Pakistan says severe heat wave conditions likely to subside from today in parts of country 

Boys bathe in the waters of Rawal dam on a hot summer day in Islamabad on May 23, 2024. (AFP/File)
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Updated 28 May 2024
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Pakistan says severe heat wave conditions likely to subside from today in parts of country 

  • Dust and thunderstorms as well as isolated rain in upper parts of the country from today, Tuesday, until June 1
  • Pakistan in the grips of an intense heat wave since last week, temperatures soared past 52°C in Sindh this week

ISLAMABAD: The National Disaster Management Authority has predicted dust and thunderstorms as well as isolated rain in upper parts of the country from today, Tuesday, until June 1, saying an ongoing “severe” heat wave would likely subside in some parts of the country.

Pakistan’s disaster management authority warned earlier this month temperatures in certain areas of Pakistan’s southern Sindh and eastern Punjab provinces could surge to 40 degrees Celsius between May 15-30. The Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) warned of an “intense” heat wave in the southern districts of Punjab, with severe risk identified in Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan districts from May 21 to May 27.

Temperatures rose above 52 degrees Celsius (125.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh, the highest reading of the summer and close to the country’s record high amid an ongoing heat wave, the met office said on Monday.

“Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has forecasted that a westerly wave is likely to enter western parts of the country from 28th May 2024 and likely to grip upper parts on 1st June 2024,” the NDMA said in an advisory released on Monday, listing districts in the country where thunder and dust storms and rains were expected this week.

In the northern regions of the country like the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, the NDMA predicted that heavy rainfall and thunderstorms could disrupt roads, electricity and other utilities between May 28 and June 1. 

“Heavy Rainfall may generate flash flooding in local nullahs / streams and river tributaries. Landslides, mudslides, may lead to potential road blockages in Upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Galiyat, Murree, Gilgit Baltistan and State of AJ&K,” the NDMA said. “Windstorms / Hailstorms may damage crops, loose structures, etc. Thunderstorms to increase risk of lightning strikes.”

The authority advised farmers and tourists to remain cautious during the spell.

The NDMA also predicted that heavy rainfall could cause flash floods in the southwestern Balochistan province, as well as land and mudslides that could block roads and disrupt power, and wind and hailstorms that could damage crops and loose structures. 

In the provinces of Punjab and Sindh as well as the Islamabad Capital Territory, hill torrents are expected in DG Khan and Rajanpur.

“Heavy Rainfall may generate flash flooding in local nullahs / streams and river tributaries. Windstorms / Hailstorms may damage crops, loose structures, etc,” the NDMA said. “Thunderstorms to increase risk of lightning strikes. Electricity / other utility services may get disrupted.”

 Addressing a press conference last week, the Prime Minister’s Coordinator on Climate Change Romina Khurshid Alam said 26 districts of the country were in the grips of a heat wave since May 21. 

Alam said the first wave would last till May 30, the second would begin from June 7-8 and the third one in the last week of June. May and June were recorded as the “hottest and driest” with higher monthly average temperatures, she added, appealing to the masses, especially children and elderly, to adopt preventive measures.

She noted that the severity of heat waves had increased rapidly during the past few months with 13 districts of Sindh, nine of Punjab and four districts of Balochistan experiencing “severe heat.”

“Harsh weather is likely to persist at least till June 3. There is no possibility for respite, at least for Sindh. The heat spell may break in parts of Punjab but that, too, after June 4,” the chief meteorologist said last week.

Increased exposure to heat, and more heat waves, have been identified as one of the key impacts of climate change in Pakistan, with people experiencing extreme heat and seeing some of the highest temperatures in the world in recent years. The South Asian country of more than 241 million, one of the ten most vulnerable nations to climate change impacts, has also recently witnessed untimely downpours, flash floods and droughts.

Climate change-induced extreme heat can cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and hyperthermia. It can make certain chronic conditions worse, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular disease and diabetes-related conditions, and can also result in acute incidents, such as hospitalizations due to strokes or renal disease.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index, nearly 10,000 Pakistanis died while the country has suffered economic losses worth $3.8 billion due to climate change impacts between 1999 and 2018. A deadly heat wave that hit Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, the capital of Sindh, claimed 120 lives in 2015.

In 2022, torrential monsoon rains triggered the most devastating floods in Pakistan’s history, killing around 1,700 people and affecting over 33 million, a staggering number close to the population of Canada. Millions of homes, tens of thousands of schools and thousands of kilometers of roads and railways are yet to be rebuilt.


