Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Railways stalwarts concerned about rising train accidents


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News and Features Services) 

Former Railways bigwigs and stalwarts have taken exception to successive railway accidents claiming many precious human lives and described the same as utter professional mismanagement and overloading of railway system caused by launching of new trains with old rolling stock just for political reasons. 

“The recent spate of accidents on PR’s network reflects the breakdown of an intricate system put in place to ensure safety of train operations. These horrific accidents are reflective of utter mismanaged and a quickly deteriorating and overheated system, adversely affecting the safety of train operations,” the former senior railway professionals observed while offering their comments on railway accidents one after the other. 

The tragic accident occurred at Walhar station, near Sadiqabad, on July 11 in which about 24 precious lives were lost and more than 70 passengers injured, some of them critically. Akbar Bugti Express, on way to Quetta, had rammed into a stationery freight train, a nightmare for any operating system. 

An equally horrific had accident occurred a few days ago near Hyderabad when another passenger train rammed into a freight train. 

“These accident reflected the breakdown of the administrative, technical and operational framework put in place to ensure the safety of train operations,” one of the former Pakistan Railways high-ranking officials remarked, fearing that the nightmare may continue unabated unless adequate safety measures were put in place immediately. 

Another former Railways official, while commenting on safety aspects of train operations, pointed out that it’s a crucially important aspect of any railway system as the maintenance of the already weakened infrastructure had been completely neglected for the past year or two. The condition of the already dilapidated track has further deteriorated with the load of more passenger trains introduced by the current political leadership. 

Moreover, mandatory inspections of stations, track and rolling stock, maintenance facilities, essentially required to ensure safety of train operations, has lost its priority with the PR management. Their focus, unfortunately, has been diverted to arranging frequent inaugural functions for the political leadership. 

Complete track renewals, which were considered routine on the main line, are a thing of the past and short term track rehabilitation projects take ages to complete due financial suffocation and lack of proper supervision. 

Another senior railway official of the past was of the view that routine maintenance of rolling stock has also been criminally ignored as the attention of the mechanical staff, especially at MGPR workshops, washing lines and sick lines has been diverted towards rolling out refurbished passenger coaches for facilitating introduction of new trains being announced on a monthly basis, in compliance with policy directives of the Minister for Railways. 

Most of the newly introduced trains are financial disasters and do not even meet the fuel costs, he claimed Though fully convinced of the adverse financial, operational and safety effects of the newly inducted trains, the railway management has somehow failed to convince the Federal Minister for Railways. 

Yet another very senior ex-railway man opened that regular training of human resource, particularly operating staff like drivers, firemen, station staff, guards, signal staff and track maintenance staff is vital for the safety of train operations. This aspect of capacity building of operating employees has been ignored and is not a priority with the railway management. 

The rail experts unanimously reckoned that train operation is an intricate business where each department has to contribute to the system with commitment. This dedication, coordination and commitment is completely lacking, somehow. 

According to them the employees and supervisory staff have lost faith in the officers at the operational levels; and the junior officers have lost faith in the senior officers; worst of all the senior officers have no love lost for the political leadership of PR. 

The staff is disgruntled at the lack of strategic leadership. In the process, the organization is suffering as mandatory operating rules are ignored, resulting in derailments, train parting, fire in trains and head-on collisions. They noted that preliminary inquiries into the recent accidents at Walhar and Hyderabad point to not only technical failures but also to human failure in the form extremely indifferent attitude of the operating staff like, drivers, assistant drivers, station staff, signal staff, etc. 

The PR’s system is almost fool proof and all failures, whether human, electrical and mechanical or track related have to be in place in order to avoid accident. These accidents indicate some kind of tempering with the system. 
For an accident to happen, a combination of human and technical failure in track, rolling stock or signalling is required. The current overload of the already compromised track and rolling stock, by introducing nonproductive and financially nonviable trains has added to the chaos. 

They asserted that focused attention, through inspections and field visits, on day to day basis, of infrastructure and rolling stock facilities, punctuality of trains, safety of train operations, and crash refresher courses for operating staff will definitely reduce the current trend of accidents.

