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Thousands of plant lovers have flocked to the northern Swiss city of Basel to see a giant, stinky flower bloom for the first time.

The Basel Botanical Gardens expects 10,000 people to see its amorphophallus titanum, or corpse flower, in full glory before the bloom wilts late Saturday or Sunday. The plant is 17 years old and has never bloomed before.

Visitors haven't been deterred by the strong stench of rotting flesh the flower emits to attract insects for pollination.

The 6.6-feet (2-meter) tall flower is native to the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the last one to bloom in Switzerland was 75 years ago.
Worldwide, there have been only 134 recorded blooms from artificial cultivation.

The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum (from Ancient Greek amorphos, "without form, misshapen" + phallos, "phallus", and titan, "giant") is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence in the world. (The largest single flower is borne by the Rafflesia arnoldii; the largest branched inflorescence in the plant kingdom belongs to the Talipot palm, Corypha umbraculifera).

Due to its odor, which is reminiscent of the smell of a decomposing mammal, the titan arum is also known as a carrion flower, the "Corpse flower", or "Corpse plant" (Indonesian: bunga bangkai - bunga means flower, while bangkai means corpse or cadaver; for the same reason, the same title is also attributed to Rafflesia which, like the titan arum, also grows in the rainforests of Sumatra).
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World's fastest broadband

A UK based telecoms and cable giant Virgin Media said it will test the world's fastest broadband as demand grows for lightning-quick internet connections.

The company said it planned to trial speeds of up to 1.5 gigabits per second - more than 10 times faster than its current fastest service of 100 megabits per second and 240 times quicker than the UK average.

It would mean that customers could download a high-quality movie or video game in 55 seconds, rather than the three hours and 40 minutes it would take with the current UK average speed of 6.2mb.

Trials of the super-fast internet connections will begin this month at four companies near Old Street, in London, dubbed the 'Silicon Roundabout', but the service will eventually be used in homes as well as offices.

The company said one of the greatest advantages of the 1.5gb service is not the speed, but the increased number of users who will be able to use the network simultaneously without interruption.
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4 killed, 56 injured in Navy buses attack in Karachi

Four people including two personnel of Pakistan Navy were killed in two separate terrorist attacks targeting Pakistan Navy buses in Karachi on Tuesday morning, a spokesman of Pakistan Navy said.

He identified the dead as Sub-Lieutenant Iqbal and Umar Farooq, a Sailor of Pakistan Navy, Dr. Nazia, a civilian working with Pakistan Navy, and Muhammad Sharif, a civilian employee of Pakistan Navy.

Of the 56 injured being treated at Pakistan Navy hospitals, some were discharged after providing them with first aid.

The spokesman pointed out that two Navy buses were targeted in two different parts of the metropolis almost simultaneously.

The buses, he added, were taking the staff to their respective units.

The two Navy buses were targeted in Defence Phase two and Mohajir Camp in Baldia Town area here.

The Commander Karachi, Rear Admiral Syed Khawar Ali, visited the hospitals and inquired about the health of the injured, the spokesman further stated that the Naval Headquarters has ordered an inquiry.

The Inquiry Committee has been directed to submit its report to the Naval Headquarters.
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Mass jailbreak by Taliban stuns Kandahar

