Pakistani FM says water receded 50 percent in flood-ravaged Sindh

Internally displaced people use a boat to cross the flooded area in Dadu district of Pakistan's Sindh province on September 27, 2022. (AFP/File)
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Updated 06 October 2022

Pakistani FM says water receded 50 percent in flood-ravaged Sindh

  • An estimated 400,000 people are living in tents or relief camps in Pakistan's Sindh
  • Thankful to world community but we need more assistance, says foreign minister

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign minister on Thursday said that about 50 percent of the water has receded in the country’s worst-hit southern Sindh province, raising hopes that farmers will be able to sow wheat in a first step toward returning to a normal life.
“We are utilizing all of our resources for draining the remaining water in flood-affected areas in Sindh,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told a news conference. It was the first time that any official confirmed that the water had dropped 50 percent in Sindh, where 400, 000 people are living in relief camps or in tents.
Bhutto-Zardari’s remarks were a sign of hope for hundreds of thousands of farmers who had been uncertain about the sowing of the upcoming wheat crop, which usually starts in October.
Nearly 15 percent of Pakistan’s rice crop and 40 percent of its cotton crop were lost in this year’s flooding, according to officials. The waters wiped out the personal grain stores that many farming families rely on for food year-round.
On Thursday, international aid agency Mercy Corps warned that the approaching cold weather of the winter would pose further threats to disaster-ravaged areas of the country, even as the floodwaters recede. In a statement, Farah Naureen, the agency’s country director for Pakistan, said there was an urgent need for winterized tents and other items for survivors.
The record-breaking flooding, blamed in part on climate change, affected 33 million people, killed nearly 1,700, damaged more than 2 million homes and overall wreaked damage estimated at $30 billion.
Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan alone cannot handle the devastation caused by climate change.
“We are thankful to the world community for helping us but we need more assistance,” he told reporters in Karachi, the capital of his Sindh province, where 760 people died in floods and 350 survivors later lost life due to the outbreak of diseases.
The latest remarks of Bhutto-Zardari also came two days after the United Nations — amid a surge in diseases in flood-hit areas of Pakistan — raised its aid appeal for Pakistan to $816 million from $160 million, saying recent assessments pointed to the urgent need for long-term help lasting into next year.
Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan has witnessed its worst-ever flooding because of climate change since June, although his country contributes less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. August rainfall in the Sindh and southwestern Baluchistan provinces was eight and nearly seven times normal amounts, while Pakistan as a whole this summer had three-and-a-half times its normal rainfall.
Bhutto-Zardari criticized former Prime Minister Imran Khan for continuing anti-government rallies even during floods. “I cannot hold such rallies when my people are dying in the floods,” he said.
Khan was ousted from power in April through no-confidence in the parliament.
But he says he was ousted under a US plot, a charge Washington denies.
Bhutto-Zardari said Khan during his tenure strained Pakistan’s ties with many countries, including Washington.
His remarks came after Khan vowed to march on Islamabad soon to force Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to hold snap elections which are due next year.
Bhutto-Zardari said Pakistan cannot afford to go to the elections when many areas are still submerged. He said Pakistan will first accomplish the task of helping people rebuild homes in flood-hit areas and return to their normal life.
“Elections will be held next year,” he said, amid threats from Khan for a march on Islamabad.

Top Pakistan government, army leaders to attend Gen. Musharraf’s funeral in Karachi today

Updated 49 min 31 sec ago

Top Pakistan government, army leaders to attend Gen. Musharraf’s funeral in Karachi today

  • The former Pakistani president and army chief’s body was brought to Karachi from Dubai on Monday night
  • In 1999, after a military career spanning 38 years, Musharraf took over power in Pakistan in a bloodless coup

KARACHI: Top government and military leaders will attend the funeral today, Tuesday, of former Pakistani president and army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, whose body was flown into Karachi from Dubai the night before, a close aide of the military ruler said.

In 2022, Musharraf’s family said he had been hospitalized due to complications from a rare organ disease called amyloidosis. He died on Sunday at a Dubai hospital, aged 79.

Aziz-ur-Rehman, the central secretary general of Musharraf’s All-Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party, said President Dr. Arif Alvi, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, the governor of the Sindh province and other top government officials and politicians would attend the funeral.

“The former president will be buried at a military graveyard inside Malir cantonment,” Rehman told Arab News.

