WRITERS, POETS AND URDU SCHOLARS, PARTICIPANTS OF INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON AHMED NADEEM QASMI, WELCOMED AT PAKISTAN HOUSE IN ANKARA Islamabad: October 20, 2016

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey Sohail Mahmood hosted at Pakistan House last evening the participants of the International Urdu Congress, held in Antalya on 13-16 October in connection with centenary birthday celebrations of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, says a press release received here today from Ankara.

The guests included prominent writers, poets, and Urdu scholars from Pakistan, Japan and Turkey.

Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Sohail profoundly thanked Prof. Dr. Asuman Belen Ozcan, Chair, Department of Urdu, Ankara University, for her tireless efforts in organizing the Congress and highlighting Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi’s life and achievements internationally.

Turkey’s development agency, TIKA, supported the convening of the Congress.

The Ambassador thanked the Congress participants for their respective contributions on the life and works of Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi � an illustrious man of letters and a giant figure of Urdu literature.

Highlighting growing collaboration between Pakistan and Turkey in the promotion of Urdu language and literature, Ambassador Sohail also called upon the eminent guests to help further strengthen Pakistan-Turkey links in the fields of literature, arts, and culture as part of the efforts to deepen people-to-people contacts between the two fraternal countries.

Source: Info Pak

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Joint Statement of the First Kuwait-U.S. Strategic Dialogue

U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah co-chaired the first-ever U.S.-Kuwait Strategic Dialogue on October 21, 2016, in Washington, DC. This dialogue is expected to shape the work of our two countries over the next quarter century in implementing President Barack Obama’s and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah’s shared vision for bilateral cooperation across the full spectrum of our mutually beneficial partnerships. The two sides discussed specific initiatives to enhance defense, security, economic, commercial, political, educational, scientific, and consular cooperation, and established working groups to make progress in all these and other areas before the next Strategic Dialogue.

DEFENSE PARTNERSHIP

The United States and Kuwait intend to build on a defense partnership that helps secure mutual national and regional interests. Secretary Kerry thanked Foreign Minister al-Sabah for Kuwait’s help in the fight against Da’esh and its leadership in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. The United States is prepared to work jointly with the GCC states, including Kuwait, to deter and confront an external threat to any GCC state’s territorial integrity that is inconsistent with the UN Charter. The Kuwaiti side appreciated the robust defense cooperation between our two countries. The two sides tasked their teams with designing a mutual strategy to implement specific measures to enhance this partnership, and committed to continue their coordination through the U.S.-Kuwait Joint Military Committee.

SECURITY PARTNERSHIP

The United States is committed to Kuwait’s security, and to working with Kuwait to secure its homeland. The United States and Kuwait undertook to bolster their security partnership � including but not limited to countering terrorism and terrorist financing, particularly through enhanced information sharing � and look forward to Kuwait’s chairing of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENA-FATF) in 2017. They also welcomed Kuwait joining the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Turkey in co-chairing the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL’s Foreign Terrorist Fighter working group. Both sides pledged to continue their efforts in countering violent extremism and in other security matters, such as cyber, and agreed to establish a working group to follow up and ensure continued progress.

ECONOMIC GROWTH

Both sides recognized the sizable potential business opportunities for expanded economic engagement. Kuwaiti officials described plans to diversify their economy and increase economic cooperation. Both sides encouraged proposals to foster greater U.S. business activity in Kuwait, and to increase investments by Kuwait in the United States. The two countries established a working group to make progress toward these goals.

EDUCATIONAL AND SCIENTIFIC PARTNERSHIPS

The United States and Kuwait reaffirmed the value of people-to-people connections to our bilateral relationship. Educational exchanges and scientific research between the United States and Kuwait have grown considerably in recent years, and the two countries see opportunities for further broadening and deepening these links. Both countries would like to see more Kuwaitis join the approximately 13,000 individuals already studying in the United States, and pledged to explore ways to enhance support for the academic and professional success of students and scholars to advance our shared national interests. Both sides also committed to exploring new ways to broaden research and technical cooperation between U.S. and Kuwaiti universities and research institutions. The U.S. government also extended an invitation to the Kuwaiti Minister of Higher Education to visit the United States and meet with private sector organizations and institutions of higher education and research. The two sides established a joint working group and charged it with exploring ways to increase the number of exchange students, and devising specific means of expanding scientific research and technical cooperation.

