Over 3.4 million Pakistani children facing chronic hunger – aid group

An internally displaced flood-affected woman takes care of her sick child admitted in a hospital in Johi, Dadu district of Sindh province on September 27, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 07 October 2022

Over 3.4 million Pakistani children facing chronic hunger – aid group

  • Estimated 76,000 children in flood-hit areas experiencing severe food shortages, risking severe malnutrition
  • According to government data, 632 of the 1,700 people killed so far in the deadly floods have been children

ISLAMABAD: More than 3.4 million children in Pakistan are facing chronic hunger, with an estimated 76,000 children in flood-hit areas now experiencing acute food shortages and at the risk of severe malnutrition, Save the Children has said.

Earlier this week Pakistan and the United Nations jointly launched a humanitarian appeal of $816 million, revising it up five-fold from $160 million, as water-borne diseases and fear of growing hunger pose new dangers after weeks of unprecedented flooding in the South Asian nation that has left 33 million people struggling to survive.

Hundreds of children have died in the deluge that has devastated large parts of Pakistan’s southern provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, either drowned as waters flooded homes or struck by diseases, some of them water-borne.

According to official figures, 632 of the 1,700 killed so far in the floods have been children. In the aftermath, as flood waters begin to recede, which officials say may take two to six months, the regions have become infested with diseases including malaria, dengue fever, diarrhea and skin problems.

“The number of people going hungry has soared by an alarming 45 percent since floods wreaked havoc across much of the country, rising from 5.96 million people before the floods hit to 8.62 million people now facing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity – the majority of them in flood-affected regions,” Save the Children said in a statement, warning that hunger levels were expected to rise further with the onset of winter, putting millions of young lives at risk if urgent action was not taken.

The floods have devastated crops and livestock and, with goods scarce, prices have sources in Pakistan. The cost of basic food items has spiked since the floods, making them unaffordable for many families scrambling to survive after losing their homes and incomes.

“New research to be published next week by Save the Children found that 86 percent of families surveyed have lost their incomes since the floods, leaving them unable to afford food,” the statement added.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said about 50 percent of the water had receded in the country’s worst-hit southern Sindh province, hoping that farmers would be able to sow wheat in a first step toward returning to normal life.

The government estimates damages caused by the floods, that have swept away homes, roads, bridges and livestock, are at least $30 billion.


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 8 min 43 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.


Ex-PM Khan hopes new military leaders will end ‘prevailing trust deficit’ between army, public

Updated 30 November 2022

Ex-PM Khan hopes new military leaders will end ‘prevailing trust deficit’ between army, public

  • Khan is strong critic of ex-army chief Gen Bajwa, accusing him of backing Sharif-led coalition government
  • Key challenge facing new army chief is navigating a deepening political rift between government and Khan

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan on Wednesday congratulated Pakistan’s new top military leaders on assuming office and expressed hope they would end what he described as a “prevailing trust deficit” between the army and the public.

Khan was ousted from the office of prime minister in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in April. He has since blamed his removal on a conspiracy hatched by the United States, the country’s military and his political opponents.

American and Pakistani officials deny the accusations but they have resonated in recent months with young, social-media-savvy Pakistanis and the older generation alike, who have come out in fierce criticism of what they deem entrenched corruption and the invisible hand of the army in the country’s political system.

The sharpest critique has been of outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, who handed over charge to General Asim Munir on Tuesday. General Sahir Shamshad Mirza also became chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) last week.

“Congratulations to Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza as new CJCSC & Gen Syed Asim Munir as new COAS,” Khan said on Twitter, sharing the image of a famous quote by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, about the duties that the army owes to civilians.

“We hope new mly ldrship [military leadership] will work to end [the] prevailing trust deficit that has built up in [the] last 8 months between the nation and the State. [The] strength of the State is derived from its people.”

One of the key challenges faced by the country’s new army chief will be navigating a deepening political rift between the government and Khan, who is calling for immediate elections.