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
Updated 30 November 2022
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.
ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistani president and army chief, General (retired) Pervez Musharraf, passed away in Dubai, close family associates confirmed, after years of self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates.
Musharraf, 79, was under treatment at a Dubai hospital for amyloidosis, a rare disease, a former close aide of the military ruler and chairman of his All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party, Major General (retired) Rashid Qureshi, said.
“I am in contact with the family for the repatriation of the mortal remains of the former president,” he told Arab News.
Another close aide, Dr. Muhammad Amjad Chaudhry, a former chairman of the APML, said the former president had been "seriously sick since 2018."
"When I last talked to his family about a week back, he was serious and hospitalized,” Chaudhry added.
The Pakistani army, navy, and air chiefs and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee (CJCSC) condoled Musharraf's death in a statement to the press.
“CJCSC & Services Chiefs express heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of General Pervez Musharraf,” the statement said. “May Allah bless the departed soul and give strength to the bereaved family.”
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. Musharraf joined the army in 1964 and graduated from the Army Command and Staff College in Quetta. He also attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in London and has fought in Pakistan’s 1965 and 1971 wneighboringneighbouring 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 has since remained there. In 2019, a special court indicted him on treason charges in absentia, which he denied, and eventually sentenced him to death, though the ruling was later overturned by a higher court.
During his years in power, Musharraf saw many moments of tumult.
In 2006, a popular tribal leader from the southwestern province Balochistan was killed in military action ordered by Musharraf, unleashing an armed insurgency that goes on to date. In 2007, he ordered troops to storm a mosque in Islamabad whose clerics and students were calling for the imposition of Shariah law. The siege led to the birth of an indigenous Taliban movement, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has since led an insurgency against the government in Islamabad and killed tens of thousands in brazen assaults on security, government and civilian targets.
In 2007, Musharraf demanded the resignation of then chief justice of the Supreme Court, unleashing a mass protest movement that massively dented his popularity and started calls for him to step down.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is the brother of three-time former PM Nawaz whom Musharraf ousted in 1999, condoled over the military ruler's death and "sent prayers for forgiveness of the deceased and patience for the family,” the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.
Among others who condoled were Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, Pakistan Peoples Party Leader Faisal Karim Kundi, and a senior leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Chaudhary Fawad Hussain, who was for years in Musharraf's party.
“I have a long association with him and he always considered me his family member,” he said in a video statement. “Many called him a military dictator but Pakistan has never seen better democracy than his tenure.”
“He led Pakistan in very difficult circumstances and made it a pluralist society. He was a very big person, his friends proved to be small.”
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's former military ruler Pervez Musharraf has died in Dubai after a prolonged illness, the Pakistani military said on Sunday.
Musharraf seized power in a 1999 bloodless coup, ruling as "chief executive" when the 9/11 attacks on the United States took place, before becoming president in 2001.
He was the chief regional ally of the United States during its invasion of the neighbouring Afghanistan, but resigned in 2008 and was subsequently forced into exile after a backlash over his constitutional overreach.
Here are some pictures depicting the life of the former Pakistani military ruler:
OBITUARY: Pakistan’s Musharraf, military ruler who allied with the US and promoted moderate Islam
The four-star general who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999
Under Musharraf, foreign investment flourished and Pakistan saw annual economic growth of as much as 7.5%
Updated 05 February 2023
ISLAMABAD: Pervez Musharraf, the four-star general who ruled Pakistan for nearly a decade after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1999, oversaw rapid economic growth and attempted to usher in socially liberal values in the conservative Muslim country.
Musharraf, 79, died in hospital after a long illness after spending years in self-imposed exile, Pakistan media reported on Sunday. He enjoyed strong support for many years, his greatest threat Al-Qaeda and other militant Islamists who tried to kill him at least three times.
But his heavy-handed use of the military to quell dissent as well as his continued backing of the United States in its fight against Al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban ultimately led to his downfall.
Born in New Delhi in 1943, Musharraf was four years old when his parents joined the mass exodus by Muslims to the newly created state of Pakistan. His father served in the foreign ministry, while his mother was a teacher and the family subscribed to a moderate, tolerant brand of Islam.
