Bodies of 15 Pakistani victims of Greek shipwreck repatriated to country — foreign office

Medical staffs carry a survivor on a stretcher outside a warehouse at the port in Kalamata town, on June 14, 2023, after a boat carrying dozens of migrants sank in international waters in the Ionian Sea. (AFP/File)
Short Url
Updated 27 July 2023
Follow

Bodies of 15 Pakistani victims of Greek shipwreck repatriated to country — foreign office

  • Pakistani authorities estimated that over 350 Pakistani nationals were aboard the ill-fated ship
  • Foreign office spokesperson says no additional Pakistani national identified through DNA matching

ISLAMABAD: Bodies of 15 Pakistani victims of last month’s shipwreck off the coast of Greece have been repatriated and returned to their families, confirmed the foreign office spokesperson on Thursday, adding no additional Pakistani nationals were found among the deceased following DNA matching.

A total of 104 people were rescued, and 82 bodies recovered from the sea after an aging fishing vessel carrying around 750 illegal migrants from Libya to Italy, with the majority of them from Pakistan, Syria, and Egypt, sank off the coast of Greece on June 14.

Pakistani authorities estimated that over 350 nationals of their country were aboard the ill-fated ship, with nearly 200 families providing DNA samples to the embassy in Greece to identify their loved ones.

“The mortal remains of 15 Pakistanis who perished in the disaster have arrived in Pakistan and handed over to their families in the districts of Gujarat, Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin, Rawalpindi, Sheikhupura, Vehari, and Mirpur,” Pakistan’s foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told reporters on Thursday during her weekly news conference.

 

 

“The Greek authorities have also informed that they have completed the process of DNA matching of the retrieved dead bodies, and no additional Pakistani national has been identified among the deceased.”

The rusty trawler was carrying Pakistanis who were fleeing adverse economic conditions at home in search of a better life in Europe. Young men, primarily from eastern Punjab and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, often use a route through Iran, Libya, Turkiye, and Greece to enter Europe.

Passengers on the ill-fated trawler had to subsist on meager food and water supplies, which ran out several hours before the disaster, according to accounts provided by the survivors.

Following the tragedy, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif vowed stern action against smugglers involved in the incident. The Pakistani authorities have since been cracking down on human smugglers and have arrested over a dozen suspects in raids primarily in Pakistan’s Punjab province.


Pakistan says will continue ‘constructive engagement’ with Riyadh to enhance economic, strategic partnership

Updated 9 sec ago
Follow

Pakistan says will continue ‘constructive engagement’ with Riyadh to enhance economic, strategic partnership

  • Saudi foreign minister visited Islamabad this week to discuss investments
  • Saudi deputy defense minister is also currently visiting Pakistani capital

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign office said on Friday the South Asian country would continue its “constructive engagement” with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enhance economic and strategic partnerships between the longtime allies.
Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud came to Islamabad on a two-day visit this week aimed at strengthening bilateral economic cooperation and pushing forward previously agreed investment deals. Pakistan has said it pitched investment projects worth$30 billion to Riyadh during Prince Faisal’s visit.
The Saudi official’s visit followed a meeting in Makkah between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in which the Kingdom had pledged to expedite $5 billion in investments.
“We will continue our constructive engagement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to enhance our economic and strategic partnership,” foreign office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said at a weekly briefing, giving details of Prince Faisal’s visit, whose purpose she said “was to accelerate discussions on enhanced bilateral economic cooperation in the follow up of the understandings reached between Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman.”
At a ‘Saudi Arabia-Pakistan Investment Conference’ co-chaired by the two foreign ministers in Islamabad, the two sides discussed investment proposals in diverse sectors such as energy, mining, agriculture, information technology, construction, human resource development and exports, Baloch said, adding that the investment conference was aimed at paving the way for Saudi investments in Pakistan.
“The Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia discussed global and regional developments,” Baloch added.
“There was unanimity of views on the increasing instability in the region. The two Foreign Ministers urged de-escalation and called for an immediate ceasefire, lifting of the siege of Gaza and access to unimpeded humanitarian aid for the besieged people of Gaza.”
The spokesperson said Pakistan was “deeply disappointed” at the result of last night’s debate at the United Nation Security Council and its inability to reach consensus and recommend Palestine’s membership of the UN to the General Assembly.
“We regret the US decision to veto the draft resolution granting full membership of the UN to Palestine,” Baloch said.