Musharraf’s body and his family reached Karachi via special flight from Dubai on Monday night, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

In 1998, after a military career spanning 37 years, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the brother of Pakistan’s current prime minister, appointed Musharraf as army chief. The following year, he seized power and toppled Sharif’s government, citing the deteriorating political and economic conditions in Pakistan.

In 2002, Musharraf was appointed president, a title he held in addition to army chief, after winning more than 90 percent of the vote in a controversial national referendum. He stepped down as army chief in 2007 and as president in 2008.

Musharraf subsequently lived in London but returned to Pakistan in 2013 to contest elections. However, he instead faced a slew of court cases and was subsequently banned for life from holding public office.

In 2016, he left Pakistan for medical treatment in Dubai, where he died on Feb. 5.

Pakistan calls for ‘tangible’ support as earthquake kills more than 4,300 in Turkiye, Syria

Updated 07 February 2023

Pakistan calls for ‘tangible’ support as earthquake kills more than 4,300 in Turkiye, Syria

  • Officials say nearly 3,000 people killed in Turkiye and at least 1,444 in Syria
  • Pakistani PM to depart for Ankara on Wednesday to offer solidarity, condole

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday called for “tangible and timely material support” for Turkiye and Syria, and dispatched rescue teams and emergency goods, as the confirmed death toll across the two countries soared above 4,300 after a deadly earthquake hit the region a day earlier. 

Turkiye’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) said on Tuesday 2,921 people had died in Turkiye as aftershocks continued to shake the region and nearly 8,000 people had been rescued from 4,758 buildings destroyed in the quake a day earlier.

The quake also hit Syria where at least 1,444 people were killed and about 3,500 injured, according to figures from the Damascus government and rescue workers in the northwestern region controlled by insurgents.

The Pakistani information minister, Marriyum Aurangzeb, said on Tuesday morning Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would depart for Ankara the following day, Wednesday, to “express his condolences.” She said a planned all-parties conference on Feb. 9 would be rescheduled. 

“24 hours after the devastating earthquake hit Turkiye & Syria, scenes of death & destruction are mind numbing,” Sharif wrote on Twitter. 

“It breaks the heart to witness sheer scale of unfolding human tragedy. Solidarity should translate into tangible & timely material support for suffering humanity.”

“Special teams consisting of Pakistani doctors, paramedics and rescue personnel are being sent to Turkiye to lend a hand in the ongoing rescue and relief operations,” Sharif had said on Monday, adding that airplane loads of essential items and medicines would also be dispatched.

On Monday night, a Pakistan military plane was sent, “carrying Army’s Search and Rescue Team, directly to Turkiye earthquake area.”

On Tuesday morning, a 51-member rescue team left from Lahore for Turkiye via national carrier PIA with seven tons of rescue equipment.

“They will be on ground soon as part of government of Pakistan’s contributions in rescue efforts. Hearts & prayers,” PIA said.

Another military plane will fly out to Istanbul today, Tuesday, carrying seven tons of cargo, including winterised tents, blankets and other articles.

“From 8 Feb onwards we will have 15-ton cargo space on daily PIA flights (alternatively from Islamabad and Lahore) to Turkiye and Syria. We will push follow up cargo loads and medical teams (from Army and Ministry of Health) to both countries,” the PM Office said in a statement on Monday.

Hundreds are still believed to be trapped under rubble across the two nations, and the toll is expected to rise as rescue workers search mounds of wreckage in cities and towns across the area.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, preparing for a tough election in May, has called the quake a historic disaster and said authorities were doing all they could.

“Everyone is putting their heart and soul into efforts although the winter season, cold weather and the earthquake happening during the night makes things more difficult,” he said. He said 45 countries had offered to help the search and rescue efforts.

The earthquake, which was followed by a series of aftershocks, was the biggest recorded worldwide by the US Geological Survey since a tremor in the remote South Atlantic in August 2021.

It was the deadliest earthquake in Turkiye since a quake of similar magnitude in 1999 that killed more than 17,000.

Japanese-Pakistani painter, lover of nature, holds first solo show in Dubai

Updated 07 February 2023

Japanese-Pakistani painter, lover of nature, holds first solo show in Dubai

  • Nadia Yoshioka is currently displaying nine paintings at solo art exhibition at Radisson Red Dubai
  • Yoshioka is represented by The Arabian Gallery, Gallery Vibes and Kawkab online gallery in Dubai

DUBAI: Nadia Yoshioka is a Japanese Pakistani painter living in Dubai. Yoshioka has shown to be always good in the arts since childhood and has won the UAE inter-school painting competition. Her artworks have been exhibited in many places around Dubai, including university hospitals, hotels and malls.

