Pakistan’s health minister publicizes ex-PM Khan’s medical report, calls his mental stability ‘questionable’

Pakistan’s health minister Abdul Qadir Patel addressing a news conference in Karachi on May 26, 2023. (Photo courtesy: social media)
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Updated 26 May 2023

Pakistan’s health minister publicizes ex-PM Khan’s medical report, calls his mental stability ‘questionable’

  • Abdul Qadir Patel defends the decision to unveil the report, says ‘any document is a public document in democracy’
  • Minister denied ex-PM’s claims of a fractured leg after an apparent assassination attempt targeting Khan last November

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s health minister Abdul Qadir Patel said on Friday former prime minister Imran Khan’s mental stability was “questionable” after he shared a medical report prepared by a panel of five doctors at a leading public hospital in the federal capital.
Khan was made to undergo a medical checkup after his arrest from the Islamabad High Court by paramilitary Rangers on corruption charges earlier this month. The procedure was carried out to satisfy a legal requirement ahead of interrogation by government agencies.
The health minister informed the former prime minister’s medical examination was carried out under the supervision of five senior doctors at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad.
“The report says his [Khan’s] mental stability is questionable [as] there were some inappropriate gestures,” he said while addressing a news conference in Karachi.
Patel defended the government’s decision to share the report’s findings with the public during the media talk, saying “any document is a public document in democracy.”
“His [the ex-PM’s] urine sample was [also] obtained and, according to the initial report, it contained toxic substances, including high quantities of alcohol and cocaine,” he continued.
Khan, who survived an apparent assassination attempt while leading an anti-government rally last year, said his leg was fractured by gunshot wounds. However, the health minister also questioned that claimed.
“This person had a very heavy plaster cast wrapped [around his leg] for five to six months despite his medical report showing no signs of fracture,” he said. “Tell me, if there is a wound on the skin or flesh, have you ever seen anyone wearing a plaster cast to [treat it], that too for five to six months.”
In response to a question, he said the government would also write to the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC), a regulatory body, to summon the doctors who said Khan’s leg had fractured.
The relation between the ex-premier and the ruling coalition continues to remain bitter since the former was driven out of power in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April last year.

Lightning kills six Hindu pilgrims, injures nine in southern Pakistan

Updated 25 min 43 sec ago

Lightning kills six Hindu pilgrims, injures nine in southern Pakistan

  • Pilgrims were on their way to Verhijhap village in Tharparkar’s Diplo district when they were struck by lightning
  • Hindu monastery Parbrahm Ashram attracts large number of Hindus from Sindh, Balochistan during annual festival

ISLAMABAD: A flash of lightning killed six Hindu pilgrims and injured nine others on Sunday evening in Tharparkar district in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, a report by the district’s deputy commissioner said.

According to the deputy commissioner’s report, the pilgrims were struck by lightning at village Sathaar near Mithi, Tharparkar’s capital, while they were on their way to Verhijhap village in district Diplo. Verijhap is home to the famous Hindu monastery Parbrahm Ashram, where an annual festival attracts Hindus in large numbers from Pakistan’s Sindh and southwestern Balochistan provinces.

“Today on 29th May 2023, at about 9:40 PM, a group of pedestrian pilgrims proceeding to Faqir Parbirham Verijhap, 06 persons died along with 9 injured at the spot when lightening triggered by a cloudburst struck a caravan of pedestrian near village Sataar Taluka Mithi,” the report said.

The deputy commissioner said police brought the bodies and the injured to the Civil Hospital Mithi. He said the injured were provided first aid, adding that their condition was stable and would be discharged soon.

“It is requested to kindly move the Relief Department, Sindh, to compensate the bereaved families as the deceased belong to very poor Hindu families of Mithi district Tharparkar,” the deputy commissioner wrote.

As per the report, the deceased included males in the 16-35 age group and were residents of Mithi and Sathaar villages while the injured were also males in the age group of 12-40 who hailed from the villages of Sathaar, Dharar, and Harjani in Sindh.

Before 1947, India and Pakistan were under British colonial rule for over two centuries. The partition of 1947 created the newly independent states of Pakistan and India, with partition etching a deep fissure in the region as millions of Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan while Hindus and Sikhs in large numbers left for India with their families and belongings.

Around 4 million Hindus still live in Pakistan, or about 1.9 percent of the country’s population, and 1.4 million are in Sindh. Pakistan houses prominent Hindu temples that host annual festivals where devotees worship their deities, such as the centuries-old cave temple of Hinglaj Mata in southwestern Pakistan where thousands of Hindus flock each year in April to attend a four-day religious festival.