He joined the army at the age of 18 and went on to lead an elite commando unit before rising to become its chief. He took power by ousting the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who had tried to sack him for greenlighting an operation to invade Indian-held areas of Kashmir, bringing Pakistan and India to the brink of war.
In his early years in government, Musharraf won plaudits internationally for his reformist efforts, pushing through legislation to protect the rights of women and allowing private news channels to operate for the first time.
His penchant for cigars and imported whisky and his calls for Muslims to adopt a lifestyle of “enlightened moderation” increased his appeal in the West in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
He became one of Washington’s most important allies after the attacks, allowing US forces to operate armed drones from secret bases on Pakistani soil that killed thousands and ordering domestic troops into the country’s lawless tribal areas along the Afghanistan frontier for the first time Pakistan’s history.
That helped legitimize his rule overseas but also helped plunge Pakistan into a bloody war against local extremist militant groups.
In a 2006 memoir, he took credit for saving Pakistan from American wrath saying the country had been warned it needed to be “prepared to be bombed back to the Stone Age” if it did not ally itself with Washington.
Musharraf also successfully lobbied then-President George W. Bush to pour money into the Pakistani military. Still, the army’s allegiances were never unambiguous: its powerful intelligence services cut deals with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, and bolstered an insurgency fighting US troops in Afghanistan.
In other areas of foreign policy, Musharraf attempted to normalize relations between New Delhi and Islamabad.
At a regional summit in 2002, less than three years after launching the military operation against India, Musharraf shocked the world when, after finishing a speech, he suddenly moved toward Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to shake hands and offered to talk peace.
Analysts say the issue of Kashmir – which remains the most potent point of contention between India and Pakistan – was close to being solved during the Musharraf era. But the peace process was derailed soon after his rule.
Under Musharraf, foreign investment flourished and Pakistan saw annual economic growth of as much as 7.5 percent — which remains the highest level in nearly three decades, according to World Bank data.
The later years of his presidency were, however overshadowed, by his increasingly authoritarian rule. In 2006, Musharraf ordered military action that killed a tribal head from the province Balochistan, laying the foundations of an armed insurgency that rages to this day.
The next year, more than a hundred students calling for the imposition of Sharia law were killed after Musharraf shunned negotiations and ordered troops to storm a mosque in Islamabad. That led to the birth of a new militant group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has since killed tens of thousands in suicide bombings and brazen assaults.
Later in 2007, a suicide attack that assassinated opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, triggered waves of violence. His efforts to strong arm the judiciary also led to protests and a besieged Musharraf postponed elections and declared a state of emergency.
In 2008, the country’s first democratic elections in 11 years were held. Musharraf’s party lost and facing impeachment by parliament he resigned the presidency and fled to London.
He returned to Pakistan in 2013 to run for a seat in parliament but was immediately disqualified. He was allowed to leave for Dubai in 2016.
In 2019, a court sentenced him to death in absentia for the 2007 imposition of emergency rule but the verdict was later overturned.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday criticized the international community for its role toward the resolution of the Kashmir conflict, questioning if “economic interests” alone would decide the fate of Kashmiris.
Iqbal’s statement came ahead of the Kashmir Solidarity Day, which Pakistan observes every year on the February 5 to express solidarity with the people of Indian-administered Kashmir.
The Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between Pakistan and India since their independence from the British rule in 1947. Both Pakistan and India rule parts of the Himalayan territory, but claim it in full and have fought two of their four wars over the disputed region.
However, many in Pakistan believe the world’s lukewarm response to the resolution of Kashmir dispute has much to with India’s economic growth over the past years, which allows New Delhi to ignore international conventions.
“Unfortunately, India feels that it can ignore the international conventions, it can violate the fundamental rights of people in Jammu and Kashmir and it can use its brutal force because it is an attractive market for other countries,” Iqbal told Arab News in an exclusive interview.
“We have to decide whether economics alone will decide the fate of humanity or fundamental rights, law, justice, self-determination and democratic values have any place. If we will only settle for dollars and cents and commercial and economic interests, then this world will become very brutal.”
