Flash floods kill 22 in Azad Kashmir

People collect their belongings from their house that collapsed due to flooding in Neelum Valley of Pakistani controlled Kashmir, Monday, July 15, 2019. Pakistan says many people are missing and feared dead after heavy rains triggered flash floods in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. Ahmed Raza Qadri, the Pakistani minister for disaster management in the disputed territory, says the flooding late on Sunday also caused much destruction and damage in the village of Lesswa in Neelum Valley. (AP Photo)
Updated 16 July 2019

Flash floods kill 22 in Azad Kashmir

  • Heavy rains damaged dozens of houses in the area
  • Pakistan army partakes in rescue operations

ISLAMABAD: Heavy rains and flash floods killed at least 22 people in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, an official from the State Disaster Management Authority of Azad Kashmir told Arab News on Tuesday.
Flash floods caused by a heavy cloud burst adversely impacted Leswa Village in the Neelum Valley on Monday night, with more than 150 houses, shops and mosques impacted in the area, Ahmed Raza Qadri, Minister for State Disaster Management Authority of Azad Kashmir said.
Rescue teams comprising officials of district administration, disaster management authority and local police are conducting search and rescue operations in the area, Qadri added. 
According to the Azad Kashmir government’s media wing, the missing persons include two Frontier Works Organization (FWO) personnel, nine locals and 11 others who were visiting the area preaching in the mosques.
Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has expressed deep concern and grief over the loss of precious lives and property due to the flooding.
“On ground rescue and relief operations headed by the Deputy Commissioner Neelum are underway in which teams from the State Disaster Management Authority and AJK-Red Crescent have been mobilized to assist the local administration,” Khan said.
He added that the district administration is also working closely with teams from the Pakistan army to assist in the rescue operations. 
Neelam Valley is a popular tourist destination located near the Line of Control (LoC) — the de facto border that splits Kashmir between Pakistan and India.


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.”