Cycling around the world with cancer, Luke Grenfell-Shaw arrives in Pakistan

Luke Grenfell-Shaw, center, arrives in Pakistan's capital Islamabad on a tandem on November 16, 2021. (Photo courtesy: @bristol2beijing/Instagram)
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Updated 16 November 2021
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Cycling around the world with cancer, Luke Grenfell-Shaw arrives in Pakistan

  • Luke Grenfell-Shaw was diagnosed with late-stage cancer two years ago but continued with rigorous physical activities like running marathons
  • Last year, he decided to bike across the world on a tandem to raise money for organizations fighting cancer

ISLAMABAD: A British man, who set out to cover 30,000 kilometers across the world on a tandem after being diagnosed with late-stage cancer at 24, found himself mesmerized by the exquisite landscapes in northern Pakistan.
Luke Grenfell-Shaw was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive sarcoma in June 2018 which had metastasized into his lungs. Yet, he decided to fight back by performing physically strenuous activities such as running a marathon in his hometown of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
In 2020, Grenfell-Shaw launched Bristol-2-Beijing, his plan to bike across the world not only to raise money for organizations fighting cancer but also to create awareness about what people with cancer were capable of. With a goal of raising GBP 300,000, he set off to introduce the world to “CanLivers.”
“Rather than the word ‘cancer survivor,’ which I think gives this false sense of certainty, I coined the word ‘CanLiver,’ or someone who is living with cancer,” he told Arab News on Monday while making a stopover in Islamabad. “Such people acknowledge their situation and the challenges and uncertainties associated with it, though they also demonstrate how people can live with cancer and still manage to fulfil their dreams and do much more.”
Grenfell-Shaw decided not to let his diagnosis stop him from living the life the way he wanted.
“There’s so many things that we can’t control, but it’s really important that we think about what we can control and do as much as possible with those things,” he continued. “I couldn’t control whether I had cancer or not, but I could control how I tried to live with it.”
“You only live once so you might as well make the best of it,” he added after a brief pause.
Before arriving in Islamabad, Grenfell-Shaw had already ridden across Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. In Pakistan, he spent two weeks in the country’s north, biking through the Khunjerab Pass and taking in the mountains and landscapes of Hunza.
“We cycled across Pakistan for about two and a half weeks, covered 900 kilometers and did 9,000 meters of climbing. That’s insane! That’s more than like going through Kyrgyzstan, which is known as the Switzerland of Central Asia. The amount of climbing we did was ridiculous, like more than K2,” he said.
Grenfell-Shaw will be heading to Lahore from Islamabad where he will visit Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center and make a donation.
He said his time in Pakistan had been a “really positive, warm experience.”
“I have been to many countries throughout the Middle East and Central Asia and I was really optimistic and expected a very warm welcome [in Pakistan],” he said. “That’s what so many Muslim countries actually give you. They are really, really hospitable. And that’s exactly what we’ve found here. It has been amazing that we had so many offers of chai. When the bike fell apart, people just came in and helped repair things. It’s been a really positive, warm experience.”
Grenfell-Shaw, who started his journey in January 2020, is doing so on a tandem bike, one that allows two people to cycle together. It was a decision he took to make his journey more inclusive by inviting people to join him from around the world.
Among the 150 people who joined him, 11 were CanLivers, “showing what’s possible with cancer.”
“I wanted to share this journey with different people because when you share an experience, it’s no longer a memory and becomes a conversation,” he said. “You develop friendships, much deeper friendships than you would with people otherwise, and you get to know people in a totally different way. So, for me, it’s a much richer way of traveling.”
One of the people who joined him on his bike was his university classmate and close friend, Edward Joseph Mitchell, who accompanied Grenfell-Shaw as he rode through northern Pakistan.
“When Luke got his diagnosis, as his close friend I was quite shocked, but we were all there for him immediately,” Mitchell told Arab News. “It’s crazy. Really. He is so fit and active and it’s incredibly encouraging for anyone. I don’t know anyone else who is as strong willed and as powerful and as positive as Luke is. It’s quite commendable on so many levels.”
Grenfell-Shaw, who is now in remission, will soon be heading toward India, Myanmar and China.
He has 13,000 kilometers left before he hits his final destination: Beijing.
Of his GBP 300,000 goal, he has already crossed GBP 100,000.
He also actively updates his followers about his location in the world by sharing latest news on his progress through his website, podcast and social media accounts.


