Agony continues for Karachi elephant Noor Jehan after being rescued from pond by veterinarians

African elephant Noor Jahan, 17, who is unwell, rests on a sand pile, at a zoo in Karachi, Pakistan April 14, 2023. (REUTERS)
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Updated 14 April 2023
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Agony continues for Karachi elephant Noor Jehan after being rescued from pond by veterinarians

  • The elephant, who received medical treated last week, went into a pond and had to be rescued with the help of a crane
  • According to Four Paws, the ailing animal is in a critical condition due to weakness and exhaustion after the incident

KARACHI: Despite a long legal battle, years of campaigning, and foreign intervention by an animal rights organization, the suffering of Noor Jehan, a 17-year-old African elephant at the Karachi Zoo, took a turn for the worse as she went into a pond inside her enclosure and got stuck over there.

The incident took place only a few days after Noor Jehan underwent a treatment for her partially paralyzed hind legs, making a team of veterinarians from Four Paws, a Vienna-based global animal welfare organization, work tirelessly alongside the local zoo staff while trying to save the life of the ailing elephant on Thursday night.

The elephant, who has been experiencing a number of health issues including arthritis, is still unable to stand up due to the weakness and trauma after the incident.

Named after an iconic Pakistani singer, Noor Jehan was brought to Pakistan in 2009 with three other elephants after they were caught in Tanzania by an animal trader. She was sent to the Karachi Zoo with her friend, Madhubala, while the other two elephants, Malaika and Sonu, were shifted to the Karachi Safari Park.

Last week, the Four Paws team, led by Egyptian veterinarian Dr. Amir Khalil, visited the animal sanctuary in Karachi to conduct tests and ultrasounds on Noor Jehan after a video of her limping and struggling to stand went viral on social media. The team flew back after handing the zoo staff a treatment, diet, and therapy plan for the elephant.

“We were contacted [after she went into the pond] and [we] guided them to bring a crane,” Khalil told Arab News on Friday morning. “I was in a live video conference until now with Noor Jehan.”




African elephant Noor Jahan, 17, who is unwell, rests on a sand pile, at a zoo in Karachi, Pakistan April 14, 2023. (REUTERS)

Mystery surrounds how the elephant, who was already struggling to stand, ended up in the pond where she remained stuck for hours and endured trauma. The director of Karachi Zoo, Kunwar Ayub, said the elephant did not slip into the pool but rather went there to play with water.

“The perception that Noor Jehan fell into the [pond] is incorrect,” he said while pointing out that she went in the water herself.

“The team sought advice from Four Paws when the elephant went [to] the water, and they recommended letting her stay there,” he continued. “However, when Noor Jehan did not move away from the pond, the zoo staff had to intervene to rescue her.”

Ayub told Arab News that an hour-long struggle by the zoo staff to get her out of the pond left the animal traumatized.

“She experienced trauma during the hour-long attempt to bring her out of the pond, which, combined with her weakened state and caused her to collapse. Eventually, with the assistance of a crane, she was rescued,” the official said.

According to a statement by Four Paws, the animal welfare organization was called for “urgent help” and was informed that Noor Jehan had been lying in the pool in her enclosure since morning and could not get out by herself.

“Based on this information, the Four Paws expert team, which examined Noor Jehan one week ago, immediately asked to have a video call with the local team, consisting of our local veterinarians, the zoo director, and volunteers,” the statement read.

It added that the local team, under the support and supervision of Four Paws, succeeded in getting the elephant out of the pool with a crane, lifting her with ropes and belts, and placing her on a sand pile next to a tree.

“She was very exhausted and weak after several hours, and the situation was very critical for Noor Jehan. The vets provided emergency medical treatment, including infusions, and food, like sugarcane juice, to give her some energy,” the statement said.

According to Four Paws, as of Friday, Noor Jehan was still lying on the sand pile next to the tree, while she and the on-site zoo team were both very exhausted. The team worked very hard until late at night to position her correctly, constantly monitored her, and gave her lots of infusions under the supervision of Four Paws.

“Once she gets a bit more rest, the on-site team will try to lift her again,” the statement continued. “The Four Paws team is currently working with the local team via video calls about possible solutions to save her. We are doing our best to help her and hope that she will recover soon.”