Ties between bitter rivals India and Pakistan stand frozen since August 5, 2019, when New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special status, taking away the territory’s autonomy and dividing it into three federally administered territories.
Pakistan calls the revocation of Kashmir’s autonomy part of New Delhi’s alleged attempts to change the demography of the region, and has demanded the world fraternity take notice of it.
Iqbal, however, called out the international community for its “double standards” on Russia’s annexation of Ukraine and the Kashmir issue.
“It is quite an irony that on the one hand the whole western world is fighting a war against annexation… of the eastern parts in Ukraine and they are not willing to compromise on the geography and on the area which has been annexed by Russia, but in Kashmir the international community easily feels it convenient to ignore the annexation by India,” he said.
“These are double standards. And when such double standards are exercised it gives rise to extremism. If we want to see a world which is peaceful, we have to find peaceful ways to resolve conflicts.”
KARACHI: People in Pakistan’s southern Karachi port city usually avoid using the busy Napier Mole Road on winter evenings due to huge trailers causing traffic congestion, but hundreds of them can now be seen on this route in their vehicles while trying to reach to a street that is popularly known as “seafood heaven” to tantalize their tastebuds.
Known for its diverse and multicultural environment, Karachi offers a variety of cuisines that can be found in different corners of the city. Seafood Street, which is situated in the midst of centuries-old buildings near the country’s largest port, is yet another addition to the thriving food culture of the seaside metropolis.
A few decades ago, the area only housed a few shops, mostly serving fried fish cooked in large woks. But now, the street has dozens of small kiosks, or “fish points” as people prefer to call them, that serve croaker, silver pomfret, rasbora dandia and red snapper cooked in a variety of ways before being served with chutney and flatbread.
“My father started [selling] fish here,” Muhammad Rashid, owner of Rashid Seafood, told Arab News. “Then my brother came in. But when I took over, I started offering fish barbecue [using] my mother’s [recipe].”
He said that his idea of adding grilled fish to the menu was an instant hit and changed the course of his business.
While the variety of fish offered by food stalls became the unique selling point of the street, Keamari Sea Food, another food joint, came up with the idea of creating a seating area for families. The model was also adopted by others, including Rashid. Muhammad Usman, the owner of the eatery who first took this initiative, said the street started becoming famous after families started visiting it in 2019.
“Another attraction of this market is that the prices are reasonable,” he said while speaking to Arab News. “The fish is fresh out of the water [because] the sea is close to us.”
Usman added that foreigners, including many Arabs, had started visiting the place after it earned its fame.
While people throng the street to enjoy a wide variety of fish, prawn karahi and crab soup are other major attractions for foodies amid winter season.
“We tried grilled mushka [croaker] fish, grilled prawns, prawn karahi, and some white pomfret, and also their chow mein,” Siddiqa Asif, a visitor, said.
“Everything was really good.”
Asif said it was a “great idea” to visit the place in winter, adding she wanted to try something more suitable for the season.
“It is quite far, and I think that’s also a kind of attraction for the people of Karachi that they are going somewhere to enjoy the weather and the food,” she said.
Afshan Asif, a housewife who visited the food street along with her family and ordered the famous prawn karahi, barbecue prawns, grilled croaker and red snapper, said it was her first experience with her family at the venue which had turned out to be “wonderful.”
“[It] felt good to come here,” she said. “Families have come over [too]. I didn’t expect to see families like this here, but it is good. The food is really good.
The weather is also better, and this is the best time to have fish or other seafood.”
Asad Aftab, a Karachi-based businessman, said the proximity of the street to the sea and old buildings surrounding it add to its value, especially to people his age.
“I see heritage buildings [and] walls here made of blocks that used to be there in old times,” he said, “I felt as if I went back into my past.”
Aftab said everyone had a choice, but he strongly recommended people to visit the street since they would enjoy it.
“I am sitting in a very relaxed environment,” he said after finishing his meal. “The weather is also good today, it’s cold. Fish tastes even better in this weather.”
“Next time, I will return in summer and see how it feels,” he continued. “But [in] winter, street food and Keamari are a great combination.”