Pakistan foils terror bid, seizes arms smuggled from Afghanistan

A security official inspects a seized weapon after Pakistani authorities impounded a truck attempting to smuggle weapons from Afghanistan into Pakistan via the Torkham border on Dec. 13, 2019. (Photo courtesy: KP Customs Department)
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Updated 15 December 2019

Pakistan foils terror bid, seizes arms smuggled from Afghanistan

  • KP information minister says authorities suspect an organized group behind the smuggling
  • 207 weapons of different brands were concealed in a truck crossing Torkham border to enter Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities on Friday impounded a truck carrying a huge arms cache coming from Afghanistan via Torkham border, an anti-narcotics official said on Sunday.
The illicit crossing over of arms, drugs and other illegal materials at Torkham, the major border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is not uncommon.
In January this year, hundreds of weapons were seized concealed inside a coal truck entering Pakistan from Afghanistan. In June last year, Afghan forces seized a huge bomb-making cache in the back of a vegetable truck crossing over from Pakistan.
“While passing through the transit scanners, the truck coming from Afghanistan was found suspicious on Friday. A thorough search of the truck led the customs department, Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and other security officials to recover 207 weapons of different brands including Tomahawk and Maverick guns with Turkish made seals,” Raffaqat Hussain, a sub-inspector of the ANF, told Arab News at the busy Pak-Afghan Torkham border in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
However, the arms smugglers inside the truck, including the driver of the vehicle, managed to flee after the truck was seized. A passport belonging to the driver was found on the dashboard of the vehicle, Hussain said. He added that the weapons were masterfully concealed inside the truck’s hidden cavities.
KP’s provincial Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai told Arab News that his government had ‘zero tolerance’ for banned items including arms and narcotics to and from Afghanistan.
“Yes, a truck carrying arms from Afghanistan has been impounded but investigations are in initial process and its findings cannot be made public at this point,” Yousafzai said.
“The officials concerned suspect an organized group behind the botched arms’ smuggling attempt. A looming threat of terror has been foiled but investigations are underway to reach to the depth of the issue,” he added.
Authorities said that a case had been lodged and all concerned departments from police to Khasadar and counter-terrorism forces, were involved in the investigation.
Yousafzai said Pakistan and Afghanistan shared a long porous border but provincial authorities had intensified efforts to discourage illegal business and smuggling along the border areas.
In July this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed all concerned departments to initiate a countrywide crackdown on smuggling, in an Islamabad meeting.
Also in that meeting, it was unanimously decided that a committee would be formed, to be headed by the interior minister, to systemize transit trade and curb smuggling at Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran border areas.


Virus school closure turns aspiring financier into Islamabad’s favorite pet portraitist

Updated 08 August 2020

Virus school closure turns aspiring financier into Islamabad’s favorite pet portraitist

  • In front of a veterinary clinic in Islamabad’s F7 sector, a 19-year-old artist set up a pet portrait studio
  • Malik began painting at a young age, but animals entered his canvas only last year, when his beloved cat went missing

ISLAMABAD: With a science certificate in his pocket, Arbaz Malik was ready for college when the coronavirus struck and shut the door of his dream school. Putting the 19-year-old’s education on hold, the pandemic has, however, opened to him a strikingly different career path: pet portraiture.

In front of a veterinary clinic at a small market in Islamabad’s F7 sector, Malik set up a tiny pop-up studio which draws attention with a rainbow sign “Paint Your Loving Pet” and furry customers waiting for their turn to be captured in paint.

 A German Shepherd puppy is sitting still while Arbaz Malik is painting its portrait in Maqbool Market in F7 Islamabad on Aug. 5, 2020. (AN/Sib Kaifee)

“I was very excited for school to begin, I am aiming to get a Bachelor of Business Management (BBM) degree,” he said. But as the pandemic made everything become uncertain, the current job as a pet portraitist gives him “a positive thing to look forward to every day.”

Malik’s engagement in the arts began at a young age, but until recently he was trying to master landscape and cityscape painting. Animals entered his canvas only last year, when his beloved cat Shpanty went missing.

Heartbroken, unable to find Shpanty, Malik eventually painted her portrait from a photograph. Seeing the result, his brother, Arsalan, advised him to think about turning talent into a career.

Arbaz Malik's cat Shpanty went missing in 2019. Her portrait, left, was Malik's first step into the pet portraiture business. (Photo courtesy: Arbaz Malik)

“My brother suggested that I come here to the same place we would bring our cat, and see if pet parents going in and out of the clinic might be interested in getting their pets painted,” Malik told Arab News while painting a German Shephard pup patiently sitting next to his easel.

“Three months ago, with the support of the clinic, I began my business.”

Dog, cat, bird, and even horse owners have since become Malik’s faithful and broad customer base. His paintings have already traveled across the world into homes in Canada and France with repeat customers commissioning him to paint pet portraits which they carry abroad as gifts for relatives and friends.

When his college reopens, Malik wants to attend classes full time, but says he will not give up art.

“I will always do both, even after my studies are complete,” he said, “I love painting too much.”

He also loves animals, which is what he and his customers have in common.

“Pets are so important, you love them, they are beautiful and innocent, and they really are your best friend,” Malik said, “They even help you fight off depression, because their support and love are unconditional.”