Senior Chinese Communist Party leader to arrive in Pakistan, co-chair CPEC progress talks

Updated 20 June 2024
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Senior Chinese Communist Party leader to arrive in Pakistan, co-chair CPEC progress talks

  • Liu Jianchao will meet officials of Pakistani political parties along with the civil and military leadership
  • The foreign office says the CPEC meeting will focus on its upgradation, regional connectivity potential

ISLAMABAD: A top leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Liu Jianchao, is scheduled to arrive in Islamabad today, Thursday, to co-chair the 3rd Meeting of the Pakistan-China Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) to discuss progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), according to an official statement released a day earlier.
Established in 2019, the JCM of political parties on CPEC serves as a regular consultation mechanism between the Communist Party of China and political parties of Pakistan.
Its first meeting took place in Beijing in March 2019, while the second, held in August 2020, was conducted virtually.
“At the Third Meeting of the JCM, Pakistan and China will review the progress of CPEC projects, CPEC’s contribution to Pakistan’s socioeconomic development, and its up-gradation and extension for regional connectivity,” the foreign office said.
It maintained Liu’s visit was part of high-level exchanges between the two countries, reflecting the importance they attached to the bilateral strategic partnership.
The Chinese Communist Party official will reach Islamabad just a few days after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif concluded his five-day visit to China where he met with the top political leadership along with a number of investors and representatives of top technology companies.
The two countries have principally agreed to usher CPEC into its second phase, expanding beyond the initial focus on infrastructure and energy to include broader economic and social development goals. This new phase emphasizes rural revitalization, agricultural modernization, industrialization and green development.
It also focuses on establishing Special Economic Zones to foster industrial growth and create jobs.
Liu’s was invited to visit Pakistan by Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar. He will also hold meetings with Pakistan’s top political and military leadership during his stay in the country.


Pakistan launches post-Hajj flight operation, plans to bring back 1,200 pilgrims today

Updated 20 June 2024
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Pakistan launches post-Hajj flight operation, plans to bring back 1,200 pilgrims today

  • Religious affairs ministry asks pilgrims to get Zamzam water from designated spots at relevant airports
  • The flight operation will continue until July 21 to bring back 70,000 pilgrims on government Hajj scheme

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan launched the post-Hajj flight operation on Thursday, bringing back the first batch of 150 pilgrims from Saudi Arabia, with the religious affairs ministry saying that nearly 1,200 devotees would return via seven special flights to four different cities by the end of the day.
Transporting large numbers of pilgrims to and from Saudi Arabia during the Hajj season presents a significant logistical challenge, prompting the government to launch special flights, ensuring safe and timely travel for pilgrims.
The first post-Hajj flight operated between Jeddah and Multan, with six additional flights scheduled to return pilgrims to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad later in the day.
The religious affairs ministry announced that 720 Pakistani pilgrims in Saudi Arabia will also travel to Madinah today. These pilgrims arrived in the kingdom shortly before Hajj began and were taken directly to Makkah, not having enough time to visit the Prophet’s Mosque before.
“The Hajj flight operation from Jeddah for the return of pilgrims will continue until July 9,” the ministry said in a statement. “The last Hajj flight from Madinah will arrive back in the homeland on July 21. The return of 70,000 government Hajj pilgrims will also be completed on July 21.”
In a separate statement, the ministry also announced the arrangements for distributing Zamzam water among pilgrims availing the government scheme.
“The ministry has made all airlines responsible through an agreement to facilitate pilgrims at designated points to collect Zamzam water,” it said.
The statement urged the pilgrims to collect the water from relevant airports and book it with their luggage.
Pilgrims often bring Zamzam water back from Hajj because it is considered sacred within Islam. The water comes from the Zamzam well located within the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
It is also believed to have unique properties and blessings, ensuring spiritual benefits and healing.


Pakistani cricket star Afridi under fire after photo at pro-Israel event in UK

Updated 16 min 13 sec ago
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Pakistani cricket star Afridi under fire after photo at pro-Israel event in UK

  • Afridi says he thought it was ‘just a selfie’ with fans after the group said he stopped to offer support for hostage release
  • Pakistani cricketer asks the group to delete the post, says he prays for peace and freedom for the people of Palestine

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan cricketer Shahid Afridi expressed solidarity with Palestinians on Wednesday after a pro-Israel group shared his photograph taken with its members in Manchester, United Kingdom, in a social media post, saying that he stopped to offer support for its calls for the release of Israeli hostages from Gaza.
Over 200 Israelis were taken hostage by Hamas in an attack on October 7 which the group said was in response to the deteriorating condition of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
The incident was followed by Israeli airstrikes and ground invasion of Gaza that led to the killing of over 37,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, along with the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure in the area.
While the international community has widely viewed Israel’s response to the Hamas attack as disproportionate, several pro-Israel groups have continued to protest worldwide while demanding the return of the hostages from Gaza.
“Imagine strolling down a street in Manchester (UK) and so-called fans approach you for a selfie,” Afridi said on social media platform X. “You oblige, and moments later, they upload it as some form of Zionist endorsement.”
“Unbelievable,” he continued. “Please don’t believe everything that is uploaded.”
The Pakistani cricketer said it was “truly heartbreaking” to see how Palestinians were targeted by Israel in Gaza.
“Thus, any photo or association shared by in Manchester does not reflect my support for any situation where human lives are at stake,” he said.
Afridi noted he took pictures with fans everywhere, adding that this situation was no different.
“I pray for peace, I pray for an end to this war, I pray for freedom,” he said.

