Pakistan’s army chief visits Balochistan, stresses region’s development as key to country’s success

In this handout photo, taken and released by Pakistan’s Inter-Service Public Relations (ISPR), Pakistan Army Chief General Asim Munir speaks about the Green Pakistan Initiative, an environmental project, with local farmers at Awaran district in Balochistan on March 5, 2024. (Photo courtesy: ISPR)
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Updated 08 March 2024
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Pakistan’s army chief visits Balochistan, stresses region’s development as key to country’s success

  • General Munir was briefed about the efforts made by the security forces to ensure the region’s socioeconomic development
  • He promises all agricultural facilities to farmers to help them cultivate their lands and become partners in country’s progress

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir visited the impoverished and insurgency-prone Balochistan province in southwestern Pakistan on Friday, interacting with farmers and evaluating the security situation, while emphasizing the region’s development as imperative for the success of the entire country.
Balochistan, which lies at the heart of Pakistan’s economic development plans, has been a scene of low-level insurgency for several decades.
Despite being rich in natural resources like gas, oil and minerals, the province remains one of the poorest places in Pakistan, prompting a separatist movement by armed nationalist groups that accused the central government in Islamabad for not letting the region get its fair share of the wealth.
Baloch nationals have also blamed Pakistani security forces for enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, though these allegations have been frequently denied by the country’s civilian and military authorities.
The army chief visited Balochistan’s Awaran district earlier in the day where he was briefed about the efforts made by the security forces to ensure the socioeconomic development and enhancement of the province’s agriculture potential.
“Success of Balochistan is success of Pakistan,” he was quoted as saying in an official statement released by the military’s media wing, ISPR. “People of Pakistan are proud of the brave people of Balochistan who have stood tall against all odds. Armed Forces of Pakistan and Law Enforcement Agencies will continue to render their services in support of the people of Balochistan for peace and prosperity.”
General Munir interacted with the local elders and farmers in the area, emphasizing the significance of agriculture and the army’s commitment to the Green Pakistan Initiative, an environmental project aimed at combating climate change and deforestation in the country.
He said that farmers would be given all kinds of agricultural facilities, including the provision of easy loans, seeds, fertilizers, solar tube wells and guidance from experts, to help them cultivate their lands and become partners in the progress and development of their country.
The army chief also inaugurated Cadet College Awaran and interacted with its students and faculty members.
General Munir was received by the corps commander of the Balochistan Corps upon arrival to the district.


Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to Pakistan will prove to be ‘game changer’ in bilateral ties — minister

Updated 14 sec ago
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Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to Pakistan will prove to be ‘game changer’ in bilateral ties — minister

  • Pakistan’s deputy PM this month said the much-awaited visit was ‘on the cards,’ but neither side has confirmed any dates
  • The statement came amid Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s efforts to increase bilateral trade and reach investment agreements

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said on Saturday that a proposed visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Pakistan would prove to be a “game changer” in bilateral ties between both countries, adding the entire Pakistani nation was awaiting the high-profile visit.
Naqvi said this during his visit to the Saudi embassy in Islamabad, where he met the Kingdom’s ambassador, Nawaf bin Saeed Al-Malki, according to the Pakistani interior ministry. The two figures discussed matters of mutual interest, including the Crown Prince’s visit, Pakistan-Saudi Arabia relations and bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Pakistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar this month said a much-awaited visit of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Islamabad was “on the cards” and could materialize any time during May. But neither of the two sides has confirmed any dates.
“The historic brotherly friendship of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is turning into a beneficial economic relationship,” Naqvi was quoted as saying by his ministry.
“The people of Pakistan are looking forward to the visit of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. The visit of the Saudi Crown Prince will prove to be a game changer in relations between the two countries.”
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have lately been working closely to increase bilateral trade and investment deals, with the Crown Prince last month reaffirming the Kingdom’s commitment to expedite an investment package of $5 billion.
A high-level Saudi business delegation, led by the Kingdom’s Assistant Minister of Investment Ibrahim Al-Mubarak, this month visited Pakistan to explore investment opportunities in various sectors, including mineral, energy, agriculture and petroleum.
“Saudi Arabia has supported Pakistan in every test,” Naqvi said. “The recent visit of Saudi Arabian investors to Pakistan was very successful.”
On the occasion, the Saudi ambassador said the Kingdom attached “great importance” to its relations with Pakistan, according to the Pakistani interior ministry.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense, and cultural ties. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates and serves as a top source of remittances to the cash-strapped South Asian country.
Saudi Arabia has also often come to cash-strapped Pakistan’s aid by regularly providing it oil on deferred payment and offering direct financial support to help stabilize its economy and shore up its forex reserves.


