Avalanches, heavy snow kill 75 in Balochistan and Azad Kashmir

People walk past graves after heavy snowfall in Quetta on January 13, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Avalanches, heavy snow kill 75 in Balochistan and Azad Kashmir

  • 41 people were killed by avalanches in Azad Kashmir on Tuesday
  • Flash floods and heavy snowing are expected in Balochistan, where 20 people have already been killed by extreme weather

KARACHI: Avalanches and extreme weather have killed at least 73 people in Balochistan and Azad Kashmir.

On Tuesday, 41 people lost their lives in the Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir when two avalanches hit the area. “Some 10 people are missing in these two incidents,” Saqib Mumtaz, focal person of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), told Arab News, adding that another 14 people have died since Saturday due to extreme weather in the region.

Heavy rains this week triggered landslides in Azad Kashmir’s hilly districts, including the valley areas. Search and rescue efforts are underway.

On Tuesday morning, hundreds of passengers who were traveling through Kan Mehtarzai area of Killa Saifullah district, Balochistan, were finally rescued after three days of being stranded.

An emergency was declared in the most affected districts of the Balochistan province on Sunday. The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) is trying to provide relief to those stuck in snowfall, PDMA director general Imran Zarkoon told Arab News on Monday.

Balochistan government spokesman Liaquat Shahwani told Arab News on Tuesday that 20 people have died in the province due to extreme weather.

Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) warns that heavy rains and snow in northwestern parts of Balochistan may generate flash floods.

The province has recorded the heaviest snowfall in two decades, according to PMD. “Killa Saifullah district has recorded up to four feet snow, whereas Ziarat had 18 inches of snow on Sunday,” PMD official Daud Khan said.

A shallow westerly wave is present over most upper parts of the country, the PMD said in a statement issued on Tuesday, forecasting cold and dry weather in most parts of the country, and very cold in north Balochistan. Rain and snowfall are expected in Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.

Partnership with Pakistan can set science advance for Arab world – minister

Updated 24 January 2020

Partnership with Pakistan can set science advance for Arab world – minister

  • Islamabad and Riyadh have yet to cooperate in science
  • Pakistan can solve many of Saudi Arabia’s technology problems, says science minister

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s minister of science and technology on Thursday said his country’s expertise in the field of technology could benefit the Arab world, especially if a special technical partnership is forged with Saudi Arabia.

“I would like closer cooperation with the Arab world in science and technology,” Fawad Chaudry said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

He noted that while Pakistan and Saudi Arabia already cooperate on a large scale, scientific cooperation has yet to be established.

The former information minister, who eight months ago was assigned the science and technology portfolio and pledged breakthrough advancements said that Pakistan is the world’s fourth-largest freelance software exporter, “so instead of relying on Europe and USA for routine software, and pay huge money for that,” the Arab world should rather focus on Pakistan. “We will be able to bring your requirements, frankly much cheaper than what you are getting now, and the standard will be as good.”

“The Arab world can benefit immensely from Pakistan’s experience.”

When asked what cooperation he seeks with the Kingdom, he said: “Saudi Arabia can take care of the budgets. This technical cooperation of Pakistan will actually solve many of Saudi Arabia’s technology problems.”

Pakistan is engaged in multimillion-dollar worth projects under the Islamic Development Bank’s (IsDB) Science, Technology and Innovation Transform Fund, which aim to help Muslim countries find practical solutions to their key development challenges through the power of innovation.

“I hope that once that fund will be available, we will be able to help many other Muslim countries,” the minister said, explaining that Pakistan wants to contribute to the smart villages concept. “We would like to give this smart village experience to other Muslim countries, African Muslim nations, and the Middle East.”

Smart villages use innovative solutions to improve the resilience of rural communities through facilities such as sustainable energy services to enable their access to education, health care, better nutrition, and sanitation.

Highlighting his country’s technological advancements, the minister cited Pakistani-made unmanned aerial vehicles. He said that since drone technology in Pakistan is advanced as in Europe, “on the issues of surveillance, agriculture, and many other areas, we can immensely help the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia.”