BMW says it plans to offer electric X3 SUV and Mini models

German luxury auto maker BMW AG said on Friday it will offer all electric versions of its next generation BMW X3 compact sport utility vehicle and electric Mini models, expanding its entries in the emerging electric luxury vehicle market.

BMW confirmed a report earlier Friday by Bloomberg News.

Reuters reported on Sept. 9 that top BMW executives were skipping Paris auto show events this week to resolve differences over electric vehicle strategy and chart a new electric product offensive, including a possible electric Mini.

BMW teams up with Intel, Mobileye to develop self-driving cars

The electric Mini is expected to debut in about three years, company officials said.

BMW faces increasing pressure from German rivals Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG as well as Tesla Motors Inc of the United States, which have outlined aggressive plans to court affluent buyers – and respond to regulators – with new electric vehicles.

BMW moved earlier than its German rivals to field innovative electric cars, launching the BMW i3 battery-powered city car in 2013 with a lightweight body made of carbon fiber instead of steel or aluminum. However, the i3 and the plug-in hybrid i8 have been slow sellers.

Meanwhile, Tesla is aiming for sales of 80,000 or more electric sedans and sport utility vehicles this year, and has said that nearly 400,000 would-be buyers have placed reservations for its Model 3 sedan. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has said he is targeting a July 2017 launch for the Model 3.

Daimler and VW used this week’s Paris auto show to promote plans to launch new waves of electric vehicles.

Mercedes Benz unveils electric brand at Paris Motor Show

Germany’s luxury car champions face a convergence of pressure to embrace electric vehicles from regulatory mandates and from Tesla’s success at winning affluent consumers to the idea of premium electric vehicles.

In the United States, California and several other states have adopted escalating quotas for sales of electric vehicles. California’s goal is that 15 per cent of vehicles sold in the state in 2025 would be battery-powered. Policymakers in China, the world’s largest vehicle market, and Europe are also calling for more electric vehicles.

The post BMW says it plans to offer electric X3 SUV and Mini models appeared first on The Express Tribune.

German lawyer makes hate-speech complaint against Facebook

German prosecutors are again considering whether to press charges against Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives for failing to staunch a tide of racist and threatening posts on the social network during an influx of migrants into Europe.

Munich prosecutors said they had received a complaint filed by a German technology law firm two weeks ago alleging that Facebook broke strict national laws against hate speech, sedition and support for terrorist organizations.

Facebook restores Jamaat-e-Islami’s official page

Attorney Chan-jo Jun, who filed a similar complaint in Hamburg a year ago, is demanding that Facebook executives be compelled to comply with anti-hate speech laws by removing racist or violent postings from their site. Jun is principal partner of the law firm Jun Lawyers of Wuerzburg in Bavaria.

Facebook said the complaint had no merit. “Mr Jun’s complaints have repeatedly been rejected and there is no merit to this (latest) one either,” a Facebook spokeswoman said.

“There is no place for hate on Facebook. Rather than focusing on these claims we work with partners to fight hate speech and foster counter speech.”

Facebook’s rules forbid bullying, harassment and threatening language, but critics say it does not do enough to enforce them.

Mark Zuckerberg reveals how Facebook uses nature to keep its servers cool

A spokeswoman for the public prosecutor in Munich said a decision would be taken in coming weeks on whether to act on the new complaint, which names Zuckerberg – Facebook’s founder and chief executive – and regional European and German managers.

Hamburg prosecutors denied Jun’s earlier complaint on grounds that the regional court lacked jurisdiction because Facebook’s European operations are based in Ireland.

Jun wrote on his website he believed he would get a more favorable hearing in Bavaria because the justice ministry had signaled an openness to hearing racial hate crime cases.

Jun has compiled a list of 438 postings over the past year that include what some might consider merely angry political rantings, but also show clear examples of racist hate speech and calls to violence laced with references to Nazi-era genocide.

For the first time: Patari’s enters into a partnership with Facebook

Following a public outcry and pressure by German politicians for failing to delete a rash of racist postings on Facebook, the Silicon Valley social networking giant earlier this year hired Arvato, a business services unit of Bertelsmann, to monitor and delete racist posts.

A rash of online abuse and violent attacks against newcomers to Germany occurred amid a migrant influx last year, which led to a rise in the popularity of the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and has put pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic party.

