Facebook parent company Meta donates Rs125 million for Pakistan flood relief

A girl whose family became displaced walks amid tents, following rains and floods during the monsoon season in Sehwan, Pakistan, on September 13, 2022. (REUTERS)
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Updated 14 September 2022

Facebook parent company Meta donates Rs125 million for Pakistan flood relief

  • So far, UN agencies and various countries, including United States, have sent over 90 plane loads of aid
  • Authorities said overall death toll reached 1,481 on Tuesday, hundreds of thousands rendered homeless

ISLAMABAD: Meta Platforms, the multinational technology conglomerate that owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp among other products and services, has announced a donation of Rs125 million to help communities impacted by floods in Pakistan.

Rains in Pakistan started in mid-June, triggering floods that have swept away entire villages, bridges and roads and left hundreds of thousands homeless. At one point, a third of the country’s territory was inundated with water. Authorities said on Tuesday the overall death toll had crossed 1,400.

So far, UN agencies and various countries, including the United States, have sent over 90 plane loads of aid.

The donation from Meta will support emergency aid, food, water, and sanitation and help children get back to school in the provinces of Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan.

When the flooding began, Meta activated the Safety Check feature on Facebook, which allowed people to let friends and family know they were safe. A Crisis page was also established where people could use the Community Help feature to enable people to ask for and offer help from different communities.

“Pakistan is going through one of the worst natural disasters we have seen to date. Millions of people are affected and the entire nation is rallying to support them during this difficult time. We hope that our contributions help the communities impacted by the catastrophe and our thoughts are with these communities and families as they try to recover,” said Jordi Fornies, Director for Emerging Markets, Asia-Pacific at Meta.

Additionally, Meta’s ‘Data for Good’ activated its Disaster Maps program and is providing data to Pakistan’s regional response partners. One of those partners, CrisisReady (a collaboration between Direct Relief and Harvard University), has focused on combining data sources into situation reports being used daily by thousands of on-the-ground first responders.

“The torrential monsoon rains over the past weeks have damaged or completely washed away people’s houses, critically affecting millions of people, including children. With winter just weeks away in some parts of the country, we need urgent help to continue our relief efforts in Pakistan and support for children and their families. We express our gratitude to Meta for all the support,” said Michael J. Nyenhuis, President and CEO of UNICEF USA.

Communities across various Meta-owned platforms have raised more than a million dollars for non-profits supporting flood relief efforts. Leading NGOs across the globe have also raised substantial amounts via Facebook and Instagram.

Meta’s donation will go to UNICEF, Hands, and Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA).

Commenting on the development, Baela Raza Jamil, CEO, ITA, said: “We will rehabilitate schools, ensure 2nd Chance Accelerated learning programs with life skills (psychosocial support, climate change and digital literacy), and provide hygiene and health with dignity kits. This is a comprehensive and inclusive approach to #BuildingBackBetter by reaching homes, communities, schools, parents, children, and especially adolescent girls and teachers embedded within government systems for effective emergency response and preparedness.”

Meta said it was continuously exploring further avenues to facilitate not just families in the devastated regions but also supporting NGOs and other causes in their efforts.


Pakistan PM lauds military’s professional abilities while meeting new army chief

Updated 5 sec ago

Pakistan PM lauds military’s professional abilities while meeting new army chief

  • Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif tells General Asim Munir it is a huge honor to lead the Pakistan Army
  • The PM hopes the armed forces will protect the country’s security better under its new leadership

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif praised the military’s professional abilities while holding a meeting with the new army chief Syed Asim Munir on Wednesday, saying it was a huge honor for anyone to lead the armed forces of Pakistan which were tirelessly working for the country’s security.

This was Munir’s first meeting with the prime minister after taking over the army’s command in a ceremony held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on Tuesday. He replaced General Qamar Javed Bajwa who retired from the post after leading the army for six years.

“We have full confidence in the professional capabilities of the Pakistan Army,” the prime minister was quoted as saying in a statement released by his office after the meeting.

