Weather forecasters warn Pakistanis to stay indoors ahead of new heat wave

Motorcyclists cover their face with a scarf to protect themselves from heat as they travel on a road, in Hyderabad, Pakistan, on May 21, 2024. (P)
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Updated 21 May 2024
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Weather forecasters warn Pakistanis to stay indoors ahead of new heat wave

  • Health officials say hospitals have been instructed to set up emergency heatwave response centers to treat people
  • Doctors say heatstroke is a serious illness that occurs when one’s body temperature rises quickly amid sweltering heat

ISLAMABAD: Authorities in Pakistan on Tuesday urged people to stay indoors as the country is hit by an extreme heat wave that threatens to bring dangerously high temperatures and yet another round of glacial-driven floods.

Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab, is shutting all schools for a week because of the heat, affecting an estimated 18 million students.

“The sweltering heat will continue this month,” said Zaheer Ahmed Babar, a senior official at the Pakistan Meteorological Department. He added that temperatures could reach up to 6 degrees Celsius (10.8 Fahrenheit) above the monthly average. This week could rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in many parts of the country, Babar said.

It’s the latest climate-related disaster to hit the country in recent years. Melting glaciers and growing monsoons have caused devastating floods, at one point submerging a third of the country.

Pakistan recorded its wettest April since 1961, with more than double the usual monthly rainfall, according to the national weather center. Last month’s heavy rains killed scores of people while destroyed property and farmland, experts say the country witnessed heavier rains because of climate change.

Pakistan is still trying to recover from $30 billion in losses caused by devastating climate-induced floods that killed 1,739 people in 2022.

According to health officials, hospitals were instructed to set up emergency heatwave response centers so that those affected by the scorching temperatures could be quickly treated.

Doctors say heatstroke is a serious illness that occurs when one’s body temperature rises quickly because of sweltering heat, potentially causing some to fall unconscious. A severe heatstroke can cause disability or death.

Some areas in Pakistan are also currently facing hours-long power outages.

“We were without electricity for hours on Monday,” said Ibrar Abbasi, who lives on the outskirts of Islamabad.

Scientists have long warned that climate change, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and certain agricultural practices, will lead to more frequent and prolonged bouts of extreme weather, including hotter temperatures.

Babar said another intense heat wave will hit the country in June, when the temperature is likely to reach 45 degrees (113 Fahrenheit). He said people should drink a lot of water and avoid unnecessary travel. Farmers and other livestock owners should take measures to protect their animals during extreme heat, he said.

However, many people, especially laborers and construction workers in the impoverished nation, ask how they can stay indoors as their families will suffer if they don’t work.

“I am not feeling well because of the stifling heat, but I have to work,” said Ghulam Farid, who owns a small general store in Sheikhupra, a city in Punjab province.

Construction workers were seen sitting near a road on the outskirts of the capital, Islamabad, hoping to get a job. Among them was Mohammad Khursheed, 52, who said he has noticed a change in the patterns of seasons.


Pakistan PM conveys Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s king, other Muslim rulers

Updated 7 sec ago
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Pakistan PM conveys Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s king, other Muslim rulers

  • Eid Al-Adha marks Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son on God’s command
  • The three-day event is one of the two major Muslim festivals on the Islamic calendar

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday conveyed Eid Al-Adha greetings to Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa and other Muslim rulers.
Several Muslim countries, mainly in the Middle East, marked the three-day Eid Al-Adha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, on Sunday, while others will celebrate the occasion on Monday. It commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ismail, as recounted in the Holy Qur’an.
Sharif held a telephonic conversation with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa and exchanged warm greetings on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, according to the Pakistan PM’s office.
“The two leaders expressed their mutual respect and admiration for the strong historical ties between Pakistan and Bahrain, built on shared values and cultural affinities,” it said in a statement.
“The Prime Minister acknowledged and appreciated Bahrain’s support and cooperation in various fields over the years. In particular, he thanked His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for his respect and affection toward Pakistan.”
The three-day festival of Eid Al-Adha is one of the two most important festivals on the Islamic calendar. Muslims celebrate the occasion by slaughtering animals such as cattle and goats and share their meat among family and friends and the poor.
In his telephonic conversation with Tajikistan’s president, Sharif and Emomali Rahmon greeted each other on Eid and expressed their wishes for peace, prosperity, and development of both countries.
“The two leaders also expressed satisfaction at the positive trajectory of bilateral relations and reaffirmed their shared desire to enhance ties in through trade, energy, and connectivity,” Sharif’s office said.
“Both leaders also discussed the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Astana and reiterated their commitment to strengthen mutually beneficial regional integration and cooperation.”
During another phone call, Sharif and Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev exchanged Eid wishes and reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations, especially in the domain of trade, defense and energy.
“They expressed satisfaction on the positive trajectory of relations and agreed to continue working closely to further strengthen bilateral ties to match the political goodwill that exists between both countries,” Sharif’s office said in a statement.
“In addition, they also discussed ways to deal with common challenges, especially climate change. The Prime Minister congratulated Azerbaijan for hosting the COP29 in Baku later this year and thanked President Aliyev for extending a personal invitation to him to participate in the event.”
Sharif also spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and conveyed his best wishes to him on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.
“They reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields, including trade, investment, defense, and tourism,” Sharif’s office said.
“The Prime Minister and the President also discussed ways to promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.”


