Karachi braces for heat wave today amid sizzling weather across Pakistan

A boy takes bath under a hand pump during a hot summer day in Jaffarabad, in Pakistan's Balochistan province on May 29, 2024, amid the ongoing heatwave. (AFP)
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Updated 29 May 2024
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Karachi braces for heat wave today amid sizzling weather across Pakistan

  • The country’s chief meteorologist predicts temperature in the port city to hit 45°C for the next three days
  • Pakistan is in the grips of an intense heat wave since last week, with temperatures soaring past 52°C in Sindh

KARACHI: Pakistan’s southern Karachi port city will start experiencing heat wave today that is likely to persist until the end of the week, said the country’s chief meteorologist on Wednesday, as different cities have already been enduring sizzling weather, with upper portion of Sindh province recording temperatures exceeding 52° Celsius.
Earlier this month, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of Pakistan issued a warning regarding soaring temperatures in certain areas of Sindh and eastern Punjab province, saying they were expected to surge to 40°C between May 15 and 30.
“The temperature will rise up to 45 degrees Celsius,” said Sardar Sarfraz, chief meteorologist, adding that since the situation would persist until June 1 and not for five consecutive days, it would technically be considered a partial heat wave.
Sarfraz noted that the weather in other parts of Sindh had been very hot, with Mohenjo Daro almost reaching a point where it could break its own record of 53.5°C on May 27, 2010.
“Mohenjo Daro’s temperature reached 52.5 degrees Celsius, the third highest for the country,” he said.
In Pakistan, Sarfraz mentioned that the highest temperature was recorded at 54°C in Turbat in 2017, making it the country’s highest and the fourth highest in the world.
Speaking to Arab News, Jawed Memon, a weather expert, said Karachi had already experienced “feels-like” heat wave for the past seven to nine days. However, he said the situation was likely to remain bearable in the next few days.
“Due to these dry and dusty winds, significant drop in humidity levels is expected, specifically from tonight and the feels-like temperatures won’t be so high,” he said
Climate change exacerbates heat waves in Pakistan, with extreme temperatures becoming more frequent.
The country, among the top ten most vulnerable to climate impacts, also faces untimely downpours, floods and droughts.
These heat waves lead to various illnesses, contributing to significant economic losses and weather-related deaths in summer season.
In 2015, Karachi witnessed a deadly heat wave, claiming more 2,000 lives, while devastating floods in 2022 killed around 1,700 people and affected over 33 million across the country, necessitating extensive rebuilding efforts.


Canadian team certifies aviation security protocols at Karachi airport — Pakistan civil aviation

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Canadian team certifies aviation security protocols at Karachi airport — Pakistan civil aviation

  • This was the fifth international evaluation of Pakistan’s aviation security system in recent months
  • Pakistan’s aviation protocols have faced significant scrutiny since a 2020 fake pilot license scandal

KARACHI: A two-member Canadian team on Thursday certified aviation security protocols at Pakistan's largest airport in the southern port city of Karachi, the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority (PCAA) said.

The Canadian team comprising inspectors Barbara Durette and Abdel Tahir, from Transport Canada — a Canadian government entity responsible for policies and services of road, rail, marine and air transportation — began its aviation security assessment at Jinnah International Airport earlier this week under the supervision of Pakistan's Aviation Security Director Air Commodore (retired) Shahid Qadir.

The team evaluated various security measures, including passenger and baggage screening, perimeter protection, cargo and catering security, as well as security protocols for direct flights to Canada, according to the PCAA. It also monitored security measures for Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flights to Toronto, assessing access control, aircraft protection, security searches and related procedures.

"The [Canadian] team expressed gratitude to PCAA for hosting them and commended the airport's security protocols for aligning with international standards and best practices," the PCAA said in a statement on Thursday.

This was the 5th international evaluation of Pakistan’s aviation security system in recent months. The PCAA earlier said it had successfully passed all previous inspections, including an inaugural assessment by the United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority (UAE-GCAA) of Islamabad and Karachi airports that concluded on July 5.

Pakistan’s aviation protocols have faced significant scrutiny since 2020 following a scandal wherein approximately 262 out of 860 active pilots were said to have obtained fake licenses, leading to the grounding of around 150 pilots from the PIA and other carriers.

This revelation came in the wake of the tragic crash of PIA flight 8303 in Karachi, resulting in the suspension of PIA’s operations in the European Union (EU) and other regions and prompting calls for regulatory reforms to improve safety standards and transparency.


Pakistani religious party’s pro-Palestine sit-in enters seventh day as talks continue with government

Updated 25 min 52 sec ago
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Pakistani religious party’s pro-Palestine sit-in enters seventh day as talks continue with government

  • Thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan supporters have camped at Faizabad Interchange connecting Islamabad and Rawalpindi
  • TLP supporters demand the Pakistani government officially boycott Israeli products, send aid to Gaza and declare Israeli PM a ‘terrorist’

ISLAMABAD: A pro-Palestine sit-in by Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) religious party entered its seventh day on Friday, with the party saying that it was in talks with the government regarding its demands.