“It is a great honor to lead the Pakistan Army,” he said while addressing the top general. “It is hoped that the armed forces under your leadership will deal with the challenges facing the country’s security in a better way.”

Sharif congratulated Munir on taking charge of his new position.

He maintained the whole nation was proud of the army’s role in protecting the frontiers of the country and fighting violent extremism and militancy.

The army has ruled Pakistan for almost half of its 75-year history, either through coups or as an invisible guiding hand in politics.

Munir’s appointment coincides with a dispute between the army and former premier Imran Khan, who blames top military generals for playing a part in his ouster in a parliamentary no-trust vote earlier this year.

Khan also expressed hope earlier in the day the new military leadership would end the “prevailing trust deficit” between the army and the public.

The PM Office said in its statement Sharif’s meeting with the army chief focused on professional issues related to the country’s defense and security.


Gas blast at Pakistan coal mine kills nine workers, injures four

Updated 30 November 2022

Gas blast at Pakistan coal mine kills nine workers, injures four

  • Coal deposits are found in the northwestern Orakzai district that sits on the Afghan border
  • Mine workers say lack of safety gear, poor working conditions are key causes of accidents

PESHAWAR: A gas blast at a coal mine killed nine workers in a northwestern Pakistani district on Wednesday, a government official said, and a team investigating the incident said gas sparks had caused the explosion.

There were 13 workers in the mine at the time and nine bodies were recovered, said Adnan Farid, the area deputy commissioner.

The remaining four miners were rescued from the rubble and have suffered critical injuries, he said.

A government team from the mineral development department inspected the site of the incident and said the explosion took place "due to gas sparks inside the mine," Orakzai district police chief Nazeer Khan told Reuters.

A government report seen by Reuters said the blast caused the collapse of the mine, and that gas build-up had triggered the blast. It didn't specify what type of gas it was.

Coal deposits are found in the northwestern Orakzai district that sits on the Afghan border and mine accidents are common, mainly due to gas build-ups.

Mine workers have complained that a lack of safety gear and poor working conditions are the key causes of frequent accidents, labor union officials have said in the past.


At exhibition celebrating UAE National Day, envoy says Pakistan ties ‘unique in region’

Updated 51 min 27 sec ago

At exhibition celebrating UAE National Day, envoy says Pakistan ties ‘unique in region’

  • The photo exhibition highlighted 51 years of friendship between the UAE and Pakistan
  • Al-Zaabi expressed optimism about the trajectory of relations between the two countries

ISLAMABAD: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Pakistan are destined to take their relations to new heights, said the envoy of the Arab country, Hamad Obaid Al-Zaabi, while visiting a photo exhibition in Islamabad on Wednesday.

The exhibition that highlighted 51 years of friendship between the two states is part of a string of events organized to celebrate the UAE national day that falls on December 2.

Students of Sheikh Zayed International Academy, Islamabad, sang the national anthem of the Arab country and performed traditional dance to celebrate the occasion.

“We are always optimistic about the future of bilateral relations with Pakistan and see this relation jump to a different level,” Al-Zaabi said while addressing the ceremony.

UAE Ambassador to Pakistan Hamad Obaid Al-Zaabi (3rd from left) inaugurates a photo exhibition in connection with the 51st UAE national day in Islamabad, Pakistan, on November 30, 2022. (AN Photo)

He maintained the UAE national day was always a major occasion that meant a great deal to the citizens of his country. He also expressed his gratitude to all the students for participating in the program and making it memorable through their performance.

Al-Zaabi said Pakistan and the UAE enjoyed a strong and historic relationship which was spread over 51 years of shared cooperation.

“We always look at this relation as unique in the region,” he continued. “There are feelings of trust between the people and leaders of the two brotherly countries.”
The UAE envoy said his country looked to future generations through educational cooperation.