The post German lawyer makes hate-speech complaint against Facebook appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Staying put PTI strikes a responsive chord

LAHORE: While the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s leadership announced that it will wait till Muharram before taking its agitation to Islamabad, the lower tiers of the party are in for the long haul regardless of the outcome.

This isn’t the first time the party has launched a campaign against the PML-N government. Imran Khan had earlier mobilised workers after the 2013 general elections. On Friday, party workers seemed less obsessed with the nature of the party’s ‘next move’ and more with answering the call of their ‘leader’.

“He [Imran Khan] is honest. He speaks from the heart and that is what compels us to listen to him,” says Shahida Bano, a 50-year-old PTI supporter who made her way to the protest venue despite family resistance, fearing security.

Making her way from the residential area close to Bhuptian Chowk, Bano says this is the first time she has managed to take part in her leader’s protest. “I don’t care if they say this is not ‘legitimate’ in the political process. What other option do we have? Especially when those in power ignore the calls for justice? Where does the common man go?”

Party leaders claim with the PTI having managed to take up the Panamagate scandal at multiple platforms, including parliamentary and legal, resorting to street protests was an option they were forced to consider.

“Parliament is a restrictive forum for us considering our limited numbers there. Now, unless the government shows flexibility regarding the accountability legislation there is little room for the PTI to manoeuvre other than what it already is doing,” says a party leader, who adds that the party will continue on its path of agitation.

Former PTI Punjab president Ejaz Chaudhry says the Raiwind protest was aimed at increasing pressure on the government to start accountability as well as a warning to the government of a potential public uprising. The party has announced that it will go down that road after Muharram.

“We have achieved what we wanted to by bringing Raiwind in the public discourse,” he says. With the party having faced political isolation for this very decision, Chaudhry says the fact that people gathered ‘this close to the PM’s lavish residence’ is a testament that they want accountability.

In the aftermath of this isolation by the party’s otherwise opposition alliance, the PTI had taken up an aggressive stance towards the end with their chief saying that he would not plead before anyone to join a cause which was national — and not personal.

Party sources say there was a lot of pressure on the party to ensure that the protest does not render weak in the number-game with the opposition, especially the Pakistan Awami Tehreek having also distanced itself.

Khurram Nawaz Gandapur of the PAT had claimed that even the PTI was aware of the street power their party had, hinting towards it as being a loss for the latter that it failed to secure its support.

“With so many political parties out there, the PTI is the only one that is actually demanding justice. The silence of opposition parties for political point-scoring is shameful. What of the people? Who speaks for us?” asks Nawaz Akhtar, a PTI worker who came in from Model Town.

Satisfied with the course the party has set itself on, Akhtar blames the government for how the PTI is responding. “If I have to come out on the streets every time Imran Khan makes the call for us to get justice, I will…every single time.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.

The post Staying put PTI strikes a responsive chord appeared first on The Express Tribune.

No one dare cast evil eye on Pakistan: PM

ISLAMABAD: As India tweaked the script of its ‘surgical strike’ drama on Friday, the government warned that no one would be allowed to cast an evil eye on Pakistan.

“I must make it clear that each and every person of this country is ready to defend the motherland. The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with its brave armed forces,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said while chairing a meeting of the federal cabinet on Friday.

The cabinet convened a day after Indian military claimed that its special forces had carried out ‘surgical strikes’ to neutralise alleged terrorist launch pads on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC). The Pakistani military, however, said New Delhi rebranded a cross-LoC firing as surgical strikes ‘to create false effects’.

Sharif said his government desired to end poverty and unemployment in the country and achieve progress and prosperity for which he needed peace. But “our commitment to peace must not be construed as weakness”, he added. “In case of any aggression or violation of the LoC, Pakistan will take all necessary steps to protect its people and territorial integrity,” he was quoted as saying in a statement issued after the cabinet meeting.

Sources in the Prime Minister House told The Express Tribune that the cabinet had two sessions. In the first session, participants exclusively discussed the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir and rising tensions with India, while economic, administrative, legislative and policy matters were taken up in the second session.

According to sources, the prime minister informed his cabinet members about a decision the civilian leadership and military command have jointly taken to intensify security procedures along the LoC to deal with an increasingly hostile India.

Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry briefed the cabinet about the measures being taken by the government to counter Indian diplomatic offensive to isolate Pakistan by mobilising pro-Pakistan lobbies in Europe and the United States and by mustering support from the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.  The task has been assigned to Premier Sharif’s emissaries on Kashmir.