The TLP has asked the government to officially boycott Israeli products and send food and medical aid to Palestinians suffering Israel’s relentless military campaign in Gaza. They have also called on Pakistan’s government to declare Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “terrorist.”

The demands were laid after TLP supporters, led by its young leader Saad Rizvi, rallied from Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi to Faizabad Interchange that connects it with Islamabad last Saturday before deciding to set up a protest camp there. Known for its hard-line stance on blasphemy laws, the party has previously staged sit-ins at the key interchange, significantly disrupting traffic.

The TLP said several of its members have been part of negotiations with a government team, which comprises Information Minister Ataullah Tarar, Adviser to PM on Political Affairs Rana Sanaullah, Islamabad inspector-general and deputy inspector-general.

“TLP negotiations with the federal government are still ongoing,” the party said in a statement on Thursday night.

Israel’s war on Gaza has so far claimed at least 39,000 lives, many of them women and children. The casualties have sparked anger and protests worldwide, including in Pakistan, where the country’s civil society and political factions have consistently led pro-Palestine rallies.

Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and calls for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters.” Since the beginning of Israel’s war in October 2023, the South Asian country has dispatched several aid consignments, repeatedly raised the issue at various forums and demanded the world stop Israeli military actions in the Palestinian territory.

The large number of protesters at the Faizabad Interchange have effectively blocked the Islamabad Expressway, causing difficulty for commuters and creating gridlocks in the area.

Earlier, Sajjad Saifi, a member of the TLP’s consultative council, told Arab News that over 50,000 of their supporters, led by party chief Rizvi, were camped at the Faizabad Interchange.

“We will continue our dharna [sit-in] till all three of our demands are fully met,” he said.

Asked why the party decided to stage a sit-in protest nine months into the war, Saifi said the TLP had mobilized the public since October last year through rallies across Pakistan.

“Tens of thousands of our supporters have been waiting for the leadership’s call to join the dharna in Islamabad,” he said. “We are doing it for a cause, for the people of Palestine. We don’t have any political agenda to achieve through this dharna.”

Asked about the protest and the inconvenience being caused to the public, Information Minister Tarar said on Thursday: “Don’t worry, we are on it.”


Pakistan’s population expected to double by 2025, says census data

Updated 19 July 2024
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Pakistan’s population expected to double by 2025, says census data

  • Pakistan fifth-largest country in the world with population of 241.9 million people, says census data
  • Pakistan records highest population growth rate in South Asia at 2.55 percent, according to census

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has recorded the highest population growth rate in the region, the detailed results of last year’s population census revealed on Thursday, warning that the country’s population is expected to double by 2025. 

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) launched the detailed results of the seventh Population and Housing Census 2023 on Thursday. The report provides comprehensive data crucial for the development of urban and rural areas, and effective disaster response.

Addressing a ceremony to launch the report in Islamabad, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal highlighted that Pakistan was the first country in South Asia to conduct a digital census last year.

As per the census results, Pakistan is now the world’s fifth most populous country, housing 241.49 million people. Of these, 51.48 percent are males and 48.51 percent are females

“The census data shows that the current population growth rate is 2.55 percent which is the highest in the region and if it continues, the country’s population will be doubled by 2050,” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said. 

The report said the average number of family members in Pakistan is 6.30 while the dominant religion in the country is Islam, representing 96 percent of the population.

The age-wise distribution of the population shows 36.47 million people are aged under five years, 97.53 million under 15 years, 62.58 million between 15 to 29 while 190.27 million are aged below 40 years. 

“Literacy indicators show 61 percent of Pakistan’s population aged ten years and above is literate,” Radio Pakistan said. 

Speaking at the occasion, Iqbal acknowledged that fellow South Asian countries India and Bangladesh had outperformed Pakistan in several sectors. 

“We are not behind them in intelligence and ability,” he said. “But if we do not open our eyes, we will not be even counted in the global competition.”

The minister stressed the need for peace and political stability, highlighting the importance of continuity of policies for at least ten years. 

“If we do not keep pace with the world, we will become irrelevant,” he warned.


