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.


Editor of Pakistan’s English daily says 'orchestrated campaign' against newspaper

Updated 08 December 2019

Editor of Pakistan’s English daily says 'orchestrated campaign' against newspaper

  • Two angry protests in a week broke out against daily Dawn for identifying London bridge attacker to be of Pakistani origin
  • “The government has nothing to do with these protests:” PTI senate leader

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD: Following charged protests outside the office of Pakistan’s independent English language daily in Islamabad, the paper’s editor said the demonstrations seemed like an “orchestrated campaign” to force the paper into self-censorship.
On Friday, dozens of angry protesters besieged the Dawn newspaper’s bureau in the capital, chanting slogans against the editor and staff and setting fire to copies of the paper. This followed a similar demonstration earlier on Tuesday, where protesters demanded that editor Zaffar Abbas and publisher Hameed Haroon be hanged for reporting that the London Bridge attacker, who stabbed two people to death last week, was of “Pakistani origin.” 
“We have no way to identify the protesters but to us it looks like an orchestrated campaign against Dawn,” editor Zaffar Abbas told Arab News on Saturday.
“Everyone has a right to disagree with Dawn’s journalism, and even to protest against us. But calling us anti-state, making demands that we be hanged, burning our effigies, amounts to incitement to violence. This should immediately stop,” he said and urged the authorities and government ministers to show some tolerance toward critical journalism.
Abbas said a few of the government’s ministers and senior officials had expressed their anger toward Dawn — some publicly and others through messages. 
“We were accused of writing something anti-state, as according to them, the attacker had nothing to do with Pakistan,” Abbas said, and added that Dawn tried to explain that nowhere in its news report had it suggested the attacker was radicalized in Pakistan or that Pakistan had anything to do with the attack.
“We also tried to explain to them that even in the past we had referred to people like the London Mayor Sadiq Khan or boxer Aamir Khan as of Pakistani origin, although they were born in Britain and are UK nationals,” Abbas said. 
After that, he said, suddenly the protest demonstrations began.
“In the larger context this can be seen as yet another attempt to silence Dawn, and force it into self-censorship-- something that we have tried to resist so far,” Abbas said.
But government officials denied that the protests were planned.
“The government has nothing to do with these protests. Why would the government do it? If anything happens which is not liked by the people, they come out to protest. This happens everywhere in the world, even in western countries,” said PTI senator Shibli Faraz, leader of the house in Pakistan’s senate.
“Newspapers sometimes write something which offends certain segments of society, so it is natural they will come out to protest. But again, I would say the protest should be peaceful,” Faraz said, adding that newspapers should be careful and accountable.
“Journalism is about reporting responsibly and correctly and they (journalists) should be accountable and responsible for what they write. We should also consider our country’s interests,” Faraz said.
Earlier, Human Rights minister Shireen Mazari wrote in a Twitter post: “I disagree often with @dawn_com’s line but I strongly condemn violence & threats by protesters outside Dawn’s offices.”
PM’s special assistant for information and broadcasting, Firdous Ashiq Awan, could not be reached for comment till the filing of this report.
Friday’s protest outside Dawn’s bureau came a day after journalists and rights’ activists rallied in support of the paper and criticized an earlier anti-newspaper protest.
On Saturday, the body of 28 year old London Bridge attacker, Usman Khan, was laid to rest in his ancestral village in Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir.
“All I can say is that after the latest development where the body of the London attacker was brought here and buried in an AJK village, this sinister campaign against Dawn should stop,” Abbas said.
“Prime Minister Imran yesterday said he fully supports media freedom. We expect the prime minister to intervene in the matter, and in the light of the latest development, take measures to stop calls for violence,” he said.
“Democracy can only flourish if there is a free and critical media. Without a vibrant and free press, there can be no democracy.”