Pakistan’s Sindh province suspends human milk bank, refers initiative to Islamic Ideology Council

Updated 22 June 2024
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Pakistan’s Sindh province suspends human milk bank, refers initiative to Islamic Ideology Council

  • Pakistan’s first human milk bank was set up earlier this month by Sindh Institute of Child Health and Neonatology
  • Facility was established in collaboration with UNICEF, described as “significant milestone in maternal health”

ISLAMABAD: The Sindh Institute of Child Health and Neonatology (SICHN) said this week Pakistan’s first human milk bank established earlier this month had been suspended pending further guidance from the Council of Islamic Ideology.

A human milk bank, breast milk bank or lactarium is a service that collects, screens, processes, pasteurizes, and dispenses by prescription human milk donated by nursing mothers who are not biologically related to the recipient infant. For women who are unable to breastfeed or produce enough milk, pasteurized donor breast milk can be an effective approach to feeding.

SICHN earlier this month announced its human milk bank facility, Pakistan’s first, established in collaboration with UNICEF, describing it as a “significant milestone in maternal health.”

“A recent revised fatwa issued by Darul Uloom Karachi dated 16ht June 2024 has prompted us to discontinue the functionality of the Human Milk Bank. This decision is in compliance with the updated religious guidance and reflects our ongoing commitment to operate within the framework of Islamic jurisprudence,” SICHN said in a statement dated June 21. 

“Moving forward, we will seek further guidance on this issue from both Darul Uloom Karachi and the Council of Islamic Ideology,” the statement added, referring to a religious body that advises the government on the compatibility of laws with Islam.

SICHN said the milk bank was initially set up after seeking and receiving a fatwa from the Darul Uloom Karachi, “which provided us with the necessary religious endorsement to proceed.” 

“This fatwa was critical in ensuring that our efforts were in harmony with Islamic teachings, providing reassurance to the community and stakeholders involved,” the institute said. 

The fatwa cited certain pre-conditions to establish the milk bank including that Muslim children should only be provided milk from Muslim mothers.

Iran is currently believed to be the only country in the Muslim world with a network of milk banks. In general, Islam makes the practice tricky. The opposition centers on a tenet called milk kinship, which states that a parent-child bond is formed when a woman gives milk to a baby who isn’t biologically related to her. 

To avoid future incestuous marriages between so-called milk siblings, the tenet says, the foster relationship must be clearly delineated. Since milk bank donors are typically anonymous and the donations are often combined, the practice is rejected in most of the Muslim world.


Pakistani PM vows to continue ‘war against terrorism’ as five soldiers killed in IED blast 

Updated 22 June 2024
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Pakistani PM vows to continue ‘war against terrorism’ as five soldiers killed in IED blast 

  • IED blast targeted vehicle carrying security forces in Kurram district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  • 65 police officials killed, 86 wounded in 237 incidents of terrorism in the province in the past five months

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday his government would continue its “war on terrorism” as five Pakistani soldiers were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in northwestern Pakistan.

The IED blast targeted a vehicle carrying security forces personnel in Kurram district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, the Pakistan army’s media wing said in a statement, amid a rise in terror attacks mostly by the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, an ally of the Afghan Taliban but a separate group, which has stepped up its assaults in the region since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021. Pakistan says the TTP uses Afghan soil for attacks in Pakistan, a charge that Kabul denies. 

“The entire nation pays tribute to the martyrs and stands united against terrorism,” Sharif said after the latest attack, vowing to “continue the war against the menace till its complete elimination.”

Pakistan has witnessed a surge in militant attacks in recent years, predominantly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. In January 2023 militants killed at least 101 people, mostly police officers, when a suicide bomber disguised as a policeman attacked a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

Earlier this month, the counter-terrorism department (CTD) of police in Peshawar issued a report, saying 65 police officials were killed while another 86 were wounded in 237 incidents of terrorism in the province in the past five months. It said police had killed 117 militants and arrested 299 others in a series of operations.

Pakistani authorities often say Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are giving shelter to TTP fighters across the unruly border. The Afghan Taliban government insists it doesn’t allow anyone to use Afghan soil for violence in any country. The TTP has also said it was not using Afghan soil for targeting troops in Pakistan.
 


