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Better law and order, but human rights indicators remain alarming in Pakistan, new report points out

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Better law and order, but human rights indicators remain alarming in Pakistan, new report points out

Posted on 02 April 2016 by PakBee Team - Total hits: 109

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ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday issued its annual report saying that four journalists were killed during one year while 1,100 women were murdered in the name of honour during this period.

The human rights indicators remained alarming in the country but the overall law and order situation significantly improved in 2015 as there were 31 percent less suicide attacks and 40 percent decrease in death of people as a result of violence. The anti-state violence dropped below 2008 levels, when incidents of terrorism had started escalating.

The statistics were made part of the ‘State of Human Rights in 2015’ launched by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday. The report says though Balochistan witnessed the highest militant attacks in 2015 as compared to other parts of the country, there was an overall 41 percent decline in militant activities in Balochistan as compared to the year 2014.  In Khyber Pakhtukhwa, the decline was 75 percent.

In terms of number, the report says that a total 706 militant attacks took place in 2015, in which 1,325 people were killed. There were 18 suicide attacks reported in Pakistan during 2015.

While presenting the report, HRCP Co-chairperson Kamran Arif said that the Punjab reported 382,932 cases of crime in 2015, 6,622 less than 389,554 cases in 2014. Sindh saw a 42 percent reduction in the number of murders in 2015 as compared to 2014. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan witnessed 10 and one percent surge respectively in total crime in 2015 as compared to 2014.

Jails, prisoners and missing persons

About jails, prisoners and disappearances, the report states that 65 prisoners died in the country’s prisons, 419 persons were awarded the death penalty, 327 death penalty convicts were hanged, making Pakistan one of the highest executing states in the world. Besides that, 1,390 cases of enforced disappearances remained pending with the commission of inquiry. The HRCP data suggested that least 151 cases of disappearances were reported in Balochistan between January and November 2015.

Free thought

In its section on freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the report shares that 58 incidents of sectarian violence were reported from across Pakistan, 22 individuals were booked on the charges of blasphemy including 15 Muslims, four Christians and three Ahmadis.

About the freedom of expression, the report mentions that four journalists and a media worker were killed and assaults were made on many more which made Pakistan live with the dubious status of being ‘a dangerous place for journalists.’ It says that Pemra’s new code of conduct allowed auditing of live content of television channels and restrictions on live broadcasts. The report says that introduction of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, if passed, poses serious threats to freedom of expression in cyberspace.

Talking about the freedom of assembly, the report says that Sindh and Punjab accounted for 71 per cent of all protests in Pakistan.

‘Worst’ passport in the world

With regard to freedom of movement, the report says that 65,000 names were removed from the Exit Control List including of Baloch activists Farzana Majeed and Mama Qadeer. Pakistan’s passport ranked one of the worst in the world to travel with; sharing a place with Somalia as the third worst passport in terms of travel restrictions.

Local government and laws

It says that federal parliament made 20 laws in 2015 and the president promulgated 12 ordinances. The provincial legislatures adopted 120 laws. With 40 laws enacted, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had the highest legislative output, followed by Sindh (32), Punjab (31) and Balochistan (17).

It states that 2015 saw 324 people, most with no links to terrorism, being put to death. Another 8,000 prisoners stayed on death row.

The report termed local government elections a positive development and says that the gap between the number of male and female voters increased roughly by 68,000 over the past two and half years whereas more than 11.5million eligible voters remained unregistered.

It says that women remained poorly represented in the federal and the provincial cabinets and minority communities in Balochsitan, Sindh and Punjab were deprived of the right to vote for their own candidates directly.

Women and violence

About women, the document reports that a range of legislative changes took place at the provincial level to strengthen rights of women. During 2015, as monitored by HRCP, 939 women became victims of sexual violence, 279 of domestic violence. 143 women were attacked with acid or were set on fire. 833 women were kidnapped. Despite the volume of cases, the rate of prosecution remained fairly low. 777 women committed or tried to commit suicide.

The HRCP database recorded 987 cases of honour crimes in 2015 with 1096 female victims and 88 male victims out of which at least 170 were minors. It says that lifting of moratorium on death penalty brought 47 women prisoners in line for executions, with most having no recourse to legal aid.

25 million children out of school

About children, it says that a total of 3,768 child abuse cases occurred during this year. On the other hand, Pakistan saw an 80 per cent reduction in polio cases to 54 from 306 cases last year. Several bills on child protection remained pending.

In education, with 25 million children out of school and literacy rate still hovering around 58 per cent Pakistan continued to face grave difficulties in education. Only 0.42 per cent of the GDP was spent on health and healthcare in Pakistan was administered mainly by the private sector, which accounted for 70 to 80 per cent of all outpatient visits. Around 19 per cent of the population and 30 per cent of the children under the age of five were malnourished.  Life expectancy at birth was 59 years and infant mortality rate 95 per thousand.

