Pakistan sends first planeload of aid to flood-hit Iran

Pakistan’s C-130 aircraft can be seen here carrying relief goods for victims of the Iranian floods which killed at least 70 people. The aircraft landed in Iran's Ahwaz city on Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy – Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry)
Updated 11 April 2019

Pakistan sends first planeload of aid to flood-hit Iran

  • Pakistani C-130 aircraft carrying relief goods landed in Ahwaz city on Wednesday, another plane to be dispatched tomorrow
  • Prime Minister Khan on Sunday announced all necessary humanitarian assistance for Iran as floods kill at least 70 people

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani C-130 aircraft carrying relief goods landed in Iran’s Ahwaz city on Wednesday, the foreign office said, to assist victims of floods that have killed at least 70 people and inundated some 1,900 communities.
The flood disaster in Iran, arising from exceptionally heavy rainfall since March 19, has left aid agencies struggling to cope and seen 86,000 people moved to emergency shelters.
The Pakistani foreign office said in a statement a first plane carrying relief goods had landed in Iran and another plane would leave tomorrow, Thursday. Riffat Masood, Islamabad’s Ambassador to Tehran, handed over more than 32 tons of relief material, including blankets, tents and medical kits, to Iranian officials on Wednesday.
On Monday, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke to his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif on the phone and informed him that as a “gesture of goodwill,”  Pakistani Prime Minister Khan had instructed that two planeloads of relief goods be sent immediately to the cities of Ahwaz and Khorumabad in Iran.
“Relief assistance by Pakistan would aim at meeting some of the urgent needs of the flood-affected population in Iran,” the foreign office said in a statement.
On Sunday, Khan had announced plans to offer all necessary humanitarian assistance to Iran.
“Our prayers go to the people of Iran as they deal with unprecedented flooding,” Khan said in a tweet. “We stand ready to provide any humanitarian assistance required.”
US sanctions have largely prevented the Iranian Red Crescent from obtaining any foreign financial aid to assist victims of flooding. Iran’s state budget is already stretched under US sanctions on energy and banking sectors.
Iran acted on Saturday to evacuate more towns and villages threatened by floods after continued rain in the southwest.


In northwestern Pakistan, a centuries-old mosque in a cave

Updated 14 August 2020

In northwestern Pakistan, a centuries-old mosque in a cave

  • Locals estimate the Ghar-e-Sur mosque in the South Waziristan tribal district is at least 300 years old
  • Archaeology department says planning restoration of heritage sites in tribal districts, including the cave mosque

SARAROGHA: At an old mosque located inside a cave in a mountainous region of northwestern Pakistan, prayers are offered five times a day. In its 300-year history, worship at the mosque has stopped only once, during military operations in the region a decade ago.
The Ghar-e-Sur mosque in Sararogha in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal district is a mountain tunnel with a single entrance and arches in the main prayer hall reflecting traditional tribal architecture. The mosque’s prayer leader said it could house 250 people at a time.
“We call it central Ghar-e-Sur mosque,” tribal elder Sayed Abdullah Noor told Arab News. “I am almost 65-years old. My great-grandfather said his forefather told him the mosque was built by them, which means that it is about 300 years old.”

Locals offer prayers inside the Ghar-e-Sur mosque in the South Waziristan tribal district in Pakistan on August 13, 2020. (AN Photo)

The mosque also serves as a Qur’anic school, prayer leader Sayed Khairullah said, saying children from a nearby village came for lessons every day.

The mosque was abandoned when the Pakistan army launched a military operation against Taliban militants in South Waziristan in 2009. When operations eased and locals returned to the area three years later, they found the mosque in a dilapidated state.
“The mosque has no boundary wall, no proper water and electricity facilities,” Khairullah said. “The government should help protect this heritage.”

A prayer leader teaches the Quran to children outside the Ghar-e-Sur mosque in the South Waziristan tribal district in Pakistan on August 13, 2020. (AN Photo)

Fawad Khan, assistant curator at the provincial archaeology department, told Arab News funds would be allocated for the restoration of heritage sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tribal districts, including Ghar-e-Sur mosque.
“We are planning a detailed survey to list national heritage sites throughout tribal districts, which will be completed in 2021,” he said, “After the survey, we will repair and preserve them.”