Pakistan’s first female general hails Saudi Arabia for women-centric reforms

Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, left, appoints Lt. Gen. Nagar Johar, center, as Colonel Commandant of the Army Medical Corps. (Pakistan Army)
Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, left, appoints Lt. Gen. Nagar Johar, center, as Colonel Commandant of the Army Medical Corps. (Pakistan Army)
Short Url
Updated 14 January 2022

Pakistan’s first female general hails Saudi Arabia for women-centric reforms

Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, left, appoints Lt. Gen. Nagar Johar, center, as Colonel Commandant of the Army Medical Corps. (Pakistan Army)
  • Lt. Gen. Nigar Johar was appointed the first female colonel commandant of the Army Medical Corps last year
  • She is the only woman in the history of the Pakistan Army to reach the rank of three-star general

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s first female general, Nigar Johar, who in November was appointed colonel commandant of the Army Medical Corps, has hailed Saudi Arabia for introducing “commendable” reforms for the welfare of women.

Lt. Gen. Johar joined the Army Medical College in 1981 and graduated four years later. She subsequently became the only woman in the history of the Pakistan Army to reach the rank of a three-star general, and was asked to lead a corps.

A native of Swabi, a small settlement in the conservative Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan’s northwest, Johar said the environment of her town when she was growing up did not prevent her from dreaming of a professional career, adding women should believe in themselves as they are capable of excelling in any field.

She also praised the recent reforms undertaken by Saudi Arabia to empower women.

“In Saudi Arabia, where there were restrictions, females are driving there after commendable steps taken by His Majesty (King Salman),” she told Arab News in an exclusive interview earlier this week. “I was recently there for Umrah and saw female drivers there which made me very happy.”

Women’s rights are one of the issues that have benefited most from Saudi Arabia’s reform push in recent years. Saudi women have been appointed to high-ranking positions in the public and private sectors, as well as diplomatic missions. More Saudi women are also working in the legal profession and have opportunities to represent clients in court and work at public prosecution offices.

In her own case, Johar attributed professional success to a clear sense of purpose along with a system of meritocracy in the Pakistani armed forces.

“If you know your job and work hard with clear direction and sincerity, there is no reason why you would be left behind,” she said. “The army system is merit-based. This is also exemplified by my presence here.”

Explaining her passion for the armed forces, she said her father was an artillery officer who inspired her.

“He was my ideal,” she said. “I had seen him in uniform from the beginning which influenced my decision to become a doctor and join the army.”

Johar’s dedication and professional excellence captured the attention of her superiors, who gave her positions of command and authority, making her feel she was facing “the biggest challenge” of her life.

She said her first leadership role arrived when she was asked to command a hospital as a brigadier

“That was definitely a huge challenge, since you have to prove yourself,” she said. “Then you feel a burden of responsibility because you know that you are there to make it or break it for females coming there after you.”

With the outbreak of the coronavirus disease pandemic, Johar was asked to convert the Military Hospital Rawalpindi into a fully equipped COVID-19 center within a week.

She recalled the daunting challenge, saying: “We converted it into a COVID hospital by spreading oxygen services to over 100 beds and expanding its intensive care unit.”

As the disease started spreading in the country, she took the initiative to add a further 3,000 beds by taking over the Army Public School building.

“We worked day and night with our team to manage the emergency situation,” she said. “Now, I can proudly say that we did quite well, because our mortality ratio was very low.”

In the beginning of her career, Johar said she had faced gender-based discrimination, which was a global issue present in every field.

She remembered how female doctors were initially not allowed any specialty other than gynecology in the army, but said things have now changed.

“I wanted to be a cardiologist but I couldn’t because I was a female and they were not allowed to be cardiologists,” she said. “Now, we have females in so many areas in the army.”

Although her initial dream of a medical career did not come true, she believes her life took a better turn.

“I feel that my destiny turned out to be better than what I had planned for myself,” Johar said. “I could not become a cardiologist but I am sitting here now, which is better for me.”  

 

Related


Pakistani military helicopter crashes killing six soldiers -military

Pakistani military helicopter crashes killing six soldiers -military
Updated 26 September 2022

Pakistani military helicopter crashes killing six soldiers -military

Pakistani military helicopter crashes killing six soldiers -military

QUETTA, Pakistan: A Pakistani military helicopter crashed in the southwest area of the country late on Sunday killing all six soldiers on board, including two officers, the military said on Monday.
The helicopter crashed during a “flying mission” near Harnai in the province of Balochistan, the military’s public relations wing said in a statement. No reason for the crash was given.


