs to provide briefings on their challenging regional security situations and progress reports on their national defence force development.

The CHoDs recognized the ongoing transformation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2017 and stressed their continued commitment to Ukraine through the Comprehensive Assistance Package. On Georgia, the Allied Chiefs recognized its significant and enduring contribution to NATO’s Operations and Missions, especially to Resolute Support. The CHoDs commitment to supporting the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package was restressed and they noted the opportunity for further NATO-Georgia interoperability.

After assuming power, Trump questioned the value and purpose of NATO, calling the Alliance “obsolete” and as costing us [the United States] a fortune.” But since then US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has made numerous visits to European countries, holding several bilateral meetings and assured that the U.S. would strengthen its traditional alliances while building new partnerships and listening more to other nations’ ideas.

Moreover, the recently-released US National Defense Strategy reaffirms the US commitment to NATO by explicitly focusing on “fortifying” the transatlantic alliance and referring to the US’ alliances and partnerships as“ the backbone of global security”.

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Medical tourism in India on rise

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India Tourism has been seeing a year on year growth; there has been an increase in domestic travellers as well as foreigners travelling to India. India also attracts patients from several countries for Medical treatments.

Medical tourism or health and wellness tourism refers to the industry where people from across the world travel to other countries to get medical, dental or surgical care and at the same time visit local attractions of that country.

Out of the total Medical tourism across globe approximately 63% is shared between Singapore, Thailand and India with Singapore and Thailand being the leaders in the field.

India has seen a regular growth in Medical tourism traveller’s and from 2013 -2016, the medical visas issued annually has grown from 1.22 lacs to 1.78 lacs.

Following are some of the reasons why people choose India for their treatment:

– World Class facilities and services available in India
– Good qualified doctors
– Cost (Some of the major surgeries in India cost 10-20% of the cost incurred in Western Countries)
– No waiting period for treatments

Some challenges which need to be addressed for patients choosing India as preferred Medical tourism hub

– Improve perception on hygiene and service across the globe
– Ensure quality and service
– Step down facilities for Post Surgical care for recovery. India lacks in centers that can take care of recovery needs post treatments and the patient has to spend more days at a hospital.
– Medical Visa – Procedure to obtain medical visa needs simplification as it can get quite cumbersome as per current regulations

Based on statistics released by the government, Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are the top destinations for visitors travelling for Medical tourism. Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi have the large number of quality hospitals and take the maximum share of the pie as of today. These cities have a several hospitals to choose from and offer good connectivity across the globe.

Medical tourism or health and wellness tourism can be divided in to 2 different types:

Curative: This is where the traveller’s come in for specific treatments, a few of the preferred treatments are listed below:

Cardiac Surgeries including bypass surgeries

Knee / Hip Replacement surgeries

Orthopedic surgeries

Cosmetic surgeries

Ophthalmology

Rejuvenation: Traveller’s want to explore the ancient treatments and traditional medicines offered in India and hence they come to India, a few are listed below

Ayurveda
Yoga
Siddha
Yunani
Naturopathy

Considering that we can excel in various parameters catering to medical tourism, our country has tremendous potential to increase our share in the Medical Tourism segment.

Jay Kantawala, Founder of WIYO Travel says, “Medical tourism in India has been seeing a year on year growth in the past decade and is expected to grow 2 ½ times in the coming 8-10 years and become a US$ 1.6 Billion market in coming decade. This industry will get a boost if Visa process is simplified and simple cross border payments. In addition to this we are seeing Health care institutions opting for certifications for NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers) and JCI (Joint Commission International) accreditations, which help in building trust amongst travelers”.

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56% smart cities prone to floods: Report

More than 2,200 cities and towns in India are located in districts which have witnessed at least 11 floods in the last 18 years.

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As much as 56 per cent of smart cities are prone to floods which are responsible for 77 per cent of all disasters in India, a report said on Friday.

The report, based on disaster data between 2000 and 2017, observed that India has a mean of 11 flood events per district over the last 18 years.

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Following floods, other disaster share was cyclone (22 per cent), extreme temperature (11 per cent), landslides (seven per cent) and earthquakes (four per cent). Drought, however, was only one per cent of all disasters.

“Ninety-eight per cent of India’s 642 districts have received at least one flood event,” stated the joint report ‘Decoding the Monsoon Floods’ by NGO SEEDS and Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) based in the University of Louvain School of Public Health, Brussels.

It said that floods affect over 15 million people every year. Of 15.6 million people affected by floods in India in 2017, over 316,185 were people with disabilities.

“More than 2,200 cities and towns in India are located in districts which have witnessed at least 11 floods in the last 18 years,” the report said.

Further signifying the scale of infrastructure that needs to be secured against the future risks, the findings said that 56 per cent of India’s planned smart cities fall in districts reporting a high number of flood events.

Since 2000, India has faced 215 flooding events both from floods and cyclones. This accounts for 77 per cent of all disaster events.

“Assam is the most flood-prone state, with areas like Lakhimpur reporting over 30 flood events within this period. Even known drought-prone areas of Gujarat and Rajasthan have witnessed more floods than the country’s average in the last 18 years,” said Anshu Sharma, Co-founder and Mentor, SEEDS.

“Unpredictability, urbanisation and invisibility of flood risk are major concerns that need to be addressed urgently,” Sharma added.

Citing the 2015 Chennai floods in Tamil Nadu, the report pointed out how the natural sinks like wetlands, that act as a sponge against floods, had shrunk due to rapid urbanisation, leading to catastrophic results.

“Estimates put the remaining original wetlands of Chennai at just 10 per cent.”

“Concrete encroachment on Cooum River, Adyar River and Buckingham Canal which serve as the main rainwater drains, poorly designed drainage systems and ageing civil infrastructure added to the problem,” the report said.

Debarati Guha-Sapir, Director, CRED, said: “We are witnessing a disturbing trend of a large number of climate induced disasters… The launch of this regional report is a huge step towards better understanding of local nuances of disaster events.”

Suggesting preparations for the 2018 monsoon and cyclone seasons at policy and community levels, the report said that with a scale this huge, informal nature of the losses and limited resources, coping practices at the community level are very beneficial.

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