Pakistani Taliban announce three-day ceasefire with government on Eid Al-Adha

Updated 14 min 44 sec ago
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Pakistani Taliban announce three-day ceasefire with government on Eid Al-Adha

  • The Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban
  • In recent months, TTP has claimed a number of attacks mainly in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani Taliban on Sunday announced a three-day ceasefire with the government in Islamabad on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, amid a renewed surge in militant violence in the South Asian country.
The Pakistani Taliban, or the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban. They have been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021.
In recent months, the Pakistani Taliban have claimed a number of attacks and are suspected by officials in several others, mainly in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province that borders Afghanistan.
In its statement, the TTP said its leader, Mufti Abu Mansoor Asim, announced the ceasefire on June 17-19, which correspond with the three-day Eid festival, on the “demand of the Pakistani people.”
“Therefore, all institutions and Mujahideen of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan should obey the above orders,” the group said in a statement. “If an action is taken by the [Pakistani] army and security agencies on this occasion, then all Mujahideen should ensure their self-defense.”
Similarly, the group said, its leader had issued a decree to reduce the sentences of all “prisoners” held by the TTP by two months.
Pakistan has witnessed a spike in militant violence in its two western provinces, KP and Balochistan, since the Pakistani Taliban called off their fragile, months-long truce with the government in November 2022.
Pakistan says Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are giving shelter to TTP fighters across the unruly border. The Afghan Taliban government insists it doesn’t allow anyone to use Afghan soil for violence in any country.


Pakistan to play for pride against Ireland today in Florida dead rubber

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan to play for pride against Ireland today in Florida dead rubber

  • Both Pakistan and Ireland have already been eliminated from T20 World Cup following dismal performances
  • Pakistani all-rounder Imad Wasim concedes team at “lowest point,” calls for “drastic change” in country’s cricket

ISLAMABAD: Skipper Babar Azam’s side will face Ireland today, Sunday, in Florida a dead rubber with the two Group A sides are already out of the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 following a string of poor performances this month.
India, with seven points from three wins and an abandoned match, have qualified for the Super Eight stage of the World Cup. The other team to join the 2007 champions from Group A is the United States, which shocked the world on June 6 by beating Pakistan in a Super Over thriller.
Azam’s side then succumbed to a six-run defeat against India in New York on June 9 in a low-scoring contest, which triggered furor on social media in Pakistan. Cricket fans in Pakistan lamented the team’s poor batting performance who failed to chase a 120-run target.
Pakistan, who have beaten only Canada in the tournament so far, lost their chance to qualify after the USA-Ireland match was washed away by rain on Friday.
“Match Day. Our final game of the tournament,” the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) wrote on social media platform X ahead of the fixture.
’PAKISTAN AT LOWEST POINT’
Speaking at a pre-match conference on Saturday, Pakistani all-rounder Imad Wasim conceded the green shirts were at their lowest point following a first-round elimination from the World Cup.
“This is the lowest point. You can’t go any lower than this. That’s the fact,” he told reporters at a news conference. 
Asked whether there needed to be major changes, the 35-year-old left-arm spinner said it was clear that radical changes were needed.
“It’s not my domain but I think there should be changes and there should be a drastic change so we can move forward,” he said.
Wasim, who came out of a brief retirement for this tournament, said that the change needed to be far-reaching.
“In everything and every aspect. How to take the game on? How to play the game? This is what I believed in and this is why I came back and tried to do things but it didn’t happen,” he added.
Squads:
Pakistan: (probable) 1 Mohammad Rizwan (wk) 2 Saim Ayub 3 Babar Azam (capt) 4 Fakhar Zaman 5 Usman Khan 6 Shadab Khan 7 Imad Wasim 8 Shaheen Afridi/Abbas Afridi 9 Naseem Shah/Abrar Ahmed 10 Haris Rauf 11 Mohammad Amir
Ireland: (probable) 1 Andy Balbirnie 2 Paul Stirling (capt) 3 Lorcan Tucker (wk) 4 Harry Tector 5 Curtis Campher 6 George Dockrell 7 Gareth Delany 8 Mark Adair 9 Barry McCarthy 10 Josh Little 11 Craig Young/Ben White


