Investigating hundreds of complaints against online Eid animal sellers — Pakistan cybercrime unit

A man uploads a picture on a website that sells goats online ahead of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha or the 'Festival of Sacrifice', at a farm in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 22, 2020. ( AFP photo)
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Updated 05 August 2020

Investigating hundreds of complaints against online Eid animal sellers — Pakistan cybercrime unit

  • FIA says complaints range from meat not delivered at all, delivered late or being of a lower quality and smaller quantity than expected
  • Some of the major platforms under fire include Meat Master, Lal Meat and ARY Sahulat Bazaar

KARACHI: Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said on Tuesday it had launched an inquiry into hundreds of complaints against online platforms selling sacrificial animals for the Eid Al-Adha festival last week. 

The complaints range from meat not being delivered to being delivered late, or being of a lower quality or smaller quantity than promised. 

“We have decided to probe the matter after receiving hundreds of complaints,” Abdul Ghaffar, deputy director of the FIA’s cybercrime unit, told Arab News. 

Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shalwani said “stern action” would be taken against companies that were found to have defrauded the public over Eid.

“We will definitely investigate the issue and take action against guilty companies,” he told Arab News. 

As Pakistani Muslims prepared to celebrate the Eid Al-Adha festival this year, digital service providers reported a boom in online sales that limit the need for people to visit farms and cattle markets during the coronavirus pandemic to buy the goats, sheep and cows traditionally sacrificed during the holiday. 

Officials and health experts have been concerned about the risks of the coronavirus being spread during the religious festival in the world’s second largest Muslim-majority country when people typically gather in mosques and homes, or travel to their home towns.

In Pakistan, platforms providing online sacrificial services have existed for years but their popularity has increased this year due to the coronavirus outbreak which saw authorities banning the setting up of small makeshift cattle markets within cities, and the slaughter of animals in open spaces, fearing a spike in dwindling virus cases. 

Scores of meat brands, cattle farm owners and regular businesses thus launched websites offering animal sacrificing services online. 

Now some of these platforms are under fire for providing subpar services including Meat Master, Lal Meat and ARY Sahulat Bazaar.

“My father was unwell, so I decided not to visit the cattle market and try an online service instead,” said Syed Azfar Hussain, who placed an order through Lal Meat’s Facebook page a few days before Eid and paid Rs 87,500 for five shares in a collective sacrifice. 

He only received 80 kilograms of meat, he said, and it was “so rotten that it had turned green. The smell made me sick.” 

Hussain said despite repeated requests, Lal Meat did not provide any compensation. Tabish Haider, owner of Lal Meat, did not respond to requests for comment for this article. 

Abdullah Riaz, a representative of ARY Sahulat Bazaar, said all Eid bookings were delivered on time and in a professional manner. Meat Master said a delay was caused by an “unexpected mechanical fault in our automated deboning line on the first day of Eid.” 

“Due to the unprecedented nature of the fault, we were unable to give a clear timeline to our customers regarding the delivery since there were also logistics limitations to make dispatches after 8 p.m. to multiple locations,” Meat Master said in a statement, adding that the organization shifted 30 percent of its orders to the second day of Eid and ensured 100 percent refunds for orders that were canceled. 

Adil Mirza, an audit adviser in Karachi who booked with Lal Meat, said he knew more than 50 people who had lodged complaints with the FIA and the Pakistan Citizens Portal against online platforms. 

“If we do not get full refunds, we will stage a protest demonstration,” he said. 

Sadia Mehmood, who teaches at the University of Karachi, said she had used online services for sacrificial animals in the past but had her “worst experience” with Meat Master over Eid. 

“It was mental torment for us,” she said, saying the company did not respond to any messages or calls from her family until midnight on the first day of Eid. 

“You’re not selling air conditioners,” she said. “You are fulfilling a religious obligation ... and must be extra cautious.” 


Nearly 90% Pakistanis in favor of compulsory Arabic classes — Gallup survey  

Updated 31 min 53 sec ago

Nearly 90% Pakistanis in favor of compulsory Arabic classes — Gallup survey  

  • Senate approved Compulsory Teaching of the Arabic Language Bill 2020 on Feb. 1
  • The bill makes Arabic classes mandatory at all primary and secondary schools in the federal capital

ISLAMABAD: Nearly 90 percent of Pakistanis are in favor of a senate bill that makes Arabic classes compulsory at school, a recent survey shows.

Pakistan’s upper house of parliament last month approved the Compulsory Teaching of the Arabic Language Bill 2020 which makes Arabic classes mandatory at all primary and secondary schools in the capital, Islamabad.

“Eighty-nine percent Pakistanis said that they are in favor of the approval of a Senate bill that calls for Arabic to be a mandatory part of the syllabus in educational institutions,” Gallup & Gilani Pakistan said in the study released on Friday.

The study was carried out on a sample of 1,503 men and women in urban and rural areas of 100 districts of all four provinces of Pakistan between Feb. 6 and Feb. 27.

To become law, the senate bill on Arabic teaching now requires approval by the National Assembly.

The lawmaker who presented the bill, opposition senator Javed Abbasi, argued that a command of Arabic, the official language of over 25 countries, would open up more job opportunities for Pakistanis in the Middle East, leading to lower unemployment and increased remittances.