“Under Sheikh Zayed International Academy, students from different nationalities and cultures have come here to celebrate the UAE national day with our culture which is really important for all of us,” he added.

Students of Sheikh Zayed International Academy are performing to celebrate the 51st UAE national day in Islamabad, Pakistan, on November 30, 2022. (AN Photo)

Speaking on the occasion, former president of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries Sardar Yasir Ilyas said Pakistan could learn a great deal from the UAE, including how to strengthen its tourism industry.

“Tourism has made the UAE a hub of international attention and Pakistan should learn from [UAE’s] experience to tap its vast potential in this field,” he added.


Pakistan Navy seizes thousands of kilograms of drugs in Arabian Sea

Updated 30 November 2022

Pakistan Navy seizes thousands of kilograms of drugs in Arabian Sea

  • Pakistan is part of a transit route in the lucrative drug smuggling trade
  • Navy says its ships located and effectively intercepted two ‘suspicious’ dhows

KARACHI: In an operation in the North Arabian Sea, two Pakistan Navy ships seized approximately 5,800 kilograms of drugs valued at approximately Rs8.6 billion, a spokesperson for the navy said on Wednesday.

Pakistan, like India, is part of a transit route in the lucrative drug smuggling trade, due to its proximity to Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of opium, from which heroin is made.

“Successful counter narcotics operation was conducted by two Pakistan Navy Ships in Arabian Sea in which a large cache of drugs has been apprehended,” the navy said in a statement.

“While conducting Maritime Security Operations in North Arabian Sea, Naval Ships located and effectively intercepted two suspicious dhows. Upon scrutiny of these boats, a large quantity of drugs that valued approximately Rs. 8.6 billion in international market was seized.”

The navy said both dhows have been handed over to law enforcement agencies. It did not specify what types of drugs were seized or how many people were arrested on board the two dhows.

“The successful operation by Pakistan Navy to seize huge quantity of narcotics reaffirms the resolve and commitment of PN to fulfill national and international obligations for maintaining good order at sea,” the statement said. “Pakistan Navy is vigilant to counter any illegal activity and safeguard its maritime borders.”

In October this year, Indian authorities arrested six Pakistani nationals and seized heroin worth tens of millions of dollars from a Pakistani fishing boat in the Arabian Sea near the western state of Gujarat.


Pakistan, England revisit first Test match schedule after players complain of stomach bug

Updated 30 November 2022

Pakistan, England revisit first Test match schedule after players complain of stomach bug

  • About 8 members of England squad are reportedly unwell despite bringing own chef
  • A ceremony to unveil the Test series trophy had also to be postponed on Wednesday

ISLAMABAD: The top governing bodies of cricket in England and Pakistan are currently revisiting the schedule of the first Test match after England players, including skipper Ben Stokes, complained of a suspected stomach bug ahead of the contest in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

England arrived in Islamabad on Sunday for their first Test tour of Pakistan in 17 years after playing a seven-match Twenty20 series in the country two months ago. The two sides are scheduled to play three Test matches in December, though it is not clear when the series will begin due to the health situation of the host team.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said on Twitter its officials were in conversation with the England Cricket Board (ECB) over the commencement of the first Test match.

“The PCB and ECB are in discussions regarding the commencement of the 1st #PAKvENG Test as some England players are down with viral infection,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said in a Twitter post. “The PCB continues to monitor the situation, is in contact with the ECB and will provide further updates in due course.”

The captains of the two national teams were also supposed to unveil the Test series trophy on Wednesday, but the ceremony was postponed since the England skipper was not said to be in a good shape.

“Several players and staff members, including England captain Ben Stokes, are feeling unwell and have been advised to stay at the hotel to rest up,” said the ECB in a statement.

According to media reports, about eight members of the England squad had been hit by the viral food poisoning, though the team brought its own chef with it after some players complained about food and fell ill during the T20 series.

Any changes to the earlier schedule of the first Test match will be reached through mutual consultations between the two cricket bodies.