CONSULAR, CUSTOMS, AND BORDER CONTROL AFFAIRS

In the context of greater people-to-people contact between the United States and Kuwait, the two sides reaffirmed the importance of prompt consular notification for citizens detained in either country, in line with their international obligations. The two sides reiterated their commitment to keeping each other apprised of consular-related matters, and committed to establishing a working group focused on consular issues. They also underscored the need for closer cooperation on customs and immigration matters. The United States and Kuwait look forward to the signing of a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement before the end of 2016, which would allow greater information sharing, training, and enforcement.

CONCLUSION

Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister al-Sabah highlighted the shared interests between the United States and Kuwait that form the basis for the continued strengthening of the strategic partnership between the two countries. The working groups established at this meeting intend to consult regularly in order to make tangible progress for the peoples of both countries. The two sides recognize that today’s meeting was a comprehensive exchange that established a roadmap for deepening the Kuwait-U.S. partnership in the coming years and look forward to addressing an even broader agenda in the next Strategic Dialogue in Kuwait in 2017.

Source: U.S Department of State

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Mumbai Film Fest Opens Amid Protests Over Pakistani Talent

NEW DELHI � India’s glitziest film festival opened this week to fanfare and fury, as Indians protested the inclusion of Pakistani artists.

With a ceremony in Mumbai’s iconic and newly refurbished Royal Opera House, the celebration of Bollywood and international film kicked off Thursday amid the sober announcement that at least one screening was canceled.

The Pakistani classic “Jago Hua Savera,” or “Awake, It’s Dawn,” was dropped from the Mumbai Film Festival schedule after a local organization claimed it would cause public outrage.

Even a public plea from Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar could not stem the calm. Johar released a video message asking Hindu nationalist protesters to not disrupt the Oct. 28 release of his big-budget romantic drama “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil,” or “Difficulties of the Heart,” which features Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a small role.

“I beseech you to know one thing, that over 300 Indian people in my crew have put their blood, sweat and tears into my film,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair to them to face any kind of turbulence.” Johar pledged to avoid using Pakistani actors or crewmen in future movies.

Tensions between Pakistan and India escalated last month after a deadly rebel attack on an Indian military base. India blamed Islamabad for backing the separatist rebels and providing them with training and arms. Pakistan denied the allegation, saying it offers only moral support to the rebels fighting for Kashmir’s independence or merger with Pakistan.

As the two governments trade increasingly acrimonious barbs, people in both film-crazy countries have moved to boycott each other’s films.

Pakistani cinema’s stopped showing Bollywood fare in their theaters weeks ago. And a blanket ban against showing Indian content on Pakistani television networks and radio stations took effect Friday. India’s government has not issued a blanket ban but said it would make such decisions on a case-by-case basis.

The Mumbai festival organizers this week said they dropped the Pakistani black-and-white classic “Awake” due to “the current situation.” Meanwhile, the regional political party Maharashtra Navnirman Samiti threatened to disturb any attempts to screen any film involving Pakistani talent.

Many of the Bollywood glitterati attending the festival criticized the outrage and said protests were not the solution.

“Of course you have to stand by the nation, but when it comes to a movie … there are so many Indian actors who have already put their blood and sweat into it, I think they ( protesters ) should think about it,” Bollywood actor Riteish Deshmukh said.

Film director Zoya Akhtar called out the hypocrisy of protesters shutting down films while ignoring the ongoing cricket matches involving teams from both countries.

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan also said the ruckus was “unnecessary,” and that film audiences should be free to decide what they want to see.

“People will see the film and decide for themselves, thank you very much,” Khan told reporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political party along with state authorities in Maharashtra, of which Mumbai is the capital, have issued statements assuring that violent protests would not be tolerated.

Meanwhile, the weeklong film fest was screening some 175 films, documentaries and short films from more than 50 countries at venues across west-coast city.

The lineup included Cannes’ prize winner, the British drama “I, Daniel Blake,” as well as other international films including Oliver Assayas’ “Personal Shopper,” Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu’s family drama “Graduation,” and Pablo Larrain’s “Neruda” about the life of the Chilean poet.

