Hundreds of Pakistani doctors, paramedics in Karachi march for ceasefire in Gaza

Supporters of Karachi media forum chant slogans during a demonstration against Israeli airstrikes on Gaza, and to show solidarity with Palestinian people, in Karachi, Pakistan, on December 10, 2023. (AP)
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Updated 11 December 2023
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Hundreds of Pakistani doctors, paramedics in Karachi march for ceasefire in Gaza

  • Hundreds of lawyers, paramedics march from Karachi’s National Stadium signal to Liaquat National Hospital
  • March attended by members of Pakistani medical associations, interim Sindh health minister, Jamaat-e-Islami leaders

KARACHI: Hundreds of Pakistani doctors and paramedics marched in the southern port city of Karachi on Sunday to protest against Israel’s war in Gaza, demanding an immediate ceasefire amid the deteriorating human rights situation in Palestine.

The march took place in Pakistan’s commercial hub as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid increasing Israeli hostilities in Gaza. On Sunday afternoon, the Gaza health ministry said almost 18,000 Palestinians had now been killed by the Israeli military since Oct. 7.

Pakistani journalists, rights activists and celebrities have been consistently calling for an end to Israeli bombardment in Gaza and demanding an immediate ceasefire. On Sunday evening, a large number of doctors and paramedics took out a “White Coat March” from Karachi’s National Stadium signal to Liaquat National Hospital, calling for an end to Israel’s “war crimes.”

The event, which was organized by the Karachi Medical Forum, was attended by Interim Sindh Health Minister Saad Khalid Niaz, leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami religious party, Pakistan Medical Association (PMA), the Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA), and members of the Palestine Foundation in the country.

“Today in Karachi, thousands of doctors marched, demanding immediate end to human rights violations, bombing of civilian areas— particularly hospitals,” PIMA wrote on social media platform X.

Hundreds of doctors can be seen in several video clips on social media platforms, marching as they held up placards that read: “Where are human rights? Where is the Geneva Convention?”

Several other placards read: “Doctors, unite for Gaza.”

In a statement, the JI said its Karachi leader Hafiz Naeem ur Rehman appreciated Pakistani doctors for highlighting Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

“He [Rehman] said that by all means, Israel is an illegitimate, terrorist state whereas Hamas is fighting for the liberation of her homeland,” the statement added.

On Sunday, Pakistan’s Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said Israel’s “purposeful” targeting of Palestinians in Gaza violated all standards of human rights and was a breach of international law.

His statement came as the world marked International Human Rights Day. Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.


Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly to elect speaker, deputy speaker today 

Updated 25 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly to elect speaker, deputy speaker today 

  • Election for the post of Sindh chief minister is scheduled to be held on Monday
  • Saturday’s swearing-in of newly elected legislators was marred by political protests

KARACHI: Elections for the coveted posts of speaker and deputy speaker of Pakistan’s Sindh Assembly will be held today, Sunday, state-run media said, a day after newly elected members of the assembly were sworn in. 

Saturday’s oath-taking ceremony was marred by protests in Karachi staged by supporters of various political parties who allege that the Feb. 8 elections were heavily rigged. 

Supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Grand Democratic Alliance, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) and other nationalist parties gathered near the provincial assembly in Karachi’s southern zone to protest alleged manipulation of Feb. 8 election, which was marred by a mobile network outage and delays in release of constituency results.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which bagged the highest number of seats in Sindh, has nominated Murad Ali Shah, former Sindh chief minister, for the top provincial office once again. The party has also nominated Syed Owais Shah for the role of speaker, and Anthony Naveed for the post of deputy speaker of the Sindh provincial assembly.

“Elections of speaker and deputy speaker of Sindh Assembly will be held on Sunday,” the state-run Radio Pakistan said in a report. “On the other hand, the election of Sindh Chief Minister will be held tomorrow (Monday).”

The PPP bagged 84 seats in the southern Pakistani province, followed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) which secured 28 seats, while 14 seats were won by independent candidates. The JI and the GDA won two seats each.

While the inaugural Sindh Assembly session was in progress, several Pakistani parties on Saturday announced they would observe February 27 as a “Black Day” in response to Sindh police firing tear gas at their supporters protesting suspected rigging in the general elections earlier this month.