Afghan insurgents proudly claimed they helped dig the long, narrow tunnel used by at least 475 inmates to escape Sarposa prison in the southern city of Kandahar.
Some said they helped haul away the dirt during the last five months using pickup trucks, trailers and even donkey carts. The tunnel, measuring more than 1,050 feet long, reportedly began inside a Taliban sympathizer's mud-walled compound, surrounded by shops, and reached into the prison grounds.
It was unclear Monday whether those who helped dig the tunnel lived in the sympathizer's compound while they worked. But they said they plotted together as the tunnel grew, skirting police checkpoints, under the busy Kandahar-Herat highway and into a central cell block of the prison's political wing.
The tunnel had grown to about 3 feet wide by Sunday, when the diggers reached their goal.
Somehow, they had managed to alert a team of three Taliban inmates that they were coming, and given instructions on what to do when they arrived.
When they finally broke through the prison's concrete floor about 11 p.m., the three sentinels were waiting — with keys to fellow prisoners' cells.
Quietly, the guides unlocked cells and led hundreds of inmates to the tunnel without raising an alarm or disturbing their jailers.
An inmate who claimed to have helped organize the escape told the Associated Press on Monday that he used his connections to obtain copies of the cell keys in advance.
"There were four or five of us who knew that our friends were digging a tunnel from the outside," said Mohammad Abdullah, who was sentenced to two years at Sarposa after he was caught with a weapons cache. "Some of our friends helped us by providing copies of the keys. When the time came at night, we managed to open the doors for friends who were in other rooms."
Mullah Asadullah Akhund, 30, claimed to have been among those awakened to join the escape.
Akhund told the Daily Beast by cellphone Monday that the senior Taliban commander in the prison woke him about 2 a.m. Akhund said he joined a line of prisoners moving through the narrow tunnel by flashlight. At one point, a large truck passed overhead, shaking the ground, knocking dirt onto the prisoners and causing them to fear the tunnel would collapse, he said.
"It was the greatest escape of my life," he told the Daily Beast. "It was like a dream."
Inmates spent 4 1/2 hours escorting at least 475 of their brethren, most of them political prisoners, to freedom without triggering security cameras or otherwise disturbing their guards, according to Afghan officials. Taliban spokesmen claimed 541 inmates were freed.
They also claimed that forces near the prison had been prepared to stage an attack, but the "need did not arise due to the inaction shown by the enemy."
Akhund said he escaped in a pickup with 10 others and within 20 minutes was at a Taliban safe house, where they hired a truck to take them to a nearby town to celebrate, according to the Daily Beast.
By the time prison officials discovered the escape Monday morning, Taliban officials said the inmates had been spirited away to "secure destinations."
Government officials said some of the Taliban accounts of the escape are exaggerated, but acknowledged that much of the basic story is true.
They confirmed that the tunnel began at the Taliban sympathizer's compound and that at least 475 inmates had escaped their locked cells.
Officials said the tunnel had undercut the prison's main line of above-ground defense, including guard towers at each corner, concrete barriers, razor wire and multiple entry checkpoints.
A Taliban spokesman claimed that 106 of the escapees were "important commanders." Sarposa has not been known to house the most dangerous Taliban fighters. The U.S. keeps Taliban detainees it considers a threat at a detention center outside Bagram air base in eastern Afghanistan while the Afghan government houses some others in a high-security area of the main prison in Kabul, the capital.
Afghanistan's Justice Ministry was responsible for securing the prison, which houses 1,200 inmates. Authorities had caught 26 of the escapees by late Monday and were confident about catching the rest with the help of biometric data, said Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa.
A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said Monday that based on preliminary reports, the escape exposed serious problems with prison security.
"This is a blow. It is something that shouldn't have happened," spokesman Waheed Omer said. "A prison break of this magnitude of course points to vulnerability.... We have loopholes."
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Amir Khan retains WBA title

Pakistani born British Boxer Amir Khan ensured there were no more losses for him at the end of a costly week by stopping Paul McCloskey on a cut in the sixth round on Saturday night.

The World Boxing Association (WBA) champion made a fourth successful world title defence by technical unanimous decision after a cut above McCloskey's left eyebrow, caused by a clash of heads, prompted referee Luis Pabon to stop the fight in the sixth round in front of 18,000 supporters at the MEN Arena.

Khan began the week losing an estimated one million pounds after a TV dispute ended in UK broadcaster Sky TV refusing to screen his fight, but the Englishman stayed on course for bigger pay-days.

But it was an anti-climatic end to a fight that was just coming to the boil and McCloskey's corner were furious that the Northern Irishman was not allowed to continue.

It was the 25th win of Khan's career with just one defeat while McCloskey suffered the first blemish on his record, dropping to 22 wins and one defeat.

The 2004 Olympic silver medalist won by scores of 60-54 on all three judges' scorecards, after a clash of heads. 

The Northern Irish challenger entered the ring unbeaten European champion and it seemed like he was the home fighter with over 6,000 traveling fans roaring him on.

McCloskey, 31, cleverly kept out of range for most of the opening round to avoid Khan's customary quick start.

Khan had sparred with Filipino Manny Pacquiao -- the world's best pound-for-pound boxer -- and claimed it was perfect preparation to face another southpaw in McCloskey.

And Khan began finding McCloskey more in the second as McCloskey failed to deal with the champion's hand-speed.

McCloskey had stopped five of his previous five opponents but Khan was a steep step up in class.

Yet the challenger did not look out of depth in a see-saw third round, landing a left flush on the jaw from close range.

Khan shook McCloskey with a right in the fourth and increased his attacking bursts in a lively fifth round.

McCloskey survived a furious assault from Khan in the sixth before a clash of heads opened up a gruesome two-inch cut stretching from the forehead to left eyebrow.

Referee Pabon called in the ringside doctor, who immediately called for the fight to be stopped, with the judges' scorecards of 60-54 deciding the outcome by technical unanimous decision.

The crowd booed as the scores of 60-54 from all three judges were read out and there were angry scenes in the ring.
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Pillow Fight Day observed across the world

Thousands of people came out (pillow) fighting today as the world celebrated International Pillow Fight Day.

From Australia to Brazil, dozens of cities around the globe saw pillows brought into public squares for the fourth annual feather-fest.

New York's Union Square became a bedding battleground as thousands gathered to smack each other about, and hundreds of thousands were expected to join in worldwide for the event, which was started by The Urban Playground Movement.

