First female police station in Pakistan's southwest gives women hope for justice

Station House Officer Zarghoona Tareen, second left, stands in front of the first female police station in Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province which was launched in Quetta on June 16, 2021. (AN photo by Saadullah Akhter)
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Updated 16 June 2021

First female police station in Pakistan's southwest gives women hope for justice

  • Station in Quetta has 19 female police personnel and all facilities needed to assist women who seek help
  • Female officers say cultural barriers have long prevented women in the region from seeking police help on their own

QUETTA: Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province on Wednesday launched its first female police station, in hopes of expanding women's access to justice in a region where they had been traditionally deprived of it.
Being Pakistan’s most impoverished province, Balochistan has some of the worst development indicators in the country and the lowest literacy rate — less than 27 percent among women. Cultural barriers have long prevented girls and women in the region from seeking police help on their own.
With the station run by 19 female police officers in Quetta, the provincial capital, officials hope women will be able to access all police services, and personally file complaints over all kinds of cases, including domestic violence and sexual abuse. 
“Now our women can visit the first Women Smart Police Station anytime without any hesitation and they will be welcomed and treated well by the women police staff deployed inside the Women Police Station,” Balochistan Inspector General of Police Muhammad Tahir Raye told reporters while inaugurating the station.
“We have installed a modern digitalized system and trained the female police staff to keep connected the Women Police Station with other Police Station from across the province in order to receive complaints from every corner of Balochistan,” he said.




Female police officers are working on their stations at the first female police station in Quetta, Pakistan, on June 16, 2021. (AN photo by Saadullah Akhter)

Station House Officer Zarghoona Tareen told Arab News the police center is a milestone for women in Balochistan.
“Following cultural and tribal barriers, women in Balochistan were barred from visiting police stations. But now we are able to provide them shelter under one roof and our staff would utilize all efforts to solve their problems immediately,” Tareen said.




Female police officers pose for a picture outside the first female police station in Quetta, Pakistan, on June 16, 2021. (AN photo by Saadullah Akhter)

Fiza Khuda Buksh, who has been posted as a friend-desk officer, said in the women-run station female officers will also be able to work more effectively.
“We are posted here to ensure quick action on complaints registered by women complainants across the province,” she said. “Now we will be more comfortable working with female staff members, under female police officers.”


Gunmen kill two policemen guarding Pakistan polio team

Updated 9 sec ago

Gunmen kill two policemen guarding Pakistan polio team

  • Pakistan has reported 15 polio cases since April this year
  • Polio only remains endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan

PESHAWAR: Two officers guarding a polio vaccination team in northwest Pakistan were shot dead by unidentified assailants, police said Tuesday, the latest deaths in an ongoing campaign to eradicate the disease.
Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan are the only countries where polio remains endemic, but vaccination teams have been targeted for years by Islamic militants in both nations.
“Two gunmen hiding near a small water channel opened fire on the policemen from a very close range,” senior officer Waqar Ahmad Khan told AFP.
“The gunmen spared the two-member polio vaccination team ... and fled on a motorbike.”
The incident happened in Kot Azam, Tank district, close to tribal districts where the military has clashed with militants since 2003.
Scores of polio workers and security officials guarding them have been killed since 2012 by militants who claim vaccination programs are part of a Western plot to sterilize Muslims.
Another conspiracy theory holds that the vaccines contain pig fat and are therefore banned by Muslims.
Islamist opposition to inoculation campaigns grew after the CIA organized a fake vaccination drive to help track down Al Qaeda’s former leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.
In April, Pakistan reported the first case of polio in 15 months.
Since then, 14 more polio cases have been reported — all from the same ultra-conservative district where many villagers are against vaccines.
The United States reported its first case of polio in almost a decade in July, while Britain said last week that around one million children in London will be offered a booster vaccine after the virus was detected in sewage samples.
 


Pakistan’s finance minister says IMF executive board meeting expected on August 29

Updated 3 min 29 sec ago

Pakistan’s finance minister says IMF executive board meeting expected on August 29

  • The country was required to get ‘adequate financing assurances’ for the meeting to take place by the end of August
  • Miftah Ismail said the rupee was beginning to regain its value and stock market was benefiting from bullish sentiment

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s finance minister Miftah Ismail said on Tuesday the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was expected to hold its executive board meeting on August 29 before resuming a $6 billion loan facility sanctioned more than three years ago.
Pakistan was striving for the continuation of the loan program which stalled earlier this year after the previous administration of ousted prime minister Imran Khan went against its terms and conditions by subsidizing fuel and energy prices in the country.
Pakistan’s new government managed to secure a staff-level agreement for the resumption of the loan on July 13, though it required the approval of the IMF executive board.
The finance minister said during a news conference in the federal capital the IMF had sent its revised letter of intent, saying he would sign the document and send it back to the global lender later today.
“We are hoping that [the IMF] board meeting will be held in the month of August, probably on the 29th, after which the disbursement [of loan] will start,” he said. “You are aware that the [IMF] loan program has already resumed.”
The IMF resident chief in Pakistan, Esther Perez Ruiz, issued a statement earlier this month, saying the country had met all preconditions for the resumption of the loan program, though the executive board meeting would be held after Pakistan managed to secure “adequate financing assurances.”
The country’s acting governor of central bank also told the media the government was striving to bridge the external financing gap of $4 billion by reaching out to friendly countries, such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and China.
Discussing the overall economic state of the country, Ismail said Pakistan’s national currency had started recovering its losses in recent weeks.
“The dollar went out of control on July 17 and started depreciating rapidly for several days, though it is now beginning to come back,” he said.
Ismail added the Pakistani rupee had remained the strongest global currency since the beginning of August and the country’s equity market had also displayed a bullish trend during the same period.
He attributed the appreciation of rupee to his decision of temporarily halting the import of luxury goods while praising local importers for cooperating with the government.
 