Rohit says India-Pakistan Test cricket would be ‘awesome’

Updated 19 April 2024
Follow

Rohit says India-Pakistan Test cricket would be ‘awesome’

  • South Asian neighbors are bitter political adversaries, have not faced off in Test since 2007
  • They play only occasionally in shorter versions of game usually on neutral territory 

NEW DELHI: India captain Rohit Sharma has thrown his support behind any resumption of Test cricket against arch-rivals Pakistan, saying it would be “awesome.”
The South Asian neighbors are bitter political adversaries and have fought three wars against each other since they were partitioned at the end of British colonial rule in 1947.
Their cricket teams have not faced off in a Test since 2007. Instead they play only occasionally in the shorter versions of the game and usually on neutral territory in international tournaments.
Rohit appeared Thursday on a YouTube chat show hosted by former captains Adam Gilchrist of Australia and Michael Vaughan of England.
Asked by Vaughan if playing Pakistan in a Test series would be beneficial for the five-day game, Rohit said: “I totally believe that.”
“They are a good team, superb bowling line-up, good contest. Especially if you play in overseas conditions, that will be awesome,” added the 36-year-old.
“I would love to. It would be a great contest between two sides... so why not?“
Australia has said it would be prepared to host a series between the rivals.
India and Pakistan have not faced each other on either side’s soil in a bilateral series since 2012.
India last year refused to travel to Pakistan for the white-ball Asia Cup, prompting part of the tournament to be staged in Sri Lanka.
They last met at the 50-over World Cup in India in October.


Pakistan aims to agree outline of new IMF loan in May — finance minister

Updated 19 April 2024
Follow

Pakistan aims to agree outline of new IMF loan in May — finance minister

  • Current $3 billion arrangement with IMF runs out in late April 
  • Pakistan is seeking longer and bigger loan of at least $6 billion

WASHINGTON: Pakistan hopes to agree the contours of a new International Monetary Fund loan in May, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb told Reuters, and has kicked off talks with ratings agencies to lay the groundwork for a return to international debt markets.
The country’s current $3 billion arrangement with the fund runs out in late April and the government is seeking a longer and bigger loan to help bring permanence to macroeconomic stability as well as an umbrella under which the country can execute much needed structural reforms, the minister said.
“We expect the IMF mission to be in Islamabad around the middle of May — and that is when some of these contours will start developing,” said Aurangzeb, who met with the Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meetings.
He declined to outline what size program the government hoped to secure, though Pakistan is expected to seek at least $6 billion. Aurangzeb added that once the IMF loan was agreed, Pakistan would also request additional financing from the Fund under the Resilience and Sustainability Trust.
The struggling South Asian nation had managed to accumulate foreign exchange reserves in recent months and was on track for its war chest to hit $10 billion — or roughly two months import cover — by end-June.
The debt situation also looked more benign, Aurangzeb said.
“The bulk of our bilateral debt — including our China debt — is being rolled over, so in that sense I think we are in good shape and I don’t see a big issue during this fiscal year nor next fiscal year, cause we need to repay roughly $25 billion dollars every fiscal year.”
Pakistan also hopes to come back to international capital markets, possibly with a green bond. However, there was some more work to be done before that happens, said Aurangzeb.
“We have to come back into a certain ratings environment,” he said, having kicked off talks with ratings agencies, adding the government was hoping to get an improvement in its sovereign rating in the next fiscal year.
“In all likelihood, any international capital markets issuance will likely be in the 2025/2026 fiscal year.”


Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing in Karachi 

Updated 19 April 2024
Follow

Five Japanese workers narrowly escape suicide bombing in Karachi 

  • Van attacked while heading to industrial area where five Japanese nationals worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors
  • Insurgents have recently targeted Chinese working on projects relating to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

