Anxious and weary, over 200 stray dogs ache to return to flood-hit shelter in northwest Pakistan

Dogs sit together at a temporary shelter in Lala Kalay near Peshawar, Pakistan on September 1, 2022. (AN Photo)
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Updated 06 September 2022
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Anxious and weary, over 200 stray dogs ache to return to flood-hit shelter in northwest Pakistan

  • Animal shelter in Charsadda city was washed away in flood which damaged much of the infrastructure in the area
  • The management of the shelter says it needs all possible assistance before it takes back the dogs to their home

PESHAWAR: One instantly hears the incessant barking of dogs while moving toward a small house in Lala Kalay on the outskirts of Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan.
Many of the 250 dogs who currently live here try to sit in the shade of an overhead ledge while others roam around in hot sun, fighting one another as most of them look visibly upset to be at a new place where they were forced to take refuge.
Raging floods have wreaked havoc in many parts of Pakistan, killing over 1,300 people and displacing millions of others. The water has swept away houses, destroyed thousands of acres of crops and damaged expensive public infrastructure.
The Lucky Animal Protection Shelter (LAPS), the first dog rescue service in the country’s northwest, was also affected by the deluge which impacted the lives of over 33 million people.
Zeba Masood, a US citizen, established the shelter in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s in Charsadda city five years ago when she came to Pakistan to be with her ailing mother. The name of the shelter is inspired by the very first dog she rescued and fed from the trunk of her car.




Dogs sit together at a temporary shelter in Lala Kalay near Peshawar, Pakistan on September 1, 2022. (AN Photo)  

“Since I was here, I noticed there was a huge need [to help] the innocent and the voiceless on the streets,” she told Arab News on Friday.
LAPS was built for stray dogs who were spayed, neutered and vaccinated before being handed over for adoption.
Masood said authorities warned LAPS about the impending flood, though things happened so quickly that she could not make proper arrangements. The floodwater razed the walls of the animal shelter, forcing her to evacuate about 250 dogs and take them to another place.




A dog sits on a bench in a flooded Lucky Animal Shelter House in Charsadda, Pakistan on September 1, 2022. (AN Photo)  

“You won’t believe how difficult it was for us to take 250 of these dogs out from the shelter and put them in trucks and bring them to [this] location,” she said.
Masood called it a “terrible experience,” as her husband, son and two volunteers rescued these animals from the shelter while wading through six-feet deep water before loading them in trucks at night.
Despite their effort to save all the dogs, 10 of them died while they were being rescued from the shelter. Masood said that no one came to assist her, expressing disappointment with the youth for not stepping up to the challenge.




Workers drain water through buckets and a pump from Lucky Animal Shelter House in Charsadda, Pakistan on September 1, 2022. (AN Photo)  

“I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have young people help us ... They could’ve come and helped us. We could have saved those 10 [dogs] that we lost,” she said.
Masood took the dogs to a place in Jhagra village in Peshawar. However, the locals complained that they smelled and were spreading diseases. Soon, she was on the road again with her dogs.
“We were harassed and told to get out because [these people] didn’t want [the dogs] in their neighborhood,” she continued. “[The dogs] don’t smell and they don’t carry diseases because all of [them] are vaccinated. We really take care of them, feed them and love them.”
With no option left, Masood took the animals to Lala Kalay where she accommodated them in a two-room rented facility. She said the dogs were scared and anxious due the frequent traveling.




A worker stands near dogs at a temporary shelter in Lala Kalay near Peshawar, Pakistan on September 1, 2022. (AN Photo) 

“This is a small place, and it’s all open, and they’re here together, and they’re in a lot of stress,” she added. “We are trying to calm them down, feed them, and give them lots of hugs and kisses till we go back.”
She said she had been feeding the dogs dry food for the time being, though it was quite expensive. She also informed there was no water for the animals in their temporary abode due to which her staff members have to arrange it from nearby areas.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Rescue 1122 service has saved animals during the floods, including dogs, sheep and cats, from various districts of the province.
Speaking to Arab News, one of its officials said the rescue service saved many human lives while bringing animals to safety.




