Pakistan's FM condemns Houthi attack in Abu Dhabi

A picture shows a partial view of the Msaffah industrial district in the Emiarti capital Abu Dhabi, UAE, on January 17, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 18 January 2022
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Pakistan's FM condemns Houthi attack in Abu Dhabi

  • Houthi rebels targeted an oil facility in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, killing three people including a Pakistani national
  • FM Qureshi says ‘such acts of terrorism are a violation of the sovereignty’ of the United Arab Emirates

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday condemned an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on an oil facility in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), calling the act a violation of the principle of state sovereignty while demanding an end to such military strikes.
Qureshi issued the statement during a phone call with UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan who shared details of the recent attack in Abu Dhabi in which three people, including a Pakistani, were killed while six others were wounded.
The UAE official also expressed grief over the death of the Pakistani citizen.




Pakistan's foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, holds a phone call with UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (not pictured) in Islamabad, Pakistan, on January 18, 2022. (Photo courtesy: Foreign Office of Pakistan)

The UAE is part of Arab Coalition in Yemen which has been fighting Houthi rebels, who have also repeatedly targeted Saudi Arabia with cross-border strikes.
A Pakistani and two Indians working for oil giant ADNOC died as three petrol tanks exploded near a storage facility, while a fire also ignited in a construction area at the Abu Dhabi airport.
The rebel group claimed responsibility of the attack, saying it had used missiles and drones to target the oil facility.
“Such acts of terrorism are a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the United Arab Emirates,” the Pakistani foreign minister said. “They also pose a serious threat to the overall peace and stability and must be stopped immediately.”

Earlier in the day, the Pakistan embassy in the UAE said in a Twitter post it was closely working “with the family of the victim of 17 January terrorist attack in Abu Dhabi to get his remains repatriated to Pakistan.”
It also confirmed that the injured Pakistanis were getting medical treatment and were in good health.


Pakistan’s foreign office issued a condemnation of the Houthi attack on Monday night, pointing out that it targeted civilian areas in Abu Dhabi while offering condolences to the families of the victims and wishing speedy recovery to the injured.
It maintained such attacks violated the sovereignty of the UAE and posed a grave threat to the regional peace and security while demanding their immediate cessation.
“Pakistan stands in solidarity with the brotherly people and government of the United Arab Emirates in the face of this wanton act of terrorism,” the statement said.




Men stand next to a tank at a storage facility of oil giant ADNOC in the Msaffah industrial district in the Emiarti capital Abu Dhabi on January 17, 2022. (AFP)

Pakistani political leaders also joined the chorus with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemning the “terrorist” attack.
“Pakistan condemns attacks in Abu Dhabi,” Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide on the Middle East, Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi, said in a statement.
“Pakistan considers security and stability of UAE as security and defense of Pakistan. We assure the UAE of Pakistan’s full support and cooperation.”
Ashrafi said the security and peace of Saudi Arabia and the UAE was “very dear” to Pakistan. “[We] can’t tolerate any step against the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” he said.
Raja Zafarul Haq, a senior figure of the opposition’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, demanded the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) take “swift action” over this unprovoked terrorist act.
“We condemn this unprovoked attack on the UAE and there should be a proper solution to growing aggression [by Houthis],” Haq told Arab News.
“The UNSC and the Arab League should immediately take up this matter to find a solution to this problem which is becoming a danger for the whole region.”
Former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senator Sehar Kamran said the “cowardly” attack was a conspiracy to derail peace in the Middle East and the extended region.
“We condemn this cowardly attack which is an act of terrorism resulting in the loss of innocent lives,” she told Arab News.
“This attack is a conspiracy to derail peace and harmony in the region at a time when relations between the Middle Eastern countries are getting better,” she said, urging the OIC to take strong action against the Yemeni militia.
Kamran warned if the world did not stop Houthis, then such attacks would not just remain limited to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “They can spread and will affect peace and stability in the whole region and the world,” she said.




In this satellite image provided by Planet Labs PBC, an Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. fuel depot in the Mussafah neighborhood of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, is seen Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, before being targeted in an attack days later. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

Kamran warned if the world did not stop Houthis, then such attacks would not just remain limited to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. “They can spread and will affect peace and stability in the whole region and the world,” she said.   