There were only 1,142 hospitals, 5,499 dispensaries, 5,438 basic health units, 671 maternity and child health centers with only 175,223 doctors, 90,276 nurses and 118,041 hospital beds for a population of around 190 million. Pakistan was ranked sixth amongst 22 high disease burden countries of the world. Incidence of TB stood at 231/100,000 population and prevalence of about 300 cases per 100,000 people.

Adding to that, more than 20million people in Pakistan, around 10 per cent of the population, suffered from neurological problems and disorders. There were approximately 4,000 licensed pharmacies in Pakistan, but as many as 100,000 illegal merchants also sold medicines. Total population of persons with disability (PWDs) was 5.035 million.

The report also includes a section on environment and says that Pakistan remained as one of the top ten countries threatened by climate change.

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Government increases price of petrol, diesel for April

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Government increases price of petrol, diesel for April

Posted on 02 April 2016 by PakBee Team - Total hits: 123

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ISLAMABAD: The government on Thursday increased the prices of petroleum products for the month of April. The price of petrol has been increased by Rs.1.50 and the price of diesel has been increased by Rs.1.40. The change will be effective from the 1st of April 2016.

Speaking to the host of Geo News’ program Capital Talk, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that while the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had proposed a hike of Rs3.09 in the price of petrol, the government has increased it by just Rs1.50 a litre.

He added, that only the price of petrol and diesel has being increased and no change is being made in the rates of other petroleum products.

After the raise of Rs1.50 a litre, the new price of petrol will be Rs64.47 while the price of diesel has been pushed up to Rs72.52 with a raise of Rs1.40 a litre.

Dar said OGRA in its summary had asked for Rs5.64 raise in per litre rate of kerosene oil but it has been kept unchanged because it is used by people belonging to low-income group.

The prices of High Octane Blending Component (HOBC), light diesel and kerosene oil will remain unchanged for the month of April at Rs72.68, 37.97 and 43.25 a litre.

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Samsung Gear VR: The Best Low-Budget Oculus Powered VR Around

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Samsung Gear VR: The Best Low-Budget Oculus Powered VR Around

Posted on 01 April 2016 by PakBee Team - Total hits: 163

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Samsung Gear VR is the company’s low-budget virtual reality headset that was developed in partnership with Oculus. Unlike the native Oculus headsets, Gear VR doesn’t cost as much and also doesn’t need a computer for operation. Instead, all you need is one of the Samsung flagships (S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S7, S7 Edge or Note 5) which can easily be plugged into the headset.

Even though the Gear VR has been available in U.S. for quite a while now, it is soon going to be officially available in Pakistan as well. Every one who pre-ordered the Galaxy S7 will get a free Gear VR with it while others should be able to buy it from Samsung outlets. Price of the Gear VR is expected to be somewhere around 20,000/- PKR.

Gear VR Unboxing

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To keep the Gear VR’s cost at a bare minimum, Samsung packs the headset in a lost-cost, simple packaging. Outside is a cardboard box with a plastic tray inside. Front of the cardboard box has the Samsung Gear VR logo, “Powered by Oculus” logo, a list of compatible Samsung devices and a render of the headset itself.

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The back is same as the front with the addition of some basic information regarding the headset, plus a few health and safety warnings.

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Inner plastic tray of the packaging contains the Gear VR headset, two straps and a manual.

Gear VR Setup

Setup process of the Samsung Gear VR is fairly easy. To get started, I simply inserted my phone (microUSB side first) into the Gear VR headset. Then, I pushed down a little until the clip on the opposite side of the VR headset gripped my phone.

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Once my phone was inserted for the first time, it prompted me to take my phone out again and go through the setup wizard. This took a while since my internet speed was slow and it was trying to download about 120MB of Oculus goodness onto the phone. Once that was done, I had to signup for an Oculus account and it downloaded a few basic VR applications. Finally, it asked me to put my phone back into the headset to get started.

Putting my phone back into the headset, the Oculus software took me through a basic tutorial on how-to get around in virtual reality. After which I landed onto the Oculus Home for the first time and I was totally amazed (more on the experience later).

Gear VR Hardware

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Like other VR headsets, Gear VR isn’t exactly small. However, since it’s an accessory for your phone, Samsung has tried making it as portable as possible. It is quite lightweight and has velcro straps which are easily fold-able (or even removable). Moreover, it is comfortable to use because of the cushion around the edges of the headset.

Samsung’s Gear VR is different from other VR headsets in the sense that it provides an untethered experience. It has an array of sensors on-board — Accelerator, Proximity, Gyro — which reduce the latency in the VR world. Not only that, but it also has a some basic controls which eliminate the need of the controller if you’re only looking forward to watching movies on the headset.