In November 2021, Four Paws’ experts said Noor Jehan had a severe tusk infection and needed immediate surgery as they arrived in Pakistan after the Sindh High Court granted them permission to inspect the health of all four African elephants in Karachi, including Noor Jehan.

The developments came more than two years after Kaavan, dubbed as the “world’s loneliest elephant,” was released from a ramshackle zoo in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Animal rights activists had long campaigned against the plight of the 35-year-old elephant, who had lived alone since the death of his mate in 2012.

Kaavan was transferred to Cambodia in late 2020 in a blaze of publicity after his plight caught the attention of US superstar Cher, who helped raise funds for the jumbo relocation.


Pakistan’s former interior minister, Mir Sarfraz Bugti, elected unopposed as Balochistan’s chief minister

Updated 12 sec ago
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Pakistan’s former interior minister, Mir Sarfraz Bugti, elected unopposed as Balochistan’s chief minister

  • Bugti took oath as a caretaker federal minister last August before resigning in December to contest the recent elections
  • He asks Baloch insurgents to cease fighting and engage in dialogue, warning that the state would not condone violence

QUETTA: Pakistan’s former caretaker interior minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti was elected as the 25th chief minister of the southwestern Balochistan province on Friday, after no other lawmaker submitted nomination papers to contest the post.
Bugti previously served as the home and tribal affairs minister of the province and remained a senator from 2015 to 2021. Last year in August, he took the oath as the country’s interim minister for interior before resigning in December to contest the recent elections.
He participated in the provincial polls after joining Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
“I am thankful to President @AAliZardari, Chairman @BBhuttoZardari, my party @PPP_Org, and the people of #DeraBugti who allowed me to serve the people of #Balochistan,” he said in a social media post. “May Allah guide me and help me to do justice with this heavy responsibility.”
Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province by area, holds a strategic position of immense importance due to its rich mineral resources, including natural gas, coal and minerals, along with its access to the Arabian Sea through the deep-sea port of Gwadar.
The port is also a cornerstone of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, making the province a pivotal player in regional connectivity and trade routes between Asia, the Middle East and beyond.
Balochistan has also experienced a low-level insurgency for decades by Baloch separatist groups who express grievances over political disenfranchisement, economic marginalization and the exploitation of the province’s rich natural resources without adequate benefit to the local population.
However, Pakistani authorities have always denied these claims.
Bugti, scheduled to take the oath at the Governor House tomorrow, asked Baloch insurgents to cease fighting the state and engage in dialogue while speaking to the media.
“The Pakistan Peoples Party believes in dialogue to resolve all political issues,” the newly elected chief minister said. “We wish all militants to skip violence and become part of the mainstream political paradigm. However, the state will not condone any kind of violence.”


Pakistan condemns Israel’s ‘policy of mass starvation’ after killing of over 100 Palestinians in Gaza

Updated 01 March 2024
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Pakistan condemns Israel’s ‘policy of mass starvation’ after killing of over 100 Palestinians in Gaza

  • Eyewitnesses say Israeli troops opened fire on a group of Palestinians waiting for life-saving aid and food delivery
  • Pakistan’s foreign office says Israel must face justice for committing crimes against Palestinians with impunity

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday condemned the killing of over 100 Palestinians who were trying to get food from an aid convoy in Gaza City a day earlier, saying the incident had highlighted Israel’s “deliberate and inhumane policy of mass starvation.”
According to eyewitnesses, Israeli troops opened fire on a crowd of Palestinians waiting for aid and food amid the rubble of their city destroyed by relentless airstrikes ordered by the Netanyahu administration last year in October.
Israel besieged the Gaza Strip after a surprise attack was initiated by Hamas in response to the deteriorating condition of Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation. The ensuing war has led to the killing of over 30,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, as much of the world has accused the Israeli authorities of carrying out a genocide in Gaza.
International aid groups have also complained of increasing difficulties while delivering food supplies to starving Palestinians due to the Israeli military.
“Pakistan strongly condemns yesterday’s massacre by Israel’s occupation forces of unarmed Palestinians, who were awaiting life-saving aid and food delivery in Gaza,” foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said during her weekly media briefing. “This massacre demonstrates a blatant disregard for civility and international humanitarian law and Israel’s deliberate and inhumane policy of mass starvation.”
Baloch reiterated her country’s stance for an immediate and urgent ceasefire while calling for unimpeded access of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.
“Israel must also face justice for its crimes against humanity being perpetrated with impunity against the Palestinian people,” she added.
The incident in Gaza has come at a time when various stakeholders in and around the region are trying to negotiate a ceasefire to end the conflict which has lasted for nearly five months.