In view of the protest calls, the Sindh caretaker government on Friday imposed a ban under Section 144 on public assembly, gatherings, protests, processions, and demonstrations in Karachi’s South zone, where the provincial legislature is located, for a period of 30 days, according to the provincial home department.

Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers the administration to issue orders in public interest and place a ban on any activity for a specific period of time.


Ex-PM Sharif’s party bags deputy speaker post in Punjab Assembly 

Updated 19 min 28 sec ago
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Ex-PM Sharif’s party bags deputy speaker post in Punjab Assembly 

  • Zaheer Iqbal Channar defeats Sunni Ittehad Council’s Moin Riaz to become deputy speaker Punjab Assembly
  • Sharif’s PML-N party on Saturday clinched the coveted post of speaker in the Punjab Assembly as well

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party this week bagged the post of deputy speaker in the Punjab Assembly, with elections for the chief minister in Pakistan’s most populous Punjab province scheduled to be held on Monday. 

Malik Ahmed Khan, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) candidate for speaker, was elected as the custodian of the house against the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) candidate, Malik Ahmad Khan Bhachar, on Saturday in the 371-member house. Khan polled 224 votes while Bhachar secured 96.

Meanwhile, the PML-N’s nominee Zaheer Iqbal Channar won the election for the deputy speaker’s post on Saturday, defeating his opponent from the SIC, Moin Riaz. The election of the speaker and deputy speaker was held through secret ballot in the house.

“Zaheer Iqbal Channar has taken oath as deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly,” the PML-N wrote on social media platform X on Saturday. In a video uploaded with the post, Khan can be seen administering oath to Channar. 

Meanwhile, the nominations for the chief minister of Punjab’s election are supposed to be received by the Punjab Assembly today, Sunday, while elections for the coveted post are scheduled to be held on Monday. 

Members of former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party who won the polls had joined the SIC to claim their share of the reserved seats in the assembly since they contested as independents. But the issue is pending before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which is yet to make a decision on the matter.

As the SIC’s Mian Aslam Iqbal— who is wanted by the police in multiple legal cases— could not take oath in the Punjab Assembly as a legislator on Saturday, the PTI announced it has nominated Aftab Ahmad Khan to run for the office of chief minister of Punjab against the PML-N’s candidate, Maryam Nawaz Sharif.

“After consulting Mian Aslam Iqbal, the party leadership and Aslam Iqbal have decided to nominate Aftab Ahmad Khan for the chief minister’s election,” the PTI said on social media platform X. 

The Punjab Assembly is the largest elected house in the country comprising 297 general seats and 74 reserved seats.

Monday’s election will likely see Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, make history as the first woman chief minister of Punjab.

Maryam, 50, plays an influential role in her father’s PML-N and has been presented by him as his political heir apparent. She is senior vice president of the party.


Pakistan’s religious affairs minister calls pilgrims ambassadors of country at Hajj training workshop

Updated 25 February 2024
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Pakistan’s religious affairs minister calls pilgrims ambassadors of country at Hajj training workshop

  • Aneeq Ahmed asks them to uphold the country’s prestige while carrying out spiritual journey to Saudi Arabia
  • The minister asks pilgrims to pray for the peace and stability of the country while visiting Islam’s holiest cities

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Minister for Religious Affairs Aneeq Ahmed highlighted the role of pilgrims as Pakistan’s ambassadors to Saudi Arabia while addressing a training workshop in Karachi’s Hajji Camp on Saturday, emphasizing the importance of upholding the country’s prestige.
Ahmed visited the kingdom in recent months to make Hajj preparations for his country where he met several Saudi officials to discuss the possibility of expanding facilities for pilgrims departing from the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Karachi.
He also evaluated the arrangements for the annual Islamic pilgrimage with catering and accommodation representatives and discussed with private Hajj operators how to maximize the provision of services.
“Aneeq Ahmed said that Pakistani pilgrims should increase the prestige of Pakistan during their stay in Saudi Arabia,” said a press release. “All pilgrims are ambassadors of Pakistan. Pilgrims should also pray for peace and stability in their country.”
The minister informed the participants of the workshop a cellphone app had been launched for pilgrims to make their journey more convenient. He also said pilgrims would be given free SIMs, briefcases and abayas for women by the government.
The Associated Press of Pakistan news agency reported the complimentary SIMs would offer 180 minutes of talk time for pilgrims to connect with family back home.
Hajj 2024 training workshops, educational training sessions designed by the government to educate pilgrims about the rituals and procedures of performing the pilgrimage, kicked off in Pakistan earlier this month.
Hajj, a once-in-a-lifetime religious duty for Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, is expected to run from June 14-19 this year.


