Pakistan Railways says inquiry launched into deadly train collision

Pakistani rescuers and local residents gather around the wreckage of carriages at the site of train accident in Rahim Yar Khan district in Punjab province on July 11, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2019
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Pakistan Railways says inquiry launched into deadly train collision

  • Opposition demands resignation of railways minister
  • Local media has so far reported 79 train accidents during the current government’s brief tenure

LAHORE: The Pakistan Railways said on Friday it had launched an inquiry to identify those responsible for the train collision in Sadiqabad on Thursday that claimed 24 lives and left 72 passengers injured.
The incident took place when the Quetta-bound Akbar Bugti Express from Lahore rammed into a stationary freight train in Rahim Yar Khan district of Punjab province.
“It’s difficult to fix responsibility until we finish the investigation,” the chief operating officer (CEO) of Pakistan Railways, Aftab Akbar, told Arab News on Friday. “A special fact finding committee, headed by the federal inspector of railways, has been constituted to investigate the accident and prepare its report. The team has gone to the site to probe the matter.”
However, the federal minister for railways, Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad, blamed the accident on human negligence. Speaking at a television show, he noted: “This has happened due to negligence, and I have ordered an investigation into the incident.”
The accident resulted in the loss of 22 lives on Thursday. According to hospital sources, 20 of them died on the spot while two others succumbed to their injuries while they were being treated.
“The rescue teams brought one dead body and 72 injured people here. One person could not survive and lost his life in the hospital. We also transferred as many as 19 seriously injured patients to the Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Rahim Yar Khan,” Dr. Liaqat Ali Chohan, medical superintendent of the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Sadiqabad, told Arab News.
“We have been treating 19 people here,” confirmed Dr. Ghulam Rabbani, medical superintendent at the Sheikh Zayed Hospital Rahim Yar Khan. “Two of them lost their battle for life while two others are in serious condition.”
According to railway sources, the freight train was standing on the loop line when the passenger train, which should have been traveling on the main line, collided with it. The engine of the passenger train was completely destroyed.
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his grief on the sad incident while the opposition parties demanded the resignation of the railways minister.
Chairman of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Sheikh Rasheed was “fully responsible” for the train accident and demanded an inquiry against him. He also asked the minister to step down until the inquiry was completed.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Sharif tweeted: “The ineptitude [and] misplaced priorities not only spell disaster but death for Pakistanis. No one is concerned. No one is bothered. Callousness is shocking.”
The local media has so far reported 79 train accidents in the brief tenure of the current government that assumed the country’s political power in August 2018.
The government has announced compensation for the families of the deceased and injured: The families of those who lost their lives in the tragic accident will receive Rs1.5 million rupees; those who were critically injured will get Rs.500,000; and the passengers who sustained minor injuries will be given Rs.200,000.


UAE says will open Asia’s biggest visa center in Karachi in September

Updated 11 min 6 sec ago
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UAE says will open Asia’s biggest visa center in Karachi in September

  • Another all-purpose visa center to begin operations in Islamabad in first week of October 2019
  • UAE ambassador says Pak-UAE ties could be strengthened by exploring more opportunities for trade and investment

KARACHI: United Arab Emirates ambassador to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Alzaabi, said on Friday the UAE Embassy would open its biggest visa center in Asia in the port city of Karachi in the first week of September this year and another all-purpose visa center in Islamabad in the first week of October.
“Everything will be done here, including medical insurance, checkups and the contracts etc. to facilitate visa issuance from the visa center in Karachi which will be the biggest visa center of Asia,” Alzaabi said at a meeting during a visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “The entire team for this Visa Center at Khayaban-e-Shamsheer in Karachi will come from UAE.”
Deputy Consul General of UAE Bakheet Ateeq Alremeithi, Chairman Businessmen Group and Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, Senior Vice President KCCI Khurram Shahzad, Vice President KCCI Asif Sheikh Javaid and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present at the meeting.
While expressing gratitude to KCCI for extending its hospitality, the UAE Ambassador said that relations between Pakistan and UAE had always been very strong but could be strengthened by exploring opportunities and potential areas for enhancing trade and investment. 
“The governments of UAE and Pakistan are working very hard to narrow the gap and find opportunities, chances and potential for trade and investment,” Alzaabi said. “We are trying to find new areas of cooperation where we could work together and also examining the challenging areas so that these could be addressed by the authorities in UAE. Inshallah we will put our hands together to move forward in future.”
He said the UAE was now offering Pakistanis Silver Investment Visas for 5 years and Golden Investment Visas for 10 years and stressed the need for a legal framework between UAE and Pakistan to encourage and save investments made in either of the two countries. 
Chairman BMG & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli appreciated the support and cooperation being extended by UAE’s Embassy and its Consulate in Karachi but requested the Deputy Consul General to devise a system in collaboration with KCCI so that visas could be issued to credible businessmen and industrialists with a personal guarantee by KCCI. He also requested the Ambassador to only entertain visa recommendation letters and requests from those Chambers of Commerce and trade associations which were legally registered at the Ministry of Commerce, adding that the UAE Embassy could easily obtain a list of all legal Chambers of Commerce and trade bodies along with their jurisdiction details from the Ministry of Commerce that would help in better understanding the legalities and jurisdictions of 42 Chambers of Commerce and around 120 sector-specific trade associations in Pakistan.
President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda said KCCI would soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE Chamber to improve trade and investment ties and bring the business communities closer to each other. 
“We should work collectively to enhance bilateral trade and deal with all the irritants and barriers, particularly the non-tariff barriers between the two countries,” Makda said, adding that other than tourist visas, the UAE government must also look into the possibility of issuing business visas to Pakistan’s business community.