Brothers accused of sparking blasphemy riot against Christians in Pakistan last year released

Updated 01 March 2024
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Brothers accused of sparking blasphemy riot against Christians in Pakistan last year released

  • The brothers were detained on suspicion of defacing the Holy Qur’an in Jaranwala where a mob vandalized Churches
  • Christians make up around two percent of Pakistan’s population and occupy one of the lowest rungs in society

LAHORE: Two brothers accused of blasphemous acts that sparked a mob in Pakistan to ransack homes and churches in a Christian enclave last year have been freed from jail, their lawyer said Friday.
More than 80 Christian homes and 19 churches were vandalized by crowds in the eastern city of Jaranwala last August, after accusations spread that a Holy Qur’an had been desecrated.
Blasphemy is an incendiary charge in deeply conservative, Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam have provoked deadly vigilantism.
While police rounded up more than 125 suspected rioters, they also detained two Christian brothers on suspicion of having defaced a Holy Qur’an – a violation of Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws which can carry the death penalty.
But the brothers’ lawyer Tahir Bashir told AFP they had been freed after an anti-terror court declined to bring their case to trial on Thursday.
“Without a trial, no suspect can be detained indefinitely in jail,” Bashir said, declining to publicly name his clients out of fear for their safety.
“They are free, they are with their family. They were very happy to be released,” he added.
Hundreds of Christians fled Jaranwala’s Christian quarter last summer when rioters surged in, setting churches ablaze and raiding homes.
At its peak the crowd numbered around 5,000 and was spurred by mosque loudspeakers announcing a Holy Qur’an had been torn, scrawled with offensive words and stuck to the walls of a local mosque.
Christians, who make up around two percent of Pakistan’s population, occupy one of the lowest rungs in society and are frequently targeted with spurious blasphemy allegations.
Politicians have also been assassinated, lawyers murdered and students lynched over such accusations.
Last week, police were forced to intervene in the eastern city of Lahore when a woman wearing a shirt adorned with Arabic calligraphy was surrounded by a mob accusing her of blasphemy.
The crowd of men said the clothing depicted the Holy Qur’an but it was in fact emblazoned with the Arabic word for “beautiful.”
The woman issued an apology for causing offense, but none of the men were arrested.
Pakistan’s top Supreme Court judge has also been targeted by veiled death threats recently after ordering the release of a man accused of disseminating a blasphemous text.


Inflation in Pakistan hits 23.1%, reaching its lowest point since June 2022

Updated 01 March 2024
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Inflation in Pakistan hits 23.1%, reaching its lowest point since June 2022

  • Pakistan faces historically high inflation, though the situation has improved from 38 percent recorded last year in May
  • Given the February inflation rate, experts predict the central bank to begin monetary policy easing from this month

