Pakistani city of Lahore listed on NYT’s ‘52 places to love in 2021’ list

A general view of the empty Iqbal Park is seen during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Lahore on April 10, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 12 January 2021

Pakistani city of Lahore listed on NYT’s ‘52 places to love in 2021’ list

  • The Times asked readers to pick spots that had “delighted, inspired and comforted” them in 2020, picked 52 out of 2,000 suggestions
  • The ancient city of Lahore is home to numerous tombs and mosques, palaces and fortresses, museums and gardens

ISLAMABAD: The central Pakistani city of Lahore, once an intellectual center of the Indian subcontinent and now considered the cultural heart of Pakistan, has been included in a list of ‘52 places to love in 2021’ by the international newspaper, The New York Times.
The Times asked readers to “tell us about spots that have delighted, inspired and comforted them in a dark year.”
Out of 2,000 suggestions, NYT picked 52, including Lahore, to “remind us that the world still awaits.”
The ancient city of Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest after Karachi, is home to numerous tombs and mosques, palaces and fortresses, museums and gardens.
“Especially in winter, this city nourishes you. It opens its arms to you, then feeds you and wraps you in a hug,” Haneen Iqbal, a 29-year-old freelance writer in Toronto, Canada, wrote. “Pakistan has a bad reputation, and is often overlooked by travelers who come to South Asia. But Lahoris are some of the kindest, most hospitable people. They love to take care of you and feed you. Lahore’s hot summers can feel oppressive, but in winter, in the cool dusk, lights twinkle in the fog.”
“Androon Lahore, the city’s historic core, is studded with monuments from the Mughal era. I love to watch the Punjab locals feasting on terraces of restaurants overlooking the grand Badshahi Mosque — they are just regular people living their regular lives, and they are so alive in the present, while always connected to their past,” Iqbal wrote.
Other places on the list include South Wales, Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, Kaliya Dhrow in India, Isfahan in Iran and Cordoba in Spain.


Islamabad dismisses reports of financial difficulties faced by Pakistani missions 

Updated 05 December 2021

Islamabad dismisses reports of financial difficulties faced by Pakistani missions 

  • Pakistani foreign office describes these reports as ‘entirely baseless, irresponsible and malafide’ 
  • Says all Pakistani missions continue to be provided requisite resources for effective functioning 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday rejected reports of financial difficulties faced by its foreign missions, the Pakistani foreign office said. 

The statement came a day after English-language newspaper The News reported that the Pakistani embassy in Washington had run out of funds to pay salaries for at least four months to some of its employees. 

At least five of the Pakistani embassy’s locally recruited contractual employees faced delays and non-payment of their monthly wages from August 2021, the paper reported citing unnamed sources. 

One staffer out of the five affected, who had been working for the past ten years with the embassy, resigned in September owing to delays and non-payment, according to the report. It noted these unpaid local staffers were hired by the embassy on an annual contractual basis and worked for the mission on bare-minimum salaries, ranging from $2,000 to $2,500 a month. 

“This deliberate disinformation attempt is outrightly rejected. All Pakistan missions continue to be provided the requisite resources for effective functioning in accordance with relevant financial and budgetary rules and regulations,” a spokesperson for the Pakistani foreign office said in a statement. 

The spokesperson described these social media posts and related news reports as “entirely baseless, irresponsible and malafide.” 


Saudi agency continues winter aid distribution in Pakistan’s Balochistan province 

Updated 05 December 2021

Saudi agency continues winter aid distribution in Pakistan’s Balochistan province 

  • KSRelief launched its winter aid project last month to help over 200,000 Pakistanis 
  • Pakistan is the fifth largest recipient of assistance from the Saudi aid agency 

ISLAMABAD: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has distributed 1,700 winter bags in Ziarat district of Pakistan’s southern Balochistan province that would help 11,900 needy people, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Sunday. 

These winter kits include quilts and winter gear for men, women and children. The assistance is part of the center’s 2021 winter aid project to help needy people in Pakistan. 

KSRelief launched its winter aid project last month to help over 200,000 people in Pakistan. 

In total, 29,000 winter kits will be distributed this year among communities living in impoverished districts of Balochistan, in collaboration with Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the Balochistan government. 

The Saudi-based international aid agency provides humanitarian and development support to millions of beneficiaries in more than 49 countries. 

Pakistan is the fifth largest recipient of assistance from KSRelief and has received more than $120 million in aid since 2005. 


Pollard out of West Indies white-ball tour of Pakistan 

Updated 05 December 2021

Pollard out of West Indies white-ball tour of Pakistan 

  • He withdrew after failing to recover from the hamstring injury he sustained in the T20 World Cup 
  • West Indies are due to play three T20Is and three ODIs at the Karachi National Stadium from Dec 13 to 22 

ST JOHN’S, Antigua: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard withdrew Sunday from the upcoming white-ball tour of Pakistan after failing to recover from the hamstring injury he sustained in the T20 World Cup. 
Pollard was replaced in the ODI squad by Devon Thomas and in the T20 squad by all-rounder Rovman Powell.

Pollard will be reassessed in a few weeks ahead of the upcoming home tours by Ireland and England in January 2022, Cricket West Indies said.