As accidents are a reflection of a failed system. The farce of introduction of new passenger trains on rickety tracks need to be stopped immediately. Running of more passenger trains, and that too loss making is a disservice to PR and causing over heating of an already compromised and weak system. 

They alleged that PR has been an unfortunate story of neglect in the form of deferred maintenance of its three main assets, namely, infrastructure, rolling stock and its human resource. Way forward is to concentrate on immediate implementation of upgradation of ML-1 project’ under CPEC; a once in a life time opportunity but slowly fading away due to mishandling at the political leadership level?

One word of caution though, PR and the government needs to concentrate on proper maintenance of the existing track till the time the ML-1 project is completed in five to six years. 

They advised that infrastructure engineers need to remain on line rather than in the comfort of their offices, especially during the upcoming monsoon season, so as to cater to minor track defects and to protect the track from flash floods. 

Going back to the elaborate framework of operating and safety code, rules and procedure would definitely reduce the frequency of accidents. The frequency of meetings on issues not related to train operations , especially at the highest levels, needs to be drastically curtailed enabling the officers to focus on basic things like punctuality, safety of operations, track and rolling stock maintenance and revenue generation. This is not a tall order. 

Referring to an important aspect of the up gradation project, under CPEC, is human resource development, senior former professional said adding that the Chinese can be of help in immediate upgrade of the training facilities at Walton so as to facilitate immediate training of operating and signalling staff, to avoid critical over load of the system and to reduce expenditures, stop running of new loss making passenger trains.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Sir Syed Express inaugurated in Karachi


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)


The Divisional Superintendent, Pakistan Railways, Karachi Division, Syed Mazhar Ali Shah, got the much talked about the newly introduced Karachi-Rawalpindi Sir Syed Express inaugurated on July 4 through Muhammad Suleman, the first passenger to have booked the ticket from Karachi. 

Talking to media on the occasion, he informed that the train having a total capacity of 646 seats, offers three classes of AC Sleeper, AC Business and Economy. It had 100% booking for the opening day. The train, branded as luxurious, had the facilities of dining car and wi-fi.

The train will reach its destination in 21 hours via Faisalabad. Upon completion of ML-1, the travel time of the train will reduce to 10 hours. 

Besides facilitating passengers it’s being expected to earn the much-needed revenue for the Pakistan Railways. 

The train, named after the legendary scholar and thinker, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, is an important addition to passengers’ service as it would serve three different segments of the passengers market with a focus on economy class service (72%).

The Divisional Superintendent remarked that the train aims at facilitating the passengers from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir who travel to Karachi and other southern cities of the country. 

DS Syed Mazhar Shah told PNFS that at present some 60 trains operate Up and Down from Karachi Division out of which 40 were mail and express trains.

According to him, on 100 percent booking, the Sir Syed Express will generate an income of Rs two million on one side in a day. 

Mazhar Shah said that in Karachi Division alone some 1.2 million passengers were added to an existing roughly seven million passengers during the last financial year contributing to the railway's exchequer. 

Earlier the Sir Syed Express was formally inaugurated by Prime Minister, Imran Khan, during a high-profile ceremony in Rawalpindi.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Overseas students, including Pakistanis, set to take up part-time jobs in China


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The overseas students, including over 20,000 Pakistanis, in China are set to be benefitted from the revamped policy of Beijing allowing international students to take up part-time jobs. 

China will allow international students at Chinese universities nationwide to take part-time jobs during their studies to make the country's higher educational system more attractive, the Ministry of Education said in a statement provided to China Daily on August 7. 

The government of China has been introducing a number of exploratory changes allowing international students in Beijing and Shanghai to take part-time jobs or internships off campus as long as they obtain approval from their academic institutions and the entry and exit administrative authorities. 

In 2016, the Ministry of Public Security had implemented new policies to allow foreign students recommended by their host universities in Beijing to take part-time jobs with companies in the city's Zhongguancun Science Park or become involved in entrepreneurship in the area, where they get an annotation of ‘entrepreneurship’ added to their student visa. 