New Yorkers didn't let the world down. A MailOnline reporter who joined in the action said that many fighters came in costume - with some dressed a ninjas and two lads dressed as Spartan warriors, who stood back to back and took on all comers.
American pillow fighters also gathered in front of Washington's Capital Hill and in Pershing Square in Los Angeles.

Naturally, the weather was perfect for pillow fighting in LA, as large numbers gathered underneath palm trees to do their bit.

The movement has a passionate mission to make such events in public 'a significant part of popular culture', using public spaces as 'urban living rooms' and replacing past-times such as watching television.
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AAG TV next after Geo Super

Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which had earlier banned transmission of Geo Super at the behest of government, has now issued verbal orders to cable operators to stop the transmission of Aag TV, another channel of Jang Group.The latest move has come as a series of government actions to punish Jang Group for holding mirror to its corruption.
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Microsoft announces release of Internet Explorer 9

Microsoft Corp. has announced the launch of the latest version of the world’s most-used browser with the release of Windows Internet Explorer 9 in 40 languages. 

Internet Explorer 9 is Microsoft’s most-downloaded browser beta of all time, with more than 40 million downloads, and it has already gained more than 2 percent usage on Windows 7. Already more than 250 top sites including,, Jang Group websites (GEO, Jang, The News ) and from around the globe are taking advantage of the capabilities in Internet Explorer 9 to deliver differentiated experiences to their customers, with many featured on, these partners reach more than 1 billion active Internet users on the Web.

“The true potential of the web can now be explored through Internet Explorer 9” said Kamal Ahmed, Country General Manager, Microsoft Pakistan. “The internet browser is critical for giving users the right online experience – one which is fast, secure, user-friendly and quite intuitive. IE9 has all these qualities and provides the optimal use of hardware. It is also most suitable for countries with low bandwidth like Pakistan. IE9 is not only a product of technological advancement but also based on customer feedback obtained by releasing the beta version.”

Internet Explorer 9 is designed to bring sites to the front and center through Windows 7, enabling a more immersive, more beautiful Web experience. Features such as Pinned Sites and JumpList features enable people to put their websites directly on the Windows 7 Taskbar, as though they were native applications, and then to quickly and easily perform tasks related to those websites, such as check their inbox, change the music station, accept a friend invitation or see breaking news. These sites include some of the largest sites on the Web such as Facebook, Amazon, eBay and Twitter. 

VP Sales & Marketing at wi-tribe Pakistan, Wahib Aslam, says, “Wi-tribe is very excited about partnering with Microsoft for the global launch of Internet Explorer 9, a cutting-edge browser promising a captivating and superior web browsing experience for customers and developers alike. We are confident that this alliance will bring a host of value additions to our own community of users, ultimately elevating their online experience to an entirely new and refreshing level.”

News website partners in the U.S. include the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Huffington Post,as well as dozens of leading news sites globally across all major geographies.

“As a blogger who remains online 16 hours a day, I see IE9 changing the web surfing experience all together. With lot better speed, enhanced graphical processing and the clearer feel, IE9 is surely going to make the web a beautiful place to stay,” said Aamir Attaa, Editor, ProPakistani.PK, a top technology blog from Pakistan.

The new version of Internet Explorer takes advantage of the power of modern Windows PC hardware to improve all around Web browsing performance. Internet Explorer9 is also designed to be the most trusted browser because it contains a robust set of built-in security, privacy and reliability technologies that keep customers safer online.

"IE9 brings out the best of the web by giving users seamless access to their favorite websites through its unique pinning options, better tab management, performance improvements and powerful HTML5 support for rich in-browser applications" said Monis Rahman, CEO, Naseeb Networks.

Recent statistics show that more than 39 million people have already downloaded the beta version of IE9.This has no doubt given the product a significant share of the global web browser market even before it was officially launched. Microsoft confirmed that this is the highest and fastest adoption rate of any beta product ever launched.
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IPL-4 begins today

The Indian Premier League cricket bandwagon rolls into action today with organisers hoping India’s World Cup victory last weekend will help the competition regain some of its lost sparkle.

This year’s edition — spread over 51 days and comprising 74 matches across 13 venues — will be the first after the ousting of its outspoken founder Lalit Modi, who was forced out last year under a cloud of corruption allegations.

The tournament’s future had looked in doubt amid claims of corruption, money-laundering and tax evasion, as well as secret deals to hide teams’ real owners and even links to India’s criminal underworld.

But a massive PR exercise by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has ensured the IPL has kept its date with fans, as well as sponsors and advertisers hungry for their share of the huge commercial pie.

IPL chief executive Sundar Raman dismissed fears that cricket fans in India, still recovering from celebrations after Saturday’s victory over Sri Lanka in the World Cup final, could suffer sporting overload.

“The success of the Indian team in the World Cup has made it (IPL) more interesting,” Raman told AFP, saying the tournament would “carry on from where the World Cup ended”.