The UAE has vowed reprisals after the attack on the oil facility.   

“We condemn the Houthi terrorist militia’s targeting of civilian areas and facilities on UAE soil today... this sinful targeting will not go unpunished,” UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said in a statement, as his ministry described the attack as a “heinous criminal escalation.”  

The incident follows a surge in fighting in Yemen, including advances by UAE-trained troops. The rebels also seized a UAE-flagged ship and its international crew earlier this month.


‘Sacrifice won’t go to waste,’ Pakistan PM says as five soldiers killed in IED blast 

Updated 57 min 12 sec ago
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‘Sacrifice won’t go to waste,’ Pakistan PM says as five soldiers killed in IED blast 

  • IED blast targeted vehicle carrying security forces in Kurram district in northwestern province
  • Top officials attend funeral of Sepoy Haroon William, Christian soldier who was killed in latest blast 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Saturday the sacrifice of Pakistan army soldiers killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in northwestern Pakistan this week wouldn’t go to waste, as he vowed to continue the South Asian nation’s ‘war against terrorism.’
The IED blast targeted a vehicle carrying security forces personnel in Kurram district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, the Pakistan army’s media wing said in a statement. 
The blast comes amid a rise in terror attacks mostly claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, known as the 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 to launch attacks in Pakistan, a charge that Kabul denies. 
On Saturday, Sharif and other top government and military officers including the army chief attended the funeral prayers in Islamabad of Sepoy Haroon William, a Christian soldier who was killed in the Kurram IED blast. 
“The army’s history is filled with such sacrifices. In yesterday’s unfortunate incident, Haroon William sacrificed his life for the motherland,” Sharif said as he addressed the funeral service. “Me, army chief and everyone hail their sacrifice for the nation, I believe this sacrifice will not go to waste.”
A day earlier, Sharif had vowed to continue “the war against the menace [of terrorism] 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. In another major attack, five Chinese nationals were killed in a suicide bombing on their convoy in March.
Earlier this month, a report by the provincial counter-terrorism department (CTD) said 65 police officials were killed and 86 wounded in 237 incidents of terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the past five months. Police had killed 117 militants and arrested 299 others in a series of operations, the report added. 
Pakistani authorities often say Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are providing shelter to TTP fighters across the two nations’ shared border. The Afghan Taliban government insists it doesn’t allow anyone to use Afghan soil for violence in another country. The TTP has also said it is not using Afghan soil to target troops in Pakistan.


Pakistani city of Peshawar hints at ‘complete ban’ on e-cigarettes, vapes

Updated 22 June 2024
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Pakistani city of Peshawar hints at ‘complete ban’ on e-cigarettes, vapes

  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government bans public vaping in Peshawar district for 60 days
  • Sale of e-cigarettes prohibited within 100 meters of educational, health facilities 

PESHAWAR: Hinting at a complete ban on vaping devices, Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has imposed interim measures prohibiting the public use of e-cigarettes, vapes and nicotine products in Peshawar district for 60 days, according to a notification issued earlier this month.

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists e-cigarettes as harmful and while their long-term health effects are not fully known, they do generate toxic substances, some of which are known to cause cancer and increase the risk of heart and lung disorders.

“It is requested to order the following interim measures till the complete ban on e-cigarettes, vapes, and nicotine pouches by the KP government to safeguard the health of people from the devastating impact to the extent of Peshawar,” the city’s deputy commissioner said in a notification dated June 13. 

“This order shall come into force forthwith and shall remain enforced for 60 days unless modified or withdrawn.”

The interim measures include a ban on the usage, advertisement and sale of e-cigarettes, vapes and nicotine pouches in public places and on public transport. Additionally, nicotine products cannot be sold within 100 meters of any education or health facility or parks. The sale of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 21 has also been banned. 

The notification said violators of the order would be punished under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which relates to disobedience of orders promulgated by a public servant.

In 2019, the US reported 18 deaths due to a mysterious lung illness linked to e-cigarettes.