PM Sharif directs Pakistan’s tax authority to bring ‘wealthy’ citizens into tax net

Updated 18 July 2024
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PM Sharif directs Pakistan’s tax authority to bring ‘wealthy’ citizens into tax net

  • Sharif chairs important meeting on reforms in Pakistan’s tax agency, Federal Board of Revenue
  • Pakistani PM says FBR reforms to enhance country’s revenue, says tax refund system will be improved

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Thursday tasked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to increase its revenues by speeding up reforms, bringing “wealthy” people into the tax net and avoiding putting additional burden on the poor, as Islamabad seeks to enhance its revenues and avoid putting pressure on the poor. 
Pakistan last month passed a tax-heavy budget with an ambitious tax revenue target of 13 trillion rupees ($47 billion) for fiscal year 2025, a near 40 percent jump from the last fiscal year. The budget was instrumental in convincing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to enter into a $7 billion loan program with Pakistan. 
Pakistan’s opposition parties and government allies have criticized the tax-heavy budget, accusing authorities of overburdening the poor with taxes. PM Sharif’s government has vowed to carry out gradual fiscal consolidation, broaden Pakistan’s existing tax base and improve tax administration and debt sustainability while protecting the vulnerable.
The Pakistani prime minister chaired a meeting related to the FBR’s reforms and digitization in Islamabad on Thursday where he was informed that 4.9 million people who can afford taxes have been identified through modern technology. 
“The prime minister instructed to bring the wealthy and well-off people among these 4.9 million individuals to the tax net on a preferential basis and no additional burden should be put on the poor,” state broadcaster Radio Pakistan said. 
During the meeting, the Pakistani prime minister noted that the FBR had unearthed a fraud of Rs800 billion in tax refunds during the last four months, saying it reflected “positive results” by the authority. 
Sharif said the country’s tax refund system will be further improved, adding that reforms in the FBR can enhance the country’s revenue. 
“The Prime Minister said that the unnecessary delay in implementing several projects regarding the reforms in FBR is regrettable,” Radio Pakistan said. 
Sharif was told that the FBR’s trader-friendly mobile application has registered 150,000 retailers since April 1, 2024. He urged authorities to continue consultations with retailers to make this system more effective.


Pakistani religious party vows to continue pro-Palestine sit-in protest until demands are met

Updated 18 July 2024
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Pakistani religious party vows to continue pro-Palestine sit-in protest until demands are met

  • Thousands of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan supporters remain camped at Faizabad Interchange connecting Islamabad, Rawalpindi since last week 
  • TLP protesters demand Pakistan government officially boycott Israeli products, send aid to Gaza and declare Israeli PM a “terrorist”

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani religious party on Thursday vowed to continue its large pro-Palestine sit-in protest at a key junction connecting the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi until its demands are not met, as residents suffer traffic disruption. 
Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), known for its hard-line stance on blasphemy laws, has previously staged sit-ins at the Faizabad Interchange. The presence of large numbers of protesters in the area significantly disrupts traffic, forcing drivers to take longer, alternative routes between the two cities.
The TLP workers, led by their young leader Saad Rizvi, took out a protest rally from Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi to Faizabad last Saturday before deciding to set up a protest camp at the interchange.
The TLP has asked the government to officially boycott Israeli products and send food and medical aid to Palestinians suffering Israel’s relentless military campaign in Gaza. They have also called on Pakistan’s government to declare Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “terrorist.”
“We are engaged with the government regarding our demands for the people of Palestine but no agreement has been reached yet,” Sajjad Saifi, a member of the TLP’s Shoura or consultative council, told Arab News over the phone.
“We will continue our dharna [sit-in] till all three of our demands are fully met.”
Saifi said TLP chief Rizvi was leading the party’s protest, adding that over 50,000 of their supporters were camped at the Faizabad Interchange. 
“If the government accepts our demands, it will earn a huge respect in the Muslim world,” he said.
Israel’s war on Gaza has so far claimed at least 39,000 lives, many of them women and children. The casualties have sparked anger and protests worldwide, including in Pakistan, where the country’s civil society and political factions have consistently led pro-Palestine rallies. 
When asked why the party decided to stage a sit-in protest nine months into the war, Saifi said the TLP had mobilized the public since October last year through rallies across Pakistan. 
 “Tens of thousands of our supporters have been waiting for the leadership’s call to join the dharna in Islamabad,” he said. 
“We are doing it for a cause, for the people of Palestine. We don’t have any political agenda to achieve through this dharna.”
The large number of protesters at the Faizabad Interchange have effectively blocked the Islamabad Expressway, causing difficulty for commuters and creating gridlocks in the area.
When asked about the protest and the inconvenience being caused to the public, Information Minister Attaullah Tara said: 
“Don’t worry, we are on it.”
‘STATE HAS SURRENDERED’
Political analysts called on the government to initiate strict action against the outfit to disperse them from the interchange. 
“Freedom of movement is a basic right of the public, therefore the government and the Supreme Court should take notice of the dharna and initiate measures to disperse the protesters,” political analyst Adnan Rehmat told Arab News. 
“If the government fails to initiate action against the TLP, it clearly means the state has surrendered before the outfit that doesn’t believe in any law and the constitution.”
Political science professor Rasul Bakhsh Rais agreed. 
“There is no rationale behind the TLP’s sit-in as Pakistan has already dispatched food and medicines to the people of Gaza,” Rais told Arab News. “It is unfortunate the government is silent over the mess and taking no steps to disperse them.”