Eid Mubarak To All Muslims Around the World

Eid mubarak

Owner of tourist hotspot Cafe De Hunza passes away

Photograph by Lubna Javaid
Photograph by Lubna Javaid

Shafqat Ali, the owner of tourist hotspot Cafe de Hunza, passed away after cardiac arrest yesterday, according to reports on social media.

Cafe de Hunza is famous as a must-visit eatery in Hunza for tourists and is known to serve the Hunza Walnut Cake, a dense pastry-like cake with a caramel walnut filling.

The Hunza Walnut Cake at Cafe de Hunza — Photo by Sahar Habib
The Hunza Walnut Cake at Cafe de Hunza — Photo by Sahar Habib

Shafqat Ali made an immediate impression on his customers, many of whom took to Twitter to express their sadness at his unexpected demise.

The First Female Cyclist on Mountain Top

PHOTO: Samar Khan

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Samar Khan is the first woman in the world to have cycled on the 4,500-metre-high Biafo glacier in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Khan, a master’s in physics, enjoys  paragliding, trekking, and mountain climbing in addition to cycling, which she has a penchant for.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

In an interview with The Express Tribune, the 26-year-old from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa shares her journey to Biafo, her love for cycling and future plans.

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Khan made the trip in July, 2016. Due to paucity of resources, she couldn’t hire a company for her trip. Undeterred, Khan contacted professional mountain climber Asghar Hussain for her journey.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Her month-long trip began on July, 24 when she left for Skardu. It took Khan 18 days and a dozen stops to reach Biafo.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

“The biggest challenge on a route like this is the elevation,” she said when asked about what she was most concerned about before the trip. Khan trained for six months before setting out for Biafo; she trekked on the weekends, routinely visited the gym and also followed a strict diet plan.

Khan developed an interest in cycling while at university. Her first major ride was from Islamabad to Khunjerab Pass last year. Khan also cycled from Minar-i-Pakistan to Wagah border in Lahore, earlier this year along with other cyclists.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Speaking of her love for cycling, Khan said it was easier to take up than other sports. “You don’t need a trainer, you don’t need very expensive equipment and you can ride in the rain or snow,” she said. “It’s pleasant, healthy and good for the environment,” Khan added.

Shedding light on public interest in the sport, Khan said people were taking  keen interest in cycling. “Many bikers joined me during my rides, some from Abottabad and from Babusar,” she said.  “People always get in touch; asking me how they can join a biking tour,” Khan added.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Khan plans to join the national team and has been looking forward to more challenging tours around the country. She also plans to return to Biafo to visit places she missed earlier. Khan said she wanted people to see how stunning Pakistan was.

PHOTO: Samar Khan

Grateful for the support of her mother and siblings, Khan said poor mobile network coverage was the only drawback when it came to cycling in the Northern Areas. She expressed hope of coverage improving in G-B, saying that make it easier for her to remain in touch with her family.

Encouraging others who wish to take up cycling, Khan said the sport was not as unsafe as commonly perceived. Instead of being dissuaded by someone, “experience it yourself” she counselled to conclude.source

Will Hafiz End the Darkness in Gilgit-Baltistan

Gilgit: One of the most acute problems of Gilgit-Baltistan is severe shortage of electricity and negligence and ignoring of successive Pakistani government to improve the situation in Gilgit-Baltistan. This time, would Hafiz Ur Rehman, CM of GB is able to convince and extract required funds and resources from his parties Federal Govt. To end this epidemic.

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Addressing and chairing a meeting in Gilgit Mr. Hafiz Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeez-ur Rehman says nine hydro-power projects are being established in the region on priority to overcome electricity shortages. Chairing a meeting in Gilgit, he said on completion these projects will add two hundred and fifty megawatt electricity to the system by 2020.

There Is No Peace In The Middle East Without Iran and in the Rest of the World

Donald Trump might have missed the most positive news from the Middle East last week. It was not his antagonistic declarations in Riyadh, Israel, Brussels and Italy.

It came from Iran: President Hassan Rouhani had managed the tour de force to be reelected against a conservative candidate and a few others, reaching 57% of the votes at the first round. Three-quarters of the Iranians voted, twenty percent more than in the US. It was a victory for those who believe that the time had come to open up Iran further to the rest of the world.

Accusing Iran of factually incorrect actions is an aberration. Blaming Iran for the Saudi attack on Yemen is absurd. There is no more sectarianism in Iran than in the rest of the Muslim world. His accusations were referring to statements by President Ahmadinejad, twice removed from power.

Iran is essential to the peace process in the Middle East: it is a powerful influence in several parts of the Islamic world and cannot be ignored. It is also 80 million people, more than Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar taken together. One third of the Iraqi population are Sunnis.

