Pakistan, China agree to expedite Dasu bus blast probe

Rescue workers and onlookers gather around a wreck after a bus plunged into a ravine following a bomb explosion in Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on July 14, 2021. (AFP/File)
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Updated 09 August 2021

Pakistan, China agree to expedite Dasu bus blast probe

  • Nine Chinese workers were among 13 killed in the attack in northwestern Pakistan on July 14
  • Pakistan's interior minister has assured “foolproof security” to Chinese nationals working under CPEC projects

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China have agreed to complete investigations into a bus blast that killed 13 people in northwestern Pakistan in mid-July "as soon as possible."

It follows a meeting between Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan Nong Rong in Islamabad on Sunday.

“Both discussed matters related to probe into Dasu bus incident and agreed to complete the investigation as soon as possible,” Sheikh Rashid’s office said in a statement.

Nine Chinese nationals, employed to work on the project in Dasu, were among those killed when the bus carrying them to the construction site came under attack.  

The project is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $65 billion investment plan aiming to link western China to the southern Pakistani port of Gwadar.

Beijing had initially called it a bomb attack but backed away from the assertion after Pakistan stated it was an accident. Later Beijing said it would send a team to help investigate the matter jointly with Pakistan.

A team of 15 Chinese investigators visited Pakistan the same week and, accompanied by Pakistani officials, began investigations into the incident.

The attack led to speculation on social media that China had canceled its contract to build the Dasu project.

However, Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, said that construction of the Dasu Hydropower Project would resume “soon,” reiterating that Pakistan and China were committed to the timely completion of all projects being built in Pakistan with Chinese cooperation.

On Sunday, Sheikh Ahmed assured the Chinese ambassador that Pakistan would provide “foolproof security” to Chinese nationals employed in CPEC projects.

“We will not let CPEC be sabotaged by any foreign conspiracy,” the minister said, adding that no power can "create hurdles in the way of Pakistan-China friendship."

Ambassador Rong, for his part, said that several Chinese companies were operating their businesses in Pakistan and “we thank Pakistani government for the facilities it has been extending to Chinese workers,” the statement read.

Pakistan celebrates Arshad Nadeem’s historic javelin gold win at Commonwealth Games

Updated 08 August 2022

Pakistan celebrates Arshad Nadeem’s historic javelin gold win at Commonwealth Games

  • Nadeem’s throw of 90.18m was the biggest at the Games by a South Asian athlete
  • The 25-year-old beat world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who took silver 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistanis celebrated on Monday the historic win of javelin athlete Arshad Nadeem as he nabbed the sport’s top medal at the Commonwealth Games and became the first from the South Asian country to achieve the feat.

Nadeem snatched the title in a fifth-round throw of 90.18 meters, breaking a new record at the Games where he now holds the title of the biggest throw recorded by a South Asian athlete.

The 25-year-old beat world champion Anderson Peters of Grenada, who took silver on Sunday evening with a throw of 88.64 meters while Kenya’s Julius Yego took the bronze with an 85.70m throw.

Nadeem’s victory reverberated throughout Pakistan on Monday, as people took to social media to congratulate the athlete and celebrate his win.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Nadeem’s gold win was “amazing news” that brought pride to the country.

“Arshad Nadeem has done Pakistan proud,” Sharif wrote on Twitter. “His consistency, passion, & hard work hold lessons for our youth. Congratulations Arshad on your brilliant achievement."

Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said Nadeem had given an exceptional performance and was the “pride of the nation and our national hero.”

Nadeem, a poor boy from smalltown Khanewal had beaten all odds to become the first Pakistani in history to win javelin gold at the Commonwealth Games. He is one of nine children of a daily wage laborer and had shown great versatility as an athlete from a young age while dabbling in all kinds of sports at school, from cricket to football and badminton.
Though the family lacked financial means to encourage Nadeem’s enthusiasm for sports, the boy’s spirit earned him the support he needed, with his elder brothers working to help him build a career in sports, the family told Arab News in an interview last year. 

