Pakistan kills two militants in intelligence-based operation in Kharan

Pakistan's Frontier Corps personnel stand on an armored vehicle near a border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Balochistan on September 16, 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 11 June 2021

Pakistan kills two militants in intelligence-based operation in Kharan

  • Security forces recovered arms and ammunition while carrying out the operation
  • The military's public relations wing says a soldier lost his life while fighting with the militants

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's security forces killed two militants during an intelligence-based operation in the country’s southwestern Balochistan province, said an official statement of the military's public relations wing, ISPR, on Saturday.
It added the two militants were involved in various acts of violence against civilians and security forces, adding that a significant quantity of arms and ammunition were also recovered during the operation which was carried out in Kharan district.
Security forces also lost one of its soldiers during the exchange of fire with the militants, the statement continued.
Balochistan has witnessed a low-intensity insurgency by separatist factions who believe the province’s mineral resources have been exploited by other parts of Pakistan.
These groups have stepped up their activities in recent years after Pakistan and China joined hands to build an economic corridor which originates from Balochistan's Gwadar port city.
Pakistan has also been fencing its western border to control the security situation since it believes most of these militants have found sanctuary in its neighborhood and operate from there.


Minister wants parents of key suspect in Noor Mukadam murder barred from leaving Pakistan

Updated 23 min 3 sec ago

Minister wants parents of key suspect in Noor Mukadam murder barred from leaving Pakistan

  • Noor Mukadam, 27, was found beheaded at a residence in Islamabad’s upscale F-7/4 sector on July 20
  • Case has sent shockwaves across Pakistan, with officials and members of the public expressing horror over the gruesome murder

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's human rights minister on Wednesday recommended to the parliament that the parents of Zahir Zakir Jaffer, the main suspect in the gruesome murder of Noor Mukadam, be prevented from leaving the country.

Mukadam, 27, was found beheaded at a residence in Islamabad's upscale F-7/4 sector on July 20. She was the daughter of Pakistan’s former ambassador to South Korea and Kazakhstan, Shaukat Mukadam.

Jaffer, the son of businessman Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamjee, was arrested from the crime scene on the same day and has since been in police custody on a physical remand.

During a briefing at the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Human Rights, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said the Jaffer's parents should be added to the Provincial Identification List (PNIL) to bar them from flying abroad.

"The parents of the suspect are American citizens. They should also be included in the PNIL," Mazari said.

The name of their son, also a US citizen, has already been on the list.

Jaffer's parents were arrested by Islamabad police last Saturday, along with their two domestic workers for “hiding evidence and being complicit in the crime.”

Both of them are on judicial remand.

The case has sent shockwaves across Pakistan, with officials, journalists, activists and members of the public expressing horror over the gruesome murder, which has sparked fresh debate about the safety of women in the country. The hashtag #JusticeForNoor has since garnered millions of tweets.

“I cannot express strongly enough my absolute condemnation of the recent violence and brutality against women,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Twitter on Friday. “This has no place in our society, lives, religion or culture. We must work harder and do more for prevention & for justice.”

Author Fatima Bhutto called Mukadam’s murder “a test for a system that too easily bends to power and influence.”

“But it must also be a test for us — imagine the number of men who inflict such brutality on women every day without being seen, without being noticed, because the victims are poor & unknown,” Bhutto said.

Actor, writer and director Osman Khalid Butt wrote down the names of a number of recent victims of femicide, including Mukadam, and said: “Remember these names. Keep asking for accountability, for justice. We must not let our outrage fade. These criminals must be convicted and made to pay for their crimes.”


Rain delays West Indies-Pakistan first T20

Updated 36 min 28 sec ago

Rain delays West Indies-Pakistan first T20

  • Pakistan won the toss and opted to bowl first
  • 19-year-old all-rounder Mohammad Wasim to make his debut in the match

BRIDGETOWN: Rain has delayed the start of the first T20 International of the rescheduled four-match series between the West Indies and Pakistan at Kensington Oval in Barbados on Wednesday.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam won the toss and put West Indies in to bat but steady showers prevented play from getting underway.
Following his success in the just-completed ODI series against Australia, the home side included left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein in their line-up.
He will complement wrist-spinner Hayden Walsh, the “Man of the Series” in the 4-1 T20I triumph over the Aussies in St. Lucia two weeks ago.
Pakistan are giving a debut to 19-year-old all-rounder Mohammad Wasim in a side which shows two other changes from the team which concluded the three-match T20I series in England earlier this month.
Sharjeel Khan comes in at the top of the order while Azam Khan slots into the middle-order.

TEAMS

West Indies — Kieron Pollard (captain), Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons, Chris Gayle, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran (wicketkeeper), Andre Russell, Jason Holder, Dwayne Bravo, Hayden Walsh, Akeal Hosein.
Pakistan — Babar Azam (captain), Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Rizwan (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Azam Khan, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Qadir.
Umpires: Gregory Brathwaite (BAR), Nigel Duguid (GUY)
Match Referee: Richie Richardson


Sindh government mulls complete lockdown over 'abnormal' surge in COVID-19 infections in Karachi

Updated 28 July 2021

Sindh government mulls complete lockdown over 'abnormal' surge in COVID-19 infections in Karachi

  • Provincial parliamentary secretary on health says decision to impose a two-week lockdown could be taken on Friday
  • Pakistan’s DG health Dr Safdar says federal pandemic response closely working with Sindh administration to curb virus spread

KARACHI: The provincial administration of Sindh could announce a two-week lockdown in Karachi on Friday if coronavirus cases continue to increase, a senior health official said on Wednesday.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said on Tuesday his province was witnessing an “abnormal” surge in COVID-19 cases, saying the situation was particularly “alarming and critical” since the positivity ratio in the city had shot past 26 percent.