Source: Voice of America

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Remarks With Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah Before Their Meeting

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning everybody. I’m delighted to welcome my friend, Foreign Minister al-Sabah from Kuwait, to Washington and to this strategic dialogue that we will engage in this morning. The truth is we meet frequently and I want to thank the Amir of Kuwait and the Government of Kuwait for their tremendous commitment to this relationship, for the extraordinary cooperation that we receive on a whole host of issues.

And really now for 25 years since we fought shoulder to shoulder in the war of liberation of Kuwait, there’s just been a clarity of purpose in what we are trying to achieve together. We are engaged in counter-Daesh, counter-ISIL efforts. We’re engaged in regional stabilization efforts. Kuwait has made significant contributions to help deal with the problem of displaced people and refugees � I think about $1.4 billion, the most recent pledge. They are a reliable and constant partner in the effort to counter violent extremism in the region. They share the same interests that we do in trying to bring peace to Yemen, and they’ve hosted talks there for a long period of time and are prepared to continue to do that if we can bring the parties together to try to have a peaceful resolution to that conflict. They are a contributing partner in our efforts with the GCC, which have increasingly been important ever since the Camp David meeting.

So on the security side, there is this full partnership, but also on the side of education, on exchange of students, on trade and investment, we are working extremely closely together. And I want to thank the Amir and his government for their efforts to help counter the proliferation of the DPRK � of North Korea. They have recently taken steps to curb flights and to make sure that revenues from workers are not sustaining any illegal and illegitimate regime in North Korea.

So again, we’re grateful for the many areas of our work together, and I’m delighted that today we’re finally able to achieve what we’ve been working towards for some time, which is getting this strategic dialogue between our countries underway, recognizing the importance of these many issues that we’re working on together.

Thank you, my friend. Good to have you here.

FOREIGN MINISTER AL-SABAH: Thank you. Thank you. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I would like first of all to thank Secretary Kerry for his invitation. I’m so delighted to be here in Washington today to start the strategic dialogue between the state of Kuwait and the United States of America. That reflects the desire of the two countries to promote and enhance the existing relation.

We are ready, as my friend Mr. Kerry just said, to cooperate in military, security, education, and culture. And we have many other fields. We have to explore fresh ideas to promote and enhance the relation. It’s a good opportunity also to touch up on regional issues and combating terrorist group, so-called Daesh, and the situation in Yemen. Operation take place in Iraq now to liberate Mosul, crisis in Syria and of course Libya, and to think together how can we work to resume the peace process in the Middle East.

So we have a lot of challenges. Today we’ll have a good opportunity to discuss all these matters. Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, one question: Do you think � do you see Lebanon as getting closer to having a president?

SECRETARY KERRY: We obviously hope that Lebanon will move, but I’m not certain what the outcomes will be from the support that Saad Hariri is offering. I don’t know what the result will be yet, but we’re very hopeful. This stalemate on the issue of a presidency is hurting Lebanon, it hurts the region, and it � we hope they can move forward. Thank you.

Source: U.S Department of State

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Foodpanda Celebrates its 4thAnniversary

The grand event hosted by foodpanda Pakistan on its 4th Anniversary was something that turned on even the faint-hearted. The celebration was graced by the top Customers of foodpanda, CEO’s of top hospitality brands in the country, food & lifestyle Bloggers and leading Celebrities from the industry � who by the way happen to be ardent users of foodpanda.

What started in 2012 as a fusion of innovation and experience � was bound to tantalize the taste buds of the entire nation. And it didn’t disappoint! Such positive was the response that in a short period of four years, foodpanda catered to half a million hungry foodies and generated Rupees one billion additional revenue for the restaurant industry.

Showing gratitude towards all the stakeholders who contributed in making 4 years of such an unprecedented service possible, Nauman S Mirza, MD & CEO of foodpanda Pakistan said, Customers are at the heart of our business. We are extremely thankful to our partnering restaurants that work with us closely to provide an unmatched proposition for keeping more than half a million customers delighted.

Further highlighting the technical expertise of the company, Mr. Nauman said, We have achieved 100% automation in order delivery to restaurants. Foodpanda’s proprietary technology enables us to get customer orders directly into the restaurant’s kitchen in less than 20 seconds!

The food delivery market in Pakistan is estimated to reach a 400 Million USD mark by 2020; thanks to healthy economic growth in the country, improved law and order situation, increased penetration of 3G and 4G services and increased investments, especially in the hospitality sector. Local restaurant heroes are expanding their footprint across the country and international chains are eyeing second tier cities for expansion.