Super Typhoon Noru leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines

Super Typhoon Noru leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines
Updated 26 September 2022

Super Typhoon Noru leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines

Super Typhoon Noru leaves 5 rescuers dead in north Philippines
  • The victims drowned in rampaging waters after a collapsed wall hit the boat they were using to help residents trapped in floods
  • President Marcos orders supplies be airlifted and clean-up equipment be provided to most-affected communities

MANILA: Typhoon Noru blew out of the northern Philippines on Monday, leaving five rescuers dead, causing floods and power outages and forcing officials to suspend classes and government work in the capital and outlying provinces.

The most powerful typhoon to hit the country this year slammed into the coast in Burdeos town in Quezon province before nightfall on Sunday then weakened as it barreled overnight across the main Luzon region, where thousands of people were moved to emergency shelters, some forcibly, officials said.
Gov. Daniel Fernando of Bulacan province, north of Manila, said five rescuers, who were using a boat to help residents trapped in floodwaters, were hit by a collapsed wall then apparently drowned in the rampaging waters.
“They were living heroes who were helping save the lives of our countrymen amid this calamity,” Fernando told DZMM radio network. “This is really very sad.”
On Polillo island in northeastern Quezon province, a man was injured after falling off the roof of his house, officials said.

More than 17,000 people were moved to emergency shelters from high-risk communities prone to tidal surges, flooding and landslides in Quezon alone, officials said.
More than 3,000 people were evacuated to safety in Metropolitan Manila, which was lashed by fierce wind and rain overnight. Classes and government work were suspended Monday in the capital and outlying provinces as a precaution although the morning skies were sunny.
The entire northern provinces of Aurora and Nueva Ecija, which were hit by the typhoon, remained without power Monday and repair crews were at work to bring back electricity, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in a televised meeting he called to assess damages and coordinate disaster-response.

Marcos Jr. praised officials for evacuating thousands of people to safety as a precaution before the typhoon hit which prevented large number of casualties despite the Noru’s potentially disastrous force. He ordered supplies be airlifted and clean-up equipment be provided to most-affected communities.
“The point at which we can stand down is when the majority of evacuees are already back home,” Marcos said at a news conference with disaster management officials on Monday, referring to the 74,000 people who were forced into evacuation centers by the storm.
Luzon, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the economy and roughly half of the country’s 110 million population, started clean-up operations as floods in the capital region had started subsiding, officials said.
Noru underwent an “explosive intensification” over the open Pacific Ocean before it hit the Philippines, Vicente Malano, who heads the country’s weather agency PAGASA, told The Associated Press on Sunday.
From sustained winds of 85 kilometers per hour (53 mph) on Saturday, Noru was a super typhoon just 24 hours later with sustained winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 240 kph (149 mph) at its peak late Sunday.
By Monday morning, Noru had sustained winds of 140 kph (87 mph) and gusts of 170 kph (105 mph) and was moving westward in the South China Sea at 30 kph (19 mph), according to the weather agency.
About 20 storms and typhoons batter the Philippines each year. The archipelago also lies in the “Pacific Ring of Fire,” a region along most of the Pacific Ocean rim where many volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur, making the Southeast Asian nation one of the world’s most disaster-prone.
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest recorded tropical cyclones in the world, left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, flattened entire villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million in the central Philippines — well to the south of Noru’s path.

(With Reuters) 


Italy voters shift sharply, reward Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party

Italy voters shift sharply, reward Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party
Updated 26 September 2022

Italy voters shift sharply, reward Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party

Italy voters shift sharply, reward Giorgia Meloni’s far-right party
  • The formation of a ruling coalition could take weeks. If Meloni succeeds, she would be the first woman to hold the country’s premiership
  • Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, which has neo-fascist roots, has never held office but looks set to form Italy’s most far-right government

ROME: Italian voters rewarded Giorgia Meloni’s euroskeptic party with neo-fascist roots, propelling the country toward what likely would be its first far-right-led government since World War II, based on partial results Monday from the election for Parliament.
In a victory speech, far-right Italian leader Giorgia Meloni struck a moderate tone after projections based on votes counted from some two-thirds of polling stations showed her Brothers of Italy party ahead of other contenders in Sunday’s balloting.
“If we are called to govern this nation, we will do it for everyone, we will do it for all Italians and we will do it with the aim of uniting the people (of this country),” Meloni said at her party’s Rome headquarters.
“Italy chose us,” she said. “We will not betray (the country) as we never have.”
The formation of a ruling coalition, with the help of Meloni’s right-wing and center-right allies, could take weeks. If Meloni, 45, succeeds, she would be the first woman to hold the country’s premiership.
The mandate to try to form a government is given by Italy’s president after consultations with party leaders.

