Pakistan Navy seizes thousands of kilograms of drugs in Arabian Sea

A policeman takes pictures with his mobile phone of a cargo ship docked at the Sea View beach, in Karachi, Pakistan on July 24, 2021. (AFP/File)
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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.


Saudi aid agency KSrelief launches third phase of relief project for Pakistan flood survivors

Updated 5 sec ago

Saudi aid agency KSrelief launches third phase of relief project for Pakistan flood survivors

  • KSrelief will distribute 25,000 non-food items, 25,000 winter relief kits among 350,000 flood victims
  • KSrelief official says agency will launch another project to build houses in flood-affected areas

ISLAMABAD: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) on Thursday launched the third phase of its relief project to distribute 25,000 non-food items (NFI) and an equal number of relief kits to help over 350,000 flood victims in Pakistan, a senior official of the Saudi aid agency said. 

Devastating floods in June 2022 killed over 1,700, destroyed businesses and livelihoods, and affected over 33 million people in Pakistan. The deluges inflicted damages of over $30 billion for Pakistan, the country estimates, and left thousands of Pakistanis direly needing food, shelter, and other forms of assistance. 

KSrelief, with one of the largest humanitarian budgets for aid agencies across the world, has been undertaking humanitarian projects across 88 countries. Pakistan is the fifth largest beneficiary of the organization’s aid and humanitarian operations.

According to the KSrelief data, the agency has completed 170 projects in Pakistan in education, healthcare, water, sanitation, hygiene, emergency camps, and community support. These collectively have cost roughly $163 million in the last 17 years.

After last year's floods, KSrelief has already distributed 10,000 NFI and 25,000 winter relief kits in the first phase of the project to help Pakistan's flood victims, which was completed in December 2022.

“It is the launch of the second and third phase of the non-food relief items for flood victims and 350,000 individuals will benefit from this relief assistance,” Dr. Khalid Mohammed Alothmani, KSrelief Pakistan director, said during the launching ceremony in Islamabad.

He said KSrelief took the initiative to provide 25,000 NFI kits and 25,000 winter relief kits—which weighed approximately 3,965 tonnes—keeping in mind the devastating floods and the critical need for humanitarian items. 

 “Each NFIs kit comprises two blankets, a shelter kit with plastic matt, a kitchen set with jerry can and antibiotic soaps,” he said. The winter kits, he said, included two quilts, shawls for men and women, 10 pairs of socks for men, women, and children, four children's caps, two children's mufflers, and sweaters. 

There were also four warmers for men and women of the needy families that were residing in the colder flood-affected regions of the country, Alothmani said. 

“The third and fourth phase of the NFI project is under distribution process and will be completed soon in all the affected areas of Punjab and Sindh,” he shared. 

Alothmani said relief packages would be distributed in collaboration with Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) with the help of registered NGOs, who would act as implementing partners, and local governments.

“We are also soon launching another project to build houses for the rehabilitation of schools and basic health units in the affected areas,” the KSrelief director informed.

In his remarks, Saudi ambassador Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki said KSrelief always remained at the forefront to help the "brotherly people" of Pakistan in their time of need.

“On behalf of my country, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, all these relief items are a gift for the brotherly country Pakistan,” he added.

“I would like to give our Pakistani brothers the firm commitment of the Saudi government and its leadership to always stand by our Pakistani brothers, to enrich our brotherly relations to new heights,” Al-Malki said.

NDMA chairman, Lieutenant General Inam Haider Malik, thanked Saudi Arabia and other friendly countries for coming to Pakistan's aid. 

“This support has come in handy not only for the rescue and relief part of our flood victims' support plan but also as it is a source of great support for Pakistan’s reconstruction and rehabilitation too,” he added..

He said Pakistan acknowledge KSrelief teams for their efforts in working with the local government and ensuring that rescue articles reached flood victims who had lost everything in the cataclysmic deluges. 

“We have also been working with our partners and donors to remodel our response regime where we would like to be more proactive and engaged with our developing partners to showcase our ability to identify the exact requirements from the local area,” Malik said.


Pakistani rupee plummets to all-time low against US dollar at 271

Updated 6 min 30 sec ago

Pakistani rupee plummets to all-time low against US dollar at 271

  • Pakistan's rupee declines by Rs2.53 or 0.93% against US dollar, according to central bank data
  • Pakistani rupee continues free fall after currency dealers removed cap on exchange rate last week

KARACHI: Pakistan's rupee continued its free fall against the US dollar on Thursday, with the greenback reaching an all-time high of Rs271.36, a week after Islamabad removed artificial controls from its exchange market to secure an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package. 

