Pakistan says its citizens in Beirut safe, condoles with Lebanon over deadly blast

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Smoke rises from the site of an explosion in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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Men walk at the site of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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An injured man is helped following an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 05 August 2020

Pakistan says its citizens in Beirut safe, condoles with Lebanon over deadly blast

  • Foreign office asks Pakistanis in need to reach out to embassy in Beirut
  • There are around 1,000 Pakistanis based in Lebanon, ministry of overseas Pakistanis says

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday sent its condolences to Lebanon a day after a powerful blast in port warehouses near central Beirut storing highly explosive material killed 78 people and injured nearly 4,000.
Officials said they expected the death toll to rise further after Tuesday’s blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to rescue people and remove the dead. It was the most powerful explosion in years in Beirut, which is already reeling from an economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus infections.
“We express our sincere condolences to Govt. & people of Lebanon over loss of precious lives in #BeirutBlast & pray for early recovery of injured,” the foreign office said in a tweet, asking Pakistanis in need to reach out to the country's embassy in Beirut.

Pakistan’s ministry of overseas Pakistanis said preliminary information showed “all Pakistani Embassy personnel, their families and #OverseasPakistanis are safe” in Beirut. 

“Ministry has setup emergency helpline to assist OPs [overseas Pakistanis] in need of help.” the ministry posted, adding that there were around 1,000 Pakistanis based in Lebanon. 

President Michel Aoun has said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilisers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, and said it was “unacceptable”.
"What we are witnessing is a huge catastrophe,” the head of Lebanon’s Red Cross George Kettani told broadcaster Mayadeen. “There are victims and casualties everywhere.”


Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

Updated 19 September 2020

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

  • The book tells the story of a young boy from Karachi's Lyari, who is learning about the virus to help others
  • 'Little Master' is illustrated by Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series 'Paak-Legion'

RAWALPINDI: "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book, is going to be released on Monday to guide Pakistani children how to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic and cope with COVID-19 misinformation.
Published by Mehrdar Art & Production (MAP), the book tells the story of Ahmed, a young boy from Karachi's Lyari area, who is trying to learn about the coronavirus to help keep others safe, regardless of their community background.
"Comics are a great way to tell a story positively and are really useful in countering misinformation,” Muhammad Faheem, documentary filmmaker and MAP founder, told Arab News on Saturday.

The cover of "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book to help Pakistani children cope with COVID-19 misinformation. (Photo courtesy of Muhammad Faheem via AN)

The efforts have been funded by MAP itself and through government and private support. To illustrate "Little Master," Faheem asked for help Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series "Paak-Legion."
Thousands of copies of "Little Master" will be distributed at schools in underprivileged areas such as Lyari, where misinformation has led to blame games and community tensions that affected virus response. Some narratives even questioned the very existence of the virus and necessity to follow any precautions against it.

Umair Najeeb Khan is working on an illustration for the "Little Master" comic book in Islamabad on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Umair Najeeb Khan via AN)

In May, Faheem rolled out "Hum Sab Saath, Corona ki Kilaaf" ("All of Us Together Against the Coronavirus"), a campaign through posters, social media and talks by community leaders to address the situation.
"It got to the point where relief efforts in these areas were being compromised because people were questioning who deserved help," Faheem said. "We needed to address not only the severity of what was going on but educate the citizens of these areas on what was real information to help combat the fake news and rising bigotry."
The comic book is a follow up to these efforts.
"When kids read our comics, we hope they will learn more about the pandemic and how it is a collective effort that we all have to join together, regardless of our backgrounds."