This photo shows a flooded Lucky Animal Shelter House after torrential rains in Charsadda, Pakistan on September 1, 2022. (AN Photo)  

“In this flood period, we have rescued around 6,000 plus animals throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” Engineer Naveed Akhtar, rescue emergency officer in Peshawar, said. “Now, after the second phase of the flood, rescue teams were busy dewatering different areas, including the Lucky Animal Protection Shelter Houses.”
Masood said she expected to return to the shelter in Charsadda within a week. She added the area was still submerged, making it necessary for her to wait until the place was safe and dry again.




This photo shows a flooded Lucky Animal Shelter House after torrential rains in Charsadda, Pakistan on September 1, 2022. (AN Photo) 

“We need a lot of help because we have to redo our place and we have to prepare the place to go back to,” she said. “I would appreciate if people could get in touch and help us as much as possible.”
She noted that the shelter needed food, medicines and any other form of assistance.
“They love guests, they love visitors,” she told Arab News as the dogs barked in their temporary home. “We get a lot of visitors at our shelter. I mean, we have been getting them and [the dogs] love being with [the visitors]. It’s just that because they are so stressed out, anxious and nervous, it’s a problem right now, you know. But they should be fine once they’re back.”
 


Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Oman mosque attack brought home, handed over to families

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Bodies of Pakistanis killed in Oman mosque attack brought home, handed over to families

  • Four Pakistanis were among six people killed when gunmen opened fire at Shia mosque in Oman this week
  • Pakistan’s foreign office earlier said at least 30 Pakistanis injured in attack were being treated at a hospital

Islamabad: The bodies of four Pakistani nationals, who were killed in a mosque attack in the Omani capital of Muscat this week, were brought back home by the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and handed over to their families, a PIA official confirmed on Friday.

Six people were killed when three gunmen, all brothers and of Omani nationality, opened fire on worshippers at a Shia Muslim mosque in Muscat on Monday evening.

The deceased included four Pakistanis, an Indian and a police officer who responded to the attack, claimed by the Daesh militant group.

Pakistan described the assault as a “terror attack,” while Omani police said the gunmen were “influenced by misguided ideas.”

“The bodies of all four Pakistanis killed in Muscat mosque attack were brought back through PIA flights and handed over to their families,” Abdullah Hafeez Khan, the PTI general manager for coordination and public affairs, told Arab News.

The body of Sulaiman Nawaz body reached Lahore via PIA flight PK230 at 5pm on Thursday. Syed Qaiser Abbas Bukhari’s body was brought back via PIA flight PK226 from Muscat to Karachi and from there, it was flown to Lahore by flight PK302, according to the PIA official.

The bodies of the other two victims, Ghulam Abbas and Hasan Abbas, reached Islamabad from Muscat via PIA flight PK292 at 1am on Friday.

Pakistan’s foreign office said that at least 30 Pakistanis were injured in the attack and they were being treated at hospital.

Daesh’s operations have indicated the group is attempting a comeback after it was crushed by a US-led coalition following its occupation of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria and declared a caliphate. It also inspired lone-wolf attacks in the West.

Any inroads in Gulf Arab oil producers such as Oman would raise fears in Washington and the region which has long viewed militant groups as a major threat.

Monday evening marked the beginning of Ashura, an annual period of mourning marked by Shia Muslims to commemorate the 7th-century death of Imam Hussain, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).


Amid investment push, Turkmenistan foreign minister to visit Pakistan next week

Updated 3 min 47 sec ago
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Amid investment push, Turkmenistan foreign minister to visit Pakistan next week

  • Pakistan hopes to enhance its role as pivotal trade and transit hub connecting landlocked Central Asia to rest of the world
  • There has been a flurry of visits, investment talks and economic activity between Pakistan and Central Asian states recently

ISLAMABAD: Turkmenistan Foreign Minister Rasit Meredow will undertake a two-day visit to Pakistan from July 22-24, the foreign minister said on Friday, as the South Asian state pushes to boost trade with Central Asian states. 

Pakistan hopes to leverage its strategic geopolitical position and enhance its role as a pivotal trade and transit hub connecting the landlocked Central Asian republics with the rest of the world. In recent months, there has been a flurry of visits, investment talks and economic activity between Pakistan and Central Asian states, including meetings with leaders from Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

“Foreign Minister Rasit Meredown will visit Pakistan from July 22-24,” foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said during a weekly press briefing on Friday. “He will hold extensive talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar and also call on the Pakistan leadership.”