Pakistan police hunt mob that lynched local tourist accused of blasphemy

Updated 22 June 2024
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Pakistan police hunt mob that lynched local tourist accused of blasphemy

  • A mob beat the man to death on Thursday night after accusing him of burning pages of the Qur’an
  • Lynchings are common in Islamic republic of Pakistan, where blasphemy can legally carry the death penalty

PESHAWAR: Pakistani authorities have begun an investigation to identify and arrest members of a mob that killed a local tourist accused of blasphemy, after they ransacked a police station holding him in protective custody, officials said on Friday.
A mob beat the man to death on Thursday night after accusing him of burning pages of the Qur’an. They set the police station in the country’s northwest ablaze and injured eight policemen, Malankand division’s regional police chief Mohammad Ali Gandapur told Reuters.
“After initially rescuing the man from a crowd, the police took him to the station in Madyan, but announcements from mosque loud speakers asked locals to come out,” Gandapur said, after which the mob stormed the station.
Lynchings are common in Pakistan, an Islamic republic where blasphemy can legally carry the death penalty.
Legal processes are frequently preceded by vigilante action based on rumors or complaints. 
Graphic videos of the latest incident, verified to Reuters by the police, showed a frenzied mob dragging a naked and bloodied body through the streets, and then setting it on fire. The footage went viral on social media and sparked outcry among Pakistani users.
Gandapur said the situation was under control and a case registered against the organizers of the mob. He added the man had been visiting the Swat Valley, a popular tourist destination, for the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha.
Last month, a Christian man in his seventies was attacked by a mob on charges of burning pages of the Qur’an and later died of his injuries in eastern Pakistan.
In 2021, a Sri Lankan factory manager was lynched in one of the highest profile incidents in the country. Six people were sentenced to death for their part in the lynching after the incident sparked global outcry.


Pakistani court orders police to take action against smoke emitting vehicles in Lahore

Updated 40 min 39 sec ago
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Pakistani court orders police to take action against smoke emitting vehicles in Lahore

  • Lahore consistently ranks among world’ most polluted cities every winter when heavy fog envelopes the city
  • Lahore High Court orders police to take action against people who burn crop residue and cause pollution

ISLAMABAD: The Lahore High Court (LHC) this week directed traffic police officials to impound vehicles emitting smoke and take stern action against people found burning crop residue in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, state-run media reported, in an attempt to curb pollution in the city. 

Lahore consistently ranks among the world’s most polluted cities every year during the winter season. Last year, toxic smog sickened tens of thousands of people during the winter season, with the thick smog causing flight cancelations and forcing authorities to close schools. The situation got so worse that in a first, Pakistani authorities deployed artificial rain in December 2023 to battle smog.

Lahore, capital of the Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province, is in an airshed, an area where pollutants from industry, transportation and other human activities get trapped because of local weather and topography so they cannot disperse easily. The Punjab government has also attributed pollution and smog to crop residue burnt frequently in neighboring India. 

“The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday once again ordered traffic police authorities to take strict action against smoky vehicles and impound them,” the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said. 

Justice Shahid Karim passed the orders while hearing several identical petitions filed by citizens Haroon Farooq and others against the government’s ineffective measures to control smog. During the proceedings, the court observed that most incidents of crop residue burning took place in the vicinity of the motorway, which connects various cities of the country. 

“Motorway police should take action on the incidents of crop residue burning,” the judge said. “The inspector-general of National Highways and Motorways should ensure the implementation of the court orders.”

Subsequently, the court adjourned further proceedings until the next Friday, June 28.


Five Pakistani soldiers killed in IED blast in northwestern Pakistan

Updated 21 June 2024
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Five Pakistani soldiers killed in IED blast in northwestern Pakistan

  • IED explosion targeted security forces vehicle in northwestern Kurram district, says army 
  • President Asif Ali Zardari condemns blast, resolves to uproot “terrorism” from Pakistan 

ISLAMABAD: Five Pakistani soldiers were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, the army’s media wing said, as Islamabad grapples with rising militancy in the country’s western provinces bordering Afghanistan.
The IED blast targeted the vehicle carrying security forces personnel in Kurram district in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
The army said that a sanitization operation was being carried out in the area to eliminate any “terrorists” there, vowing to bring the perpetrators of the act to book.
“Security forces of Pakistan are determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of our brave soldiers further strengthen our resolve,” the ISPR said.
President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned the blast, state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) said in a report. The president appreciated the martyrs’ sense of duty and patriotism, and the role of security forces in eradicating militancy from the country.
“He expressed the resolve to uproot the terrorism from the country’s soil, saying that the operations of the law enforcement agencies would continue till complete elimination of the menace,” APP reported.
Islamabad blames the uptick in attacks on neighboring Afghanistan, saying Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders have taken refuge there and run camps to train militants to launch attacks inside Pakistan. Kabul has previously said rising violence in Pakistan is a domestic issue for Islamabad and it does not allow militants to operate on its territory.
The TTP has been waging a war against the state to try to overthrow the government for nearly two decades. It wants to run Pakistan as an Islamic state governed by its own harsh interpretation of Islamic laws.