After Pakistan's currency dealers announced removing the exchange rate cap last week, the rupee declined by a massive Rs25 or 9.6% in a single day. With a staggering $3.6 billion in reserves barely enough to cover import payments for a month, Islamabad has agreed to the IMF's tough conditionalities to revive a stalled $7 billion loan program it hopes would lead to more inflows from multilateral organizations and "friendly countries."

The IMF has been pushing Pakistan to remove artificial controls from its exchange market. Experts have warned the rapid weakening of the rupee would usher in an inflationary storm in the country. 

On Thursday, Pakistan's central bank shared data on Twitter according to which the rupee declined by Rs2.53 or 0.93%, with the greenback selling at Rs271.36 in the interbank market. 

 

 

 

"The Pakistani rupee witnessed pressure and closed at a record low against the U.S. dollar mainly due to less inflows of export proceeds," Zafar Sultan Paracha, general secretary of the Exchange Companies Association of Pakistan, said. 

"The country’s political and economic situation also continued to exert pressure on the rupee," he added. 

Earlier this week, international credit ratings agency, Finch Ratings, said Pakistan's rupee would further weaken and exacerbate inflation in the country.

Official data showed on Wednesday that Pakistan’s inflation rate surged to 27.6 percent, the highest in over four decades, on a year-on-year basis in January 2023. 

“In the near term, it [weakening rupee] could exacerbate imported inflationary pressure, and may eventually result in steeper policy rate hikes from the SOP,” Finch said. 


‘Why is this happening?’: Cops wounded in Peshawar suicide bombing search for answers

Updated 29 min 3 sec ago

‘Why is this happening?’: Cops wounded in Peshawar suicide bombing search for answers

  • Over 100 people, mostly policemen, were killed in attack at mosque inside a police compound in Peshawar this week
  • Hospital spokesperson says 46 policemen being treated treatment, seven in critical condition, 100 discharged

PESHAWAR: When Peshawar resident and police constable Muhammad Sohail was injured in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast during election duty in 2013, he could never have imagined this would not be his last brush with death.

On Monday, Sohail was one of over 220 people injured after a suicide bomber struck a mosque inside a police compound in Peshawar, killing 101 people. The provincial police chief has said the attacker disguised himself in a police uniform and did not raise suspicion among guards before he carried out the attack, one of the deadliest ever in the capital city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The northwestern province and other parts of Pakistan have seen a rise in militant attacks since late last year when Pakistani Taliban, or TTP, militants called off a truce with the government. The TTP has denied responsibility for the latest attack, which no group has claimed so far.

“This was the second time that I got injured in an attack,” Sohail said from his hospital bed at the Lady Reading Hospital.

“I was going to offer prayers. When I completed my ablution, the congregation was ready for prayers and I stepped into the verandah quickly. Then all of a sudden I heard a loud sound.”

The next thing Sohail remembers is waking up in the hospital surrounded by doctors and other patients.

The 2013 attack badly injured Sohail’s feet and left him bedridden for nearly three years, having to arrange Rs500,000 for his treatment after receiving little government help, he said.

“Everything is at your own risk here [in the police department],” the police constable said, adding that he planned to resign from the police force. “Why is this happening, there is no one to ask. If you die, you die, if you get injured, you are injured.”

Muhammad Mahboob, a Dera Ismail Khan resident who was in Peshawar for a month-long police refresher course, was also injured in Monday’s attack.

He described hearing the prayer leader saying “Allah-hu-Akbar,” right before the blast, which threw him up in the air and against a wall. He was buried under three feet of debris.

“I recited the kalima [Islamic phrase] thinking that life is over,” Mahboob told Arab News from hospital where he is being treated for pelvic fractures and awaiting surgery.

“I motivated myself to push for a last struggle for survival and tried to remove the bricks from around my body but my hands were motionless.”

After he called for help, four people came to his rescue.

Lady Reading Hospital Spokesperson, Muhammad Asim, said 46 injured policemen were under treatment at Peshawar's largest medical facility, of which seven were in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU):

“We have discharged almost 100 injured in the past three days after they got timely medical treatment.”

Inspector General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Moazzam Jan Ansari told the media on Thursday that senior police officers have visited the injured and they were being provided assistance from a police welfare fund.

Interim chief minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Azam Khan has also promised financial support for the injured and the families of the dead. But on Wednesday, a large number of policemen protested in front of the Peshawar Press Club, demanding a fair investigation into the incident.

“We need an answer to the question of why is all this happening,” Mahboob said. “Every day when one scrolls through Facebook, you can see police being attacked. Just coffins are given shoulders and funerals are held, but no one answers the question: Why is this even happening?”


