Nine Pakistanis dead in twin attacks on New Zealand mosques

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Mourners lays flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, March 16, 2019. New Zealand's stricken residents reached out to Muslims in their neighbourhoods and around the country on Saturday, in a fierce determination to show kindness to a community in pain as a 28-year-old white supremacist stood silently before a judge, accused in mass shootings at two mosques that left dozens of people dead. (AP)
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Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Foreign Office Spokesman Dr. Mohammad Faisal address a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday. (Photo credit: Foreign Office)
Updated 17 March 2019
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Nine Pakistanis dead in twin attacks on New Zealand mosques

  • Pakistani Foreign Minister says national flag will fly at half-mast on Monday in solidarity with attack victims
  • Calls emergency meeting of OIC foreign ministers on March 22 to discuss response to rising Islamophobia

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday Pakistan’s national flag would fly at half-mast on Monday in solidarity with the families of victims of attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, confirming that nine Pakistanis had perished in the twin assaults.

Around 50 people were killed in the twin attacks on Friday that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quick to describe as a terrorist act. A list of people missing in the attack released by New Zealand Red Cross included nationals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Nine Pakistanis were killed in the attack, the foreign minister confirmed, and one Pakistani was in critical condition and “not out of danger.”

“The whole nation is in mourning and the prime minister has decided that our national flag will fly at half-mast tomorrow,” Qureshi said at a news conference.

The foreign minister said the process of identification of Pakistanis who were killed in the attack had been completed and New Zealand authorities would start handing over bodies to heirs on Monday. He said New Zealand had agreed to keep the Pakistani foreign ministry in the loop as it went ahead with investigating Friday's attacks.

“We are in touch with all ten families here,” the foreign minister said. “Six of the families want their loved ones to be buried in Christchurch, while three bodies will be sent back to Pakistan. The process will begin from Monday.”

He paid special tribute to Naeem Rashid, a Pakistani victim who was shown in video footage of the attack, live streamed by the gunman, launching himself at the attacker in an attempt to disarm him. He was gunned down. Rashid would be honored with a national award on Pakistan Day, March 23, Qureshi said.

The foreign minister said an emergency meeting of foreign ministers of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries had been called in Istanbul on March 22 to discuss the causes of Islamophobia and ways forward in the aftermath of the attacks in the New Zealand city of Christchurch.

"The idea [behind summoning the meeting] is to devise a strategy against Islamophobia, while keeping the Christchurch tragedy in mind," Qureshi said.

He said he had contacted leader of the opposition Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Asif Ali Zardari, and would discuss the National Action Plan, Pakistan’s primary counter-terrorism blueprint, with all parliamentary leaders on March 28.

On Friday, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the New Zealand attack on Twitter and said: “I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 (where) 1.3 billion Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror.”


Pakistani PM names army chief to new national development council

Updated 18 June 2019
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Pakistani PM names army chief to new national development council

  • New body will formulate policies, approve long-term planning, provide guidelines for regional cooperation
  • The formal inclusion of the army chief in a development policy-making body is an unprecedented move

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved the establishment of a new high-powered government body, the National Development Council (NDC), of which the country’s all-powerful army chief will be a member, a federal government notification issued on Tuesday said.
The memo said Khan would chair the eleven-member council comprising federal ministers, provincial chief ministers and federal secretaries. Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s formal inclusion in the body is unprecedented even by Pakistani standards, a country in which the military has ruled for almost half its history.
The council includes the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federal Minister for Finance/Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform, Federal Minister for Commerce/Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Industries & Production and Investment, Secretary to the Prime Minister, Secretary Foreign Affairs Division, Secretary, Finance Division, Secretary, Planning, Development & Reforms Division and the four provincial chief ministers.
The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister, and the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan will be also be members of the body on invitation. The additional secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office will be the secretary of the council.
Defining the terms of reference (ToRs) of the council, the notification said it would set “policies and strategies for development, formulate and trailer policies to achieve accelerate economic growth, approve long term planning for national and regional connectivity and provide guidelines for regional cooperation.”