Pakistan Air Force offers support, training to Sri Lankan military

Updated 07 March 2021

Pakistan Air Force offers support, training to Sri Lankan military

  • Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan earlier this week met Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa and top military officials in Colombo
  • Pakistan last month offered a $50 million credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defense and security  

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) chief has offered support to and agreed to strengthen cooperation with the Sri Lankan military, PAF said on Saturday.

Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan arrived in Colombo on Thursday, where he met with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and top military officials.

As Marshal Khan lauded the efforts of Sri Lankan Armed Forces in their fight against terrorism during a meeting with Defense Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne, he offered Pakistan's support and cooperation, PAF said in a statement.


In this photo released by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on March 6, 2021, Pakistan Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan meets Sri Lanka Defense Secretary Gen. Kamal Gunaratne in Colombo. (Photo courtesy: PAF)

"The leaders agreed to further enhance bilateral cooperation especially in training and professional enhancement programs," PAF said, adding that Gen. Gunaratne welcomed the Pakistani air chief's visit as "manifestation of the strong bond between the Armed Forces of both the countries, especially the two Air Forces."

The Pakistani air chief's visit follows Prime Minister Imran Khan's official visit in late February, during which Pakistan offered a $50 million new credit line to Sri Lanka for cooperation in the field of defense and security.


Train derails killing 1, injuring 40 in southern Pakistan

Updated 07 March 2021

Train derails killing 1, injuring 40 in southern Pakistan

  • Accident took place between the Rohri and Sangi stations in southern Sindh province
  • Eight cars of the 18-car train from Karachi to Lahore derailed and six fell into a shallow ditch

MULTAN: Eight cars of a Lahore-bound train derailed in southern Pakistan early Sunday, killing at least one passenger and injuring 40 others, officials said.

The accident took place between the Rohri and Sangi stations in southern Sindh province and caused a temporary suspension of railway traffic in both directions, said Kamran Lashari, a railway official.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the derailment. Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where successive governments have paid little attention to improving the poorly maintained signal system and aging tracks.

Lashari said eight cars of the 18-car train that departed from Karachi for the eastern city of Lahore derailed and six fell into a shallow ditch.

Rescue official Muhammad Arshad said darkness and the remote location of the derailment hampered rescue efforts. He said the body of the woman who died and 40 injured passengers were taken to hospitals in nearby towns. It wasn’t immediately clear how many passengers were on the train.

Railway Minister Azam Sawati told a local television station that the accident was being investigated and the government would provide financial compensation to the heirs of deceased woman and all the injured.


Pakistan’s security forces kill eight militants in North Waziristan — ISPR

Updated 07 March 2021

Pakistan’s security forces kill eight militants in North Waziristan — ISPR

  • The tribal district bordering Afghanistan remained a militant stronghold for many years until authorities launched military operations in the area
  • The militants killed in the recent attacks were involved in terrorist activities against security forces and locals since 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s security forces conducted two separate intelligence-based operations in North Waziristan district, said the military’s media wing, ISPR, in an official statement on Saturday, adding that eight militants were killed in the ensuing battles. 

The tribal district bordering Afghanistan remained a militant stronghold until Pakistani authorities launched clear-and-hold military operations to destroy the hideouts and communication centers of various proscribed groups. 

The recent operations in the territory were launched against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in which three senior commanders of the outfit were also killed, the ISPR statement informed. 

It added that these people were “involved in terrorist activities against security forces, law enforcement agencies and locals of the area since 2009.” 

The militants used improvised explosive devices and indulged in target killings, kidnapping for ransom and extortion. 

The statement continued that the TTP members were also involved in recruiting young and impressionable minds, adding that security personnel recovered huge caches of arms from their hideouts. 


PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

Updated 06 March 2021

PM Khan asks Hafeez Shaikh to continue as finance minister after Senate defeat

  • The prime minister expresses his faith in Shaikh's professional abilities while praising him for shoring up the national economy
  • Shaikh can work in his current capacity until June, though the government may try again to get him elected to parliament

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has told his close aide Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to continue working as finance minister after Shaikh lost a general seat from the federal capital to a joint opposition candidate in the recent Senate elections, local media reported on Saturday.
In a one-on-one meeting after securing the vote of confidence from parliament earlier in the day, Khan said he had complete faith in Shaikh's professional abilities and applauded him for shoring up the ailing national economy.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) administration relied heavily on its finance minister to bring down the current account deficit and keep the financial system on track during the coronavirus pandemic.
After the Islamabad High Court ruled in a case in December that no special assistant or advisor to prime minister could chair or participate in cabinet committee meetings, Khan exercised his constitutional authority to elevate Shaikh as a federal minister for a period of six months.
According to Article 91 (9) of the Constitution, the finance minister cannot be reappointed to the same position as an unelected individual, and his defeat in the Senate election implies he may only be able to serve in his current capacity until June.
According to The Express Tribune, however, the government is likely to make one more effort to get him elected to the upper house of parliament by de-seating an opposition member, Ishaq Dar, who was elected to the Senate from Punjab in 2018 but did not take oath to the office.