Saudi-funded office block inaugurated in quake-hit Rawalakot city

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The complex includes the offices of district government with 25 blocks and was inaugurated on Monday April 22, 2019 - (Photo Courtesy - Saudi Embassy))
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The complex includes the offices of district government with 25 blocks and was inaugurated on Monday April 22, 2019 - (Photo Courtesy - Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority)
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A high-level delegation from Saudi Fund for Development were present at the inauguration ceremony of District Complex Rawalakot on April 23, 2019 (Photo Courtesy - Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority)
Updated 23 April 2019
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Saudi-funded office block inaugurated in quake-hit Rawalakot city

  • Complex opened in Rawalakot on Monday, has 25 blocks for district government offices
  • Saudi Arabia major partner in reconstruction efforts since devastating October 2005 quake in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) and the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) completed a complex to house government offices in Rawalakot city in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a spokesperson for ERRA said on Tuesday.
Rawalakot was among the areas hit by a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 8, 2005, which wrought widespread death and destruction in Kashmir and parts of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.
The death toll from the 2005 quake was more than 75,000 while tens and thousands of buildings, including schools, hospitals, and other state infrastructure, were damaged.
The Saudi-funded complex, inaugurated on Monday, has 25 blocks and will house district government offices, the ERRA official said.
“Government and people of Pakistan highly value the timely contribution of our brotherly country to alleviate miseries of earthquake affected Pakistani people,” the Acting Deputy Chairman of ERRA, Brig Muhammad Latif, said in a statement.
A high-level delegation from SFD, ERRA, officials from the Economic Affair Division, and the Azad Kashmir government were present at the inauguration ceremony of the complex.
“It was the professional commitment and dedication of Adviser Engineer Abdullah M. Al-Shoaibi, Yasir Al Bakri Project Manager Engineer SFD, and Faisal Al Yahya, engineer operation department SFD, that led to the successful completion of the projects,” Latif said.
Saudi Arabia has been an active partner of ERRA in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of earthquake affected areas after October 2005.
“SFD provided a grant of US $160 Million for the construction of educational and health facilities in Kashmir and KP, while at present out of 6 mega projects, 5 mega projects have been successfully completed in governance and education sectors in Kashmir,” ERRA said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia is also funding the King Abdullah University in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, which is currently under construction and slated to be completed by June 2019, according to Latif.
ERRA’s acting deputy chairman thanked the guests, including the Deputy Head of Mission Habeeb Ullah Al Bokhari, for their support.
According to a UN Financial Tracking Service report released in October last year, Saudi Arabia is ranked fourth among the world’s major donors of humanitarian aid.
In Pakistan itself, the Kingdom has provided assistance amounting to $107.3 million, used in the implementation of 85 projects for displaced people affected by floods and earthquakes between 2005 and 2018, the report said.
In April 2018, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Saeed Al-Maliki inaugurated the King Abdullah Teaching Hospital in Mansehra, another earthquake-hit district of KP province.


In Peshawar prison, women inmates share food and prayers in Ramadan

Updated 27 May 2019
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In Peshawar prison, women inmates share food and prayers in Ramadan

PESHAWAR: Located next to iconic landmarks like the Provincial Assembly and the High Court, the central prison in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar is a handsome old building bursting at the seams with over 1,800 prisoners. 38 of them are women.

The existing building was established in 1854 with an occupancy limit of 425 prisoners, but with the influx of thousands of inmates, a new block is now under construction and slated for completion by the end of the year. 

Inside the prison kitchens, convicted prisoners make round traditional bread and prepare Iftar meals for other inmates. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

The prison department provides basic facilities and food to inmates still under trial and to those convicted in the male, female and juvenile sections. During the month of Ramadan, these facilities extend to include special meals at Iftar, like sweet rice, chicken and potatoes served with a side of milky hot tea. 

A female inmate cooks chicken gravy for herself and other prisoners in the prison barracks before Iftar. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

“We get good food in this month (of Ramadan) and are free to offer our prayers and recite the Holy Quran at any time,” said Shahida, an inmate who has been in the prison for five years but was convicted for murder late last year. 

Acting superintendent of the prison releases prisoners after the court orders arrive. The inmates receive the good news right before Iftar time in Ramadan. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

The large hall of the women’s section has a scattering of beds, but most inmates sleep, eat and pray on quilts spread out on the floor. 

A police officer stands guard outside the entrance to the women’s section in Peshawar’s central jail. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

"Some of the women get sick often,” said Iffat Shaheen, assistant superintendent of the women’s prison section. “Right now we have two pregnancy cases and one case of HIV AIDS, so we try to give them good meals. A few prisoners have small children inside prison with them and they get milk as well.” 

A female inmate gives English lessons to some of the children at the Peshawar central prison. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

Another female inmate convicted for possession of drugs has been in prison for seven months. She declined to be identified but said they had a lot of free time in Ramadan that could be put to good use. 

Women in Peshawar’s central prison spend their days reading the Quran and reciting prayer beads during the month of Ramadan. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)

“This is a helpful time for us to learn skills like handicrafts and sewing,” she said. “When we leave prison, perhaps these things will pave the way for a good, halal living.” 

A woman inmate at Peshawar’s central jail has decorated her hands with henna in anticipation of the holy festival of Eid, which will mark the end of Ramadan. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
Rooh Afza, a popular indigenous drink made from herbs and flowers, is served around Peshawar’s central prison by the bucketfuls before Iftar. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
Weekly menu written out for prisoners at Peshawar’s central jail in Urdu. May 25, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)