Cher tweets joy as Pakistan agrees to free lonely elephant ‘Kaavan’

US music icon Cher took to twitter to express her gratitude for Pakistani govt upon releasing of lone elephant "Kavaan" in Pakistani zoo. (Photo courtesy: social media)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Cher tweets joy as Pakistan agrees to free lonely elephant ‘Kaavan’

  • The star has for years spoken out about Kaavan’s plight
  • Without a better habitat, the elephant’s future was bleak, experts say

ISLAMABAD: Music icon Cher marked “ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE” Thursday after a Pakistani court ordered freedom for a lonely elephant named Kaavan, who had become the subject of a high-profile rights campaign backed by the US singer.

“WE HAVE JUST HEARD FROM PAKISTAN HIGH COURT KAAVAN IS FREE,” Cher tweeted, adding a string of emojis and saying she felt “SICK.”

“THIS IS ONE OF THE GREATEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE,” the effusive singer continued.
The Islamabad High Court has ordered wildlife officials to consult with Sri Lanka to find Kaavan a “suitable sanctuary” within 30 days, tweeted the Friends of Islamabad Zoo, which described itself as a group of citizens concerned about animal welfare at the zoo.

Outrage over treatment of Kaavan, an Asian elephant originally from Sri Lanka, went global several years ago with a petition garnering over 200,000 signatures after it emerged he was being chained at the Islamabad Zoo in Pakistan’s leafy capital.

Zoo officials later said this was no longer the case, and that he just needed a new mate after his previous partner died in 2012.

But experts have told AFP previously that without a better habitat his future was bleak, even if a long-promised new mate finally arrives.

His behavior — including signs of distress such as bobbing his head repeatedly — demonstrates “a kind of mental illness,” Safwan Shahab Ahmad of the Pakistan Wildlife Foundation told AFP in 2016.

Activists said he had insufficient shelter from Islamabad’s searing summer temperatures, which can rise to above 40 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).
Asian elephants can roam thousands of kilometers through deep tropical and subtropical forests, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

In contrast, Kaavan’s 90 by 140 meter (100 by 150 yard) pen had almost no foliage, and only limited shade was provided.

Arriving as a one-year-old in 1985 from Sri Lanka, Kaavan was temporarily held in chains in 2002 because zookeepers were concerned about increasingly violent tendencies, but he was freed later that year after an outcry.

His mate Saheli, who arrived also from Sri Lanka in 1990, died in 2012, and in 2015 it emerged that Kaavan was regularly being chained once more — for several hours a day.
Scores of people signed a petition sent to zoo authorities and Pakistan’s then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in protest.

A second petition circulated in 2016 and backed by over 200,000 animal-lovers from across the globe demanded Kaavan’s release to a sanctuary.

Cher, who for years has spoken out about Kaavan’s plight, tweeted her thanks to the Pakistani government, adding “it’s so emotional for us that I have to sit Down.”


Mid-Eastern eateries add to Eid spreads in Islamabad

Updated 6 min 49 sec ago

Mid-Eastern eateries add to Eid spreads in Islamabad

  • Owners say home delivery orders increased more than 20 % in Ramadan as netizens crave for Arab cuisines
  • All checks in place to ensure anti-virus measures are being followed during lockdown, restaurants say

ISLAMABAD: Despite countrywide lockdown closing doors of some of the most sought-after restaurants for costumers in Islamabad, Arab cuisines remained a staple at Ramadan & Eid meals for the food lovers, said the restaurant owners.

Employees at Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad enter the restaurant after going through disinfectant spray and temperature scanning on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

Many Middle Eastern eateries are staying afloat by delivering food at the doorstep as people could not gather for group meals with friends and families under government-imposed restrictions to enjoy a bite of their favorite dishes served in a chic and sometimes traditional ambiance.

With a dedicated delivery service, Arz Lebanon, a medium-sized joint in Islamabad’s upscale Jinnah Super Market has been busy catering to growing home-delivery orders with an exclusive Iftar menu including over 12 different dishes during the fasting month of Ramadan and the Eid festivities.

Staff of Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad is preparing food parcels for home delivery on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

“We have made Ramadan package this year with a small menu of 12 Arab dishes,” Sheikh Abdul Rauf, the chief chef and owner of Arz Labanon restaurant told Arab News.

“Our famous dishes include mix Arab barbeque, hummus, fatosh, tabbouleh, cheese manakish and harbora,” he added hinting at the popular cravings of Islamabad’s food lovers.

Staff of Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad are taking order for takeaway delivery on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

He said that a lot of regular customers, both Arabs and Pakistanis, insisted through phone calls to serve them Arab food during Ramadan and on Eid.

The restaurant is among a list of eateries that remained closed for almost one-and-a-half month during lockdown and then thought of a smart comeback, while quite a few still remain closed including popular attractions like Serai Bistro situated at the capital’s diplomatic enclave – serving Lebanese, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food – and Omar Khayyam.

An employee of Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad delivers a takeaway order to a customer on May 20, 2020. The restaurant does not allow customers inside the dining space. (AN photo)

“Before covid-19, the staff at my restaurant was 45 now I am working with only seven employees to maintain social distancing,” Rauf said, adding that they use disinfectant spray for the entire staff before commencing work and also check their body temperature through thermal scanner at least three to four times a day.

“We are serving only takeaways and home delivery orders. I am getting around 70 delivery orders daily which is 20 percent more than usual days and a lot of people come for takeaway as well,” Rauf informed. ” Most of my Arab customers order home delivery these days. We have three vans for this purpose. Pakistani customers take both home delivery and takeaway,” he said.

Another big attraction for the Islamabadians is Syrian ‘Shawarma’ in F-10 Markaz area, prepared in authentic Arab style by Abu Amir aka Adnan who came to Pakistan in 2011 fleeing the complex civil war in his homeland.

Abu Amir, a Syrian Shawarma maker is busy cutting fresh slices of meat for parcels at his food kiosk in F-10 area of Islamabad on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

“My major dish is shawarma and sheesh taouq while in Ramadan I also started serving basbousa, kunafa and baklava,” Amir told Arab News.

“We provide home delivery through bike-riding services. People also visit us for take-aways,” he said.

Amir said that coronavirus pandemic had adversely affected his business but home delivery increased during Ramadan.

A man at Arz Lebanon restaurant in Islamabad grills kebabs for food parcels on May 20, 2020. (AN photo)

“I used to sell around 450 shawarmas daily before the pandemic but now the number has reduced. On the other hand, request for home deliveries increased from around 30 orders earlier to approximately 100 now a days,” he added.

On the south side of Shawarma guy in F-10 markaz, another home delivery option for Arab food lovers is Al-Beirut kitchen which provides only home delivery order of trending Lebanese and Arab foods. 

“We are providing home delivery only and that also by ensuring all precautions. Our customers are very loyal as we are delivering for the past two decades in Islamabad,” Ahmad Shabbir, the restaurant manager told Arab News. “Business got better in the second half of Ramadan after re-opening of markets,” he added.