X platform disrupted in Pakistan for full week after disputed election

Updated 24 February 2024
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X platform disrupted in Pakistan for full week after disputed election

  • NetBlocks calls Pakistan’s use of network shutdowns and restrictions to overtly target political parties unprecedented
  • Internet monitors say the situation is restricting citizens’ ability to engage in online discourse, express dissenting opinions

ISLAMABAD: Nationwide disruption to social media platform X passed the one-week mark in Pakistan on Saturday, with digital rights monitors warning outages were quashing dissent after an election marred by rigging claims.
The platform, formerly known as Twitter, was downed last Saturday after a senior government official made a public admission of vote manipulation in the February 8 poll.
Over the past week, it has been operational only intermittently, with access varying depending on the Internet service provider.
“Pakistan’s directed use of network shutdowns and restrictions to overtly target political parties and the reporting of election irregularities is unprecedented,” Alp Toker of the NetBlocks web watchdog told AFP.
AFP staff reported that X remained disrupted in the capital Islamabad as well as the megacities of Lahore and Karachi on Saturday.
Pakistan’s telecommunication authority declined to comment while the interior ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party called for nationwide protests after the admission of vote-rigging last week.
“Protesting political parties have actively been using X for freedom of expression, access to information, to assemble online and for other associated rights,” said web monitor Bytes for All.
The disruption “restricts citizens’ ability to engage in online discourse, share information, and express dissenting opinions,” the organization wrote in a report published Friday.
In the months leading to the polling day, PTI suffered a crackdown restricting canvassing and forcing candidates to run as independents.
Its campaign moved mostly online where social media events were censored by numerous nationwide blackouts of X as well as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and YouTube.
Outages were blamed on “technical difficulties” by the government.
Despite the restrictions, PTI-backed candidates gained more seats than any other party. But it has been unwilling to ally with rivals, paving the way for the military-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) to form a government.
Mobile Internet services were cut across the country on the election day, with the interior ministry citing security reasons.
The blackout, coupled with a long delay in issuing voting results, gave rise to allegations of rigging.


Karachi Kings clinch thrilling victory over Lahore Qalandars in PSL nail-biter

Updated 24 February 2024
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Karachi Kings clinch thrilling victory over Lahore Qalandars in PSL nail-biter

  • Qalandars gave 176-run target to the Kings, but it seemed slightly low for a batting track
  • Karachi struggled against Lahore’s pace attack, yet they reached the target in the last over

ISLAMABAD: The storied rivalry between Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars culminated in an electrifying Pakistan Super League (PSL) showdown at Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore, with the former’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss playing a crucial role in their two-wicket victory in the match.
The Qalandars faced an early setback when opener Fakhar Zaman was caught by Shan Masood with the team’s total at just 9. However, Sahibzada Farhan rose to the occasion with an unbeaten 72-run knock off 45 deliveries, including four 6s and four 4s.
Despite consistently losing wickets, Lahore managed to post 175/6 by the end of the first 20 overs. Contributions came from Rassie van der Dussen (26), Shai Hope (21) and George Linde (26), but the 176-run target seemed slightly low for the batting track.
Lahore’s pacers, however, put up a strong defense of the total, with all seasoned bowlers taking at least one wicket.
Zaman Khan stood out, dismissing two batters and finishing his four overs with an economy rate of 6.25.
The Kings faced challenges from Qalandar’s bowling but ultimately reached the 176-run target, clinching the match by two wickets.
Kieron Pollard was the standout batter for the Kings, scoring 58 runs off 33 balls.
“Pulled out a thriller,” Karachi exclaimed in a post on platform X. “Another win in the bag.”