Nadeem caught the eye of Rasheed Ahmad Saqi when he was only 12 years old, who eventually became Nadeem’s first coach and mentor and trained him for javelin throw.

Nadeem won his first bronze medal representing Pakistan at the 2016 South Asian Games in India with a best throw of 78.33 meters. In 2019, at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal, he won a gold medal with an 86.29 meters games record throw.

Pakistan cricket team captain Babar Azam took to Twitter to tell Nadeem “you made the nation proud.”

Pakistani musician Zuliqar Khan said Nadeem’s story is “a story of a champion.”

“A champion from Pakistan. I don’t remember a better example of perseverance in Pakistan sports.”



The president's office also conveyed congratulations.



In high-level military shuffle, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed moved from Peshawar to Bahawalpur Corps

Updated 08 August 2022

In high-level military shuffle, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed moved from Peshawar to Bahawalpur Corps

  • Gen Hameed was posted last year as corps commander in Pakistan's northwest
  • Before that, Gen Hameed served as head of ISI, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan army said on Monday it was posting Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, the current Corps Commander Peshawar, to head the Corps in Bahawalpur.

Gen Hameed is widely considered close to ex-premier Imran Khan prime minister and was the head of the ISI, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, before he was moved to Peshawar last year.

“Lieutenant General Sardar Hassan Azhar Hayat posted as Commander Peshawar Corps,” the army’s media wing said. “Lieutenant General Faiz hamid posted as Commander Bahawalpur Corps.”

The Peshawar, or XI, Corps, is the only corps assigned in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and is currently stationed in the provincial capital of Peshawar. The Corps was established and quickly raised in 1975 to support administrative military operational units in the country's northwest bordering Afghanistan. The corps is widely known for its involvement in the Soviet–Afghan War.

After the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001 and the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan, the XI Corps became the main Pakistani formation involved in fighting in the country's tribal regions in the country's northwest. It also commands substantial forces of the paramilitary Frontier Corps.

Gen Hameed's posting from Peshawar comes less than a week after the US carried out a drone strike in neighbouring Afghanistan, killing al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri with a drone missile while he stood on a balcony at his home in Kabul. The strike has raised questions about whether Pakistan’s airspace was used and if the government or military were involved.

Last week, former director-general of the ISPR Lt Gen Asif Ghafoor was appointed corps Commander Quetta after the serving commander died in a helicopter crash.

The army is arguably the most influential institution in Pakistan, with the military having ruled the country for about half of its 75-year history since independence from Britain and enjoying extensive powers even under civilian administrations.

Ex-PM Khan to announce ‘future strategy’ at Rawalpindi rally on eve of Independence Day

Updated 08 August 2022

Ex-PM Khan to announce ‘future strategy’ at Rawalpindi rally on eve of Independence Day

  • Khan was ousted as PM in April in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence and has since been calling for early elections
  • Khan has held a rally before on August 14, the 2014 Azadi Movement that lasted from August 14 to December 17

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party of ex-premier Imran Khan has decided to hold a public gathering at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on August 13 at which the party chief would announce his “future strategy,” a senior leader said. 
Pakistanis celebrates 14 August each year to commemorate the day when Pakistan achieved independence and was declared a sovereign state following the end of the British Raj in 1947. 
Khan was ousted as PM in April in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence and has since been calling for early elections.
On Monday, PTI leader and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Multan Khan would stage a rally in Rawalpindi.
“On 13 August, we are arranging a rally to seek haqeeqi azadi (real independence) in Rawalpindi,” the PTI leader said. “In that Imran Khan will announce his future strategy.”
The PTI has held a rally before on August 14, the 2014 Azadi Movement that lasted from August 14 to December 17. The march was held in opposition to then Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif over claims of systematic election-rigging by his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party in the 2013 general election.

