Pakistani consulate in Herat suspends service amid coronavirus threat

In this file photo, Afghan security personnel stand guard in front of the Pakistan embassy in Kabul on May 10, 2016. (AFP)
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Updated 15 March 2020

Pakistani consulate in Herat suspends service amid coronavirus threat

  • The consulate will suspend services for at least two weeks, starting Sunday
  • Emergency was declared in Herat after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed on Feb. 24

PESHAWAR: The Pakistani Embassy in Kabul will temporarily shut its consulate in Herat on Sunday over coronavirus threats in the Afghan province bordering Iran, officials confirmed to Arab News.
“We will keep our consulate in Herat shut temporarily for 15 days, effective from March 8,” Muhammad Hassan Wazir, deputy chief of mission at Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul, said on Thursday. He added that the ongoing coronavirus crisis in Iran had prompted the decision.
According to reports on Thursday, Pakistan itself has already recorded six infections since the first one was confirmed last week.
The Pakistani Embassy in Kabul said in a statement that it “would continue to monitor the situation and would consult with Afghan government before taking a decision on resumption of visa services.”
Hikmat Safi, adviser to Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), confirmed that Pakistan had announced the closure of its consulate in Herat, as Afghan authorities suspect 80 persons might have contracted the disease.
The persons returned from neighboring Iran, where 3,513 cases and 107 deaths have been reported.
Safi said the situation is expected to become more complicated as Iran started to deport Afghan refugees.
“The move to close the Herat consulate will only multiply problems of Afghans, seeking Pakistani visas. Officials of the two countries should adopt other preemptive measures to counter the fast-spreading virus instead of closing the consulate,” Safi said.
A state of emergency was declared in Herat after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed on Feb. 24.


Women hopeful as Pakistan parliamentary committee approves bill granting fathers paternal leave

Updated 30 October 2020

Women hopeful as Pakistan parliamentary committee approves bill granting fathers paternal leave

  • Parental leave bill was passed by Senate in January and will be voted by lawmakers in the coming weeks
  • The regulation will apply to all institutions in Islamabad if passed and pave the way for its nationwide implementation 

ISLAMABAD: Women lawmakers and activists said this week they welcomed approval by a National Assembly committee of a bill which would allow fathers to take one month of paid time off on the birth of a child.
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice this week approved the parental leave bill which was passed by the upper house of parliament in January. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the law in the coming weeks.
About 90 out of 187 countries around the world now offer statutory paid paternity leave, usually for a few days or weeks.
“Extremely happy and immensely proud that this important bill moved by me in 2018 has finally been passed by the NA standing committee on Law and Justice after their passage from the Senate,” Senator Quratulain Marri from the opposition Pakistan People’s Party, who initiated the motion in the upper house, told Arab News on Thursday.
In accordance with the bill, she said, at the time of the birth of the first three children, “the mother will get six months, four months and three months leave respectively and the father will get 30 days each time.”
If passed, she said, the regulation would apply to all government and non-government institutions in Islamabad, and pave the way for it to be implemented nationwide.
“I am hoping that the provinces will replicate the same once it is passed from the National Assembly in the coming weeks,” Marri said. “This might not seem like a very big step at this point of time but I think it’s important to change the mindset and introduce the concept of paternity leave and father’s bonding with the child and will prove to be a very important step.”
The NA committee’s chairman, Riaz Fatyana, said the bill would allow fathers to look after their wives after childbirth.
“This will be a good opportunity for male parent, father, who can look after his newborn child and wife,” he told Arab News.
A parliamentarian from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, Naureen Ibrahim, said if the regulation were passed, it would help men learn to share childcaring responsibilities with women.
“It will be beneficial especially for working women,” she said. “They will get longer leave and also the father will learn about sharing the responsibility of parenting. Fathers will also take care of the child and will realize the difficulties which are faced by wives.”
Women’s rights activist Farzana Bari said the new law would help change the mindset of childcare being an exclusively female responsibility.
“There has been a changing concept of masculinity in Pakistan in recent time,” she said. “Many young educated males have started sharing the responsibility of childcare and domestic work. It [new bill] will be very helpful for them.”