She is currently displaying 9 paintings in her solo art exhibition at Radisson Red Dubai. Yoshioka has been represented by The Arabian Gallery, Gallery Vibes and Kawkab online gallery based in Dubai. Her art is sold to private collectors across the UAE.

Yoshioka believes that being an artist is something that one is born to do and not learned at school. She has taken online courses from various teachers on different painting techniques. She is now teaching private classes as well workshops where beginners learn from her while making the class fun and entertaining.

Yoshioka works primarily in acrylic paints and currently works from home where she has created her own little studio. She also takes custom orders as per client specifications.

She shared exclusively to Arab News Japan her inspiration for art: “As I have heard from the art world, most of us are born artists but only few of them aspire to actually become an artist in their adult life. In my case, I was the one to pursue art as my career despite of graduating in business school due to my passion for colors. I’m that person who doesn’t like plain and boring things and so I have been using colors since my childhood. I had a collection of coloring books and color pencils and I would not miss a day without coloring.”

“Moving forward to my school life, drawing, shading and coloring was something natural and easier for me than other kids in my class and I used to win contests without even trying hard. However, I didn’t respect it because it was something that my family and my surrounding would not really appreciate compared to getting good grades in other common subjects. Thus, I left drawing and art in general for a very long time until I started again in my university days when I joined the art club as my extra-curricular activity as well support from my friend who now is my husband”.

The picture shows Nadia Yoshioka, a Japanese Pakistani painter living in Dubai. (AN Photo)

“During that time, I used to only paint as a hobby and post on my art page as well as displayed my paintings in the university event. I barely had any inspiration on my own because I would not take it seriously and work on it. Later on, Covid came into everyone’s lives and due to lockdown, I had extra time to do my own activities which was art. I could not even do part time job and I was pushed towards making more paintings and it started selling after a while as well as was chosen for the exhibition at a five-star hotel which boosted my confidence and motivation to even make more. My inspirations began during lockdown period from my own experience, emotions and observations of other artists work around me as well online. I visited the exhibition to see other’s artworks and searched for ideas on the Pinterest app,” she added.

About the most inspirational thing from Japanese culture that she has adapted it into her daily life, Yoshioka said: “According to my observation of Japan, I would say the country is very cultured and still hasn’t lost it traditional aspect even after being modernized which I believe, that it keeps the country unique and gives it an identity. Furthermore, I really love the Japanese culture in general but I can say that being a half Japanese myself, I have adapted some of them in my everyday life. My first one would be to be kind to everyone and be humble as well respectful to people around me. I believe that Japan is today everyone’s bucket list country to visit and everyone loves it because of the respectful people in the country. Without those kind and generous people, the country would not be standing at the top position today. Secondly, is the healthy and balanced food of Japan. I like to have fish and seafood because I have been having them since childhood it keeps us warm and full for a longer time. I like to go out to have sushi with my family during the weekends. Furthermore, I cook Japanese food too at home including miso soup, onigiri, sushi, karaage, and much more.”

The picture shows one of the paintings of Nadia Yoshioka, a Japanese Pakistani painter living in Dubai. (AN Photo)

About the beginnings of her career in art, Yoshioka said: “I was an artist since childhood as I mentioned above but I started working as a professional artist since the Covid-19 period when I had the extra time to do something of my own. My concept about art is that it has to be vibrant and full of colors which has not only a subject but a feeling and emotion to the overall painting. Furthermore, the art should be self-expression and not a perfect picture which makes it unique and interesting to look at. Lastly, my concept for working on art is the right choice of colors to match the interiors and overall theme of the room.”

About the challenges that she faced during the projects that she worked on, Yoshioka said: “One of the challenges as an emerging artist is that, I’m still figuring out what my niche is like how renowned artists does. Due to this, I try different mediums, techniques and style often and most of the times, it would turn out good but sometimes it wouldn’t and all my time, effort and materials would be wasted. But I am not afraid of failure as it makes us grow.”