In a first, authorities arrange jirga to mull environmental protection in northwest Pakistan

Updated 08 August 2022

In a first, authorities arrange jirga to mull environmental protection in northwest Pakistan

  • Officials in the country’s northern areas say domestic tourists throw plastic bottles at major destinations
  • The government also plans to improve road infrastructure in the region to make tourist resorts more accessible

KHAPLU: For the first time in the history of Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region, the government arranged a grand jirga at a popular tourist destination, Fairy Meadows, to create environmental awareness among the local population over the weekend.

A lush green plateau located at the western edge of the Himalayas, Fairy Meadows is counted among the most picturesque tourist resorts in northern Pakistan that is located in Diamer district and offers the best northside view of Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth tallest mountain.

“Fairy Meadows was only visited by foreign climbers and trekkers in the past who used to protect the environment,” Yasir Hussain, deputy director at the Gilgit-Baltistan tourism department, told Arab News on Sunday. “For the last few years, however, this place has also become popular with domestic tourists … [who] don’t normally take care of the environment like foreigners.”

“The jirga system is very strong in Diamer district,” he continued. “So, the gathering was arranged by the government to take people into confidence [regarding] plans and policies to protect the environment.”

He noted that much of the land was state-owned in Gilgit-Baltistan, though this was not the case in Diamer district where local residents owned private properties.

“Without taking the people or community into confidence,” he added, “the government cannot make any policy.”

Speaking to Arab News, Fiaz Ahmed, the deputy commissioner of Diamer district, said the government wanted to improve the infrastructure of tourist destinations in Gilgit-Baltistan. He informed that a high-level committee had been constituted by the region’s chief minister to maintain the beauty of Fairy Meadows.

“To promote ecotourism in the region, waste management and disposal are our first priority,” Ahmed said.

Asked about the issues raised during the jirga, he said that they ranged from plantation and protection of forests to provision of water and electricity to tourists.

Apart from that, the jirga also discussed the possibility of improving the road leading to Fairy Meadows.

A senior official of Gilgit-Baltistan’s environmental protection authority, Khadim Hussain, informed the jirga took place after a German mountaineer and photographer did a social media post wherein he raised concern about unplanned tourist activities in the region.

“There is no big issue of sanitation and solid waste management in the main area of Fairy Meadows,” he said. “However, there is usually a lot of waste on treks where people throw plastic bottles etc.”

Investigation team set up to probe 'propaganda' campaign against army following chopper crash

Updated 08 August 2022

Investigation team set up to probe 'propaganda' campaign against army following chopper crash

  • Military helicopter carrying senior commander and five others crashed during a flood relief operation last week, all onboard killed
  • Social media campaign targeted deceased officers, including top commander in Balochistan, hashtags launched against army

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Monday an online smear campaign against the military and its officers in the wake of an army helicopter crash would be investigated, as a team was set up by the government to probe the “negative propaganda.”

A Pakistani military helicopter carrying a senior commander and five others crashed on a mountain during a flood relief operation last Monday and all onboard were killed. Following the incident, an online smear campaign targeted the deceased officers and included hashtags against the military.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called the campaign “horrifying” and said it reflected that the minds of young Pakistanis were being poisoned. The army’s media wing also rejected the “regretful” social media trends, saying they had caused anguish among the families of those who had died as well as in the army as an institution.

On Sunday, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said it was forming a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the smear campaign.

“A joint inquiry team has been formed to investigate the issue of negative propaganda campaign on social media after the Pakistan Army helicopter crash,” the notification said.

Members of the team include Additional Director General Cyber Crime Muhammad Jafar, Director Cybercrime Waqaruddin Syed, Additional Director Ayaz Khan and Assistant Director Imran Haider

Speaking to reporters on Monday afternoon, Sanaullah said the nation had “rejected” the propaganda against the victims of the helicopter crash.

“There is no segment of society which shares these sentiments,” the minister said.

Speaking to Geo News last week, ISPR Director-General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar said the entire armed forces were “distressed” since the helicopter accident.

“The propaganda has caused immense pain, particularly to the families of the martyrs,” he said, urging the nation to unite against those spreading negative propaganda and rumors.

“Insensitive behavior is unacceptable and should be condemned on every platform.”