With around 22,000 Pakistanis studying in Chinese universities, China has now become the largest destination for Pakistani students seeking overseas studies, an official revealed while giving break up including 3,000 students were completing their PhD degrees while others are studying engineering, economics, management, agriculture, medicine, information technology, communication and other majors. 

One of the major reasons for Pakistani students to be attracted to Chinese universities was that they were confident of getting employment after their studies in projects being completed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship initiative of Belt and Road Initiative. 

According to statistics released by the Chinese Ministry of Education, more than 200,000 students from 64 countries along the Belt and Road Initiative were studying in China. 

The number of pupils studying in China from countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road has increased greatly under a series of preferential policies, an education officials said.

Hassan Daud appointed CPEC projects spokesperson

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, Government of Pakistan, has appointed Hassan Daud as the spokesperson on matters related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

The ministry, through a statement, has announced that Hassan Daud, who is Project Director of the CPEC Support Project, will be authorized to issue statements on status of CPEC projects to all forums if required after due approval. 

“All concerned including center of excellence CPEC (PIDE) are advised to acknowledge this in view of importance and coherence of CPEC arrangements”, the statement said adding that any official participating in CPEC related event should coordinate with CPEC secretariat ministry of planning for updated information on all CPEC related activities. 


When contacted by PNFS, Hassan Daud vowed to keep the media posted of the developments regarding the CPEC projects as and when they happened. 

“Whenever an activity takes place in this regard and we have newsworthy stuff to share we will do it right away,” he stated in a brief chat. 

The CPEC, a framework of regional connectivity, will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, India, Central Asian Republic, and the region. 

Having founded peace, development, and win-win model for all of them, it is deemed as a journey towards economic regionalization in the globalized world. The CPEC is considered to be a hope of better region of the future with peace, development and growth of economy.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Nisar Memon’s An Insight into the Senate launched in Karachi


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Describing national security of Pakistan as key to our survival and growth, Senator Nisar Memon, a former Federal Minister, called upon everyone to rise to the occasion to work for a common of cause of upholding the dignity of our people, sovereignty of the country and strengthening of the institutions, which he reckoned, were in a state of decay. 

He gave the clarion call while speaking at the second launch of his book "An Insight into the Senate of Pakistan" held at the NJV High School's auditorium in Karachi on March 4. Earlier the first launch of the book had taken place in Islamabad. 

Besides Nisar Memon himself, other speakers on the occasion included former Federal Minister and Senator Javed Jabbar, former Chief Minister and Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah, Marvi Memon, Chairperson Benazir Income Support Programme, Syed Raghib Shah, former chairman WAPDA, and Tariq Hussain from World Bank. 

Nisar Memon discussed national security at length and dilated upon its various aspects like water, environment, climate change, finance, defence, defence production and social service. In the book, he said, he has also touched upon the present day's most sensitive issue of international peace. 

While bringing the book to conclusion, Nisar Memon asked "can't people the believers in one God, one Prophet, one Book and one Faith be joined on one front against aggression and violation of human rights". 

Nisar Memon, who served the Senate for six years, told his audience that objective of his writing this book was to let the people know about those aspects of the Senate to which it is not possible to them to have access to. 

He said many things which occur in the Senate does not appear in newspapers and, therefore, he thought, to present himself before the people for accountability and what he did when he was in the city, what changes and reforms should be brought. 

He said that when you are elected to the Senate to serve the cause of people for six long years, you have to give the best to the people and they must know what you performed, what you gave and what you learned. 

He said he has discussed all these things in black and white and also to encourage the others to come out and speak about the working of the Senate 

Speaking on the occasion Javed Jabbar facilitated Nisar Memon for writing this book which was long overdue from a parliamentarian about parliament. 

While eulogizing the services of Nisar Memon, he recalled his appreciative role in a non-partisan cabinet, his role in the reformers movement and again in a caretaker government and said he enjoyed excellent opportunities into governments he served with a constructive approach. 