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Almost all of the controls are located on the right side of the VR headset. There is a 4-way scrolling trackpad, a back button and the volume rocker.

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Not to forget, there is a wheel up top which allows you to adjust focus according to your eyesight. Even though the Gear VR headset has a lot of space to accommodate glasses, I’d recommend that you try using the VR without them for more comfort.

Gear VR Experience

If you’re trying a VR headset for the first time or maybe you’re coming from a Google Cardboard, you’ll find the Gear VR experience to be totally amazing. I simply snapped my Galaxy Note 5 into the headset and was taken to Oculus Home from where I could access my library of VR content. I’d recommend that you use some good quality headphones — like I did — with the VR for a totally immersive experience.

Once I started playing the content, I found myself totally engaged with the virtual reality. Being the Iron Man in an “Avengers: Age of Ultron” fight scene was super cool. Running from the temple while I could see a big monster chasing me was a totally new way of experiencing Temple Run. I also did have fun watching a few episodes of “Shadowhunters” on Netflix, feeling as if I was in nicely furnished living room with a big TV.

Below are a few videos of the different experiences I had using the Gear VR headset.

Watching 360 Content

Virtual Tour

Watching Movies

Playing Games

Despite the totally amazing experience offered by the Gear VR, there is one thing which can’t be ignored and that is the display quality. It isn’t exactly great but it isn’t too bad either. The pixels are easily noticeable but don’t hinder your experience once you are immersed into the content.

Nevertheless, I would’ve loved to see a Samsung flagship this year with a 4K display for a better Gear VR experience but unluckily — at the moment — S6 and S7 flagship line-up offers a pretty similar virtual reality experience.

Gear VR Wrap-up

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Below is a summary of our key findings from the Samsung Gear VR review:

  • Best low-budget VR headset powered by Oculus.
  • Fairly easy to setup and get started.
  • Portable enough to throw in a backpack and carry around with you.
  • Comfortable to use, even for long times.
  • More than 100 apps and games on the Oculus Store.
  • Display quality isn’t exactly mind blowing but is good enough.
  • Small list of compatible Samsung smartphones (S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S7, S7 Edge and Note 5 only).

If you already own a compatible Samsung smartphone and have cash to spare, I’d recommend that you get a Gear VR immediately. For what it costs and what it offers, I’d definitely say that the price tag is justified by the experience.

If you don’t own a compatible smartphone but would like to experience VR, I’d recommend that you look into Oculus Rift or HTC Vive which are coming out later this year. They do carry much heftier price tags but will also offer a superior experience in comparison to the Gear VR.

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Pakistani Software Developers: Wake Up and Read This!

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Pakistani Software Developers: Wake Up and Read This!

Posted on 01 April 2016 by PakBee Team - Total hits: 104

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Without continual growth and progress, words such as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning. – Benjamin Franklin
Ali, the Software Developer

This is a story about Ali.

Ali is 45-years old, has 20 years of experience and has been working at the same software house for the past 10 years. Like many of us, he is a computer science graduate and works as a developer. Considering his experience and age, the people around him often ask why he’s still just a programmer.

For Ali, the question does not carry any weight anymore. He arrives at the office around 9:00 am. After his arrival he does two things. One, he checks emails and second, he checks what tickets have been assigned to him that day. While sipping his tea, he browses Facebook, chuckles at funny pictures and videos and finally starts work.

Around 1:00 pm, he goes for prayers and lunch break and returns back to his seat at 2:00 pm. At 5:30 pm in the evening, he shuts down his computer, locks his drawers and leaves.

This is his daily routine. There has been no change in this for the past 5 years.

In a judgmental capacity, we don’t want to be like Ali right? Instead, we might just feel a little repulsed wouldn’t we?

We think that being an IT graduate, he should have been a project manager by now. He should have been earning double his measly 60k. While passing down the cubicles, people often stare at him with thinly veiled disgust. With his out of shape body, older-than-his-age looks, and mannerisms that have grown way too old, even if we aren’t repulsed, we surely don’t want to be him.
The Choice and Opportunities

Let me tell you something folks, you shouldn’t be like Ali. For him, there was always a choice but he did not pay attention. That is why he ended up where he is now.

Being a computer professional is all good but there are literally dozens of things you could specialize in. Just because you were taught a specific language does not mean you have to work on it professionally. Whether it’s Software Development, Business Analysis, Quality Assurance, Project Coordination, Networks, Security, Support, Implementation or Product Marketing, your education equips you to take on any of these.