“Fans are already into cricket and celebrating India’s victory. We are confident of building on the success of the last edition.”

This year’s IPL, the fourth time it has been held, will have two new teams in Kochi Tuskers Kerala and Pune Warriors, taking the total number of franchises to 10.

The opening game will feature Chennai Super Kings, led by victorious Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and the Kolkata Knight Riders, owned by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

The IPL revolutionised the sport when it burst onto the scene in 2008 with a high-octane blend of international star players, scantily-clad cheerleaders and Bollywood glamour.

Using the short Twenty20 form of the game, IPL matches are usually three-hour events packed with music, delirious crowds and countless television advertisements.

Everything from the time-out to the drinks break is sponsored by companies, earning Indian cricket authorities millions in revenue.

The fourth edition is likely to see IPL bosses reduce the decadent post-match parties, which were blamed by some for India’s failure in the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean last year.

The much-discussed cheerleader jobs — all taken by Western women in previous editions — might be given to locals who will don traditional Indian outfits in place of barely-there miniskirts, local media reports say.
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Indian cricket team ready to visit Pak

 Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao has said that Indian cricket team is prepared to visit Pakistan.

In a telephonic interview, foreign secretary said that it is not that we have forbidden our team from going there. Security is always an issue and we always like to be sure about security when we allow our teams to go there. 

I think cricket sometimes becomes an instrument of diplomacy, she said and added that we have seen how cricket matches have been played between India and Pakistan in the past. People in both countries have supported the idea of such contacts.

Rao said this has to be discussed between the cricketing fraternities on both sides and taken forward.

The meeting between the Prime Ministers of two countries at Mohali on March 30 on the sidelines of the cricket World Cup semifinal between the two countries, "has given a new direction" to the bilateral relationship, Rao said in the interview.

Manmohan Singh had invited Gilani to Mohali after India and Pakistan advanced to the World Cup semifinal. 

She said that India was open to renewing cricketing contacts with Pakistan.
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Top professor fired for speaking up

After the infamous thrashing incident in an army-run university a year ago, a professor of the Pakistan Navy-run Bahria University has not only been roughed up but also terminated from service.

His guilt: Asking questions about the regimental-style running of the university which has the Naval Chief as its pro-chancellor and a retired admiral as rector. When the professor signed a receipt on the register confirming his termination, sent through a peon, he wrote the famous verse of Habib Jalib: “Main nahi manta...”

The brutality and humiliation of Professor Qamar Riaz Mahmitkhel, who teaches ‘leadership’, sent the already weary students of the university into fury and a protest demonstration is planned on Monday noon outside the Naval Headquarters at Shaheen Chowk, situated at Margalla Road.

An immediate reaction of the Bahria University administration to the sacking of the professor was not immediately available, but the protest demonstration of the students on Monday will show how the officials react.

The incident occurred on March 31 in the packed auditorium of the university where chairman of Higher Education Commission (HEC) Dr Javed Leghari delivered a talk followed by a Q&A session.

As Professor Qamar asked what the real purpose of the university and that whether the innovation and creativity could flourish in a regimental environment, it was the breaking point that landed him in trouble. The students had greeted the question with round of applause, said a participant.

The question was addressed to the HEC chairman, but the Rector, Vice Admiral (R) Muhammad Haroon, stood up to answer. Professor Qamar went on blasting the university’s administration for reducing the campus to a garrison.

A commando action followed this rumpus when the director campus of the university, a retired commodore Muhammad Ali, led his team and surrounded the blunt professor, forcing him out, roughing up on resistance, the victim told. He was thrown into his office, declaring it a kind of sub-jail as three staffers, presumably intelligence persons, were posted as guards outside to scrutinize visitors of the professors, Prof Qamar said.

The next day, April 1, Professor came to the university with his hands-cuffed and his mouth gagged. He made a round of the campus especially the auditorium where he was roughed up. The purpose of the exercise was to protest the frustrating environment where nobody is allowed to speak freely, including the academicians, he said.

He was delivered a termination letter in the next couple of hours after the protest and through a peon instead of routing it through the head of the department. As he was asked to receive the letter, he instead wrote the famous verse “main nahi manta....” of Habib Jalib.

The professor said he had been receiving threatening calls urging him observe silence instead of speaking out against the university’s administration. But he is determined to attend the protest being organised by the student community today (Monday) in front of the Naval Headquarters at Shaheen Chowk.