The meeting was reportedly of the view that aggressive diplomacy on Kashmir and Pakistan-India hostility would continue without compromising the military option to respond to any situation at the LoC. “Diplomacy will continue but not at the cost of the military option,” an insider said summing up what was discussed in the meeting.

Premier Sharif’s adviser Amir Muqam said the government was pursuing a policy of peace with its neighbours. “But India has started showing too much teeth. It’s high time its teeth were broken,” he told The Express Tribune.

According to the official statement, Premier Sharif said: “Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of Partition, which cannot be wished away.” The cabinet also deplored provocative statements of Indian leaders blaming Pakistan for the Sept 18 Uri attack without any evidence.

Premier Sharif has convened a meeting of the heads of parliamentary parties on Monday to brief them on the IOK and LoC situation. The move is a part of efforts to forge a “collective voice of all parliamentary parties in reiterating our moral, political and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their struggle for their right of self-determination.

The prime minister has also convened a meeting of the National Security Committee on Tuesday where all chief ministers have specially been invited to discuss Indian hostilities at the LoC, situation in IOK and implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism. A joint session of parliament will also convene on Wednesday to discuss the pressing issues.

In other business, the cabinet approved 28 agenda items, including measures to stop terror financing under NAP.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.

The post No one dare cast evil eye on Pakistan: PM appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Pakistani, Indian troops trade fire across LoC

Pakistani and Indian troops traded fire across the Line of Control (LoC) in the Bhimber sector early Saturday, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.

Pakistan Army rubbishes India’s claim of ‘surgical strikes’ along LoC

“Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing which started at 0400 and continued till 0800 at LoC in Bhimber sector today,” reads the statement.

Earlier, two Pakistan Army soldiers were killed on Thursday as Indian forces resorted to unprovoked firing along the Line of Control (LoC) in Bhimber, Kel and Lipa sectors.

According to the ISPR, exchange of fire took place in the Bhimber, Hot Spring, Kel and Lipa sectors, and lasted about six hours early on Thursday, the Pakistani military’s press wing said in a statement, adding Pakistani troops mounted a fitting response to unprovoked Indian firing.

Two Pakistani soldiers killed as India violates ceasefire along LoC

India claimed to have conducted surgical strikes along the LoC. “India’s claims of surgical strikes are baseless,” DG ISPR Asim Bajwa said in a statement. “There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India.”

The military’s media wing added, “As per rules of engagement same was strongly and befittingly responded by Pakistani troops”.

The two nuclear-armed rivals declared a ceasefire in 2003, to maintain peace and tranquility along the LoC and Working Boundary.

The post Pakistani, Indian troops trade fire across LoC appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Blaze kills five at Mirpurkhas orphanage

HYDERABAD: At least five children were killed and a dozen others injured when a fire swept through an orphanage run by the federal government in Mirpurkhas late Thursday night.

The victims were separately laid to rest in Mirpurkhas and Tando Allahyar on Friday. The fire gutted a portion of the Baitul Mal-run orphanage, Pakistan Sweet Homes, which houses 100 children. The blaze reportedly engulfed one of the rooms where children were locked inside. The deceased, identified as Javed, Abdul Waheed, Abdul Samad, Nasir and Tajamul, were aged between eight and 10 years.

Police have detained three persons, including the district officer of the Baitul Mal Muhammad Amir, a woman working as a housekeeper in the orphanage and a watchman, but have not lodged a case against them.

The orphanage, it is learnt, was set up inside a rented bungalow in Liaquat Colony in Mirpurkhas and had no emergency safety equipment.

At least 10 more students were later pulled out alive.

The cause of fire is yet to be ascertained.

The management blames an electrical short-circuit for the fire, but police are convinced that the reckless use of mosquito repellent coils or the use of candles may have caused the tragedy.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.

The post Blaze kills five at Mirpurkhas orphanage appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Raiwind march: Imran threatens to shut capital

LAHORE: Taking his anti-graft mobilisation campaign right up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s home turf, a furious Imran Khan on Friday delivered a speech that tore through the alleged corruption of the Sharifs and targeted India at the same time.

With tens of thousands of supporters watching the firebrand Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman delivering his speech at Adda plot, close to the palatial residence of Sharif in Raiwind, Imran said he would give ‘two strong messages’ — one to Nawaz over his alleged corruption and the other to Indian Premier Narendra Modi regarding threats to Pakistan.