The West Indies are due to play three T20Is and three ODIs at the Karachi National Stadium from Dec. 13-22. 


Pakistan announces award for man who tried shielding Sri Lankan victim of Sialkot lynching 

Updated 05 December 2021

Pakistan announces award for man who tried shielding Sri Lankan victim of Sialkot lynching 

  • Priyantha Kumara was publicly attacked and killed by a Muslim mob on Friday over blasphemy allegations 
  • Police in Pakistan’s Punjab have arrested six more suspects, taking the number of detainees to 124 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced a gallantry award for the man, who tried shielding Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara lynched in Punjab’s Sialkot city earlier this week, against a mob of vigilantes. 

Kumara worked at a factory in the northeastern Pakistani city of Sialkot and was publicly attacked and killed by a Muslim mob on Friday over allegations he had committed blasphemy. 

Blasphemy is considered a deeply sensitive issue in Pakistan, and carries the death penalty. International and domestic rights groups say accusations of blasphemy have often been used to intimidate religious minorities and settle personal scores. 

In videos circulating on social media, one of Kumara’s colleagues, Malik Adnan, was seen confronting a group of vigilantes and making desperate attempts to protect the Sri Lankan national. He, however, could not succeed in his attempts. 

“On behalf of the nation, I want to salute moral courage and bravery of Malik Adnan who tried his utmost to shelter and save Priyantha Diyawadana from the vigilante mob in Sialkot incl[uding] endangering his own life by physically trying to shield victim,” PM Khan said in a Twitter post. 

“We will award him Tamgha-i-Shujaat [Medal of Bravery].” 

The announcement coincided with the arrest of six more suspects in the lynching case. 

“Punjab police have identified and arrested six more main suspects in the last 12 hours with the help of CCTV footage and mobile calls data. The suspects were hiding at the houses of their friends and relatives,” Punjab police said on Twitter. 

Of the total 124 detainees, it said, 19 suspects had a central role in the lynching according to the investigation so far. 

The remains of the deceased Sri Lankan national would be flown to Sri Lanka on Monday at the “state cost,” the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said. 

“The Sri Lanka High Commission in Islamabad has requested an investigation report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan regarding the death of Diyawadanage Don. Nandasiri Priyantha Kumara,” it said in a statement. 

“The Sri Lanka High Commission in Islamabad, in coordination with the Foreign Ministry, is also in discussions with the Pakistan authorities and the employer of the deceased regarding payment of compensation.” 

On Saturday, Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa expressed grief over the lynching of Kumara in Pakistan. He said he was “shocked to see the brutal and fatal attack” on Kumara by “extremist mobs in Pakistan”. “My heart goes out to his wife and family,” Rajapaksa said in a tweet. 

PM Khan said on Saturday night said he had spoken to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and assured him that justice would be done in Kumara’s lynching case. 


Antares Experience ends journey as ‘largest ever’ vessel dismantled at Pakistani shipbreaking yard 

Updated 05 December 2021

Antares Experience ends journey as ‘largest ever’ vessel dismantled at Pakistani shipbreaking yard 

  • The 14-floor cruise ship has 1411 rooms, shopping areas, gaming zones and conference halls 
  • Authorities turned down the owner’s idea to use it for travel or turn it into a hotel 

KARACHI: Antares Experience, a former Costa Cruises liner is set to end its nearly three-decade-long journey in Pakistan’s Gadani shipbreaking yard, a senior Pakistani official and the shipbreaker said on Sunday. 

Built for Italy’s biggest tour operator Costa Cruises in the early 1990s, the cruise liner was bought by a Pakistani shipbreaker, New Choice Enterprises (NCE), to turn it into scrap at the shipbreaking yard in Gadani, Balochistan, some 50 kilometers away from Karachi. 

“The cruise ship, which is bought by a Gadani buyer, has come for beaching,” Mahmood Moulvi, the Pakistani prime minister’s special assistant on maritime affairs, told Arab News. 

“It will be beached as per the conditions of the contract,” Moulvi said, ruling out the possibility of using the cruise for a ferry services in the country. 

The ship, weighing 56,800 gross tons, has 14 floors, 1,411 rooms, a seven-star hotel, shopping areas, gaming zones and three conference halls. 

It is going to be scrapped due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the shipping sector. 

“The condition of shipping lines in Europe is not good and they are doing away with ships,” Moulvi said. “The ship was sold at $610 per LDT (Light Displacement Tonnage).” 

Ahmedullah Khan, the buyer of the vessel and owner of NCE, had requested the government to allow turning the ship into a hotel by docking it off the Karachi coast or use it for travel and tourism, saying that it was in “workable condition” for the next 10-15 years. 

But the authorities turned down the idea due to the size of the vessel. 

“It will take at least 10 months to dismantle the whole ship and more than 500 workers will be directly involved in the process,” Khan told Arab News, adding is the “largest cruise ever” to arrive for scrapping in Pakistan. 

The dismantling of the cruise liner is expected to start next week. 

Gadani is the world’s third largest shipbreaking yard after the Alang-Sosiya yard in India and the Chittagong yard in Bangladesh.