But academia can direct you to a certain extent. Passionate teachers and mentors can help identify your field of interest in line with your education and personality, but what you wish to become will be yours and your choice alone. The most important thing is to find something you are truly passionate about and not get caged in by what you were taught or what you are expected to do.
Our Failure of Utilizing Our Human Resource Capital

Pakistan produces 15,000 IT graduates per year whereas local market demand is around 11,000 per annum although it’s rising. Only a handful of these professionals will excel in their careers, and even less will make a name in the international market. The rest will be on survival mode or leave the country.

Why is that? Why is it that with this awesome number of human resources, we are not able to boost the industry like our neighboring countries? Or are we all like Ali, unable to have faith in our own abilities, choosing instead to cruise through life seemingly on autopilot?
Suggestions for Pakistani Software Developers

Here are some areas which are lagging behind and have created huge gaps for opportunities, and if IT industry can support this with its resources we may have a lift off soon.

The Tourism Industry

It is needless to say that how rich Pakistan is in terms of natural habitat, but once someone tries to search Pakistan’s tourism industry online, there is a woefully low representation of Pakistan.

Land Reforms

Admit it. We don’t know how to make use of the land to make it efficient. Even if we do, we do it in populated urbanized areas. We don’t develop the lands that are in suburbs or rural areas. The reason is that no one has ever researched or collected data about it. A few NGOs have worked on it, but with limited access. It’s time Pakistani software folks step in in a big way.

Agriculture

Pakistan is an agricultural land, and 80% of our economy depends on it. Yet, how many technology startups and people we see regarding this huge arena of opportunity? Do the math yourself. Tech can help.

Sub Urban Outreach

Not everyone understands English and only 8% of Pakistan speaks Urdu. How many websites and applications we are developing that can be understood by the rest of the Pakistan, where the mobile and internet is now accessible to every corner of the country? Did you see the missing opportunity here?

Religion

We are also a culturally rich and religious country. Each sect has its own practices and norms. Even the dress code is different. But we fail to see this as an opportunity. Technology can make a huge difference here.

I may have included healthcare and education here as well, but what I have seen in the recent years is that these fields have gathered good amount of attention, but there is still much work to be done here.

It is time Pakistani software developers realize that they are worth more than what they’ve been led to believe. This requires showing initiative, thinking of out-of-the-box solutions for everyday problems that you and I can run over. Problems that, once solved, can make Pakistani lives much easier. It really shouldn’t be a Pakistan where the average individual is still seeking out the right definitions of his career and growth. Its time we put our foot down and stopped the brain drain. Only way to do that? To provide the right incentives for those who dare to dream big.

Its high time we stopped being a disinterested Ali, Nadeem, or Saad. It’s time we made our rightful mark and changed Pakistan’s fortunes for the better.

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PTA Given June 2016 Deadline for Auction of Remaining 3G/4G Spectrum

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PTA Given June 2016 Deadline for Auction of Remaining 3G/4G Spectrum

Posted on 31 March 2016 by PakBee Team - Total hits: 94

3g_4GThe government of Pakistan has given a deadline of mid June 2016 to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for conducing auction of the remaining spectrum, as it needs Rs 65 billion revenue for meeting budget deficit for ongoing fiscal year, official sources revealed.

PTA has reportedly informed the government that InterConnect Communication; the UK-based consultant for spectrum auction has recommended holding the auction process next year. It was further detailed that now a sub-committee of experts is engaged in conducting techno-economic review to reach final decision regarding the auction.

However the Finance Ministry is sticking to its guns and is reportedly pressing the Authority for conducting auction in the current financial year.

According to sources Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has chaired a meeting to review current status and progress of the next spectrum auction. Minister of State for IT, Anusha Rahman Khan and Chairman PTA Syed Ismail Shah briefed the meeting on the progress regarding the upcoming spectrum auction. The meeting noted the progress made on implementation framework being developed by Ministry of IT and PTA.

The Finance Minister directed to ensure complete transparency while concluding spectrum auction processes in the current financial year at latest by mid June.

According to sources, the IT Ministry did a follow up meeting on Tuesday where PTA officials briefed the participants on different aspects of the auction process.

According to sources, officials are engaged in finalizing different stages and timelines which include advertisement, Information of Memorandum (IM) etc. In light of these developments, IT ministry is drafting policy directives and would issue details once the process get green signal from PTA.

Finance Minister is going to chair another meeting on spectrum auction on Thursday, where PTA and IT ministry would give briefing on the process.

Fearing poor market response, the Auction Advisory Committee decided not to give a go-ahead for the auction of remaining Next Generation Mobile Services (NGMS) Spectrum Auction and decided to form sub-committee of experts for conducting techno-economic review to reach final decision regarding the auction.

Also Read: Pakistani Market isn’t Ready for Another 3G/4G Auction: PTA Consultants

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