The talks would cover “all aspects of bilateral relations” as well as regional and global developments, the FO added.

Located in a landlocked but resource-rich region, Central Asian countries need better access to regional markets including Pakistan, China, India, and the countries of West Asia. Meanwhile, Pakistan has huge energy demands that can be satisfied by growing trade with Central Asia. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, in which Beijing has pledged around $65 billion in energy, infrastructure and other schemes in Pakistan, also presents a strategic opportunity for Central Asian states to transport their goods more easily in regional and global markets.

Islamabad is seeking to bolster trade and investment relations with allies to stabilize its fragile $350 billion economy as it faces an acute balance of payment crisis amid soaring inflation and surging external debt.

Last week, Pakistan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reached an agreement for a $7 billion, 37-month loan, capping negotiations that started in May after Islamabad completed a short-term, $3 billion program that helped stabilize the economy and avert a sovereign debt default.
 


Viral teen from Pakistan’s Hunza Valley aims for the stars with Coke Studio hit

Updated 14 min 51 sec ago
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Viral teen from Pakistan’s Hunza Valley aims for the stars with Coke Studio hit

  • Coke Studio Season 15 came to a close with “Mehman,” featuring Noorima Rehan, Zebunnisa Bangash and Nizam ud Din Torwali
  • Rehan, 18, shot to fame last year with YouTube cover of Asha Bhosle song, has also performed virtually at King Charles coronation 

SHIGAR, Gilgit-Baltistan: Pakistani teenager Noorima Rehan first shot to fame last year after a video of her crooning famed Indian singer Asha Bhosle’s iconic song ‘In Aankhon Ki Masti’ became a viral hit. She was subsequently chosen to virtually join a star-studded lineup of performers at King Charles III’s coronation concert in May 2023. 

But the best was still to come.

Now, the 18-year-old from Hunza Valley in Pakistan’s picturesque northern Gilgit-Baltistan region is attracting both local and international attention with her debut on the latest season of Coke Studio, the longest-running annual TV music show in Pakistan.

Coke Studio Season 15 came to a close with the release of its eleventh and final song, “Mehman” — which translates to guest — featuring Rehan as well as the powerful vocals of Zebunnisa (Zeb) Bangash, a Pakistani singer-songwriter from Lahore, Punjab, and Nizam ud Din Torwali from the remote town of Taip Se Ban in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The song has been viewed almost 5 million times on YouTube since its release two weeks ago.

“My family supported me, my father supported me, and the community of Hunza and Gilgit supported me,” Rehan, who is the eldest of five siblings and also a professional ice hockey player, told Arab News in an interview. “So, I don’t think I faced a barrier that led to a gap between me and my passion for music.”

Noorima Rehan poses for a photograph with her parents at Shigar Fort, located in Pakistan's Gilgit-Baltistan region, on July 11, 2024  (AN Photo) 

She also credited her family’s passion for music for her success and interest in the field. 

“My mother’s voice is very good and she sings very well. Even my father, brother and sisters sing quite well. However, no one [from my family] has pursued music as a profession. So, I am the only one who has chosen music as a career.”

Rehan, who will soon start an undergraduate degree in sociology at Islamabad’s Iqra University on a scholarship, said she got her chance on Coke Studio after the show’s producer Zulfikar Jabbar Khan, popularly known as “Xulfi,” came across her Asha Bhosle rendition on YouTube. 

“Xulfi Bhai approached me [after watching the clip], which led to my journey with Coke Studio,” Rehan said. 

“MEHMAAN”

A press release by Coke Studio described Mehmaan as a multi-artist collaboration that spoke to the “idea of hospitality, not just on Earth but also from a higher, more divine plane. The song speaks to those seeking answers and guidance from the sublime and its abundant wisdom.”

Rehan said for her, the song felt like her, Bangash and Torwali were “dreaming together” of a return to Eden. 

“This was my first time with them, and I had to record in a very short period,” she said. “But before that, they had shared the lyrics and melody with me and I practiced .... then I went there and after a little jamming session, we recorded the song.”