Afridi’s picture was shared by a group called North West Friends of Israel, featuring him with two of its top officials during a street demonstration, where people holding placards can be seen in the background.
One of the group’s officials is also seen holding pro-Israel pamphlets in the frame, which demand the release of hostages.
Afridi later criticized the group, saying he thought it was “just a selfie” with fans.
“I do not endorse your Tweet,” he added. “As a Muslim I pray for peace across the world. Please delete this post as it’s not accurate!”

 The group, however, claimed that the picture was taken by Afridi’s own camera with hostage placards and leaflets.
“You spoke to us of your own FREE will and posed for a selfie with hostage leaflets to support our cause,” it said. “It’s hugely disappointing you have caved in to those who would oppose the release of innocent babies, children, women and men held hostage by the terrorists of Hamas.”


Pakistan praises Saudi officials for ‘exemplary’ Hajj arrangements amid scorching heat

Updated 52 min 46 sec ago
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Pakistan praises Saudi officials for ‘exemplary’ Hajj arrangements amid scorching heat

  • Chaudhry Salik Hussain says Saudi authorities had set up water sprinklers, arranged for distribution of beverages
  • He says there were mobile health units and dispensaries in all the major areas to ensure the health of pilgrims

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Chaudhry Salik Hussain announced to start Pakistan’s post-Hajj operations on Wednesday while applauding the Saudi government for making “exemplary” arrangements for pilgrims even in scorching heat.
Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, took place during this week, with over 1.5 million people from across the world performing its rituals in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah.
Muslims across the world also celebrated Eid Al-Adha for three days after the pilgrims spent a day in Arafat where they also attended the Hajj sermon.
“Despite the severe heat, the Saudi government’s Hajj arrangements were exemplary,” Hussain said during a consultation meeting at the Pakistan Hajj Mission in Makkah. “We are starting the post-Hajj operation.”
The meeting reviewed the overall situation during the annual Islamic pilgrimage this year.
The Pakistani minister pointed out the Saudi authorities had taken several measures to mitigate the heat by setting up water sprinklers and a distribution system for cold water and beverages.
He also noted that mobile health units and dispensaries had been established in all the major areas to ensure the health of the pilgrims.
Hussain responded to reports of the absence of Pakistani Hajj assistants in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah by saying the assistants were present at specific intersections but had to move due to overcrowding in the area.
As the rush normalized, however, he said they were sent back again to guide Pakistani pilgrims.
The meeting highlighted the importance of comprehensive training to deal with the rush of transport in the holy sites, the possibility of losing the way and coping with the severity of the weather.


Pakistan rebukes India for objecting to CPEC projects in disputed Kashmir region

Updated 20 June 2024
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Pakistan rebukes India for objecting to CPEC projects in disputed Kashmir region

  • India accused Pakistan, China of implementing these projects on its ‘sovereign territory’ in the Himalayan region
  • Pakistan says India ‘misleading’ the world, calls Kashmir internationally recognized dispute under UN resolutions

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan asked India not to “mislead” the international community about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on Wednesday, criticizing New Delhi’s reaction to a joint statement issued by Beijing and Islamabad earlier this month that made references to the disputed Himalayan territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The statement was released by the two countries after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif concluded his five-day visit to China in which he held a number of high-profile meetings with the top Chinese political leadership along with the investors and members of the business community.
Among other things, the statement called for peace and stability in South Asia by resolving all outstanding disputes while mentioning Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian external affairs ministry said in response that the region constituted an “integral and inalienable” part of India, adding that no other country had the right to comment on its status.
India also accused Pakistan and China of implementing various CPEC projects on its “sovereign territory under forcible and illegal occupation by Pakistan.”
“India has no right to object to the references made to Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan-China Joint Statement of 8 June 2024,” Pakistan’s foreign office said in a statement. “It is an established fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally-recognized disputed territory. The dispute has been on the agenda of the UN Security Council for over seven decades.”
“The relevant Security Council resolutions clearly stipulate that the final disposition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir will be made in accordance with the will of the people expressed through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite conducted under the auspices of the United Nations,” it added. “In that backdrop, the Indian claims over Jammu and Kashmir are totally unfounded and misplaced.”
The foreign office said India “should not mislead the international community” about CPEC while calling it a “flagship developmental endeavour” agreed upon by two sovereign nations.
“Instead of making baseless claims about CPEC, India should implement, at the earliest, the relevant UN Security Council resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir,” it continued.
Pakistan and India have fought wars and a limited conflict over Kashmir since their independence in 1947. Both countries claim Kashmir in full, but control only parts of it.