Pakistan’s finance minister allows charity network to raise $2 billion from overseas nationals

Updated 02 February 2023

Pakistan’s finance minister allows charity network to raise $2 billion from overseas nationals

  • Saylani Welfare International Trust sought Ishaq Dar’s approval to get interest-free debt for the country from Pakistani diaspora
  • The country is facing severe dollar liquidity crunch amid depleting foreign exchange reserves, growing import payment demand

KARACHI: Pakistan’s finance minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday allowed a charity organization operating in the country to voluntarily raise about $2 billion in debt to support the national exchequer amid ongoing economic turmoil.

Addressing a gathering on the Islamization of economy, Dar told the chairman of Saylani Welfare International Trust, Bashir Farooqui, he was free to generate money from overseas Pakistanis by utilizing his network. However, he said all the transactions must be kept transparent.

“The transactions must be transparent and well documented and the money must be raised under the defined procedures,” the minister said while participating in the gathering through a video link from Islamabad.

Farooqui had sought permission from Dar to generate the required amount during the course of the program.

“The debt will be raised for five years and will be interest-free,” he said. “The collected amount will be handed over to the government.”

Pakistan's finance minister Ishaq Dar addresses an event focusing on the Islamization of the country's economy through a video link from Islamabad, Pakistan, on February 2, 2023. (Photo courtesy: Finance Ministry)

Pakistan is currently facing an acute dollar liquidity crunch with official foreign exchange reserve down to $3.6 billion against the average import cover of $5 billion.

Responding to the Saylani Welfare Trust chairman, the finance minister asked him to coordinate with the central bank to determine the contours and mechanism of the proposed scheme while directing State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) officials to facilitate and record any inflows through meticulous documentation.

Dar also said the subject of Islamic economic system came very close to his heart, adding that he prayed for the elimination of interest-based financial environment.

“One of the actions taken in this regard has been the formation of a high-level steering committee consisting of all key stakeholders, including the finance ministry and central bank officials, Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Shariah experts,” he said.

Pakistan’s Federal Shariat Court (FSC) directed the government last April to eliminate riba – or interest – within five years.

Dar maintained it was possible to Islamize Pakistan’s economy even before the given deadline.

“There is no reason why we can’t achieve the Islamization of economy before five years,” he said.


Pakistani PM inaugurates 1,100-megawatt nuclear power plant built with Chinese assistance

Updated 02 February 2023

Pakistani PM inaugurates 1,100-megawatt nuclear power plant built with Chinese assistance

  • Country relies on imported fossil fuels worth $27 billion per year to meet energy needs
  • Currently, the share of renewable energy is only about four percent of Pakistan’s energy mix

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday inaugurated a 1,100-megawatt nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Karachi built with Chinese assistance to augment the supply of electricity, emphasizing the need to transition to clean energy sources so that the cash-strapped country could reduce fuel import costs.

At present, the South Asian nation relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to produce energy, which the prime minister said cost $27 billion per year. Last year, Pakistan said it would increase the share of clean energy in its energy mix to 60 percent by 2030. Currently, the share of renewable energy is only about 4 percent, according to government data.

Oil and energy make up the largest portion of Pakistan’s import bill.

Speaking at the nuclear plant’s inauguration ceremony in Karachi, PM Sharif said Pakistan “desperately” needed to move toward clean energy sources.

“The K-3 Project, the third unit of the Karachi Nuclear Power Plant, will lead to the production of 1,100 megawatts of electricity,” PM Sharif said. “This project will augment the power of the plant for Karachi by 2,200 megawatts and will be a step forward in cooperation with Pakistan’s trusted friend China ... I am happy to say that this project will provide Pakistan with cheaper energy in the years to come.”

“While its upfront price is pretty high, like any other hydel project, in 10 to 15 years, it will taper down to a very reasonable level,” the premier said.

Sharif added that he would be holding discussions with Chinese officials tomorrow, Friday, on a pricing mechanism combined with the best possible terms and conditions.

“I hope our Chinese side is fully convinced and appreciates Pakistan’s challenges and problems, therefore, we expect that our Chinese friends will significantly reduce per megawatt price and other terms and conditions,” he said.

The premier added that Chinese cooperation would enable the government of Pakistan to sign another contract for 1,200 megawatts of nuclear energy, called the Chashma Nuclear Power Project-5 (C-5).

The premier said while Pakistan’s hydel power generation system had the potential to generate 60,000 megawatts of electricity, the country was only able to produce 10,000 megawatts, which he said was a “great national loss.”

“Solar energy and wind power generation can play a very important role in reducing Pakistan’s energy imports as the country is currently importing petroleum products to the tune of $27 billion to produce energy, an amount we can hardly afford to finance,” Sharif said.