Rehan described being a “little nervous” at the outset since she had never recorded professionally before but found the Coke Studio team “very kind and helpful.”

“For me, the most interesting part of this journey was Nizam [Torwali],” she recalled. “I met him there. He was different and couldn’t speak Urdu. So, I tried from my side to help him. He was kind of funny. So, I enjoyed a lot while working with him.”

It was also a fan girl moment for her to sing alongside Bangash, a well-established artist already. 

“From listening to her songs to performing with her was a big thing,” Rehan said. “She is very calm, kind with a humble personality. She helped me a lot in the whole journey.”

Rehan’s father Rehan Shah, a local politician and gemstone dealer, said his daughter had made the family name “proud.”

“We want to thank God she has been getting opportunities. And working with Coke Studio at such a young age is a proud movement for us,” Shah told Arab News. “Talent is hidden in a child. But the main thing is how do we support them and provoke their talents. We have been supporting her and will definitely support her in the field of music in the future also.

“In our society, girls are a soft target in fields like music and there is no exception for Noorima as well. You have to face criticism because a girl is singing songs. But we will fight against this social pressure and always support our children.”
 


Pakistan arrests Al-Qaeda leader, files case over plans to sabotage government installations

Updated 38 min 13 sec ago
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Pakistan arrests Al-Qaeda leader, files case over plans to sabotage government installations

  • Amin ul Haq is considered a close associate of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks
  • Counter-Terrorism Department has accused Haq of planning to sabotage important installations in Punjab

LAHORE: Pakistani counter-terror officials have arrested an Al-Qaeda leader, Amin ul Haq, describing him as a close associate of the dead Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in the most populous province of Punjab said it had registered a legal case against ul Haq, accusing him of having planned sabotage targeting important installations in the province.

“In a significant breakthrough in the fight against terrorism, CTD, in collaboration with intelligence agencies, successfully apprehended Amin ul Haq, a senior leader of Al-Qaeda,” the department’s spokesperson added in a statement.

Bin Laden was killed in 2011 during a US raid on his hideout in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad.


Kashmiris mark ‘Accession to Pakistan Day’ amid renewed calls for right to self-determination

Updated 19 July 2024
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Kashmiris mark ‘Accession to Pakistan Day’ amid renewed calls for right to self-determination

  • Muslim-majority Himalayan region has been a flashpoint between arch-rivals Pakistan and India since independence in 1947
  • Both countries rule parts of the Himalayan territory but claim it in full and have fought two out of three wars over the disputed region

ISLAMABAD: Kashmiris in parts of the world are observing the “Accession to Pakistan Day” today, Friday, with a renewed pledge to continue struggle for their right to self-determination, Pakistani state media reported.

The Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir has been divided between Pakistan and India since their independence from British rule in 1947. Both countries rule parts of the Himalayan territory but claim it in full and have fought two out of three wars over the disputed region.

On July 19, 1947, Kashmiri representatives had unanimously passed the resolution of Kashmir’s Accession to Pakistan during a meeting of the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference in Srinagar. The resolution called for the accession in view of aspirations of Kashmir people and their religious, geographical, cultural and economic proximity to Pakistan.

The Accession to Pakistan Day is observed by Kashmiris every year to renew their pledge to complete the merger. The Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) government has announced a public holiday on the occasion to facilitate the masses to participate in the special programs.

“Wide-scale programs have been chalked out to observe the day throughout Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK),” Pakistani state-run APP news agency reported.

Pakistan calls for the right of self-determination for the people of Indian-administered Kashmir and urged New Delhi to hold a plebiscite in line with the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

The day is being observed at a time when the part of the territory administered by New Delhi has been witnessing an uptick in violence.

Four Indian soldiers were killed and at least six others were wounded in gunbattles with militants in Indian-administered Kashmir, a senior police officer said this month. Prior to that, two soldiers and six suspected militants were killed in two separate gunbattles in the Kulgam district, police said.

Separatist groups have waged an insurgency since 1989, demanding independence for the territory or its merger with Pakistan. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers and rebels. India accuses Pakistan of supporting the separatists, a charge denied by Islamabad.