He described his book a genuine attempt aimed at strengthening the institutions and pointed out that Senate is the custodian and rather political custodian of all the four provinces and his book contributes wealth of experiences he gained during his six years of Senatorship. 

He mentioned the book a good combination of remembrance, intelligence and contribution to democracy. 

Senator Syed Muzaffar Shah, who was re-elected as Senator for another six years term only the other day, in his eloquent address marked with fluency, observed that Pakistani politicians are not fond of writing books outlining their experiences as parliamentarians and which the people at large want to know as to how the parliaments work in a parliamentary democracy. 

Senator Shah, who has the presence in as many as 14 committees of the Upper House besides being Chairman of Food and Agriculture Committee and said that Senate is the custodian of rights of the provinces while passing laws. 

He disclosed how he save 1300 acres of prime land in the heart of Islamabad belonging to Pakistan Agriculture Research Council and said the report thereof by highly appreciated by the Supreme Court. 


Referring to clamouring of accusation of horse trading in the Senate election, he stated to have secured highest number of votes without spending a single penny. 

He asserted that parliamentarians should write books and follow the example of Senator Nisar Memon who ventured to do this which only few would do as people want to know how parliament work and how the Senate functions and this book is worth reading for such people. 

Muzaffar Shah was confident that soon the Senate will also have financial authority being the custodian of provinces. 

He paid tributes to Nisar Memon from a Sindhi background and from the corporate sector and said he made a significant role in the political history of Pakistan. 

Marvi Memon in her usual charming style said that to be elected a member of the parliament indeed is an honor as they can make a difference in the political history. 

She said that it was a very special for her to have served the country along with her father Nisar Memon and advised that new generation should learn from his experiences. 

Marvi Memon said that the thoughts cherished by his father as Senator and as Federal Minister were always dedicated to the national causes and one would find it explicitly in his book "Insight into the Senate of Pakistan". 

Tariq Hussain from the World Bank spoke about Nisar Memon's focus on aspect of National Security as highlighted by him in his book, particularly the aspect of water which today is assuming as an alarming issue, particularly with reference to drainage, water logging and salinity. 

He said that the book should encourage the others for improving the effectiveness of our political bodies.

Syed Raghib Shah referred to Nisar Memon's acumen about technical issues and said that although he was Chief Engineer in WAPDA he found Mr Memon more technical than him he would speak in the House Committee on Water issues. 

The present Senators, he said, should pursue all those recommendations and suggestions as provided by Nisar Memon on water as Chairman of Water Committee which were duly recognized by the world bodies.

On the occasion Mr Nisar Memon announced that proceeds of his book would go to the NJV High School where he had remained a student. He congratulated Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah for having been elected to the Senate for another six years term. 

The launch ceremony concluded with the presentation of copies of the book "Insight into the Senate" to the speakers of the day by Nisar Memon himself.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Dewan launches Daehan Shehzore at an spectacular ceremony


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has said that Pakistan is fast coming back on its real economic track and would be looking at its future in the year 2018 when its GDB will be close to 6 percent as against 5.3 percent in 2017. 

He was speaking as chief guest at the grand launch of Shehzor truck, the most popular light commercial vehicle produced in the automotive history of Pakistan with over 50,000 units in operation.

Shehzore has become the generic name for pickups in the country, Dewan Muhammad Yousuf Farooqui, Chairman, Yousuf Dewan Motor Company remarked in his welcome speech at the launch of Daehan Shehzore at the Mohatta Palace Museum on February 25.

Ahsan Iqbal recalled that there was a time when big industrialists and businessmen would be speaking about relocating their industries and concerns to Canada and Dubai and smaller ones to Lahore but today they are coming back to Karachi and Pakistan because of the peaceful conditions and positive investment climate here. 

He said that today international media including Economist and Finance Times are describing Pakistan as the fast emerging economic nation more because of much peaceful conditions today when present government responded stubbornly and cleared our territories of terrorists and subversive elements because of sacrifices of the armed forces and the nation. 

