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'Pawri' power: 5-second social media clip pulls India, Pakistan closer

Pakistan|: Karachi: A 19-year-old Pakistani student who shot to fame after her five-second video went viral on social media across the subcontinent, hopes numerous renditions of her monologue will translate into more dialogue between neighbours India and Pakistan. The short video shot by Dananeer Mobeen in the Nathaigali mountains of northern Pakistan and uploaded onto Instagram shows a group of youngsters enjoying themselves by a roadside. Swinging around the device she is filming on, Mobeen gestures behind her and says in Urdu, "This is our car, this is us, and this is our party taking place." Seemly innocuous, she deliberately mispronounces the English word "party" as "pawri" to poke fun at South Asians who adopt Western accents. It immediately struck a chord in both India and Pakistan, sparking top trending hashtags on social media, and garnering millions of views and hundreds of spin-offs. "It was the most random video. I initially had no intention of uploading it," Mobeen said, expressing surprise at how viral it had gone and adding the trend showed the power and reach of social media. "Pawri" monologue renditions have been used by police in India and the Delhi Commission for Women in their social media outreach campaigns. In one video, two Indian soldiers deployed in snowy mountains give it their own spin with "This is us, this is our gun, and we are patrolling here", while popular Bollywood actors Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone each did a version that also went viral. Dananeer Mobeen, 19, a social media influencer who has become famous after her five-second video went viral, speaks during an interview in Karachi, Pakistan February 27, 2021. Image Credit: Reuters Indian dairy company Amul, known for inculcating trendy takes on current issues in its advertisements, did a "this is our pav-tea" version, in a nod to a popular bread snack eaten with tea. Even politicians jumped on the bandwagon, with a leader from India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party using the catchy hook at an election rally. "I'm honoured and grateful for all the love across the border," said Mobeen, expressing her happiness at fostering some rare friendly cross-border dialogue. India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed nations, have fought three wars and often had tense relations since gaining independence in 1947. Last week, their militaries released a rare joint statement saying they had agreed to observe a ceasefire along the disputed Kashmir border, after exchanging fire hundreds of times over past months. Since the video went viral, Mobeen said she has been inundated with acting and modelling offers, along with requests for product endorsements. Instead, she says she aspires to join Pakistan's foreign services.

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Pakistan gears up for Senate polls

Pakistan|: Islamabad: Political activity is at its peak in Islamabad as the capital city gears up for the Senate elections on March 3. Pakistan’s Senate or the upper house of parliament consists of 104 lawmakers who are elected by members of the country’s provincial and national assemblies. Each senator serves a term of six years but 50 per cent of the total number of senators retire after every three years. The elections are due as 52 senators are set to retire on March 11 after completing their six-year tenure. However, the 2021 elections will see 48 new senators join the upper house, including 12 each from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, 11 each from Punjab and Sindh and two from Islamabad. The number was reduced to 48 members this year after the merger of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with the KP province. Candidates As many as 78 candidates from different political parties are contesting the 2021 Senate elections. The candidates include 14 from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), 13 from Pakistan Peopless Party (PPP), 2 from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), 2 from MQM-P, 11 from BAP, 1 from TLP and three as independent candidates. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is set to emerge as the largest party in the elections of the Senate which is currently dominated by the opposition, blocking government-backed legislations. Perks of a senator The monthly salary of a senator in Pakistan is about Rs76,802 (US$487) including all allowances, according to a 2015 Senate handbook. However, most of their expenses such as medical, travel and other bills are covered by the state. A senator is also entitled to travel allowance including vouchers of Rs300,000 (US$1900) per year or Rs90,000 cash in lieu of travel voucher per year. Senators are also allotted 20 business class open return air tickets per year. Horse-trading allegations and secret balloting Prime Minister Imran Khan recently proposed to hold Senate elections through an open ballot system to address the challenges of rigging, buying and selling of votes and horse-trading allegations in the Senate election that has long destroyed the sanctity of the upper house of parliament. However, a day earlier, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of elections through the secret ballot under the constitution after the country’s president sought the opinion of the court. The court urged that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was responsible to ensure transparency and curbing all corrupt practices. The court also suggested the use of the latest technology to ensure transparency. The election commission on Tuesday said that the Senate polls would be conducted as provided in the Constitution and law as per past practice.

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Pakistan Supreme Court upholds order to demolish illegally-constructed lawyers’ chambers

Pakistan|: Islamabad: Pakistan’s top court on Tuesday upheld an order by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) given on Feb 16, 2021 for demolition of the illegally-constructed chambers of the lawyers of Islamabad on a football ground adjacent to the District Court complex in Islamabad’s F-8 sector. The land of the playground was encroached by the lawyers as they had constructed chambers on it. A three-member bench of the top court of Pakistan headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed gave the order while hearing a petition filed by the Islamabad Bar Association and directed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) to vacate the football ground from the encroaching lawyers. The court also directed the Registrar of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to remove some courts if they are found to be constructed on the playground. IHC had ordered football tournament on encroached plot Earlier, a four-member bench of the IHC headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah and comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Minagul Hassan Aurangzeb on Feb 16 had directed the CDA to retrieve the land from the lawyers and restore the playground by March 23. “The federal government shall make arrangements for holding a football tournament among students of public schools on Pakistan Day - March 23, 2021 - to pay tribute to the greatest lawyer of the subcontinent and founder of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah,” ordered the larger bench. Licences of lawyers suspended over misconduct The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has also suspended licences of some 19 lawyers over misconduct and for storming the IHC building, Chief Justice Block and manhandling the staff last month during a protest demonstration on Feb 8. These lawyers were protesting against demolition of their chambers by the CDA and the ICT in an operation a day earlier on Feb 7. Newly-elected president, secretary of IHC Bar face suspension February 8 is considered Black Day in the history of the IHC as the angry lawyers vented their wrath by pelting stones at the IHC building. They also injured the staff and even took the Chief Justice Athar Minallah hostage. The IHC, after the incident, issued show cause notices to 21 lawyers including the newly-elected President of the IHC Bar Zahid Mehmood Raja and Secretary Tasadduq Hanif. After Tuesday’s order, their licences have also been suspended. Besides, a member of the Islamabad Bar Council Naseer Kiani has also come under suspension. According to the rules, the court will now send references against these lawyers to the Islamabad Bar Council that is headed by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiani of the IHC and the bar council will in return decide whether their licences should be cancelled.