Imran gave Sharif time till Muharram to “either present himself for accountability or allow state institutions to take action against him”, failing which the PTI will bring the federal capital to a standstill”.

Hitting out at the prime minister over his ‘corruption’ and ‘stolen money’ as revealed in the Panama Papers, Imran said he would paralyse and oust the government in Islamabad if PM Nawaz does not present himself for accountability till Muharram.

“The Panama leaks is not an allegation but a proof of Nawaz Sharif’s corruption that is all out in the open. Some Rs8.5 billion have been spent on the security of Nawaz Shairf’s Jati Umrah. The staff that PML-N have employed for Jati Umrah, is double than that of the White House. The stolen money has made Nawaz Sharif a coward,” Imran said.

Imran also warned the government that his party would not let them rule after Muharram if the prime minister is not held accountable for the Panama Papers controversy.

The much-hyped rally — which also spawned criticism from opposition groups –was aimed at announcing the party’s future strategy.

Friday’s rally is the last such political gathering called by the party against the PML-N. “We will not hold any more such rallies and instead opt for something else,” the PTI chief said.

“If the situation at the border was not tense, I would have asked you all to stay back here till we get justice,” he told the cheering crowd.

Nevertheless Imran said his party now intends to shut the federal capital and paralyse it – a reprise of its anti-rigging campaign in 2014

He took a swipe at state institutions as well, warning them that they ought to take action before the party was forced to move to Islamabad after Muharram.

In his speech, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak urged his party chief to avoid giving another call for protest and calling on him instead to bring down the walls in a reference to Jati Umrah, which was blocked by containers during the protest.

The aggressive stance was also received by a degree of surprise by Imran, who jovially commented that being a CM he expected Khattak would make a diplomatic statement instead of taking a hard line. Poking fun at the government, he said the “PM suffered indigestion because of corruption”.

Saluting supporters

Standing atop a 40-foot high stage, Imran paid tribute to his party workers for their patience and resilience. He said they withstood late September temperatures and humidity and took up the challenge of reaching the venue and staying there till the bitter end. The rally drew tens of thousands of people, many of them from all corners of the country, including Balochistan.

Security for PM’s residence

Police had earlier cordoned off the prime minister’s residence by placing containers, barricades and barbed wires on the roads. While as many 7,500 police officials had been deputed for security, a helicopter also conducted aerial surveillance of the venue.

PTI chief warns Modi

With tensions running high along the Line of Control, Imran warned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that ‘not all Pakistanis are as cowardly as Nawaz’.

“First off, I want to make it clear that I believe in peace, not war. War is never the solution of any problems anywhere. When I met Narendra Modi in India, he agreed to me that we need to work together for peace,” Imran said.

However, he said PM Modi has proved that he is “a prejudiced Indian and not a statesman.”

“Modi has disappointed both India and Pakistan by his politics and lack of statesmanship.”

“I want to tell him that not all Pakistanis love money like Nawaz Sharif does. Modi must remember that not all Pakistanis are cowards like Nawaz Sharif and we know how to respond to such threats.”

Speaking on the Kashmir issue, Imran said: “Human rights are being trampled in Kashmir… And no matter what we’ll support Kashmiris morally and politically.”

He also vowed to support the people of Kashmir because of the conditions there.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.

The post Raiwind march: Imran threatens to shut capital appeared first on The Express Tribune.

So-called surgical strike: Indian farce throws up a few challenges

ISLAMABAD: The Indian claim of carrying out ‘surgical strikes’ is still shrouded in mystery while Pakistan insists no such activity took place on its side of the Line of Control (LoC) before dawn on Thursday.

On the contrary, an Indian minister on Friday retracted his country’s earlier claim that helicopters were used during the ‘surgical strikes’. The retraction by Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore cast doubts on the Indian narrative and reinforced the view that the term ‘surgical strikes’ might have been used by the Modi administration just for public consumption.

Claims and counter claims aside, the evolving situation and aggressive posturing by India has thrown serious challenges for Pakistan both at the diplomatic and military fronts.

Although Pakistan vehemently denied India carried out any ‘surgical strikes’, a series of huddles both at political and military levels suggest it is not business as usual. “These activities point to one thing that Pakistan is confronted with serious challenges in the evolving scenario,” former ambassador and strategic affairs expert Ali Sarwar Naqvi told The Express Tribune.