The first solo exhibition for Yoshioka has started this month at Red Radisson Dubai, she shared exclusively to Arab News Japan the theme and main highlights of her exhibition: “My new year’s resolution was to participate more frequently in art events whether in exhibitions or conducting workshops and this year started with a collaboration with the Radisson RED Dubai located in Dubai Silicon Oasis. It is the first millennial-focused hotel in the Middle which has funky interiors and bold designs aimed at younger travelers. They support local artists and talents of all kinds which I really love about. For this solo exhibition, I’m exhibiting 9 paintings where each wall has a different theme. One wall has two paintings that focuses on landscape, the other wall has two paintings that are in the theme of pink colors, the other wall has two paintings which are of bold contrasting colors and rest all has one painting dedicated to one wall”.

“I’m really grateful that my work has been chosen to be displayed on their hallways for the month of January. As a resident who lives nearby the hotel, it’s really great that they are supporting local emerging artists as it gave me the chance to share my skills and creativity as well as to build up a unique professional experience in the visual art world. Big thanks to the organizers of this event and Tabasum, Social Media Creative at Radisson RED Dubai who was very supportive throughout the entire process of the exhibition,” she added.

About her life in Japan, Yoshioka said: ”I was born and lived in Japan till I was 5 years old as both of my parents were working and living in Niigata city and then later Toyama city, I spend some of my childhood in Japan. I enjoyed my kindergarten time and also had Japanese friends and then all of a sudden, I remember myself in Pakistan when I was sent there so I can learn the Pakistan culture as well because I am half Pakistani. I used to go to Japan often so I don’t miss out the time in Japan as well. Later on, I and my family shifted to UAE and went to Japan many years later and then we went there last July.”

“The feedback that I would give about Japanese people is that they are very different than other countries as more than 90% are Japanese nationals over there and everyone speaks Japanese which I think that there could be room for English language over there so it is easier for people coming from outside to communicate. Other than the people in Japan were the nicest, kindest, hygienic, so helpful and also very respectful I have not seen anywhere else. Even though I didn’t look full Japanese and had difficulty with speaking fluent Japanese, I felt so supported and did not feel uncomfortable. Instead, it was so nice to see Japanese people after a while because I did not encounter any Japanese here in UAE and sometimes, I used to wish that I could have Japanese friends too,” she added.

Regarding her upcoming projects, Yoshioka said: “I have big plans for my future which I am slowly working towards. For this year and near future I have planned to do more exhibitions here in Dubai and also widen my activities to not only in one city but other cities as well. To participate in contests and any other artist open calls that may be happening in the country. To make more paintings in a series and sell them with great offers. To work on commissions. Also, to do giveaways and collaborate with bloggers and interior designers. Lastly, to do monthly painting workshops here in Dubai on my own or to join an existing workshop company.”

About her recommendations for those who wants to be an artist: “My recommendations for someone who wants to become an artist whether as a hobby artist or professional artist, is to never give up and keep trying to do what you love because it is a skill that no one can take away from you and at the end you will enjoy a lot to see yourself grown and achieved so much that you would have not expected or even believed.”

“So, believe in yourself and take the next step, be surrounded by positive people and vibes. Also, to not compare with the big artists because even though there are the best artists out there, the world still needs colors and unique designs and every artist and their artwork is unique, so keep creating without thinking twice. Most importantly enjoy what you do,” she added.

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s body arrives in Karachi, funeral today

Updated 50 min 14 sec ago

Former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s body arrives in Karachi, funeral today

  • Pervez Musharraf’s family arrives in Karachi via special flight from Dubai with his body
  • Musharraf, 79, passed away in Dubai last Sunday after battling amyloidosis, a rare disease

ISLAMABAD: The body of former Pakistani president and army chief General (retired) Pervez Musharraf arrived in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi from Dubai in the wee hours of Tuesday, according to the state-run Radio Pakistan, with his funeral set to take place today. 

Musharraf, 79, passed away from a protracted illness on Sunday. He left Pakistan in 2016 for medical treatment after a travel ban was lifted. The former military ruler had since been living in a self-exile in the United Arab Emirates and was under treatment at a Dubai hospital for amyloidosis, a rare disease.

Musharraf seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup and was acting simultaneously as Pakistan’s army chief, chief executive, and president when the 9/11 attacks on the United States took place. He later became a key ally of the US during its invasion of Afghanistan.

The general twice suspended the constitution and was accused of rigging a referendum shoring up his power, as well as rampant rights abuses including rounding up opponents during his nearly nine-year rule.