Pakistan creating special police unit to protect foreigners in Islamabad— interior minister

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan creating special police unit to protect foreigners in Islamabad— interior minister

  • Pakistan’s interior minister meets China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong in Islamabad 
  • Separatist and religiously motivated militants have targeted Chinese nationals in Pakistan recently

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government is creating a special police unit for the protection of foreign nationals in Islamabad, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said on Sunday, as Pakistan looks to bolster security for Chinese citizens in the country. 

Naqvi’s comments came during a meeting with China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong at the Chinese embassy in Islamabad on Sunday, state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said. 

China is a major ally and investor in Pakistan but both separatist and religiously motivated militants have attacked Chinese projects in recent years, killing Chinese personnel. 

The most recent attack targeting Chinese nationals took place in March when five Chinese workers were killed in a suicide bombing. The Chinese nationals were on their way to a hydropower project funded by Beijing being built in Dasu in the country’s northwest when their vehicle was targeted. 

“Mohsin Naqvi said a separate force SPU [Special Protection Unit] is being created in Islamabad for the protection of foreign nationals,” Radio Pakistan said in a report. 

The March blast was the third major attack in a little over a week on China’s interests in the South Asian nation, where Beijing has invested more than $65 billion in infrastructure, energy and other projects as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

China has repeatedly called on Pakistan to ensure its nationals in the South Asian country are kept safe from militant attacks. Islamabad has since then taken measures to enhance the security of Chinese nationals in the country. 

Naqvi briefed the Chinese envoy regarding the security plan for Chinese engineers and staff working on CPEC and other projects, the state media said. 

“The minister said no one can create a rift in the eternal friendship between Pakistan and China and any such conspiracy will never be allowed to succeed,” Radio Pakistan said. 

The minister said the security of Chinese nationals working for Pakistan’s construction and development was Islamabad’s first priority. 

“The Chinese ambassador expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements,” Radio Pakistan said. 

An SPU of the police has already been formed in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi for the security of Chinese nationals in the metropolis. 

Sindh’s top cop earlier this week reviewed security measures for Chinese nationals in the southern Pakistani province. 


Pakistan Army rescue injured Estonian mountaineer trapped in Gilgit-Baltistan

Updated 16 June 2024
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Pakistan Army rescue injured Estonian mountaineer trapped in Gilgit-Baltistan

  • Saama Marie injured her leg while climbing Nanga Parbat mountain in Gilgit-Baltistan
  • Marie has been shifted to Skardu for medical treatment, confirms Pakistan Television News

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army has rescued Estonian climber Saama Marie who injured her leg whilst attempting to climb the Nanga Parbat mountain in the country’s northern Gilgit-Baltistan region, state broadcaster Pakistan Television (PTV) News said on Sunday. 

Pakistan is home to five of the world’s tallest mountains that loom above 8,000 meters, including K2 and Nanga Parbat, known for their treacherous climbs. Nanga Parbat is one of the world’s tallest mountains standing at 26,660 feet. It is situated in the Pakistani-administered sector of the Himalayan Kashmir region.

Marie last updated followers on her Facebook account on June 9 that she had camped on the slope of Ganalo at the Nanga Parbat mountain at an altitude of 4,900 meters. There had been no update from her since then. 
In a video shared by PTV News, two men can be seen carrying an injured Marie to a Pakistan Army helicopter from the snowcapped mountain. 
“I have a leg injury and I have currently escaped by [the help of] Pakistan Army helicopter, taken from Nanga Parbat base camp to Skardu hospital,” she said from the helicopter. 
PTV News confirmed in a post on social media platform X that the Estonian climber had been shifted to Skardu for medical treatment. 
The development takes place a day after local officials confirmed the body of one of two Japanese climbers, reported missing earlier this week, was found at the 7,027-meter Spantik peak in Gilgit-Baltistan on Saturday. 
Authorities launched a search operation for the other Japanese climber. 
Pakistan’s mountains attract climbers from all parts of the world. According to official figures, over 8,900 foreigners visited the remote Gilgit-Baltistan region in 2023 where the summer climbing season runs from early June to late August.