Pakistan’s prime minister offers US, China diplomatic support to resolve bilateral differences

Updated 16 August 2022

Pakistan’s prime minister offers US, China diplomatic support to resolve bilateral differences

  • Pakistan helped the two countries lay the foundation of their modern relationship by bringing their leaders together in the 1970s
  • PM Sharif says the world cannot afford another era of Cold War, bloc politics after the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told an international publication in an interview published early Tuesday his country was willing to help the United States and China iron out their differences if the two global powers wanted Pakistan to play a diplomatic role between them.
Pakistan was instrumental in arranging a seven-day visit of former US president Richard Nixon to Beijing in 1972 where the American leader held a meeting with Mao Zedong. The visit allowed the two countries to normalize their relations and marked the beginning of their modern relationship.
In recent years, however, the ties between the two countries have been strained, making experts of international politics warn of a potentially devastating conflict as China strives to carve out a bigger political and economic space for itself on the world stage.
“Pakistan has traditionally maintained good relations with China and the United States,” the prime minister told Newsweek in an exclusive interview, adding: “If China and the US so desire, Pakistan would be happy to play a positive role to bridge their differences, as we had done in the past.”
He maintained it was his country’s considered view that “cooperation, not confrontation, should be the main driver of international relations.”
“The world can ill-afford descent into another era of Cold War or bloc politics,” he added. “I believe polarization would have serious consequences for the global economy afflicted by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis. The developing countries, like Pakistan, are already suffering from external shocks to their socio-economic well-being, and do not desire aggravation of these challenges induced by major power rivalry.”
The prime minister also told the American publication Pakistan was striving to have “friendly relations with all major powers of the world, including Russia.”
Asked about the daunting challenges faced by his country after former prime minister Imran Khan was driven out of power in a no-trust vote, Sharif said his administration took the reins of power through a constitutional process and was well placed to address these issues since it was “truly national in nature.”
He also spoke about the regional problems since the departure of international forces from Afghanistan in August last year, saying the world community should continue to engage with the war-torn country and unfreeze its financial assets in view of Afghanistan’s precarious humanitarian and economic situation.
“We will continue to impress upon the Interim Afghan Government the importance of taking demonstrable actions on its commitments including those relating to inclusivity, respect for human rights of all Afghans, including girls’ education, and effective counter-terrorism action,” he added.
 


Oil tanker, passenger bus crash kills 20 in central Pakistan

Updated 16 August 2022

Oil tanker, passenger bus crash kills 20 in central Pakistan

  • The incident took place on a motorway near the central city of Multan
  • It was not immediately clear what caused the crash late Monday night

ISLAMABAD: A fiery crash between an oil tanker and a passenger bus killed at least 20 people in Pakistan, a police spokesperson and media said on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash late Monday night or early Tuesday on a motorway near the central city of Multan.

The bus and tanker caught fire after the collision, a police spokesperson said in a statement, without providing details on the number of fatalities.

Geo and Dunya TV reported at least 20 people were killed.

Six passengers survived, an official of a state-run rescue service told Dunya TV on the spot.

“The fire was raging when we got here,” he said.


Pakistan’s army chief expected to visit Washington soon – media

Updated 16 August 2022

Pakistan’s army chief expected to visit Washington soon – media

  • General Bajwa is likely to visit the US ‘in late August or early September’
  • The army chief’s visit is said to be in the making for more than a year now

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is expected to visit the United States soon, the local media reported on Tuesday, adding the two countries were trying to finalize the exact dates of the planned trip to Washington.

The US and Pakistan closely cooperated with each other during the Cold War, particularly in the fields of defense and security.

However, the recent conflict in Afghanistan significantly strained their ties which hit a new low after former prime minister Imran Khan said his administration was brought down by the administration in Washington with the help of his political rivals since he was trying to pursue an “independent foreign policy.”

His allegations have been repeatedly denied by US officials.

Quoting diplomatic sources, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said Bajwa’s visit was likely to take place “in late August or early September.”

“A date will soon be finalized,” the publication said in a story filed from Washington.

The report also quoted State Department Spokesperson Ned Price who recently noted the US was engaged “with a range of stakeholders in Pakistan, (including) those currently in the government” and with “a broad array of others.”

Last month, Pakistan’s army chief called US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to seek American help in securing early disbursement of funds from the International Monetary Fund.

The reports about the call were confirmed by officials in the two countries, though it was criticized by most media houses in Pakistan.

Dawn said that diplomatic circles and think tank experts said the two countries had been trying to arrange the visit for more than a year now.

They also maintained a number of recent developments concerning the two countries were expected to come up for discussion during Bajwa’s visit to Washington.