“The dead body of former President General Retired Pervez Musharraf has reached Karachi by a special flight from Dubai,” Radio Pakistan stated. It added the former general’s family also arrived in Karachi via the same flight. 

The picture on February 7, 2023, shows a plane carrying the body of former military ruler General (retired) Pervez Musharraf parked in Karachi, Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: Radio Pakistan)

Dr. Muhammad Amjad, a former chairman of Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party, told Arab News on Monday that the ex-army chief’s funeral prayers would be offered on Tuesday.

“His funeral prayers will be offered tomorrow (Tuesday) at 1:30 p.m. after Zuhr prayers at the Malir Garrison Polo Ground in Malir Cantt, Karachi,” he said, adding that the former ruler’s funeral prayers would be offered in a “simple and dignified manner.”

Musharraf, the son of a career diplomat, was born in New Delhi in 1943 and migrated to the newly independent Pakistan with his family in 1947. He joined the army in 1964 and graduated from the Army Command and Staff College in Quetta. He later attended the Royal College of Defense Studies in London and fought in Pakistan’s 1965 and 1971 war against neighboring India.

After holding a number of appointments in the army’s artillery, infantry, and commando units, Musharraf was appointed army chief by then prime minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998 — a move he would later come to regret when the military ruler ousted Sharif in a bloodless military coup in 1999. Musharraf then served as Pakistan’s president from 2001 to 2008.

Following the US invasion of Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Washington sought Pakistan’s support in the ‘War on Terror,’ and Musharraf became a close ally of the then US administration of George Bush. He also won mass appeal in the West through his calls for Muslims to adopt a lifestyle of “enlightened moderation.” He also embraced liberal economic policies during his rule that impressed business leaders, brought in foreign investment and led to annual economic growth of as much as 7.5 percent.

Musharraf ruled as army chief until 2007 when he quit, trading the military post for a second five-year term as president.

He stepped down as president also in 2008 over fears of being impeached by Pakistan’s then ruling coalition. He subsequently left the country but returned in 2013 with the hope of regaining power as a civilian at the ballot box. However, he encountered a slew of criminal charges, and within a year, was barred for life from running for public office.

In 2016, after a travel ban was lifted, Musharraf left for Dubai to seek medical treatment and remained there until his death. 

Tea to become ‘rare commodity’ as 300 containers stuck at Karachi port — importers

Updated 07 February 2023

Tea to become ‘rare commodity’ as 300 containers stuck at Karachi port — importers

  • Pakistan is the largest tea importer in the world, spending over $600 million on the product each year
  • According to the Pakistan Tea Association, Pakistan annually imports 250 million kilograms of tea

KARACHI: Tea could become a “rare commodity” in Pakistan by next month if authorities failed to release around 300 containers of the product stuck at the Karachi port, an official at the Pakistan Tea Association warned on Monday.

Pakistan is the largest international tea importer in the world, spending over $600 million on the product each year. According to the Pakistan Tea Association (PTA) which represents importers, Pakistan annually imports 250 million kilograms of tea.

But Pakistan’s $350-billion economy is currently facing a balance-of-payments crisis, with foreign exchange reserves dipping to less than three weeks of import cover. This has forced the government to restrict imports, including of industrial raw materials, while commercial banks have stopped issuing letters of credit (LCs), leaving importers struggling to arrange the greenback for already placed orders. 

“Around 300 [tea] containers are stuck at the Karachi port and if they are not released immediately, tea will become a rare commodity by next month,” PTA top official Aman Paracha told Arab News, saying Pakistanis, whose day started with a cup of tea, would not be able to survive without the beverage.

Paracha said the containers had been stuck for about a month, while PTIA had been advised by the central bank to submit a request for their release on a deferred payment basis.

“We wrote to the state bank but then a restriction was made that only Bill of Lading of up until January 18 will be considered,” he said, referring to a document issued by a carrier to acknowledge receipt of cargo for shipment.

“While this issue of pending containers will create a tea crisis, it is also causing huge losses to the importers who have to pay $120 as detention charge per day,” Paracha said.

Central bank spokesperson Abid Qamar said he was unaware of the PTA request but added that officials of the central bank had asked the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) to communicate the details of each association’s stuck containers to the State Bank of Pakistan so a plan of action could be devised.

“The bank cannot speak to every association separately, this is why we asked the federation to communicate to us the details of stuck containers,” Qamar said. “We assured them that these issues are resolved on a priority basis.”