The WHO says high quality epidemiology studies consistently demonstrate that e-cigarette use increases conventional cigarette uptake, particularly among non-smoking youth, by nearly 3 times. 

“Evidence reveals that these products are harmful to health and are not safe. However, it is too early to provide a clear answer on the long-term impact of using them or being exposed to them,” according to the WHO website. 

Besides causing cancer and increasing the risk of heart and lung disorders, electronic delivery systems have also been linked to a number of physical injuries, including burns from explosions or malfunctions, when the products are not of the expected standard or are tampered with by users, the WHO says. 


Over 620,000 Afghans expelled from Pakistan since deportation drive launched last year

Updated 22 June 2024
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Over 620,000 Afghans expelled from Pakistan since deportation drive launched last year

  • Almost 14,000 Afghan nationals repatriated in last ten days
  • These included 5,014 men, 4,087 women and 4,714 children

ISLAMABAD: A deportation drive targeting illegal foreigners living in Pakistan is continuing, with more than 13,000 Afghan nationals expelled over the last ten days, state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said on Saturday, bringing the total number of Afghans deported to over 620,000.

The government launched a deportation drive last year after a spike in suicide bombings which the Pakistan government, without providing evidence, has blamed on Afghan nationals. Islamabad also says Afghans are involved in smuggling, militant violence and other crimes. 

A cash-strapped Pakistan navigating record inflation, alongside a tough International Monetary Fund bailout program last year, had also said undocumented migrants had drained its resources for decades.

“Repatriation of illegal Afghan nationals continues and so far, 620,981 Afghans have returned to their country,” Radio Pakistan said in its tally on Saturday. 

“Between 11th to 21st of this month [June], total 13,815 Afghans returned to their country including 5,014 men, 4,087 women and 4,714 children.”

Until the government initiated the expulsion drive last year, Pakistan was home to over four million Afghan migrants and refugees, of which around 1.7 million were undocumented, as per government figures. 

Afghans make up the largest portion of migrants, many of whom came after the Taliban took over Kabul in 2021, but a large number have been present since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Islamabad insists the deportation drive is not aimed specifically at Afghans but at all those living illegally in Pakistan.

In October 2023, Pakistan announced phase one of the “Illegal Foreigners’ Repatriation Plan” with a 30-day deadline for “undocumented” aliens to leave the country or be subject to deportation, putting 1.4 million Afghan refugees at risk.

In phase two of the “repatriation plan,” around 600,00 Afghans who held Pakistan-issued Afghan citizenship cards (ACCs) will be expelled while phase three is expected to target those with UNHCR-issued Proof of Registration (PoR) cards.

In April, the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) issued a notification validating the extension of the PoR card till June 30 this year.

Before the deportation drive, people used to daily cross the Pak-Afghan border back and forth for business and personal purposes.

The drive has led to a spike in tensions between Pakistan and the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan. The Taliban deny militants are using Afghan soil to launch attacks, calling Pakistan’s security challenges a domestic issue.


Pakistan urges UNSC to compel Kabul to sever ties with Pakistani Taliban

Updated 22 June 2024
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Pakistan urges UNSC to compel Kabul to sever ties with Pakistani Taliban

  • Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to UN calls on UNSC to prevent TTP from carrying out cross-border attacks 
  • Kabul says rising violence in Pakistan is a domestic issue and it does not allow militants to operate on its territory

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Munir Akram, has urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to compel Taliban authorities in Afghanistan to sever ties with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and prevent cross-border attacks carried out by the group, state media reported on Saturday.

Islamabad blames the surge in attacks on neighboring Afghanistan, saying Pakistani Taliban, or TTP, leaders have taken refuge there and run camps to train militants to launch attacks inside Pakistan. Kabul says rising violence in Pakistan is a domestic issue for Islamabad and it does not allow militants to operate on its territory.

The TTP pledges allegiance to, and gets its name from, the Afghan Taliban, but is not directly a part of the group that now rules Afghanistan. Its stated aim is to impose Islamic religious law in Pakistan, as the Taliban have done in Afghanistan.