KARACHI: Five Japanese workers narrowly escaped on Friday after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden vest near the van carrying them to their workplace, police said.
The Hiace van was on its way to an industrial area where the five Japanese nationals worked at Pakistan Suzuki Motors, according to local police chief Arshad Awan.
Police escorting the vehicle returned fire after coming under attack, killing an accomplice of the suicide bomber whose remains were found from the scene of the attack, he added. Three bystanders were wounded. 
“All the Japanese who were the target of the attack are safe,” Awan told media. 
Television footage on local news channels widely showed a damaged van, as police officers arrived at the scene of the attack. Awan said the three passersby who were wounded in the attack were in stable condition at a hospital.
Police were escorting the van after receiving reports about possible attacks on foreigners who are working in Pakistan on various Chinese-funded and other projects, said Tariq Mastoi, a senior police officer. He said a timely and quick response from the guards and police foiled the attack and both attackers were killed.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the incident, according to a statement posted on X.
“Timely action by the police saved us from any major loss of life,” he said. “We will not rest until terrorism has been completely eradicated. We will thwart every nefarious act of disturbing the law and order situation.”
Murad Ali Shah, the chief minister of Sindh, of which Karachi is the provincial capital, directed the inspector general to submit a report after investigating the attack, including details on who the attackers were, where they came from, any information on their facilitators and details of explosives used in the blast.
He directed that immediate arrangements be made for the security of all foreigners in the province. 
“Anti-national elements want to disrupt law and order, which will not be allowed at any cost,” the CM said, praising what he called timely action of the police in thwarting the attack.
No one immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion is likely to fall on a small separatist group or the Pakistani Taliban who have stepped up attacks on security forces.
In recent weeks, insurgents have also targeted Chinese who are working in Pakistan on projects relating to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which includes a multitude of megaprojects such as road construction, power plants and agriculture.
In March, five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed when a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan rammed his explosive-laden car into a vehicle when they were heading to the Dasu Dam, the biggest hydropower project in Pakistan, where they worked.
However, Japanese working in Pakistan have not been the target of any such attacks.
With inputs from AP


Saudi deputy defense minister discusses security cooperation proposals with Pakistan army chief

Updated 19 April 2024
Follow

Saudi deputy defense minister discusses security cooperation proposals with Pakistan army chief

  • Al-Otaibi arrived in Pakistan earlier this week to finalize defense-related bilateral projects
  • Saudi official participates in the Fifth Meeting of Pakistan-KSA Defense Collaboration

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Talal Bin Abdullah Bin Turki Al-Otaibi called on Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen Syed Asim Munir on Friday and discussed defense collaboration projects, the Pakistani military said on Friday. 
Al-Otaibi arrived in Pakistan earlier this week to finalize defense-related bilateral projects, according to the Pakistani defense ministry. His visit follows on the heels of a two-day visit to Islamabad by Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, aimed at enhancing bilateral economic cooperation and pushing forward previously agreed investment deals. Pakistan has said it pitched investment projects worth$30 billion to Riyadh during Prince Faisal’s visit.
“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest and measures to further enhance bilateral defense collaboration including defense production and military training were discussed,” the Pakistan army statement said. 
“COAS affirmed Pakistan Army’s continuing support toward capacity building of Royal Saudi Land Forces.
“Both sides reiterated their resolve to solidify the efforts in defense collaboration with focused approach to target specific capabilities in land, air and sea domains. In this context, concrete proposals were deliberated by the forum to meet tangible objectives within specific timelines.”

In this handout photo, taken and released by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Public Relations on April 19, 2024, Saudi Assistant Defense Minister Talal Bin Abdullah Bin Turki Al-Otaibi attends Pakistan-KSA Defense Collaboration meeting, co-chaired by Chief of General Staff Pakistan Army, during his visit to the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. (Photo courtesy: ISPR)

Al-Otaibi also participated in the Fifth Meeting of Pakistan-KSA Defense Collaboration at the Pakistan army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi. 
The forum discussed challenges to global and regional security and noted that rapid advancements in modern technologies “necessitated defense industrial cooperation in critical capabilities between the two brotherly countries.”
“The visiting dignitary acknowledged Pakistan Army’s achievements and sacrifices in war against terrorism and Army’s valuable contributions toward regional peace and stability,” the army’s statement said. 
Pakistan maintains close military ties with Saudi Arabia, providing extensive support, arms, and training to the Saudi armed forces. 
Since the 1970s, Pakistani soldiers have been stationed in Saudi Arabia to protect the Kingdom and Pakistan has also been providing training to Saudi soldiers and pilots. The two nations also regularly carry out multidimensional joint ventures and defense exercises.