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.


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.”