This incident is a second of its nature in armed forces-run universities and within Islamabad as previously a civilian professor, Tahir Malik of NUML was thrashed by a brigadier-registrar of the university. The students had then went on strike for a week, finally forcing the NUML administration to remove the brigadier.
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Pakistan orders safety review of nuke plants

Pakistan’s nuclear regulator on Tuesday ordered a safety review of the country’s two atomic power plants in the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster, warning that further steps could be required.
The Pakistan Nuclear Regulator Authority (PNRA) said it asked the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) “to revisit the safety aspects of the nuclear power plants at Karachi and Chashma”.
Pakistan suffered a major 7.6 magnitude earthquake in October 2005 that killed 73,000 people and made more than three million others homeless in Kashmir and northwest, but its nuclear plants remained safe.
“PNRA will continue to study the accident at Fukushima and the response of Japanese and other regulatory authorities and may ask PAEC to take additional measures,” it said.
The authority said the nuclear power plants in Pakistan “do not pose any unwarranted radiation hazard” and operate on par with international standards.
China built a 300-megawatt nuclear power reactor at Chashma in Punjab province that went operational in 2000 and another of the same capacity is under construction. A plant in Karachi produces 50 megawatts.
China has also been contracted to build two more reactors at Chashma, officials have said.
Pakistan joined the club of nuclear-armed states in 1998. It scrambled to secure the technology after India’s first nuclear test in 1974, and is now believed to have up to 100 nuclear weapons.
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SC wants Reko Diq parties to settle issue

The Supreme Court proposed on Tuesday that the respondents in the Reko Diq copper and gold project case should handle the issue of mining lease with mutual understanding.
When a bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Mohammad Sair Ali and Justice Ghulam Rabbani resumed hearing the case, the chief justice remarked that a verdict of the Balochistan High Court was a hurdle in the transparency of the lease and if the respondents agreed to handle the matter with mutual cooperation the court could nullify it.
Khalid Anwar, the counsel for the Chilean Tethyan Copper Company (TCC), said the company had “invested billions of rupees in this project and the verdict of the BHC was also in our favour, so by nullifying it our interests would be affected”.
He argued that the mining lease should be awarded to the company he represented because it was already working on the project.
But, the chief justice said the mines were resources of the people and the elected representatives had the right to take a decision about the mining lease.
The court asked Mr Anwar to consult his client and inform the court about the outcome on Wednesday.
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China corporation ready to invest in hydel power project

The state-owned China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC) is exploring the possibility for investment and cooperation for setting up hydroelectric and renewable energy sector projects for adding 8,920MW of electricity to the national grid.
CTGPC chairman Cao Guanging, who is heading a 10-member delegation, told Minister for Water and Power and Privatisation Syed Naveed Qamar here on Tuesday that his corporation was looking for investment in 1100MW Kohala, 7100MW Bunji and 720MW Karot and other hydropower projects in Pakistan.
He also expressed the desire to manufacture wind power equipment in Pakistan.
The corporation will soon start work on 50MW wind power project in Jhampir, Sindh, and complete it next year. It also plans to install 2000MW wind power and 300MW solar power projects in Punjab and Sindh. Its sister organisation, the China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE), is already working on wind and solar energy projects in Pakistan.
Mr Qamar thanked the Chinese government and CTGPC for their interest in developing Pakistan’s energy sector and invited China to invest in Bhasha dam and Thar Coal power projects.
Mr Qamar said Chinese investment in hydropower sector would help Pakistan generate cheap electricity for future requirements.
He said the government would extend full cooperation to China in water, power, coal and renewable energy projects.
Mr Qamar said the government was taking all possible measures to complete formalities of hydropower projects. He asked Wapda and CTGPC to work together for the purpose.
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Inspection of cargo planes flying over Pakistan ‘not allowed’

Aircraft flying through Pakistani airspace, or using Pakistani airports to refuel, are not being subjected to proper checks by the Civil Aviation Authority, whose upper echelons have advised the officials concerned to overlook their duties, it emerged on Tuesday.
An official of the CAA, which regulates the aviation industry in the country, said he had been “told” not to check, pursue or carry out checking of aircraft.
Given the conflict in Afghanistan, in which both international forces and private security contractors were engaged, a highly placed source said the situation was particularly serious.
“Cargo aircraft from the Gulf states fly through Pakistani airspace to reach Bagram and Kandahar airbases in Afghanistan, both of which are primarily used for military operations.”
Under the CAA’s rules on surveillance and inspections, officials are fully empowered to carry out inspections of aircraft that are passing through Pakistani airspace, regardless of whether or not they plan to touch down in the country.
The CAA Flight Standards Directorate has been designated as the relevant authority, and is supposed to carry out regular inspections of all domestic and international aircraft operators as well as charter cargo services.
However, the sources said, the CAA had not been carrying out regular inspections of any aircraft and had particularly been overlooking those belonging to foreign airlines.
It was only after five major air crashes/accidents in the country (three of them on flights originating at Karachi airport) and the subsequent hue and cry regarding air safety that the CAA began carrying out inspections, the sources said.
On the very first checking, officials found that many cargo planes flying from Afghanistan to a Gulf state that stopped in Karachi for fuel did not have proper documentation.
Another cargo plane bound for Afghanistan from a Gulf state was directed by the CAA to land at Karachi airport for an inspection. Rather than complying, the aircraft turned back towards its originating airport despite having covered more than half its journey when the request was made. This fuelled the suspicions of officials that there were security concerns regarding some of the cargo that was flown through Pakistani airspace.
Sources in the CAA said that all countries were empowered under international aviation laws to request, and even force if necessary, aircraft using their airspace to land and undergo cargo inspections.
The sources said allowing aircraft to use Pakistani airspace and airports without being subjected to inspections was a major security threat and that checks must be carried out in order to ensure that national security was not compromised.
They said that a similar issue had cropped up as the security agencies had expressed concerns even over the aerial survey in relation with the proposed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline through Balochistan, while most of these cargo aircraft flew over Balochistan to enter Afghanistan.
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Govt sticks to HEC devolution plan

