Arab cadets graduate from Pakistan Military Academy Kakul

The passing out parade of 138th Pakistan Military Academy Long Course, 57th Integrated Course, 30th Technical Graduate Course and Grade 37 commissioned officers at Kakul Academy in Abbottabad on Oct. 13, 2018. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 October 2019

Arab cadets graduate from Pakistan Military Academy Kakul

  • The oversees gold medal was awarded to under officer Al Bazour from Palestine
  • Armed forces of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have historic ties, with strong cooperation and coordination in defense

ISLAMABAD: Cadets from Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Bahrain were among the graduating class of cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy Kakul in the garrison city of Abbottabad in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Saturday. The ceremony, which involves a passing out parade, was attended by Chief of Air Staff, Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, as chief guest.
Awards were given to distinguished cadets, with the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Overseas Gold Medal awarded to Under Officer Al Bazour from Palestine.
Addressing members of the passing out parade, the air chief congratulated graduating cadets and their parents on the successful completion of training and the cadets’ commission into service. He said the Pakistan armed forces took great pride in its sacrifices against militancy and bringing peace and normalcy to the country. He also told cadets to uphold the expectations of the country, by following the highest standards of professional excellence and personal conduct.
Earlier this month, Lt. Gen. Fahad Bin Abdullah Mohammad Al-Motair, Commander of the Royal Saudi Land Forces, visited PMA Kakul and met with Saudi cadets undergoing their training program.
The armed forces of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have historically strong ties, with defense cooperation and coordination between them in various areas, including their navies and armies.
Earlier this year, the two countries conducted a joint military exercise called Kaseh 2 in northwestern Pakistan. The drills were aimed at enhancing the efficiency of engineers in unconventional warfare in both countries.


Months after Pakistan floods, millions lack safe water — UN

Updated 9 sec ago

Months after Pakistan floods, millions lack safe water — UN

  • Floods in Pakistan last year damaged most water pipelines in affected areas
  • More than 5.4 million people forced to rely solely on contaminated water from ponds

ISLAMABAD: The United Nations children’s agency on Tuesday warned that after last summer’s devastating floods, 10 million people in Pakistan, including children, still live in flood-affected areas without access to safe drinking water.

The statement from UNICEF underscored the dire situation in impoverished Pakistan, a country with a population of 220 million that months later is still struggling with the consequences of the flooding, as well as a spiraling economic crisis. The floods, which experts attribute in part to climate change, killed 1,739 people, including 647 children and 353 women.

So far, less than half of UNICEF’s funding appeal for Pakistan — 45 percent of $173.5 million — has been met. According to the agency, before the floods struck last June, water from only 36 percent of Pakistan’s water system was considered safe for human consumption.

The floods damaged most of the water pipelines systems in affected areas, forcing more than 5.4 million people, including 2.5 million children, to rely solely on contaminated water from ponds and wells, UNICEF said.

“Safe drinking water is not a privilege, it is a basic human right,” said Abdullah Fadil, the UNICEF representative in Pakistan. “Yet, every day, millions of girls and boys in Pakistan are fighting a losing battle against preventable waterborne diseases and the consequential malnutrition.”

“We need the continued support of our donors to provide safe water, build toilets and deliver vital sanitation services to these children and families who need them the most,” Fadil added.

Amid the crisis, Pakistan faces uncertainty about a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Analysts say the revival of the $6 IMF bailout, which was signed in 2019, would help Pakistan. If the global lender released a key installment of the package, it would encourage other international financial institutions to help the country, they say.

At a UN-backed conference in Geneva in January, dozens of countries and international institutions pledged more than $9 billion to help Pakistan recover and rebuild from the floods. But most of the pledges were in form of project loans, and the projects are still in the planning stages.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government is also facing a surge in militant attacks and political instability as his predecessor, Imran Khan, is campaigning for early elections. Sharif has rejected the demands by Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last April.

Sharif seeks political and economic stability to ensure speedy reconstruction in the flood-hit areas, where the weakest and the children are paying the price.

