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.


PM pledges full support for Punjab CM Buzdar as party shows cracks

Updated 26 January 2020

PM pledges full support for Punjab CM Buzdar as party shows cracks

  • PTI’s KP chief on Sunday expelled three cabinet members for creating pressure against him
  • Political analysts say main challenge for government is to keep its coalition partners intact

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed to fully support Punjab’s Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar and quashed any questions of his replacement in a ministerial meeting in Lahore on Sunday amid reports of growing differences within the party, according to a lawmaker present at the meeting. 
Earlier, a group of 20 dissident lawmakers of the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in Punjab-- Pakistan’s biggest province-- demanded Buzdar improve governance of the province and ensure a fair distribution of development funds among the districts.
“The Prime Minister said that Buzdar enjoyed his full support and any change in Punjab set-up would create trouble for the party,” a senior leader of the PTI and member of the national assembly Raja Riaz told Arab News.
“He said that Buzdar would continue as Punjab Chief Minister and the party has no plans of changing him,” Riaz said.
The Prime Minister’s support for Buzdar comes on the same day three senior ministers of PTI’s provincial government in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province were expelled, reportedly to quell party differences. In media reports, the ministers have been accused of creating a forward bloc against KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan. 
KP’s sacked ministers include Muhammad Atif Khan, who looked after sports, culture and tourism; Shahram Khan Tarakai, who was responsible for the provincial health sector; and Shakeel Ahmed, who held the portfolio of revenue and estate.
According to prominent political analysts in Pakistan, the political moves signal that leaders of the ruling party are losing control of their lawmakers due to bad governance and a failure to improve the economy to benefit the common man.
“The cracks in the ruling party show a total failure of governance,” Adnan Rehmat, a political analyst, told Arab News. “PTI leaders, including the prime minister, have been living in a bubble while the people have been suffering for their inaction.”
Rehmat said that differences in ruling parties start emerging when they fail to deliver and meet public expectations. 
“The provincial ministers who are fired were apparently lobbying to gain more privileges and authority, but the leadership seems to have taken it as a violation of party discipline,” he said.
Now it seems, the ruling party’s problems are not only limited to its own lawmakers. The party’s coalition partners have also been voicing concerns over governance and performance. A key cabinet member of the government from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) resigned from his position earlier this month, saying the government had not fulfilled their demands.
“The coalition governments have been inherently weak in nature as the partners always try to extract maximum concessions and benefits from the ruling party,” Zaigham Khan, a political analyst, told Arab News.
“Now with each passing day, public pressure and demands of its coalition partners will increase, and this government will become more unstable,” he said.
“Main challenge for this government is to keep its coalition partners intact in both the center and Punjab; otherwise the equation may change in the coming months,” he added.
“Imran Khan has fully supported Usman Buzdar as chief minister of the Punjab, but will it bridge the gulf among the party fellows?” senior journalist Salim Bokhari told Arab News. “That is the big question.”