Qureshi to address OIC’s emergency meeting on Kashmir

This file photo shows the national flags of the members of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states flying in front of the clock of the Abraj al-Bait Towers in Makkah on Nov. 17, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 22 June 2020

Qureshi to address OIC’s emergency meeting on Kashmir

  • Foreign minister will brief the group on the prevailing situation in the disputed territory
  • Ministerial-level virtual talks are being held on Pakistan’s request

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will address an emergency meeting called by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) contact group on Jammu and Kashmir, and brief them about the prevailing situation in the area, the Foreign Office said in a statement on Monday.

It added that Monday’s ministerial-level virtual meeting was being held on Pakistan’s request to address the worsening situation in “Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).”

The talks will be chaired by OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, with foreign ministers from member countries, including Azerbaijan, Niger, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, and representatives of the OIC-Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) expected to attend.

“Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President and true representatives of the Kashmiri people will also participate in the virtual meeting,” the statement said.

Earlier on Sunday, Al-Othaimeen tweeted that the meeting was “part of a series of continuous #JammuAndKashmir Contact Group meetings to address the issue.”

The OIC’s contact group on Jammu and Kashmir was formed in 1994 to represent the organization’s views and coordinate measures to resolve the dispute. 

“This is the third meeting of the contact group since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 in IOJ&K,” excerpts from the statement read, referring in part to New Delhi’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last year.

It added that the OIC and the IPHRC had consistently rejected India’s actions while reiterating support for the residents of Indian-administered Kashmir.

The meeting follows a visit by OIC Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, Ambassador Yousef Al-Dobeay, to Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir in March this year, to reaffirm the organization’s support and solidarity with the Kashmiri people and acquire first-hand information of the situation along the Line of Control.

The OIC comprises 57 member countries with a total population of nearly 1.85 billion people, making it the second-largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations.

With solar mosques and schools, Pakistan’s northwestern province pushes clean energy 

Updated 8 min 37 sec ago

With solar mosques and schools, Pakistan’s northwestern province pushes clean energy 

  • Provincial administration of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province plans to solarize 8,000 schools, 187 health facilities and 4,000 mosques 
  • From 2018 through February 2020, 300 mosques solarized and 100 villages and 1,000 households reached, officials say

PESHAWAR: The provincial administration of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) plans to solarize 8,000 schools, 187 health facilities and 4,000 mosques in off-grid areas and neighborhoods that frequently experience prolonged power outages, senior officials working on the project said this week.

The initiative is part of a Rs4.3 billion project financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to tackle a crippling energy crisis in the northwestern province, including tribal districts, located on the border with Afghanistan.

Last week, a statement from the KP chief minister’s office said the administration was working on a number of hydropower projects which would not only help overcome the energy crisis in the province but also give impetus to the country’s industrial and economic activities.

“We have decided to solarize areas that face frequent power breakdowns,” Mustafa Kamal, regional manager of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organization (KPEDO), told Arab News. “During the first phase of the project that was carried out from 2018 through February 2020, we solarized 300 mosques and other worship places in the tribal districts. The project also benefited 100 villages and 1,000 households.”

Fayyaz Ali, headmaster of a government-run primary school in a village located in Charsadda district, applauded the initiative, saying it was a relief for parents who had stopped sending their children to the school due to scorching summer heat and prolonged power outages.

“We invited parents to visit the school after the installation of solar panels,” he said. “Our enrollment level has surged within weeks and parents are once again bringing children back to school.” 

This October 14, 2020, picture shows solar panels on the rooftop of a mosque in Mardan, Pakistan. The equipment was installed under a Rs4.3 billion solarization project that is currently being implemented by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Energy Development Organization. (Photo courtesy: KPEDO)

According to Shaukat Afzal, who works as a public relations officer with the Peshawar Electric Supply Company, the province had surplus electricity, though it had ‘rampant power theft’ and poor distribution, which caused line losses.

“The province has 1,890-megawatt electricity, which exceeds our demand,” he said. “However, parts of the province undergo load management due to rampant power theft cases in remote areas.”

Sajid Ali, a sub-engineer with the province’s power development organization, said the solarization of a mosque cost up to Rs500,000, with the process requiring that authorities buy six solar panels, that would generate 4,000-watt electricity, and a 48-volt battery.

“The equipment can light up ten rooms and power six fans in the mosque,” he said, adding that several organizations had been awarded contracts by the government to import solar equipment, primarily from China.

Over the last year, many households in Gomal, a dusty town near South Waziristan, had decided to install solar panels on their own also, tired of endless power cuts. Some residents of the town also complained of overbilling despite frequent power interruptions.

Khalid Khan, 30, a government employee from Tank district, said solar panels were becoming popular due to their low cost, simple installation and easy maintenance.

“Given the erratic power supply, people have decided to tap into renewable energy,” he said. “The government should ensure that these areas completely switch to solar energy.”