At Pakistan army facility, breeding Arabian horses is a passion and a science

Updated 52 min 11 sec ago

At Pakistan army facility, breeding Arabian horses is a passion and a science

  • Over 600 Arabians can be found at Remount Depot Mona in Mandi Bahauddin, trained for equestrian games and dressage events
  • It is one of the most ancient breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses in Middle East that resemble modern Arabians dating back 4,500 years

MONA/MANDI BAHAUDDIN: With its long, arched neck, a refined wedge-shaped head and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the most ancient, with archaeological evidence available of horses in the Middle East that resemble modern Arabians dating back over 4,500 years.

In Pakistan, over 600 Arabians can be found at the Remount Depot Mona military facility located in Mandi Bahauddin, with the animals especially trained for equestrian games and dressage events.

Founded in 1902, the Depot is spread over 10,000 hectares of land, complete with roads, buildings, a canal and a train line, and serving as a hub for breeding and nurturing horses, donkeys and mules. Pakistan started importing Arabian horses almost 70 years ago, often placing them in competitions as prized show animals and keeping a pool as gifts for foreign dignitaries.

“Pakistan had 808 Arab horses which are registered with the World Arabian Horse Organisation (WAHO), out of which 627 animals are from Mona Depot while only 181 are from all over the country,” Brigadier Muhammad Naeem, the commandant of the Depot, told Arab News during a visit to the facility last week.

In this picture taken on May 27, 2023, a horse gallops at the Remount Depot Mona in Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab, which concentrates on the breeding of Arabian horses. (AN Photo)

WAHO, founded in 1970, is a UK-based charity with 82 affiliated countries that works to preserve pure Arabian bloodlines, promote breeding knowledge globally, coordinate member clubs, establish uniformity in breed terminology, and consult on other Arabian horse-related matters.

But what makes the Arab horses so special?

“In the known breeds of horses, the most ancient breed that is known is the Arabian horse which originated 2,500 BC from the Arab Peninsula,” Naeem said, adding that the animals were renowned for their “exceptional beauty,” particularly when they ran and raised their tails, showing off their “elegant form.”

Even though the precise origins of the Arabian are unknown, the breed is thought to have originated on the northern edge of the Syrian desert.

“They are widely recognized as one of the most famous horse breeds in the world."

In this picture taken on May 27, 2023, Arabian horses run at the Remount Depot Mona in Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab. (AN Photo)

Pakistan became a member of WAHO in 1997, with Mona Remount Depot its sole representative in the country. While horse breeding at the Depot began as a passion in 1956, the depot successfully turned to science in 2021 when it launched a test tube program.

“At our facility, we have successfully witnessed the birth of 15 test tube babies thus far, with an additional 12 pregnancies currently ongoing,” he said.

The first Arab horse at the Depot was imported in 1955 from the United States and 31 others after that from different countries.

“The price of an imported Arabian horse varies from $5,000 to $50,000, depending on the quality and pedigree of the animal,” Naeem said.

“The expenses for importing also vary depending on the country of origin and whether the animal is transported in a single cage or a group cage. From Gulf states, it costs around $10,000, while from Western countries and the United States, it can cost up to $20,000.”

At the Depot, the brigadier said, the cost of breeding, raising, and training an Arabian was "significantly lower due to locally produced fodder and other factors."

“The budget of the Depot is provided by the Ministry of Defense,” Naeem said.

In this picture taken on May 27, 2023, the trainer holds an Arabian horse at the Remount Depot Mona in Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab. (AN Photo)

A pool of Arab horses, the brigadier said, was also kept to be presented as gifts by the Pakistan government and army to visiting dignitaries.

“36 animals have been presented [gifted] to different heads of states including Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and some other countries,” Naeem said, while the King of Jordan, the ruler of Qatar, and the King of Saudi Arabia had gifted horses to Pakistani rulers also at different points in the last many decades.

“King Faisal gifted an Arabic horse to General Zia ul Haq and the Saudi King also gifted a horse to General Pervez Musharraf,” he said.

Gifts of horses to Pakistani rulers were always kept at Mona Depot, Naeem said.

According to experts, the Arabian is classified as a "hot-blooded" breed, with its sensitivity and intelligence enabling quick learning and greater communication with riders. This is why the breed is trained for equestrian games such as riding, dressage, polo, and tent pegging.

“We have horses specifically trained for show jumping and vaulting, which are used for various functions,” Naeem said.

One of Mona's Arabian horses has won the best polo pony prize in Pakistan six times, the brigadier added.

“These horses are highly responsive animals,” said Muhammad Rasaldar, a trainer at the facility who daily runs trainings with the animals that start at 6am and continue through the day. “The more love and attention they receive, the more attached and responsive they become.”

“We have a 39-week-long training course for them, during which we expose them to various environments to eliminate their fears ...They also receive training for different games throughout this course.”

Muhammad Akhtar, who trains the horses for polo, said the animals responded to every command.