KARACHI: Pakistan’s inflation rate was recorded at 23.1 percent in February, marking its lowest level since June 2022, on an annual basis despite surging food and energy costs, according to official data released on Friday.
Pakistan continues to face historically high inflation, though the situation has improved from the all-time high level of 38 percent recorded last year in May.
Last month, the prices of tomatoes and cigarettes saw substantial increases of 114.6 percent and 71.2 percent, respectively, on an annual basis. Condiments and spices rose by 55.3 percent, sugar by 53.4 percent, fresh vegetables by 46.2 percent and wheat flour by 45 percent.
In the non-food category, gas charges skyrocketed by 318.7 percent, electricity charges by 74.9 percent, transport services by 35.1 percent, textbooks by 34.7 percent, newspapers by 34.2 percent and accommodation services by 29.5 percent.
February’s inflation, the lowest in 20 months, suggests a potential easing in the country’s monetary policy stance.
“The low inflation rate was expected and interestingly despite incorporating recent gas and petroleum price increase in February the number is low. We will see this trend continue in the future and inflation trajectory will be downward,” Tahir Abbas, head of research at Arif Habib Limited, told Arab News.
Given the February inflation rate, experts predict the central bank will begin monetary policy easing from March onwards, with the market anticipating an indicative interest rate cut of around 1 percent this month.
Since June last year, the State Bank of Pakistan has maintained the interest rate at an all-time high of 22 percent.
The central bank recently adjusted its average inflation forecast for the current fiscal year to 23-25 percent, up from 20-22 percent, due to hikes in energy prices.


Race for new Pakistan finance minister heats up ahead of crucial IMF negotiations

Updated 01 March 2024
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Race for new Pakistan finance minister heats up ahead of crucial IMF negotiations

  • Ishaq Dar remains the top contender, though he may be declared deputy PM if he does not get the portfolio
  • Pakistan’s interim finance minister and president of the country’s largest HBL bank are also said to be in the race

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s newly-formed ruling alliance is yet to finalize its finance minister, the person who has to lead an immediate effort to negotiate a new International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout, sources familiar with the discussions said.
The struggling $350 billion economy has a narrow path to recovery and the current IMF agreement expires on April 11, with critical external financing avenues linked to securing another extended program.
Former four-time finance minister Ishaq Dar remains the top contender, according to two sources in his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, which is leading the coalition.
PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif has been nominated by the alliance to be prime minister in an election scheduled for March 3. He will announce his cabinet, including the finance minister, shortly after being elected.
But Dar is not the only candidate being considered, the sources said. Despite being a relative of, and close aide to, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, many political allies have criticized Dar’s handling of the economy in the last coalition set up.
He, however, has defended his actions, saying he had to take tough measures to avert a sovereign default by securing the IMF program, which former Prime Minister Imran Khan had scuttled days before leaving his office, a charge Khan denies.
Pakistan struggled for over four months to lock in the stand-by arrangement last summer when Dar was finance minister, and it took the intervention of his prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, to secure a last-ditch deal.
Dar also regularly criticized the IMF on public platforms in the middle of negotiations, and has long favored market interventions to prop up the Pakistani rupee – something the IMF has warned against.
If Dar doesn’t get the portfolio, his party might consider creating a position of deputy prime minister for him, one of the sources in the PML-N said.
Also being considered are caretaker Finance Minister Shamshad Akhtar, a former central bank governor, who is overseeing key policy measures under the current IMF program, both sources said.
Akhtar has been a key part of the caretaker set up that has been praised by the IMF for “decisive policy efforts” to maintain stability.
Another name being considered is Muhammad Aurangzeb, president and chief executive officer of the country’s largest bank, Habib Bank Limited, the sources said.
Aurangzeb had also served as the CEO of JP Morgan’s Global Corporate Bank based in Asia.
Akhtar did not respond to a Reuters request for a comment and Aurangzeb’s HBL said it would not comment on “rumors and speculations.”
A PML-N spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Dar himself told reporters before the parliament’s inaugural session on Thursday that there was no decision yet when asked if he would be the choice for finance minister again.
PML-N senior leader Irfan Siddiqui told the local newspaper The News that Dar will “most probably” be picked for the post.
Aside from negotiating a new and extended IMF program, the new finance minister will have about three months to prepare a federal budget that will need to strike a difficult balance between tough reforms and rejuvenating a struggling economy.
The PML-N, leading a minority government, will be relying on the support of different parties to pass critical legislation, with alliance partner Pakistan Peoples Party saying it would support the government on an issue-to-issue basis.
Efforts to assuage growing public anger at record inflation hovering around 30 percent will also be challenging with limited fiscal space.
“Pakistan needs someone who has broad and in-depth international experience to introduce the kind of reforms that have helped many other countries to come out of economic crises,” said Yousuf Nazar, a London-based economist and former Citigroup banker.
He, however, declined to say who was best suited.