“In flood-affected areas, more than 1.5 million boys and girls are already severely malnourished, and the numbers will only rise in the absence of safe water and proper sanitation,” UNICEF said.

The floods caused more than $30 billion in damages as large swaths of the country remained under water for months, forcing millions to live in tents or make-shift homes near stagnant waters that led to the spread of disease.

Sharif’s government is also trying to provide food and cash assistance to flood survivors as the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan starts this week, adding more financial burdens to the poorest of the population.


Pakistan’s parliament summoned in midst of crisis over former PM Khan 

Updated 50 min 22 sec ago

Pakistan’s parliament summoned in midst of crisis over former PM Khan 

  • Khan’s supporters have clashed with police several times over recent days during his court appearances
  • Speaker says ruling coalition called for parliament to “take important decisions” to enforce state’s writ

ISLAMABAD, March 21 : Pakistan’s parliament is to meet in a special joint session on Wednesday to “take important decisions” to enforce the state’s authority, media reported, in the midst of a crisis over anti-government defiance by former Prime Minister Imran Khan. 

Former cricket star Khan was prime minister from 2018 until 2022, when he was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote. Since then, he has been demanding a new election and holding protests across the country to press his case. 

His supporters have clashed with police several times over recent days as authorities try to force him to appear in court in connection with various cases brought against him. 

The office of the speaker of parliament, in calling Wednesday’s joint session, did not give a reason but the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said the ruling coalition had called for parliament to “take important decisions” to ensure the writ of the state was enforced. 

The APP, reporting on a meeting attended by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his cabinet, cited the participants as saying Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was not a political party but “rather a gang of militants,” and its “enmity against the state” could not be tolerated. 

Sharif has rejected Khan’s demand for a new election saying it would be held as scheduled later this year. 

Parliament will meet in the capital, Islamabad, as Khan’s supporters gather for his latest rally in the eastern city of Lahore. 

The clashes between Khan’s supporters and the security forces have brought a new round of political chaos to the nuclear-armed country of 220 million people, which is in the midst of a crippling economic crisis. 

Khan says the government and the powerful military are trying to stop him from contesting the next election, scheduled for November. If convicted in a case, Khan could face disqualification from the polls. 

Both the government and military deny this. 

Police have arrested hundreds of Khan’s supporters in raids in recent days in response to the clashes. 
 


Gunmen slay 11 in northwest Pakistan ‘family feud’ – police

Updated 21 March 2023

Gunmen slay 11 in northwest Pakistan ‘family feud’ – police

  • Inter-family feuds are common in Pakistan, particularly in northwestern region
  • Police official says “up to five people opened fire” on a vehicle carrying 11 people

PESHAWAR: Gunmen killed 11 people including a prominent local politician in northwest Pakistan, police said Tuesday, an ambush blamed on a decades-long vendetta between families.

Inter-family feuds are common in Pakistan, but in the mountainous northwestern region where communities abide by traditional tribal honor codes they can be particularly protracted and violent.

Police said 42-year-old Atif Munsif Khan, leader of a district council in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was killed on Monday night in the town of Havelian, 33 kilometers (20 miles) north of Islamabad.

District police official Omar Tufail told AFP that “up to five people opened fire from two sides” on a vehicle carrying Khan and 10 others, including bodyguards and a police escort, “killing them all on the spot.”

“The vehicle caught fire as a result and all on board were burned alive and the charred bodies are now beyond recognition,” he said.

Tufail said the Khan family registered a police complaint “blaming the assassination on their rivals” in a feud “said to be almost five decades old,” which also claimed the life of Khan’s father and grandfather.

“Dozens of people from both sides have been killed as a result of this family feud so far,” he added.

Another local senior police official, Sajid Tanoli, confirmed the incident and ruled out the involvement of militant groups such as the Pakistan Taliban which have long thrived in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Khan was a member of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, led by former prime minister Imran Khan, although the men were not related.