The government has refused to listen to the increasing voices against devolution of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) under the 18th amendment, although the institution had played a major role in improving university education over the last one decade.
Since the announcement of the HEC`s devolution plan by the Chairman, Parliamentary Commission on the Implementation of 18th amendment, Senator Raza Rabbani in the last week of March, the academicians have largely been opposing the decision.
Besides protest demonstrations by the HEC scholars and students of local universities against the government decision, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) also joined the chorus, asking the ruling PPP to take back its earlier verdict on the future of the commission.
According to the HEC officials, the status of the commission which is an autonomous body is very much protected under the 18th amendment in its fourth schedule. Officials of the HEC say key provisions covered under the federal legislative list of the new amendment have direct link to the higher education sector of the country. Hence the HEC could not be devolved to provinces as announced by Senator Rabbani.
These key provisions are: (a) all regulatory authorities established under a federal law (b) national planning and national economic coordination of scientific and technological research (c) legal, medical and other professions (d) standards in institutions for higher education and research, scientific and technical institutions (e) inter-provincial matters and coordination.
Whereas, according to Rabbani, under the 18th amendment, HEC stands dissolved to the provinces and it is a just matter of a formal issuance of the notification to this effect.
He said the HEC act would be revisited and reframed in the aftermath of the 18th amendment.
The 18th amendment has given the eight-member implementation commission the powers to issue orders, undertake proceedings and make amendments to regulations, enactments, notifications, rules or orders as may be necessary.
According to Senator Rabbani, a separate commission would be constituted under the cabinet division to look after verifications of degrees with no role of whatsoever as a funding agency, like the HEC had been doing in the past.
Talking to Dawn, HEC`s top bosses said when first news about the HEC`s devolution under the new amendment broke, they had a detailed discussion with the authorities concerned who assured that the commission would not be disturbed.
They said, of late, when they came to know about the implementation commission`s final decision on the status of the HEC, they had another meeting with Mr Raza Rabbani led commission and again briefed them about perils that would entail for university education in the country following HEC removal from the national scene.
However, they said, despite best efforts, they failed to convince Senator Rabbani led commission about the importance of the HEC in improving the level of university`s education.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Ahsan Iqbal, chief spokesperson for the PML-N termed the decision of devolving the HEC as an irreparable loss to the university education and research in the country. “It the federal government does not take back its decision, people will perceive it a revengeful act by the ruling party against the commission for taking an independent stand on the issue of verification of lawmakers` degrees”, said Mr Iqbal.
Mr Iqbal, who was also member of the 27-member parliamentary committee which recommended 18th Amendment, said the PML-N had submitted a dissent note on the issue of devolution of education ministry to the provinces. He said in all federations of the world, education remained a centralized department therefore the government should reconsider its decision of HEC`s devolution.
In the Senate on Tuesday, opposition leader, Senator Wasim Sajjad of the PML-Q while moving a bill for the amendment to bring back education ministry under the federal control, said every wrong could be rectified. “If we have made a mistake in devolving education ministry to the provinces, it can definitely be rectified,” said Senator Sajjad.
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Working long hours? Watch out for your heart

People who regularly work long hours may be significantly increasing their risk of developing heart disease, the world's biggest killer, British scientists said.

Researchers said a long-term study showed that working more than 11 hours a day increased the risk of heart disease by 67 percent, compared with working a standard 7 to 8 hours a day.

They said the findings suggest that information on working hours -- used alongside other factors like blood pressure, diabetes and smoking habits -- could help doctors work out a patient's risk of heart disease.

However, they also said it was not yet clear whether long working hours themselves contribute to heart disease risk, or whether they act as a "marker" of other factors that can harm heart health -- like unhealthy eating habits, a lack of exercise or depression.

"This study might make us think twice about the old adage 'hard work won't kill you'," said Stephen Holgate, chair of the population and systems medicine board at Britain's Medical Research Council, which part-funded the study.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal, followed nearly 7,100 British workers for 11 years.

"Working long days is associated with a remarkable increase in risk of heart disease," said Mika Kivimaki of Britain's University College London, who led the research. He said it may be a "wake-up call for people who overwork themselves."