He recalled when the country faced acute power crisis just 5 years back and within four years of this regime, there is a turn around and Pakistan is rising and brought back on the world's economic map. He said in four years the government added 11000 MW of electricity to the national grid and constructed a record number of highways and motorways.

He informed that at present the government is constructing 1600 KM of motorways and will have 2200 KM of motorways by 2019 as against 1400 KM in India. 

"Time has come now to focus on the prosperity of our people and future economic boom", the Minister stated adding that now it is for our entrepreneurs to take advantage of infrastructure developed and they have the potential for this. 

He pointed out that with the steps being taken by this government Pakistan will be among the top 20 world economies by 2025 and top 10 by 2030 provided the country maintained the continuity of economic development with political stability.

Ahsan Iqbal while referring to the development of automotive industry assured of his government's all out support and cooperation for the industry and hoped that all the business groups of Pakistan will make fast advancement to achieve the desired objectives.

“The government through the Automotive Policy is fully committed to extending full support to the local automotive industry of Pakistan. The policy has already attracted significant investment of over US$ 800 million,” he observed while congratulating Dewan Yousuf and his team for their relentless efforts to revive their automotive assembly plant.

Earlier in his speech, Dewan Mohammed Yusuf Farooqui, Chairman Yusuf Dewan Motor Company said that reproduction of Shehzo was made made possible by the acquisition of Brownfield status from the Ministry of Industries and Production, a landmark achievement.

He said our collaborators the JVA and Kolao Group will help us keep our promise of delivering only the best quality vehicles to our trusted customers as we stay committed to contributing our best to our motherland’s socio-economic development.

He described th day as the most special day of his life and Dewan Group.

Speaking on the occasion, Oh Sei Young, Chairman, Kolao Group, and the joint venture partner in Daehan-Dewan Motor Company, expressed the confidence that the Daehan Shehzore pickup will achieve the desired results.

He assured that the Kolao Group will consistently provide total support to the JVA in achieving the mutual objective of regaining market leadership in its segment.

“The government through the Automotive Policy is fully committed to extending full support to the local automotive industry of Pakistan.

The policy has already attracted significant investment of over US$ 800 million,” he observed while congratulating Dewan Yousuf and his team for their relentless efforts to revive their automotive assembly plant.

It may be recalled that Yousuf Dewan Companies, one of Pakistan’s most prominent business houses, had entered into a joint venture with the Kolao Group of South Korea in April 2016.

The new joint venture, Daehan-Dewan Motor Company, unveiled Daehan Shehzore, setting up its automobile assembly plant in Sujawal.

The launching ceremony at the Mohatta Palace was nothing short of spectacular. The cultural programme, featuring performances by the local as well as the South Korean artists, followed by the musical concert provided glamour to the evening at the most historical of venues.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Karachi Railways Division makes steep revenue gains

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Pakistan Railways has made great strides in its revenue earnings with Karachi railway division alone having achieved amazing targets with total revenue earnings rising from Rs 4172.468 million in 2011-12 to Rs 15,615.820 million in 2015-16.

The statistics showed that railways’ revenue earnings stood at Rs 2326.312 million in 1988-89 and soared to Rs 4726.668 million in 2012-13 but shot up to Rs 15,615.820 million in just 2 years 2014-16. 

"The earnings of the division stood at Rs 12,158 million in 2014-15 as against the target of Rs 9304.276 million and went up to Rs 15,615.820 million as against the target of Rs 12,732 million in 2015-16,”Engr Nisar Memon, the Divisional Superintendent Railways Karachi Division, informed in an interview. 

Giving head wise earning position, he revealed that from July 2016 to October 2016, the railway's passenger earnings touched a record Rs 2126.150 million as against the target of 1978.068 million and on the goods side it stood at Rs 3161.55 million as against the target of Rs 2941.462 million. 

According to him, the passenger earnings of Karachi Division stood at Rs 575.817 million in 1988-89 which entered into four figure when for the first time railway earned Rs 1064.570 million in 1995-96 and shot up to Rs 3102.947 million in 2012-13 after the present regime came into power registering a steep rise to Rs 4081.624 million in 2014-15 and a record Rs 5779.633 in 2015-16.