Human Rights Watch urges Pakistan to drop ‘overboard’ terrorism charges against ex-PM’s supporters

Updated 21 March 2023

Human Rights Watch urges Pakistan to drop ‘overboard’ terrorism charges against ex-PM’s supporters

  • Police registered terrorism cases against over a dozen members of ex-PM Khan’s party over Saturday’s clashes
  • Human Rights Watch urges police to respect right to peaceful assembly, keep unlawful violence in check

ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Watch (HRW) expressed worry on Tuesday over the use of “overboard” terrorism charges by the government against former prime minister Imran Khan’s supporters, a few days after his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party supporters clashed with police in Pakistan’s capital.

Islamabad police on Sunday registered a terrorism case against more than a dozen members of Khan’s party for vandalism at the capital’s judicial complex. Clashes erupted on Saturday when the former prime minister arrived for a hearing in Islamabad in a case relating to the sale of state gifts while Khan was prime minister. Khan faces a slew of cases across the country, with charges against him ranging from murder to sedition, which carries the death penalty in Pakistan.

Punjab police and the caretaker provincial government have both accused Khan’s supporters of pelting stones and hurling petrol bombs at law enforcers. Khan denies the allegations and insists the Shehbaz Sharif-led ruling coalition government wants to kill him.

In its statement, the HRW urged Pakistan to “appropriately prosecute” any of the former prime minister’s supporters who have engaged in unlawful acts of violence, uphold the right to peaceful protest, and refrain from unlawful use of force.

“The use of Pakistan’s vague and overbroad anti-terrorism provisions against opposition protesters is very worrying,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. “If the authorities believe that Khan’s or his supporters’ actions have resulted in violence or constituted a real threat to public safety, they should be charged under the appropriate laws.”

Gossman stressed on the need for both sides to respect the rule of law and human rights and practice restraint. “It is vitally important for the police to respect the right to peaceful assembly while holding those responsible for unlawful violence to account,” she added.

Separately, Khan wrote to Pakistan’s chief justice on Monday and urged him to conduct an investigation into Saturday’s clash with law enforcers and the earlier police raid on his Lahore residence. According to a copy of the letter seen by Arab News, Khan stated that police attacked his party’s supporters when he had arrived at the Islamabad judicial complex “without any provocation.”

“I realized something was amiss and that it was not my arrest that was being planned but my assassination,” Khan wrote.

“In view of the continuing threats to my life and the assault on my home, I would request you to order a proper investigation into these events,” he added.

These actions have never happened before to anyone let alone a former Prime Minister and leader of the largest political party in Pakistan.”

On Monday night, PM Sharif chaired a meeting of the coalition government’s parties. In a press statement after meeteing, the government accused Khan’s party supporters of attacking law enforcers and vowed to take stern action against them.

“Attacks on officers and personnel of state institutions by violently trained gangs of banned organizations is very alarming,” the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) said in a statement.

The police in Pakistan have used abusive measures in the escalating confrontation between police and Imran Khan’s supporters, Human Rights Watch said today.

They have charged protesters with batons and detained them under sweeping counter-terrorism laws. The authorities should appropriately prosecute any of the former prime minister’s supporters who have engaged in unlawful acts of violence, uphold the right to peaceful protest, and refrain from the unlawful use of force.

“The use of Pakistan’s vague and overbroad anti-terrorism provisions against opposition protesters is very worrying,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “If the authorities believe that Khan’s or his supporters’ actions have resulted in violence or constituted a real threat to public safety, they should be charged under the appropriate laws.”

All sides should display restraint and respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Gossman said. “It is vitally important for the police to respect the right to peaceful assembly while holding those responsible for unlawful violence to account.”


‘Magical, light-hearted’: Three Pakistani TV dramas to watch out for this Ramadan

Updated 24 min 58 sec ago

‘Magical, light-hearted’: Three Pakistani TV dramas to watch out for this Ramadan

  • Ramadan shows have a huge audience, all eyes are set on them, says Pakistani actor Hamza Sohail
  • One of the shows, ‘Chand Tara’, features real-life celebrity couple Ayeza Khan, Danish Taimoor in leading roles

KARACHI: With only a couple of days left till the holy month of Ramadan kicks off, Pakistani writers and actors said on Monday that viewers will be enthralled by “light-hearted” TV dramas that are produced specially for the holy month.