Meanwhile, former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, whose government collapsed two months ago, stays on in a caretaker role.
Differences among Meloni’s potential coalition partners could loom.
She has solidly backed the supplying of Ukraine with arms to defend itself against Russia’s invasion. In contrast, right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini, who before the war was a staunch admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has voiced concern that Western sanctions could end up hurting Italy’s economic interests more that punishing Russia’s.
Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi, another long-time Putin admirer, has said that his inclusion in a center-right bloc’s coalition would guarantee that Italy stays firmly anchored in the European Union and one of its most reliable members.
With Italy’s households and businesses struggling with staggeringly high energy bills as winter approaches, Meloni has demurred from Salvini’s push to swell already-debt-laden Italy by tens of billions of euros for energy relief.
What kind of government the eurozone’s third-largest economy might be getting was being closely watched in Europe, given Meloni’s criticism of “Brussels bureaucrats” and her ties to other right-wing leaders. She recently defended Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban after the European Commission recommended suspending billions of euros in funding to Hungary over concerns about democratic backsliding and the possible mismanagement of EU money.
After opinion polls in the run-up to the vote indicated she would be headed to victory, Meloni started moderating her message of “God, homeland and family” in an apparent attempt to reassure the European Union and other international partners, worried about euro-skepticism.
“This is the time for being responsible,” Meloni said, appearing live on television and describing the situation for Italy and the European Union is “particularly complex.”

She promised more detailed comments later on Monday. In her campaign, she criticized European Union officials as being overly bureaucratic and vowing to protect Italy’s national interests if they clash with EU policies.
Projections based on votes counted from nearly two-thirds of the polling stations in Sunday’s balloting indicated Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party would win some 25.7 percent of the vote.
That compared to some 19.3 percent by the closest challenger, the center-left Democratic Party of former Premier Enrico Letta. Salvini’s League was projected to win 8.6 percent of the ballots, roughly half of what he garnered in the last 2018 election. Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, appeared headed to win 8 percent.
Meloni’s meteoric rise in the European Union’s third-largest economy comes at a critical time, as much of the continent reels under soaring energy bills, a repercussion of the war in Ukraine, and the West’s resolve to stand united against Russian aggression is being tested. In the last election, in 2018, Meloni’s party took 4.4 percent.
Fellow euroskeptic politicians were among the first to celebrate. French politician Marine Le Pen’s party also hailed the result as a “lesson in humility” to the EU.
Santiago Abascal, the leader of Spain’s far-right Vox opposition party, tweeted that “millions of Europeans are placing their hopes in Italy.” Meloni “has shown the way for a proud and free Europe of sovereign nations that can cooperate on behalf of everybody’s security and prosperity.”
Nearly 64 percent of eligible voters deserted the balloting, according to the Interior Ministry. That is far lower than the previous record for low turnout, 73 percent in 2018.
Italy has had three coalition governments since the last election — each led by someone who hadn’t run for office, and that appeared to have alienated many voters, pollsters had said.
Meloni’s party was forged from the legacy of a neo-fascist party formed shortly after the war by nostalgists of Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Italy’s complex electoral law rewards campaign alliance. Meloni was buoyed by joining campaign forces with Salvini and Berlusconi.
The Democrats went into the vote at a steep disadvantage since they failed to secure a similarly broad alliance with the left-leaning populists of the 5-Star-Movement, the largest party in the just-ended legislature.
Headed by former Premier Giuseppe Conte, the 5-Stars appeared headed to a third-place finish, with some 16 percent of the vote. Had they joined forces in a campaign agreement with the Democrats, their coalition would have roughly take the same percentage of Meloni’s alliance
The election Sunday came six months early after Draghi’s pandemic unity government, which enjoyed wide citizen popularity, collapsed in late July after the parties of Salvini, Berlusconi and Conte withheld support in a confidence vote.
Meloni kept her Brothers of Italy party in the opposition, refusing to join Draghi’s unity government or the two previous coalitions led by Conte.
 


China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress

China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress
Updated 26 September 2022

China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress

China’s Communist Party has elected delegates for congress
  • Nearly 2,300 delegates representing all provinces and regions will pick members of the party’s Central Committee of around 200 members
  • The Central Committee will then vote for the 25-person Politburo and its all-powerful Standing Committee, currently comprising seven people

BEIJING: China’s Communist Party said Sunday that it had elected all the delegates attending a key political meeting starting October 16, where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure an unprecedented third term.
The twice-in-a-decade conclave will also see a shuffle of personnel on the party’s powerful decision-making body, the 25-member Politburo.
“Each electoral unit across the country convened a party congress or party representative meeting and elected 2,296 delegates to the 20th Party Congress,” state broadcaster CCTV said.
The delegates must adhere to Xi’s political ideology in addition to the party constitution, CCTV said.
The representatives include women, ethnic minority party members and those specializing in various fields, such as economics, science and sports, CCTV said.
The congress in the capital Beijing comes as Xi faces significant political headwinds, including an ailing economy, deteriorating relations with the United States and a strict zero-Covid policy that has accelerated China’s inward turn from the world.

