Police: Wooden boat capsizes in Pakistan, killing at least 8 

In this file photo, Pakistani onlookers gather at the edge of the Indus River after a boat capsized in Haripur district on July 3, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 November 2019

Police: Wooden boat capsizes in Pakistan, killing at least 8 

  • The boat carrying 35 passengers sank in Satluj River near the town of Dibalpur
  • Wooden boats are often used in Pakistan to transport goods and people on rivers and lakes

MULTAN, Pakistan: Pakistani police say an overloaded, small wooden boat capsized in eastern Punjab province, killing eight passengers and leaving several others missing.
Local police chief Mohammad Imran says the boat tilted on its side, filled with water and sank on Monday in the Sutlej River near the town of Dibalpur.
He says most of the 35 passengers were on their way to a funeral when the accident happened. It wasn’t immediately known what caused it.
Imran says 10 passengers were saved and that a search for the missing is underway.
Such accidents are common in Pakistan, where wooden boats are often used to transport goods and people on rivers and lakes. Most operate without life jackets.
Dibalpur is about 250 kilometers, or 150 miles, south of Multan, the nearest big city.


Pakistan interior minister orders ‘strict’ action against spread of COVID-19 'fake news'

Updated 27 min 58 sec ago

Pakistan interior minister orders ‘strict’ action against spread of COVID-19 'fake news'

  • Says all available resources would be used to identify people who spread misinformation
  • Rights activists fear new laws to curb coronavirus fake news could be used to clamp down on freedom of speech

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s minister for interior, Ijaz Ahmad Shah, on Thursday directed authorities to take “strict and immediate” action against those involved in spreading coronavirus misinformation, a week after the government announced plans to introduce new laws to curb COVID-19 “fake news” on social media.
Last week, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC), a top federal body set up to oversee the government’s coronavirus mitigation efforts, set up a committee under the chairmanship of the interior minister to prepare a legal framework to help the government deal with coronavirus-related “fake news” on social media platforms.
“The Federal Minister for Interior, Ijaz Ahmad Shah directed the Director Cyber Wing, FIA to closely monitor and hold the responsible ones accountable for their actions,” the Ministry of Interior said in a statement released after Shah presided over a meeting on formulating a “COVID-19 Disinformation Prevention Mechanism.”
“He reinforced the point that strict and immediate action should be taken against these people. The Minister further said that people who are involved in such actions are not pro-country or its people.”
Shah said the primary purpose of the new committee was to ensure that “correct and credible information” was disseminated, adding that all available resources would be used to identify people who spread disinformation.
He also directed the head of Pakistan’s electronic media regulator not to allow “fake news” to run on TV channels.
Islamabad has previously struggled to regulate online content mostly by blocking or asking social media companies to remove blasphemous material and other posts that violate the country’s religious and cultural norms and laws, or hurt national security interests.
In February, the government approved, and then rolled back, new rules to regulate cyberspace after opponents said they could be used to stifle dissent. Social media companies have also largely shunned obliging to help law enforcement agencies access data and remove online content deemed unlawful.
Rights activists and free media campaigners fear the government’s new coronavirus “fake news” mechanism could be used to clamp down on freedom of speech.
“This shady mechanism is going to have serious implications for the already squeezed freedom of press and expression in Pakistan,” Haroon Baloch, researcher and program manage at Bytes for All, told Arab News.
Baloch said disinformation on social media was a challenge but not a crime, unless it turned into “deep-fake” news that harmed individuals and groups.
“The government must ensure transparency in the so-called mechanism,” he said, “along with ensuring an oversight of civil society and free speech campaigners to prevent abuse.”