Muslims in Pakistan and around the world fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food and drink. Over the past couple of years, Pakistan’s showbiz industry has provided millions of viewers across the country with entertainment in the form of avidly watched television game shows and Ramadan-themed TV shows.

This year is no different, as at least three projects, particularly produced for the holy month, are going to be aired on TV to give the audience a break from the regular TV dramas that revolve around tragic topics such as family disputes, extra-marital affairs, divorce, and others.

Arab News spoke to a few writers and actors to find out more about these dramas.

‘Chand Tara’

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ayeza Khan (@ayezakhan.ak)

Starring real-life celebrity couple Ayeza Khan and Danish Taimoor, Chand Tara is written by Saima Akram Chaudhry, a seasoned writer who has written critically acclaimed Ramadan TV dramas such as Suno Chanda, Suno Chanda 2, Hum Tum, and Ishq Jalebi.

“My Ramadan plays are family-oriented, feature family members of all age groups, and encourage a joint family system,” Chaudhry told Arab News.

Chaudhry said she watched dramas on Pakistan Television (PTV) with her family, hence she ensures her dramas can be enjoyed by families and are filled with messages at the same time.

“The joint family system has its pros and cons. The system isn’t bad but we need to give space to people,” she said. “This is the central theme of Chand Tara in addition to small messages in every episode.”

Light-hearted plays aired during Ramadan get more traction compared to the rest of the year, Chaudhry said, adding that viewers follow them regularly as they air each day.

“It’s easier to convey messages in a light-hearted way,” she explained.

Chaudhry revealed that she has tweaked a few things in the narrative of Chand Tara after she was criticized for her past projects. The male and female lead in the play are not related to each other, Chaudhry said, and their love story doesn’t start with fights.

Directed by Danish Nawaz and produced by Momina Duraid, Chand Tara also stars Rehan Sheikh and Saba Faisal in prominent roles.

‘Fairy Tale’

One of the much-anticipated comedy plays to be aired this Ramazan is Fairy Tale, written by Saira Majeed and directed by Ali Hassan.

“It’s a beautifully written story on how destiny plays its cards not just in love, but in every aspect of your life. The idea here is to take viewers on a magical, dreamy, light-hearted, and entertaining ride. Hence, a ‘fairy tale’,” actor Hamza Sohail, who stars as entrepreneur Farjaad Khan in the play, told Arab News on Monday.

“There’s no denying the fact that Ramadan shows have a huge audience and all eyes are set on them.”

Sohail, who plays the role of the male lead in Fairy Tale, told Arab News he is “excited” to showcase his work, hoping to deliver good family entertainment to viewers.

Sohail stars opposite actress Sehar Khan, while the drama has an ensemble cast that includes actors Ali Safina, Saleem Sheikh, Adnan Raza Mir, and Salma Hasan.

‘Rukh Ma Roshan’

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Muneeb Butt (@muneeb_butt)

Adding to the list of Ramadan-special plays is also Rukh Ma Roshan, a story that revolves around a couple and stars Pakistani actors Muneeb Butt and Komal Meer.

“The play is about a couple who keep fighting with each other. They have funny chemistry with each other. It’s romantic, sweet, and innocent,” Butt told Arab News on Tuesday.

“It’s a situational comedy that will run during Ramadan. Its content is enjoyable for viewers since it is not the typical saas-bahu (daughter-in-law, mother-in-law) misery. It has very light content that people usually like to watch during Ramadan. Audiences will really like the fresh feel it [offers].”

The plot of Rukh Ma Roshan incorporates some issues that the two lead characters resolve together, which brings them closer to each other.

In addition to Butt and Meer, the play also features veteran actresses Shamim Hilaly and Zainab Qayyum in key roles.