In such a thriving industry landscape, foodpanda is playing a vital role in connecting millions of foodies in Pakistan with their all-time favorite eateries like McDonald’s, KFC, Nando’s, Dunkin Donuts, Johny Rockets, Fat Burger, Sarpinos, OPTP and many more.

Commemorating the journey with foodpanda, McDonald’s Director Marketing and Development, Mr Jamil Mughal said, Partnering with foodpanda has brought success by increasing customer reach. Foodpanda’s platform has enabled us to reach more customers without any cannibalization. Together we hope to keep delivering exciting food with utmost convenience and bring more smiles on the faces of our valued customers every day!

Using foodpand’s cutting-edge, user-friendly mobile App, customers are able to discover all the restaurants delivering to their area and restaurants are able to attract a customer base that usually does not order using the existing ordering channels. More than a 100% spike in App downloads only in last 12 months is a true evidence of foodpanda’s popularity among the local foodies.

Taking pride in achieving one milestone after another, Mr. Nauman said, The progress in the last 12 months is a testament to our commitment to grow and ace the 400 Million USD food delivery market in Pakistan. In 2016 alone, our customer base has increased by a staggering 100% and we are now at half a million happy customers. On the restaurant side, we have generated additional sales of PKR 1 Billion � and honestly we’re just warming up.

Source: ProPakistani

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Islamabad: October 20, 2016

Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the UN Security Council that Pakistan has a vital stake in the solution of the multiple conflicts that afflict the Middle East today, says a press release received here today from New York.

Speaking in the debate on the situation in the Middle East, she assured the Council that Pakistan would work with sincerity to help in any effort to resolve these crises and reestablish peace and security in this central part of the Islamic world.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the UN argued that unless a just and durable solution is found to the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Holy Land it will be difficult to resolve conflicts and crises afflicting the Middle East and to reverse the rise of terrorism and extremism.

Ambassador Lodhi termed the grim situation in Syria as the sum of all tragedies, stemming from foreign interference, state repression, terrorism and ethnic and religious divisions.

She said that the challenge the world confronts in Syria was multifaceted: to defeat Daesh and other terrorist organizations; to restore the rights of all of Syria’s people, minorities and majorities, while preserving the country’s territorial integrity; and to ensure that the sources of terrorism and violence in Syria do not spread to its neighbors and beyond.

Rejecting the recently announced Israeli plan to construct 300 new settlement units in the West Bank, the Pakistani envoy said that with every new settlement plan, the Israeli Government is systemically sabotaging the possibility of the two-state solution � the only viable option for durable peace.

She said Pakistan appreciated last week’s Security Council meeting on the issue of the Israeli settlement and urged the Council to follow up the talk with action.

Ambassador Lodhi regretted the inability of the Security Council and the major powers to halt the expansion of Israeli settlements and enforce the two-state solution and said that this has encouraged the Israeli leadership to entrench its obduracy and intransigence.

She urged the 15-member Council to categorically reject and condemn Israeli moves to create a fait accompli to defeat the two-state solution. Indeed, the occupying power should recognize that its political identity would not survive in a one-state alternative; it will reinforce its character as an apartheid state, she added.

Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to supporting the Palestinian people in their legitimate struggle for their right to self-determination and statehood, Dr. Lodhi said, We firmly believe that the creation of an independent, contiguous and viable State of Palestine, based on pre-1967 borders, with Al-Quds al Sharif as its capital, is an essential prerequisite to sustainable peace in the Middle East.

Speaking on the situation in Iraq, Ambassador Lodhi welcomed military reversals on Daesh and expressed the hope that ISIS will soon be ejected from Mosul. The world welcomes the progressive diminution of Daesh. Its various terrorist manifestations within and outside the region will have to be also contained more vigorously, she added.

On the conflict in Yemen, the Pakistani envoy said that this has created devastating chaos and human suffering that has been exacerbated by external factors and stressed that, The realization of peace in Yemen must be based on the restoration of international legitimacy and the reconciliation of the political, religious and tribal differences within the country.

Source: Info Pak

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Special Envoys impress upon Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee that status quo in Kashmir is not an option

Special Envoys of the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir met with the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee on 20 October 2016, at the British Parliament. The Envoys apprised the Select Committee on the on-going gross violations of th…

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