"Considering that including a measurement of working hours in a (doctor's) interview is so simple and useful, our research presents a strong case that it should become standard practice," he said.

Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes are the world's largest killers, claiming around 17.1 million lives a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Billions of dollars are spent every year on medical devices and drugs to treat them.

The findings of this study support previous research showing a link between working hours and heart disease.
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Court cancels bail: Eight arrested for killing UET student

Eight students charged with killing a fellow student of the University of Engineering and Technology (UET) were arrested here on Monday after their pre-arrest bail petition was dismissed by the high court, whereas a key suspect in the case managed to escape from the courtroom.
Eyewitnesses said that soon after a single-bench comprising Justice Shahjehan Khan Yousafzai pronounced order in two cases, a prime suspect in the case, Nauman Khattak, left the courtroom and he could not be arrested.
The bench heard two petitions — One filed by the prosecution against granting bail to Nauman Khattak by the subordinate court and the other one filed by the eight students seeking pre-arrest bail.
The court accepted the petition filed by the prosecution and cancelled the bail granted to Nauman Khattak, and also dismissed the pre-arrest bail petition of the other eight accused.
The deceased, Adnan Abdul Qadir, a final year student in civil technology of the UET hailing from the southern Bannu district, had died at a local hospital on March 19, 2010, after receiving serious injuries in a clash with Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT) activists on March 12. The motive for the murder was stated to be playing loud music in the hostel by the deceased.
The complainant in the case was Ibrahim Khan, a fellow student who had accused nine members of the IJT. Those who were charged by the complainant included: Nauman Khattak, Sibghatullah, Muqeemuddin, Umer Farooq, Mohammad Ibrahim, Zahid Khattak, Aziz-ur-Rehman, Fahad Zulfiqar and Muhammad Ashfaq.
The state counsel argued that the accused were directly charged for the offence. He contended that eight of the suspects remained absconders for many months and they were not entitled to concession of bail.
The accused, Nauman, was arrested a few days after the incident whereas the rest of eight avoided arrest. Last year they filed a pre-arrest bail petition before the anti-terrorism court in Peshawar, but the same was dismissed on Dec 7. However, as the eight petitioners were not present in the courtroom, they could not be arrested and they moved the high court for getting pre-arrest bail.
The death of the student had sparked violent demonstrations in the university following which all the educational institutions on the Peshawar University campus reamined closed for a few weeks.
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Peshawar Model City to have 80,000 plots: Govt plans mega housing project

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to establish a new township with the name of ‘Peshawar Model City’ on the outskirts of the capital city to provide better residential facilities to the citizens.
“The new township spread over 14,600 acres will have about 80,000 plots of different sizes, and as such this will be the largest township of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” officials in Peshawar Development Authority told this correspondent on Monday.
In this connection, Senior Minister Bashir Ahmed Bilour chaired a meeting, which was also attended by secretary local government and rural development Aurangzaib Khan, PDA director general Qazi Laiq Khan, DG local government Haji Abdul Jalil and other officials, according to a handout.
It said that the new township would be completed at a cost of Rs140 billion and the PDA had asked different line departments such as Pesco, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited and PTCL to work out plans concerning the township.
The officials said that with the establishment of new township the southern area of Peshawar would also be developed as the PDA would spend over Rs10 billion on different link roads.
According to the initial plan, they said that in the first phase the township would be developed on 8,000 acre at a cost of Rs78 billion in five years and in the second five-year phase the township on 6,000 acre more would be constructed at a cost of Rs62 billion.
Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act on the selected land will be imposed within few days for acquiring land, they said and added that the selected land was barren and rocky. The officials, however, refused to disclose the location where the new township would be established because before imposition of Section 4 the land mafia could buy the land.
The officials said that the establishment of the model city would discourage illegal housing societies. “We will give the people a township having a proper master plan with all basic facilities and security,” they said.
During the meeting, Mr Bilour also directed the PDA officials to accelerate construction work on the Regi Model Town, a project initiated some 20 years back but couldn’t be completed due to dispute on the land, said the handout.
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ICC confirms World Cup slashed to 10 teams

The International Cricket Council has confirmed a controversial decision to slash the 2015 and 2019 World Cups to just 10 teams, despite widespread objections.

The world governing body endorsed the move at an executive board meeting in Mumbai.

"The executive board confirmed their decision made in October 2010 that the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand and the ICC Cricket World Cup in England in 2019 will be a 10-team event," a media release said.

The move comes despite support from prominent figures for "minnow" nations such as Ireland, Kenya, Canada and the Netherlands, all of whom took part in the 2011 edition.

Ireland pulled off one of the shocks of the just-concluded tournament jointly hosted by India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka when they came from behind to beat England by three wickets in a thrilling group stage clash.