“A horse is a very powerful animal,” he said, “and man can control it only by training it with a lot of love and compassion.”

In this picture taken on May 27, 2023, the trainer pulls an Arabian horse at the Remount Depot Mona in Mandi Bahauddin, Punjab. (AN Photo)


Pro-Imran Khan Pakistani TV journalist returns home after being freed

Updated 30 May 2023

Pro-Imran Khan Pakistani TV journalist returns home after being freed

  • Sami Abraham went missing last week when eight people abducted him in Islamabad, his family said
  • Another pro-Khan TV journalist, Imran Riaz, went missing earlier this month, is yet to be recovered

ISLAMABAD: A prominent Pakistani television journalist who went missing last week, apparently because of his public support to former Prime Minister Imran Khan, returned home early Tuesday after being released by his captors, his family and his employer said.

Sami Abrahim’s brother, Ali Raza, took to Twitter to confirm his release. BOL TV confirmed his release in a news announcement.

Abrahim went missing Thursday when eight people in four vehicles intercepted his car on his way back home from work in the capital, Islamabad, and took him away, according to his family and BOL TV where Abrahim works.

No one had claimed responsibility for Abrahim's abduction, but it is widely believed that he was being held by the country's security agencies, which are notorious for abducting, harassing and torturing journalists.

Abrahim has long publicly opposed the government of Khan’s successor, Premier Shahbaz Sharif. Khan, a former cricket star who became an Islamist politician, was in office in 2018-2022 and was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last year.

Another pro-Khan TV journalist, Imran Riaz, went missing earlier this month and was yet to be freed.

Third Indian inmate dies in Pakistani jail in a month, raising alarm about prison conditions

Updated 32 min 41 sec ago

Third Indian inmate dies in Pakistani jail in a month, raising alarm about prison conditions

  • Indian prisoner Balo passes away in Mali prison due to health complications, confirms official
  • Indian, Pakistani prisoners languish in prisons for years for violating territorial waters mistakenly

KARACHI: An Indian fisherman named Balo passed away while being detained at the Malir prison in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi last week, a jail official confirmed on Monday, making it the third Indian inmate within a month who died in the same jail.

Fishermen from both India and Pakistan are frequently detained on charges of violating territorial waters of each other’s countries. Pakistan’s and India’s borders are not clearly defined in the Arabian Sea and many fishing boats lack the technology needed to be certain of their precise location. The fishermen often languish in jail even after serving their term, as poor diplomatic ties between the two arch-rivals mean fulfilling official requirements can take a long time.

Balo, son of Jetha, was arrested for crossing into Pakistan’s territorial waters, and subsequently sent to Malir prison in 2020. On May 22, while receiving treatment at the National Cardiovascular Diseases institute, the Indian prisoner passed away, Malir prison’s Superintendent Muhammad Arshad said.

“The body is currently being kept in Edhi cold storage,” Arshad told Arab News, adding that jail authorities were waiting for legal formalities to be completed before handing it over to his relatives.

On May 8, 50-year-old Indian fisherman Soma Deva died in the same prison after suffering from a lung and heart disease. According to jail authorities, Deva’s condition deteriorated over a period of time, adding that he was admitted to a hospital and provided treatment before he died. His death closely followed the demise of another Indian inmate Zulfiqar, who passed away in Malir prison on May 6. His death was confirmed by Faisal Edhi, chairman of the Edhi foundation, which keeps the deceased inmates’ bodies in its morgue.

Although Arshad says the hospital extends medical help to inmates inside the prison and at major hospitals, at least four Afghan nationals have also passed away during their detention in Malir prison since November 2022.

Faiz Muhammad, who arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan to have his ailing his sister-in-law treated, passed away in Malir prison after being diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes, and depression following a severe ear infection earlier this year.

Taj Muhammad, another Afghan inmate who was detained in January 2022, died nine months later, while Afghan inmate Abdul Khalil died in December after being taken into custody in November 2022. Additionally, Wali Khan, a fourth Afghan who was arrested in November, died in late January 2023.

The alarming number of deaths have raised suspicion on how inmates are treated inside the prison and whether or not they are provided adequate treatment facilities.

IMF continues engagement with Pakistan for board meeting before current program expires at June end

Updated 30 May 2023

IMF continues engagement with Pakistan for board meeting before current program expires at June end

  • A staff-level agreement between Pakistan and the IMF remains delayed since November
  • Pakistan, desperate to shore up foreign exchange reserves, is looking to revive stalled loan

KARACHI: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) continues engagement with the Pakistani authorities to pave the way for a board meeting before the current program expires at end of June, the IMF mission chief for Pakistan said.

A staff-level agreement on the review has been delayed since November, with more than 100 days passed since the last staff level mission to Pakistan, the longest such delay since at least 2008.