Ambassador says five Pakistani students injured in Kyrgyzstan mob violence

Updated 42 min 30 sec ago
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Ambassador says five Pakistani students injured in Kyrgyzstan mob violence

  • One Pakistani student admitted to Bishkek hospital with jaw injuries, four others released after first aid, Pakistan’s envoy says
  • Around 6,000 Pakistanis are studying in Bishkek, where mob violence erupted after some Egyptians quarreled with locals

ISLAMABAD: Five Pakistani medical students were injured in a mob attack on foreign students in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, Pakistan’s ambassador to Kyrgyzstan said on Saturday.
A number of incidents of mob violence against foreign students have been reported in Bishkek since Friday evening. The matter boiled over due to sharing online of videos of a brawl between Kyrgyz students and medical students from Egypt on May 13, the Pakistani embassy said on Facebook, citing the Kyrgyz press.
So far, a few hostels of medical universities in Bishkek and private residences of international students, including Pakistanis, have been attacked. The hostels are inhabited by students from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and there have been reports of minor injuries to some Pakistani students.
“Five Pakistani students were injured in the mob violence. One of them is admitted in a local hospital with some jaw injuries, while four others were released after first aid,” Hasan Zaigham, Pakistan’s ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, told Arab News over the phone.

Pakistani student receives treatment at the National Hospital in Bishkek on May 18, 2024, following a brawl among foreign and local students in Kyrgyz capital early Saturday. (Photo courtesy: 24.KG News Agency)

“No Pakistani is killed or raped in the violence,” he said, rebutting rumors on social media. “The situation is under control now as Bishkek authorities have dispersed all the miscreants.”
The ambassador said they had advised Pakistani students to stay indoors and get in touch with the embassy in case of any urgency. “We are in touch with the local law enforcement authorities to ensure safety of our students,” he said.
Around 10,000 Pakistani students are enrolled in different institutes in Kyrgyzstan and nearly 6,000 of them are residing and studying in Bishkek where the violence erupted Friday night, according to Zaigham.
He said some Egyptian students had a brawl with the local people earlier this week, after which videos of the fight were shared online, inciting violence and mob attacks by the local people in Bishkek against all foreign students living in different hostels in the city.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his concerns over the violence around student hostels in Bishkek and asked his country’s embassy to help Pakistani students in the city.
“Deeply concerned over the situation of Pakistani students in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I have directed Pakistan’s Ambassador to provide all necessary help and assistance,” Sharif said on X. “My office is also in touch with the Embassy and constantly monitoring the situation.”
Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign office, said the Pakistani embassy had responded to hundreds of queries by students and their families. She said Pakistan’s envoy and his team were available on the emergency contact numbers: +996555554476 and +996507567667.
“In case the numbers do not connect because of phone traffic, please text/WhatsApp,” Baloch said on X.
The Pakistani embassy earlier said it had been able to contact over 250 students and their family members in Pakistan, adding the violence appeared to be directed at all foreign students and was not specific to Pakistanis.
It said this was an evolving situation and they would inform the Pakistani community in Kyrgyzstan and their relatives in Pakistan about any further developments.


Religion minister inspects catering arrangements for Pakistani Hajj pilgrims in Madinah

Updated 18 May 2024
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Religion minister inspects catering arrangements for Pakistani Hajj pilgrims in Madinah

  • Pakistan’s Hajj Mission has hired seven catering companies in Madinah to oversee food arrangements for pilgrims
  • Chaudhry Salik Hussain urges catering firms to pay special attention to quality of flour, vegetables, meat and spices