"I really enjoy seeing the minnow teams getting an opportunity to be honest," Australia captain Michael Clarke said on Monday, echoing earlier comments by England spinner Graeme Swann.

"Why would you want to take the world out of the World Cup? Shocks can happen," Swann told Wisden Cricket magazine.

Cricket Ireland set up a Facebook campaign against the decision, which the body's chief executive Warren Deutrom called "frankly outrageous".

"I cannot think of a decision which is less cognisant of the principles of sport and fair play than the one that has been taken today," he said, in comments posted on the Irish Times website.

"It absolutely flies in the face of all the evidence that has been possible to accrue over the last four years as regards Ireland's performances, not just in the World Cup in 2007 but also in this World Cup and the intervening four years."

The decision means the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will be contested by full ICC members: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies and Zimbabwe.

The 2019 edition in England will also include 10 teams, but there will be a qualifying process.

The latest World Cup had been criticised for its length, after it stretched over six weeks from February 19 to April 2.
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Cameron visits Pakistan to urge 'fresh start'

British Prime Minister David Cameron flew into Pakistan for talks on Tuesday, seeking a "fresh start" in relations with Islamabad, nine months after accusing it of turning a blind eye to terrorism.

In his first trip to Pakistan since taking office in May 2010, the premier hopes to soothe tensions caused by his remarks during a visit to India last July, according to a pre-released extract of his speech.

The British leader touched down at the Pakistan Air Force base of Chaklala in the garrison city of Rawalpindi at around 6:30 am (0130 GMT) ahead of a packed day of talks in Islamabad.

"Let's today make a fresh start in our relationship. It is time for a new step in relations between Britain and Pakistan and between Britons and Pakistanis," Cameron will tell an audience of university students.

"Let's make this the start of a new era in the relations between our countries, our governments, our peoples."

"Let's clear up the misunderstandings of the past, work through the tensions of the present and look together to the opportunities of the future."

During a trade visit to the Indian city of Bangalore in July last year, Cameron said Pakistan could not be allowed to "look both ways", promoting the export of terror while publicly working for stability in the region.

British officials said the comments were not directed at the Pakistan government, but Islamabad summoned Britain's representative for clarification.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visited London the following month, and the two leaders insisted their relations were "unbreakable" and promised to intensify intelligence sharing between the two countries.

Cameron will repeat this Tuesday, saying: "The unbreakable partnership must not just be between our two governments. It must be between our peoples too."

He adds: "We want a strong relationship with a secure, prosperous, open and flourishing Pakistan. We want that relationship for the long-term. We want to work to strengthen that relationship, now and in the future."

Cameron will meet Zardari during his one-day visit and also hold talks with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, officials said.

He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation including the head of the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, John Sawers, and the head of the British military, Chief of the Defence Staff David Richards.

The talks come amid the backdrop of an upsurge of violence in neighboring Afghanistan, where violent protests against the burning of a Koran by a US pastor have killed at least 22 people, including seven foreign UN staff.

Britain has around 9,500 troops in Afghanistan as part of an international coalition fighting Taliban insurgents, but Cameron has said he wants all British combat soldiers to be out of the country by 2015.

On his way to Pakistan, Cameron made a surprise visit Monday to the base in Gioia del Colle, southern Italy, from where British jets enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya are operating, and announced four more jets for the mission.

He said Britain would deploy the new Tornados "in the next couple of days" to boost the NATO-led mission designed to protect civilians from forces loyal to Moamer Kadhafi who are fighting to put down an eastern revolt.

In his first trip to the base since the operation, Cameron said the British jets had saved "literally thousands of lives" in Libya.
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Karachi traders pull down shutters

 All Karachi Traders Alliance Association (AKTAA), representing small traders of the city, were observing shutter-down strike in the city today against increasing threats of extortion faced by Karachi traders.

Atiq Mir of AKTAA said that the traders of Karachi would keep their shops closed on 5th April because they were facing lots of problems including killing of traders, extortion, kidnapping and threats.

He said that the government had failed to resolves traders’ problems. He demanded of the government to provide security to traders and take action firm against extortionist mafia.

Mir said that the traders of Karachi would begin a ‘civil disobedient campaign’, if the government failed to provide protection to them.

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World Cup Trophy given to India was fake

Indian media revealed that the World Cup trophy handed over to Indian cricket team was not original and it was a fake trophy.

This was reported that president of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Sharad Powar had given away the trophy to Indian team captain Mahindra Singh Dhoni in a ceremony at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai after they won the World Cup.

However, that trophy was a fake one as it had no ICC logo nor the name of the winners on it.

The Indian media further said that the original trophy is in the custody of the Mumbai customs who levied a tax of Rs2.2 million on it.
But the ICC in a bid to avoid any tax gave away the fake trophy to the Indian team after winning the final.

Tournament director Sauro Naik said that the original trophy of the World Cup would be sent back to Dubai today.
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