“I urge the UNSC to call on the Taliban government to sever its links with the TTP and its associates, prevent them from carrying out cross-border attacks against Pakistan, disarm the TTP terrorists, capture their leadership and hand them over to Pakistan,” the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) quoted Akram as saying in an address to the 15-member council to which the South Asian state was recently elected as a non-permanent member.

“The impunity which some of these terrorist groups seem to enjoy within Afghanistan poses a dire and direct threat to all of Afghanistan’s neighbors as well as to the international community.”

Akram said the Taliban government did not act “decisively” to halt the TTP’s militant activities despite assurances.

“The highest priority – for the international community, for Afghanistan’s neighbors and for Afghanistan itself – remains the elimination of terrorism within and from Afghanistan,” the envoy added. 

The TTP is responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks in Pakistan, including on churches, schools and the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, who survived the 2012 attack after she was targeted for her campaign against the Taliban’s efforts to deny women education.

Pakistani forces were able to effectively dismantle the TTP and kill most of its top leadership in a string of military operations from 2014 onwards in the tribal areas, driving most of the fighters into neighboring Afghanistan, where Islamabad says they have regrouped.


Pakistan reviews measures to protect Chinese workers as visiting dignitary raises concerns

Updated 52 min 49 sec ago
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Pakistan reviews measures to protect Chinese workers as visiting dignitary raises concerns

  • Liu Jianchao, a prominent Chinese minister, said this week Pakistan’s security challenges were undermining investor confidence
  • Killing of five Chinese nationals in suicide bombing in March has put the spotlight on the security of Chinese workers in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi held a meeting on Saturday to review security measures for foreigners in Pakistan, particularly Chinese workers who have been the target of several recent militant attacks.

The killing of five Chinese nationals in a suicide bombing on their convoy in northwest Pakistan on March 26 has put the spotlight on the security of Chinese workers, many of whom work on road, infrastructure and development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship of the Belt and Road scheme.

During a visit to Islamabad on Friday, Liu Jianchao, a prominent Chinese minister, said Pakistan’s security challenges were undermining investor confidence. The following day, Saturday, the Pakistani interior minister chaired a meeting to review the “overall security situation in the country.”

“The meeting reviewed the measures taken to protect foreigners, especially Chinese citizens,” the interior ministry said in a statement. “Naqvi directed strict adherence to the SOPs of the security plan … emphasized that the formulated plan should be regularly monitored at every level.”

The minister called on relevant security and intelligence agencies to keep “close coordination to thwart the nefarious designs of anti-national elements.”

“There is no room for negligence in the implementation of the security plan,” the statement quoted Naqvi as saying.

Addressing the 3rd Meeting of the Pakistan-China Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) in Islamabad on Friday, Liu said security threats were the “main hazards” to CPEC cooperation. 

“As people often say, confidence is more precious than gold. In the case of Pakistan, the primary factor shaking the confidence of Chinese investors is the security situation,” the official said in rare public comments by Beijing on Pakistan’s security challenges. “Without security, the business environment cannot really improve.”

The March 26 attack on the Chinese convoy en route to a hydropower project in Dasu was the third major one in a little over a week on China’s interests in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged over $65 billion in energy, infrastructure and other projects as part of its wider Belt and Road initiative.

The Mar. 26 bombing followed a Mar. 20 attack on a strategic port used by China in the southwestern province of Balochistan, where Beijing has poured billions of dollars into infrastructure projects, including the deep-sea port of Gwadar, and a Mar. 25 assault on a naval air base, also in the southwest. Both attacks were claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the most prominent of several separatist groups in Balochistan.

Dasu, the site of a major dam, has been attacked in the past, with a bus blast in 2021 killing 13 people, nine Chinese among them, although no group claimed responsibility, like the Mar. 26 bombing.

Pakistan is home to twin insurgencies, one mounted by religiously-motivated militants and the other by ethnic separatists who seek secession, blaming the government’s inequitable division of natural resources in southwestern Balochistan province.

Chinese interests are mostly under attack primarily by ethnic militants seeking to push Beijing out of mineral-rich Balochistan.