Militarily, what India is trying to achieve under the Modi government is to change the rules of engagement at the de facto border. Though the Indian claim is debatable, the fact that New Delhi publicly announced its special forces intruded into the Pakistani side of the LoC is tantamount to setting a dangerous precedent.

Under the existing rules of engagements, Pakistan and Indian forces exchange small arm and sometimes artillery fire but without intruding into each other’s controlled part of Kashmir. Therefore, Indian troops’ purported intrusion is a red line that Pakistan always says if breached would be considered as an act of war.

But despite Indian provocation, even if it is for public consumption, Pakistan appears to be following a careful policy that is to show military restraint but pursue a pro-active diplomacy, according to officials, who spoke to The Express Tribune off the record.

They say that while showing military restraint and preferring proactive diplomacy, the Pakistan government will convey to the global community that this approach should not be construed as its weakness.

“Pakistan must take key global capitals into confidence on the progressive defensive measures it will take in case of further escalation of tensions by Indian security forces across the LoC, especially in the case of hot pursuit,” said Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed, who teaches international politics at the Quaid-i-Azam University.

According to Pakistan’s assessment, India wanted to achieve two objectives through publicly claiming that its forces carried out surgical strikes (a) to divert global attention from the Kashmir situation, (b) to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in the long term.

“So, Pakistan will not fall into the Indian trap,” said one official. And Dr Ishtiaq agrees with this policy, saying Pakistan should respond to the situation keeping in mind Indian tactics. On the diplomatic front, major challenge for Pakistan is to counter the narrative being built by India that it is responsible for terrorist attacks in the neighboring country.

More worrying thing for Islamabad is that powerful countries, including the US, have somehow maintained either silence or tacitly supportive of Modi’s aggressive posturing towards Pakistan.

“India is presenting itself as a victim of cross-border terrorism. We need to counter this narrative through a well-crafted policy,” former ambassador to the US Abid Hussain said.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.

The post So-called surgical strike: Indian farce throws up a few challenges appeared first on The Express Tribune.

Preventive measures: K-P hospitals asked to use tagging systems for newborns

PESHAWAR: Authorities in Khyber-Pakhtunkwa have instructed top officials in health facilities to take precautionary measures to prevent the abduction of newborns from hospitals and maternity clinics.

A string of measures was proposed including the introduction of a tagging system for newborn babies. Each baby will have a tag inscribed with his or her parents’’ names. Additionally, the installation of closed circuit TV cameras was proposed in the gynae units, labour rooms and nurseries, a statement issued stated.

“Two doctors and a nurse may be deputed for one patient so that the mother and the baby receive good care,” the statement read adding that one of the doctors should be made responsible to look after the new-born.

It added that one responsible female should be present at the time of the delivery to avoid any mishap.

It also asked hospitals to devise an identity card system which would be used at the time of the handover of the new-borns to their parents. It also suggested that a pro forma may be compiled in an admission chart.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.

The post Preventive measures: K-P hospitals asked to use tagging systems for newborns appeared first on The Express Tribune.

United against enemy: Rallies mounted in Quetta against Indian aggression

QUETTA: Several rallies and protests were staged on Friday in the provincial capital to protest against India’s violation of the Line of Control (LoC) and the killing of two Pakistani soldiers.

The protests and rallies were mounted by several political parties, student groups and members of the civil society.

A large rally was organised by the National Party (NP) and marchers set out from Kalat towards the provincial capital, expressing outrage over India’s unprovoked acts of aggression.

Protesters carried national flags, placards and chanted slogans in solidarity with the country’s armed forces.

Addressing the protesters, NP leaders said: “Violating the LoC ceasefire treaty, India has proven once again that it loves war instead of peace,”

The protesters also set ablaze an effigy of the Indian prime minister as well as an Indian flag.

Haji Ismael Langove of the NP said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our brave armed forces; If necessary, we will sacrifice our lives for the country.

“Modi’s recent statement proved that, India is fueling terrorism in Pakistan and Balochistan,” he thundered.

Meanwhile, angry citizens and members of various groups of civil society also staged rallies to demonstrate their support to the armed forces.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2016.

The post United against enemy: Rallies mounted in Quetta against Indian aggression appeared first on The Express Tribune.