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s religious affairs minister, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, has visited various firms in Madinah and inspected catering arrangements for Pakistani Hajj pilgrims, the Pakistani religious affairs ministry said on Saturday.
Pakistan’s Hajj Mission has hired seven catering companies in Madinah to oversee food arrangements for pilgrims as they arrive in Saudi Arabia’s holy cities from for the upcoming Hajj pilgrimage in June.
Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and requires every adult Muslim to undertake the journey to the holy Islamic sites in Makkah at least once in their lifetime if they are financially and physically able.
Hussain, who is currently in the Kingdom, inspected various stages of food preparation and packaging for the pilgrims, and lauded all departments for the “excellent work.”
“Special attention should be paid to the quality of flour, rice, vegetables, meat, pulses and spices,” he was quoted as telling officials of catering firms. “Catering companies should try to use all ingredients, spices and meat from Pakistan.”
He said using Pakistani commodities and spices would not only benefit Pakistan, but it would also maintain the Pakistani taste, adding that an online survey through the Pak Hajj mobile app would be conducted for the feedback of the pilgrims.
Pakistan has a Hajj quota of 179,210 pilgrims this year, of which 63,805 people will perform the pilgrimage under the government scheme, while the rest will use private tour operators. This year’s pilgrimage is expected to run from June 14-19.
Pakistani pilgrims have been arriving in Madinah since May 9 when Pakistan launched its pre-Hajj flight operation. More than 20,000 Pakistani pilgrims have since arrived in Madinah under the government scheme.


Toronto-bound PIA flight diverted to Karachi due to ‘technical fault’ — spokesperson

Updated 18 May 2024
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Toronto-bound PIA flight diverted to Karachi due to ‘technical fault’ — spokesperson

  • PIA spokesperson says the flight, PK-781, departed from Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad late Friday
  • But the fault forced captain to return instead of continuing the long flight over the Atlantic, he adds

KARACHI: A Toronto-bound Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight was diverted to Karachi due to a “technical fault” it encountered after the take-off, a PIA spokesperson said on Friday.
The flight, PK-781, departed from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad late Friday, according to PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan.
The technical fault with the aircraft was “minor,” but the captain preferred to return instead of continuing the long flight over the Atlantic Ocean.
“The decision to bring the plane to Karachi was made due to better arrangements at the engineering base and availability of spare parts,” Khan said in a statement.
The airlines made the arrangements for the return of the flight to Karachi as well as food, transportation and accommodation of passengers, according to the PIA spokesperson.
“The flight has been rescheduled to depart for Toronto at 1pm tomorrow (Saturday),” he added.
Pakistan is set to privatize the national airline, which has been facing a financial crisis for the last several years, by June and July as part of the requirements set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
On Friday, the Ministry of Privatization named eight business entities that have expressed interest in acquiring stakes in the PIA.
Pakistan agreed to overhaul its public sector entities under a $3 billion short-term loan package it signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) last year to avert a sovereign debt default.


PM Sharif asks Pakistan embassy to help local students amid Bishkek mob violence

Updated 18 May 2024
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PM Sharif asks Pakistan embassy to help local students amid Bishkek mob violence

  • There have been a number of incidents of mob violence against foreign students in Bishkek since last evening, Pakistan embassy says
  • The matter boiled over due to sharing online of videos of a fight between Kyrgyz students and medical students from Egypt on May 13

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday expressed his concern over mob violence around student hostels in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek and asked the Pakistani ambassador to help local students in the city.
There have been a number of incidents of mob violence against foreign students in Bishkek since last evening. The matter boiled over due to sharing online of videos of a fight between Kyrgyz students and medical students from Egypt on May 13, the Pakistani embassy said on Facebook, citing the Kyrgyz press. 
So far, a few hostels of medical universities in Bishkek and private residences of international students, including Pakistanis, have been attacked. The hostels are inhabited by students from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and there have been reports of minor injuries to a number of students from Pakistan.
“Deeply concerned over the situation of Pakistani students in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. I have directed Pakistan’s Ambassador to provide all necessary help and assistance,” Sharif said on X. “My office is also in touch with the Embassy and constantly monitoring the situation.”
Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani foreign office, said the Pakistani embassy had responded to hundreds of queries by students and their families. She said Pakistan’s envoy and his team were available on the emergency contact numbers: +996555554476 and +996507567667.
“In case the numbers do not connect because of phone traffic, please text/WhatsApp,” Baloch said on X.
The Pakistani embassy earlier said the violence appeared to be directed against all foreign students and not specific to Pakistanis, adding that it had been able to contact over 250 students and their family members in Pakistan.
It said this was an evolving situation and they would inform the Pakistani community in Kyrgyzstan and their relatives in Pakistan about any further developments.