The infection rate in Karachi has consistently remained high, with 8,513 coronavirus cases recorded during the last week and an average daily positivity rate of 21.73 percent.

“We are increasing the capacity of government and private hospitals, but this is obviously not a solution [to the pandemic],” Qasim Soomro, parliamentary secretary on health in Sindh, told Arab News. “We will have to enforce the lockdown to address the situation if the infection rate does not drop by Friday.”

Soomro also said the Sindh administration was trying to increase hospital capacity and had held a meeting with the management of private medical facilities.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Sindh chief minister said the Sindh government had decided to add more ventilators, and oxygen beds to the health system. Currently, government hospitals in Karachi have 398 ventilators , 906 HDU (high-dependency unit) beds and 293 oxygen beds for coronavirus patients.

Around 32 ventilators, 110 HDU beds and 40 oxygen beds will also be added to coronavirus wards in hospitals in Karachi, it was announced.

“We are increasing the number of beds and ventilators in government hospitals,” Soomro said. “Yesterday, a meeting was held with the management of private hospitals in this connection. However, their unanimous demand was to impose a lockdown.”

Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Qaiser Sajjad, general secretary of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), emphasized strict enforcement of virus restrictions, saying negligence could lead to “a situation like India” in the country.

“The cases have reached record high level as the delta variant of the virus is fast spreading,” he said. “There is no alternative except to impose a complete lockdown if the government cannot implement the SOPs [standard operating procedures].”

“Currently, 980 critical patients of COVID-19 are admitted in various hospitals in the city, which is a record high since the outbreak of the virus last year, and this is really dangerous,” Sajjad said, while adding that 90 percent of these critical patients were unvaccinated.

“Vaccination is the only way to acquire normalcy in business and life,” the PMA general secretary added. “No one is following the prescribed health guidelines and the situation has reached a level where major hospitals of the city are refusing to treat patients [due to limited capacity].”

Pakistan’s director general health, Dr. Rana Muhammad Safdar, told Arab News the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), which oversees the country’s pandemic response, was closely working with the Sindh administration to stop the spread of the virus.

“The NCOC is working closely with the Sindh government to support the NPI [non-pharmacological interventions] implementation, vaccination ramp up and upbuilding hospital capacity,” Safdar said while pointing out that Karachi had witnessed a consistently high transmission rate.

To bring down the rising infection rate in Karachi, the chief minister of Sindh has constituted a four-member committee to meet with transporters and members of trade associations to ensure strict implementation of the officially prescribed health guidelines in public.

“If these SOPs are not followed — and they have not been properly followed until now — the situation will force us to go for a complete lockdown,” Soomro said. “The final decision in this regard will be taken in Friday’s meeting of the provincial coronavirus task force. We will have to take strong and strict decisions to protect the lives of the people.”


Saudi FM, Pakistan army chief discuss strengthening security cooperation

Updated 28 July 2021

Saudi FM, Pakistan army chief discuss strengthening security cooperation

  • Prince Faisal assures Gen. Bajwa of ‘unflinching support,’ appreciates Pakistan’s efforts for regional peace — ISPR 
  • Saudi foreign minister was in Islamabad to review progress in various fields of bilateral cooperation

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, has discussed strengthening security cooperation with Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

Prince Faisal arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday for a day-long visit to review with Pakistani officials progress in various fields of bilateral cooperation. 

It was the Saudi minister’s second state visit to Pakistan in a year. He was last in Islamabad in December 2020.
He met Bajwa at the Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
“They reviewed bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries, and the meeting dealt with strengthening joint cooperation to maintain security and stability,” the Saudi foreign ministry said in a series of tweets.

The Pakistani military’s media wing, ISPR, said in a statement after the visit that Gen. Bajwa and Prince Faisal had also discussed the regional security situation, including the Afghan peace process.

“Matters of bilateral interest, evolving security situation of the region, including Afghanistan Peace Process and collaboration for regional peace and connectivity were discussed during the meeting,” the ISPR said, adding that the Saudi FM had assured Pakistan of Saudi Arabia’s “unflinching support” and “appreciated sincere efforts and role Pakistan played for promoting peace and stability in the region.”


Pakistani opposition leader Maryam Nawaz tests positive for coronavirus

Updated 28 July 2021

Pakistani opposition leader Maryam Nawaz tests positive for coronavirus

  • Country recently crossed the grim milestone of one million COVID-19 cases since the emergence of the pandemic in February 2020
  • Health officials warned last week’s Eid Al-Adha holiday and elections in Azad Kashmir on July 25 could prove to be super spreader events

ISLAMABAD: The vice president of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) party, Maryam Nawaz, has tested positive for the coronavirus, PMLN spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Wednesday. 
Health officials have recently warned that last week’s Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha and elections in Pakistan’s Azad Kashmir on July 25 — for which Nawaz and other politicians actively campaigned and held large public gatherings — could prove to be super spreader events.
“PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif’s coronavirus test returned positive after which she has quarantined herself,” her spokesperson said on Twitter. 

Pakistan on Wednesday reported 4,119 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the highest single day increase in two months, while its positivity rate shot up to 6.32 percent.
The country recently crossed the grim milestone of one million COVID-19 cases since the emergence of the pandemic in February 2020. Cases had shown a steady decline since May but have recently started to increase once more, with top officials warning of a looming fourth wave of the pandemic.