On the freight side, Nisar Memon stated that the earnings stood at Rs 1,610 .906 million in 1988-89 which soared to Rs 6391.714 million in 2013-14 and rose to a record Rs 9151.506 million in 2015-16 thus carrying the total earnings from both passenger and freight sides to Rs 15,615.820 million. 

He observed that these targets were achieved primarily because of the leadership provided by the Federal Railways Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafique who has made tremendous efforts to eradicate corruption from the organization which in the past badly devoured its resources. 

He remarked that the minister's appreciation of their performance had provided them a boost to their efforts to make Karachi Division the highest revenue earning Division of Pakistan. 

The minister, he said, has directed that the facilities being provided to traveling passengers be further improved and Karachi Railway Division is working on various projects in this regard. 

As a result of the efforts made the trains’ punctuality rate has increased to over 80 percent for Down trains and almost 100 percent for upcountry trains.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

LUMS students learn about Railways operations


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

A six-member group of students of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) visited the headquarters of the Pakistan Railways in Lahore to acquaint themselves with the infrastructure, operation and working of the railway system.

The group consisting of four girls and two boys, called on the Chief Personnel Officer, Shoaib Adil, at his office and had an in depth interaction with him about the railway affairs. 

The CPO briefed the visitors about the railway working in greater details and specially the efforts being made by the Railways Minister, Khawaja Saad Rafique, for the railway's turn around to make it Pakistan's prestigious organization. 

He explained to the students the railway's soaring revenue income, the addition of new locomotives and carriages and the working of different cadres of the railway staff besides other things. 

The LUMS students pitched a volley of searing questions especially about the steps taken for increasing the railway's revenues, the hiring system for the employees, the train operations, the safety and security measures for passengers. 

Shoaib Adil informed that since the present leadership took over, the efficiency of the railway staff has went up manifold which brought amazing changes in the organization leading to achievement of remarkable results. 

He said as of today any hiring is made on total merit and more focus is paid on their training particularly with regard to provision of travelling facilities, safety and security of travelers and related aspects.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Alpha opens with a bang as Tesco lands in Karachi


By Abdul Qadir Qureshi 
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Alpha opening in the basement of Ocean Mall, Clifton, on September 10 was quite a memorable event. 

It was an evening to remember as Karachi finally had the presence of Tesco, a reputed British multinational grocery and general merchandise retailer. 

As anticipated the launch of Alpha turned out to be a phenomenal success with the large turnout, a clear indication of the project generating immediate attention to the extent of creating waves among the potential customers. 

It’s the fulfillment of yet other cherished dream of Nadeem Hussain, Founder and Coach at Planet N Group of Companies, having earned accolades in the financial services industry of Pakistan through his impossibly gifted talents.

Living to the reputation of being very passionate about whatever he ventures into, the former Citi Group country chief in Pakistan has now got his Planet N Group off to a flying start with the launch of Alpha and obviously there is a lot more to follow. 

A firm believer of giving back to the society while pursuing his corporate goals, Nadeem Hussain has believed in setting examples, having been a naturally gifted leader, who always has a vision and a strategy to implement and achieve his objectives. 

Now he’s being lauded for bringing Tesco in Karachi, the commercial hub of the country. 

He had signed exclusive rights for Tesco for Pakistan, opening the doors for the third largest retailer in the world measured by profits and the second-largest retailer in the world measured by revenues.

Historically Tesco was founded in 1919 by Jack Cohen as a group of market stalls. 

The Tesco name had first appeared in 1924, after Cohen purchased a shipment of tea from T E Stockwell and combined those initials with the first two letters of his surname and the first Tesco store opened in 1931 in Burnt Oak, Barnet. 

Originally a UK grocery retailer, Tesco has diversified geographically since the early 1990s and into areas such as the retailing of books, clothing, electronics, furniture, toys, petrol and software; financial services; telecoms and internet services.