The congress is the most important date on China’s political calendar. It offers signposts on the direction the world’s second-largest economy will take in the near term and the extent of the sway that Xi has over the party with millions of members.
The nearly 2,300 delegates representing all provinces and regions will engage in a highly choreographed exercise to pick members of the party’s Central Committee of around 200 members.
The Central Committee will then vote for the 25-person Politburo and its all-powerful Standing Committee — China’s highest leadership body and apex of power, currently comprising seven people.
Voting is mostly a formality — the pecking order of the Politburo and its Standing Committee is likely to have been decided well in advance. The overall duration of the congress is not yet clear.

Xi’s decade-long tenure has seen crackdowns on corruption within the party — which analysts say served to take down his political rivals — as well as the crushing of a democracy movement in Hong Kong and strict lockdowns on cities in the name of curbing the coronavirus.
He has faced harsh human rights criticism from the international community over repressive policies in the northwestern Xinjiang region, where an estimated one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorites have been detained in a sweeping crackdown ostensibly targeting “terrorism.”
He also ushered in an assertive “Wolf Warrior” foreign policy that has alienated Western democracies and some regional neighbors, and has pushed for closer ties with Russia while stoking nationalism at home.
He abolished the presidential two-term limit in 2018 — originally set up by former leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s to prevent another Mao-like dictatorship — leaving open the possibility of him becoming leader for life.
 


Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris

Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris
Updated 26 September 2022

Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris

Police clash with anti-Iranian regime protesters in London and Paris
  • Similar rallies in support of Iranian women have occurred around the world
  • Macron’s talks and public handshake with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at UNGA upset French activists

PARIS: Police clashed with demonstrators trying to reach Iran’s embassies in London and Paris on Sunday.
French police used tear gas and employed anti-riot tactics to prevent hundreds of people protesting in the capital from marching on Tehran’s diplomatic mission, AFP reporters and eyewitnesses said.
In London, police said they made 12 arrests and five officers were “seriously injured” as demonstrators tried to break through barriers protecting Iran’s UK embassy.
The protesters in Paris had gathered for the second day running to express outrage at the death of Mahsa Amini following her arrest by Iran’s morality police — and to show solidarity with the protests that have erupted in Iran, at a cost of at least 41 lives.
Similar rallies in support of Iranian women have occurred around the world.
The demonstration had began peacefully at Trocadero Square in the center of the French capital. Some protesters chanted “Death to the Islamic Republic” and slogans against supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But police in full anti-riot armor, backed by a line of vans, blocked the path of the protesters as they sought to approach the Iranian embassy a short distance away.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.
In a statement, Paris police said that “on several occasions groups tried to break through the roadblock set up near the Iranian embassy. The police used... tear gas to repel them.”
They said about 4,000 people had gathered for the demonstration. One person was arrested for “outrage and rebellion” and one officer was slightly hurt, said police.
The use of tear gas angered activists already upset by President Emmanuel Macron’s talks and public handshake with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last week.
“Police used tear gas to disperse Iranian protesters in Paris in an effort to protect the Islamic Republic embassy,” tweeted the US-based Iranian women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad.
“Meanwhile, @EmmanuelMacron shook hands with the murderous president of Iran.”
Protesters also repeated the viral Persian chants used by protesters inside Iran such as “zan, zendegi, azadi!” (woman, life, freedom!) and also its Kurdish equivalent “jin, jiyan, azadi!” Amini, also known as Jhina Amini, was Kurdish.
“In view of what is happening, we Iranians are fully mobilized,” said Nina, a Paris-based French Iranian who asked that her last name was not given. “We must react given that we are far from our homeland, our country.
“It’s really time we all come together so we can really speak up so the whole world can really hear our voice,” she added.
Similarly tense scenes took place in London, where images posted on social media showed protesters seeking to break through police security barriers outside the Iranian embassy there.
London’s Metropolitan Police said “masonry, bottles and other projectiles were thrown and a number of officers were injured. At least five are in hospital with injuries including broken bones.”
Earlier, police said a large number of protesters had gathered outside the embassy “with a substantial group intent on causing disorder.”