Is it ignorance or ideology? Probably both inspired the speech of Donald Trump to the Shiite representatives of the Muslim world. By squarely taking sides with Saudi Arabia, he disqualified himself once and forever as a peace maker in the region. Yelling is not helpful to create peace.

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Iran stands on its two feet

Iran is at the origin of our civilization. In 550 BC, Cyrus the Great started the Persian civilization. When Ayatollah Khomeini took power, millions of Iranians fled to Europe and the United States. Five million Iranians live in the West. They brought a wealth of culture and scientific knowledge.

No, Iran would not have collapsed within six months as a nation-state. Strangling Iran economically for a decennia did neither manage to destroy the country nor to really slow down the production of nuclear energy. Europe is now establishing new relationships with Iran, while in India, the important Parsi community has been at the origin of the development of Indian multinationals and the Indian leadership is reaching out to Iran. The Chinese are on their way to do the same. The times of embargo are over and Trump cannot change it. The implementation of the nuclear agreement is happening, without the United States. For a deal maker, it should be an opportunity. He just lost it.

Trying to gain popularity with the Sunnis by blaming Iran is dangerous, and engenders conflicts. Iran deserves to be respected for what it is and what its electors have voted for. Trump appeal to unity was divisive.

 

Religion plays a role in the Middle East conflicts

Trump stated that it was not a religious war, while advising the Saudis to fight to eliminate Shi’ism. This contradiction adds fuel to the fire and exacerbates religious differences. I have in my previous posts here advocated that the United States had no business to favor one or the other secular division of Islam. Trump might have been well inspired to look at the consequences of the war in Iraq. This is none of our business.

Donald Trump said it was a fight between good and evil.

Saudi Arabia is a country dominated by a small section of Islam, the Wahhabism. This monarchy is authoritarian and no democracy is in place: there are no elections. Women have no rights, not even to drive a car. They are lapidated for adultery, and recently, the Saudis executed a Shi’ite leader to provoke Iran. A blog can condemn you to flogging. It is a barbaric regime that the US should be walking away from.

They have a responsibility in for 9/11 according to then-candidate Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia’s religious police implements a strict version of the sharia. They are destroying Yemen, one of the jewels of the Arab world that they invaded without any justification. Is this regime just good? In the words of The Guardian, “give a green light to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East to carry on and oppressing minorities”. Iraqi leaders produced by George W. Bush’ useless war are afraid that they might be destabilized by a US opposition to Iran. After all they lost a war despite the support of the United States to Saddam Hussain. Does Trump even know that the jihadi ISIS is Sunni? That they are the former Ba’ath party army of Saddam Hussein, thrown out by the George W. Bush?

Compared to Saudi Arabia, Iran should be praised for having developed an electoral process for decades. Iran is not an example of human rights. Like the Saudis they incarcerate and execute opponents. Women wear a veil, but they are electors and electable. They study at universities, teach and work. One only needs to visit Iran to be impressed by the resilience of 80 million people who survived US embargo. The recent opening should be met in kind.

The nuclear challenge

After the declarations of Donald Trump, the Iranian government announced that they will continue their nuclear process and treated Trump’s statements as theatrical. Why stick to one’s promises when the US renegades its signature. I was in Tehran the day when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the compatibility of Iran nuclear progress with the requirements of the nuclear treaty. It was a day of recognition. Donald trump has single-handedly broken any hope that Iran will be restrictive.

Why should Iran not be allowed to have a nuclear bomb while the US finances Pakistan whose regime is responsible for attacks on India? Pakistan is probably more religiously conservative and in any case not more predictable. Because of Israel? Because of the corruption of the Saudis?

In any event there is no moral or principle ground to refuse it to Iran. Now that the US has decided to allow Saudi Arabia to purchase 110 billion dollars in destructive weapons, it is hard to object to a nuclear defense in Iran. As the Financial Times puts it, the “UN hopeful nuclear deal will not unravel despite Trump attack”.

Peace is not in Trump’s DNA: he is the ultimate divider.

The Trump family wants to make deals: weapons, real estate… Jared made the Saudi deal over and above the state department and congress. Peace is not what the President wants: he has declared war to Iran, Germany, Europe, NATO, the environment, the Muslims, the gays, the poor, the women, the elderly, the veterans, the constitution, the media, the judiciary, the parenthood, the minorities and the migrants.

This is not about choosing between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Shias and Sunnis. It is about respecting the religious differences without excommunicating any of them. At the end, they will; have to agree on their respective oil policies. One thing is sure. The US will not be the broker of that indispensable deal. Russia has already managed to lead the Astana peace talks for Syria… with Iran and Turkey. Source